September 13, 2014

Europe tries to avoid or reduce recession will go for another round of quantitative easing and China's August number look weak so an interest rate cut may come there

The euro zone's fragile economic recovery came to a halt in the second quarter, in marked contrast to the United States, where the economy grew robustly. Like many of its neighburs struggling to rebound from the debt crisis, Italy slipped into recession for the third time since 2008.

An inflation rate of just 0.3 percent, coupled with the lack of economic growth, has given new urgency to the bloc's search for growth. The ECB is urging governments to also do their part and enact ambitious structural reforms.

Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, announced that the bank plans to engage in a form of quantitative easing through the purchase of private sector credit, including asset-backed securities and covered bonds, in addition to a new cut in interest rates (the benchmark refinancing rate has been cut from 0.15% to 0.05% and the deposit rate has been cut from -0.1% to -0.2%).

McKinsey looked at the impact of quantitative easing and ultralow interest rates.

Nonfinancial corporations—large borrowers such as governments—benefited by $710 billion as the interest rates on debt fell. Although ultra-low interest rates boosted corporate profits in the United Kingdom and the United States by 5 percent in 2012, this has not translated into higher investment, possibly as a result of uncertainty about the strength of the economic recovery, as well as tighter lending standards. Meanwhile, households in these countries together lost $630 billion in net interest income, although the impact varies across groups. Younger households that are net borrowers have benefited, while older households with significant interest-bearing assets have lost income

China close to operation of two CPR1000 reactors at Fangjiashan and close to approving the CAP1400 reactor design

1. The process of loading fuel assemblies into the reactor core of unit 1 at the Fangjiashan plant in China's Zhejiang province has begun. The process of loading all 157 assemblies into Fangjiashan 1's core is expected to take three days to complete. Trial operation of the CPR-1000 reactor will then be able to begin, during which many tests will be carried out. The unit is scheduled to enter commercial operation by the end of this year. A second unit is expected to startup about ten months after the first.

Six CPR-1000 reactors are currently operating in China, with a further 16 under construction.

Japan edges towards restarting some nuclear reactors starting in 2015

Japan's nuclear regulator has approved changes in the reactor installations of units 1 and 2 of the Sendai nuclear power plant, moving the units one step closer to restarting.

Kyushu received draft approval from the NRA in mid-July for the restart of the Sendai units. That approval - which meant the NRA considered the two reactors, and the plant as a whole, to be safe for operation - represented by far the major part of the licensing process.

Two smaller regulatory approvals remain before the Sendai plant can restart. The NRA said that it will now review the detailed design and construction of the reactors and related facilities, as well as operational safety programs, including organization systems and procedures for accident responses. These final stages could possibly be completed by the end of the year.

Once those steps are complete, the NRA would be able to issue its final approval for operation. Kyushu then has an important social obligation to gain informal approval from political leaders in Kagoshima prefecture. However, the federal government has final say on whether nuclear power plants operate.

September 12, 2014

Progress towards Revolutionary Superstrong and superlight Nanoceramic lattices

Imagine a balloon that could float without using any lighter-than-air gas. Instead, it could simply have all of its air sucked out while maintaining its filled shape. Such a vacuum balloon, which could help ease the world's current shortage of helium, can only be made if a new material existed that was strong enough to sustain the pressure generated by forcing out all that air while still being lightweight and flexible.

Caltech materials scientist Julia Greer and her colleagues are on the path to developing such a material and many others that possess unheard-of combinations of properties. For example, they might create a material that is thermally insulating but also extremely lightweight, or one that is simultaneously strong, lightweight, and nonbreakable—properties that are generally thought to be mutually exclusive.

Science - Strong, lightweight, and recoverable three-dimensional ceramic nanolattices

Ceramics have some of the highest strength- and stiffness-to-weight ratios of any material but are suboptimal for use as structural materials because of their brittleness and sensitivity to flaws. They demonstrated the creation of structural metamaterials composed of nanoscale ceramics that are simultaneously ultralight, strong, and energy-absorbing and can recover their original shape after compressions in excess of 50% strain. Hollow-tube alumina nanolattices were fabricated using two-photon lithography, atomic layer deposition, and oxygen plasma etching. Structures were made with wall thicknesses of 5 to 60 nanometers and densities of 6.3 to 258 kilograms per cubic meter. Compression experiments revealed that optimizing the wall thickness-to-radius ratio of the tubes can suppress brittle fracture in the constituent solid in favor of elastic shell buckling, resulting in ductile-like deformation and recoverability.

Gene therapy can protect mice against toxins

Gene therapy may offer significant advantages in prevention and treatment of botulism exposure over current methods.

A newly published PLOS ONE study assessed the long-term efficacy of the therapy and demonstrated that a single gene therapy treatment led to prolonged production of VNA in blood and protected the mice from subsequent exposures to C. botulinum toxin for up to several months. Virtually all mice pretreated with VNA gene therapy survived when exposed to a normally lethal dose of botulinum toxin administered up to nine weeks later. Approximately 40 percent survived when exposed to this toxin as late as 13 or 17 weeks post-treatment. With gene therapy the VNA genetic material is delivered to animals by a vector that induces the animals to produce their own antitoxin VNA proteins over a prolonged period of time, thus preventing illness from toxin exposures.

The second part of the study showed that mice were rapidly protected from C. botulinum toxin exposure by the same VNA gene therapy, surviving even when treated 90 minutes after the toxin exposure.

Russian Ruble will continue to drop and US dollar strengthens

[Moscow Times] The Russian currency's decline has also been underwritten by the Central Bank's move towards a free floating currency, which it aims to implement fully by 2015.

While the Central Bank conducted enormous interventions in March to prop up the ruble as the Ukraine crisis worsened, it has been entirely passive in recent weeks.

The current trading corridor, which has been moved 42 times this year, is so wide that the Central Bank will not be obliged to intervene until a dollar is worth about 39 rubles, economist Tikhomirov said.

Data on the regulator's website shows that it has not made any interventions on the currency markets since June, the longest such period since before the 2008 economic crisis.

"The 38.00 mark doesn't look unachievable next week against the background of the lack of an initiative to exit from the [Ukraine] crisis either from Russia or Europe," Evgeny Koshelev, an analyst at Rosbank, wrote in a commentary published by Prime Economic News Agency.

