May 31, 2014

Thorough and fairly complete third party data about China's Economy

Adapted from methodology used by the U.S. Federal Reserve's "Beige Book," The China Beige Book™ is an 80 page quarterly report that uses both quantitative and qualitative data to track real-time conditions within the Chinese economy, both regionally as well as within each of eight key industries within each region.

In addition to providing clients with real-time growth, employment, wage, and inflation data that is often months (if not quarters) ahead of lagging official data, the China Beige Book™ provides a uniquely granular window into China’s historically opaque credit environment. China Beige Book™ is the first analytical report to ever use country-wide, independently-collected data to track China's shadow banking universe, allowing it to break down the country's non-bank (unofficial) lending rates not just nationally or by region, but also for each sector and sub-sector within each region, as well as for other categories such as firm size or export/import concentration.

Their approach triangulates three methods, repeated every quarter:

1. a quantitative survey of over 2,000 leading firms from key sectors across the country;
2. qualitative one-on-one in-depth discussions with C-Suite executives in the same industries across every region;
3. a separate, targeted banker survey of loan officers and branch managers, designed to home in on the complexities of both the official and shadow economies.

With the data from this approach, they are able to compare regions and industries within a quarter, as well as track changes over time, both in near and real time.

Using this approach, China Beige Book™ has solved the most critical issues puzzling China watchers for decades: What is true cost of capital in the Chinese economy? How is it being accessed? And who or what are able to access it over time?

John Maudlin's email newletter (free subscription) has an excerpt of the 2014 first quarter China Beige Book.

There has been a slowdown in most of China except the West and Southwest but it is not a collapse.

3D printing and microrobots making progress on building tissue with blood vessels which will enable large printed organs

Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) has made headway in fabricating blood vessels using a three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting technique.

They have a unique strategy for vascularization of hydrogel constructs that combine advances in 3D bioprinting technology and biomaterials.

The researchers first used a 3D bioprinter to make an agarose (naturally derived sugar-based molecule) fiber template to serve as the mold for the blood vessels. They then covered the mold with a gelatin-like substance called hydrogel, forming a cast over the mold which was then reinforced via photocrosslinks.

Artificial blood vessels are created using hydrogel constructs that combine advances in 3-D bioprinting technology and biomaterials. Credit: Khademhosseini Lab.

"Our approach involves the printing of agarose fibers that become the blood vessel channels. But what is unique about our approach is that the fiber templates we printed are strong enough that we can physically remove them to make the channels," said Khademhosseini. "This prevents having to dissolve these template layers, which may not be so good for the cells that are entrapped in the surrounding gel."

Khademhosseini and his team were able to construct microchannel networks exhibiting various architectural features. They were also able to successfully embed these functional and perfusable microchannels inside a wide range of commonly used hydrogels, such as methacrylated gelatin or poly(ethylene glycol)-based hydrogels at different concentrations.

See the long list of articles and successes with tissue engineering from the Khademhosseini lab.

NHTSA finds that car crashes cost $871 billion and highlights that Swedish style road systems or Google self driving cars would be huge wins

The US Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a new study that finds the price tag for motor vehicle crashes in the US in 2010 carried a cost of $871 billion (6% of GDP) in economic loss and societal harm. This includes $277 billion in economic costs—nearly $900 for each person living in the United States based on calendar year 2010 data—and $594 billion in harm from the loss of life and the pain and decreased quality of life due to injuries.

3.9 million people were injured in 13.6 million motor vehicle crashes in 2010, including 32,999 fatalities. 24% of these injuries occurred in crashes that were not reported to police. About 23.9 million vehicles were damaged in motor vehicle crashes in 2010; 18.5 million or 77% of these vehicles were damaged in incidents that incurred property damage only. The remaining 23% involved injuries to occupants of the vehicle, or to non-occupants such as pedestrians or bicyclists.

Robotic cars from Google could address these problems if all cars were converted or replaced over a few decades.

Sweden has on third of the death rate from road accidents as the USA because they priortize planning and target zero traffic deaths

In 2013, 264 people died in road crashes in Sweden, a record low. Although the number of cars in circulation and the number of miles driven have both doubled since 1970, the number of road deaths has fallen by four-fifths during the same period. With only three of every 100,000 Swedes dying on the roads each year, compared with 5.5 per 100,000 across the European Union, 11.4 in America and 40 in the Dominican Republic, which has the world's deadliest traffic, Sweden’s roads have become the world’s safest. Other places such as New York City are now trying to copy its success. How has Sweden done it?

In 1997 the Swedish parliament wrote into law a "Vision Zero" plan, promising to eliminate road fatalities and injuries altogether. "We simply do not accept any deaths or injuries on our roads," says Hans Berg of the national transport agency. Swedes believe—and are now proving—that they can have mobility and safety at the same time.

