October 04, 2014

Crystal grains can hold 160 times the oxygen for lighter underwater breathing

Researchers from the University of Southern Denmark have synthesized crystalline materials that can bind and store oxygen in high concentrations.The stored oxygen can be released again when and where it is needed.

We do fine with the 21 per cent oxygen in the air around us. But sometimes we need oxygen in higher concentrations; for example lung patients must carry heavy oxygen tanks, cars using fuel cells need a regulated oxygen supply. Perhaps one day in the future even sunlight-driven “reversible” fuel cells will be made. With these we will have to separate oxygen from hydrogen in order to recombine them in order to get energy.

A few grains contain enough oxygen for one breath, and as the material can absorb oxygen from the water around the diver and supply the diver with it, the diver will not need to bring more than these few grains.

The crystals would change scuba diving to something like free diving and by getting oxygen from water it would extend the duration that diving could be performed to perhaps tens of hours. Personal submarines could last for many days

Chemical Science - Oxygen chemisorption/desorption in a reversible single-crystal-to-single-crystal transformation

Graphene Quantum dots from coal outperform platinum as fuel cell catalysts

Graphene quantum dots created at Rice University grab onto graphene platelets like barnacles attach themselves to the hull of a boat. But these dots enhance the properties of the mothership, making them better than platinum catalysts for certain reactions within fuel cells.

The Rice lab of chemist James Tour created dots known as GQDs from coal last year and have now combined these nanoscale dots with microscopic sheets of graphene, the one-atom-thick form of carbon, to create a hybrid that could greatly cut the cost of generating energy with fuel cells.

ACS Nano - Boron- and Nitrogen-Doped Graphene Quantum Dots/Graphene Hybrid Nanoplatelets as Efficient Electrocatalysts for Oxygen Reduction

Atom-scale semiconducting composites

A little change in temperature makes a big difference for growing a new generation of hybrid atomic-layer structures, according to scientists at Rice University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Vanderbilt University and Pennsylvania State University.

Rice scientists led the first single-step growth of self-assembled hybrid layers made of two elements that can either be side by side and one-atom thick or stacked atop each other. The structure’s final form can be tuned by changing the growth temperature.

The discovery reported online this week in Nature Materials could lead to what Rice materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan calls “pixel engineering”: atomically thin semiconductors with no limit to their potential for use in optoelectronic devices.

Schematic of the synthesis and the overall morphologies of the vertically stacked and in-plane ​WS2/​MoS2 heterostructures.

Nature Materials - Vertical and in-plane heterostructures from ​WS2/​MoS2 monolayers

RCas9: A Programmable RNA Editing Tool

[Lawrence Berkeley National Lab] A powerful scientific tool for editing the DNA instructions in a genome can now also be applied to RNA, the molecule that translates DNA’s genetic instructions into the production of proteins. A team of researchers with Berkeley Lab and the University of California (UC) Berkeley has demonstrated a means by which the CRISPR/Cas9 protein complex can be programmed to recognize and cleave RNA at sequence-specific target sites. This finding has the potential to transform the study of RNA function by paving the way for direct RNA transcript detection, analysis and manipulation.

Led by Jennifer Doudna, biochemist and leading authority on the CRISPR/Cas9 complex, the Berkeley team showed how the Cas9 enzyme can work with short DNA sequences known as “PAM,” for protospacer adjacent motif, to identify and bind with specific site of single-stranded RNA (ssRNA). The team is designating this RNA-targeting CRISPR/Cas9 complex as RCas9.

Schematic shows how RNA-guided Cas9 working with PAMmer can target ssRNA for programmable, sequence-specific cleavage.

Nature - Programmable RNA recognition and cleavage by CRISPR / Cas9

Google X is developing displays that fit together seamlessly to form larger displays

[Wall Street Journal]Google X is developing a display composed of smaller screens that plug together like Legos to create a seamless image, according to three people familiar with the project. With the modular pieces, the screen could be made into different sizes and shapes, the people said.

There are others offering snap together displays but they have seams. Christie MicroTiles have 1 millimeter seams.

3D nanomagnetic logic could extend computer speed improvement

lectrical engineers at the Technische Universität München (TUM) have demonstrated a new kind of building block for digital integrated circuits. Their experiments show that future computer chips could be based on three-dimensional arrangements of nanometer-scale magnets instead of transistors. As the main enabling technology of the semiconductor industry – CMOS fabrication of silicon chips – approaches fundamental limits, the TUM researchers and collaborators at the University of Notre Dame are exploring "magnetic computing" as an alternative.

