September 20, 2014

A Real Project and Product that seems like a Dilbert Cartoon

Two UAE reactors should be operational by 2020 and Saudi Arabia could complete twelve nuclear reactors from 2022-2034

1. Regulatory approval was granted for the construction of Barakah units 3 and 4, the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) has stepped up efforts to develop a skilled Emirati workforce to staff the country's growing nuclear sector.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) board of management approved ENEC's application to build two additional Korean-designed APR1400 pressurized water reactors yesterday. The licence permits ENEC to construct the reactors, as well as to import equipment and technology exclusively for use in the project and to conduct activities related to the construction project, but not to operate the reactors. For that, the company must apply for a separate operating licence. According to FANR, ENEC is expected to apply next year for a licence to operate the first two Barakah units. Unit 1 is expected to come on line in 2017, with unit 2 following in 2018.

Site preparation work is already under way for units 3 and 4 under a limited construction licence from FANR. The approval of the full construction licence will enable the company to go ahead with pouring initial safety concrete. The units are scheduled to enter operation in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

Carnival of Space 372

Carnival of Space 372 is up at EverydaySpacer

Completely Clandestine CLIO Climbs through Clouds to Orbit on Mystery Mission

United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the CLIO mission for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company launched at 8:10 p.m. EDT September 16, 2014 from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. Credit: Ken Kremer –

Gene therapy helps weak mice grow strong and helped those with neuromuscular disease live longer

A virus that shuttles a therapeutic gene into cells has strengthened the muscles, improved the motor skills, and lengthened the lifespan of mice afflicted with two neuromuscular diseases. The approach could one day help people with a range of similar disorders, from muscular dystrophy to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

Many of these diseases involve defective neuromuscular junctions—the interface between neurons and muscle cells where brain signals tell muscles to contract. In one such disease, a form of familial limb-girdle myasthenia, people carry two defective copies of the gene called DOK7, which codes for a protein that’s needed to form such junctions. Their hip and shoulder muscles atrophy over many years, and some eventually have trouble breathing or end up in a wheelchair. Mice similarly missing a properly working Dok7 gene are severely underweight and die within a few weeks.

Google plans quantum computer with longer coherence times

IEEE Spectrum has more information about Google's quantum computer hardware plans.

The Martinis group had previously built quantum computing systems of up to nine qubits based on superconducting quantum circuits—the same type of general hardware design used by D-Wave's machines. Under the new Google effort, Martinis hopes his team can roughly double the number of qubits every year and eventually work up to 40 or 80 qubits through "brute-force" scaling. "Forty qubits is a large enough number so that you can really tell if the device is going to give any interesting performance," Martinis says.

Martinis and his team will continue developing error-correction codes for Google with the aim of uncovering and fixing errors in universal logic-gate quantum computers. In May, they demonstrated a type of error-correction code called surface code that can work with lower accuracy thresholds for quantum logic operations.

So about two years to 40 qubits and three years 80 qubits.

Dwave will be commercially releasing their 1152 qubit system this year. The current model processes 512 qubits, but the new hardware will manage 1,152. That may seem like a strange number, but the hardware units can each handle eight qubits and the system stacks them in a 12 by 12 grid. [8 *144 = 1152]

They should have a 2300 qubit system next year. Dwave Systems is still improving their qubits and hardware systems.

September 19, 2014

Alibaba makes Jack Ma Richest man China and Masayoshi Son richest in Japan

Alibaba was up 38% on its first day and now has a market value of $231 billion.

At its closing share price on Friday, Alibaba has a market value of $231 billion, exceeding the combined market capitalizations of Amazon (AMZN.O) and eBay (EBAY.O), the two leading U.S. e-commerce companies.

Alibaba is valued at 39 times its estimated earnings per share for its current fiscal year, which ends in March. That is right in line with Facebook's (FB.O) valuation of 39 times forward earnings but nowhere near the lofty valuation of's multiple of 264.

