June 28, 2014

EMC2 Bussard Fusion Dr Park Spoke about the status of the project

Here is a summarize the relevant gleanings briefly from an attendee from Talk Polywell

1) Dr. Park is interested in trying to form the potential well as the next step in the research program.

2) There was a discussion between Dr. Park and Prof. Forest about MHD (magneto hydro dynamics) and the lack of axial symmetry. Dr. Park's conclusion was that it's very difficult to address high-beta with a PIC code, but high beta is necessary to explain the improved confinement of fast electrons. 3-D MHD codes have been tried on the Polywell but the results don't agree with the PIC results. More MHD work by collaborators would be nice.

3) Dr. Park would also like to map out the magnetic field, but it will be difficult to do in a pulsed experiment. The discharges are short, and they are quite dynamic due to the gun formation (he showed a video of the visible emission from the two blobs of plasma from each gun as they collided in the center and wiggled around). He said they've only take 50 shots, because they have to 'reload' the gun each time they fire.

4) In the future, he'd like to have a longer plasma sustainment time than the guns can provide, and then implement Thomson scattering diagnostic to measure the density and temperature more accurately.

5)There is evidently a sweet spot at 2.7 kG [kiloGauss?]; lowering the magnetic field to 1.6 kG doesn't produce as good results, even though that means beta is higher. They don't really know why this is true.

6) DoE funding is unlikely in the future, Dr. Park thinks China or possibly Korea may be interested though.

7) the confinement time is theorized to scale as the 3/2 [half cube] power of the energy of the electrons, so it would be easier to confine very hot electrons than cold ones.

8) Expect more publications in the future.
He promised to send the slides from his talk.

Production HondaJet is flying and will have breakthroughs like 2 to 3 times more fuel efficient when commercial in 2015

The first production HondaJet achieved its initial flight, marking another milestone toward aircraft certification and entry into service in 2015. The event took place at the company's world headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina.

“With this first flight, the HondaJet program has entered the next exciting phase as we prepare for delivery,” said Honda Aircraft Company President and CEO Michimasa Fujino. “Today's celebration is the culmination of extensive engineering and production efforts, and this is an important achievement in bringing the world's most advanced light jet to market.”

The first production aircraft lifted off from the Piedmont Triad International Airport (KGSO) at 10:18 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. During the 84-minute flight, the aircraft climbed to 15,500 feet and reached a speed of 348 Knots True Airspeed (KTAS). Following a smooth landing, the aircraft and its crew were greeted by more than 1,000 Honda Aircraft team members to commemorate the milestone.

Max Range: 1,180 nautical miles
Max Seating: 6 passengers
Price (Approximate): $3.7 Million

China's High-Speed Rail Diplomacy Hits Full Speed with 20 countries in deep talks about high speed rail with China involvement

China's high-speed railroad network surpassed 10,000 kilometers in length, not even counting the track still being built, Li Keqiang has continued his efforts to seek overseas projects.

The latest progress came during Li's three-day visit to Britain in mid-June. The two countries released a statement stating that they "agree to promote substantive cooperation on rail, including high-speed rail, in areas including design, engineering, construction, supply, operations and maintenance.

A report by the International Union of Railways says 10 countries or regions around the world have high-speed rail operations and another 10 have begun planning to build networks. By 2025, the number of kilometers of high-speed rail tracks around the world is expected to double.

Industry experts see in China a country that has gone from zero kilometers of track to more than 10,000 kilometers in four years, and is therefore particularly well-positioned in this expanding market.

A sort of "high-speed rail diplomacy" has become an extra arm of the government's foreign affairs. Li has taken every opportunity to promote China's high-speed rail technologies during his trips abroad, thus earning the nickname China's High-Speed Rail Salesman.

China yuan moving up the world currency ranks and shifting to a strengthening trend

China's yuan is currently the 7th most used currency for world trade payments. It will likely be the 5th most used currency by the end of this year and the 4th most used currency by the middle of 2015.

Europe has seen the strongest year-on-year growth in yuan payment value.

The yuan has become the second-most popular currency in cross-border transactions between China and the rest of the world, driven by its greater use in global trade and investment as offshore yuan hubs spring up, according to Swift.

Alain Raes, the chief executive for Asia-Pacific and Europe, Middle East and Africa at Swift, attributed the rapid growth to the proliferation of offshore yuan hubs outside Hong Kong, helping increase yuan deposits and bolstering formation of offshore yuan capital pools.

"Hong Kong has the most-established and largest [yuan] corridor with mainland China, but as other financial centres such as London, Singapore and Frankfurt establish the necessary infrastructure and agreements to support [yuan] transactions, we will see the [yuan] grow significantly in these markets," he said.

Currency traders and analyst are now expecting the yuan to go back to a rising trend in terms of its value to the US dollar. China's yuan is headed to end the second consecutive month stronger against the dollar, further distancing from the 19-month low of 6.2673 touched on 30 April as most indicators released during June surprised on the higher side. Investors now consider the appreciation trend has returned after the sharp fall in the first four months of 2014.

June 27, 2014

General Fusion wins British Columbia NextBC high tech showcase and added a NASA astronaut and an EPA administrator to their advisory council

General Fusion, working on magnetized target nuclear fusion, won gold in DigiBC’s NextBC high-tech showcase.

General Fusion will build a ~3-metre diameter spherical tank filled with liquid metal (lead-lithium mixture). The liquid is spun to open up a vertical cylindrical cavity in the centre of the sphere (vortex). This vortex flow is established and maintained by an external pumping system; the liquid flows into the sphere through tangentially directed ports at the equator and is pumped out radially through ports near the poles of the sphere. Two spheromaks (self confined magnetized plasma rings) composed of the deuterium-tritium fuel are then injected from each end of the cavity. They merge in the centre to form a single magnetized plasma target. The outside of the sphere is covered with pneumatic rams. The rams use compressed gas to accelerate pistons to ~50 m/s. These pistons simultaneously impact a set of stationary anvil pistons at the surface of the sphere, which collectively launch a high pressure spherical compression wave into the liquid metal. As the wave travels and focuses towards the centre, it becomes stronger and evolves into a strong shock wave. When the shock arrives in the centre, it rapidly collapses the cavity with the plasma in it. At maximum compression the conditions for fusion are briefly met and a fusion burst occurs releasing its energy in fast neutrons. The neutrons are slowed down by the liquid metal causing it to heat up. A heat exchanger transfers that heat to a standard steam cycle turbo-alternator to produce electricity for the grid. Some of the steam is used to run the rams. The lithium in the liquid metal finally absorbs the neutrons and produces tritium that is extracted and used as fuel for subsequent shots. This cycle is repeated about one time per second.

