August 23, 2014

Sulu gave a boost to Star Trek Axanar Kickstarter

George Takei (Sulu from the old Star Trek) series posted on Facebook TWICE and Tweeted about us as well. Because of this, our Kickstarter has shot through the roof. Axanar is the # 1 most popular Kickstarter right now and has added over $160,000 so far today.

Building a rejuvenation biotech industry panel #rejbio

Michael Kope
George Church
Jeanne Loring [scripps]
Brock Reeve [harvard stem cell]

George Church thinks technology will impact. Gene therapy will fix the most sick first but then spread to other diseases and then to dual use sickness and health-longevity.

Social and issues about difference in life expectancy. 14 year difference in life expectancy between uneducated black and educated white males. In the UK there is still a big difference between educated and uneducated people. There is some risk behaviors that drive it. Some are socieconomic factors.

Advancing Regenerative Therapies in Musculoskeltal diseases and diabetes panel at the regenerative biotech conference #rejbio

Speakers on a panel are considerong the possibility of applying a drug design similar to ones emerging from the Alzheimers disease and cancer communities. The feasibility of applying such a model will be considered with the biology of the disease, regulatory concerns and pharma needs in mind.

Aubrey de Grey
Christy Carter, University of Florida
Andrew Martello, Spoonful of sugar
Camillo Ricordi, University of Miami

Christy Carter is trying to solve and prevent Sarcopenia (the loss of muscle tissue as we age)
50% of the loss of strength is the loss of muscle and 50% is something else

FDA is having problems allowing for regulation and treatment without clearer definitions of what is going on.

researchers are trying to use behaviorial definitions

Looking at rapamycin for treatment

Dynapenia for muscle weakness

Christy is very hopeful about using SARMS (safe steroids) for fighting sarcopenia.
Myostatin inhibitors have a lot of buzz but the clinical tests are not showing significant sustained strength gains.

Bioengineering for Gene Therapy by David Schaffer #rejbio

Molecular engineering of gene therapies for the nervous system

DNA as medicine

Historical timeline in molecular medicine development
started with small molecules (1908 start)
Protein therapies (1920s start)
gene therapies (1980s had some therapies that were somewhat effective)
Stem cells (1960s start)

More chronic health conditions are now the problems.
Chronic age related disease
alzheimers, parkinsons, etc...

Three problems of gene therapy - delivery, delivery and delivery

Adeno associated virus (5 kilobases - AAV)
60 units of CAP protein assemble to form icosahedral capsid

numerous natural variants have been isolated

Regenerative Medicine Diabetes #rejbio

Breakthroughs in diabetes research is being presented.

The cellular and biological causes of diabetes.

Camillo Ricordi - Cellular therapies and regenerative medicine strategies for treatment of diabetes

Lipogems in chondropathy (coldplay)

Cell Transplant - A new nonenzymatic method and device to obtain a fat tissue derivative highly enriched in pericyte-like elements by mild mechanical forces from human lipoaspirates.

Adipose tissue contains multipotent elements with phenotypic and gene expression profiles similar to human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) and pericytes. The chance of clinical translation of the multilineage potential of these cells is delayed by the poor/negligible cell survival within cryopreserved lipoaspirates, the difficulty of ex vivo expansion, and the complexity of current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) requirements for expanded cells. Hence, availability of a minimally manipulated, autologous, hMSC/pericyte-enriched fat product would have remarkable biomedical and clinical relevance. Here, we present an innovative system, named Lipogems, providing a nonexpanded, ready-to-use fat product. The system uses mild mechanical forces in a completely closed system, avoiding enzymes, additives, and other manipulations. Differently from unprocessed lipoaspirate, the nonexpanded Lipogems product encompasses a remarkably preserved vascular stroma with slit-like capillaries wedged between adipocytes and stromal stalks containing vascular channels with evident lumina. Immunohistochemistry revealed that Lipogems stromal vascular tissue included abundant cells with pericyte/hMSC identity. Flow cytometry analysis of nonexpanded, collagenase-treated Lipogems product showed that it was comprised with a significantly higher percentage of mature pericytes and hMSCs, and lower amount of hematopoietic elements, than enzymatically digested lipoaspirates. Differently from the lipoaspirate, the distinctive traits of freshly isolated Lipogems product were not altered by cryopreservation. Noteworthy, the features of fresh product were retained in the Lipogems product obtained from human cadavers, paving the way to an off-the-shelf strategy for reconstructive procedures and regenerative medicine. When placed in tissue culture medium, the Lipogems product yielded a highly homogeneous adipose tissue-derived hMSC population, exhibiting features of hMSCs isolated from other sources, including the classical commitment to osteogenic, chondrogenic, and adipogenic lineages. Moreover, the transcription of vasculogenic genes in Lipogems-derived adipose tissue hMSCs was enhanced at a significantly greater extent by a mixture of natural provasculogenic molecules, when compared to hMSCs isolated from enzymatically digested lipoaspirates.

David Schaffer. Molecular elucidation and engineering of stem cell therapies for the nervous system

Regulating a damage control approach to antiaging mediicine #rejbio

Escalating societal healthcare needs have driven an unprecedented era of biomedical innovation.

How do we speed healthcare from the lab to bedside.

Evan Snyder

If the standard of care suboptimal or no therapy cure exists.

If the biological data makes sens when subjected to critical scrutiny.