Musings on future decades of Geopolitics

The Next 100 Years is a 2009 non-fiction book by George Friedman. In the book, Friedman attempts to predict the major geopolitical events and trends of the 21st century. Friedman also speculates in the book on changes in technology and culture that may take place during this period.

I believe it was wrong from the time it was written. It is being discussed in the comments here.

Reviewing the Friedman Predictions

Friedman predicts that the United States will remain the dominant global superpower throughout the 21st century, and that the history of the 21st century will consist mainly of attempts by other world powers to challenge American dominance. Although mainly about the geopolitics and wars of the century, the book also makes some economic, social, and technological predictions for the 21st century.

In the 2010s, the conflict between the US and Islamic fundamentalists will die down, and a second Cold War, less extensive and shorter than the first, will take place between the United States and Russia

Friedman speculates in the book that the United States will probably become a close ally of some Eastern European countries: Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. Around 2015, a Polish-led military alliance of countries in Eastern Europe will begin to form, which is referred to in the book as the "Polish Bloc."

Carnival of Space 370

The Carnival of Space 370 is up at the Venus Transit.

Plate tectonics may increase chances for life on Europa

The icy surface may be connected to the ocean below; plate tectonics can provide a way for nutrients to be carried from the surface down into the waters below, just as they do on Earth. Even microbes themselves might be able to make that journey.

Illustration depicting how plate tectonics may work on Europa. The cold, brittle outer ice shell overlies the warmer, lower ice shell which in turn sits on top of the subsurface ocean. Image Credit: Nature

Nature Geoscience - Evidence for subduction in the ice shell of Europa

Will Gallium Arsenide finally be ready to take the handoff from silicon for improving chip performance ?

Poet Technologies (market value $220 million) is claiming that gallium arsenide computer chips will finally be ready to drive computer performance as silicon is hitting the wall.

The gallium arsenide integrated circuit market is forecasted to grow to $8 billion in 2017, according to a new report ‘The GaAs IC Market’ by The Information Network. The biggest enabler of the mobile data increase and the most important driver of the GaAs RF IC market is the handset segment. Much of the content of a handset is silicon-based, but power amplifiers (PAs) and switches in the front-end of the phone use GaAs device. The global IC market had sales of $271 billion in 2013.

POET Technologies is a developer of the planar opto-electronic technology (POET) platform for monolithic fabrication of integrated circuit devices containing both electronic and optical elements on a single semiconductor wafer – announced an agreement with a “3rd party foundry” to reproduce and enhance repeatability of the 100-nm scale results obtained at the Company’s labs (the “POET labs”) located at the University of Connecticut (UCONN). The “3rd party foundry” will also assist the POET team in shrinking the 100-nm PET devices and process to a 40-nm feature size.

40 nanometer GaAs compares to 14 nanometer in speed and 10 nanometer in power.

Key benefits of the POET platform include:

* Up to 100x speed improvement over CMOS silicon (silicon hits a “power wall” at about 4 GHz that has limited circuit speeds to about 3.2 GHz over the last 10 years). They can produce small gallium arsenide [GaAs] analog circuits switching at 100 GHz today and 400 GHz in the not too distant future

* 10-100x power efficiency improvement over CMOS silicon (depending on application)

* Flexible application that can be applied to virtually any technical application, including memory, digital/mobile, sensor/laser and electro-optical, among many others

* No retrofit or other modifications to existing silicon fabs required – Since POET/PET are CMOS technologies fabricated using standard lithography techniques; they are easily integrated into current semiconductor production facilities extending the profitable utilization of fabrication equipment and production lines that would otherwise be considered at the end of life.

September 11, 2014

More Notes from the Rejuvenation Biotech Conference

George Church of Harvard’s Stem Cell Institute led the conference off with a summary of progress in CRISPR technology.

A questioner asked George about interaction with “chromatin state”. In any given cell, at any given time, some of the DNA is unwrapped and available for expression, called euchromatin, while the rest, called heterochromatin, is spooled around protein spindles (histones). George indicated that the CRISPR technique works a lot better on euchromatin than on heterochromatin, as we would expect, but that it works some even on heterochromatin, and we’re learning rapidly.

CRISPR can now be married to a gene promoter or repressor, so that particular genes can be turned on and off using CRISPR. This is possible not just in cells but in living organisms, potentially in you and me.

CRISPR is a very new technology, still in the explosive stage of development.

Crop improvement and resistance to pathogens benefits from non-coding RNA studies

[Eurekalert] With the rise of emerging economies around the world and a concomitant upgrade of health care systems, the global population has been rapidly expanding. As a consequence, worldwide demand for agricultural products is also growing.

Crops now provide food and the other important resources for seven billion humans.

Food supplies are primarily based on such crops as wheat, maize, rice and vegetables. But as the area of arable land and of cultivated land continues to decline, the future ability to meet the world's food security needs has come under a cloud of uncertainty.

Meanwhile, the use of pesticides and fertilizers has triggered long-term adverse effects on the environment, and has presented a serious threat to human health.

These problems and threats have caused scientists across the continents to search for solutions aimed at improving the production of grain to meet the needs of the growing global population and at bolstering the pest resistance of crops while reducing the use of chemical pesticides.

Proponents of new technologies including DNA recombination have promised a new green revolution, with genetically modified crops featuring transgenes achieving targeted traits including improved quality, increased production, and resistance to pests and stress. Unfortunately, safety concerns with respect to food and the environment caused by the expression of exogenous genes in crops have been raised.

Yet now, using non-coding RNA (ncRNA) to improve crops provides a new alternative.

National Science Review - Non-coding RNAs as potent tools for crop improvement

Paul March is providing more information about the NASA EMDrive Experiments

Paul March works at NASA on the EMDrive, Cannae drive experiments. He is providing information about the experiments on the NASA spaceflight forum.

