September 27, 2014

First close loop system that can adjust spinal cord signals in real time to enable synchronized stepping movement despite paralysis an other spinal cord therapies

Swiss scientists severed the spinal cords of a half-dozen rats and then implanted flexible electrodes into the lower part of their spinal cords. The animals were also given a type of drug known as a serotonin agonist, which Courtine says readies the spinal cord to communicate with the legs, an ability that’s depleted after an injury. With their weight supported by a harness, the rats were placed on a treadmill or on a runway with obstacles.

This spring, doctors and researchers from the University of Louisville and the University of California, Los Angeles, said four men who had been paralyzed for years were able to regain movement in their legs, hips, ankles, and toes, and even stand using an implanted device that stimulated their spinal cords, a technique called epidural stimulation.

Though the movements achieved were modest—and fall short of allowing the men to walk on their own—the technology let them exercise their legs, which seemed to restore some movement.

A limit to epidural stimulation so far is that the electrical pulses don’t produce complex, coӧrdinated movement. Also, in human tests, the stimulators are controlled manually. That’s where the system Courtine developed could come into play. By filming the rats as they walked, the Swiss team fed the images to software that quickly adjusted the pattern of stimulation to produce synchronized stepping movements.

Such a system could help a person walk rhythmically and maintain his balance.

“This is the first closed-loop control system that can really adjust leg movements in real time, despite paralysis,” Courtine says. Each of the rats walked at least a thousand successive steps and successfully navigated rodent-sized stairs.

Science Translational Medicine - Closed-loop neuromodulation of spinal sensorimotor circuits controls refined locomotion after complete spinal cord injury

Prediction market success

Brian Wang is participating in another season of the Good Judgement Project. The Good Judgment Project is a four-year research study organized as part of a government-sponsored forecasting tournament. Thousands of people around the world predict global events. Their collective forecasts are surprisingly accurate.

The latest season started August 20th. I was provided with $50,000 in game funds. I have increased it but 21% with correct prediction bets. An example is the Afghanistan Bilateral Security agreement should be signed on Tuesday. Other bets that proved out was the Russia Ruble getting weaker than 38 to 1 US dollar.

Dwave says papers coming showing speedup over classical in narrow cases by their quantum computers

Some important third-party results [will soon be published] that can demonstrate speedups over classical algorithms in certain narrow cases by DWave Quantum computers. Those are results that you won’t see from DWave; it’s more credible for one of our partners to do that. It is going to be an important milestone for Dwave. If you want to do something practical with quantum computing, DWAve is the only place you can come.

They have 12 machines running now. A few of them are online; they have customers who can access a machine over the Internet.

They have seen results that are better than classical systems. Customers have their application and integrate quantum computing into it and it performs better.

Integrated Molten Salt Reactor should demonstrate the lowest lifetime cost of energy any known technology

Canada's Terrestrial Energy Corporation is a leader in molten salt reactors. Nextbigfuture believes they have a good chance at creating an energy revolution because of their low cost and low development risk design. Their main advantage is the Canadian oilsands. Hundreds of IMSR reactor can be used to generate steam for oil recovery.

Low cost and accessible energy supply is linked to living standards and quality of life. Higher standards of living make appliances and devices more affordable; emerging nations are craving all the gadgets and conveniences of the developed world. Per capita electricity consumption in the most developed nations, the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the OECD, is 4½ times greater than in the rest of the world. In Canada, our per capita electricity consumption is over double the OECD average and 9½ times the non-OECD world. There are over 5.7 billion people who want to close that gap.

The 25 MWe version of the IMSR is the size of a fairly deep hottub

Molten Salt Reactor Projects in the UK

A feasibility study for a next-gen Molten Salt Reactors (MSRs) has won funding from the Technology Strategy Board, the UK government’s strategic innovation agency. The bid was led by the indefatigable Jasper Tomlinson and Professor Trevor Griffiths. In a first for the UK, the project will produce a rigorous desk- and computer-based study of the feasibility of a pilot-scale MSR, based on the latest science.

Ian Scott has recently founded a UK based molten salt reactor development start-up, Moltex Energy LLP.