Andrew Matello

Bob Clay

Peter Diamandis Delivers Keynote at SENS Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference

Undoubtedly, Peter Diamandis is one of the most enthusiastic and charismatic futurists around. Holding key roles with organizations such as Singularity University (which he founded with Ray Kurzweil), Planetary Resources, Chairman at Human Longevity with Craig Ventner,  and the Ansari X Prize Foundation. 

Rejuvenation Biotechnology Applying a damage repair paradigm to developing technologies for the diseases of aging panel discussion #rejbio

Panel members discussing the feasibility of applying such a strategy

Richard Barker, center for the advancement of sustainable medical innovation (moderator)
Julie Allickson Director, Translational Research, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative medicine
Stephen Minger, Chief Scientist, GE Healthcare life sciences, UK
Evan Snyder, Sanford Burnham Medical Research

Evan Snyder talk


Predicting things hinges on personalized medicine.
How to get in going ?

Take the umbilical cords and turn them into iPS stem cells for those patients in the future

How to profile the banked cells ?

What happens with the iPS stem cells ?
They are young and immature cells

Rejuvenation Biotechnology Saturday Keynote by Diamandis on breakthroughs to Health Abundance #rejbio

SENS Research Foundation presenting the Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference: Emerging Regenerative Medicine Solutions for the Diseases of Aging. This conference will bring together leaders from the Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular, cancer, and other age-related disease communities to discuss preventative and combinatorial strategies to address the diseases of old age.

Peter Diamandis will be talking about creating a culture of innovation and breakthroughs on the road to Health Abundance.

Dr. Peter H. Diamandis is an international pioneer in the fields of innovation, incentive competitions and commercial space. In the field of Innovation, Diamandis is Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, best known for its $10 million Ansari X PRIZE for private spaceflight. Today the X PRIZE leads the world in designing and operating large-scale global competitions to solve market failures. Diamandis is also the Co-Founder and Vice-Chairman of Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), a genomics and cell therapy-based diagnostic and therapeutic company focused on extending the healthy human lifespan. He is also the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Singularity University, a graduate-level Silicon Valley institution that studies exponentially growing technologies, their ability to transform industries and solve humanity’s grand challenges. In the field of commercial space, Diamandis is Co-Founder/Co-Chairman of Planetary Resources, a company designing spacecraft to enable the detection and mining of asteroids for precious materials. Diamandis is the New York Times Bestselling author of Abundance – The Future Is Better Than You Think. Abundance was #1 on Amazon and #2 on New York Times. He earned an undergraduate degree in Molecular Genetics and a graduate degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School. Diamandis’ mission is to open the space frontier for humanity. His personal motto is: "The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself."

Spacex reusable test rocket has exploded in midair

A SpaceX rocket exploded in mid-air early Friday evening.

The unmanned rocket exploded shortly after launch around 5:45 p.m. during a test flight at the SpaceX testing facility in McGregor.

According to a statement from the company, no injuries were reported.

Witnesses reported several grass fires start from falling debris, but none of the fires were reported to be serious in nature.

The statement from SpaceX goes on to say that the test flight involved a three-engine version of its reusable Falcon 9 rocket.

UPower wants to make a container sized nuclear fission reactor with 2% of the development cost of small nuclear reactors and get regulatory approval by 2019

UPower technology enables an always on, container-sized, truly carbon-free and emission-free nano-nuclear battery for remote and distributed generation where energy costs can exceed 30 cents/kWh, and power is needed 24/7. The generator is a containerized unit that provides over a decade of energy without refueling, and can generate electricity for 40% less than competing technologies in these markets. The UPower generator is powered by a unique compact, solid state, micro reactor that produces over 1 MW and can cogenerate process heat.

The key to the UPower strategy is its truly modular technology which enables the ultimate in lean development and in lean manufacturing. For this reason, UPower will have development costs on the order of 1/50th the size of other "small" nuclear technologies.

UPower reactors don't have coolant flowing through them, don't have pumps, and don't have external pipes- basically a "nuclear battery.

The Economist magazine now expects China's economy to pass the USA in 2021

The Economist updates their long term forecasts for the US and China economies and now expects China to pass the USA in 2021.

When we first introduced the chart in 2010, we included a set of default assumptions for the following decade. We assumed that growth would average 7.75% in China over the subsequent ten years and 2.5% in America. We further assumed that inflation would average 4% in China and 1.5% in America. The yuan, we guessed, would strengthen by 3% a year on average. Based on this combination of assumptions, China would overtake America as early as 2019*. We are now four years into that forecast. How have we done? In the spirit of transparency that we urge of other would-be economic fortune tellers, we admit to being a little off, though not, it must be said, by much. It now looks like America’s eclipse will come two years later than initially anticipated†.

American growth has been a little lower than expected but inflation a bit higher, making that side of the projection quite accurate. The margin of error was bound to be larger with China, given the speed at which it has been developing. We were nearly spot-on with our growth forecast, though are now revising down our expectation for the remainder of the decade to a 7% average annual pace as the economy matures. The bigger surprise has been the halt of yuan appreciation this year—a policy dictated by the government, not the market—and the sharp drop in inflation as producer prices have fallen. A yawing trade surplus still points to a stronger yuan, so we maintain our forecast for sustained appreciation, though expect the upward march to come in fits and starts. As for inflation, excess industrial capacity remains a drag but is gradually being worked out of the system; we nudge our forecast down to 3%.