In a 3D stack of nanomagnets, the researchers have implemented a so-called majority logic gate, which could serve as a programmable switch in a digital circuit. They explain the underlying principle with a simple illustration: Think of the way ordinary bar magnets behave when you bring them near each other, with opposite poles attracting and like poles repelling each other. Now imagine bringing several bar magnets together and holding all but one in a fixed position. Their magnetic fields can be thought of as being coupled into one, and the "north-south" polarity of the magnet that is free to flip will be determined by the orientation of the majority of fixed magnets.

Gates made from field-coupled nanomagnets work in an analogous way, with the reversal of polarity representing a switch between Boolean logic states, the binary digits 1 and 0. In the 3D majority gate reported by the TUM-Notre Dame team, the state of the device is determined by three input magnets, one of which sits 60 nanometers below the other two, and is read out by a single output magnet.

Journal Nanotechnology - Majority logic gate for 3D magnetic computing

Some details on Japan's Flagship 2020 Exaflop Supercomputer project

Current progress in laser cooling of antihydrogen

Arxiv - Current progress in laser cooling of antihydrogen

Antihydrogen can be synthesized and accumulated in a magnetic trap, its lifetime is 1000 seconds. To achieve a veryhigh precision in experiments is possible only for very cold antihydrogen at temperatures millikelvin. But laser cooling of antihydrogen is difficult to implement in practice. The large recoil energy imposes a restriction on the minimum temperature which can be achieved by simplest methods of laser cooling. The fast and efficient laser cooling requires powerful laser sources in a deep ultraviolet. Pulsed sources with 121.6 nanometer wavelength already exist, but have a small power not sufficient for the fast cooling. The important but complicated technical task is an increase of the intensity of these lasers

US Congress looks at China's Economic Rise

The Congressional Research Service has a 42 page report China’s Economic Rise: History, Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the United States

China’s economic rise has significant implications for the United States and hence is of major interest to Congress. On the one hand, China is a large (and potentially huge) export market for the United States. Many U.S. firms use China as the final point of assembly in their global supply chain networks. China’s large holdings of U.S. Treasury securities help the federal government finance its budget deficits. However, some analysts contend that China maintains a number of distortive economic policies (such as protectionist industrial policies and an undervalued currency) that undermine U.S. economic interests. They warn that efforts by the Chinese government to promote indigenous innovation, often through the use of subsidies and other distortive measures, could negatively affect many leading U.S. industries. This report surveys the rise of China’s economy, describes major economic challenges facing China, and discusses the implications of China’s economic rise for the United States.

October 03, 2014

Low Mass antimatter stars could exist in this galaxy and elsewhere

Arxiv - Antimatter and antistars in the universe and in the Galaxy (10 pages)

International researchers from Russia, Japan and Italy consider consequences of hypothetical existence of baryo-dense stars created in the very early universe within an extension of Affleck-Dine scenario of baryogenesis. New constraints on the
possible number of compact antimatter objects are derived. The contemporary observational data do not exclude significant amount of antimatter in the Galaxy (and in other galaxies) in the form of the baryo-dense low-massive star.

The contemporary observational data do not exclude significant amount of antimatter in the Galaxy (and in other galaxies), especially in the form of the baryo-dense low-massive stars created in the very early universe. The total mass of these antimatter objects could be comparable with the total mass of the Galaxy. They would populate the galactic halo and might make a noticeable contribution to dark matter and, in particular, to Machos observed through microlensing. The BD stars should have an unusual chemical content because they were formed in the regions with very high baryon-to-photon ratio, where BBN proceeded with more efficient synthesis of heavy elements. Thus a star with chemical anomaly may present a good possibility to be an antimatter star.

Elon Musk says of course Tesla wil lead with self driving cars and will introduce 90% autopilot in months

Tesla boss Elon Musk told CNN Money that the self-driving car — or "autopilot," is just months away from retail.

Autonomous cars will definitely be a reality. A Tesla car next year will probably be 90 percent capable of autopilot. Like, so 90 percent of your miles can be on auto. For sure highway travel.

It will happen with a combination of various sensors. You combine cameras with image recognition with radar and long-range ultrasonics, that'll do it. Other car companies will follow.

