November 22, 2014

China creates new city planning categories and could shift growth to cities with 5 million or less population

China urban planning has created a new megacity category that could make it harder for residents to move to the mainland's biggest cities if it comes with tougher population controls.

Six cities would fall into the megacity category - Shanghai, Beijing, Chongqing , Guangzhou, Tianjin and Shenzhen (10 million plus people).

The "very large" cities with populations of between five million and 10 million people have 16 cities fall in this group.

"Large cities" will refer to those centres with a population of between 1 million and 5 million.

"mid-sized cities" will refer to those with between 500,000 and 1 million people

"small cities" will have less than 500,000.

The State Council did not say what population and urban management policies would be introduced, but urban planners said smaller cities might be given more opportunities to grow.

Li Xun, deputy director of the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, said population controls in the six megacities could become "even tighter", and it could remain very difficult to get an urban hukou, or household registration, in the 10 very large cities.

Underwater ocean floor factory connected to a floating seastead base via a 4000 meter spiral tower

Shimizu corporation is a top 5 construction contracting company in Japan.

They have built terminal 3 of Singapore's airport and the The Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line aka Trans-Tokyo Bay Highway. Aqualine is a bridge–tunnel combination across Tokyo Bay in Japan. It connects the city of Kawasaki in Kanagawa Prefecture with the city of Kisarazu in Chiba Prefecture, and forms part of National Route 409. With an overall length of 14 km, it includes a 4.4 km bridge and 9.6 km tunnel underneath the bay—the fourth-longest underwater tunnel in the world.

The Ocean Spiral would provide accommodation for 5,000 people and include research centers for excavating the seabed for energy resources.

Where are profits from iPhone and iPad sales going ? Some of it is going into the Apple Mothership HQ.

Here are pictures and video of Construction progress of Apple's Mothership campus HQ in Cupertino.

Apple new donut or spaceship headquarters are partway through constructionin Cupertino, California. Construction is to be completed in 2016.

According to Apple's project schedule, the roadwork will be completed by the end of 2014, while earthwork and the planting of trees will continue until mid-2015. Full demolition is expected to end during the first quarter of 2015, while building construction is expected to last until the end of 2016.

Apple's completed campus will feature the iconic 2.8 million square foot ring-shaped main building, an underground parking facility capable of accommodating 2,400 cars, a 100,000 square foot fitness center, and a 120,000 square foot auditorium. A second phase of construction will see Apple building several additional satellite facilities for research and development.

Here is a rendering of what it will look like when completed and a picture and video from drones showing the construction progress in November 2014.

Construction started on 100 story icicle skyscraper in China

Architectural firm Smith and Gill has begun construction of a 468-metre-high crystalline skyscraper in Chengdu, China. The Greenland Tower Chengdu was designed by Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill and is set to become the tallest building in southwestern China.

According to the architects, the faceted-glass form of the office and hotel tower was “inspired by the unique ice mountain topography around Chengdu.”

At night, inset LED lighting will highlight the edges designed to create the impression of a shimmering glacier. “Like the mountain ridges reflecting the light of the sky and the valleys reflecting light from the earth, the iconic tower will perform as a light sculpture to diffuse light from 360 degrees, creating a connection between sky and earth,” said the architectural firm in a statement.

It is to be completed in 2018. The 100-storey-high skyscraper will surpass the city's current tallest buildings, the Chengdu IFS Towers, by over 200 metres.

November 21, 2014

DNA nanotechnology breaking through limits to scale 1000 times larger over two years and now can make virus size structure from the bottom up

A research team team used their "DNA–brick self–assembly" method, which was first unveiled in a 2012 Science publication when they created more than 100 3D complex nanostructures about the size of viruses. The newly–achieved periodic crystal structures are more than 1000 times larger than those discrete DNA brick structures, sizing up closer to a speck of dust, which is actually quite large in the world of DNA nanotechnology.

For the last 20 years, scientists have tried to design large DNA crystals with precisely prescribed depth and complex features — a design quest just fulfilled by a team at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. The team built 32 DNA crystals with precisely–defined depth and an assortment of sophisticated three–dimensional (3D) features

(H/T Foresight institute)

A key advantage of the DNA brick method is its modularity, which allows for a variety of prescribed crystal shapes to be designed and constructed. Credit: Harvard's Wyss Institute

Nature Chemistry - DNA brick crystals with prescribed depths

China, Europe and Japan are stimulating their economies

China's central bank unexpectedly slashed interest rates on Friday to re-energize the world's No. 2 economy, joining a growing list of major economies that are trying to encourage growth in the face of a global slowdown.

