July 12, 2014

Maximum life and health has increased and not comparing to the bottom half

There is book that looks at Aging in the Past

Up until 1900, less than 10% would make it past 80.
Among the population those over 60 were less than 10% of the population. People had more kids and lived shorter lives.

Lagging survival based on the age people die in a year. How old were people when they died in 1991

What are the Ages that British Actuaries think Brits will die

There is a statistical analysis of when people born in different years might die

So people born in 1900, had a 10% chance make it to 1991.
But people born in 1991 are expected to have a 20% chance make it 100 according to statistical trends in improving longevity.
There is more of a chance that people should make it 100 than did it make it to 91.

Also, some sources claim that there has been "no improvement in maximum human lifespan".
There is a lot of difference between 10% of the people making it to 90 and 0.1% making it to 90.
There were 92 million people in the US in 1910. There are now 55000 centenarians in the US.
So 0.06% made it to 100.

The Oldest verified female made to 122 and the oldest verified man to 116.

A Bolivian man with inferior documentation might have lived to 123.

But 1 in a billion is not something to plan on or we would buy Powerball tickets as part of our retirement plans.

South Korea High Speed Broadband part of enabling it to be the next Global Technological Hub

South Korea has become the world leader in patent activity, and information and communication technology. The country has the highest broadband penetration in the world at 97 percent and is a leader in broadband speed with an average peak connection of close to 50 megabits per second.

Success in manufacturing and exporting cutting edge electronics products has burnished the country’s image as a leader in technology but the connection goes deeper. Koreans are avid consumers of digital media and apply the lion’s share of their bandwidth resources to online gaming. South Korea is home to the World Cyber Games, the world’s largest video game competition, and has three television channels fully dedicated to eSports featuring professional gamers. South Korea’s home grown, highly visual K-Pop music videos are streamed by the millions and have become a significant global export. Last year streaming of mok-bang through Afreeca TV, a peer-to-peer online video network, became the rage. For the uninitiated, mok-bang videos feature self-made celebrities eating massive amounts of food for hours.

Increasingly young technologists are fueling a fledgling start-up scene that is led by mobile game developers and social media innovators.

Various evidence that more bandwidth and computing is useful and valuable and cheap, reliable and faster broadband would boost the economy

Some question the value of higher speed internet access and the linkage of studies which indicate that higher broadband speeds are correlated with a boost in GDP.

The US has a broadband definition of 1 megabit per second download speed. About 90% of adults have access to broadband at that speed. But some surveys indicate only 70% have that speed in their homes and only 30% have "premium broadband". This lack of "real broadband" makes business limit the release of services that require faster speeds. Most businesses will target the lowest common denominator of customer bandwidth capability (this also goes to mobile vs desktop connection levels.) Only a very big company would be able to support a wide range of bandwidth capability.

South Korea can release more games and video entertainment or business services that require higher speed internet because the most of the korean market has faster internet.

Business internet with higher upload and download speeds sell for $150-250 per month and can go even higher.

I know that I have higher speed bandwidth (upload and download) that there are money generating businesses that could be started.

It is not just the lower speed. It is the restrictions on usage and the lack of reliability. There are plenty of times when video pauses and stops when it should be nowhere near the limits of the supposed 20 mbps download bandwidth.

Genetically Modified Bacteria Enable Weight Loss In Mice and could work in humans better than drugs to blunt the obesity epidemic

Mice given genetically-tweaked E. coli in their water gained less weight than controls when placed on a high-fat diet for 8 weeks. They also had fewer markers of diabetes, like insulin resistance, and generally ate less than their compatriots receiving nothing or control bacteria. And for 4 weeks to 6 weeks after the researchers stopped dosing the water, the beneficial effects persisted.

The bacteria given to the mice were genetically engineered to express predecessors of a family of fats that prompt less food intake. These fats are made in the small intestine, and tell an animal to stop eating. High fat diets interfere with this process, so using modified bacteria may help dieters regulate their appetites.

Journal of Clinical Investigation - Incorporation of therapeutically modified bacteria into gut microbiota inhibits obesity

India increases funding of atomic research and nuclear power by 27%

The Indian government has announced an increase of almost 27% in its budget for atomic research and nuclear power for the latest fiscal year. Investment in nuclear-related public enterprises has also significantly increased.

In its budget for 2014-15, which began on 1 April, the government has allocated INR 104.5 billion ($1.7 billion) to the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). Of this amount, INR 87.4 billion ($1455 million) is for nuclear research while the remainder is for nuclear power generation.

For nuclear power production, some INR 17.1 billion ($285 million) has been allocated. This includes INR 300 million ($5 million) for the 500 MWe prototype fast breeder reactor (FBR) under construction at Kalpakkam.

India needs sustained growth at over 8.5% to catch up to near developed world levels in the 2050s at only 5.3% India will be like South America now in the 2050s

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first budget since his election win was seen as a missed chance to take tough measures on subsidies by economists at banks including Deutsche Bank AG and Nomura Holdings Inc.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley retained the fiscal shortfall target at 4.1 percent of gross domestic product while leaving revenue and expenditure forecasts largely similar to an interim budget in February. At the same time, he unveiled plans to “overhaul” food and fuel subsidies to narrow the fiscal gap to 3 percent of GDP in 2017.

The budget was “almost a copy and paste of the interim budget” and “a lost opportunity” to detail bold steps to revive economic growth,

There were some changes in the budget relative to the prior administration and in general the budget does trend in positive directions for increasing GDP growth and getting to more solid finances.

Modi's government will have to do more in the next two years if they want India to get back to 8% GDP growth.

A general recovery and modest reforms can get India back to 6% and maybe 6.5% GDP growth. India has 1.3% population growth.