How High RF issues are being managed

Please note that the entire RF system including its voltage controlled oscillator, phased locked loop, RF amplifier, RF coupler and coaxial transmission lines are hard mounted on the moving torque pendlum arm with the test artricle as it would be in flight. The only power lines that comes across the liquid metal contacts (LMC) are the +5.0Vdc control and +28.0Vdc and their associated ground power lines for each circuit. The Maxwell stress forces created in the LMC pots due to these dc power currects are calculated to be in the nano-Newton range and just act to restore the LMC metal pins to the center of the LMC pots that hold the Galanstan. In otherwords these Maxwell centering stress forces just increase the effective C-flex spring constants by less than a tenth of a percent even when drawing ten amps through the plus and minus 28Vdc bus wires. And yes, all these power wires are twisted and and shielded throughout their runs to cancel out most of B-fields associated with the RF amplifer and control power feeds. Even with all that though, we appeared to still have a small residual interaction between these stray power line shield B-fields interacting with the stray B-fields from the magnetic damper, so we've already upgraded the magnetic damper design to further reduce this problem. Here are some pictures with the new magnetic damper design and buildup pictures.

First 500 GHz Photon Switch Built which is more than ten times faster than before

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have built the first 500 Gigahertz (GHz) photon switch. “Our switch is more than an order of magnitude faster than any previously published result to date,” said UC San Diego electrical and computer engineering professor Stojan Radic. “That exceeds the speed of the fastest lightwave information channels in use today.”

Switching photons at such high speeds was made possible by advances in the control of a strong optical beam using only a few photons, and by the scientists’ ability to engineer the optical fiber itself with accuracy down to the molecular level.

Science - Ultrafast optical control by few photons in engineered fiber

China's population, urbanization and GDP statistics

Elizabeth MacDonald at Fox Business News tries to make the case that China's economy will not pass the US economy on a nominal basis before Dec 31, 2029. She refers to the 2005 cutting of purchasing power parity (PPP) but does not talk about the reversal in the 2011 World Bank statistics. The reason for the cut and adjustment was incorrect and incomplete pricing surveys of only rich cities in 2005. The new 2011 numbers mean that World Bank / IMF PPP have China passing the USA this year.

China's statistics for the end of 2013 were :

Population : 1.360 billion (end of 2013, an increase of 6.68 million from 2012)
GDP - 56.7 trillion yuan
6.05 exchange rate at the end of 2013
6.13 now
Urbanization - 53.7 %
At the end of 2013, the number of employed people in China was 769.77 million, and that in urban areas was 382.40 million.
Urban employment increased by 13.1 million.

USD 9.37 trillion nominal at end of 2013. This does not include Hong Kong and Macau (a combined $250 billion at the end of 2013). The end of 2013 number is still USD9.25 trillion based on the current exchange rate.

There was reference to China's GDP from older IMF forecasts for 2013 was 9.18 trillion. So claims that the IMF projections have China 60% smaller than the US in 2019 have the problem that those figures are working off of an incorrect 2013 number.

Most forecasts have China growth at 7.5% for 2014 and 7.3% for 2015.

Intel making 14nm chips in volume and by end of 2015 will let external customers try out shared 10nm wafers and can do 7 nm without EUV

[EETimes] - Intel believes it can drive Moore’s Law down to 7 nanometers even without long-delayed advances in extreme ultraviolet lithography. It also gave its most detailed look to date at its foundry service for sharing its chipmaking prowess, including a description of a new low-cost alternative to 2.5D chip stacking it has in development.

Chipmakers generally don’t expect the much-delayed extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography in time for 10 nm chips, but many still hold out hopes it could be ready for a 7 nm generation.

A United States in Perpetual War Should Consider a Foreign Legion as a Pragmatic Solution

The United States provided $121 billion in military aid to various foreign countries. $25 billion to train and arm in Iraq and $26 billion to train and arm in Afghanistan. However, the corrupt and incompetent government in Iraq got rid of the well trained officers for loyalists and the degraded US trained Iraqi forces ran away from the fight with ISIL (ISlamic state in Iraq and Levant).

It is now the 13th anniversary of September 11, 2001 and the US is ramping up the fighting and engagement in Iraq and Syria.

There was an academic paper in 2012 that proposed a foreign legion for the United States.

* the US used about 200,000 military contractors at the peak of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars

* federal fiscal years 2002-2010 . . . . the reported value of funds obligated for contingency contracts for equipment, supplies, and support services is at least $ 154 billion for the DoD, $ 11 billion for the Department of State, and $ 7 billion for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).” When one adds the “$ 5 billion in grants and cooperative agreements awarded by State and USAID” the total value becomes $ 177 billion. To put these figures in more comprehensible, concrete terms, the average cost per U.S. household for contractor support of contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in fiscal years 2002-2010 was $ 1,505.

More than $12 billion or more was lost to fraud and more to kickbacks and bribes.

The creation of a formal U.S. Foreign Legion would address many of the issues caused by the current overreliance on PMC (private military contractors) personnel for mission-critical functions described above. Such a military unit would place the use of military-style force squarely back within the proper control of the sovereign U.S. government and would appropriately recognize the efforts of those individuals who are currently serving U.S. interests without commensurate benefits. Lastly, such a force would enhance U.S. security interests abroad–through increases in oversight and control of PMC personnel–and would help reign in fraud and waste at a time when the U.S. government can afford neither.

A low-end annual estimate for the salaries of a 150,000 strong" U.S. Foreign Legion would be anywhere from about $ 2.6 billion to $ 5.1 billion. The 7000 members of the french foreign get about $1500 per month which is the $2.7 billion figure.

A US Legion would remove the middlemen (foreign governments or companies) from the equations. Legionaires would work for the US and would not be as subject to the whims of the client governments.

September 10, 2014

First graphene-based flexible display produced

A flexible display incorporating graphene in its pixels’ electronics has been successfully demonstrated by the Cambridge Graphene Centre and Plastic Logic, the first time graphene has been used in a transistor-based flexible device.

Graphene is a two-dimensional material made up of sheets of carbon atoms. It is among the strongest, most lightweight and flexible materials known, and has the potential to revolutionise industries from healthcare to electronics.

The new prototype is an active matrix electrophoretic display, similar to the screens used in today’s e-readers, except it is made of flexible plastic instead of glass. In contrast to conventional displays, the pixel electronics, or backplane, of this display includes a solution-processed graphene electrode, which replaces the sputtered metal electrode layer within Plastic Logic’s conventional devices, bringing product and process benefits.

- See more at:

Amory Lovins is Still Wrong and Spreading Distortions

Amory Lovins is still spreading lies and confusion in his accusation that someone else is distorting renewable energy.