Softbank owned a lot of Alibaba. Masayoshi Son surpassed Fast Retailing Co. Chairman Tadashi Yanai as Japan’s richest person yesterday after SoftBank Corp. surged 16 percent since the start of last week. Son, 57, has a net worth of $16.6 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Softbank owns about 34 percent of Alibaba.

Jack Ma of Alibaba is now worth over $16 billion ($16 billion in Alibaba stock and about $2 billion in cash and other assets).

John Bongaarts at the Population Council thinks Climate Change has a good chance of limiting human Population but he is wrong

According to the new analysis by researchers at the United Nations and several academic institutions, there is an 80 percent chance that the world’s population, now 7.2 billion, won’t stop at nine billion in 2050, but will instead be between 9.6 billion and 12.3 billion by 2100. The researchers increased their estimates after noting persistent high birth rates and faster-than-expected progress in combatting HIV/AIDS in Africa. [Journal Science - World population stabilization unlikely this century]

Technology Review David Talbot says the prediction’s reliability is debatable, given that it does not take into account future hardships a large population would likely face. It doesn’t take into account the effects of climate change, food shortages, disease, or conflict. The study take into account that population growth could trigger deadly calamities like food shortages, war, and disease even without climate change, says John Bongaarts, vice president and distinguished scholar at the Population Council, a think tank and research organization based in New York City.

Robert Zubrin lays out a case against the Population Council and similar organizations Robert Zubrin’s “Merchants of Despair” chronicles huge and devastating influences of radical environmentalists along with associated criminal pseudo-scientists and a fatal cult of anti-humanism upon global events and society which continue today.

Wolfgang Lutz, director of the Vienna Institute of Demography, says, his newest analysis still suggests a less-dire outcome. “Our most likely scenario comes out somewhat lower than the current United Nations projections,” and suggests population will peak at 9.4 billion around 2070 and start a slow decline to nine billion by the end of the century.

So Lutz at the Vienna Demography Institute calls a human population rising to 12 billion in 2100 a dire outcome. It would be dire if wars, food shortages, disease and climate change do not limit population ? Or if Africa does not see vastly increased usage of birth control ?

First Water-Based Nuclear Battery Can Be Used to Generate Electrical Energy for decades with betavoltaics breakthrough

From cell phones to cars and flashlights, batteries play an important role in everyday life. Scientists and technology. companies constantly are seeking ways to improve battery life and efficiency. Now, for the first time using a water-based solution, researchers at the University of Missouri have created a long-lasting and more efficient nuclear battery that could be used for many applications such as a reliable energy source in automobiles and also in complicated applications such as space flight.

The battery uses a radioactive isotope called strontium-90 that boosts electrochemcial energy in a water-based solution. A nanostructured titanium dioxide electrode (the common element found in sunscreens and UV blockers) with a platinum coating collects and effectively converts energy into electrons.

“Water acts as a buffer and surface plasmons created in the device turned out to be very useful in increasing its efficiency,” Kwon said. “The ionic solution is not easily frozen at very low temperatures and could work in a wide variety of applications including car batteries and, if packaged properly, perhaps spacecraft.”

The maximum energy conversion efficiency of the MU battery was approximately estimated to be 53.88%. This is an astonishing number for a first trial design. Strontium 90 has a half life of 28.79 years

H/T to New Energy and Fuel

Nature Scientific Reports - Plasmon-assisted radiolytic energy conversion in aqueous solutions

Optimizing performance and working around limitation of Dwave Quantum Annealing Computers

Discrete optimization using quantum annealing on sparse Ising models

This paper discusses techniques for solving discrete optimization problems using quantum annealing. Practical issues likely to affect the computation include precision limitations, finite temperature, bounded energy range, sparse connectivity, and small numbers of qubits. To address these concerns they propose a way of finding energy representations with large classical gaps between ground and first excited states, efficient algorithms for mapping non-compatible Ising models into the hardware, and the use of decomposition methods for problems that are too large to fit in hardware. They validate the approach by describing experiments with D-Wave quantum hardware for low density parity check decoding with up to 1000 variables.