Planning has played the biggest part in reducing accidents. Roads in Sweden are built with safety prioritised over speed or convenience. Low urban speed-limits, pedestrian zones and barriers that separate cars from bikes and oncoming traffic have helped. Building 1,500 kilometres (900 miles) of "2+1" roads—where each lane of traffic takes turns to use a middle lane for overtaking—is reckoned to have saved around 145 lives over the first decade of Vision Zero. And 12,600 safer crossings, including pedestrian bridges and zebra-stripes flanked by flashing lights and protected with speed-bumps, are estimated to have halved the number of pedestrian deaths over the past five years. Strict policing has also helped: now less than 0.25% of drivers tested are over the alcohol limit. Road deaths of children under seven have plummeted—in 2012 only one was killed, compared with 58 in 1970.

World Bank Suggestions to Improve China's Future Cities with a new model of urbanization

The World Bank and the Development Research Center of China’s State Council have a report Urban China: Toward Efficient, Inclusive and Sustainable Urbanization which has six priority areas for a new model of urbanization.

1. Reforming land management and institutions
2. Reforming the hukou household-registration system to provide equal access to quality services for all citizens and create a more mobile and versatile labor force
3. Placing urban finances on a more sustainable footing, while creating financial discipline for local governments
4. Reforming urban planning and design
5. Managing environmental pressures
6. Improving local governance

China has avoided some of the common ills of urbanization, notably urban poverty, unemployment, and squalor. But strains are starting to show. China's urbanization is projected to reach 70% by 2030 for about 1 billion people in cities. This is up from 20% urbanization in 1978 and about 50% today.

Modi moves to remove paralysis and delays in India's system

Prime Minister Modi of India has rolled out his ten point plan for getting India's economy moving in the first 100 days

Modi has also asked ministers to ensure that all issues left pending by the previous UPA government are resolved on a priority basis and a detailed action plan be put in place for the NDA's first 100 days in office. The PM told ministers to treat governance as the most important subject, with a sharp focus on delivery and implementation. "You must keep these points on your table where you can see them all the time. People have put their trust in us and we cannot let them down," Modi is learnt to have told his Cabinet in a meeting that lasted around 90 minutes.

The message began to percolate through the system soon after. Telecom and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asked Sanchar Bhawan officials to "shun fear in decision-making" and assured them the government will "fully back honest decision-making."

Corruption investigations under the previous UPA regime had led to a state in which officials became wary of taking decisions, leading to administrative paralysis. Several retired bureaucrats became the subject of inquiries. "The PM's stress on governance is the need of the hour which has been lacking," said urban development and parliamentary affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu after the Cabinet meeting, where the dates for the first session of the new Lok Sabha were approved.

Promising to meet all ministers and secretaries separately, Modi also made a point of asking cabinet ministers to share their workload with junior ministers. "The PM told us to take ministers of state along and give them proper work, adding that we should build new teams for the future," Naidu said. Former home secretary GK Pillai welcomed the move by Modi to meet secretaries separately and his asking ministers to build confidence in them. "The PM has been keeping away from secretaries for a long time, so it's good if he re-establishes that link and assures them of protection on bonafide decisions taken to deliver outcomes. This message needs to be conveyed to the last level of bureaucracy as well," Pillai said. "At the same time, there is a need to tell the Central Bureau of Investigation to draw up some guidelines on probing bureaucrats who have turned over-cautious as any decision that leads to financial benefits to someone else can be construed as a violation of the Prevention of Corruption Act," he added

May 30, 2014

Focus Fusion uses the natural instabilities of plasma instead of fighting them like the gigantic tokomaks for a smaller and vastly cheaper solution to nuclear fusion

LPP Fusion reported that they have their tungsten anode and will get their cathode by late June.

Crowdfunding is at 41% of the $200K goal. If you donate or have already donated then remember to comment at indiegogo at the focus fusion project to get them to the front page of indiegogo.

The first of LPP Fusion’s new tungsten electrodes, the anode, or inner electrodes, is now complete and has arrived at our Middlesex, NJ lab May 9. The electrode will contribute to greatly reducing the impurities that have prevented high density in our fusion-generating plasmoids. First, it connects to the rest of the circuit outside the vacuum chamber, eliminating any possibly of internal arcing. Second, it is made of pure tungsten, a material that far better resists vaporization than our old copper electrodes.

The much larger and more complex outer electrode, or cathode, is being machined into shape at NJ Precision Machining and is now expected to be finished by late June.

The new tungsten electrodes will cut way down on several main mechanisms for this vaporization, but the LPPFusion team identified a mechanism that the tungsten by itself won’t stop – runaway electrons. Now, experiments performed by LPP Fusion collaborators at the Plasma Physics Research Center in Tehran have shown that simply increasing the pressure of the gas in the vacuum chamber can stop the runaways, as theoretical calculations had predicted. This gives assurance that this source of erosion too can be stopped in the new FF-1 tests.