General Fusion Inc. announced Tuesday that it has appointed astronaut Mark Kelly and former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Carol M. Browner to its nine-member advisory council.

Gilliland plans to have a so-called “alpha” plant in operation within the next few years, which would prove the viability of the technology. He sees it going much further than that, however.

“We’ve got literally billions of years of fuel,” he says. “Where we hope to be in a few years is that a very significant portion of the electricity the world is generating is from fusion.”

Aside from electricity, fusion produces a lot of heat, and that heat can be used for other applications. According to Gilliland, even an oil and gas firm has invested in order to develop a cheaper and cleaner way to extract and refine its products.

General Fusion's site provides more information

LPP Fusion Crowdfunding at 72% of the way to $200K target with 8 days to go

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 72% of the way to the $200,000 they needed for a few key experiments with 8 days to go in the crowdfunding effort.

Success would be better than doubling NASA's budget and 100,000 times cheaper than one year of double NASA budget

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics has thanked Nextbigfuture.com and the Nextbigfuture community.

The Nextbigfuture community have been early contributors to this key energy project and we have helped to get the word out on social media.

A few thousand people can change the course of the future

If this project is successfully fully funded and then leads to a successful experiment, then Nextbigfuture and the Nextbigfuture community will have been a significant part of creating a better future for space technology and energy.

LPP needs about 2300 more people to donate on average about $25 each or fewer people with larger average donations.

The Battle of Thermopylae was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, led by King Leonidas of Sparta, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I over the course of three days, during the second Persian invasion of Greece. It changed the course of history. It is remembered for the 300 Spartans at the battle. However, it was a Greek force of 7000 men at the start. Later the bulk of the Greek army was dismissed and 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians, 400 Thebans and perhaps a few hundred others, most of whom were killed fought to the end. They died making history but you can help make the future for a few dollars.

Relatively Painless Money Saving Ideas to free up money to possibly change the world

You can rent two movies from Redbox instead of going to the theater and donate the savings.

Switch out of cable or satellite television and use Netflix and a HDTV antenna.

Use voice over internet phone services like OOMA or only use a mobile phone and no landline.

the future of more cities, more nuclear energy, and water management

1. There are 22 cities with a population over 10 million people today, according to the United Nations. By 2040 there should be 31 more cities with over 10 million people based on current projections. They will predominantly in China with nine and India with eight. The numbers also show that the world is becoming more urban. For example, whereas only about 25 percent of the people in China lived in urban areas in 1990, that figure grew to 50 percent in 2010, and is expected to reach 75 percent by 2040. India and Africa are following similar tracks. Urbanization is closely associated with energy demand, and greater urbanization is projected to lead to greater electrification around the world.

The link between urbanization and energy demand is tied to several factors:
* The expansion of urban infrastructure creates demand for iron, steel, cement and other industrial goods that are energy intensive.
* Urban income levels tend to be higher than in rural areas
* Energy-intense manufacturing and other industries cluster around cities
* The number of people per household is usually lower in urban settings, which leads to a higher number of actual households.
* Urbanization results in sizable, "lumpy" demands for energy and electricity, which augur well for nuclear power. Urbanization tends to track to higher levels of air pollution, which should help nuclear power as well since it's a carbon-free generation source.

Large scale nuclear energy construction will be in China and India and to a lesser extent some other emerging countries with urbanization surges. The developed countries in the US and Europe would only do this if they chose to phase out coal and replace it with nuclear but the trend is to shift to natural gas and some solar and wind.

2. China should vigorously develop nuclear energy and restart the plan to build nuclear power stations inland to reduce the nation's high energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product and clear smog and haze, said The Report on the Development of China's Eco-Cities (2014). China's primary energy consumption in 2012 was 3.62 billion metric tons of standard coal, or 20 percent of the world's total energy consumption.

China creates 14,000 yuan ($2,250) of GDP when burning one ton of standard coal. The figure is the equivalent of 25,000 yuan for the global average, 31,000 yuan for the Unites States, and 50,000 yuan for Japan, the report said

800 MW fast neutron russian breeder reactor is fully powered up

Rosenergoatom engineers brought to criticality Beloyarsk 4 - a 789 MWe fast-neutron reactor of the BN-800 design - while its parent Rosatom honoured the operators who commissioned the 5 MWe Obinsk reactor on the same day in 1954.

Beloyarsk 4 is fuelled by a mix of uranium and plutonium oxides arranged to produce new fuel material as it burns. Its capacity exceeds that of the world's second most powerful fast reactor - 560 Mwe Beloyarsk 3. Russia plans to build a BN-1200 fast reactor power unit at Beloyarsk to start up by 2020.

Two BN-800 reactors in China, referred to by CIAE as 'project 2' Chinese Demonstration Fast Reactors (CDFR), had scheduled construction to start in 2013 and commissioning 2018-19. These would be similar to the OKBM Afrikantov design being built at Beloyarsk 4. In contrast to the intention in Russia, these will use ceramic MOX fuel pellets

Transhuman - it is not the individual that needs to be immortal it is the civilization that needs to be immortal

Ramez Naam makes the point that futurists need to follow what real human nature is and the economics of technology.

Ramez provides useful perspective in the video below.

* prosaic current actions for improvement are ignored and underestimated (exercise, learning a new skill are choices that can be made that improve more than any drug or enhancement now.). Also, improving money earning and money management or being able to start a successful company. Going from poor to wealthy is big change in capability and increases the equipment and resources that can be applied or influenced.