Ocean Acification Mitigation Details and lower cost mitigation in the $1 to 4 per ton CO2 ranges

Google Y lab could partner with countries for new more efficient cities

The Information reports in 2013, Google CEO Larry Page convened his direct reports, the company’s dozen or so senior vice presidents, for a project that would take up two days a week for a couple of months. About 100 other employees below the SVP rank also participated in the effort, dubbed Google 2.0.

Google 2.0 has goals in areas ranging from subscription businesses to location services to developing replacements for traditional passwords.

It also setup a second research lab Google Y. Google Y is looking at more efficient airports and cities.

September 18, 2014

No Independence for Scotland

BBC News has called the Scotland independence vote for the NO. The vote was 55% No and 45% Yes with 85% of the vote counted.

Ocean Acidification $2 million XPrize

The Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE is a $2 million global competition that challenges teams of engineers, scientists and innovators from all over the world to create pH sensor technology that will affordably, accurately and efficiently measure ocean chemistry from its shallowest waters… to its deepest depths.

There are two prize purses available (teams may compete for, and win, both purses):

A. $1,000,000 Accuracy award – Performance focused ($750,000 First Place, $250,000 Second Place): To the teams that navigate the entire competition to produce the most accurate, stable and precise pH sensors under a variety of tests.

B. $1,000,000 Affordability award – Cost and Use focused ($750,000 First Place, $250,000 Second Place): To the teams that produce the least expensive, easy-to-use, accurate, stable, and precise pH sensors under a variety of tests.

Iraq War 3

There will be about 1700 "coalition forces" in Iraq shortly. 1000 American special forces are already there. 600 Australians and 69 Canadians. The Kurds are being armed and Turkey is allowing the use of airbases for the air campaign. There are also US veterans who work with the private military contractors who are in the area (paid for by Iraq and others). CIA and other operatives are in the area.

Australia's elite special forces troops in Iraq will be gathering intelligence and targeting militants, either through ground operations or by directing air strikes, according to a senior defense force insider familiar with the SAS role. The claim runs counter to the impression being given by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who continued to say on Wednesday that Australian forces would be "military advisers" to Iraqi and Peshmerga fighters and would "not themselves normally engage in actual combat".

Australia has a large anti-terrorism anti-ISIS raid right now that involves 800 policemen.

There are various cases made that the US should ignore ISIS in the middle east and not get back into Iraq and go in to Syria. Leave it Turkey and others in the region.

Just looking at US politics shows why the US and other nations involvement is going to keep ramping up.
Obama has midterms coming up and needs to look less weak.
He needs to out coalition build George Bush 1 and George Bush 2.
Iraq still has oil.
The Republicans (other than Rand Paul and some others) are pushing to regain what was won from Iraq War 2.

Nextbigfuture has made the case that after 13 years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq that there is the reasonable expectation that this will continue for many more years. The US needs to adopt a politically and economically sustainable foreign legion model.

Why it might have been reasonable for the Iraqis soldiers to desert rather than fight Isis and how a foreign legion could help solve it

Before I made the case that a US foreign legion was a pragmatic economic solution for the USA.

Consider now the position of a soldier in Iraqi army.

The final straw was the death of a friend, killed two weeks ago by a sniper’s bullet. The infantryman, Bashar al-Halbousi, deserted, making the same choice as hundreds of other soldiers in his battalion, he said.

“The state is weak,” Mr. Halbousi said. “This will be an endless battle.”

The militants came in waves, sending suicide bombers when their ammunition grew scarce. Mohamed said that eight of his friends had died and that he almost did, too, when a mortar shell struck his Humvee.

After months of grinding conflict against a resurgent militant movement, the Iraqi Army is having its power blunted by a rise in desertions, turning the tide of the war and fragmenting an institution, trained and funded by the United States, that some hoped would provide Iraqis a common sense of citizenship.

In interviews over several days, soldiers and army commanders said the desertions had become widespread, with thousands of men laying down their arms, gutting front-line units across the country. Before the troops dissolved in Mosul, the army was losing as many as 300 soldiers a day, between desertions, deaths and injuries, according to a security analyst who works with the Iraqi government.