Over the course of two decades the difference between 4% per capita GDP growth (5.3% GDP growth - 1.3$ population growth) and 7.2% per capita GDP growth (8.5% GDP growth) is becoming two times richer versus becoming 4 times richer.

Getting to $3000 per capita (about the level of the Philippines or Nigeria) or $6000 per capita (about the level of Thailand or Peru now) in 20 years.

Copper cable from the curb can bring 10 gigabit per second broadband from fiber using Bell Labs XG.Fast

Bell Labs can send 10 gigabit per second over existing copper wires up to 30 meters so it solves the fiber-to-residence problem. Fiber can go past houses and then the copper can take the signals into the house. Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs can now run 1-to-10 gigabit per second broadband signals from the curb to the residence using the existing copper telephone lines already there.

It is called XG Fast
10 gigabits per second can go 30 meters
1 gigabit per second symmetrical can go 70 meters.

July 11, 2014

Reviewing Current and Near term Surveillance - all of your emails, all of your transactions and all of your movement

A few thousand digital video cameras flying 15-30 miles high can be used to record all human size or larger movement across the entire country. This has already been used to track movement in US cities to catch criminals and in Iraq and Afghanistan to get rid of foreign combatants. The NSA records and logs all email, phone calls, and internet activity and credit card activity

Transmitted information that is stored also includes academic records, resumes and medical records.

When there are long duration balloons and solar powered drones for providing internet then it will be even easier and cheaper to perform the monitoring (and store and transmit the information).

There is some issues finding and sorting all of the information that is or could be gathered. However, clearly there are ways to reduce and compress what is being searched.

Most people move in a dumbbell pattern. They move around and near there home and around and near work. Movement tracking can look at movement outside of "normal" patterns. The crime movement analysis is based on finding the precise point in time and location of a significant event. They can start with the location of a body and then rewinding the monitoring to find when the murder happened and moving forward from recording of the murder victims home until the movement intersects. Then the movement of people (and vehicles) who came in contact at the time of interest are tracked.

Long Duration balloons and drones will make it easy to provide internet and to put monitoring cameras

Digital eye in the sky used to capture 34 murderers and solved 75 murders and many other crimes

Persistent Surveillance Systems (PSS) flies a small Cessna aircraft 10,000 feet overhead. The surveillance planes are loaded up with specialized 192 megapixel cameras that could watch 25 square miles of territory, and it provided something no ordinary helicopter or police plane could: a Tivo-style time machine that could watch and record movements of every person and vehicle below.

After learning about the attempted robberies, PSS conducted frame-by-frame video analysis of the bookstore and sandwich shop and was able to show that exactly one car traveled between them. Further analysis showed that the suspect then moved on to a Family Dollar store in the northern part of the city, robbed it, stopped for gas—where his face was captured on video—and eventually returned home.

A person shows up as one single pixel and they can track movement of the person to a vehicle and then track the movement of vehicles.

PSS systems have witnessed 34 people being murdered within their imaged areas and been able to track people to and from those scenes. The people who confessed on being captured with assistance of their imagery confessed to a total of 75 murders. Many of the people confessed once captured to many more murders than PSS Systems tracked them to.

They work from reported crimes and start with the exact time and location of the crime. Then they track movement in and out of the crime scene.

Self assembly of 15,000 semiconductor chips per hour

A first automated reel-to-reel fluidic self-assembly process for macroelectronic applications is reported. This system enables high speed assembly of semiconductor dies (15,000 chips per hour using a 2.5 cm wide web) over large area substrates. The optimization of the system (hour 99% assembly yield) is based on identification, calculation, and optimization of the relevant forces. As an application the production of a solid state lighting panel is discussed involving a novel approach to apply a conductive layer through lamination.

Heiko Jacobs, professor at Technische Universität Ilmenau and Chair of the university Nanotechnology Group led the work

Advanced Materials - A First Implementation of an Automated Reel-to-Reel Fluidic Self-Assembly Machine (8 pages)

This communication reports on recent progress towards a first implementation of a self-assembly machine that is based on surface-tension-directed-self-assembly. The reported assembly process is no longer a discontinuous small-batch hand-operated process but resembles an automated machine like process involving a conveyer belt and a reel-to-reel (RTR) type assembly approach with automated agitation. As a comparison, the assembly rate of conventional chip level pick-and-place machines depends on the cost of the system and number of assembly heads that are used. For example, a high-end FCM 10000 (Muehlbauer AG) flip chip assembly system can assemble approximately 8000 chips per hour achieving a placement accuracy of 30 μm. Our current design achieves 15,000 chips per hour using a 2.5 cm wide assembly region which is only a factor of 2 better than one of the faster pick-and-place machines; scaling to 150,000 chips per hour, however, would be possible using a 25 cm wide web, which would be a factor of 20 faster. In principle, scaling to any throughput should be possible considering the parallel nature of self-assembly. In terms of placement accuracy our precision increase with a reduction of chip and solder bump size. Generally, it exceeds the 30 μm limits for the components that have been used. Under optimized operational conditions, we achieved an assembly yield of 99.8% using the self-assembly process. As an application the assembly machine is applied to the realization of area lighting panels incorporating distributed inorganic light emitting diodes(LEDs)

France and Sweden show you can use more energy and be richer if you use hydro and nuclear power While Germany and USA use coal and natural gas and tell others to use less

Surviving in bad housing without electricity and with unsafe cooking is Rich World Reality TV but it sucks for the everyday life of the worlds poorest billions

Surviving in bad housing, without electricity and with unsafe cooking is Rich World Reality TV and is an entertaining challenge for a few weeks or months. However, it sucks badly for the everyday life of the worlds poorest billions. The unsafe cooking with indoor smoke and air pollution causes more cancer and disease. The lack of electricity or reduced levels of energy are closely correlated to lower quality of life.