There was a presentation of the concepts for a "Simple Molten Salt Reactor" from Ian Scott of Moltex Energy. Ian Scott, at Moltex, originally planned to sell his technology to China, having given up on the West as a lost cause. He was persuaded to stay in Britain, and is talking to ministers. "The first stage will cost around £1bn, to get through the regulatory process and build a prototype. Realistically, only the government can do this," he said.

There was a video lecture on molten salt reactors by other British presenters.

The UK has been talking and planning new nuclear reactors for many years. After many delays and slow approvals it appears that four EPR reactors will be built and completion targeted by 2023. In October 2013 the government announced that initial agreement had been reached with EDF Group on the key terms of a proposed £16 billion investment contract for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. EDF announced in October 2013 that while it would retain 45-50% of the Hinkley Point C project, two Chinese companies, CGN and CNNC, would take 30-40% of it between them, Areva would take 10%, and other interested parties might take up to 15%. First concrete would be 30 months on, with construction time 75+ months.

Broad Group CEO explains why technological innovation in construction is stagnant

The construction and infrastructure industry is antiquated and out of date. Most work is still performed manually and on site, which is costly and time consuming. For example, today a skyscraper can take five years or more to complete. When the Empire State Building was constructed, it only took about 13 months.

Why technological innovation is stagnant in construction

1. Rapid urbanization in China is driving significant investments in infrastructure development. At the same time, innovative financing and investment products are also pouring money into the industry. When demand is strong and the market is good, people do not have much enthusiasm for new technology. They are not motivated to innovate because the profits are [already] there.

2. Excessive regulation of the industry and its supply chain can hinder innovation. In China, there are so many regulations that they do not encourage innovative technology or even thinking. For instance, in construction design, regulations can be so detailed that they specify which types of materials to use and what standard of thickness the materials should be. So, in China the industry falls back on what they call “standard.” Because regulations emphasize standard, builders pursue it at the expense of creativity, efficiency, safety, and ultimately responsibility. As long as a builder does not violate standard, he or she does not bear responsibility for any issues.

The latest reports seem to show that the construction of the J57 building is on hold for a couple of months after being 50% complete. The 202 SkyCity had its ground preparations completed but has been on hold for over 1 year.

September 26, 2014

Facebook pushing ahead towards thousands of internet delivering drones

Facebook solar powered internet delivering drones will have the wingspan of a jumbo jet and fly at 17 mile height. Facebook will create thousands of semi-autonomous drones the size of jumbo jets which will fly 17 miles above the Earth to provide wireless internet access to the four billion people currently unable to get online. They want to fly them for months and years at a time. The drones will need to rise above the weather, flying at between 60,000 and 90,000 feet – around 17 miles above the ground.

The aircraft will be “roughly the size of a commercial aircraft, like a 747” said Maguire, but they will be far, far lighter. One prototype currently being worked on is about the length of seven cars, but weighs the same as just four car tyres.

The planes will be tested at some point next year, somewhere in the US, and the company hopes to have them working and in operation over developing countries within three to five years. It has already chosen 21 locations around the world where it would like to deploy them, in Latin America, Asia and Africa, and is looking for charities to run the equipment once it is manufactured.

Update on the construction of islands and airfields in the South China Sea

Hope that India will get back to 7% or better GDP growth and sustain it

The Blackrock and the Confederation of Indian Industry are optimistic that India can get to 7% GDP growth in 2015 and sustain it at that level.

BlackRock expects India’s GDP growth to accelerate to 7% annually in 2015, 2016 and beyond – when many other emerging economies are expected to slow. This will be driven by implementing half-finished projects. Risks include a re-run of the 2013 bloodbath in emerging markets in anticipation (or fear) of a US rate rise. India is in better shape these days, yet the country is still dependent on external funding.

CII says India will emerge from the shadows of recession. A stronger and a resurgent India is well poised to grow at 5 to 7% over world economic growth and continue to power ahead in terms of domestic demand and investment attractiveness.