Some soldiers said their families begged them to leave the service. One 25-year-old deserter said his mother was so terrified of the fighting that she burned his uniform every time he returned home on leave. Two months ago, he said she raised the stakes, threatening to kill herself if he returned to his unit.

Officers in the Iraqi army were purged of competent leaders and replaced with political cronies of Prime minister Malaki.
You cannot trust there would be a competent leadership and a sustained and resolved campaign to defeat the enemy completely.
The US pulled out years ago and now has stated they will not send soldiers to fight the enemy in Iraq and Syria.
The army could have Sunni sympathizers to Isis who would inform on your identity so you have to think about protecting your family from later reprisals.

Why Air Power is not enough to force surrender in simple terms

It is important to understand history and military history to understand some of the issues of today and the future. Currently in Iraq and Syria the USA is using an air campaign against ISIS. This is relevant to that situation. Also that situation and follow on will last year's to decades into the future.

The Bombing of Dresden was an attack on the city of Dresden, the capital of the German state of Saxony, that took place in the final months of WW2. Between 22,700 and 25,000 people were killed.

However, this and other air campaigns did not force the surrender of Germany. The firebombing of Tokyo which killed over 100,000 did not force the surrender of Japan.

It was capture and killing and disarming of the vast majority of the soldiers and generals and leaders that led to the surrender of Germany.

September 17, 2014

US Air Force Research Lab targets first hypersonic aircraft test by 2019 and hypersonic cruise missiles by the 2020s and laser cannons on fighters in the 2030s

The head of the Air Force Research Laboratory on Sept. 16 said the first test of a hypersonic aircraft could come within five years, and the technology could be applied to cruise missiles by the 2020s.

Maj. Gen. Tom Masiello, commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory, said hypersonics is one of the most promising technologies the lab is working on. It is currently testing the Boeing X-51 WaveRider unmanned hypersonic vehicle.

Rediscovered ceramic Hafnium Carbide can withstand temperatures three times hotter than lava at 4050 celsius and could help enable hypersonic planes

[Imperial College London] A structural ceramic that can withstand temperatures three times hotter than lava shows promise in hypersonic air travel, say researchers.

Researchers in the UK and around the world are currently working on prototype technologies that could enable new types of aircraft to travel at hypersonic speeds - five times faster than the speed of sound. At these speeds, planes would have enough power to leave the Earth’s atmosphere and fly through space, before re-entering to arrive at their destination, which could dramatically cut travel times.

One of the current challenges of making hypersonic travel a reality is developing a material that can shield these planes from the extreme temperatures of over 2000°C caused by their re-entry into the atmosphere. Ultra High Temperature Ceramics (UHTCs) are currently the only materials we know of that can withstand the extreme temperatures in hypersonic travel. Their strong chemical bonds make them exceptionally durable and useful in erosive, corrosive and high temperature environments.

Ttechnical complexity and high manufacturing costs limited its use since Hafnium Carbides discovery in the 1960s but new lasers and coatings could enable better production and handling.

US Total all liquids oil production is over 14 million barrels per day and crude oil production at 8.84 million barrels per day is within 100,000 barrels of the 1980s production peak

US crude oil production took a big surge of nearly 250,000 barrels per day up to 8.838 million barrels per day. Over half of that was Alaska's oil production recovering to more normal levels from the prior weeks.

US oil field production history.

$1 million Palo Alto Longevity Prize and Google Founders promised to back up Calico with whatever funds are necessary

The Palo Alto Longevity Prize (the “Prize”) is a $1 million life science competition dedicated to ending aging. Theirs is one of a growing number of initiatives around the world pursuing this goal—the more shots on goal the better. Through an incentive prize, their specific aim is to nurture innovations that end aging by restoring the body’s homeostatic capacity and promoting the extension of a sustained and healthy lifespan.

The Palo Alto Prize is also working with a number of angel investors, venture capital firms, corporate venture arms, institutions and private foundations within Silicon Valley to create health-related incentive prize competitions in the future. This first $1 million prize comes from Yun’s own pockets.