Achieving energy for all and getting safe cooking to everyone would dramatically improve the lives of 2.5 billion people.

Billions of people including the old, babies, children and the sick who can be lives of far less hardship.

Electricity, lights and safety will also increase productivity to enable far greater business and development. This would be a cycle of increasing wealth and development.

$1 trillion over 16 years would be less than 0.1% of the world economy and about $400-1000 for each person.

Education and computers and other improvements would be far easier to deploy when the basic infrastructure is there.

The World Energy Outlook has an energy for all scenario. They define energy for all as at least 250 kilowatt hours per year for a rural household and 500 kilowatt hours per year for an urban household. This increases over time to the regional average. They also require reliable and affordable access to clean cooking facilities.

In the Energy for All Case, additional investment of just under $76 billion is required in order to achieve universal access to clean cooking facilities by 2030, an average of $3.8 billion per year. This investment provides clean cooking facilities to an additional 135 million people per year on average, through a combination of advanced biomass cookstoves, LPG stoves and biogas systems

The World Energy Outlook for 2014 is here. The World Energy Outlook series takes up this question in a full and comprehensive update of the energy investment picture to 2035 – a first full update since the 2003 World Energy Investment Outlook.

July 10, 2014

Monolithic 3D Integration of Carbon Nanotube Logic Transistors could provide a thousand fold power reduction for computer processors

The crystal ball is murky beyond the 7-nm node. Transistors made with carbon nanotubes as the channel material hold special promise because of the ultra-thin body of the carbon nanotube of about one nanometer while at the same time retaining excellent carrier transport properties. No other bulk semiconductor has this unique advantage, which allows the carbon nanotube transistor to scale to the shortest possible gate length.

Stanford's Philip Wong summarized the recent development of carbon nanotube transistor technology for digital logic. This includes: synthesis of fully aligned carbon nanotube on a wafer scale, device fabrication of high performance carbon nanotube transistors, 3D integrated carbon nanotube circuits, low voltage (0.2 V) operation of carbon nanotube transistors, compact models for circuit simulation, performance benchmarking of carbon nanotube transistor with conventional CMOS at the device and also at the full-chip processor level, and demonstration of circuits and complete systems.

Philip Wong described a theoretical 3D chip stack interleaving next-generation memory and logic technologies made with carbon nanotubes. Privately, he acknowledged the material still faces huge challenges before it is ready for practical use. Wong showed a "club sandwich" made from carbon nanotubes. It interleaved layers of resistive and magnetic RAM with logic layers made from 1D and 2D field effect transistors.

Will China's per capita energy usage reach at least European levels and likely US levels or higher

Will China consume energy like Europeans or follow the more excessive American model? And will China's energy consumption continue to be dominated by coal?

China is developing coal gasification and may develop deep coal resources.
China will build out a lot of nuclear power.

Per-capita energy consumption in China, which has risen by over 5% each year for the last decade, will inevitably continue to rise over the next couple of decades, probably longer.

Per capita emissions are already higher in China.

If China increases energy usage by 5 times then the energy from coal will have to drop from 75% down to 15% for flat emissions.
If China were to try to get to one third of current emissions then coal and fossil fuel usage would need to get to 5% or less.

NASA Finds Friction from Tides Could Help Distant Earths Survive, and Thrive

computer modeling by NASA scientists shows that friction could be the key to survival for some distant Earth-sized planets traveling in dangerous orbits.

The findings are consistent with observations that Earth-sized planets appear to be very common in other star systems. Although heat can be a destructive force for some planets, the right amount of friction, and therefore heat, can be helpful and perhaps create conditions for habitability.

“We found some unexpected good news for planets in vulnerable orbits,” said Wade Henning, a University of Maryland scientist working at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the new study. “It turns out these planets will often experience just enough friction to move them out of harm’s way and into safer, more-circular orbits more quickly than previously predicted.”

Simulations of young planetary systems indicate that giant planets often upset the orbits of smaller inner worlds. Even if those interactions aren’t immediately catastrophic, they can leave a planet in a treacherous eccentric orbit – a very elliptical course that raises the odds of crossing paths with another body, being absorbed by the host star, or getting ejected from the system.

Another potential peril of a highly eccentric orbit is the amount of tidal stress a planet may undergo as it draws very close to its star and then retreats away. Near the star, the gravitational force is powerful enough to deform the planet, while in more distant reaches of the orbit, the planet can ease back into shape. This flexing action produces friction, which generates heat. In extreme cases, tidal stress can produce enough heat to liquefy the planet.

Planets in eccentric orbits can experience powerful tidal forces. A planet covered by a very thick ice shell (left) is springy enough to flex a great deal, generating a lot of internal friction and heat. Some terrestrial planets (right) also will flex, especially with partially molten inner layers.
Image Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Metals that mimic Bamboo Gradient structure will make stronger and more stretchable body armor and other parts

Drawing inspiration from the structure of bones and bamboo, researchers have found that by gradually changing the internal structure of metals they can make stronger, tougher materials that can be customized for a wide variety of applications – from body armor to automobile parts.

“If you looked at metal under a microscope you’d see that it is composed of millions of closely-packed grains,” says Yuntian Zhu, a professor of materials science and engineering at NC State and senior author of two papers on the new work. “The size and disposition of those grains affect the metal’s physical characteristics.”