India like China have statistical issues with the official GDP. Official figures on gross domestic product in India are released with significant delay—Friday’s numbers will describe the quarter that ended two months ago—and are revised, often dramatically, for years following the initial release. India has been revising its GDP upwards. The data don’t get seasonally adjusted, which means longer-term trends can be obscured by things like festivals and harvests. The result is that banks and analysts each end up following their own favorite nontraditional indicators—rail freight, steel production, auto sales, activity on job-hunting websites—to get a better, timelier sense of the economy’s direction than the one provided by the official stats. Manufacturing output, as measured by the Index of Industrial Production, turns out to be a very good GDP proxy all-around.

September 25, 2014

Goldman see China sustaining about 7% GDP Growth until 2019

Goldman Sachs today cut its 2015 GDP growth forecast from 7.6% to 7.1% but left its 2014 forecast of 7.3% unchanged, saying Beijing recognizes the 7.5% growth target is not sustainable in the long-run.

Using the classical three-factor GDP growth model, Goldman said “China’s potential growth would gradually slow to just over 7% over the next five years.”

The IMF says China will grow well above 7% in 2015.

DWave Systems implies that conclusive quantum speedup will be shown with their next 1152 qubit quantum chip

DWave Systems CEO Vern Brownell says we are at the dawn of the quantum computing age, so things will change over time, and we’ll see a broader and broader set of applications. But today DWave focuses on three problem domains that they think are best suited to this particular type of quantum computing.

1. Machine learning, which is one of the most interesting things going on in computer science today. AI 2.0 and useful AI have really revolutionized the way a lot of folks do things today.

2. A broad set of optimization problems. In logistics, for example, you’re trying to find optimal routing and things like that. They are very complex and scale very quickly with the number of variables and interrelationships you’re trying to optimize for.

3. Sampling. The best example for this is perhaps in financial services, where Monte Carlo simulations represent the largest workloads in most investment banks. It’s used to model things like risk in portfolios — and that’s a fit that works very well with this type of computer.

They are particularly excited about things like working with DNA-SEQ to find better cancer cures, or doing financial modeling, or, with Lockheed in particular, helping them verify their flight control systems.

Brownell says the 1152 qubit chip end all doubt that Dwave has leaped ahead of classical systems — and will forever leave them behind.

If the DWave machines are achieving “quantum speedup” and growth curves keep pace with predictions, Jurvetson believes we could be on the precipice of a fundamental shift in computing — an exponential upon exponential leap that reshapes our assumptions about what machines can do.

The 1152 qubit chip will be released early in 2015 and four of the 1152 qubit systems have been in testing and development for over 12 months. If clear speedup is being achieved then DWave would be seeing it in their tests. The scale up from 128 qubits to 512 qubits seem be produce speedups on the order of ten thousand times. A similar leap and faster loading and readout of problems should show clear advantages in their testing.

China's nine page position on climate change - fund at least to antipoverty level and toss in related intellectual property

China provided a nine page position paper on climate change.

Here are the highlights

* If the developed countries are serious about this then fund it at least to the level of anti-poverty to 1% of GDP in the long run (a $100 billion pledge to the same fund should be reached by $10 billion increments, starting from a $40 billion floor this year)

* the promised $100 billion in annual climate financing that Western nations have already pledged to developing countries for carbon emission control and other actions by 2020 is only the "starting point" for additional Western financial commitments that must be laid out in a "clear road map," which includes "specific targets, timelines and identified sources;"

* Western countries also need to remove “obstacles such as IPRs [intellectual property rights]” to “promote, facilitate and finance the transfer” of “technologies and know-how” to developing countries in advance of any future climate deal;

Nextbigfuture Open Discussion Thread

This is a Nextbigfuture open discussion thread.
Please share links or start discussion of future, technology or science related topics.
Please be polite.


New Cas9 mouse model will be easier to CRISPR gene-edit and enable faster progress against diseases like cancer

Researchers from the Broad Institute and MIT have created a new mouse model to simplify application of the CRISPR-Cas9 system for genome-editing experiments in living animals.