But [is Telsa] going to be the leader?

Elon Musk - Of course. I mean, Tesla's a Silicon Valley company. If we're not the leader, shame on us

Tesla Motor Model D is probably a dual engine 600 HP supercar and possibly with some advanced driver assistance

TechCrunch believes that the Tesla Motor D will be supercar version of the model S.

A ultra-high performance Model S would likely satisfy a niche market of buyers and fans alike. The Tesla Roadster is long gone and the Model S is getting a bit stale. As countless car makers before it, Tesla could extend the Model S’ shelf life by simply offering more exclusive editions.

Tesla could stuff an additional motor into the front boot of the Model S. I suspect Tesla would employ two of its smaller Model S engines in favor of less weight. Still, even with two of Tesla’s smallest motors, the output would be north of 600 hp. Additional batteries would likely be added to compensate for increased power draw.

An Analysis and Update of the Long War in Syria

Strategy Page describes the situation in Syria. US Air strikes have forced ISIS to disperse but the US is also experienced with dealing the dispersal tactics.

Americans are listening and they have proven tactics to defeat the dispersal tactics ISIL is using to avoid air attack. Dispersal will not make ISIL safe from attack bur it will slow down the rate of loss to air attack. The attacks in Syria have killed about 240 people so far, that’s about three deaths (and over a dozen wounded) per strike. The attacks so far have concentrated on things like command and control (headquarters and communications) and logistics (fuel, vehicles and stockpiles of food and equipment). This causes ISIL long term problems right away and killed or wounded several senior people. Soon the attacks will concentrate on combat forces. This is already happening in Iraq where Kurdish forces, long comfortable working with American troops and air power) are pushing back ISIL in the north and inflicting (with the help of air strikes) lots of ISIL casualties. Because of the threat of air strikes ISIL has to be careful concentrating forces to push back the Kurdish advance.

The Institute for the Study of War has a Sept 24- Oct 2, 2014 update

Energy, Wage and Technology Stagnation since the 1970s and development from 1820 to 2030

Angus Maddison gave a presentation to the UK House of Lords in 2005 that looked at the world economy, the leading economies and the most successful follower countries from 1820 to 2001 with projections to 2030.

There are also more detailed analysis of the history of world energy from 1820.

Notice that nuclear energy adoption was following the scaling path of natural gas 30 years prior but then stalled in 1980. Yet other fuels can have events like the London Fog (1952) for coal, Banqiao dam for hydro or the BP oil spill or other spills and not have their adoption and use affected. The Nixon administration had plans to develop 2000 nuclear reactors in the USA by 2000 but high interest rates and new regulations blocked that off in the 1970s and have not gotten back on track in the USA. France developed nuclear in the 1980s and now China is developing it now and will begin serious scaling after the Chinese hydroelectric buildout is winding down.

The world energy per capita figures hide the fact that the US and Canada use about three to four times the World average and Europe has people a little above the world average to about double. This is shown by country with 2011 figures next. Also, one gigajoule is equal to 23.9 kilograms of oil equivalent. 1 Gigajoule is equal to 277.8 kilowatt hours.

The biofuel of the 1800s was mainly wood, peat and dung.

Larger Single Crystal Diamond plates will make better radiation detectors and has particle accelerator applications

IIa Technologies uses a type of Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) called Microwave Plasma Chemical Vapour Deposition (MPCVD). This technology, although simpler in form, is much more complicated and expensive than HPHT (High Pressure High Temperature). The technology works at lower pressures exposing multiple diamond seeds to a carbon-rich environment. At the optimised conditions, carbon starts depositing, the seed starts accepting the available carbon, and the natural process of crystallisation starts.

Singapore-based IIa Technologies, a major manufacturer of lab-grown diamonds, said it has created large (7.5 mm x 7.5 mm) high quality, single crystal diamond plates of top quality.

"The breakthrough opens up unprecedented opportunities for use in highly versatile applications such as for radiation dosimeters used in cancer therapy, X-Ray detectors, X-Ray dosimeters, high power electronic devices, etc," the firm said.

"These high-quality, single crystal diamond plates are expected to break new grounds in radiation detectors due to the simplicity of their design and enhanced lifespan (an increase of about 100-200 times as compared to the conventional material).