“Having small grains on the surface makes the metal harder, but also makes it less ductile – meaning it can’t be stretched very far without breaking,” says Xiaolei Wu, a professor of materials science at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Mechanics, and lead author of the two papers. “But if we gradually increase the size of the grains lower down in the material, we can make the metal more ductile. You see similar variation in the size and distribution of structures in a cross-section of bone or a bamboo stalk. In short, the gradual interface of the large and small grains makes the overall material stronger and more ductile, which is a combination of characteristics that is unattainable in conventional materials.

“We call this a ‘gradient structure,’ and you can use this technique to customize a metal’s characteristics,” Wu adds

Material Research Letters - Synergetic Strengthening by Gradient Structure

PNAS - Extraordinary strain hardening by gradient structure

China high speed rail costs are two thirds the cost of the next lowest cost country

By the end of 2013, China had built a high speed rail[1] network of over 10,000 route-km, far exceeding that in any other country and larger than the network in the entire European Union. It has been accomplished at a cost which is at most two-thirds of that in other countries.

According to a World Bank paper titled High-Speed Railways in China: A Look at Construction Costs, several factors influence the cost of a high speed rail project construction. The major factors include the line design speed, topography along the alignment, weather conditions, land acquisition costs, use of viaducts instead of embankments, the construction of major bridges across wide rivers, and the construction of mega stations.

Laying track on viaducts is often preferred in China to minimize resettlement and the use of fertile land as well as to reduce environmental impacts. The estimated cost of viaducts in China ranges from RMB 57 to 73 m/km for a double track line. Such costs are kept low through standardization of the design and manufacturing process for casting and laying bridge beams on viaducts.

China leading creation of infrastructure and development banks

Developing countries need over $1 trillion a year in infrastructure. The figure greatly exceeded private-sector investment of about $150 billion a year.

China, which aired the idea of creating the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in October to fund projects in Asia, has said it would likely be the largest shareholder in the bank, with a stake of as much as 50 percent. The World Bank can work with any new infrastructure bank once it becomes a reality, be it a bank led by the emerging BRICS nations or the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Kim said.

The BRICS group, comprised of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is also in talks to create a $100-billion development bank and has reached broad agreement on the project, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Monday.

Applied Materials believes FinFETs can be improved and Gate All Around approach can reach 5 nanometer and even 3 nanometer features

Applied Materials has plans to get to 3 nanometer features.

FinFET scaling requires precision control of materials

* CMP: precision through in-situ process control
* Dielectrics: composition tuning
* Junction: optimized activation
* Metal gate: multi Vt by metal gate composition and implant
* Metal gate: improved materials to control resistance at scaled CD
* Contact: optimized surface doping with implant + laser anneal

n3 process would be a 3 nanometer process

IBM investing $3 billion to create 7 nanometer and beyond technology over the next 5-10 years to Quantum Computing, Neurosynaptic Computing, Silicon Photonics, Graphene and more

IBM announced it is investing $3 billion over the next 5 years in two broad research and early stage development programs to push the limits of chip technology needed to meet the emerging demands of cloud computing and Big Data systems. These investments will push IBM's semiconductor innovations from today’s breakthroughs into the advanced technology leadership required for the future.

The first research program is aimed at so-called “7 nanometer and beyond” silicon technology that will address serious physical challenges that are threatening current semiconductor scaling techniques and will impede the ability to manufacture such chips. The second is focused on developing alternative technologies for post-silicon era chips using entirely different approaches, which IBM scientists and other experts say are required because of the physical limitations of silicon based semiconductors.

Cloud and big data applications are placing new challenges on systems, just as the underlying chip technology is facing numerous significant physical scaling limits. Bandwidth to memory, high speed communication and device power consumption are becoming increasingly challenging and critical.

The teams will comprise IBM Research scientists and engineers from Albany and Yorktown, New York; Almaden, California; and Europe. In particular, IBM will be investing significantly in emerging areas of research that are already underway at IBM such as carbon nanoelectronics, silicon photonics, new memory technologies, and architectures that support quantum and cognitive computing.
These teams will focus on providing orders of magnitude improvement in system level performance and energy efficient computing. In addition, IBM will continue to invest in the nanosciences and quantum computing--two areas of fundamental science where IBM has remained a pioneer for over three decades.

7 nanometer technology and beyond

IBM Researchers and other semiconductor experts predict that while challenging, semiconductors show promise to scale from today's 22 nanometers down to 14 and then 10 nanometers in the next several years. However, scaling to 7 nanometers and perhaps below, by the end of the decade will require significant investment and innovation in semiconductor architectures as well as invention of new tools and techniques for manufacturing.

July 09, 2014

A roadmap to colonizing Venus - making concrete, plastics, water, fuel and cooking food

Selenian Boondocks had developed a roadmap for the phases for proving out ISRU Venus Resources.

Phase 0–Terrestrial Analog ISRU Prototyping: This is where we’re at now. As far as I know there has been almost no experimental development of the sort that some of our commenter have suggested which would use simulated Venusian atmosphere to attempt various approaches for extracting the different constituents for further processing. Obviously that which hasn’t even been tried in the lab is nowhere near ready to try in situ. This stage will likely be characterized by small, non-flight like, breadboard/brassboard-level prototype processes.

Phase 1–Venus In-Situ Demonstration: The first real Venus ISRU development phase will likely be in the form of small experiments mounted on robotic atmospheric balloons. We’re likely talking about experimental apparatus of less than 200kg, which are not so much focused on producing large masses of extracted materials, but just demonstrating and validating basic extraction processes. These steps will likely be focused on the concepts we’ve talked about so far of condensing out and separating condenseable species, and processing the atmospheric species to remove key hazardous materials, to demonstrate the ability to extract safe feedstocks for future larger-scale processes.