The researchers successfully used the new “Cas9 mouse” model to edit multiple genes in a variety of cell types, and to model lung adenocarcinoma, one of the most lethal human cancers. The mouse has already been made available to the scientific community and is being used by researchers at more than a dozen institutions.

Journal Cell - CRISPR-Cas9 Knockin Mice for Genome Editing and Cancer Modeling

Better Cement mixture would make it twice as strong and allow less to be used and reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent

“Cement is the most-used material on the planet,” Pellenq says, noting that its present usage is estimated to be three times that of steel. “There’s no other solution to sheltering mankind in a durable way — turning liquid into stone in 10 hours, easily, at room temperature. That’s the magic of cement.”

In conventional cements, Pellenq explains, the calcium-to-silica ratio ranges anywhere from about 1.2 to 2.2, with 1.7 accepted as the standard. But the resulting molecular structures have never been compared in detail. Pellenq and his colleagues built a database of all these chemical formulations, finding that the optimum mixture was not the one typically used today, but rather a ratio of about 1.5.

As the ratio varies, he says, the molecular structure of the hardened material progresses from a tightly ordered crystalline structure to a disordered glassy structure. They found the ratio of 1.5 parts calcium for every one part silica to be “a magical ratio,” Pellenq says, because at that point the material can achieve “two times the resistance of normal cement, in mechanical resistance to fracture, with some molecular-scale design.”

Effect of C/S ratio on the molecular structure of C-S-H at the nanoscale.

Nature Communications - Combinatorial molecular optimization of cement hydrates

India ISRO has Mars Orbiter Mission at Mars and sending back pictures

The Indian Space Research Organization has successfully reached Mars with its Mars Orbiter Mission.

* Spacecraft Successfully entered Martian Orbit
* Burn Start of Main Liquid Engine Confirmed
* The radio link between the Spacecraft and Earth is now blocked by Mars.
* Eclipse starts - The Spacecraft is in shadow of Mars
* Forward rotation starts
* Changed Over to Medium Gain Antenna

Technical details of the Mars orbiter are here.

Bill O'Reilly Mercenary Army Proposal is Inferior in All Respects to the US Foreign Legion Proposal

Bill O'Reilly proposed a mercenary army. Re-create a Special Forces unit without the personnel of a Special Forces unit.


*The fighters in the O’Reilly Mercenary Army would be recruited by the United States;
*They’d be trained by Special Forces under “strict discipline”;
*They’d number 25,000;
*They’d be English speakers;
*They’d be well compensated.
*Cost over $5+ billion/year (which would be about $200,000 per person)

According to data provided to the House panel, the average per-day pay to personnel Blackwater hired was $600. According to the schedule of rates, supplies and services attached to the contract, Blackwater charged Regency $1,075 a day for senior managers, $945 a day for middle managers and $815 a day for operators

The US Foreign legion proposal I had is far better. Here is why:

* Mercenaries (veterans of regular military) have already been used and are still used
* 25,000 Mercs are less than the 40,000 or so that are in ISIS now

Those who criticize the idea of mercenaries as "outsourcing the job of the US military" are idiots or liars not representing the actual modern history. The US has used mercenaries aka combatant private military contractors. Two out of every three in Afghanistan are contractors.

In December 2009, the Congressional Research Service, which provides background information to members of the United States Congress, announced that the deployment of 30,000 extra U.S. troops into Afghanistan could be accompanied by a surge of "26,000 to 56,000" contractors. This would expand the presence of personnel from the U.S. private sector in Afghanistan "to anywhere from 130,000 to 160,000". The CRS study said contractors made up 69 percent of the Pentagon's personnel in Afghanistan in December 2008.

There were 100,000 to 200,000 private military contractors during much of the Iraq war.
I criticize the mercenary idea as something that we know is too expensive and it is something that has been used at large scale.

* I had proposed around 150,000 - 500,000 in a US foreign legion. Much more than the numbers in ISIS that they are going to fight. Pay them about the wage of the French Foreign legion ($20,000/year for new recruits up to $60K/yr for senior experienced officers. which is about the French Foreign Legion payscale). Like what was attempted with arming and training the Iraq army but they do not report to Malaki or other corrupt Iraqi officials or leaders. Also, the US makes a permanent commitment to the US foreign legion.