Eric Lerner explains why their approach will make energy ten times cheaper than coal or natural gas electricity and why it will work

DARPA funds $70 million for brain implants for emotional mind control

The positive spin is DARPA is spending $70 million for a program that will try to develop brain implants able to regulate emotions in the mentally ill and the negative spin is US military researchers are developing brain implants for mind control.

The U.S. military has a goal to use brain implants to read, and then control, the emotions of mentally ill people.

Negative spin - The US military has turned recruits into crazy killing machines and now they want to use brain implants to make them safer when the veterans are integrated back into society. Alternatively they can use the brain implants to make the human killing machines even more immune to fear or other emotions.

Positive spin and perspective - We can already remove the human element from weapons (bombs, precision missiles etc...) so killing without emotion has been easy. So it is good that any mentally ill, addicts and other people get more effective control than drugs can currently provide to blunt their bad tendencies. We can also help people with emotional control issues or problems with self control get more emotional control. This could help solve big societal problems (too much drinking, obesity, etc...) and people could become more productive and happy.

Negative examples from Fiction

Mean "Mean Machine" Angel is a villain in the Judge Dredd stories of the British comic book series 2000 AD.

Mean Machine's dial settings are:
1. Surly
2. Mean
3. Vicious
4. Brutal
And 4.5 is out of control

There is also the cyborg character Deathlok from Marvel Comics.

This week the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, awarded two large contracts to Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of California, San Francisco, to create electrical brain implants capable of treating seven psychiatric conditions, including addiction, depression, and borderline personality disorder.

The project builds on expanding knowledge about how the brain works; the development of microlectronic systems that can fit in the body; and substantial evidence that thoughts and actions can be altered with well-placed electrical impulses to the brain.

“Imagine if I have an addiction to alcohol and I have a craving,” says Carmena, who is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and involved in the UCSF-led project. “We could detect that feeling and then stimulate inside the brain to stop it from happening.”

More published evidence of Quantum Entanglement with Dwave Systems Qubits

A new paper published today in Phys Rev X demonstrates eight qubit entanglement in a D-Wave processor, which is a world record for solid state qubits. This is an exceptional paper with an important result. The picture below measures a quantity that, if negative, verifies entanglement. The quantity s is the time — the quantum annealing procedure goes from the left to the right, with entanglement maximized near the area where the energy gap is smallest.

Upper limit of the quantity Tr[WABρ] versus s for several bipartitions A-B of the eight-qubit system. When this quantity is less than 0, the system is entangled with respect to this bipartition. The solid dots show the upper limit on Tr[WABρ] for the median bipartition. The open dots above and below these are derived from the two bipartitions that give the highest and lowest upper limits on Tr[WABρ], respectively. For the points at s greater than 0.3, the measurements of P1 and P2 do not constrain ρ enough to certify entanglement.

Quantum algorithms hold the promise of helping to solve a broad range of problems that are simply intractable with classical algorithms. The advantage of quantum calculations stems from exploiting the strange and nonintuitive properties of quantum systems: tunneling, superposition, quantum coherence, and entanglement. Building a general-purpose quantum computer, however, is extremely challenging; a more scalable and feasible approach may involve implementing a single, simpler quantum algorithm, such as quantum annealing. It is critical to demonstrate that such a scalable processor has access to quantum-mechanical resources such as coherence and entanglement. We build a processor based on quantum annealing and verify that specific two- and eight-qubit systems become entangled, a necessary and significant step in developing quantum annealing into a viable quantum-computing technology.

We run quantum annealing on a processor chip composed of magnetically coupled superconducting flux qubits. The chip is mounted on the mixing chamber of a dilution refrigerator held at 12.5 mK. We use qubit tunneling spectroscopy to infer nonclassical correlations in two- and eight-qubit systems based on eigenspectra and level occupations, effects that persist even at thermal equilibrium. Our measurements of spectral lines are dominated by the noise of the qubit tunneling spectroscopy probe, however, and we expect that follow-up experiments with improved probes will enable larger systems of qubits to be studied.

Our work provides promise that quantum annealing is a viable approach to realizing quantum-computing technologies. Moreover, our technique represents an effective way of studying quantum behavior in a practical processor, helping us to further understand the capabilities of quantum algorithms.

Robotic Truck Convoys that closely follow a human driven lead truck for energy efficiency drafting

A recent demonstration involving two trucks tethered by computer control shows how automation and vehicle-to-vehicle communication are creeping onto the roads.

A pair of trucks convoying 10 meters apart on Interstate 80 just outside Reno, Nevada, might seem like an unusual sight—not to mention unsafe. But the two trucks doing this a couple of weeks ago were actually demonstrating a system that could make trucking safer and much more efficient.

While the driver in front drove his truck normally, the truck behind him was partly operated by a computer—and it stuck to its leader like glue. When instructed to do so, the computer controlled the gas and brakes to pull to within 10 meters (roughly three car lengths) of the truck ahead. The computer then kept the two trucks paired at this precise distance, as if linked by some invisible cable, until the system was disengaged. If the truck in front stopped suddenly, the one behind could have reacted instantaneously to avoid a collision.