Phase 2–In-Situ Propellant Production and ECLSS Revitalization: This is the point at which the first steps beyond what we’ve already discussed will be taken. This phase may start with unmanned systems, demonstrating the ability to refuel rocket stages for transportation back into Venus orbit, and to provide fuel for Venus orbit propellant depots. But this phase will likely also include demonstration of the ability to revitalize the breathing air and drinking water for manned missions. This may also include trying to create enough lighter-than-CO2 gas to provide buoyancy for the robotic and manned systems. This stage isn’t necessarily about creating voluminous open habitat spaces and floating cities. Depending on the rocket approach taken for transportation between the cloud level and orbit, this could involve processing hundreds of tonnes of atmosphere into propellants, and tens of tons into lifting gasses and life support elements. At this point most chemical processing will be limited to that necessary to create propellants. Depending on what propulsion style makes the most sense, this could be LOX/LH2, LOX/Methane, or LH2 or Ammonia for nuclear thermal, solar/microwave thermal, or solar/laser thermal propulsion systems. These can mostly be created by simple one or two step processes from the basic atmospheric constituents previously discussed.

Phase 3–Small Settlements: At this phase, permanent settlements are first being attempted. So in addition to processing the atmosphere to create propellants for flights in and out of the Venusian atmosphere, and creating lifting gasses for supporting those smaller facilities, we’ll now be talking about creating large amounts of breathable air and water for filling these colonies. Also this phase will likely include the creation of simple construction materials to try and reduce the amount of material that needs to be shipped from earth. This will likely start requiring taking the initial chemical feedstocks and performing several processes to create materials such as carbon fiber, simple polymers, and sulfurcrete. These materials would be used for the structure of the settlements, and possibly even the atmospheric barrier film. This phase will be focused on the low-hanging fruit of materials that would require the most shipping mass from earth, but that are easiest to produce on Venus. Peter Kokh had some clever acronym for this for lunar ISRU, but I’m forgetting it at the moment. But basically, the more processing steps necessary to get to an object, the more likely it would be best to still import this from earth.

Phase 4–Advanced Settlements: At this phase large-scale permanent settlements will exist, and even some limited mining of the surface of Venus will likely have started. As this phase progresses, more and more materials of increasing complexity will be sourced locally, including some simpler metals, and more advanced plastics and composites. As this phase continues imported materials will focus on high-value hard-to-manufacture items like advanced electronics, complex machinery, etc. I think this Phase while interesting is probably beyond the scope of this series. If we get to this phase, we’ve “already won”.

Perfecting Venus atmospheric Colonies and using Venus resources to make Cloud Cities

Selenian Boondocks had an excellent series of articles about colonizing Venus.

At about 50 kilometers (30 mies) altitude, the atmospheric density on Venus is close to “sea level” density on Earth, and temperatures are basically Mediterranean, you get plenty of sunlight, and the CO2 atmosphere is sufficiently denser than air on earth that a breathable air mix provides about half the buoyancy on Venus as Helium does on Earth. Basically, at 50km you could build multiple-km-scale flying cities that would be extremely roomy since more air space means you can support more mass. Or in other words, Lando Calrissian, eat your heart out.

Sure you can make a super large city like that float in the Venusian atmosphere, how do you get it there in the first place? There’s also the question of why you’d want to, but I want to focus this series on how you might build your castles in the sky. What I’d like to suggest in this blog post series is that the Venusian atmosphere may provide most of the raw materials needed to build such flying cities using in-situ resources, and many of those resources may be readily extractable.

For Mars, Venus, and other planetary environments that have atmospheres, the atmosphere itself can provide a feedstock for in-situ resource utilization (ISRU). Both atmospheres have a mix of gases and condenseable vapors that can be processed in the gas-phase.

A hypothetical floating outpost 30 miles above the surface of Venus. (Wikimedia Commons/Anynobody)

US daily crude oil production over 8.5 million barrels per day and is within about 5% of the mid-1980s peak

US daily crude oil production over 8.5 million barrels per day and natural gas liquids nears 3 million barrels per day. US crude oil production is within about 5% of the mid-1980s peak. There was a high crude oil peak in the 1970s.

The United States is on track in late 2015 to have crude oil production exceed the 1972 peak. U.S. oil production has jumped from 5.0 million barrels per day in 2008 to 7.4 million last year and is expected to average 8.5 million this year and 9.3 million next year, according to the EIA, the analytical arm of the Department of Energy.

US crude oil and natural gas liquids production is at 11.4 million barrels per day.
US total all liquids oil production is at 13.5 million barrels per day.

Military invasion of Taiwan would achieve nothing for China and the most successful approach to gaining control of territory has been the European Union

The Week noticed one comment during a series of talks about China's military modernization and aims.

At the end of page 3 and beginning of page 4 (of 12 pages of testimony), Lee Fuell, Technical Director for Force Modernization and Employment U.S. Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Center, makes the point that recent military writing from China has focused on successfully deterring US involvement in the event of invading Taiwan.

The Taiwan Situation is mostly not about direct US intervention

There were eight talks at the hearing.

* Lee Fuell has it in his interest to make China seem as militarily capable as possible. This would provide more budget for US military force modernization

* Chinese military officers who write about invading Taiwan have to work out some scenario in that context

* It is in China's interest for the US to spend as much money on the US military as possible so long as China has nuclear deterrent and sufficient forces to discourage direct US military attack on China. This is predicated on the fact that the most successful approach to gaining control of territory in modern World History has been the European Union. Germany and France have used the European Union to gain control of most of Europe. The Soviet Union demonstrated the folly of overspending on the military.

* Taiwan is an island. Even at the height of US military capability in world War 2, the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa took overwhelming military superiority and were very costly.