Note - the French Foreign Legion has a decent recent battle record in Afghanistan in fighting the Taliban and has a long history of good performance in battle.

By being over ten times cheaper per soldier means it is affordable to have ten times more soldiers.
* the US already tries to arm and rent foreign armies all the time
- the US tried to train and arm the Iraq army and spent over $25 billion on it. The Iraqi army had officers replaced with political loyalists. The Iraqi army has a massive desertion problem
- the US plans to spend 3+ years and many more billion training up more Iraqis
- the US plans and arm and train some people in Syria
- the US armed and trained a bunch of people in Afghanistan (spending over $26 billion)
The US has spent $710 billion in Afghanistan since 2001.

September 24, 2014

UNC professor says black holes can't exist according to mathematical proof

By merging two seemingly conflicting theories, Laura Mersini-Houghton has mathematically proven black holes can never come into being in the first place. Black holes are thought to be the densist matter in the universe.

Mersini-Houghton's theory combine Hawking's radiation theory with a fundamental law of quantum theory that states no information from the universe can ever disappear.

Mersini-Houghton agrees with Hawking in that a star's collapse gives off radiation; but by giving off radiation, she said the star also sheds mass to the point that it no longer has the density to become a black hole.

Arxiv - Back-reaction of the Hawking radiation flux on a gravitationally collapsing star II: Fireworks instead of firewalls

Illumina Says 228,000 Human Genomes Will Be Sequenced This Year and 1.6 million will be sequenced in 2017

A record 228,000 human genomes will be completely sequenced this year by researchers around the globe, said Francis de Souza, president of Illumina, the maker of machines for DNA sequencing, during MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

De Souza said Illumina’s estimates suggest that the number will continue to double about every 12 months, reaching 1.6 million genomes by 2017, as the technology shifts from a phase of collapsing prices to expanding use in medicine.

EIA forecasts US total oil production will be over 15 million barrels per day and crude oil production will be 10.5 million barrels per day by the end of next year

The US Energy Information Administration has a short term outlook published Sept, 2014.

* project total all liquids US oil production will be over 15 million barrels per day by the end of 2015
* total US oil production (crude oil, natural gas liquids, ethanol) is projected to be over 14 million bpd by end of 2015
* crude oil production will be about 10.5 million barrels per day by the end of 2015 (this would be a new peak for US crude oil production. It would be well beyond the 9.6 million barrel per day peak in 1970)
* average US Gasoline prices should go down to about 3.18 per gallon in Dec, 2014 from 3.49 in July and 3.30 in August
* electricity prices will keep trending higher through 2015

This projection does not include 1.2 million barrels per day in refinery gain.

The most recent weekly US oil production statistics are here.

Energy Information Administration has Texas at 3 million barrels per day of crude oil about triple the production levels from 2001-2007

Texas crude oil production is at about 92 million barrels per month or over 3 million barrels per day. This is triple some of the months between 2001 and 2007. Texas is over the level of the 1980s and nearly back to the level of the 1970s.

Texas is near the oil production level of the UAE and Iraq. Iraq and UAE are each around the 3 million barrel per day level. If Texas were a country it would be in the range of a top 6-8 oil producing country.

The United States is at 99% [8.867 million bpd] of the 1980s peak at 8.965 [million bpd] in crude oil production. There was a higher peak of about 9.6 million bpd in the 1970s.

The Texas railway commission has a different number for Texas crude oil production because they do not include condensate.

September 23, 2014

South Africa signs $10 billion nuclear deal with Russia

1. A $10 billion agreement lays the foundation for South Africa's large-scale nuclear power plant procurement and development program based on the construction of Russian VVER reactors with a total installed capacity of up to 9.6 GW, or up to eight units, Rosatom said. The reactors will be the first based on the Russian technology to be built on the African continent, it said.

Joemat-Pettersson said that South Africa is "interested as never before in the massive development" of nuclear power, which is an important driver for the country's national economic growth.