Solar and wind power and geothermal are about one third of nuclear power in the OECD (US, Canada, Europe, Japan, South Korea). 783 TWh for nuclear for the first five months versus 287 TWh for the renewables.

The University of Pennsylvania has a detailed explanation about why nuclear power costs in the US and many western countries went up four times from the 1970s. There was regulatory ratcheting and other changes which did not improve safety.

Amory Lovins will also make a big deal costs for nuclear and will still add distortions to try to get the numbers to tell the story he wants to push. Nuclear power still has a good economic case in the west particularly for uprates and annular fuel. The issue for the US and Europe is that with 2% per year GDP growth and 1% improvement in efficiency and using imports of goods from China for energy intensive products there is not much need for the US or Europe to build significant new power of any kind.

China however will triple its power from now to 2030. China is thus building all kinds of power of all types. China is building coal, hydro, nuclear, wind and solar. India and other countries will follow and probably buy exported power systems from China. This means that the DOE numbers for the cost of making power is not relevant.

September 09, 2014

China signed high speed rail deals with Turkey, Venezuela and Argentina and in serious talks with India and Russia

China has signed agreements to build high speed railway in Turkey, Venezuela and Argentina and are bidding on such projects even in the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Myanmar.

In India, China is offering to provide guarantee for completing the high speed rail projects within the pre decided time frame and quality of the project. Team of China Railway officials have been visiting India to discuss the project including one team which visited last week.

Solvents and microwaves to lower energy and cost of oilsand oil recovery and increase the oil recoverabe

Using steam extraction for the oilsands means that nine-tenths of the land above a reservoir can be left intact. There is no need for waste ponds because the sand is left underground and most of the water recovered from the bitumen can be cleaned with distillation for reuse. Steam can also produce bitumen from a reservoir half-a-kilometre underground, whereas strip mining is only economical for deposits less than 70 metres or so from the surface.

The proportion of bitumen produced with steam now stands at 53% and will continue to grow in Canada's oilsands.

The Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) estimates the total bitumen resource-in-place in Alberta to be approximately 1.8 trillion barrels (which would be greater than all of the world’s known conventional reserves). Of this amount, 315 billion barrels are considered potentially recoverable using future technologies and economic conditions, and of that amount, 167.9 billion barrels are considered to be established or proved reserves that can be recovered using current, known technology.

Of the estimated 1.8 trillion barrels of total bitumen resource-in-place, roughly 536 billion barrels are attributed to carbonate formations. At 406 billion barrels, the Grosmont Formation is by far the largest carbonate reservoir in Alberta

5.5 inch Apple iphone 6 plus and new iWatch

Apple finally has large phone. The 5.5 inch Apple iphone 6 plus.

The iPhone 6 and 6 plus have 64-bit chips with 2 billion transistors (double the number in the iPhone 5s), up to 25 per cent faster CPU, up to 50 percent faster graphics performance.

The iPhone 6 and 6 plus will start to ship on 19 September in US, pre-orders from 12 September. iOS 8 will launch on September 17

iPhone 6 comes in gold, silver and space grey and starts at $199, iPhone 6 Plus starts at $299 on a 2-year contract

Detailed work at Lawrenceville Plasma Physics to resolve arcing problem with nuclear fusion project

The first steps have now been completed to begin the re-assembly of FF-1 (dense plasma focus fusion experimental fusion reactor). Lawrenceville Plasma Physics's (LPP) lab team has successfully joined the new monolithic tungsten anode to a steel connector plate, creating a current contact that is outside the vacuum chamber and arcing-proof. Moving the contact outside the vacuum chamber completely eliminates the possibility that vaporization caused by arcing will add impurities to the plasma. In addition, making the contact at a lager radius spreads out the current, making it easier to avoid the intense heating that leads to vaporization.

Additional steps are still needed to be taken to make sure arcing would not occur even as FF-1 device increases its peak current. Arcing outside the chamber can’t hurt the plasma but it can damage the Mylar sheets that insulate the anode plate from the ground plate below it, possibly causing insulator failure. So the LPP team plated this steel with silver and carefully squashed indium metal between the steel and the tungsten to insure low resistance.

Hours of painstaking indium application had finally paid of in the fight against arcing, resulting in the very low resistance of 6 micro -ohms between the silvered steel plate and the inner slightly raised plate in the middle.

Genetic Basis of intelligence involves about twenty times the genes as the genes for height

Scientists looking for the genes underlying intelligence are in for a slog. One of the largest, most rigorous genetic studies of human cognition1 has turned up inconclusive findings, and experts concede that they will probably need to scour the genomes of more than 1 million people to confidently identify even a small genetic influence on intelligence and other behavioural traits. The results were published in the Journal Nature.

NASA Cannae Drive and EMDrive propellantless propulsion were not the result of a thermal error

Paul March is one of the NASA researchers who did the work on the EMdrive, Q drive and Woodward Mach effect propulsion. Paul has some comments about how they did not make a simple thermal error in discussion at Talk Polywell.

Most of the observed forces in the Eagleworks Lab frustum devices were prompt with the same rise and fall times as our electrostatically derived calibration forces and therefore are not thermal in origins. That's not to say we didn't see thermal effects, especially with input RF power levels greater than ~35W, but the thermal effects with these large copper plus dielectric test articles, (2.5 to 5.0kg), always take tens of seconds to develop and are easily distinguished from the prompt E and M or more interesting force inputs since they always exhibit exponential rise and fall times.

BTW, the copper frustum's temperature never rose more than 1.0 degree F. when using the above average power levels and test articles.

Currency forecast by quarter through 2015

Scotia Bank of Canada has a 14 page currency forecast which looks at most major and minor currencies into 2015 by quarter.

Here is a copy of the Scotiabank 2012 currency forecast

The US Dollar (USD) is in high demand, outperforming most major peer currencies around the world. Convergence of solid macroeconomic developments and bullish dynamics in US debt and equity securities support a continuous appreciating path for the US currency. Both Canada and the US will benefit from a robust US economic cycle. The Canadian dollar is expected to stabilize, whereas the Mexican peso (MXN) may be subject to adjustments linked to shifts in US monetary policy direction.