Carnival of Space 355

The Carnival of Space 355 is up at io9.

"The meridiani journal - Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Is shrinking – now the smallest ever seen

In this new image from the Hubble Space Telescope, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is seen at its smallest size ever recorded. Credit: NASA / ESA / A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center)

BrownSpaceman - Have you ever heard of Neptune's moon called Triton? Well here are 10 reasons why Triton is one of the coolest moons ever!

Nextbigfuture - Scientists at LPP Fusion, led by Chief Scientist Eric Lerner, are just one step away from technically proving out dense plasma focus fusion and you a few thousand other people can help for the final push. They are already
25%40% of the way to the $200,000 they needed for a few key experiments. Success would be better than doubling NASA's budget and 100,000 times cheaper than one year of double NASA budget. Success would have more impact than efforts to double NASA's space budget to 1% of all US tax dollars [increase from $18 billion per year to $36 billion].

Google demographics are less White than General US Workforce and many commentators group Google's Asian Demographics in with White

Google released the demographics of its almost 50,000 person workforce.

Thirty percent of Google’s 46,170 employees worldwide are women, the company said, and 17 percent of its technical employees are women. Comparatively, 47 percent of the total work force in the United States is women and 20 percent of software developers are women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Of its United States employees, 61 percent are white, 2 percent are black and 3 percent are Hispanic. About one-third are Asian — well above the national average — and 4 percent are of two or more races. Of Google’s technical staff, 60 percent are white, 1 percent are black, 2 percent are Hispanic, 34 percent are Asian and 3 percent are of two or more races.

Non-Hispanic whites are 61 percent of the Google work force, slightly below the national average. (That average, according to 2006-10 numbers, is 67 percent.) Google is thus less white than the typical American company.

White men are 42 percent of the Google work force, and 35 percent of the U.S. work force — not a vast disparity

Asians are being treated like whites for purposes of race preferences, with some institutions deliberately setting lower standards (or creating a “plus factor,” which is the same thing) for black and Hispanic applicants than for Asian and white applicants — instead, people sometimes actually call Asians white.

Calling Asians white also creates new lines, possibly very dangerous ones. “White” has stopped meaning Caucasian, imprecise as this term has always been, and has started to mean “those racial groups that have made it.” “Minority” has started to mean “those racial groups that have not yet made it.” (A recent San Francisco Chronicle story even excludes non-Mexican-American Latinos from the “minority” category.) This new division is as likely as the old to create nasty, corrosive, sometimes fatal battles over which racial groups get the spoils. So long as we think in terms of “white” and “minority,” we risk disaster, no matter which races are put in which box.

Wrist Mounted Flamethrowers, Magnetic Boots from the inventor of stainless steel retractable Wolverine Claws

Spiting 12ft flames from your wrist sounds a tough challenge but really it boils down to how badass you want to feel. So here is how it all comes together in a loverly stainless steel peice of art.

Ultrasonics and 3D printed casts can help bones and wounds heal 40-80% faster

3d printed custom casts combine low-intensity, pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS) bone stimulator system: Single 20 minute daily sessions this system promises to reduce the healing process up to 38% and increase the heal rate up to 80% in non-union fractures.

Osteoid Medical cast, attachable bone stimulator by Deniz Karasahin won a design award.

In order to function, the LIPUS ultrasound probes has to be placed on the injured area with direct skin contact, because of this requirement it was not possible to use this method with patients using standard medical casts. Now thanks to the ventilation holes on the Osteoid medical cast the LIPUS bone stimulator probes can be placed over the injured area. The LIPUS probes are attachable to the Osteoid medical cast. There is a thin layer of rubber fixed to the edges of the LIPUS adapters, this rubber layer helps these pieces to fit on the ventilation holes of the medical cast.

How does ultrasound benefit wound healing?

Inflammatory Phase - ultrasound causes a degranulation of mast cells resulting in the release of histamine. Histamine and other chemical mediators released from the mast cell are felt to play a role in attracting neutrophils and monocytes to the injured site. These and other events appear to accelerate the acute inflammatory phase and promote healing.

Proliferative Phase - ultrasound has been noted to effect fibroblasts and stimulate them to secrete collagen 1. This can accelerate the process of wound contraction and increase tensile strength of the healing tissue 2. Connective tissue will elongate better if both heat and stretch are combined. Continuous ultrasound at higher therapeutic intensities provides and effective means of heating deeper tissue prior to stretch.