For people in poor countries, a big shift in what is possible is to move to a better company/job, better city or country where there are more opportunities. People who left India or Africa for America and Europe generally have become for more successful. They may not have changed much in the physical or intellectual sense but there were in a situation and supporting system for success. This goes to overestimating the individual and underestimating the group, the city, the country and society. I will revisit this later in the article.

* Greater than human intelligence exists. It is from companies like Intel, Google and the semiconductor and computer industries. The collective efforts of thousands to millions of coordinated people using a lot of computers, equipment and resources to improve technology. Later steps in improvement have been more difficult and required more resources. So we have tested the proposition that a certain level of greater than human intelligence and capability can accelerate development.

Look at the video and then I will make more of my points.

June 26, 2014

After being wrong for over a decade there are renewed predictions that India's GDP growth will pass China

India's GDP growth is expected to rebound with improved prospects for reforms, real gross domestic product (GDP) growth should increase from 4.7% in 2013-14 to around 6% in 2014-15 and 7% in 2015-16.

China is GDP Growth is expected to fall to around 7.3% this year and 7% next year. While a housing crunch could precipitate market turbulence and a sharper slowdown, a combination of a mini-stimulus and firmer external demand should help achieve a soft landing in China. In the medium term, policymakers are seeking a new normal annual growth path of 6-7%.

India finally had a significant round of economic reforms in 1991 after 3 decades of the hindu rate of growth after indepedence. Over the last two decades, India’s economy has almost quadrupled in size, growing at an average rate of about 7% per annum and over 9% from 2005 to 2007. India got close but never passed China in GDP growth in any year. Every year since about 2000, there were those who predicted that China's economy would do badly and India's economy would do better. The main reason were younger demographics and more english speakers and perhaps democracy.

We will see if China finally slowing down with a more mature economy will allow India to finally start catching up economically.

Google takes android everywhere to Android watches, Android for the car and Android for the TV

Google developers got a preview of Google's most ambitious Android release yet. With more than 5,000 new APIs (for non-techies, that stands for application programming interfaces) and a new, consistent design approach called material design, we’re continuing to evolve the Android platform so developers can bring to life even more beautiful, engaging mobile experiences.

Google is taking Android beyond the mobile phone, to the home, work, car, or even on our wrist. So, Google got to thinking: how do they invest more in their two popular, open platforms—Android and Chrome—to make it easier to easily and intuitively move from your phone, tablet, laptop to your TV, car or even your watch?

On the go: Android Wear and Android Auto

Most people check their phones more than 150 times a day. Often, it’s to read a text, look at a notification, or get some other simple piece of information. That’s a lot of time spent unlocking, swiping and entering passwords, when your hands could easily be free handling more important things.

Enter Android Wear, which extends Android, and its ecosystem of apps, to that most familiar spot for a “wearable,” your wrist. You get the information you need, quickly at a glance—just like you’re used to doing with your watch. Just say “Ok Google” to ask questions or to get stuff done. Get alerted when it's time to leave for dinner. Call a cab to take you there. See the traffic on the way. Text a friend once you're seated. It’s all right there, on your wrist, easy to see, right when you want it. Today we announced that two Android wearables, the LG G Watch and Samsung Gear Live, are available to order today on Google Play, and the Moto 360 from Motorola will be available in the coming months.

WSJ - Google wants to get smartphones in the hands of billions more, and he unveiled an initiative, Android One, to encourage the development of phones for less than $100 in developing countries.

NY Times - Google unveiled additions to Drive, its online storage service, tailored for businesses. Google said companies would be able to audit which employees were reading what documents, more easily encrypt documents and gain access and work with documents stored in older formats, like Microsoft Office. All of that is tied with an effort to improve battery life for Android devices, with a tool called Project Volta.

Carbon nanotube fiber ribbon with high electric conductivity and tensile strength of 5.53 gigapascal

Nature Communications - High-strength carbon nanotube fibre-like ribbon with high ductility and high electrical conductivity

Macroscopic fibres made up of carbon nanotubes exhibit properties far below theoretical predictions and even much lower than those for conventional carbon fibres. Here we report improvements of mechanical and electrical properties by more than one order of magnitude by pressurized rolling. Our carbon nanotubes self-assemble to a hollow macroscopic cylinder in a tube reactor operated at high temperature and then condense in water or ethanol to form a fibre, which is continually spooled in an open-air environment. This initial fibre is densified by rolling under pressure, leading to a combination of high tensile strength (3.76–5.53 GPa), high tensile ductility (8–13%) and high electrical conductivity ((1.82–2.24) × 10^4 S cm−1). Our study therefore demonstrates strategies for future performance maximization and the very considerable potential of carbon nanotube assemblies for high-end uses.

A breakthrough flexible, energy-efficient hybrid circuit made from carbon nanotube could one day replace silicon in some commercial applications in 5-10 years

Researchers from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering describe how they have overcome a major issue in carbon nanotube technology by developing a flexible, energy-efficient hybrid circuit combining carbon nanotube thin film transistors with other thin film transistors. This hybrid could take the place of silicon as the traditional transistor material used in electronic chips, since carbon nanotubes are more transparent, flexible and can be processed at a lower cost.

A perfect marriage of materials

Carbon nanotubes are so small that they can only be viewed through a scanning electron microscope. This hybridization of carbon nanotube thin films and IGZO thin films was achieved by combining their types — p-type and n-type, respectively — to create circuits that can operate complementarily, reducing power loss and increasing efficiency. The inclusion of IGZO thin film transistors was necessary to provide power efficiency to increase battery life. If only carbon nanotubes had been used, then the circuits would not be power-efficient. By combining the two materials, their strengths have been joined and their weaknesses hidden.

Applications for this kind of integrated circuitry are numerous, including Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs), digital circuits, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, sensors, wearable electronics and flash memory devices. Even heads-up displays on vehicle dashboards could soon be a reality.

Nature Communications - Large-scale complementary macroelectronics using hybrid integration of carbon nanotubes and IGZO thin-film transistors

June 25, 2014

US Population 2060 and the twilight of the Baby Boomers

The US Census released in 2013 population projections to 2060.