The Euro (EUR) is directionally weakening against all currencies on the back of persistently fragile economic conditions, unattractive interest rate differentials, and escalating geo-political risk factors. The British pound (GBP) has adopted a defensive tone after a prolonged phase of fundamentally-inspired currency strength; however, growth and interest rate differentials in the UK support a positive currency outlook. The Russian Ruble (RUB) should continue to weaken, prompting loss of international reserves assets and central bank intervention.

The Japanese Yen (JPY) is expected to retain a soft tone driven by damaging economic effects related to fiscal consolidation efforts under way and from a broad-based market move in favor of the USD. The Chinese Yuan (CNY) continues in its relentless multi-month appreciation in line with the authorities’ commitment to structural reforms and capital account liberalization.

A Little Known Fact About The Rosetta Comet Rendezvous and Landing Mission

A guest post by Joseph Friedlander

The current Rosetta mission to Comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko, is remarkable for this reason: It is the first probe using gravity assists to a target that itself has undergone gravity assists, in this case from Jupiter.  Ten years before discovery in 1969, the 1959 Jovian encounter reduced cometary perihelion (closest point to Sun) to 1.29 AU close enough for conspicuous and outgassing which helped it's discovery in 1969.  Decades later, the European Space Agency built and launched the Rosetta probe with multiple gravity assists to reach a target which itself had undergone multiple encounters with Jupiter. 

More details on this page

Quote: Comet 67P is classed as a dusty comet, with a dust to gas emission ratio of approximately 2:1. The peak dust production rate in 2002/03 was estimated at approximately 60 kg per second, although values as high as 220 kg per second were reported in 1982/83.

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Diameter of nucleus - estimated (km)3 × 5
Rotation period (hours)~12.4
Orbital period (years)6.45
Perihelion distance from Sun (million km)186 (1.243 AU)
Aphelion distance from Sun (million km)849.7 (5.68 AU)
Orbital eccentricity0.640
Orbital inclination (degrees)7.04
Year of discovery1969
DiscoverersKlim Churyumov &
Svetlana Gerasimenko

Jets are now visible at the 'wasp waist' of the nucleus-- coverage here 

Details on Rosetta's gravity assists

Projected landing sites covered here

ESA / Rosetta / CNES
Five possible landing sites for Philae (shape model)

Summary of the Diet and Health Ideas of Karl Denninger

A guest post by Joseph Friedlander

Warning: a long article, (3500 words or so) with opinions (not all of them mine!) . A quick summary is available below if you don’t like controversy.

Summary:  Karl Denninger’s key finding is that fast to digest carbohydrates can act as an addictive drug and even slow to digest carbohydrates can hugely boost hunger while a moderate protein and fat to taste diet with very low carbs kills your hunger and results in satiation at below maintenance levels for overweight:  And thus causes reasonably rapid net weight loss.

 Once detoxed from carb addiction your body finds a healthy weight and maintains it with almost no active effort.

Those trying to follow official government recommendations of a low fat, higher carb diet are torn by hunger for more carbs, usually overeat (if part of the bell curve of people having trouble controlling carb hunger) and end up overweight.  

Enough systemic overeating and overweight poisons the body’s insulin response and can result in diabetes, heart problems and other such troubles.

By giving inappropriate advice, Denninger believes the government/medical/industrial complex has caused many many deaths.

Denninger also believes that many substances used heavily for food additives since World War I (and certainly World War 2) such as hydrogenated oils, synthetic additives etc are not as safe as the government and the food industry would have us believe and result in cravings and bodily damage. He recommends butter over margarine, olive oil over seed oils, etc. 

(end summary)

Karl Denninger’s site has carried some of his amateur scientific work (ironically he might not regard it as such) in redefining what really works and what is probably professionally generated nonsense in the areas of diet, weight loss and exercise.

 I ran across his site while searching for other data, but his various articles concerning diet and health, exercise and fitness are probably worthy of summary here all on their own.

This Next Big Future blog covers topics related to the future and of course while it is fun to speculate about the futures that will happen long after you are dead, it is even more fun to live long enough to encounter them yourself, in good health (and not perched up like a wheezing land whale on an electric cart).

So a certain minimum good personal health and fitness are relevant even to NBF readers.

Given that your body has a certain natural expiration date, abuse and overweight can easily pull the plug decades early. And as you age you tend to slow down and pounds (and kilos) crawl on, so sooner or later, even if you are young now, this will be of interest.

Karl’s articles outlining his experimental process where he cut through official claims and disregarded apparently very formidable looking governmental pronouncements are a manifestation of the meaning of the old Royal Society motto, ‘nullius in verba” (nothing in mere words), or to quote the Royal Society history page

The Royal Society's motto 'Nullius in verba' roughly translates as 'take nobody's word for it'. It is an expression of the determination of Fellows to withstand the domination of authority and to verify all statements by an appeal to facts determined by experiment.

Wiki on the Royal Society. A key part of the history of the first age of science.

The ‘invisible college’ of people trading real health and exercise experimental data back and forth across the internet around the gridlocked peer-reviewed mess that may have killed many people through generations of bad dietary advice is a throwback to an earlier scientific age and –perhaps—a harbinger of a third debureaucratized age of science.

This might sound like an extreme reaction to one guy’s before and after diet pictures and a description of the process by which he figured out what was going on with his body (why weight gain when following official advice was nearly inevitable, and why something against official guidelines worked)—but given the vast epidemic of obesity and diabetes which is probably taking millions of lives a year world wide (because many other countries follow the US Government lead) —it is literally a life and death issue of sorts.

 If we had a air traffic control system that allowed merely a thousand people a year to die needlessly you would not hear the end of it. Why should a health advice governmental/scientific structure that results in such mortality rates not be fair game for modification?

(Dr. Bruce Charlton has documented the sort of peer review gridlock that may have produced the official pronouncements that Karl Denninger has (in his own person) operationally disproved—in his mini-book
Sample quote :

Credit is given for the mere act of a ‘peer reviewed’ publication regardless of whether the stuff is true and useful – or false and harmful. 

It has been since supplemented by this newer edition:

Sample quote:

Hence the vast structures of personnel and resources that constitute modern ‘science’ are not real science but instead merely a professional research bureaucracy, thus fake or pseudo-science; regulated by peer review (that is, committee opinion) rather than the search-for and service-to reality. Among the consequences are that modern publications in the research literature must be assumed to be worthless or misleading and should always be ignored.