We have plugged our expectations into the chart above (updated August 22nd 2014) as the default assumptions. Totting it all up, we now see 2021 as the year of China’s re-emergence as world’s biggest economy

August 22, 2014

Quantum annealing correction for random Ising problems

The performance of a quantum annealer on hard random Ising optimization problems can be substantially improved using quantum annealing correction (QAC). Our error correction strategy is tailored to the D-Wave Two device. They find that QAC provides a statistically significant enhancement in the performance of the device over a classical repetition code, improving as a function of problem size as well as hardness. Moreover, QAC provides a mechanism for overcoming the precision limit of the device, in addition to correcting calibration errors. Performance is robust even to missing qubits. We present evidence for a constructive role played by quantum effects in our experiments by contrasting the experimental results with the predictions of a classical model of the device. Our work demonstrates the importance of error correction in appropriately determining the performance of quantum annealers.

Arxiv - Quantum annealing correction for random Ising problems

25 years ago China retained political oppression, chose more market economy and more globalization and for now it has worked

Wilson Quarterly describes China's economic transformation since 1989. In 1989, China made the choice to go with political repression, a market economy and globalization.

China’s economy has grown to 24 times its size in 1989. The U.S. economy, by contrast — despite robust economic growth over the past 25 years — is slightly less than three times its 1989 size.

NOTE - The Wilson Quarterly data is for the overall economy and does not adjust for population growth in China or the US. There are other figures at Wilson quarterly for purchasing power parity and for per capita.

Economists previously thought China would pull ahead by 2019, but the glacial US recovery has allowed the gap to narrow more quickly.

Wikipedia list of GDP figures based on China's NBS statistics.

US gross domestic product in trillions of current dollars (not inflation-adjusted).

Dec 31, 2013 17.08 trillion
Dec 31, 1989 5.76 trillion

US Gross Domestic Product per capita — current dollars (non-inflation-adjusted).
Oct 1, 2013 53,259.33
Jul 1, 1989 22,803.73

US Population
Nov 1, 2013 316.98 million
Jul 1, 1989 246.82 million

SENS Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference-Cancer Session

For the afternoon sessions at the SENS conference, attendees had the option of learning about advances in Cancer, Parkinsons, or the Risk-Benefit Analysis in Therapies for Disease and Disabilities of Aging. Deciding to venture away from the investment track and into a more clinical focus, I selected the Cancer track, kicked off by by Judith Campisi from Buck Institute for Research on Aging. 
Judith Campisi

SENS Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference-Keynote: Jim O'Neill

This morning at the SENS conference, Edward James Olmos kicks off the day with some opening remarks before Jim O'Neill delivers his keynote.

Mithril, the two year old investment firm which Jim serves as COO, specializes in emerging technology start-ups.  For example, they recently invested in Magforce, a nanotechnology-based cancer treatment company, and  Helion Energy, another impressive start up which focuses on fusion energy. Thiel investment firm Breakout Labs has invested in a company called Immusoft, whose mission is to develop a completely new platform for delivering medicines, by programming a patient’s own cells to become miniature drug factories (how freaking awesome is that?!) 

Update from Rejuvenation Biotech - The Tricorder is coming!

Daniel Kraft spoke about Scanadu, a company competing for the Tricorder X-Prize. Scanadu is to begin FDA trials of their device this fall!

Star Trek Feature Quality Film Funded by Kickstarter

Axanar is the independent Star Trek film which proves that a feature-quality Star Trek film can be made on a small budget.

Their 20-minute short film, Prelude to Axanar, premiered Saturday, July 26th, 2014, at San Diego Comic Con and features Richard Hatch, Tony Todd, Kate Vernon, JG Hertzler and Gary Graham, who reprises his role of Soval from "Enterprise". The makeup was done by Academy Award winner Kevin Haney and Star Trek veteran Brad Look and Make Up Effects Lab. Top that off with the amazing visual effects of Tobias Richter and The Light Works, and sound by Academy Award winner Frank Serafine, and the result is Prelude to Axanar: something unlike anything you have ever seen before.

Donate to the kickstarter for the Axanar movie

This Kickstarter is for the full-length feature Axanar. Unlike the short film, which we shot in two days and cost $75,000, the 90-minute Axanar feature will take about 20 days and cost about $650,000.

$35 get an Axanar fleet patch
$75 get the Blueray with extra plus lower level awards
$250 appear as a hero casualty in the movie

The Star Trek Axanar website is here

August 21, 2014

SENS Rejuvenation Biotechnology- Economic Impact of an Aging Population on the Healthcare System

The second to last panel discussion features David Brindley as Moderator, Catalina Hoffman and Peter Nakada. 

I find it interesting, how the early years and the last years of life mimic each other. For many of the aging population, it is difficult to care for themselves to the degree they were able to in the past. Embarrassment and isolation can lead to depression, yet some companies aim to enhance the lives of these individuals, spurring development of new solutions, services and products that transform the quality of life of seniors. 

Introducing Hoffmann Elderly, Vitalia and The Hoffmann Method, which is a new system of personal care that takes into account the physical, psychological, cognitive and social needs of its clients, with the objective of improving the quality of life for seniors and their families. This method improves quality of life for this population. If this helps people live longer, albeit not necessarily without disease, what are the economic effects we can expect to see?

Update from Rejuvenation Biotech - 3D Printed Food

Gabor Forgacs, CEO of Organovo, says by 2015 there will be 9 billion hungry people on this Earth, and raising cattle for meat is to resource intensive. What if you could 3D print burgers to feed the world's growing population? Would you eat a burger grown in a lab?