China's bank cut the rate on a one-year loan by commercial banks by 0.4 percentage points to 5.6 percent. The rate paid on a one-year savings was lowered by 0.25 point to 2.75 percent. It was the first rate cut since July 2012, and comes after the Cabinet called this week for steps to reduce financing costs for industry to make the economy more efficient.

The president of the European Central Bank said Friday he was ready to step up stimulus for the 18-country eurozone economy, where growth is meager and unemployment is soaring. And Japan's government this week delayed a tax increase after the country slipped back into recession. Japan's central bank late last month increased its purchases of government bonds and other assets to try to revive growth.

Carnival of Space 380 - NASA Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite

The Carnival of Space 380 is up at Links Through Space

Universe Today - NASA’s ongoing hunt for exoplanets has entered a new phase as NASA officially confirmed that the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is moving into the development phase. This marks a significant step for the TESS mission, which will search the entire sky for planets outside our solar system (a.k.a. exoplanets). Designed as the first all-sky survey, TESS will spend two years of an overall three-year mission searching both hemispheres of the sky for nearby exoplanets.

“During its first two years in orbit, the TESS spacecraft will concentrate its gaze on several hundred thousand specially chosen stars, looking for small dips in their light caused by orbiting planets passing between their host star and us,” said TESS Principal Investigator George Ricker of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Superconducting technology markets will be worth about $4.2 billion in 2019

BCC Research forecasts that the global markets for superconductivity technologies are expected to approach nearly $4.2 billion in 2019, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.4% over the next five years. The superconducting electronics segment is predicted to surge at 58.8% CAGR

Superconducting magnets, particularly those used in science, research, and technology development and healthcare applications, dominate the market. The healthcare segment is presently the largest market for superconducting applications, accounting for 63% of the global market in 2013 led by the superconducting magnets used in MRI scanners.

China could have high speed rail to Central Asia and Moscow around 2025

China has opened a 330-mile stretch of high speed rail between Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, and Hami, a city in eastern Xinjiang, is the first stage of the 1100-mile Lanxin Railway, which will connect Urumqi to Lanzhou, the capital of the northwestern province of Gansu. The full length of the passenger railway was on schedule to open by the end of the year. Trains on the Urumqi-Hami leg could reach more than 120 miles per hour, more than halving the travel time between the two cities to three hours.

Over the past year, President Xi Jinping has spelled out ambitious plans to open western China and to build a “New Silk Road” network of intercontinental land routes and maritime lines that would connect China to its Central and Southeast Asian neighbors. Mr. Xi announced a $40 billion fund to invest in infrastructure projects just this month.

Water Bath Cooking for super-easy, foolproof perfectly cooked meat

Water bath or Sous Vide cooking is super easy and how high end restaurants get perfectly cooked meat every time. Using this method the meat gets thoroughly cooked and gets to exactly the right temperature throughout but does not go any higher or lower. The meat gets perfectly juicy but not overcooked.

1. You begin by packing food, usually meat, into a plastic bag.
2. Then you place the bag in a water bath whose temperature is precisely controlled by a computerized thermostat. 3. Then you wait.
4. After an hour, two hours, or in some cases 72 hours, you will have an exquisitely textured cut of meat — a steak with a uniform pinkness from edge to edge, or chicken so tender it tastes like no chicken you have ever experienced. If you have ever wondered how high-end restaurants get every steak right, every time, it is most likely because they cook sous vide.

South Korea approves 4 new nuclear reactors and other global nuclear approvals and completions

1. South Korea said on Friday it will start to construct two new nuclear power plants in 2017 at the earliest and another two by 2022, making a total of 11 new nuclear plants planned by 2024.

The new plants come as public trust in nuclear power in South Korea, the world's fifth-largest user of the energy source, has been undermined by a 2012 safety scandal over the supply of reactor parts with fake security certificates, along with the 2011 Fukushima crisis in neighbouring Japan.

In January, Seoul formally adopted a lower target for nuclear power as a proportion of its energy mix, but still plans to add 11 more nuclear reactors by 2024 to the 23 that currently supply a third of the country's power. Last week the nuclear watchdog approved a new reactor.

2. South Korea's Shin Wolsong 2 has been loaded with its first core of nuclear fuel as it prepares for commissioning. Fuel loading began at the 1050 MWe OPR-1000 reactor on 14 November after South Korea's Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) issued an operating licence to Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) for the reactor on 13 November. Fuel loading of the OPR-1000 reactor began the following day. The unit is scheduled to begin commercial operation in July 2015.