Dr. Charlton places the end of the first age of science around 1950, in the several generations since then the official structures (and funding) have grown beyond dreams, but we have not reaped comparable gains. See for Dr. Charlton’s feelings why not. )

I have appended the data on Dr. Charlton’s hypothesis here simply because my first reaction to official governmental dietary recommendations such as these being WRONG was utter disbelief.

When I was a kid (1960s) I heard statements along the line of, ‘the government knows best’,  ‘the government knows what is doing’, ‘let government experts handle it and let the amateurs go home’ and so forth.

 Individuals can make mistakes, even go bad, but huge incorruptible government organizations?  How could such a thing happen?   (Hint:  Better to believe that it was impossible…

The disbelief was akin to the idea that the government would deliberately misstate true levels of unemployment and inflation in real cost of living for its own convenience. Release false statistics?

 Perhaps not intentionally. But with enough twisting of facts (a guy unemployed 5 years is no longer considered unemployed; soaring prices in what you would eat aren’t really inflation if you will substitute equivalents) the official version no longer matches reality.

Something like that has happened in the official dietary advice (the old food pyramid etc) and in the peer reviewed publications. 

I hope to follow this article up with a future one detailing my own diet process. Until I read Denninger I never understood why I could lose weight (serious amounts about 5 times in my lifetime) yet it always came back. Now I know the mechanism by which the fat creeps back, (carb generated hunger spikes) and thanks to Karl for pointing it out.

Now on to a summary of Karl Denninger’s points, often condensed here to save space and to ease the reader’s task. (And frankly, Karl sometimes uses impertinent language so don’t follow the links unless prepared to be sandblasted with rough words sometimes….)

In this article, Karl makes these points: (Paraphrased)
  • Denninger, with pictures, shows his 60 lb loss from 210 to 150, and comments how his lifestyle change does not change back after years and no he has not put the weight back on. 
  • What he is saying is, if you aim to get out of an obesity state, you can’t just ‘go on a diet’ and then go off it, you have to change the way you eat.

In this article, Karl makes these points: (Paraphrased)
  • The so-called "food pyramid" was never created by scientific inquiry – but with what Karl charges was agribusiness influence and outright government corruption.
  • Fat in food does not make you fat.   It calms body hunger.
  • Easily-digested carbohydrates, make you fat because the body can only have so much glycogen in reserve at one time.  After that, it goes straight to fat to keep you from dying from excess blood sugar.
  • The consequent insulin response makes you hungry after eating carbs. If the bag of pretzels is still there you probably will finish it.
  • People who eat low carb all the time have low glycogen reserves and no hunger. This shows that it’s the carb spike that leads to hunger response, not the hunger response to glycogen reserve level.
  • If you eat when glycogen reserves are full, it goes, as stated above, straight to fat.
  • The low fat version of foods with extra tasty carbs (sugar, corn syrup, grains etc) will make you first ravenous and then fat. Counter-intuitive but easily testable.
  •  Processed seed and vegetable oils  very high in Omega-6 fatty acids are a new thing on a mass scale in the last hundred years or so and can cause systemic inflammation in the body.  This is very bad if the inflammation is in your coronary arteries.  Many post World War 2 food solutions are charged by Mr Denninger  to be essentially slow poisons.
  •  (Link to outside essay on these oils
  •  You can’t count calories accurately enough to maintain your weight. But your body can and will unless you mess it up with chemicals and carb related strike-counterstrike phenomenae.
  •   A pound of body fat is around 3600 calories. If off counting by 100 calories a day (impossible outside a controlled lab setting) you could gain a pound of fat a month or so. After 10 years you could gain 100 lbs—or the reverse, you might suddenly look alarmingly thin.
  •  This does not happen if you eat a diet that does not blow away the body’s ability to regulate your eating through hunger and satiety signals.
  •   Mr Denninger’s weight has not varied more than 5 pounds in 3 years—and he does not count calories. He just has a list of foods he won’t eat, and he eats according to his rules whenever he is hungry.  This is a net accuracy of 20-50 calories a day, impossible on a conscious level essentially proving his point.
  •   A normal body has just a teaspoon of sugar in the blood stream at any time.

  • In this article, Karl makes these points: (Paraphrased)
  •   Denninger’s diet cuts back most carbohydrates and grains,  (0 to 100 grams of carbs a day usually under 50—and never fast carbs like bread and sugar.
  •    Results included drastically reduced hunger. Especially when Karl ate more saturated fats, which he regards as perfectly healthy despite official pronouncements and gives evidence in his writings.
  •    He eliminated vegetable and hydrogenated fats except olive oil.
  •   In his belief fast carbs are an addictive drug.
  •   This addiction leads to obesity, which can in extreme forms cause damage to the insulin response system, possible diabetes, amputation, blindness and death in extreme cases.  Drugs can slow this (at vast expense) but not shield against it. 
  •   Eating right can stop new damage slowly cumulative damage may be partially healed.  But you will be in much better health as age sets in and benefit accordingly.
  •        Denninger (paraphrased):          “The lipid hypothesis, that cardiovascular disease was caused by high serum (that is, blood) cholesterol levels and that was caused by eating a high-fat diet which is the predicate upon which all "cholesterol modification" therapies rest is at best questionable.”
  •         Quote: “Since there are only three forms of food -- carbohydrate, protein and fat, if you eat less fat you must eat more of either protein or carbohydrate.  Very large amounts of protein are both extremely expensive and known to be tough on the kidneys, so the shift was obvious -- toward carbohydrates.  The agricultural lobby pressed for and furthered this and then added on to it extremely cheap sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrup.  You see, when you remove fat from food it tends to taste like cardboard, so sugar in its various forms was substituted.”