According to the projections, the population age 65 and older is expected to more than double between 2012 and 2060, from 43.1 million to 92.0 million. The older population would represent just over one in five U.S. residents by the end of the period, up from one in seven today. The increase in the number of the “oldest old” would be even more dramatic — those 85 and older are projected to more than triple from 5.9 million to 18.2 million, reaching 4.3 percent of the total population.

The non-Hispanic white population is projected to peak in 2024, at 199.6 million, up from 197.8 million in 2012. Unlike other race or ethnic groups, however, its population is projected to slowly decrease, falling by nearly 20.6 million from 2024 to 2060.

Meanwhile, the Hispanic population would more than double, from 53.3 million in 2012 to 128.8 million in 2060. Consequently, by the end of the period, nearly one in three U.S. residents would be Hispanic, up from about one in six today.

The black population is expected to increase from 41.2 million to 61.8 million over the same period. Its share of the total population would rise slightly, from 13.1 percent in 2012 to 14.7 percent in 2060.

The Asian population is projected to more than double, from 15.9 million in 2012 to 34.4 million in 2060, with its share of nation's total population climbing from 5.1 percent to 8.2 percent in the same period.

Sometime around 2040-2050, the US population should reach 400 million.

Even though world population might peak at 10-11 billion at about that time, the US is still expecting to attract and allow more immigration. Perhaps as much 1.6 million per year.

Pentagon view of China's military, South China Sea Situation and Possibilities

A Department of Defense report to Congress looks at Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2014. It is 96 pages and looks at China's military capability and what if China decided to retake the island of Taiwan by force?

A chinese invasion of Taiwan is unlikely at the moment. The election of a less hardline-nationalist government in Taipei has smoothed over cross-Strait relations. Overall, “China appears prepared to defer the use of force as long as it believes that unification over the long term remains possible and the costs of conflict outweigh the benefits.”

China’s military engagement with other countries seeks to enhance China’s international presence and influence by improving relationships with foreign militaries, bolstering China’s international and regional image, and assuaging other countries’ concerns about China’s rise. The PLA’s engagement activities assist its modernization through the acquisition of advanced weapon systems and technologies, increased operational experience, and access to foreign military practices, doctrine, and training methods.

From 2008 to 2012, China signed about $10 billion in agreements for conventional arms sales worldwide.

China continues to support counterpiracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden, a commitment that began in December 2008.

Senior Chinese officials have identified protecting China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as a “core interest,” and PRC officials repeatedly state China’s opposition to actions they perceive as a challenge to this core interest. In the South China Sea, Chinese maritime law enforcement vessels maintained a presence at Scarborough Reef throughout 2013, following the 2012 standoff with the Philippine coast guard. In May 2013, China sent maritime law enforcement ships to the waters near Second Thomas Shoal in the disputed Spratly Islands. Philippine military personnel are stationed on Second Thomas Shoal aboard a former U.S. tank-landing ship that was deliberately grounded there in 1999. Both sides claim sovereignty over Scarborough Reef and Second Thomas Shoal, and China maintains a continuous civilian maritime law enforcement presence at both locations

Current Capabilies of China's Military
Second Artillery Force.
The Second Artillery controls most of China’s nuclear and conventional ballistic missiles. It is developing and testing several new classes and variants of offensive missiles, forming additional missile units, upgrading older missile systems, and developing methods to counter ballistic missile defenses. By November 2013, the Second Artillery possessed
more than 1,000 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) in its inventory. China is increasing the lethality of
this missile force by fielding new conventional medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs) to improve its ability to strike not only Taiwan but other regional targets.

Prospects for lower cost nuclear fission power

A Technology Review article laments that there is a slump in nuclear constuction "worldwide" and that this will mean climate targets will not be met.

What really is meant
* Japan turned off their 50 nuclear reactors and have not turned them back on and have scaled back their nuclear plans and are mostly using coal to replace the power
* Germany has turned off some and wants to turn off all of their nuclear reactors and are mostly using coal to replace the power
* China is still pushing ahead with nuclear construction plans after a 2 year pause in new construction starts

If the emerging economies like China and India do not have strong growth then there will be less new power generation built.

China is the main place making and scaling new reactor technology and driving costs down

Installed generating capacity at the end of 2012 reached 1145 GWe 19% up in two years. Capacity growth is expected to slow, reaching about 1600 GWe in 2020, and 2000 GWe in 2025.

China's nuclear reactors tend to cost from $1500 to $2500 per KW. This is a far lower cost than in Europe or the US.
Controlled cost is a good reason that China is building about 28 out of the 69 nuclear reactors under construction in the world. China, Russia, India and South Korea are where 50 out of the 69 world nuclear reactors are being built. They all have construction costs under control and tend to be 2 to 3 times cheaper than in Europe or the USA.

CNEA estimated in May 2013 that the construction cost for two AP1000 units at Sanmen are CNY 40.1 billion ($6.54 billion), or 16,000 Yuan/kW installed ($2615/kW), instead of CNY 32.4 billion earlier estimated. This is about 20% higher than that of improved Generation II Chinese reactors, and 14% higher than latest estimate for CPR-1000, but likely to drop to about CNY 13,000/kW ($2120/kW) with series construction and localisation as envisaged. Grid purchase price is expected to exceed CNY 0.45/kWh at present costs, and drop to 0.42/kWh with reduced capital cost.

China has completed the basic technology research and published a development roadmap for a Generation IV demonstration supercritical-water-cooled reactor that could be commissioned in 2022.

This reactor could achieve costs that are up to half the cost of current reactors and have higher efficiency. They could be low cost enough to displace all future coal plant construction in China starting in 2025-2030. $900 per kilowatt is over three times cheaper than the estimated overnight cost of advanced nuclear reactors ($3100 per kilowatt) estimated by the US department of energy

The main other possibility for new lower cost nuclear fission power is Terrestrial Energy in Canada.

Canadian David LeBlanc is developing the Integral Molten Salt Reactor, or IMSR. The goal is to commercialize the Terrestrial reactor by 2021.