October 02, 2014

Asking for sacrifice and poverty and virtuousness has failed

People ask why people are not willing to sacrifice for the environment and sacrifice for the greater good. You have to have a plan that will work. It is not about the tragedy of the commons. It is about the tragedy of bad and failed plans. People have been asking for sacrifice for the environment for over 50 years but it has not worked.

If you are fighting obesity and just blanket the media to tell everyone to go on a diet and exercise and picket Macdonalds what will happen ? Most people will still be gaining weight. They will eat at Burger King or 5 Guys Burger or Wendy's. A plan that requires everyone to be virtuous, sacrificing and disciplined will and has failed.

Develop an anti-fat pill that is safe and exercise pills or other easy to administer treatments to achieve healthy weight loss across the population. Safe steroids (SARMS) can increase lean muscle mass and increase fat burning. DARPA was working for a treatment that would flip the metabolism of soldiers to be like sled dogs so that fat is burned for weeks or months and then undoing it. You could get results where things are fixed even if people are not perfect and do things that are not good for them.

For CO2, develop technology where energy is five times cheaper and cleaner and safe [like the Terrestrial Energy IMSR molten salt reactor], then the switch becomes easier. You do not ask poor people to stay poor or ask wealthy countries and people to become poor. You develop what is takes so that economic growth and prosperity is not harmful or is tolerable.

Develop concrete that absorbs CO2 instead of producing it. People want to build. If more building helps the environment it would be a win-win.

China needs to side with the middle class in Hong Kong and craft a better future for them

Hong Kong’s “Umbrella revolution”, named after the protection the demonstrators carry against police pepper-spray (as well as the sun and the rain), was triggered by a decision by China in late August that candidates for the post of the territory’s chief executive should be selected by a committee stacked with Communist Party supporters. Protesters are calling for the party to honor the promise of democracy that was made when the British transferred the territory to China in 1997. Like so much in the territory, the protests are startlingly orderly. After a night of battles with police, students collected the plastic bottles that littered the streets for recycling.

It is Crazy and Pointless for Environmentalists to Demand Alberta Stop Oilsand Production

Various environmental groups have tried to block or slow Canadian oilsand development.

Alberta is fiercely independent of the federal government and does not forgive them for the national energy program

The energy sector (oil and gas/mining)accounted for over 22 per cent of Alberta's GDP in 2012. But that is only the direct number. All of the stores, hotels etc... are there because of the oil.

Harper's federal government is pro-oilsands.

According to the Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI), Alberta can expect $350 billion in royalties and $122 billion in provincial and municipal tax revenue from the oil sands over the next 25 years.

Is Saudi Arabia going to stop producing oil voluntarily? Should environmentalists protest for Saudi Arabia to stop oil production ?
Is Texas ?
Should environmentalist protest China to demand the factories that produce products get shutdown ?
Companies and countries would be idiots to totally screw their own economy without better plans. Not every country has politics as screwed up as Germany, who shut down nuclear plants early or population as irrationally afraid as Japan. Those decisions are costing many billions to those economies and increased the pollution from the use of more coal, gas and oil.

The craziness is asking for things that if implemented would drive a region to over 60% unemployment and then wondering why the people being asked to do this are not agreeing to it.

Brute force Terraforming of Mars, moons and thousands of asteroids in this century

Currently humanity can control about 20 terawatts and this is increasing at 3% per year. As an unintended by-product there is slow climate change over the course of many decades to centuries. There have been many proposed plans to terraform Mars, but those are to bombard with objects from the asteroid belt or add bioengineered organisms to generate warmth and a thicker atmosphere with oxygen.

Consider the sunlight received every second by planet Earth, from the Sun. About 1.4 kilowatts of energy for every square metre directly facing the Sun – all 125 trillion of them. A total power supply of 175,000 trillion watts (175 petawatts), which is about 8,750 times more than the mere 20 terawatts human beings presently use. Earth receives a tiny fraction of the total – the Sun radiates about 2.2 billion times more, a colossal 385 trillion trillion watts (385 yottawatts).

Controlling 17.5 petawatts is one tenth of Kardashev level one. Ten billion times more than 175 petawatts is Kardashev level two where civilization controls all the power of the Sun.

A giant interstellar laser sail, massing 2,500 metric tons and using laser power of 5 petawatts, which accelerates the laser-sail starship 1 gee for 190 days to achieve a cruise speed of half light-speed or 150,000 km/s. 17.5 petawatt means you could launch 6 of them each year.