In this article, Karl makes these points: (Paraphrased)
  •   Type 2 diabetes has a strong correlation with obesity which appears to be triggered by consuming more than a very minimal amount of fast carbs like grains sugars etc.
  •   The US Government has promoted consumption of these very carbs,  including high-fructose corn syrup, which functionally is like an addictive drug for a considerable percentage of the  population.
  •    Indeed the very suggestion of going to a near zero carb diet causes panic, people literally say they ‘can’t give up their carbs’.  But not, its’s not addictive, why would you say that?
  •     Some near diabetic people who have gotten carbs out of their diets have entirely stabilized their blood sugar without drugs.
  • In the comments here:
  •   Reader Toujourpret volunteers it takes about 2 weeks for the carb to no-carb transition to occur. You go through hell those first 2 weeks but it is worth it once you break through. The hunger goes away and the pounds drop off.
  •   Karl:  ”White rice has a glycemic index of approximately 90, which is damn close to table sugar and worse (materially so) than a waffle, white bread or soda crackers! Indeed, it's HIGHER in glycemic index than a cheese pizza and roughly the same in this regard as mashed potatoes.”
  •   The classical Asian peasant diet of rice (just enough to keep hunger at bay but not away) with near zero fat –is commented on. Not having more they didn’t overeat, despite the addictive nature of carbs.  In the prosperity of the last decades, with much more rice (and fat to fry it in) being available even to the less well off Asian, obesity and diabetes has exploded.
  •  A high fat diet is self regulating (you get satiated) a high carb diet is addictive and essentially a gateway to overeating, obesity and health problems.
  •  Reader Jackl comments that in the ancient feast and famine economy, the availability of carbs and the carb hunger spike were the signal to store food for the next starvation season—but now we carb feast 12/365 and wonder why we get weight problems.
  •   Outside link to a couple that rowed across the Pacific on a high fat diet and were almost never hungry –amazingly their hunger went away because of the ‘fat hunger off switch’ of satiation.
In this article, Karl makes these points: (Paraphrased)

  • If those with Type 2 diabetes dropped carbs from their diet except for 100 grams a day with less than 10 of that being sugar starch and grains (ie fast carbohydrates) and 90 grams or more in green vegetables most would stop being obese and would have sugar levels drop to near or (actual normal) and most literally would not require much if any medication.
  • Before insulin, people would  consume less than 8% of total caloric load from carbs and most of the rest from fat.  The alternative was to die.Eat zero or near-zero carbohydrates and instead do eat high fat, moderate-protein with the balance being green vegetables such that you consume 8% of your total dietary caloric load from carbohydrate and most of the rest from fat.

      In this article, Karl makes these points: (Paraphrased)

        • The human state in nature 5,000 years ago influences our relationship between body and food today
        • There were seasons for food, vegetables and fruits were varying and unreliable, protein and fats were constant (hunting)
        • Synthetic chemicals were obviously unknown,  Quote:” no transfats, no vegetable oils, no hydrogenated anything and no processed grains of any sort.  In other words all of the things that spike your insulin response today did not exist -- all of the so-called "fast carbohydrates" are modern inventions. In other words the insulin spike caused by modern eating is biologically abnormal. Want to fight God?  Go right ahead….”
        • Karl was losing athletic ability a few years ago, body mass and waistline increasing etc.  A clear path to overweight and dysfunction in old age.
        • He had a long history of heel striking when running, a spare tire while eating normally, and all the ‘professional’ and ‘official advice was useless. He could govern himself with diligence and force a temporary diet and burst of exercise and go down 10 lbs but when he followed the experts’ advice he regained whatever he lost.
        • He came to the conclusion that 210 pounds had to become 150 pounds or he weas going to be 300 pounds by the time he was 70.
        • He knew that the human body does not react to the kind of standard advice being given out by professionals who assert they know what they are doing and are using governmental regulations.
        • What they are trying to recommend simply does not work. It fights the way the body reacts.  Most diets fail because of this.  You are fighting the way the body is wired.
        • When you eat items with a high glycemic index (grains, sugars, other fast carbs) your body spikes insulin production and the system is stressed, being forced to stockpile fat to lower blood sugar.
        • Your hunger response is not abated by this stockpile of fat: You don’t receive a hunger off signal.  It amplifies the amounts of things you eat that you were not designed to eat.
        • Quote from Karl:
        • “How did I figure this out?  I started thinking for myself and integrating what we all learn and in fact know to be true and when that conflicted with the so-called "conventional wisdom" I decided to err on the side of that which we had scientifically proved instead of what someone with a lot of letters after their name was pontificating on.”
        • In other words, 'Nullius in verba' –an actual scientific attitude (see top of article).
        • Not only did Karl recast the dietary advice he got but also the shoe selection advice he got from experts--- the so-called "running shoes" were trying to prevent the very heel striking  that gave him signal feedback to avoid the true cause of the hurt to his legs, the shock loads hitting the joints instead of the calf muscles.  He got (modified quote) “"Five Fingers" shoes (that avoided this problem—JF) and began the "Couch to 5k" program” …I got rid of all processed foods and began eating a high-fat, low-carbohydrate (vegetables and a few fruits only), moderate-protein diet.  No hydrogenated anything, no sugars, no processed grains.  The simple filter before it went down the pie hole was this: if it didn't exist 5,000 years ago don't eat it.”
        The results picture at speaks for itself.

        In summary, most people try to lose weight by making a high-maintenance strainful diet  according to the advice of the experts which reaps quick weight loss gains but is almost certainly too much effort to maintain especially once the weight goal has been attained (or when work stress hits, etc).  When the ‘thin behavior’ faking goes away, the fat reforms onto the body.

           By constrast, what Karl Denninger did was make a true low maintenance lifestyle change-- he altered his fat-causing behavior and the resultant fat melted away in less than a year and it has kept off from years since—and he literally does not count calories but eats when hungry and stops when full. 

            The test of a theory is the power to predict.  Someone who follows the official advice is a very poor prospect to lose weight and keep it off. Someone who follows Denninger’s dietary advice and makes a lifestyle change in terms of eating habits will tend to keep thin effortlessly.

             What would be fun would be an official governmental study with a third of the participants following official governmental dietary advice, a third for a control group, and a third following Karl’s prescription. If honestly run, it would probably prove that the perfect diet (by government standards) that you don’t or can’t stick to is the enemy of the good diet that gets you where you want to go.

        Industrial-scale production of Graphene

        A new route to making graphene has been discovered that could make the 21st century's wonder material easier to ramp up to industrial scale. Graphene -- a tightly bound single layer of carbon atoms with super strength and the ability to conduct heat and electricity better than any other known material -- has potential industrial uses that include flexible electronic displays, high-speed computing, stronger wind-turbine blades, and more-efficient solar cells, to name just a few under development.