55% of Taiwan's 23 million people consider themselves Taiwanese.

Taiwan has 290,000 active military personnel and 1.675 million in military reserves.

Taiwan has about 330 modern fighter jets and multi-role fighters

China has superiority in airplanes over Taiwan.

It seems Taiwan would resist any invasion and Taiwan would be demolished in any successful invasion. Also, it is highly uncertain that an invasion would work. Even if say the US were to invade Taiwan. It would take massive amounts of beach landing craft.

Japan's population in WW2 was about 70 million. So invading Taiwan would be like invading the home islands of Japan.

Ok, outright invasion is stupid.
Military blockade is what is analyzed most by the US military. They estimate that China might have the military capability to be able to pull that off in ten years.

However, a military success would get everyone in Taiwan firmly against China.

July 08, 2014

Biobots powered by muscle tissue

Engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign demonstrated a class of walking “bio-bots” powered by muscle cells and controlled with electrical pulses, giving researchers unprecedented command over their function. The group published its work in the online early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Graphic by Janet Sinn-Hanlon, Design Group@VetMed Tiny walking “bio-bots” are powered by muscle cells and controlled by an electric field.

From the Hindu Gods to Doctor Octopus the Vision of Multiple Extra Arms is being made real with Robotic Arms from MIT

The vision of humans with extra limbs is taking shape at MIT with researchers adding "supernumerary robotic arms" to assist with tasks that ordinary two-armed humans would find difficult.

The extra robotic arm concept was demonstrated with installing ceiling panels in an airplane, a task that must be duplicated dozens of times in the construction of an airliner. A single person installing a large panel overhead must struggle between holding the panel to the ceiling, inserting screws into holes, and using a powered screwdriver to attach the panel. The juggling and dropping of screws would drive any of us to frustration and profanity.

The Supernumerary Robot Limbs (SRL) team looked at this task, and added two lightweight robot arms to a frame attached to a backpack. The arms are attached directly over the spine so that the body can carry the extra weight without strain. This alone would be noteworthy, except that the user now has no way to command the robot arms to move – a conventional joystick or gamepad would take up hands already busy with panels.

So the amazing part of this research is having the arms decide for themselves when and where to help. Sensors on the human’s wrists and on the robot mount determine where the human is on the task, and assigns the robot arms to help.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 216

1. Forbes - Are EPA’s Carbon Rules Really About Nuclear?

Although it's been difficult for the President to advocate for nuclear power within his own party, President Obama's promise of a world with fewer nuclear weapons but more nuclear energy is finally getting a push with EPA’s new carbon rules.

July 07, 2014

Lithium-carbon battery could be cost effective, safe and have five to eight times the energy density of lithium ion batteries

Journal Nature Scientific Reports - Rechargeable Batteries with High Energy Storage Activated by In-situ Induced Fluorination of Carbon Nanotube Cathode

The advantages of using carbon are that it is cost-effective and safe to use, and the energy output is five to eight times higher than lithium-ion batteries currently on the market. The new battery technology also performs better than two other future technologies: lithium-sulfur batteries, currently in the prototype stage, and lithium-air batteries, now under development. For example, the induced-fluorination technology could be used to produce cellphone batteries that would charge faster and last longer. The research team developed the new battery technology for energy storage using carbon nanomaterials and a process called induced fluorination.

High performance rechargeable batteries are urgently demanded for future energy storage systems. Here, we adopted a lithium-carbon battery configuration. Instead of using carbon materials as the surface provider for lithium-ion adsorption and desorption, we realized induced fluorination of carbon nanotube array (CNTA) paper cathodes, with the source of fluoride ions from electrolytes, by an in-situ electrochemical induction process. The induced fluorination of CNTA papers activated the reversible fluorination/defluorination reactions and lithium-ion storage/release at the CNTA paper cathodes, resulting in a dual-storage mechanism. The rechargeable battery with this dual-storage mechanism demonstrated a maximum discharging capacity of 2174 mAh gcarbon−1 and a specific energy of 4113 Wh kgcarbon−1 with good cycling performance.

Although Li-ion batteries (LIBs) have transformed portable electronics, the energy density and cycle life of existing LIBs, even if fully developed, remain insufficient. Reaching beyond the horizon of LIBs requires the exploration of new electrochemistry and/or new materials1. The recent popular attempts are Li-sulfur (Li-S) and Li-air (Li-O2) batteries. However, there are some formidable challenges for Li-S and Li-O2 batteries, e.g., dissolution of discharging products, poor cathode electrical conductivity, and large volume expansion upon lithiation.

Li-CFx batteries have the highest energy density among all primary lithium batteries with a theoretical specific energy of 2180 Wh kg(Li+CF)−1. A high capacity of 615 mAh gCFx−1 was also reported for the pre-synthesized CFx cathodes. It is well known that defluorination of carbon fluorides can be achieved with the assistance of lithium cations during discharging in Li-CFx batteries. However, Li-CFx batteries have attracted limited interest because of their strictly non-rechargeable nature16 and the non-environmental-friendly synthesis process for carbon fluorides, e.g., the use of F2 gas and/or catalysts under extreme temperature condition

Ragone plot, comparing Li-CNT-F batteries with other batteries in terms of weight of cathode materials.

Carnival of Space 361

Carnival of Space 361 is up at io9 Space

io9 - The launch of the Orbital Carbon Observatory was a cliffhanger, getting scrubbed with less than a minute left in the countdown. The problem was resolved in time to try again the next day, this time blasting the observatory into orbit.