Supercapacitor battery hybrid can last for 1000 times more charges than a lithium ion battery and are strong enough to be doors and chassis of electric cars or the case of a smartphone

Hybrid super-capacitor / battery material could be built into the structure of all types of construction projects -- from the siding and drywall of homes to the chassis of airplanes and electrc cars and the cases of smartphones. Researchers from Vanderbilt University's Nanomaterials and Energy Devices Laboratory are now designing materials that combine the best aspects of super-capacitors and batteries into a single hybrid material suitable for making such device cases. While the material's energy density is currently less than that of a lithium-ion battery, it makes up for density by the much bigger volume of a case -- plus it eliminates the space needed for a battery.

Pint's super-capacitors currently store 10x less energy than a lithium-ion battery, but make up for that in the volume of the structure they are a part of, plus they last 1,000x longer than a battery, making them suitable for mobile devices, automobiles, aircraft, homes, and more.

"I would also argue that in some cases, 'total energy' should be a metric that matters to us. 10x less energy stored over 1,000x as many discharge cycles, this means that 100x more energy is stored over the lifetime of the system. That means they are better suited for structural applications. It doesn't make sense to develop materials to build a home, car chassis, or aerospace vehicle if you have to replace them every few years because they go dead."

Nanoletters - A Multifunctional Load-Bearing Solid-State Supercapacitor

A load-bearing, multifunctional material with the simultaneous capability to store energy and withstand static and dynamic mechanical stresses is demonstrated. This is produced using ion-conducting polymers infiltrated into nanoporous silicon that is etched directly into bulk conductive silicon. This device platform maintains energy densities near 10 W h/kg with Coulombic efficiency of 98% under exposure to over 300 kPa tensile stresses and 80 g vibratory accelerations, along with excellent performance in other shear, compression, and impact tests. This demonstrates performance feasibility as a structurally integrated energy storage material broadly applicable across renewable energy systems, transportation systems, and mobile electronics, among others.

Westover’s wafers consist of electrodes made from silicon that have been chemically treated so they have nanoscale pores on their inner surfaces and then coated with a protective ultrathin graphene-like layer of carbon

May 29, 2014

Billionaires more than doubled in 5 years and their collective net worth tripled

Soaring asset prices have fueled the number of rich people on the planet. Forbes reported a record 1,645 billionaires on the planet in March who currently have an aggregate net worth of $6.6 trillion. There were 793 people on our list of the World’s Billionaires with a collective net worth is $2.4 trillion five years ago in the depths of the recession.

The 2014 KnightFrank World Wealth report indicates that there are 167,600 people in the world with over US$30 million in net worth and they have a collective net worth of $20.1 trillion.

Elon Musk unveils Space X's Reusable Dragon V2 spacecraft

The new Spacex Dragon V2 can carry seven astronauts for several days

It can land propulsively with the accuracy of a helicopter anywhere on Earth.
It has an improved pica heat shield.

It should be carrying astronauts in 2017 or 2018 to the space station and other places in orbit.

The new version of Dragon has several improvements over the old one. First of all, it can autonomously dock with the International Space Station. That’s different from Dragon version one, which requires astronauts on board the station to grapple the spacecraft with the station’s giant robot arm to move it into position.

Dragon version 2 is also equipped with the eight of the company’s new SuperDraco engines. These engines, which can provide 16,000 pounds of thrust, are capable of allowing the spacecraft bypass an ocean landing and instead simply come back to wherever SpaceX needs it to land. The craft is also equipped with sensors that can ensure those engines are working – otherwise, it’s equipped with parachutes and can splashdown as an alternative.

The SuperDraco engines are 3D printed.

One key element of the new Dragon that Elon Musk highlighted was its reusability. Since the spacecraft can land with accuracy rather than needing to be splashed down in the ocean, Musk noted that this mean a Dragon spacecraft could theoretically be refueled and be ready to get back into space in a very short period of time.

India gives go ahead to Mumbai Ahmedabad high speed rail line and looks New Dehli Patna line

India's new prime minister Mr Narendra Modi reportedly gave the go-ahead to develop the 545km Mumbai - Ahmedabad line as a showpiece project at a recent meeting with the chairman of India's High Speed Rail Corporation (HSRC) Mr Satish Agnihotri.

Indian Railways (IR) and French National Railways (SNCF) are understood to have developed a detailed business plan for the corridor, the prefeasibility study of which has been completed by a consortium of Systra, Italferr and Rites.

Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica) is currently preparing a detailed study of the proposed Rs 700bn ($US 12.1bn) corrido, which is scheduled to be submitted in May 2015. Jica is believed to have agreed in principle to part-finance the project by way of a soft loan.

IR is expected to freeze technical specifications and formalise systems contracts ahead of the submission of the Jica report, while the Railways Ministry has started to finalise a status report relating to the financial, technical and business models for all planned high-speed lines.

A prefeasibility report by MottMacdonald on the 1044km New Delhi - Patna line has also been submitted and is under the ministry's consideration, sources said. Project cost is estimated at Rs 1300bn.

May 28, 2014

Germany Dominates the USA in Innovation so Germany keeps a trained middle class with manufacturing jobs

The truth is: Germany wins the global innovation race hands down over China and the USA.