Large lensing structures may not be something of the far future. There was a 2007 NASA NIAC study for making large bubbles in space. Devon Crowe of PSI corporation made a study for making large space structures from bubbles that are made rigid using metals or UV curing.

A single bubble can be 1 meter in earth gravity, 100 kilometer in low earth orbit or 1000 kilometers in deep space. Foams made of many bubbles could be far larger in size.

The size of a 1000 kilometer bubble is nearly the size of Charon, the moon of Pluto. Charon is 1200 kilometers in diameter. Saturn's moon Tethys is 1050-1080 kilometers in diameter Ceres the largest object in the asteroid belt is 970 kilometers in diameter. A single tesselation foam (like in the picture) of 1000 kilometer bubbles would be about the size of Earth's moon. A Penrose tesselation like the one in the picture of 1000 kilometer bubbles would be in between the size of Neptune or Saturn. A Tesselation foam of 100 kilometer bubbles in earth orbit could form an object the size our existing moon or larger.

Metal can be evaporated to coat the inside of the bubble for reflective sails and telescopes.

At the end of this article I will also discuss spiderfab lens construction.

October 01, 2014

How the Terrestrial Energy Integral Molten Salt Reactor is designed for fast approval, safety and lower costs

Terrestrial Energy’s IMSR (Integral Molten Salt Reactor) features a self-contained reactor Core-unit, (the “IMSR Core-unit”), within which all key components are permanently sealed for its operating lifetime. At the end of its 7-year design life, the IMSR Core-unit is shut down and left to cool. At the same time, power is switched to a new IMSR Core-unit, installed a short time before in an adjacent silo within the facility. Once sufficiently cool, the spent IMSR Core-unit is removed and prepared for long-term storage, a process similar to existing industry protocols for long-term nuclear waste containment. Owing to the extremely low costs of the IMSR Core-unit, it is commercially feasible to operate the IMSR facility in this manner. The sealed nature of the IMSR Core-unit has other benefits, such as permitting operational safety and simplicity.

I have covered how the costs for the IMSR reactor could eventually provide energy at less than 1 cent per kilowatt hour.

New treatments show promise in prolonging human lifespan, when can you get it?

Evidence is emerging that some widely used drugs can prolong lifespan for well people – and insiders have started taking them off-label.

Millions of people are taking anti-ageing drugs every day – they just don't know it. Drugs to slow ageing sound futuristic but they already exist in the form of relatively cheap medicines that have been used for other purposes for decades.

Google and Venter's plans may have injected an over-hyped field with a measure of credibility but they are unlikely to bear fruit for some time. Yet evidence is emerging that some existing drugs have modest effects on lifespan, giving an extra 10 years or so of life. "We can develop effective combinations for life extension right now using available drugs," says Mikhail Blagosklonny of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in New York.

One of the most promising groups of drugs is based on a compound called rapamycin. It was first used to suppress the immune system in organ transplant recipients, then later found to extend lifespan in yeast and worms. In 2009, mice were added to the list when the drug was found to lengthen the animals' lives by up to 14 per cent, even though they were started on the drug at 600 days old, the human equivalent of being about 60.

The first evidence has emerged of one such drug having an apparent anti-ageing effect in humans. A drug called everolimus, used to treat certain cancers, partially reversed the immune deterioration that normally occurs with age in a pilot trial in people over 65 years old.

Nextbigfuture has been covering Rapamycin and Metformin for a few years

Nextbigfuture covered research that the diabetes risk from Rapamycin was overblown.

A big drawback to long-term use of rapamycin, however, is the increase in insulin resistance, observed in both humans and laboratory animals. Rapamycin, by contrast, allowed a buildup of fatty acids and eventually an increase in insulin resistance, which in humans can lead to diabetes. However, the drug metformin can address that concern, and is already given to some diabetic patients to increase lipid oxidation. In lab tests, the combined use of rapamycin and metformin prevented the unwanted side effect.

Antiaging Dr. Terry Grossman has recommended the use of Metformin, exercise, aspirin and lowering iron levels in blood.

I have personally tried to ask doctors to allow metformin or rapamycin use but they will not prescribe it for off label purposes. However, some doctors are able to get it prescribed for themselves.