"I am sure that cooperation with Russia will allow us to implement our ambitious plans for the creation by 2030 of 9.6 GW of new nuclear [power] capacities based on modern and safe technologies. This agreement opens up the door for the Republic of South Africa to access Russian technologies, funding, infrastructure, and provides proper and solid platform for future extensive collaboration."

Montney Oil and Gas could soon be one of the largest commercially viable plays in the world

The Montney (oil and gas formation in BC and Alberta Canada) is estimated to hold 2,200 trillion Cubic feet of gas, Almost 29 billion barrels of natural gas liquids and over 136 billion barrels of oil. But it is the tight liquids rich fairway (approximately 15-20 miles wide) that contains high concentrations of both free condensate and natural gas liquids that everyone is pursuing in what may very soon be one of the largest commercially viable plays in the world.

Google plans to have a ring of high altitude internet balloons in southern hemisphere providing wireless internet service by the end of 2015

Within a year, Google is aiming to have a continuous ring of high-altitude balloons in the Southern Hemisphere capable of providing wireless Internet service to cell phones on the ground.

That’s according to Astro Teller, head of the Google X lab, the company established with the purpose of working on “moon shot” research projects. He spoke at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference in Cambridge today.

Teller said that the balloon project, known as Project Loon, was on track to meet the goal of demonstrating a practical way to get wireless Internet access to billions of people who don’t have it today, mostly in poor parts of the globe.

Japan and China are competing for India's high speed rail projects

India and China signed a high speed train deal.

The India and China deal includes:
* Training in heavy haul transportation: A training programme has been finalised for 100 persons

* Increasing speed on existing lines: Chennai-Bangalore-Mysore section has been identified for increasing speed to 160 kmph with cooperation from China

* Redevelopment of railway stations: Chinese side will conduct pre-feasibility of two stations with their financing and prepare a report indicating further course of cooperation

* Cooperation in high-speed rail: Chinese side will conduct project feasibility study and prepare a detailed report with their financing of a section to be advised by Indian Railways

* Setting up of Railway university: Chinese experience of rail universities will be used to develop a railway university here

Japanese construction giant Obayashi says they will build a 60,000 mile long space elevator by 2050

The Japanese construction giant Obayashi says they will build a space elevator that will reach 96,000 kilometres into space.

Robotic cars powered by magnetic linear motors will carry people and cargo to a newly-built space station, at a fraction of the cost of rockets. It will take seven days to get there.

Using a space shuttle costs about $22,000 per kilogram to take cargo into space. For the space elevator, the estimate is about $200.

Nextbigfuture does not believe an earth based space elevator will be built. One on the moon or Mars would make sense. This does not. There are easier and cheaper ways to get into orbit with lower costs.

A Spacex Falcon heavy could launch 53000 kilograms to low earth orbit for $85 million

Fuel Depots in low earth orbit would drastically lower the cost to geosynchronous orbit.

CDC warns that by Jan 20, 2015 Ebola could reach 1.4 million cases with 70% fatality without more successful intervention and progress

This week’s MMWR, Estimating the Future Number of Cases in the Ebola Epidemic—Liberia and Sierra Leone, 2014–2015, estimates the future number of cases if current trends continue. The MMWR also adjusts the number of cases based on estimated underreported cases.

By September 30, 2014, CDC estimates that there will be approximately 8,000 cases, or as high as 21,000 cases if corrections for underreporting are made.

Without additional interventions or changes in community behavior, CDC estimates that by January 20, 2015, there will be a total of approximately 550,000 Ebola cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone or 1.4 million if corrections for underreporting are made.

Cases in Liberia are currently doubling every 15-20 days, and those in Sierra Leone and Guinea are doubling every 30-40 days.

Halting the epidemic requires that approximately 70% of Ebola cases be cared for in Ebola Treatment Units or, if they are at capacity, at home or in a community setting in which there is a reduced risk of disease transmission and safe burials are provided.

Global CO2 emissions will be over 40 billion tonnes in 2014 and are 58% higher than in 1990 which is the base year of the Kyoto Protocol

Carbon dioxide emissions, the main contributor to global warming, are set to rise 2.5% in 2014 - reaching a record high of 40 billion tonnes.