The initial prize will be divided into two $500,000 awards. Half a million dollars will go to the first team to demonstrate that it can restore heart rate variability (HRV) to that of a young adult. The other half of the $1 million will be awarded to the first team that can extend lifespan by 50 percent. So far 11 teams from all over the world have signed up for the challenge.

Digital metamaterials will greatly simplify metamaterials while still allowing complexity and diverse properties

A proposed method for digital metamaterials is a simplified way of building metamaterials, yet still allows for complex and diverse properties to be achieved.

Arxiv - Digital Metamaterials (31 pages)

Nature Materials - Digital metamaterials

Balancing complexity and simplicity has played an important role in the development of many fields in science and engineering. One of the well-known and powerful examples of such balance can be found in Boolean algebra and its impact on the birth of digital electronics and the digital information age. The simplicity of using only two numbers, ‘0’ and ‘1’, in a binary system for describing an arbitrary quantity made the fields of digital electronics and digital signal processing powerful and ubiquitous. Here, inspired by the binary concept, we propose to develop the notion of digital metamaterials. Specifically, we investigate how one can synthesize an electromagnetic metamaterial with a desired permittivity, using as building blocks only two elemental materials, which we call ‘metamaterial bits’, with two distinct permittivity functions. We demonstrate, analytically and numerically, how proper spatial mixtures of such metamaterial bits lead to elemental ‘metamaterial bytes’ with effective material parameters that are different from the parameters of the metamaterial bits. We then apply this methodology to several design examples of optical elements, such as digital convex lenses, flat graded-index digital lenses, digital constructs for epsilon-near-zero (ENZ) supercoupling and digital hyperlenses, thus highlighting the power and simplicity of the methodology.

September 16, 2014

Child Mortality rates have dropped in half since 1990 but still more to be done

New data released today by the United Nations show that under-five mortality rates have dropped by 49 per cent between 1990 and 2013. The average annual reduction has accelerated – in some countries it has even tripled – but overall progress is still short of meeting the global target of a two-thirds decrease in under-five mortality by 2015.

New estimates in Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 2014 show that in 2013, 6.3 million children under five died from mostly preventable causes, around 200,000 fewer than in 2012, but still equal to nearly 17,000 child deaths each day.

Boeing with Blue Origin helping will get $4.2 billion and Spacex gets $2.6 billion for NASA crew capsule mission contracts

NASA will pay longtime space company Boeing $4.2 billion and SpaceX $2.6 billion to certify, test and fly their crew capsules on as many as six missions.

The deal will end NASA’s expensive reliance on Russia to ferry astronauts to and from the space station. NASA has set a goal of 2017 for the first launch from Cape Canaveral, but stressed it will not sacrifice safety to meet that date.

Each contractor will conduct at least two, and as many as six, crewed missions to the space station. These spacecraft also will serve as a lifeboat for astronauts aboard the station.

The Boeing CST-100 is designed to transport up to seven passengers or a mix of crew and cargo to low-Earth orbit destinations such as the international space station. founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space-exploration company is apparently working under Boeing on this spacecraft contract

Boeing CST100

China may put hundreds of billions into building infrastructure for India so both countries can have higher GDP growth

Deloitte and PWC have papers that detail the infrastucture needs and opportunity in developing countries like India.

China's infrastructure builders need to expand beyond China as China rebalances its domestic economy towards services and consumption.

China's foreign exchange reserves, the largest in the world, reached a record USD 3.95 trillion in March and it plans to invest around USD 500 billion overseas in the next five years, a large share of which is expected to find India's way.

China is positively considering investing in India's ambitious plan to build high-speed railways, including bullet trains.

Chinese officials say that China would be committing anywhere between USD 100 billion to USD 300 billion in the modernisation of Indian railways by replacing existing tracks to increase the speed, station development, establishing industrial parks as well as invest in mega infrastructure projects.

The improvement of tracks could push the average train speeds from 160 km/hr to 180 km/hr, Indian officials say.