NIH $4.5 billion brain 2025 project proposal and there has been $110 million funded in 2014

To vigorously advance the goals of the BRAIN Initiative, there was a detailed recommendation to invest $400 million per year over the next five years (FY16-20), and continues at $500 million per year subsequently (FY21-25) by the NIH. A sustained, decade-long commitment at this level will attract talented scientists from multiple fields to the interdisciplinary collaborations that are essential to the BRAIN Initiative and its ambitious goals.

The National Institutes of Health announced today its first wave of investments totaling $46 million in fiscal year 14 funds to support the goals of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.

Last year, President Obama launched the BRAIN Initiative as a large-scale effort to equip researchers with fundamental insights necessary for treating a wide variety of brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury. Four federal agencies — NIH, the National Science Foundation, the Food and Drug Administration and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — stepped up to the “grand challenge” and committed more than $110 million to the Initiative for fiscal year 2014.

Carbon Copies Dr. Randal Koene believes Fruit Fly Brain Emulation Likely to Be Achieved in 2019

Randal Koene is an expert on brain emulation. He gave a talk in 2013 and discussed 100,000 neuron fruit fly brain emulation.

If we see the same sort of development in getting activity data from the brain as we saw with the structure, then perhaps by 2018 it would be acceptable to, say, come up with the project where you say let's take Drosophila, this fruit fly with 100,000 neurons, and we're going to get both the activity data and the structure data, and we're going to put it together and we're going to make an emulation of that, or try to make an emulation of a fruit fly brain. So perhaps by the year 2018, that's a project you could start.

I attended a 2014 talk by Randal Koene where he described the likelihood of a 100,000 neuron fruit fly brain emulation by 2019.

Randal has a company funded to develop a neural operating system so that all of the separate brain emulation projects can be more easily integrated.

Randal has a lot of information at this carboncopies.org website

There is a pathway to brain emulation via more and more advanced brain prosthetics and better sensors and mapping of the brain

EU $1.3 Billion ten year human brain simulation project developing next generation neuromorphic chips and neurorobotics platforms

European Union (EU)'s Human Brain Project provided a 32 page report on their progress toward an artificial brain by 2023.

The 10-year-long $1 billion euro (US$1.3 billion) Human Brain Project aims to simulate the entire human brain on supercomputers first, then build a special hardware emulator that will reproduce its functions so accurately that diseases and their cures can be tried out on it. Ultimately, the long-term goal is to build artificial brains that are inexpensive enough to outperform traditional von Neuman supercomputers at a fraction of the cost.

Junction of four HICANNSs (High Input Count Analog Neural Networks) inside a reticle on a wafer containing many HICANN circuits. (Source: University of Heidelberg)

September 30, 2014

Partial Fermi Paradox Solution - Gamma Ray Bursts could prevent intelligent life except in the outer areas of largest 10% of galaxies

Arxiv - On the role of GRBs on life extinction in the Universe

As a copious source of gamma-rays, a nearby Galactic Gamma-Ray Burst (GRB) can be a threat to life. Using recent determinations of the rate of GRBs, their luminosity function and properties of their host galaxies, we estimate the probability that a life-threatening (lethal) GRB would take place. Amongst the different kinds of GRBs, long ones are most dangerous. There is a very good chance (but no certainty) that at least one lethal GRB took place during the past 5 Gyr close enough to Earth as to significantly damage life. There is a 50% chance that such a lethal GRB took place during the last 500 Myr causing one of the major mass extinction events. Assuming that a similar level of radiation would be lethal to life on other exoplanets hosting life, we explore the potential effects of GRBs to life elsewhere in the Galaxy and the Universe. We find that the probability of a lethal GRB is much larger in the inner Milky Way (95% within a radius of 4 kpc from the galactic center), making it inhospitable to life. Only at the outskirts of the Milky Way, at more than 10 kpc from the galactic center, this probability drops below 50%. When considering the Universe as a whole, the safest environments for life (similar to the one on Earth) are the lowest density regions in the outskirts of large galaxies and life can exist in only ~ 10% of galaxies. Remarkably, a cosmological constant is essential for such systems to exist. Furthermore, because of both the higher GRB rate and galaxies being smaller, life as it exists on Earth could not take place at z over 0.5. Early life forms must have been much more resilient to radiation.

H/T Crowlspace

China fourth largest arms exporter and has a tank comparable to the 30 year old M1A2 Abrams design

With foreign sales of $7.4 billion over the past five years, China overtook France in 2013 to become the world’s fourth-largest arms exporter, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Besides Norinco, the country’s arms makers include Aviation Industry Corporation of China, Poly Technologies Inc. and China South Industries Group Corp. Norinco is the biggest of the bunch.