Key facts and figures:

* CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuel are projected to rise by 2.5 per cent in 2014 - 65 per cent above 1990 levels, the reference year for the Kyoto Protocol - China, the USA, the EU and India are the largest emitters – together accounting for 58 per cent of emissions.

* China’s CO2 emissions grew by 4.2 per cent in 2013, the USA’s grew by 2.9 per cent, and India’s emissions grew by 5.1 per cent.

* The EU has decreased its emissions by 1.8 per cent, though it continues to export a third of its emissions to China and other producers through imported goods and services.

* China’s CO2 emissions per person overtook emissions in the EU for the first time in 2013. China’s emissions are now larger than the US and EU combined. 16 per cent of China’s emissions are for goods and services which are exported elsewhere.

*CO2 emissions are caused primarily by burning fossil fuels, as well as by cement production and deforestation. Deforestation accounts for 8 per cent of CO2 emissions.

* Historical and future CO2 emissions must remain below a total 3,200 billion tonnes to be in with a 66 per cent chance of keeping climate change below 2°C. But two thirds (2,000 billion tonnes) of this quota have already been used.

September 22, 2014

U.S., Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates hit ISIS in Syria

The U.S. and five Arab countries launched airstrikes Monday night on Islamic State group targets in Syria, expanding a military campaign into a country whose three-year civil war has given the brutal militant group a safe haven.

Using a mix of manned aircraft — fighter jets and bombers — plus Tomahawk cruise missiles, the strikes were part of the expanded military campaign that President Barack Obama authorized nearly two weeks ago in order to disrupt and destroy the Islamic State militants, who have slaughtered thousands of people, beheaded Westerners — including two American journalists — and captured large swaths of Syria and northern and western Iraq.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 227

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 227 is up at Hiroshima Syndrome

Forbes James Conca - First American Nuke Plant In 21st Century To Open Soon

Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar 2 Nuclear Generating Station is in the final phase of construction in preparation for its start-up next year. Watts Bar 2 will be the first nuclear power plant to come online in the U.S. in this century, the first of five commercial nuclear reactors under construction. It is expected to produce over 700 billion kWhs of extremely low-carbon electricity over its life, at an actual cost of only 6 ¢ per kWhr.

Telomerase, even when present, can be turned off with a genetic switch which could be an antiaging breakthroug

Scientists at the Salk Institute have discovered an on-and-off “switch” in cells that may hold the key to healthy aging. This switch points to a way to encourage healthy cells to keep dividing and generating, for example, new lung or liver tissue, even in old age.

In our bodies, newly divided cells constantly replenish lungs, skin, liver and other organs. However, most human cells cannot divide indefinitely–with each division, a cellular timekeeper at the ends of chromosomes shortens. When this timekeeper, called a telomere, becomes too short, cells can no longer divide, causing organs and tissues to degenerate, as often happens in old age. But there is a way around this countdown: some cells produce an enzyme called telomerase, which rebuilds telomeres and allows cells to divide indefinitely.

Scientists at the Salk Institute have discovered that telomerase, even when present, can be turned off.

Genes and Development Journal - Regulated assembly and disassembly of the yeast telomerase quaternary complex

September 21, 2014

Russia makes progress to closed nuclear fuel cycle

Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC), based in Tomsk, said yesterday it has completed testing of the first full-scale TVS-4 fuel assembly containing nitride fuel. The assembly is intended for the BN-600 fast neutron reactor, which is the third unit of the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant.

These are two new milestones in Russia's ‘Proryv’, or Breakthrough, project to enable a closed nuclear fuel cycle. The ultimate aim is to eliminate production of radioactive waste from nuclear power generation.

High Temperature gas nuclear pebble bed fuel production

The installation of equipment has been completed at a pilot production line in Baotou in Inner Mongolia for fuel elements for China's Shidaowan HTR-PM, a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) demonstration project. The new pilot production line will have an annual capacity of 300,000 fuel elements. The National Nuclear Security Administration issued a permit for its construction in February 2013 and a groundbreaking ceremony was held the following month. It is expected to be commissioned in August 2015

Stanford researchers create 'evolved' protein that may stop cancer from spreading

A team of Stanford researchers has developed a protein therapy that disrupts the process that causes cancer cells to break away from original tumor sites, travel through the bloodstream and start aggressive new growths elsewhere in the body.