SENS Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference-Toward a New Investment Paradigm

L-R: David Brindley, Jim O'Neill, Michael West, Neil Littman, Bernard Siegel
So, I opted for the investment panel, instead of the clinical tracks of Alzheimers and Cardiovascular Disease. Moderated by David Brindley, panelists take turns presenting their perspective, and we start off with Neil Littman from CIRM (California Institute of Regenerative Medicine). 

Update from Rejuvenation Biotech - Baby Boomer Problem

Michael West CEO of BioTime Inc. says America has a huge problem headed its way with aging (living longer) from the baby boom generation. We must do something about this population's health to ensure the economy stays healthy.

Update from Rejuvenation Biotech - FDA


James O'Neill (Mithril Capital) on the FDA - The people there like science and curing disease. It is not a people problem, the FDA is structured to make it difficult to move trials forward.

Update from Rejuvenation Biotech - Stem Cell Therapies

Toward A New Investment Paradigm Panel

California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) has 6 stem cell therapies currently in trial! - Neil Littman

Molecular and Cellular Damage as the Cause of the Diseases of Aging

On the stage sits an all-star panel including Aubrey de Grey , Jeff Karp , Caleb FinchStephen Minger and Richard Bakerdiscussing the idea that diseases of aging may stem from molecular and cellular damage that accrues with age. I am trying to not think about the sheer brainpower and knowledge that sits just a few feet away. 

Aubrey de Grey

SENS Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference

The smell of coffee, and sounds of familiar voices permeated the air as I approached the registration desk for the SENS Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference in Santa Clara. Friendly faces and friends greet me, and I am reminded of at time almost exactly a year ago, when I attended SENS6 in Cambridge. I am directed to the breakfast area, where over a hundred individuals gather to catch up since they last saw each other. 

Opening remarks by Mike Kope, CEO of SENS Research Foundation, remind us of how much progress has been made in the field in the last several years, yet also reminds us we still have a way to go. Jerri Riley, VP of Outreach, outlines the agenda for the day, and thanks the audience, sponsors and exhibitors before introducing the keynote speaker, Dr. George Church, a pioneer in genomics and synthetic biology.
Mike Kope, CEO SENS RF

Rejuvenation Biotech Conference has started in Santa Clara

Navy uses high power laser to accelerate thin plastic foils to over 1180 kilometers per second

A set of experiments conducted on the Nike krypton fluoride (KrF) laser at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) nearly five years ago has, at long last, earned the coveted Guinness World Records title for achieving "Highest Projectile Velocity" of greater than 1,000 kilometers per second (km/s), a speed equivalent to two-and-a-quarter million miles per hour.

"The impact of the highly accelerated target on a stationary foil generated thermonuclear fusion neutrons whose energy spread indicated that a gigabar—that's the pressure of a billion atmospheres—was achieved in the collision," said Dr. Max Karasik, NRL Laser Plasma Branch. "The results highlight the advantages of a krypton-fluoride laser in efficiently generating uniform pressures required for fuel compression in inertial confinement fusion."

In the experiments, thin plastic foils were accelerated to 1,000 km/s over a distance of less than a millimeter. The moving foils then collided with a stationary foil, generating thermo-nuclear temperatures and neutrons from fusion reactions. The high ablative pressure applied to compress and accelerate targets is used in inertial confinement fusion and high energy density research.

NRL received the official Guinness World Records certificate, February 2014, with distinction given to the research that "...probe[s] possibilities for future clean-energy sources." However, since the 2009 experiment, Karasik says NRL has raised the bar. With an improved laser pulse shape, researchers at the Nike laser facility have reached target velocities of 1,180 km/s.

Final amplifier of the Nike laser where laser beam energy is increased from 150 J to ~5 kJ by passing through a krypton - fluorine - argon gas mixture excited by irradiation with two opposing 670,000 volt electron beams.

August 20, 2014

Hypertelescope spread over 1 AU would allow imaging to 100 light years down to 2 meter resolution

Seth Shostak describes a very large optical interferometry space telescope array

Using interferometry to pool data from thousands of small mirrors in space spread out over 100 million miles to image exoplanets 100 light years away down to 2 meter resolution.

At 100 light-years, something the size of a Honda Accord subtends an angle of a half-trillionth of a second of arc. In case that number doesn’t speak to you, it’s roughly the apparent size of a cell nucleus on Pluto, as viewed from Earth.

I think you would have a cube or sphere 1 AU across and that volume would be filled with say 1 million space telescopes. This way every 0.01 AU there is a space telescope and then they get tasked to work with different scopes at different times in order to look at other locations. Each scope would need its own shading devices. so all of the actions are close together And only pivoting is required. 1 billion scopes would mean one every 0.001 AU. etc...

Matter-Antimatter Propulsion with on-board Schwinger electron-positron pair production via high power 10^16 volts per centimeter lasers are becoming technically feasible

Dr. Gerald Cleaver discusses Matter-Antimatter Propulsion and Icarus Interstellar.

Through a LinkedIn connection, Icarus Interstellar's Dr. Gerald Cleaver was invited to present the February 12th colloquium for the SAIC Technical Speaker Forum at NASA-Johnson Space Center in Clear Lake, Texas.