The Integral Molten Salt Reactor could get costs down to 0.86 cents per Kwh.

Molten Salt and Oilsands
* Using nuclear produced steam for Oil Sands production long studied
* Vast majority of oil only accessible by In-Situ methods
* No turbine island needed so 30% to 40% the capital cost saved (instead of steam to turbine for electricity just send it underground to produce oil from oilsands)
* Oil sands producers expected to pay 200 Billion$ on carbon taxes over the next 35 years, funds mandated to be spent on cleantech initiatives
* Canada Oil Sands in ground reserves of 2 trillion barrels, current estimate 10% recoverable (likely much higher with cheaper steam)
* 64 GWth nuclear to add 6.4 million bbls/day (200B$/year revenue)
* 64 GWth needed as about 200 small 300MWth MSRs
* Oil Sands a bridge to MSRs then with time, MSRs a bridge to not needing oil

There is a report by the Breakthrough Institute on how to make nuclear energy cheap

Solarcity gigasolar panel factories and Tesla gigabattery factories are Elon Musk moves to outscale the industries to drive down costs while scaling up the markets

SolarCity installs 25% of the residential solar panels in the United States.

SolarCity said it was in talks to build a giant solar-panel factory near Buffalo, New York "At a targeted capacity greater than 1 Gigawatt within the next two years, it will be one of the single largest solar panel production plants in the world," the company said in a blog post.

If the solar industry were to generate 40 percent of the world’s electricity with photovoltaics by 2040, that would mean installing more than 400 GW of solar capacity per year for the next 25 years. We absolutely believe that solar power can and will become the world’s predominant source of energy within our lifetimes, but there are obviously a lot of panels that have to be manufactured and installed in order for that to happen.

SolarCity is acquiring Silevo for as much as $350 million in an all-stock deal. Silevo is known for its high-efficiency Triex modules, and SolarCity CEO Peter Rive said in a conference call that the company was eventually aiming to produce panels with 24 percent efficiency.

Tesla plans to build a battery “gigafactory” that by 2020 will have the capacity to produce just over 10 times the amount of batteries used in all electric vehicles in 2013.

Tesla wants to be in production by 2017 — three years from now — and at max capacity as soon as 2020. The “giga” in the name apparently comes from the 2020 plant capacity: 35 gigawatt-hours (GWh) per year in cells, 50 GWh/year in packs, suggesting Tesla would bring in batteries from outside.

The Gigafactory will facility have 10 million square feet.

Combined having the largest solar panel and advanced battery factories means that Elon Musk can provide cheaper solar power with battery storage

HeroX has a Self Replicating Robot Challenge

Fraser Cain of Universe Today is now Product Manager at HeroX

As an example, Fraser Cain created a self-replicating robot challenge.

Self Replicating Robot Challenge

Fraser Cain, Product Manager for HeroX.

I’m a big fan of robots, but building robots is hard.
You need a lot of tools, you get grease on your hands. There’s reading involved.

Robots are here to do hard work right? So I believe building robots is a job for robots.

I’m challenging all you robot builders to solve this problem.

I want to see a robot copy itself from raw materials. Then those two robots get together and make a third robot, and so on, and so on.

Crafting a robot capable of making another robot is a difficult task. I’m game to make it worth your while.

I’m offering a crisp Canadian $100 bill to the first one across the finish line.

This won’t necessarily be enough money to encourage robot creators around the globe, despite the massive bragging rights that go along with it.

And maybe you’re watching this thinking “Hey, I love robots too! Yet I have no idea how to build them”.

And so it’s also you I’m calling upon. You and all other future thinking people to join me and pledge to make this a reality.

Let’s make an X-Prize, but for robots.

Diamandis creates HeroX for crowdsourcing Xprize-Like Challenges like Self-replicating Robots

HeroX. It's a spinoff from the X Prize Foundation, taking the incentive challenge model and crowdsourcing it.

HeroX is a platform where anyone can spur innovation and solve problems by launching a challenge. It is a place for the world to come together to solve problems in need of creative solutions. And we need your ideas to make it hum!

We are launching the ImagineX Challenge because we are looking for the best, most exciting challenges to run on our platform. We want you to create a challenge that motivates someone else to solve it.

What breakthrough can you imagine, if it could be anything? Really, anything. It could be anything from poverty to potholes, climate change to cat rescue.

Imagine the breakthrough is “x” -- someone else solves for “x” -- and we all live in a world where “x” is solved. You set the guidelines, you create the finish line, and you make it possible for someone else to solve “x”.

The HeroX ImagineX Challenge will award $1,000 to the creators of the 10 best challenges.

What's a great challenge? A great challenge:

Addresses a problem that people want solved
Is important to a large number of people
Is solvable
Engages people in discussing, competing and solving the challenge
Provides all the required information for a challenge to run on HeroX.com
Fits within the HeroX Terms of Use

Here's a video from Peter Diamandis about HeroX:

HeroX will give away $1000 for the 10 best challenge ideas submitted to their site

Participate in the ImagineX Challenge for your chance to win one of ten $1000 prizes, just by answering the question, "What challenges in the world would you solve?"

The ImagineX Challenge is sponsored by HeroX, the world's problem-solving platform.

June 24, 2014

Japan's aging society is forcing relaxation of old prejudices against women and foreigners and an accelerated attempt at a robotic revolution and stave off economic implosion

Japan's aging society is rapidly shrinking the workforce. Aging is forcing Japan to attempt to relax old prejudices against women and foreigners. Plus there is an attempt to achieve a robotic revolution. Japan is pulling out all the stops to hit the 2 percent GDP growth target the government says is needed to reduce its mammoth public debt.

Japan’s government is also urged the nation’s business leaders to do more to boost the role of working women. That is seen as vital due to the shrinking workforce in one of the world’s most rapidly ageing societies. Japan is takingsteps to increase the number of highly skilled foreign workers, and expand a controversial foreign trainee programme, which has been accused of exploiting participants. Another aspect of the growth strategy is the boosting of productivity through a “robotic revolution”, but experts have warned that even with automated aid it will take years for Japan to achieve the necessary growth.