China is also asking India to hand over certain railway corridors for it to build, develop and maintain high speed railway lines.

During Xi's visit, China is set to announce two industrial parks, one each in Gujarat and Maharastra to begin a host of manufacturing and energy units. China is expected to commit investments worth $6.5 billion to set up industrial parks in India and sign purchase agreements of over $3 billion with Indian companies.

Experience the power of a bookbook

At only 8mm thin, and weighing in at less than 400g, the 2015 IKEA Catalogue comes pre-installed with thousands of home furnishing ideas.

Carnival of Space 371

Theoretical Design of Superefficient Quantum Engines

Real-world engines have to trade off between efficiency--how well they convert heat into work--and power, how quickly they accomplish this conversion. Generally, the more powerful an engine is (the faster it moves), the less efficient it is because it creates more friction. For this reason cars need oil! But using some quantum mechanical trickery, ICTP postdoctoral researcher John Goold and his collaborators seem to have found a way around this limitation for atom-sized engines

Nature Scientific Reports - More bang for your buck: Super-adiabatic quantum engines

The practical untenability of the quasi-static assumption makes any realistic engine intrinsically irreversible and its operating time finite, thus implying friction effects at short cycle times. An important technological goal is thus the design of maximally efficient engines working at the maximum possible power. We show that, by utilising shortcuts to adiabaticity in a quantum engine cycle, one can engineer a thermodynamic cycle working at finite power and zero friction. Our findings are illustrated using a harmonic oscillator undergoing a quantum Otto cycle.

Reexamining classical and quantum models for the D-Wave One processor

Arxiv - Reexamining classical and quantum models for the D-Wave One processor (18 pages)

USC Researchers revisit the evidence for quantum annealing in the D-Wave One device (DW1) based on the study of random Ising instances. Using the probability distributions of finding the ground states of such instances, previous work found agreement with both simulated quantum annealing (SQA) and a classical rotor model. Thus the DW1 ground state success probabilities are consistent with both models, and a different measure is needed to distinguish the data and the models. Here we consider measures that account for ground state degeneracy and the distributions of excited states, and present evidence that for these new measures neither SQA nor the classical rotor model correlate perfectly with the DW1 experiments. We thus provide evidence that SQA and the classical rotor model, both of which are classically efficient algorithms, do not satisfactorily explain all the DW1 data. A complete model for the DW1 remains an open problem. Using the same criteria we find that, on the other hand, SQA and the classical rotor model correlate closely with each other. To explain this we show that the rotor model can be derived as the semiclassical limit of the spin-coherent states path integral. We also find differences in which set of ground states is found by each method, though this feature is sensitive to calibration errors of the DW1 device and to simulation parameters.


September 15, 2014

Conventional weapon power

On March 9, 1945, B-29 bombers in the U.S. Air Force began dropping incendiary bombs on the city of Tokyo. This raid, known as "Operation Meetinghouse," caused incredible destruction, killing perhaps 100,000 people aand burning out fifteen square miles of the city. Incendiary bombings continued in the months to come, targeting other Japanese cities and killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians.

James M. Lindsay, CFR's senior vice president and director of studies, says the firebombing of Tokyo should remind us of the destructive power of conventional weapons. During WW2 conventional bombings accounted for far more civilian deaths in Japan than did the nuclear weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Ultrahard fullerite is almost twice as hard as diamond but new synthesis works at room temperature and lower pressure

Researchers from the Technological Institute for Superhard and Novel Carbon Materials in Troitsk, the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), National University of Science and Technology (MISiS), and Moscow State Univ. (MSU) have developed a new method for the synthesis of an ultrahard material that exceeds diamond in hardness. An article recently published in the journal Carbon describes in detail a method that allows for the synthesis of ultrahard fullerite, a polymer composed of fullerenes, or spherical molecules made of carbon atoms.

In their work, the scientists note that diamond hasn’t been the hardest material for some time now. Natural diamonds have a hardness of nearly 150 GPa, but ultrahard fullerite has surpassed diamond to become first on the list of hardest materials with values that range from 150 to 300 GPa.