The five largest suppliers of major conventional weapons during the five-year period 2008–12 were the United States (30 per cent of global arms exports), Russia (26 per cent), Germany (7 per cent), France (6 per cent) and China (5 per cent). With 20% growth each year, China will likely pass Germany for the third spot in 2014.

“The Chinese [weapon] systems are simply cheaper, they are reliable, and they are tailored to the conditions of developing countries,” said Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

As per capita incomes and economies catch up, the US remains military dominant but other countries become more problematic and not complete push overs for the US.

the MBT3000 has comparable gun, speed, and has reactive armor

China's MBT3000 third generation is $4 million versus $6.9 million for a US M1A2 Abrams tank.

The Abrams is a solid tank but has not been significantly changed for 30 years.

Graphene chips are close to significant commercialization

A research team from the University of Texas and German nanotechnology company Aixtron have worked out a way to make wafer-scale graphene measuring between 100 and 300mm.

The research offers the prospect of integrating carbon-based graphene, which is just one atom thick, with silicon on a semi-industrial scale. Until now, graphene has proved difficult to manufacture in sufficient area, quantity and reliability for viable use in processors.

IBM research scientist Shu-Jen Han led a project that announced the creation of a wafer-scale graphene circuit in January of this year but did not solve the issue of reliable industrial-scale production. The polycrystalline graphene developed by IBM has improved carrier transport characteristics and fewer defects, enabling the team to manufacture 25,000 graphene field-effect transistors from lab-generated graphene film.

ACS Nano - Toward 300 mm Wafer-Scalable High-Performance Polycrystalline Chemical Vapor Deposited Graphene Transistors

Estimated costs of the airwar and a modest ground war in Syria and Iraq

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary assessments has provided an estimated cost for the airwar in Iraq and Syria at between $2.4 to 22 billion per year.

The cost of U.S. military operations against ISIL through September 24 is likely between $780 and $930 million. The cost of future operations depends primarily on how long operations continue, the intensity of air operations, and whether additional ground forces are deployed beyond what is already planned. Assuming a moderate level of air operations and 2,000 deployed ground forces, the costs would likely run between $200 and $320 million per month. If air operations are conducted at a higher pace and 5,000 ground forces are deployed, the costs would be between $350 and $570 million per month. If operations expand significantly to include the deployment of 25,000 U.S. troops on the ground, as some have recommended, costs would likely reach $1.1 to $1.8 billion per month. On an annualized basis, the lower-intensity air operations could cost $2.4 to $3.8 billion per year, the higher-intensity air operations could cost $4.2 to $6.8 billion per year, and deployment of a larger ground contingent could drive annual costs as high as $13 to $22 billion.

Lightbridge planning first full scale nuclear reactor tests for metallic fuel that could uprate existing reactors by 10 to 17%

Lightbridge, a nuclear engineering company based in Tysons Corner, Virginia, is planning the first tests in a full-scale reactor of new fuel rods that have been engineered to boost power output of existing nuclear reactors by 10 to 17 percent. Crucially, the tests will determine whether the technology can work safely. Inserted in a conventional reactor, the new fuel could boost power 10 percent. Replacing equipment including turbines with larger-size ones would increase that to 17 percent, Lightbridge say

Currently the US generates 800 Terawatt hours per year from nuclear reactors. Boosting nuclear power by 10 to 17 percent would be 80 to 136 Terawatt hours per year in the USA. The US generated 176.8 Terawatt hours in wind power for the 12 months ended July 2014. The Lightbridge nuclear uprate could enable pressure water reactors to uprate as much as 30% but that would require upgrading more equipment. Worldwide nuclear power production was 2356 TWh in 2013. This was in spite of 50 nuclear reactors being shutdown in Japan. A global 10% boost would be 235 TWh and a 17% boost would be 400 TWh.

September 29, 2014

China, Russia and Canada win big in a warmed world and India and Africa lose big

[Ludwig Maximilians University] Russia, Canada and China are projected to gain farmland this century as the world warms up due to climate change, even as global crop-growing capacity may decline, a German study showed.

Climate change could add 5.6 million square kilometers (2.2 million square miles) of land for crops in the 2071-2100 period compared with 1981-2010, mainly in the Northern Hemisphere, according to researchers at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich. Because land suitable for triple cropping may be reduced, the net effect would be a loss of 7.8 million square kilometers of land for farming, the study found.