Cleaver had been requested to speak on two topics:
(i) Icarus Interstellar, including its history, mission and ongoing projects, and
(ii) his related past research with Richard Obousy on theoretical string theory realization of the Alcubierre warp effect and on his present research regarding in situ matter/antimatter production for starship thrust.

Attendance at the talk was filled to capacity in the main NASA conference room in building 1. A few dozen more people from five different NASA sites participated through WebEx Meeting Center.

The audience was very interested in the range of Icarus Interstellar programs. The SAIC people appreciated Icarus Interstellar's connection with SAIC via the Icarus Interstellar association with the Foundation for Enterprise Development, run by Mary-Anne Beyster, daughter of the founder of SAIC. After the one-hour presentation was over, another 90 minutes of related discussion continued between Cleaver and nine SAIC and NASA scientists and engineers at the NASA cafeteria. As part of a Baylor University research sabbatical, Cleaver plans to spend April through June at NASA-JSC working in its Eagleswork Lab with Icarus Interstellar's Dr. Sonny White and his colleagues.

At 27 minutes in - theoretically if we could control 7 compact dimensional strings in size and shape then we could control the cosmological constant locally. Purely theoretically string theory is compatible with Alcubierre warp drive.

Matter/antimatter (MAM)-based propulsion systems are viable options for both intrasolar system and interstellar travel. For example, the feasibility and functionality of on-board Schwinger electron-positron pair production via high power lasers has received growing interest lately. In this talk an alternate in-situ MAM production method will be discussed. Production of quark-antiquark pairs via interaction of parallel electric and magnetic fields associated with chiral symmetry breaking will be reviewed. Emphasis will be placed on the physics involved in the quark pair production and in the basic design of a related propulsion system. Quark pair production rates as a function of electric and magnetic field strengths is presented.

Arxiv - A table-top laser-based source of femtosecond, collimated, ultra-relativistic positron beams (2013)

The generation of ultra-relativistic positron beams with short duration (τe+≤30 fs), small divergence (θe+≃3 mrad), and high density (ne+≃10^14−10^15 cm−3) from a fully optical setup is reported.

US Navy will Evaluate Lockheed Martin Industrial Exoskeletons

Lockheed Martin has received a contract through the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS) for the U.S. Navy to evaluate and test two FORTIS exoskeletons. This marks the first procurement of Lockheed Martin’s exoskeletons for industrial use. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

The FORTIS exoskeleton is an unpowered, lightweight exoskeleton that increases an operator’s strength and endurance by transferring the weight of heavy loads from the user’s body directly to the ground.

Lockheed Martin is developing next-generation, unpowered, lightweight exoskeletons that will provide the user strength, endurance and flexibility.

FORTIS exoskeleton transfers loads through the exoskeleton to the ground in standing or kneeling positions and allows operators to use heavy tools as if they were weightless. An advanced ergonomic design moves naturally with the body and adapts to different body types and heights. Using the Equipois zeroG® arm, operators can effortlessly hold objects up to 36 pounds, increasing productivity by reducing muscle fatigue and avoiding muscle injury.

Elcano self driving trike project targets sub-$1000 price and achieve the equivalent of 1000 mpge

The Elcano Project aims to make self-drive real for students and hobbyists. The Elcano Project provides a blueprint for building your own experimental automated vehicle using electronics and sensors costing under $1000. A tricycle with an electric helper motor under 750 Watt and top speed under 20 mph is legally a bicycle, and thus street-legal without license, registration or insurance.

The goals of the Elcano Project are:
* Make autonomy available to non-specialists.
* Produce an experimental vehicle and electronics costing less than $5,000 total. A fully enclosed road-worthy production vehicle should cost less than $10,000.
* Generate public demand for road automation.
* Encourage high fuel efficiency (1000 mpg / 0.25 L/100 km) through ultra-light automated vehicles.
* Set standards for cooperative automation using a scalable distributed Traffic Management System.

The long term vision is not a single self-driving vehicle, but a collection of such vehicles that communicates with each other. Automatic vehicles can take instructions from a roadside Traffic Management Computer that manages a section of roadways. These computers would link together to form a distributed, scalable Traffic Management System; such a system can reduce congestion.

China's Baidu is believed to be working on unmanned self driving bicycles. The Elcano project shows that the self driving bicycle concept is real and would be very worthwhile.

Recumbant trikes are super-energy efficient [ IEEE Energy and Autonomous Urban Land Vehicles (10 pages)]

The vehicle that minimizes power consumption looks like a three wheeled recumbent motorcycle enclosed by a streamlined body. It might be 0.8 meters wide, 1.2 meters high and 3 meters long. A tandem version might double the length. These pod cars would be primarily designed for commuting. If used by a family or group, several pods can be electronically linked to each other and function as a single vehicle. A shopper can attach a second vehicle to carry purchases.

About 50 times more energy efficient than a car

Spacex is valued at ten billion dollars and Elon Musk has a net worth of about $16.5 billion

Spacex has raised an addition funding of about $200 million. The investment values Spacex at about $10 billion.

Launches currently cost under $60 million for a low-Earth orbit launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 craft. Spacex has made progress to reusable rockets. Reusable rockets cost bring the cost of launches to between $5 million and $7 million.

SpaceX has generated $4 billion in contracts. The Spacex launch manifest for upcoming launches is just under 40 missions planned between now and 2018.