Universe Today - ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft (and the piggybacked Philae lander) are in the home stretch to arrive at Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 34 days and the comet is showing up quite nicely in Rosetta’s narrow-angle camera. The animation above, assembled from 36 NAC images acquired last week, shows 67P/C-G rotating over a total elapsed time of 12.4 hours.

Universe Today - The Mars One non-profit foundation that’s seeking settlers for a one-way trip to establish a permanent human colony on the Red Planet starting in the mid-2020’s, is now soliciting science and marketing proposals in a worldwide competition for their unmanned forerunner mission – the 2018 Mars One technology demonstration lander.

Gregory Benford and Larry Niven solved the problems with Shkavdov thrusters for a propulsion system for moving stars

Gregory Benford and Larry Niven have created as a ‘modified’ Shkadov Thruster for a propulsion scheme capable of moving stars.

Information from Centauri Dreams

Gregory Benford describes his modified Shkadov thruster.

Shipstars engines are Smart Objects–statically unstable but dynamically stable, as we are when we walk. We fall forward on one leg, then catch ourselves with the other. That takes a lot of fast signal processing and coordination. (We’re the only large animal without a tail that’s mastered this. Two legs are dangerous without a big brain or a stabilizing tail.) There’ve been several Big Dumb Objects in sf, but as far as I know, no smart ones. Our Big Smart Object is larger than Ringworld and is going somewhere, using an entire star as its engine.

Our Bowl is a shell more than a hundred million miles across, held to a star by gravity and some electrodynamic forces. The star produces a long jet of hot gas, which is magnetically confined so well it spears through a hole at the crown of the cup-shaped shell. This jet propels the entire system forward – literally, a star turned into the engine of a “ship” that is the shell, the Bowl. On the shell’s inner face, a sprawling civilization dwells. The novel’s structure doesn’t resemble Larry’s Ringworld much because the big problem is dealing with the natives.

The virtue of any Big Object, whether Dumb or Smart, is energy and space. The collected solar energy is immense, and the living space lies beyond comprehension except in numerical terms. While we were planning this, my friend Freeman Dyson remarked, “I like to use a figure of demerit for habitats, namely the ratio R of total mass to the supply of available energy. The bigger R is, the poorer the habitat. If we calculate R for the Earth, using total incident sunlight as the available energy, the result is about 12 000 tons per Watt. If we calculate R for a cometary object with optical concentrators, travelling anywhere in the galaxy where a 0 magnitude star is visible, the result is 100 tons per Watt. A cometary object, almost anywhere in the galaxy, is 120 times better than planet Earth as a home for life. The basic problem with planets is that they have too little area and too much mass. Life needs area, not only to collect incident energy but also to dispose of waste heat. In the long run, life will spread to the places where mass can be used most efficiently, far away from planets, to comet clouds or to dust clouds not too far from a friendly star. If the friendly star happens to be our Sun, we have a chance to detect any wandering life-form that may have settled here.”

This insight helped me [Gregory Benford] think through the Bowl, which has an R of about 10-10!

Image: Artwork by Don Davis, as are all the images in this article.

July 06, 2014

Researchers find 509 qubit Dwave System performs as well or better than simulated quantum annealing

Arxiv - Quantum Optimization of Fully-Connected Spin Glasses

The Sherrington-Kirkpatrick model with random couplings is programmed on the D-Wave Two annealer featuring 509 qubits interacting on a Chimera-type graph. The performance of the optimizer compares and correlates to simulated annealing. When considering the effect of the static noise, which degrades the performance of the annealer, one can estimate an improvement on the comparative scaling of the two methods in favor of the D-Wave machine. The optimal choice of parameters of the embedding on the Chimera graph is shown to be associated to the emergence of the spin-glass critical temperature of the embedded problem.

14 page paper

Arxiv - A Quantum Annealing Approach for Fault Detection and Diagnosis of Graph-Based Systems

Diagnosing the minimal set of faults capable of explaining a set of given observations, e.g., from sensor readouts, is a hard combinatorial optimization problem usually tackled with artificial intelligence techniques. We present the mapping of this combinatorial problem to quadratic unconstrained binary optimization (QUBO), and the experimental results of instances embedded onto a quantum annealing device with 509 quantum bits. Besides being the first time a quantum approach has been proposed for problems in the advanced diagnostics community, to the best of our knowledge this work is also the first research utilizing the route Problem → QUBO → Direct embedding into quantum hardware, where we are able to implement and tackle problem instances with sizes that go beyond previously reported toy-model proof-of-principle quantum annealing implementations; this is a significant leap in the solution of problems via direct-embedding adiabatic quantum optimization. We discuss some of the programmability challenges in the current generation of the quantum device as well as a few possible ways to extend this work to more complex arbitrary network graphs.

Smart Giant-sized lego bricks for industrial and infrastructure scale projects - Kite Bricks could revolutionalize construction

Kite Bricks is developing a revolutionary product that will change the way we build houses, buildings, bridges and sidewalks. From now on structures will be real thermal, much more stronger and very cheap & fast to build.

Smart Brick is a revolutionary brick and the basis of a new construction system covered by issued and pending US patents.

The brick is amenable for building houses, buildings, bridges and more.. The block is constructed of high-strength concrete with unique properties that allow for the building of truly ecological structures, with large savings in electricity expenses associated with seasonal heating and cooling. The block allows for faster, cheaper, more precise, and stronger building than is available through traditional building methods.

Bricks are designed to be easily joined together, with open internal spaces for insulation and infrastructure elements to be run through the bricks and allow for easy access to these elements.

Floors, walls, and ceilings are all constructed by appropriate bricks to allow for facile, solid construction with little mess and significantly reduced construction costs.