Construction began on Shin Wolsong 2 in 2008 and was completed in 2013.

Analysing solar PV installation costs to assess benefit of gluing on panels

Yesterday, nextbigfuture reported on a new system architecture for rooftop solar panels which involves gluing the solar panels directly onto a roof. Ordinarily, installing and connecting a new array of rooftop solar panels takes days, weeks, or even months because the hardware is complex and various permits are needed. Researchers completed the process in about an hour.

They claimed installation and permit-related expenses currently account for more than half of the overall cost of a new solar power setup. “By simplifying the system so that it’s like installing an appliance, we envision that the soft cost will be virtually eliminated,” says Christian Hoepfner, director of the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, which developed the system. Doing so would lower the cost of a typical residential solar installation from $22,000 to as little as $7,500.

The backers of the glue on approach are also trying to adjust the permitting and regulations to further lower costs and reflect the simplicity of the plug and play approach. They want automatic permitting. Do you have to pay $3000 in permits for installation of a fridge which costs $75-100 to install ? Or how about permits for a plug in air conditioner.

They also want house builders to include preinstalled outlets designed for solar panels similar to the preinstalled outlets for high voltage dryers.

Here is the National Renewable Energy Laboratory bottom up analysis of photovoltaic solar panel installation costs published December 2013.

Vastly simplified installation where all positioning and electrical connections are complete in one hour could cut down the installation labor detailed below. Also, solar company competition would then eliminate the installer profit to reflect the one hour installation instead days of installation. Delivering and installing refrigerator is about $75. A one hour glue on and plug in solar panel installation might be brought down to $200. This would bring the costs of solar power down by one third because of the super-easy installation (install labor and installer profit). This would bring the costs down by a total of one half to two thirds if there was auto-permitting and preinstalled outlets and electrical.

Residential soft cost categories for the first (2010 data) and second (2012 data) editions of the benchmarking study. For the first edition of the benchmarking study, 2010 "all other soft costs" had not been differentiated. For the second edition, we quantified five sub-categories within this broader category.

Real-time Scalable Cortical Computing at 46 Giga-Synaptic OPS/Watt with 100× Speedup in Time-to-Solution and 100,000× Reduction in Energy-to-Solution"

IBM's neuromorphic system has a parallel, event-driven kernel for neurosynaptic computation, that is efficient with respect to computation, memory, and communication. Building on the previously demonstrated highly-optimized software expression of the kernel, here, they demonstrate TrueNorth, a co-designed silicon expression of the kernel. TrueNorth achieves five orders of magnitude reduction in energy-to- solution and two orders of magnitude speedup in time-to-solution, when running computer vision applications and complex recurrent neural network simulations. Breaking path with the von Neumann architecture, TrueNorth is a 4,096 core, 1 million neuron, and 256 million synapse brain-inspired neurosynaptic processor, that consumes 65mW of power running at real-time and delivers performance of 46 Giga-Synaptic OPS/Watt. They demonstrate seamless tiling of TrueNorth chips into arrays, forming a foundation for cortex-like scalability. Unprecedented time-to-solution, energy-to-solution, scale, and performance of TrueNorth, combined with underlying flexibility of the kernel enables a broad range of cognitive applications.

The long-term aspiration is to build a "1%-human-scale" system with 4,096 processors one trillion synapses and that consumes merely 4kW.

November 20, 2014

Deutsche Bank predicts US dollar will get stronger than fair value in 2015-2017

Deutsche Bank forecasts the US dollar to overshoot fair value in 2015-2017.

The 2015 year-end forecasts for the majors are:
EUR/USD 1.15 (Euro to US Dollar)
USD/JPY 120 (US Dollar to Japanese Yen)
GBP/USD 1.57 (British Pound to US Dollar)
USD/CHF at 1.09 (US Dollar to Swiss Franc)
USD/CAD at 1.20 (US Dollar to Canadian Dollar)

USD/CNY at 6.02 in Q3 2015. (They forecast the US dollar to be 6.02 chinese yuan)

Solar Panels that glue on to roofs could almost eliminate installation costs

Installation and permit-related expenses currently account for more than half of the overall cost of a new solar power setup. “By simplifying the system so that it’s like installing an appliance, we envision that the soft cost will be virtually eliminated,” says Christian Hoepfner, director of the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, which developed the system. Doing so would lower the cost of a typical residential solar installation from $22,000 to as little as $7,500, he says.