Germany does a better job on innovation in areas as diverse as sustainable energy systems, molecular biotech, lasers, and experimental software engineering. Indeed, as part of an effort to learn from Germany about effective innovation, U.S. states have encouraged the Fraunhofer Society, a German applied-science think tank, to set up no fewer than seven institutes in America.

True, Americans do well at inventing. The U.S. has the world’s most sophisticated system of financing radical ideas, and the results have been impressive, from Google to Facebook to Twitter. But the fairy tale that the U.S. is better at radical innovation than other countries has been shown in repeated studies to be untrue. Germany is just as good as the U.S. in the most radical technologies.

What’s more important, Germany is better at adapting inventions to industry and spreading them throughout the business sector. Much German innovation involves infusing old products and processes with new ideas and capabilities or recombining elements of old, stagnant sectors into new, vibrant ones.

Germany’s style of innovation explains its manufacturing prowess. For example, many, if not most, of the Chinese products we buy every day are produced by German-made machinery, and the companies that make them are thriving.

Bill Gates says robots and automation will take jobs but suggests shifting to consumption tax and subsidizing work

Bill Gates says automation will reduce the total jobs that will be available in the future.

As part of a Q&A session at the American Enterprise Institute, Bill Gates talked about how public policy can help workers, particularly in jobs subject to greater automation, better cope with technological change. Gates favors (a) taxing consumption rather than labor, and (b) subsidizing work rather than a wage floor through a higher minimum wage.

“Software substitution, whether it’s for drivers or waiters or nurses… it’s progressing,” Gates said. “Technology over time will reduce demand for jobs, particularly at the lower end of skill set… 20 years from now, labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower. I don’t think people have that in their mental model.”

And it’s not just “low-skilled” workers who will have to worry about automation. As Business Insider points out, The Economist earlier this year predicted that high-paying jobs such as accountants, real estate sales agents and commercial pilots would all lose their jobs to software within the next 20 years.

Gates (about 46 minutes in):

[Bill Gates] thinks tax structures will have to move away from taxing payroll. … Technology in general will make capital more attractive than labor over time. Software substitution — whether it’s for drivers or waiters, nurses … it’s progressing. And that’s going to force us to rethink how these tax structures work in order to maximize employment given that capitalism in general over time will create more inequality, and technology over time will reduce demand for jobs, particularly at the lower end of the skill set. We have to adjust, and these things are coming fast. Twenty years from now, labor demand for lots of skill sets will be substantially lower, and I don’t think people have that in their mental model. … Economists would have said a progressive consumption tax is a better construct at any point in history. But what I am saying is that it’s even more important as we go forward because … I want to distort in the favor of labor. …When people say we should raise the minimum wage — I know some economists disagree — but I worry about what that does to job creation. The idea that through the Earned Income Tax Credit you would end up with a certain minimum wage that you would receive, that I understand better than intentionally dampening demand in the part of the labor spectrum that I’m most worried about.

The USA, Canada, Brazil and Other Countries will also have to rebalance their economies

China’s new leadership is trying to create a shift in its economy from low-wage, investment-driven growth to a consumer economy driven by domestic demand and when that change happens, the rest of the world will have to change too.

That’s the message Stephen Roach is trying to deliver, with some urgency, in his book Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China.

“To the extent that Canada, Australia, Brazil and other resource-based economies are counting on China to stay the course of open-ended resource demand, you could be in for a rude awakening,” says Roach, a former chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia who is now at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.

“China is about to create the biggest middle-class the world has ever seen and that’s a huge opportunity for other countries to export into," Roach says.

"For a resource-based country like Canada, there’s a special challenge. As China moves from manufacturing to services, services require far less resources per unit of GDP,” he says.

In his book Unbalanced, Roach argues that China and the U.S. are codependent, with the U.S. reliant on China for cheap capital, cheap goods and demand for treasuries. China is a big holder of U.S. bonds as it seeks to invest its current account surplus.

A China slowdown will effect the world economy. China is about 25% of total global growth.

New Skyscraper Design Using Prefab Modules will curved designe elements

Located in the Central Business District of Beijing, China, the 300 meters high tower by Henn Architects at the south facade addresses the street, while the secondary entrance on the west facade relates itself to the park. The tower has a constant, efficient, square floor plate. The façade strategy of the building is simple, elegant and redefines the classical high-rise tower into a contemporary architectural language. Since the profiles have certain depth, they also provide a significant impact as sun shading elements which reduce glare and direct radiation into the office interior.