Diamond anvils malformed during synthesis of ultrahard fullerite. Note the dent in the center.
Credit: Image courtesy of Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

Journal Carbon - Synthesis of ultrahard fullerite with a catalytic 3D polymerization reaction of C60

Life in Iraq from the 1930s to today

A Washington Post article has the viewpoint of someone who lived and grew up in Iraq.

Saif Al-Azzawi grew up in Baghdad and moved to the United States as a refugee in 2009. He now lives in Long Beach, California.

He grew up in Baghdad in a middle-class family. My father served in the Iraqi Air Force and often traveled internationally; my mother was a math teacher; my siblings all attended college. I graduated from the most prestigious high school in Baghdad before getting my degree at pharmacy school.

Most Americans don’t understand that Iraq used to be a modern, Westernized and secular country. From the 1930s to the 1980s, Iraq’s neighbors looked to it as the example. People from different Arab countries came to Iraq to attend university. The country had an excellent education system, great health care, and Iraq was rich — not the richest, but rich.

Nextbigfuture look to the future of medicine from now to 2064

This article is part of the ‘Think Further’ series, sponsored by Fred Alger Management, Inc. For more ‘Think Further’ content and videos, visit

To understand the future of medicine in 2064, we have to understand what the current state of world health and life expectancy is in the world today, what has the largest impacts and what the current trends. We also need to address some misconceptions which cause people to worry about imagined problems.

I am going to address what I think is plausible and likely and what should be achievable. This is to keep the length manageable. I am not going to address a range of scenarios. Things can easily end up being worse if people do not invest in fixing what they should fix or things could be better if research and development ends up being a lot better.

Creating longer and healthier lives is better for the world, for civilization and for the economy. This statement should be obvious and not require defense. However, I know it does require some defense.

When I describe how relatively easy it would be to save 35 million unnecessary deaths per year in the developing world, through clean cookers, safe child birth kits, clean water and other low technology means, there is objection that people are concerned about over population. People have 5 children in developing countries because they are worried that 2 will die before the age of 5 and they need children to take care of them when they are old. Most people have 1 to 3 children if they are confident that all of the children will live and they will have a secure financial future via retirement plans. So saving lives of the world poor and helping them get better lives will help control population growth.

Breakthrough Bounding and quieter electric motor used in MIT cheetahbot will make agile and fast robots and quiet where all you will hear are the feet hitting the ground

MIT researchers have developed an algorithm for bounding that they’ve successfully implemented in a robotic cheetah — a sleek, four-legged assemblage of gears, batteries, and electric motors that weighs about as much as its feline counterpart. The team recently took the robot for a test run on MIT’s Killian Court, where it bounded across the grass at a steady clip.

In experiments on an indoor track, the robot sprinted up to 10 mph, even continuing to run after clearing a hurdle. The MIT researchers estimate that the current version of the robot may eventually reach speeds of up to 30 mph.

The key to the bounding algorithm is in programming each of the robot’s legs to exert a certain amount of force in the split second during which it hits the ground, in order to maintain a given speed: In general, the faster the desired speed, the more force must be applied to propel the robot forward. Sangbae Kim, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, hypothesizes that this force-control approach to robotic running is similar, in principle, to the way world-class sprinters race.

Soft Exosuit could overcome problems with heavier exoskeletons

A DARPA and Harvard lightweight Soft Exosuit overcomes the drawbacks of traditional, heavier exoskeleton systems, such as power-hungry battery packs and rigid components that can interfere with natural joint movement. It is made of soft, functional textiles woven into a piece of smart clothing that is pulled on like a pair of pants, and is intended to be worn under a soldier’s regular gear. The suit mimics the action of leg muscles and tendons when a person walks, and provides small but carefully timed assistance at the leg joints without restricting the wearer’s movement.

In a current prototype, a series of webbing straps around the lower half of the body contain a low-power microprocessor and a network of supple strain sensors. These act as the “brain” and “nervous system” of the Soft Exosuit, respectively, continuously monitoring various data signals, including suit tension, wearer position (walking, running, crouched), and more.