June 23, 2014

HP promises 6 times the compute at 80 times less power and transforming the cloud into a distributed compute mesh

The Machine will scale from embedded systems to data centers and clouds.

Martin Fink, EVP and HP CTO, discussed his vision of how today's compute technology must evolve in order to meet the future needs of your enterprise. HP Labs is developing a powerful, distributed successor to today's computing architecture that will be able to ingest and extract value from vast datasets locally using very little energy. HP Labs is rethinking what computing means, and this revolution will transform every aspect of your business from physical infrastructure to analytics to content delivery.

HP Labs unveils the machine, promises Memristor DIMM in 2016 and the Machine as a product in 2019

HP will start delivering memristor-based RAM DIMMs in 2016, and the Machine itself is expected to be available as a product by 2019. But within the next year, HP will release an open-source Machine OS software developer’s kit and start producing prototypes for collaboration with software vendors.

Some enterprise systems already use nonvolatile RAM based on battery-powered DRAM to help prevent data loss in the event of a power outage. But memristor RAM is an entirely different thing—it could theoretically allow for computers to start processing again in the exact same state they were in before they were disconnected from power. That would make “instant on” devices much more power-efficient, but it would also completely change how operating systems deal with system resets and powering down—they would have to figure out what needed to be kept in memory and what needed to be cleared before restarting. Errors could result if certain areas in memory weren't cleared.

Sontag said that programming languages will also have to change. “In the very long term,” Sontag said, “we have to change the memory semantics of programming languages to make it possible to say what is stored in nonvolatile memory and what isn’t. We need to come to an agreement with the industry about the semantics for nonvolatile RAM.”

As part of an effort to create that agreement, HP is turning to the open source community. “We have a number of approaches for what stays in nonvolatile memory that we’ll sort through in the next year and then take it to the Linux community,” said Sontag.

* low latency access to universal memory
* orders of magnitude more energy efficient
* special purpose cores focuses on the compute that you are doing - customize hardware to change cost energy curve

World economy projected to recover to 3.5% GDP growth in 2015 and 2016

Developing countries are headed for a third consecutive year of disappointing growth below 5 percent, as first quarter weakness in 2014 has delayed an expected pick-up in economic activity, says the World Bank’s latest Global Economic Prospects report, issued on June 10, 2014.

In contrast, recovery in high-income countries is gaining momentum, despite first quarter weakness in the United States. These economies are expected to grow by 1.9 percent in 2014, accelerating to 2.4 percent in 2015 and 2.5 percent in 2016. The Euro Area is on target to grow by 1.1 percent this year, while the United States economy, which contracted in the first quarter due to severe weather, is expected to grow by 2.1 percent this year (down from the previous forecast of 2.8 percent).

The global economy is expected to pick up speed as the year progresses and is projected to expand by 2.8 percent this year, strengthening to 3.4 and 3.5 percent in 2015 and 2016, respectively. High-income economies will contribute about half of global growth in 2015 and 2016, compared with less than 40 percent in 2013.

China will need to remove all fertility restrictions in order to get reasonable bump in birth rate

Beijing decided to significantly scale back the one-child policy in November last year. Leading Chinese demographers, such as Cai Fang from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, predict the policy change would lead to a significant improvement in the country’s terribly low fertility rate. Cai believes the birth rate will bounce back to 2.4 if the change in one-child policy is implemented immediately. Even a gradual implementation would lead to a much healthier figure of 1.8, according to his interview with Caixin.

However, the reality on the ground is much less optimistic than what scholars are predicting. For example, Zhejiang province has a population of 54 million people, with a birth rate of 1.02, and it is one of the first local governments to scale back the draconian one-child policy.

If Cai’s prediction is right, there should be 360,000 new babies born in the province this year. However, only 27,549 eligible couples applied for approvals to have a second child by March 31, according to Caixin. In Jiangxi, a province of 45 million people, only 3,477 eligible couples applied to have another baby, according to Jiangxi Daily.

The lukewarm response to the change in policy shows that the government has significantly overestimated peoples' willingness to bear more children. The early data is particularly concerning given that people are expecting more couples to apply for permission to have more children in the first few months after the change in policy.

NBF - China will have to completely remove all restrictions against children and flip to a Singapore incentives program for couples to have more children.

China's cities grant hukou for house purchases like Portugal offering citizenship for house purchases

Last week, central China's Wuhan City eased its household curbs to allow older college graduates working in the city to settle locally, a move expected to attract 100,000 graduates, hopefully boosting property purchases.

Previously, south China's Haikou City allowed five family members to register their household locally if one purchases a house with a space of above 120 square meters, while neighboring Nanning City, Guangdong Province and east China's Wuxi all lowered the threshold for similar house purchases that grant buyers local hukou.

Hukou, or permanent residential permit, ties subsidized social services including health, housing, education or pensions to one's legal residence and is much coveted in first- and second-tier cities. Many migrant workers without local hukou face complicated home buying requirements such as minimum working time in the city.

North Dakota Produces over 1 million barrels of oil per day in April, 2014

The First US High Speed Rail Line could be $10 billion privately funded line from Dallas to Houston

Texas Central plans to fund construction of high speed rail from Dallas to Houston — with early estimates put at about $10 billion — exclusively through private investment. It would consider federal financing, says Lawless, but it will not accept subsidies even if the line fails to turn a profit.

Texas Central Railway, a private company that plans to link Dallas and Houston with a 200-mile-per-hour bullet train as soon as 2021. The venture just might be high-speed rail's best hope in the United States.

"The project has been progressing below the radar, very quietly, very deliberately, over the last four years plus," says Lawless. It's now undergoing an environmental impact study that will take between two and three years, but Texas Central, whose backers include Japan's JR Central railway, has already conducted its own extensive research. The company, originally called U.S.-Japan High-Speed Rail, looked at 97 possible routes nationwide before concluding that Texas was the ideal place for a high-speed line — and that healthy profits could be made in long-distance passenger rail, a travel mode that for the past 40 years has existed only with the help of massive government subsidies.