This process, known as metastasis, can cause cancer to spread with deadly effect.

"The majority of patients who succumb to cancer fall prey to metastatic forms of the disease," said Jennifer Cochran, an associate professor of bioengineering who describes a new therapeutic approach in Nature Chemical Biology.

Today doctors try to slow or stop metastasis with chemotherapy, but these treatments are unfortunately not very effective and have severe side effects.

The Stanford team seeks to stop metastasis, without side effects, by preventing two proteins – Axl and Gas6 – from interacting to initiate the spread of cancer.

Nature Chemical Biology - An engineered ​Axl 'decoy receptor' effectively silences the ​Gas6-​Axl signaling axis

Ultra-thin Diamond Nanothreads with strength and stiffness greater than carbon nanotubes

For the first time, scientists have discovered how to produce ultra-thin "diamond nanothreads" that promise extraordinary properties, including strength and stiffness greater than that of today's strongest nanotubes and polymers.

"From a fundamental-science point of view, our discovery is intriguing because the threads we formed have a structure that has never been seen before," Badding said. The core of the nanothreads that Badding's team made is a long, thin strand of carbon atoms arranged just like the fundamental unit of a diamond's structure -- zig-zag “cyclohexane” rings of six carbon atoms bound together, in which each carbon is surrounded by others in the strong triangular-pyramid shape of a tetrahedron. "It is as if an incredible jeweler has strung together the smallest possible diamonds into a long miniature necklace," Badding said. "Because this thread is diamond at heart, we expect that it will prove to be extraordinarily stiff, extraordinarily strong, and extraordinarily useful."

Nature Materials- Benzene-derived ​carbon nanothreads

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) has entered Mars Orbit

NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft successfully entered Mars’ orbit at 10:24 p.m. EDT Sunday, Sept. 21, where it now will prepare to study the Red Planet’s upper atmosphere as never done before. MAVEN is the first spacecraft dedicated to exploring the tenuous upper atmosphere of Mars.

“As the first orbiter dedicated to studying Mars’ upper atmosphere, MAVEN will greatly improve our understanding of the history of the Martian atmosphere, how the climate has changed over time, and how that has influenced the evolution of the surface and the potential habitability of the planet,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “It also will better inform a future mission to send humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s.”

Freer Trade Green Rules and Green Trade Zones

There have been a lot of problems getting effective global environmental agreements (Kyoto and other attempts) that actually reduce soot and carbon emissions. Carbon emissions keep going up and soot is also increasing. This is probably because in spite of the talk the issues of carbon emissions and soot emissions are not viewed as being worth fixing or only worth being fixed by someone else. The sources are the carbon emissions from coal power and cars, ships, planes and trains. There would be the difficult complete elimination and there is significant reduction. Natural gas produces about one third of the emissions of coal power. There are far more effective pollution mitigation systems that can be placed on power plants, factories and vehicles. If we assume that this is a problem that needs to be fixed faster then how could it be done ? To at least stop increasing then China and developing countries cannot continue to double coal power plants and cannot gasify coal and Japan cannot use the methane from the ocean floor.

China does want to build out and export cheap nuclear power plants
China does want to build high speed rail everywhere around the world
China does want to build cleaner cities for 600 million more people in China and billions in other countries
The US wants to exports its shale natural gas revolution
The US has the lead with electric cars
Japan and the US have the lead with hybrid cars

A new approach has begin where tariffs are eliminated green products.

These trade talks are solely about tariffs. Total global trade in environmental goods such as wind turbines and solar panels amounts to $1 trillion and growing fast. Tariffs on some of these products are as high as 35%. Eliminating needless taxes at the world's borders would speed the flow of new green technologies to all the places in the world that need them urgently in the struggle to confront climate change.

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