“Over just a couple of short years, Conor and his team will work to fundamentally shift the paradigm of what is possible in wearable robotics,” said Wyss Institute director Don Ingber. “Their work is a great example of the power of bringing together people from multiple disciplines with focused resources to translate what first seems like a dream into a product that could transform people’s lives.”

In addition to its military application, the team will collaborate with clinical partners to develop a medical version of the suit that could greatly benefit stroke victims, for example, whose gait often becomes slow and inefficient.

September 14, 2014

First Evidence for Water Ice Clouds Found outside Solar System at the Coldest Known Brown Dwarf Star

A team of scientists led by Carnegie's Jacqueline Faherty has discovered the first evidence of water ice clouds on an object outside of our own Solar System. Water ice clouds exist on our own gas giant planets--Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune--but have not been seen outside of the planets orbiting our Sun until now.

At the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, Faherty, along with a team including Carnegie's Andrew Monson, used the FourStar near infrared camera to detect the coldest brown dwarf ever characterized. Their findings are the result of 151 images taken over three nights and combined. The object, named WISE J085510.83-071442.5, or W0855, was first seen by NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Explorer mission and published earlier this year. But it was not known if it could be detected by Earth-based facilities.

Arxiv - Indications of Water Clouds in the Coldest Known Brown Dwarf (8 pages)

Curiosity Rover will being exploring a Mars Mount Sharp and a new phase of exploration

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has reached the Red Planet's Mount Sharp, a Mount-Rainier-size mountain at the center of the vast Gale Crater and the rover mission's long-term prime destination.

"Curiosity now will begin a new chapter from an already outstanding introduction to the world," said Jim Green, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "After a historic and innovative landing along with its successful science discoveries, the scientific sequel is upon us."

This image shows the old and new routes of NASA's Mars Curiosity rover and is composed of color strips taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. This new route provides excellent access to many features in the Murray Formation. And it will eventually pass by the Murray Formation's namesake, Murray Buttes, previously considered to be the entry point to Mt. Sharp. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 226

1. Forbes James Conca - A Nuclear Bolivia? Why Not?

Bolivia recently declared its intention to develop nuclear energy, part of a new concerted effort to expand nuclear energy throughout the developing world being led, not by America, but by the BRICS coalition of nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Lead pollution is costing much of the world 5-20 IQ points

According to one US study, each microgram per decilitre increase in blood lead results in a 1 per cent drop in IQ. Richard Canfield, a senior researcher in Cornell's Division of Nutritional Sciences and senior author of a study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives said: "We found that the average IQ scores of children with blood level leads of only 5 to 10 micrograms were about five points lower than the IQ scores of children with less than five micrograms."

Other researchers have found that the impact is greater at the lowest levels. The world would have hundreds of thousands more geniuses were it not for the effects of lead.

According to recent research, levels of airborne heavy metal particles are 10-20 times higher on average in China than in the US.

Hong Kong and China have levels of 10 micrograms - double the 5 microgram US pollution standard.Governments around the world are slowly tightening legislation regulating air polluters, but enforcement lags regulation and is not enough to keep pace with the increase in pollution generated by economic growth

DARPA Jetpack developed at Arizona State to help every soldier run 4 minute miles but currently provides 5-12% assist

What if every soldier could run a four-minute mile? That's the goal behind 4MM, or 4 Minute Mile, a student project to create a wearable jetpack that enhances speed and agility. Working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and a faculty mentor, Jason Kerestes is the mastermind behind 4MM. He built a prototype of the jetpack and is now testing and refining his design to be as effective as possible.

The 4MM project is part of an ASU program called iProjects, which brings students and industry together to find innovative solutions to real-world problems.

One test subject ran a 25 second jetpack assisted 200 meters and 28 seconds unassisted.
He ran a one mile 5:02 jetpack assisted versus a 5:20 unassisted.

A video shows a 25 second 200 meter run using jet pack assist. This was over 10% faster than without assist

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