UPDATE - Nextbigfuture looked at the detailed NREL (National Renewable Energy Lab) report and statistics of solar photovoltaic panel soft costs and how much the super-simple installation can reduce the futurecosts.

Why It Matters

Installation costs more than hardware for a typical solar installation.

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute install novel, flexible solar panels with an adhesive backing and quick-connect cables.

Ordinarily, installing and connecting a new array of rooftop solar panels takes days, weeks, or even months because the hardware is complex and various permits are needed. Yesterday, on a frigid day in Charlestown, Massachusetts, researchers completed the process in about an hour.

Homeowners can install the system themselves, by gluing it to a rooftop. The permitting is handled by a combination of electronic sensors and software that communicates with local jurisdictions and utilities.

Installation and permit-related expenses currently account for more than half of the overall cost of a new solar power setup. “By simplifying the system so that it’s like installing an appliance, we envision that the soft cost will be virtually eliminated,” says Christian Hoepfner, director of the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems, which developed the system. Doing so would lower the cost of a typical residential solar installation from $22,000 to as little as $7,500, he says.

Solar power can be dangerous if not installed properly. Heavy components may be blown off a roof if not secured properly, and solar panels can produce potentially deadly voltages if not properly grounded, and every wire protected.

The Fraunhofer system uses light, flexible solar panels encased in durable plastics. The panels can be securely attached to a shingled roof via an adhesive backing that anchors the panels even in winds up to 110 miles per hour.

The solar panels use electrical equipment, developed by the startup VoltServer, that breaks DC power into discrete, addressed packets, something like the data packets sent over the Internet. If one of these packets fails to reach its destination—for example, if someone were to touch a damaged wire, the current is instantly cut off, preventing injury—a feat demonstrated by a brave EnerVolt employee at the Charlestown demonstration when he purposely touched an exposed wire on the new solar installation

China's will build $12 billion 850 mile railway in Nigeria as part of larger Africa and Global Infrastructure plans

Chinese officials announced the latest infrastructure megaproject—a $12 billion contract to build a railway stretching more than 850 miles (1,400 kilometers) along the coast of Nigeria. It was China's single-biggest overseas contract.

Economic expansion in the developing world is creating a huge demand for transportation and other infrastructure projects. One estimate forecasts the level of global infrastructure spending to hit $78 trillion by 2025, or slightly more than the world's current total gross domestic product.

Much of the funding will come from private investment and existing public finance groups like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, which have historically been dominated by the U.S and its Western allies.

China wants to use some of its nearly $4 trillion in reserves to finance big infrastructure.

The commercial relationship between China and Africa has nothing to do with colonization, and everything to do with economics and diplomacy.

The Heritage Fund tracks China's global investments
China's biggest global investments are energy projects and then transportation.

China's 2020 energy plans

China published the Energy Development Strategy Action Plan, 2014-2020 on 19 November. The plan aims to cut China's reliance on coal and promote the use of clean energy. Here is a google translation of the document

According to the plan, annual primary energy consumption set at 4.8 billion tonnes of the standard coal equivalent until 2020. This means the annual growth rate of primary energy consumption must be limited within 3.5 percent for the next six years. Annual coal consumption will be held below 4.2 billion tonnes until 2020, 16.3 percent more than the 3.6 billion tonnes burned last year, according to the National Coal Association.

The share of non-fossil fuels in the total primary energy mix will rise to 15 percent by 2020 from 9.8 percent in 2013.

The Goal of the ratio set for 2030 is around 20 percent, China Announced Last Week During the APEC Meetings in Beijing.

The share of natural gas will be raised to above 10 percent and that of coal will be reduced to under 62 percent. Production of both shale gas and coalbed methane could reach 30 billion cubic meters by 2020.

Construction of new nuclear power plants in eastern coastal areas will begin at a proper time, with feasibility of building such plants in inland regions being studied. Installed nuclear power capacity will reach 58 gigawatts and those under construction will top 30 gigawatts by 2020.

Installed capacity of hydro-, wind and solar power is expected to stand at 350 gigawatts, 200 gigawatts and 100 gigawatts, respectively. By 2013 China was generating a total of 5,361 billion kWh (or TWh), including 4,196 TWh from thermal power stations and 1056 TWh – or just under 20% – from renewable WWS source. Large hydro accounted for 912 TWh of renewable electrical energy generated in 2013, compared with 132 TWh for wind and 12 TWh for solar PV – but the latter two sources are increasing rapidly. Of the additional electrical energy generated from WWS sources in 2013, more than half came from wind and solar PV. [39.5 TWh for hydro; 35.9 TWh for wind; and 5.7 TWh for solar PV.