Zohar needs further funding—around $3 million—in order to bring the Smart Brick to market. Future plans could include the introduction of robotic builders (as shown in the video) that could assemble properties using the bricks.

What does he think of the Lego comparison? "It didn't come from there," he says, adding that the focus was always on insulation and strength. The fact that the blocks have been designed to connect together easily was secondary.

One of Zohar's key focuses has been to make it as simple as possible to build using the bricks. "I'd like people in Africa and other places in the world to be able to build with our brick and get a thermally-insulated house using the same money they would have spent on tin."

YCombinator news and Ars Technica have been discussing the impact and potential of the Kite Bricks.

IMF sees an investment deficit everywhere and recommends countries with strong finances to make targeted stimulus plans

International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde said Sunday that public investment should be ramped up in some countries as the global economic recovery remains fragile and laborious.

"In the current context of a weak growth outlook and low borrowing costs, a judicious stimulation of public investment can give growth the necessary impetus, above all in advanced economies," Ms. Lagarde said at the Rencontres Economiques conference in the south France.

The remarks underline the threats to global economic growth at a time when the U.S. Federal Reserve is trimming stimulus and the European Central Bank is fighting inflation that is less than half its targeted level. The IMF is preparing to update its economic forecasts this month after predicting April 8 that the global economy will expand 3.6 percent this year and 3.9 percent in 2015.

Growth in the U.S., the world’s largest economy, is set to accelerate in coming months and Asia’s emerging market economies will avoid a hard landing, though the European recovery is still not as strong as it should be, Lagarde said.

"We [IMF] see an investment deficit everywhere,” Lagarde said. Yet public policy must be dictated by debt sustainability, she said. “If you’re not in a medium-term situation that assures sustainability, you can’t undertake major infrastructure investment."

But Ms. Lagarde said several conditions must be met for a country to increase investment, including affordable financing and an actual need for increased infrastructure. She said many of the world's leading economies have large infrastructure needs—particularly the U.S., the United Kingdom and Germany—while others, such as France, have less need.

The key condition for relaunching public investment is strong public finances, she said.

Commercial order for 7800 barrels of graphene enhanced oilfield chemicals

There was a major milestone for Graphene NanoChem, with the first purchase order for PlatDrill [a graphene-enhanced oilfield chemicals]. The order, from Scomi Oiltools for use by an unnamed national oil company end-customer is part of the framework agreement, as announced on 26 November, and represents 7,800 barrels or around £1.0m at the top line. This, alongside future orders within the framework, further underpins our expectations for 2014.

The deal is said to be the first bulk deployment of graphene on a commercial basis, thus marking a milestone for the industry

Smart Howitzer rounds enable one shot one kill from 30 miles

One of the america's military-industrial complex's most important inventions comes out of the barrel of a howitzer. It's called the "Excalibur," and it's a 155-millimeter howitzer round that creator Raytheon says can target an object 30 miles away and consistently hit within two meters of that target. Excalibur is usually even more accurate than that. In a test firing last year, several Excalibur rounds fired at a distance of 30 miles landed within one meter of their targets, on average. (It achieves this extraordinary range by gliding on wings at the apex of its firing arc, while the extraordinary accuracy comes via GPS guidance.) 30 miles is from San Francisco to Palo Alto or San Jose to Millbrae.

The Army is paying about $70,000 per Paladin round. So filling up each Paladin magazine with Excaliburs works out to 39 x 975 x 70,000, which equals a $2.66 billion revenue opportunity for Raytheon. (And the opportunity could be even bigger. This is because in addition to the Paladin, Excalibur can also be fired from 155mm guns including the American M198 and M777 howitzers, Germany's Panzerhaubitze 2000, the U.K.'s AS-90, and Sweden's Archer Artillery System.

Improved DNA Nanopores reading longer 4500 nucleotide sequences

A low-cost technology may make it possible to read long sequences of DNA far more quickly than current techniques.

The research advances a technology, called nanopore DNA sequencing. If perfected it could someday be used to create handheld devices capable of quickly identifying DNA sequences from tissue samples and the environment, the University of Washington researchers who developed and tested the approach said.

One reason why people are so excited about nanopore DNA sequencing is that the technology could possibly be used to create ‘tricorder’-like devices for detecting pathogens or diagnosing genetic disorders rapidly and on-the-spot,” said Andrew Laszlo, lead author and a graduate student in the laboratory of Jen Gundlach, a UW professor of physics who led the project.

Nature Biotechnology - Decoding long nanopore sequencing reads of natural DNA

Could Technology make the American Dream affordable with Basic Income and Services

An unconditional basic income (also called basic income, basic income guarantee, universal basic income, universal demogrant, or citizen’s income) is a proposed system of social security in which all citizens or residents of a country regularly receive an unconditional sum of money, either from a government or some other public institution, in addition to any income received from elsewhere.

A basic income is typically intended to be only enough for a person to survive on, so as to encourage people to engage in economic activity. A basic income of any amount less than the social minimum is sometimes referred to as a 'partial basic income'.

Affordability of a basic income proposal is a function of the social/government services it replaces, any tax increases, and the less tangible positive effects on spending and tax receipts associated with wealth redistribution towards the poor, and any social savings as a result of less crime, or fewer incarcerable offenses.

Measurements were made by Pascal J. for Canada. A 2004 taxable basic income benefit of $7800 per adult could be afforded without any tax increases by replacing welfare, unemployment, and core Old age services. This would be $20,000 for a family of four.

An analysis by USA Today shows that living the American dream would cost the average family of four about $130,000 a year. Only 16 million U.S. households — around 1 in 8 — earned that much in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

There is a gap of about 6.5 times to make an American Dream lifestyle affordable via basic income and services.

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