In early 2012, approximately two-thirds of Spacex [wikipedia] was owned by its founder Elon Musk. The ten billion valuation would mean that Elon Musk spacex shares are worth about $6.6 billion

Elon Musk has about 28% of Telsa. So has $8.5 billion of the Tesla 32.4 billion market value company. He has 33 million shares.

Solar City is worth 6.68 billion. Musk has 20.7 million shares. $1.45 billion.

Elon Musk is worth about $16.5 billion.

This would put Elon Musk as about the 55th wealthiest person in the world on the Forbes list

August 19, 2014

China's pebble bed nuclear reactor gets a prototype helium fan

[World Nuclear News] A prototype helium fan for use in China's HTR-PM high-temperature gas-cooled reactor has successfully completed testing. A demonstration plant based on twin HTR-PM units is currently under construction at Shidaowan, Shandong province.

The purpose of the helium fan can be compared to that of the main circulation pump in a pressurized water reactor: to provide sufficient flow of coolant during the reactor's start-up, operation and shut down to take away the heat generated by the reactor core. The HTR-PM features pebble bed fuel and helium coolant.

Work began on two demonstration HTR-PM units at China Huaneng Group's Shidaowan site in December 2012. China Huaneng is the lead organization in the consortium to build the demonstration units together with China Nuclear Engineering Corporation (CNEC) and Tsinghua University's Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology (INET), which is the research and development leader. Chinergy, a joint venture of Tsinghua and CNEC, is the main contractor for the nuclear island.

The demonstration plant's twin HTR-PM units will drive a single 210 MWe turbine. It is expected to begin operating around 2017. Eighteen further units are proposed for the Shidaowan site, near Rongcheng in Weihai city.

DARPA GXV-T seeks to develop revolutionary technologies to make future armored fighting vehicles more mobile, effective and affordable

[DARPA] For the past 100 years of mechanized warfare, protection for ground-based armored fighting vehicles and their occupants has boiled down almost exclusively to a simple equation: More armor equals more protection. Weapons’ ability to penetrate armor, however, has advanced faster than armor’s ability to withstand penetration. As a result, achieving even incremental improvements in crew survivability has required significant increases in vehicle mass and cost.

The trend of increasingly heavy, less mobile and more expensive combat platforms has limited Soldiers’ and Marines’ ability to rapidly deploy and maneuver in theater and accomplish their missions in varied and evolving threat environments. Moreover, larger vehicles are limited to roads, require more logistical support and are more expensive to design, develop, field and replace. The U.S. military is now at a point where—considering tactical mobility, strategic mobility, survivability and cost—innovative and disruptive solutions are necessary to ensure the operational viability of the next generation of armored fighting vehicles.

GXV-T’s technical goals include the following improvements relative to today’s armored fighting vehicles:

* Reduce vehicle size and weight by 50 percent
* Reduce onboard crew needed to operate vehicle by 50 percent
* Increase vehicle speed by 100 percent
* Access 95 percent of terrain
* Reduce signatures that enable adversaries to detect and engage vehicles

Ground-based armored fighting vehicles and their occupants have traditionally relied on armor and maneuverability for protection. The amount of armor needed for today’s threat environments, however, is becoming increasingly burdensome and ineffective against ever-improving weaponry. DARPA's Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T) program seeks to develop revolutionary technologies to enable a layered approach to protection that would use less armor more strategically and improve vehicles’ ability to avoid detection, engagement and hits by adversaries. Such capabilities would enable smaller, faster vehicles in the future to more efficiently and cost-effectively tackle varied and unpredictable combat situations.

Minerva project is revolutionizing education with a intense group based online system

Minerva Schools at KGI is a startup online for-profit university. [wikipedia] Its founders, who include former Snapfish president Ben Nelson, referred to it as "the first elite American university to be launched in a century", and they began teaching students in the fall of 2014. Minerva’s policy is to admit students without regard to national origin. Tuition cost $10,000. The target market is the developing world's rising middle class who aims for an elite American education.

The Minerva Schools at KGI offers a reinvented university experience for the brightest, most motivated students from around the world. Combining an interdisciplinary curriculum and rigorous academic standards, an accomplished faculty versed in the science of learning, an advanced interactive learning platform leveraging cutting-edge technology, and four years of immersive global experience, Minerva will deliver an exceptional liberal arts and sciences education for future leaders and innovators in every discipline. The Minerva Schools at KGI were established by KGI in alliance with Minerva Project. The relationship between KGI and Minerva Project, the offering of an undergraduate program through the Minerva Schools at KGI, and 12 concentrations have been granted WASC approval.

The Minerva Project website is here

Minerva Schools at KGI
Admit Founding Class admitted their first class in March 2014.
Only 45 students were admitted out of 1,794 applications received to date, the Minerva Schools at KGI’s admissions rate of 2.5% makes Minerva the most selective undergraduate program in U.S. history.

Baidu's unmanned self-driving bicycles for China should have a prototype by the end of this year

Google’s driverless cars have been in the technology and futurist news for years, but Chinese search giant Baidu recently revealed development of unmanned autonomous bicycles. Self-driving cars face more regulatory and safety hurdles. Automated bikes are much more well-suited to most of Asia, where bicycle ownership outstrips car ownership.

Update - Nextbigfuture has looked at several self driving robotic trikes and bicycle projects. Technologically this is feasible and there are strong economic benefits for doing it.

A prototype for the world’s first unmanned bike should be revealed before the end of this year, according to Techweb. The bike can reportedly identify its owner in some way, and presumably putts around using an electric motor. Sources told Techweb the bike sans rider can sense its environment well enough to avoid obstacles and navigate complicated road conditions.