The study, Russia is set to gain 3.1 million square kilometers of land suitable for agriculture, Canada farmland would expand by 2.1 million square kilometers and China would gain 0.9 million square kilometers.

Green on the map is good, Yellow is bad This map summarizes the projected impact of climate change on the worldwide distribution of land suitable for agriculture in the year 2100. While new cropland is predicted to become available in the Northern hemisphere(green), conditions are expected to deteriorate in other areas, including the Mediterranean region (brown). (Source: Dr. Florian Zabel, LMU)

PLOS One - Global Agricultural Land Resources – A High Resolution Suitability Evaluation and Its Perspectives until 2100 under Climate Change Conditions

Carnival of Space 373

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 228

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 228 is up at Yes Vermont Yankee

The Areva Blog reviews the Department of Energy's online tool for calculating the average amount of energy you consume each year. in energy-equivalent terms of coal, dynamite, and burritos (yes, burritos). Turns out the average American burns up the annual energy equivalent of 15,370 pounds of coal (7.7 tons). But the DOE tool lacks a crucial alternative comparison: eight gummy-bear-size pieces of nuclear fuel would reliably power every hour of your life for a year – without climate impact emissions.

September 28, 2014

Revolution in Seamless Intelligence by 2022

Nine technical leaders within the IEEE Computer Society surveying the current states and progressions of 23 different technologies that could change the computer industry by 2022. The technologies include 3D printing, big data and analytics, open intellectual property movement, massively online open courses, security cross-cutting issues, universal memory, 3D integrated circuits, photonics, cloud computing, computational biology and bioinformatics, device and nanotechnology, sustainability, high-performance computing, the Internet of Things, life sciences, machine learning and intelligent systems, natural user interfaces, networking and inter-connectivity, quantum computing, software-defined networks, multicore, and robotics for medical care.

Hong Kong protests

Thousands of protesters have taken over the business district and are camped outside government offices in Hong Kong.

* A student-led protest movement has joined forces with the larger Occupy Central

* Police have used tear gas and have ordered the crowds to disperse, saying the protest is illegal

* Protesters are angry at changes to Hong Kong's political system which will allow direct elections but from a pool of candidates approved by Beijing

* Schools and banks in parts of central Hong Kong have been closed

Over 110 million views of Nextbigfuture

Nextbigfuture has over 69 million views on Google Plus.

Google statistics for Nextbigfuture have over 43 million page views.

Combined that is over 110 million pageviews and views.

There have been over 15,000 comments in the last three months.

Thanks for the readership and support.

Asteroid Act could immediately unlock billion dollar in asteroid mining business with potential for trillions

Private companies want to mine asteroids for fuel, and build filling stations in space. A bill now in front of the US Congress would help by allowing them to own what they discover - but it might, if passed, meet stiff international opposition.

According to Chris Lewicki (Planetary Resources), it currently costs nearly $2bn (£1.2bn) per year to launch enough water - six tons per person - to sustain the six astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

But, in addition to providing drinking water, H20 can also be converted into breathable air, and into fuel - liquid hydrogen and oxygen form the most efficient rocket fuel known to man.

Economist and Libertarian Theorist David Friedman support for the American Foreign Legion Proposal

David Director Friedman is an economist, physicist, legal scholar, and libertarian theorist. He is known for his writings in market anarchist theory, which is the subject of his most popular book, The Machinery of Freedom (1973, revised 1989 and 2014). He has authored several other books and articles, including Price Theory: An Intermediate Text (1986), Law's Order: What Economics Has to Do with Law and Why It Matters (2000), Hidden Order: The Economics of Everyday Life (1996), and Future Imperfect (2008). David Friedman is the son of economists Rose and Milton Friedman. His son, Patri Friedman, has also written about libertarian theory and market anarchism, particularly seasteading.

David Friedman commented on my proposal for a foreign legion for the United States in perpetual war.

I would prefer a foreign policy that didn't get us into perpetual wars. But if we have them, there is something to be said for the proposal.

I offer one additional suggestion, inspired by the Roman example. A soldier who has served out a normal career in the foreign legion, say twenty years, gets U.S. citizenship when he retires. That should both lower the cost of the legion, since it's an additional employment incentive, and provide benefits to both the existing citizens and the new ones.

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