The structural scheme of the tower is a tube in tube with an internal concrete core and a perimeter structure aligned with the regular 3 meter grid of the façade. Due to the density of the grid, the perimeter structure will have a large lateral stiffness. As a consequence the core will attract less load and the core walls can be optimized. The dual system composed of the perimeter and the core provide substantial stability and ductility for such a tall building in a high seismic zone like Beijing. At refuge floors, belt trusses will be used to stiffen the structure. As the perimeter structure is quite strong, outriggers might not be necessary so that the overall construction program can be shortened. The regularity of the perimeter structure will make possible the use of standard prefabricated structure modules. This can help to significantly reduce the construction time and cost.

Broad Group Building over 25% Complete on Skyscraper that is about the height of the Empire State Building but No Word on Broad Group Sky City Approval

There has been no word about regulatory approval for the factory mass produced 200+ story skyscraper the Sky City. In the middle of 2013, it was reported that the site and foundation had been prepared but not all approvals had been completed.

Now there are photos of what is reported to be a 97 story skyscraper built with Broad Groups factory mass production techniques, but the photos are from March, 2014 and show about 24 stories completed. It appears that Broad Group is not trying to build purely for speed in this case as they seem to be taking 1-5 days per 1-2 floors. So it may take nearly all of 2014 to complete the building at this pace. This would still be very fast for modern skyscrapers. It would be slightly faster than the construction of the actual Empire State building (15 months to build). This is slower than the 2 to 3 floors per day that other high rise buildings made by Broad Group.

The 97 story building might be over 50% complete now that we are in May.

The 97 story building would be
Antenna 1316 ft high
Roof 1146 ft high

The Empire State building is 103 stories tall and 1250 ft to the roof.

Near Term Solar Sailing at NASA FISO

There was updated presentation on near term solar sails at FISO (Future in Space Operations) Telecon at the University of Texas at Austin by Bruce Campbell. Nextbigfuture also reviews the Spiderfab robotic assembly in orbit capability which could enable 1 kilometer diameter solar sails for dramatically superior space capabilities. A rudimentary interstellar solar sail is possible with a 400 meter diameter. So a 1 kilometer solar sail would have 6.28 times the area of the 400 meter sail.

Sergey Brin says Google will make 100-200 Self Driving Cars this year and plans commercial rollout with Many Partners Like Uber but Disneyland seems like a perfect Pilot location

Sergey Brin unveiled Google’s first car built from scratch, a gondola on wheels with no steering wheel and no brake pedals. Brin also discussed his impatience with the pace of innovation and his disappointment with the NSA surveillance revelations and joked about new projects (or not) around invisibility cloaks, fembots and thousands of hovering satellites.

Brin expects that Google will be testing its new self-driving car before the end of the year. Google has unveiled a self-driving car with a top speed of 25 miles per hour that is without pedals or a steering wheel. Google is planning to build about a hundred prototype vehicles, and later this summer, their safety drivers will start testing early versions of these vehicles that have manual controls. If all goes well, Google would like to run a small pilot program here in California in the next couple of years. Google is going to learn a lot from this experience, and if the technology develops as Google hopes, Google will work with partners to bring this technology into the world safely.

The car is built with standard car parts from auto manufacturing firms, and Google wants to make 100 to 200 prototypes.

There’s also a huge tax on the community by having all these individually owned and operated cars. Cars aren’t used 96 percent of the time, and there’s three times as many parking spaces as cars. During peak driving, 30 percent of driving in a city is people looking for parking. That goes away if you have cars that drive themselves and drop you off and go find another passenger.

It is an electric self driving car.

Nextbigfuture thinks Disneyland is the perfect place to try out a few hundred self driving electric cars with a top speed of 25 mph Google wants to have a pilot within two years.

In 2013, Uber was said to be worth approximately $3.5 billion as of mid-August following investments of $88 million made by private equity giant TPG and another $250 million from Google Ventures.

Google started with a blank sheet of paper and asked, “What should be different about this kind of vehicle?” They started with the most important thing: safety. They have sensors that remove blind spots, and they can detect objects out to a distance of more than two football fields in all directions, which is especially helpful on busy streets with lots of intersections. And we’ve capped the speed of these first vehicles at 25 mph. On the inside, they’ve designed for learning, not luxury, so they’re light on creature comforts, but they’ll have two seats (with seatbelts), a space for passengers’ belongings, buttons to start and stop, and a screen that shows the route—and that’s about it.

Fully autonomous driving has always been the goal of the Google project, because Google thinks this could improve road safety and help lots of people who can't drive.

Google is now developing prototypes of vehicles that have been designed from the ground up to drive themselves—just push a button and they'll take you where you want to go! We'll use these vehicles to test our software and learn what it will really take to bring this technology into the world

May 27, 2014

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 210

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy is up at Atomic Power Review

ANS Nuclear Cafe - The Fight To Prevent Nuclear Plant Closures Gathers Steam by Jim Hopf

There is increasing concern over the ramifications of possible nuclear plant closures in the United States - and the idea of policy intervention to help prevent them is gaining political traction. Jim Hopf on the organization Nuclear Matters, the views of leadership at Exelon, rationale for much needed policy changes, questions on nuclear operating costs, and more.