        Edge-on electron microscopy images showing the expansion of graphite particles upon intercalation.

        Nature Chemistry - Non-oxidative intercalation and exfoliation of graphite by Brønsted acids

        Diamond Nanophotonics

        The burgeoning field of nanophotonics has grown to be a major research area, primarily because of the ability to control and manipulate single quantum systems (emitters) and single photons on demand. For many years studying nanophotonic phenomena was limited to traditional semiconductors (including silicon and GaAs) and experiments were carried out predominantly at cryogenic temperatures. In the last decade, however, diamond has emerged as a new contender to study photonic phenomena at the nanoscale. Offering plethora of quantum emitters that are optically active at room temperature and ambient conditions, diamond has been exploited to demonstrate super-resolution microscopy and realize entanglement, Purcell enhancement and other quantum and classical nanophotonic effects. Elucidati>ing the importance of diamond as a material, this review will highlight the recent achievements in the field of diamond nanophotonics, and convey a roadmap for future experiments and technological advancements.

        Examples of hybrid approaches to diamond nanophotonics: (a) Silver Nanowires as plasmonic waveguides and beam splitter for single photons: an NV center is placed in close proximity to a silver nanowire (sample topography see upper panel). Light is guided by the nanowire as evident from the fluorescence image in the lower panel: fluorescence is not only recorded from the position of the NV center, but also from the ends of the wire (points B and C). Furthermore, the beam is split as evident by light emission from the second wire´s end (point D) (b)-(d) three-dimensional photonic structures produced via direct laser writing into photoresist containing nanodiamonds. (b) shows a scanning electron microscopy image of a disc resonator and an arc waveguide. Length of scale bars is 5 µm. (c) Fluorescence characterization of the device: the excitation laser spot is scanned across the microsdisc resonator, simultaneously; the fluorescence photons are collected at one end of the waveguide. The position of a single NV center is highlighted with a dashed circle. (d) a corresponding autocorrelation measurement is shown, the strong antibunching around zero delay confirms that a single NV center is addressed.

        September 08, 2014

        Problems with US economic growth

        Here is a 13 page report of Robert Gordon's work from 2012 which is similar to his 2014 work about lower GDP growth in the USA.

        The US economy still faces six daunting headwinds that will limit future potential growth and hold it below the pace which innovation would otherwise make possible.

        The slowdown in growth already takes into account the first two headwinds.

        1. The “demographic dividend” is now in reverse motion. The original dividend was another one-time-only event, the movement of females into the labor force between 1965 and 1990, which raised hours per capita and allowed real per-capita real GDP to grow faster than output per hour. But now the baby boomers are retiring, no longer included in the tally of total hours of work but still included in the population. Thus hours per capita are now declining, and any tendency for life expectancy to grow relative to the average retirement age will further augment this headwind. By definition, whenever hours per capita decline, then output per capita must grow more slowly than productivity.

        US economy may only average 1.6 to 2.1% in GDP growth over the next ten years

        The quarterly GDP growth for the USA compared to one year ago is a lot smoother than the quarterly changes in GDP according to research data from the St. Louis federal reserve.

        The US economy has been growing at 2.1 percent per year between mid-2009 and mid-2014.

        Robert Gordon of Northwester University has developed a new and surprisingly simple method of calculating the growth rate of potential GDP over the next decade and concludes that projections of potential output growth for the same decade in the most recent reports of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) are much too optimistic. If the projections in this paper are close to the mark, the level of potential GDP in 2024 will be almost 10 percent below the CBO’s current forecast. Further, the new potential GDP series implies that the debt/GDP ratio in 2024 will be closer to 87 percent than the CBO’s current forecast of 78 percent.

        Here is a 12 page report of Robert Gordon's work from 2012 which is similar to his 2014 work about lower GDP growth in the USA.

        If the USA has weaker GDP growth it will be easier for China's economy to surpass the USA on a nominal GDP basis.

        IHS projects that China will pass the USA on nominal GDP in 2024

        IHS forecasts China will pass the United States as the largest world economy in nominal (currency exchange) GDP basis in 2024.

        Nextbigfuture believes China will pass the USA on nominal GDP in 2019 or 2020 because of growth and an appreciation in currency. Also, the IHS forecasts are not including Hong Kong and Macau's GDP but both cities are part of China and amount to about US$400 billion in GDP in 2020. The Economist magazine also predicts the earlier passing of the United States by China in 2021.

        Chinese consumer spending is forecast to grow at an annual average rate of 7.7 percent per year in real terms over the next decade, becoming a key engine of global consumer demand and world growth, according to IHS. In 2024, China will overtake the United States in terms of nominal gross domestic product (GDP) measured in U.S. dollars (USD). In 2024, IHS forecasts that China’s nominal GDP will be $28.25 trillion (USD) to the US’s $27.31 trillion (USD).

        “In 2025, if we were to take a global economic snapshot, China’s economy will play an even bigger role as a key driver of global trade and investment flows,” Biswas said. “IHS forecasts total Chinese consumer spending to grow from $3 trillion (USD) to $11 trillion (USD) by 2024 at an annual average rate of 7.7 percent per year. China’s share of world GDP is forecast to rise from around 12 percent in 2013 to 20 percent by 2025.”

        IHS nominal GDP data points are (all in USD):

        2010: US: $14.96 trillion; China: $5.93 trillion
        2015: US: $18.24 trillion; China: $11.12 trillion
        2020: US: $23.10 trillion; China: $19.24 trillion
        2025: US: $28.57 trillion; China: $30.70 trillion
        2030: US: $35.10 trillion; China: $44.23 trillion

        Nuclear Energy Blog Carnival 225

        September 07, 2014

        Spacex has twelfth successful launch and musings on reuse, refueling and geosynch orbits

        SpaceX delivered another commercial communications satellite to orbit early Sunday, completing its second launch in just over a month for Hong Kong-based AsiaSat.

        SpaceX confirmed the rocket deployed its payload as planned 32 minutes into the flight, earning the Falcon 9 a 12th successful flight in as many tries since 2010.

        Because the launch was to a high orbit more than 20,000 miles up, the Falcon 9 booster did not have enough extra fuel for SpaceX to try flying it back to a soft ocean landing for recovery.

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