"Texas is special," says Lawless. He lists among its advantages a flat, rural landscape, staggering growth potential, and a "business-friendly approach." He adds that "as city pairs, Dallas and Houston are pretty unique in the United States." The cities are 240 miles apart, a distance Lawless describes as a "sweet spot" for high-speed rail, where it beats both air and highway travel.

The company is working under the assumption that both metro area populations will double by 2035, but their economies are already linked to an extent that that the railway's backers can count on a steady flow of traffic between them. Crucial to the line's success will be the 50,000 people who commute regularly between Dallas and Houston, currently a five-hour schlep in traffic or an hour-long flight on Southwest Airlines — which, when factoring in security lines and travel to and from the airport, takes longer than the 90-minute ride, downtown to downtown.

China sees selling High Speed Rail to UK as part of international strategic network of Europe and Asia high speed rail

China might allow Britain to take part in the construction of a large undersea tunnel in exchange for a role in its high-speed railway and nuclear power projects, a senior state firm engineer said.

Professor Wang Mengshu, deputy chief engineer with China Railway Tunnel Group and a senior scientific adviser to the government on high-speed railway projects, said British representatives had gone to China to discuss cooperation in the construction of the 123km Bohai Strait Tunnel.

The project, which was submitted to the central government for final approval earlier this year, would connect Dalian in Liaoning and Yantai in Shandong province.

The 260 billion yuan (HK$323.7 billion) tunnel would exceed the combined length of Japan's Seikan tunnel and the tunnel that connects England to France.

"Britain has offered the technology and experience that they acquired in the construction under the English Channel," Wang said. "China has asked them to come up with a plan with technical details."

In exchange, China hoped to take part in Britain's construction of high-speed railway lines and new nuclear reactors planned by the government.

But China faced a hard sell, Wang said. "The country is too small. They don't have much land for long-haul high-speed rail projects with speeds of 350km/h or higher.

China Builds Artificial Islands in South China Sea

Sand, cement, wood, and steel are China’s weapons of choice as it asserts its claim over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and Brunei have sparred for decades over ownership of the 100 islands and reefs, which measure less than 1,300 acres in total but stretch across an area about the size of Iraq. In recent months, vessels belonging to the People’s Republic have been spotted ferrying construction materials to build new islands in the sea. Pasi Abdulpata, a Filipino fishing contractor who in October was plying the waters near Parola Island in the northern Spratlys, says he came across “this huge Chinese ship sucking sand and rocks from one end of the ocean and blasting it to the other using a tube.”

Artificial islands could help China anchor its claim to waters that host some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. The South China Sea may hold as much as 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to a 2013 report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

At a briefing last month, Voltaire Gazmin, the Philippine defense minister, said land reclamation work at Johnson South Reef started in February. There have been reports of Chinese activity at two other reefs in the Spratlys. “They are creating artificial islands that never existed since the creation of the world,” says Eugenio Bito-onon, mayor of a sparsely populated stretch of the archipelago called Kalayaan. “The construction is massive and nonstop,” he says, and could pave the way for China’s “total control of the South China Sea.”

Carnival of Nuclear energy 214

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 214 is up at Atomic Ppwer Review

ANS Nuclear Cafe - What will it take to move nuclear energy forward? By Paul Bowersox

What's needed for a realistic and effective nuclear energy policy in the United States? How do we get there? A report from the 2014 American Nuclear Society Annual Meeting.

Workshop discussion concluded with what a realistic U.S. nuclear policy agenda would look like.

First, some movement on nuclear waste policy is needed, now. The current Energy Bill in Congress may actually include some funding for a pilot interim storage facility—and that would be movement.

Second, a “good for nuclear” EPA carbon rule is needed, now. Public comments are open on the EPA rule, and ANS as a national organization will definitely be weighing in on this.

Third, low dose radiation health effects—or more accurately, the lack thereof—is an overriding issue. From discussion: Is it really the case that one can add up all radiation exposure throughout a lifetime and extrapolate some health effect from that number? It’s certainly one way to regulate radiation exposure, but is the situation with radiation dose more akin to a more familiar example: Occasionally drinking a glass of wine may even be good for you—but drink bottles every day and you’ll see plenty of adverse health effects? There seems to be some shifting among the scientific community regarding biological effects of low dose radiation, and research continues

Independent Stats from China Beige Book showing a slowing Chinese economy

China's manufacturing sector seems to be stabilizing with a good flash PMI (Producer Manufacturer Index).

China’s economic slowdown deepened this quarter, as capital spending showed weakness and fewer companies applied for credit, the Bloomberg news agency reported.

Half of businesses reported higher investment, the smallest proportion and the sharpest drop since the survey began 10 quarters ago, according to the China Beige Book, a report published quarterly by New York-based China Beige Book International. The slowdown hurt hiring and wages, and interest rates offered by shadow lenders fell below levels offered by banks, it said.

For the first time since the China Beige Book survey began in 2012, no sector showed an improvement compared with the previous quarter, according to the report. Transportation, mining and retail slowed and services weakened more sharply.

The survey showed “dramatic differences” between parts of the real estate industry, with commercial and residential realty “pummelled while construction held up fairly well,” the China Beige Book said

Supercomputer list and trends in multi-petaflop computers and the path to exaflops

Today’s Top 500 announcement shows a slight slowing in supercomputer improvement that we began to spot over the last year and a half. From 1994 to 2008 [performance] grew by 90% per year. Since 2008 it only grows by 55% per year. And when you take a close look at the list over the last couple of years, you’ll see that the reason why that declining figure isn’t more pronounced is simply because the top tier of the list is propping it up—most notably with the addition of the Tianhe-2 system, which holds 13.7% of the performance share of the entire list.

When examined as a whole, we’re falling off except at the highest end…but what does this mean for end user applications? Is high end computing getting smarter in terms of efficiency and software to where, for real-world applications, FLOPS no longer matter so much? Many argue that’s the case…and some will await the new HPCG benchmark and forgo Linpack altogether in favor of a more practical benchmark. That hasn’t had an impact yet on this summer’s list but over time it will be interesting to watch.