Baidu deep learning laboratory (Institute of Deep Learning, Idl) is developing unmanned bike will come out during the year, which may be the world's first unmanned bike in the true sense.

China has 551 million bike riders, of which 181 million use electric bikes.

The bikes could be used for package delivery and for old people or young people who cannot drive themselves. Self balancing technology could be used or tricycles could be used.

Harold White spoke at the 17th Mars Society Conference

Harold's White talk starts at 22 minutes of this video.

If you look at the video, be prepared it is low quality video and low quality audio.
At 39 minutes there is discussion of the warp field interferometer test experiments

At 55 minutes there is discussion of the Emdrive and Cannae drive experiments. First is discussion of the torsion pendulum which is already used for ion drive tests.
At 58 minutes the main discussion of the Cannae drive experiments.

He thinks there might be some Q thruster physics going on in part of the device.

August 18, 2014

Long term growth to 2060

In general for mainstream economic projections out to 2060,

* increased urbanization from about 50% to 65% in 2030 and then to about 70-80% in 2060
* increased global middle class ($10-100 per day PPP) to about 65% (6 billion out of 8.5 billion) by 2030
* The increase in per capita income of the developing countries improve to about 25%-60% of developing countries in 2060. Developed countries double per capita income from todays level.

There are problems significantly progressing the last 10-20% of the world population. Those lagging countries and people in Africa and Asia have substantial health problems with a lot of their people. Malnutrition has led to stunting.

Still most of the world will be roughly middle class developed countries by 2030-2040 and this should continue to have improvement to 2060. This is a big shift from most of the worlds people being very poor.

The OECD Looking to 2060: A Global Vision of Long Term Growth

Global GDP is expected to grow at around 3% per year over the next 50 years, but wide variations are forecast between countries and regions. Fast-growing emerging countries will be the principal driver of the long-term outlook. Growth rates of emerging countries will eventually slow, converging towards those projected for the OECD area. Growth and living standards are supported by active implementation of fiscal and structural reforms.

* In parallel, the relative size of economies will change radically over the next 50 years. The combined GDP of China and India will soon surpass that of the G7 economies and will exceed that of the entire current OECD membership by 2060. The global saving rate will remain fairly stable until 2030. The rising weight of high-saving countries especially China and India will compensate for the tendency of private saving rates to fall in individual countries, mostly on account of aging.

* Notwithstanding fast growth in low-income and emerging countries, large cross-country differences in living standards will persist in 2060.

* Income per capita in the poorest economies will more than quadruple by 2060, and China and India will experience more than a seven-fold increase, but living standards in these countries and some other emerging countries will still only be one-quarter to 60% of the level in the leading countries in 2060.

* Bolder structural reforms and more ambitious fiscal policy could raise long-run living standards by an average of 16% relative to the baseline scenario of moderate policy improvements. Ambitious product market reforms, which raise productivity growth, could increase global GDP by an average of about 10%. Policies that induce convergence towards best practice labour force participation could increase GDP by close to 6% on average

* Global imbalances could widen up until 2030 perhaps reaching pre-crisis levels , but deeper and faster structural and fiscal reforms could reduce imbalances by as much as one-quarter by then.

The 2005 PPP numbers per capita number were adjusted by about 20% for developing countries like China and India in the most recent PPP numbers. These numbers 50 years out have a wide range of variability as seen by the suggestion to improve growth by 20% over the 50 year period

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 222

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 222 is up at Atomic Insights

ANS Nuclear Cafe -The Final Entrant – Last Nuclear Utility in Japan Applies for Restart by Will Davis

All utilities that own nuclear reactors in Japan have now applied to have inspections conducted for restarting at least one of their reactors, with Hokuriku Electric Power Company submitting an application to restart Shika Unit 2. 20 nuclear units in all now have applications in under the revised and strengthened post-Fukushima safety guidelines of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority.

Spacex Falcon 9 First Stage Reentry Footage from Plane

Following the successful launch of six ORBCOMM satellites, the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage reentered Earth’s atmosphere and soft landed in the Atlantic Ocean. This footage is from a chase plane filming the decent of the first stage back to earth.

Towards the end of the video, the camera operator attempted to zoom in and unfortunately lost sight of the stage and was unable to capture the tip over into the water

Optical Solver extrapolated to 240 zettaflops on a desktop in 2030

A startup company called Optalysis is trying to invent a fully-optical computer that would be aimed at many of the same tasks for which GPUs are currently used. Optalysis is claiming that they can create an optical solver supercomputer astonishing 17 exaFLOPS machine by 2020.

40 gigaFlops demonstration uses 500x500 pixels working 20 times per second. Each pixel does the work of about 8000 floating point operations in each of the cycles. Speeding up 427 million times to 17.1 exaFLOPS can be done with 500,000 X 500,000 pixels and 8550 cycles per second. They can use multiple LCD displays.

We can project out the minimum pixel size with visible light (without using superlensing and metamaterials to get to sub-wavelengths). The visible light spectrum are wavelengths from about 390 to 700 nm. So one micron one a side pixels would work for visible light. One million by one million pixels would then be one square meter.

Physical Review Letters had an article on Nanosecond Electro-Optic Switching of a Liquid Crystal in 2013. Using these type of crystals would enable 30 million cycles per second for the optical computer.