New Phase of Superconductivity Discovered

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have discovered a previously unknown phase in a class of superconductors called iron arsenides. This sheds light on a debate over the interactions between atoms and electrons that are responsible for their unusual superconductivity.

“This new magnetic phase, which has never been observed before, could have significant implications for our understanding of unconventional superconductivity,” said Ray Osborn, an Argonne physicist and coauthor on the paper.

May 26, 2014

Medicine on the verge of drastically reducing and preventing HIV for a second sexual revolution

Federal health officials recommended two weeks ago that hundreds of thousands of Americans at risk for AIDS take a daily pill that has been shown to prevent infection with the virus that causes it.

If broadly followed, the advice could transform AIDS prevention in the United States — from reliance on condoms, which are effective but unpopular with many men, to a regimen that relies on an antiretroviral drug.

It would mean a 50-fold increase in the number of prescriptions for the drug, Truvada — to 500,000 a year from fewer than 10,000. The drug costs $13,000 a year, and most insurers already cover it.

Predictably, a backlash has arisen. Some men who use it instead of condoms are called “Truvada whores.” Some complain of being “slut-shamed” by their own doctors, who are reluctant to write prescriptions. Opponents said that syphilis and gonorrhea rates, already high among gay men, would worsen.

For now, Truvada has no Andromeda or Margaret Sanger. The C.D.C. recommendations were released quietly, with no news conference. And Gilead Sciences, its maker, doesn’t advertise it for PrEP.

Children's Health professionals recommend more pregnant and nursing women take 150 micrograms of iodine supplements

Currently, only 15 to 20 percent of pregnant and nursing women are taking supplements containing iodine, Paulson, Children's National Health System and chairman of the AAP's council on environmental health. They recommend women augment the iodine they get in foods with a supplement containing 150 micrograms of the element.

Dr. Luigi Garibaldi said he hoped the new statement wouldn't alarm women, especially since no one knows exactly what the effects of a slight iodine deficiency are. Nevertheless, it makes sense for women to supplement their iodine to be on the safe side, said Garibaldi, clinical director for pediatric endocrinology at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Do it yourself 12 inch stainless steel claws that come close to recreating Wolverine's claws

Garage inventor Colin Furze has recreated Wolverine’s signature claws.

The first ever fully automatic wolverine claws that deploy AND retact automaticlly. These beuatiful 12" stainless steel claws fire out at the touch of a button and bring me as close as anyone has to feeling like they have adamantium claws.

May 25, 2014

Space Startup Plans - space telescopes and launches

Here is a list of planned activity from new Space launch related startups.

Lauren De Niro Pipher, head of astronaut relations at Virgin Galactic, revealed that the company’s founder plans to fly with his family aboard the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo rocket plane in November or December of this year. The flight will launch the company’s suborbital spaceflight business, for which De Niro Pipher said more than 700 customers have so far put down deposits on tickets costing $200,000 to $250,000.

The director of business development for Blue Origin, Bretton Alexander, announced his company’s intention to begin test flights of its first full-scale vehicle within the next year.

Planetary Resources asteroid hunting telescopes

If all goes according to plan, a fleet of Arkyd 100s will first scan the skies from Earth orbit in search of nearby asteroids that might be rich in mineral wealth and water, to be visited by the next generation of Arkyd probes. Water is potentially valuable for future space-based enterprises as rocket fuel (split into its constituent elements of hydrogen and oxygen) and for use in life support systems. Planetary Resources plans to “launch early, launch often,” Lewicki told me after his presentation. To that end, the company is building a series of CubeSat-size spacecraft dubbed Arkyd 3s, to be launched from the International Space Station by the end of this year.

Tech Startups and $150 billion in capital are fleeing Russia this year

A wave of small and large businesses pulling out or reducing their presence in Russia. Western sanctions over Russia's invasion of Crimea and Russian efforts to insulate the country against economic warfare make doing business in Russia too risky for a globally oriented company.

Andre Eggert, a managing partner at Berlin tech law firm LACORE Rechtsanwälte, says Gouchtchina of ZeeRabbit is one of 10 Russian tech entrepreneurs who turned to the firm for moving help in the past three months. While the number is small, "The fact that there were none before — we thought it was important," Eggert says.

"Most of them are hoping for additional finance rounds with U.S. and Western European investors, which will not be happening anymore if sanctions or tensions between Russia and the West become more severe," he says.

And these tech companies' employees, mostly young educated and single, Eggert says, want a freer environment to live in, like Berlin, Silicon Valley or Tel Aviv.

The small tech companies are leaving the country together with an projected $150 billion in cash expected to flee Russia this year, while large U.S. manufacturers are cutting back or quitting the Russian market

Open Thread

Here is the weekend open thread for new discussion topics and for suggesting interesting URLs.

Please be polite and courteous in your discussions. Argue about the material but do not make personal attacks


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