But despite any perceived stagnation of this chart from the last couple of years, get ready, because the next few years are set to bring strong winds of change due to momentum with OpenPower and perhaps even AMD. The arrival of 64-bit ARM will shake things up as will new choices in chips, but expect a flat list at least through this time next year unless something completely unexpected happens

Carnival of Space 359

Greenhouses will get more energy efficient and productive with LED that provide light at the right spectrum for optimal growth

LED lighting for greenhouses is an investment that should pay for itself within a few years. LED Lights should improve yields and the quality of output even more in the next few years.

This is a complex topic with numerous subtleties. There is no shortage of arguments in favor of eating locally grown food because of the lower transport costs. Greenhouses allow for a wider variety of fruit and vegetable for a given climate. LEDs give farmers greater flexibility at a lower cost and a smaller environmental footprint.

LEDs can be adjusted to emit light in very specific parts of the spectrum.

Plant physiologists have long known that chlorophyll absorbs mainly in the blue, green and red parts of the spectrum but absorbs a little in the orange and yellow. So it makes sense to produce light only in these parts of the spectrum. That’s easy with LEDs, of course, but impossible with sodium lamps

Arxiv - LEDs for Energy Efficient Greenhouse Lighting

Concrete domes and shells 50 meters in diameter or even larger could be built using inflatable forms for half the cost and could be used to contain emergency situations like Fukushima

When concrete shells are constructed, they usually have to be supported by elaborate timber structures. A revolutionary technique developed at the Vienna University of Technology now uses inflatable air cushions instead.

Large shell structures made of concrete or stone are hardly ever built any more. The reason is that their construction requires large, expensive supporting structures. At the Vienna University of Technology, a completely new construction method has been developed, which does not require any timber structures at all: a flat concrete slab hardens on the ground, and then an air cushion below the plate is inflated, bending the concrete and quickly forming a sustainable shell. Even large event halls could be built this way. In Vienna, a first experimental structure has now been built using the new method.

In the experiment, a 9.5-foot dome was built in about two hours.

Kollegger said the method could be used to build shells with a diameter of 50 meters.

He added: “As the new construction method renders timber structures obsolete, it not only helps to save time and resources, it also saves a lot of money.

Bureaucracy and hurdles for attempting to reduce excess carbon or feed the people

Iron Fertilization sequesters carbon

An international research team has published the results of an ocean iron fertilization experiment (EIFEX) carried out in 2004 in the current issue of the scientific journal Nature. Unlike the LOHAFEX experiment carried out in 2009, EIFEX has shown that a substantial proportion of carbon from the induced algal bloom sank to the deep sea floor. These results, which were thoroughly analysed before being published now, provide a valuable contribution to our better understanding of the global carbon cycle.

Over 50 per cent of the plankton bloom sank below 1000 metre depth indicating that their carbon content can be stored in the deep ocean and in the underlying seafloor sediments for time scales of well over a century.

Iron Fertilization helps restore fish populations

In 2012, the distribution of 120 tons of iron sulfate into the northeast Pacific to stimulate a phytoplankton bloom which in turn would provide ample food for baby salmon.

The verdict is now in on this highly controversial experiment: It worked.

In fact it has been a stunningly over-the-top success. This year, the number of salmon caught in the northeast Pacific more than quadrupled, going from 50 million to 226 million. In the Fraser River, which only once before in history had a salmon run greater than 25 million fish (about 45 million in 2010), the number of salmon increased to 72 million.

The cost for iron fertilization would be “ridiculously low” as compared with any other possible method of carbon sequestration. For quite seriously all you need to do is throw rubbish over the side of the ship to make it happen.

No, really: ferrous sulphate is a waste product of a number of different industrial processes (if I’m recalling correctly, one source would be the production of titanium dioxide for making white paint, a large industry) and it really is a waste. It gets thrown into holes in the ground

June 22, 2014

Critics of Iron Fertilization said there would be toxic algal blooms, but what else changed in 2012 that might be causing the record salmon runs ?

In 2013 and 2014 we are seeing record Salmon runs, it seems possible that iron fertilization has played a part in this success.

In 2011, Scientific American ran an article asking what is killing off the Fraser River Sockeye Salmon ? A sockeye salmon run with a historical average of eight million fish worth over $1 billion. Since the early 1990s the numbers of Fraser sockeye have steadily dwindled, reaching a particularly troublesome nadir in 2009 when more than 11 million sockeye were forecast to return and only 1.4 million showed up.

The large number of missing Fraser River sockeye in 2009 prompted a Canadian federal judicial inquiry into the matter, the Cohen Commission. And just to underscore how little scientists understood of the fish, the sockeye run in 2010 was a once-in-a-century bonanza, with 34 million fish flooding the river. "From a historic low to a historic high almost—that creates a lot of uncertainty for management but it also raises questions on why it's swinging so much," says U.B.C.'s Farrell. The USGS's Winton points out that the sockeye run of 2010 was an anomaly, in the face of a steady and worrisome decline in Fraser sockeye over the years.

There was a Salmon fact sheet that considered the 2010 30 million Sockeye salmon run an anomoly.

Super-stretchable yarn made of graphene

A simple, scalable method of making strong, stretchable graphene oxide fibers that are easily scrolled into yarns and have strengths approaching that of Kevlar is possible, according to Penn State and Shinshu University, Japan, researchers.

"We found this graphene oxide fiber was very strong, much better than other carbon fibers," said Mauricio Terrones, professor of physics, chemistry and materials science and engineering, Penn State. "We believe that pockets of air inside the fiber keep it from being brittle."

This method opens up multiple possibilities for useful products, according to Terrones and colleagues. For instance, removing oxygen from the graphene oxide fiber results in a fiber with high electrical conductivity. Adding silver nanorods to the graphene film would increase the conductivity to the same as copper, which could make it a much lighter weight replacement for copper transmission lines. The researchers believe that the material lends itself to many kinds of highly sensitive sensors.

ACS Nano - Super-stretchable Graphene Oxide Macroscopic Fibers with Outstanding Knotability Fabricated by Dry Film Scrolling

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