This extrapolation assumes that the Optalysis optical computing system is successful and looks at merging this some physical limits in with what Optalysis is doing. Ray Kurzweil has made famous projections mainly based on extrapolating the rate of improvement of computer systems over many decades. Here my extrapolation is based upon physical limits of a particular computational approach.

1,000,000 X 1,000,000 pixels by 30 million cycles by 8000 floating point operations equivalents per cycle would be 240 X 10^21 FLOPS [240 zettaFLOPS].

August 17, 2014

China has 740 million living in cities now, 840 million in 2020 and possibly 1 billion in 2030

China currently has about 54% (740 million)of the Chinese population living in cities. China has six megacities of more than 10 million inhabitants and 103 cities of more than one million inhabitants. This presents China with a unique set of urban challenges that rapidly need to be addressed to ensure that these cities remain liveable, productive and sustainable. China’s urbanization rate is slated to grow to 60% by 2018, two years earlier than initially forecast, the need to address these urban challenges is all the more pressing. Here we look at information from a World Economic Forum report and a Wall Street Journal article.

It is estimated that China will continue its massive urban expansion at an estimated speed of 1% each year.
(China State Council, 2014). This would be 72% urbanization by 2030 and this could be 1 billion people if China's population is 1.4 billion or more.

China's Hukou reform plans to get 100 million more official residents into China's cities by 2020 are taking shape. The new reforms are remarkably liberal on urbanization in China’s small and medium-sized cities, removing the hukou requirement entirely. Small cities will additionally have no limits on the number of new settlers.

Hukou reform could still run into trouble. A survey by the Sichuan province bureau of statistics, published last week, found that 90% of migrant workers don’t even want an urban hukou.

For many, the benefits of better health care and being able to bring their children with them don’t outweigh the perks of rural residency, which include a guaranteed (though generally very small) allocation of agricultural land, the survey found.

Revolutionary Optalysis Optical Computer willl reach exaFLOP speeds using desktop liquid crystal displays and low power lasers

As previously mentioned about one week ago, a startup company called Optalysis is trying to invent a fully-optical computer that would be aimed at many of the same tasks for which GPUs are currently used. Amazingly, Optalysis is claiming that they can create an optical solver supercomputer astonishing 17 exaFLOPS machine by 2020. Here we look at the wealth of information provided at the Optalysis website.

Optalysys’ technology applies the principles of diffractive and Fourier optics to calculate the same processor intensive mathematical functions used in CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and pattern recognition,” explains founder and CEO Dr. Nick New. “Using low power lasers and high resolution liquid crystal micro-displays, calculations are performed in parallel at the speed of light.”

The company is developing two products: a ‘Big Data’ analysis system and an Optical Solver Supercomputer, both on track for a 2017 launch.

The analysis unit works in tandem with a traditional supercomputer. Initial models will start at 1.32 petaflops and will ramp up to 300 petaflops by 2020.

The Optalysys Optical Solver Supercomputer will initially offer 9 petaflops of compute power, increasing to 17.1 exaflops by 2020.

40 gigaFlops demonstration uses 500x500 pixels working 20 times per second. Each pixel does the work of about 8000 floating point operations in each of the cycles. Speeding up 427 million times to 17.1 exaFLOPS can be done with 500,000 X 500,000 pixels and 8550 cycles per second. They can use multiple LCD displays.

There are soon be $399 4K resolution monitors and are currently available in the $600-700 range. Displays have 60 Hz and 120 Hz speedsbut some have 600 Hz refresh rates. Technologically the refresh can be driven up. There was no need to drive the refresh rate up for human displays but there will be a need for optical computing. 4K monitors usually have 8.3 million pixels (3180X2160). Thirty six thousand 4K monitors would get to 500K X 500 K.

Here are answers on the details of the Optical Computer

The Optalysys technology is pioneering in that it will allow mathematical functions and operations to be performed optically, using low power laser light instead of electricity. These operations may be combined to produce larger functions including pattern recognition and derivatives. Our goal is to provide the step change in computing power that is required in Big Data and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) applications.

The technology will be in the form of enclosed, compact optical systems which can sit on the desktop and are powered from a normal mains supply. They will be driven from a software wrapper and will feature interfaces to commonly used tools like OpenFOAM and Matlab.

As a co-processor, the technology development will initially focus on interfacing with large simulations and data sets to provide analysis of the data as it is produced, providing new levels of capability in areas where the volume of data is such that detailed analysis is not possible. Looking further ahead the technology will be able to the produce the actual simulation data at speeds and resolutions far beyond the capabilities of traditional computing.

How can the Optalysys technology provide such a big improvement over traditional computing?

They use the natural properties of light travelling through tiny liquid crystal micro display pixels that are thousandths of a millimetre across, to form interference patterns. These patterns are the same as certain mathematical operations, which form the basis of many large processes and simulations that the most powerful processor arrays and supercomputers are made specifically to do. However these processes are fundamentally parallel operations, with each resulting data point in the output resulting from a calculation involving all the data points in the input. However, electronic processing is fundamentally serial, processing one calculation after the other. This results in big data management problems when the resolutions are increased, with improvements in processor speed only resulting in incremental improvements in performance. The Optalysys technology, however, is truly parallel – once the data is loaded into the liquid crystal grids, the processing is done at the speed of light, regardless of the resolution. The Optalysys technology we are developing is highly innovative and we have filed several patents in the process.

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