Capacity factors
* about 38-45% for conventional hydro
* about 30% for wind.
* 70-95% for nuclear
* 60-65% for coal
* 12-20% for solar

Synthetic biological can reduce payloads for food, fuel, drugs and other space mission needs

Synthetic biology can be very useful to harness available volatiles and waste resources on manned missions to explore the Moon and Mars. Compared with anticipated non-biological approaches, it is determined that for 916 day Martian missions: 205 days of high-quality methane and oxygen Mars bioproduction with Methanobacterium thermoautotrophicum can reduce the mass of a Martian fuel-manufacture plant by 56%; 496 days of biomass generation with Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima on Mars can decrease the shipped wet-food mixed-menu mass for a Mars stay and a one-way voyage by 38%; 202 days of Mars polyhydroxybutyrate synthesis with Cupriavidus necator can lower the shipped mass to three-dimensional print a 120 m3 six-person habitat by 85% and a few days of acetaminophen production with engineered Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803 can completely replenish expired or irradiated stocks of the pharmaceutical, thereby providing independence from unmanned resupply spacecraft that take up to 210 days to arrive. Analogous outcomes are included for lunar missions. Because of the benign assumptions involved, the results provide a glimpse of the intriguing potential of ‘space synthetic biology’, and help focus related efforts for immediate, near-term impact.

Human Wall Crawling has arrived with scaling of gecko like synthetic adhesion

In a practical demonstration, a synthetic adhesion system enabled a 70 kg human to climb vertical glass with 140 square centimeters of adhesive per hand. They have developed a synthetic adhesion system that allows efficient scaling over four orders of magnitude of area. The synthetic adhesion system creates a nearly-uniform load distribution across the whole adhesive area, improving upon the adhesive-bearing structures of a gecko's toe and enabling a human to climb vertical glass using an area of adhesive no larger than the area of a human hand. These results show that gecko-inspired adhesives can be scaled from laboratory-scale tests to human-scale applications with little decrease in performance.

The surface you're climbing needs to be relatively smooth; like glass, varnished wood, polished stone, or metal.

In 2006, I had predicted gecko mimicing wallcrawling suits for military and enthusiasts by 2012. This appears to be several months overdue for my prediction. The paper was submitted June 2014. The cutoff for me was Dec 31, 2012. They were working the research for many years. The paper was being written in 2013 through early 2014.

Three frames from a video (electronic supplementary material, movie S1) showing a 70 kg climber ascending a 3.7 m vertical glass surface using a synthetic adhesion system with degressive load-sharing and gecko-inspired adhesives. The time between (a) and (c) is about 90 s and includes six steps.

Countries need to plagiarize, pirate and mimic the best practices in energy and efficiency

If China and the USA each adopted a ‘best of the two’ practice in electricity production, industry, buildings and transport they would reap huge benefits.

If they did this, in relative terms, China could reduce emissions from its current policy projections by 1.2% in 2020 and 20% in 2030 - and 3.2% and 16% for the US.

But going for global best practice, together, the two countries would reduce emissions in 2020 by 2.8 GtCO2e/a below current policy projections and thus close 23% of the emissions gap. In 2030, the reductions would be of 6.7 GtCO2e/a, or 10% below the Climate Action Tracker global current policy projections.

* China has more efficient cement plants than the US, whereas the US has more efficient iron and steel plants. Both can improve significantly to reach currently best available technology.

* if both China and USA were to move to global best practice for cars (e.g. emission standard for cars as in the EU, increase of share of electric cars as in Norway) there could be a major difference.

the Deadly truce in the Ukraine has killed 28% of those killed in the five month war

An average of 13 people have been killed daily in eastern Ukraine since a 5 September ceasefire came into place, the UN human rights office says.

In the eight weeks since the truce came into force, the UN says 957 people have been killed, amid continuing violations on both sides.

A new report by the office describes a total breakdown of law and order in rebel-held Donetsk and Luhansk.

It also highlights credible allegations of abuses by government forces.

957 deaths in 2.5 months of the truce is 28% of the 3360 deaths during the 5 month war.

4,317 deaths since April, 957 of them since the 5 September ceasefire, and 9,921 people wounded

466,829 internally displaced persons within Ukraine

454,339 refugees living abroad, 387,355 of them in Russia

Five months of truce is on track to be about 56% as deadly as the Ukraine-Russia [pro-Russia] war.

Activating the money of the wealthy for Breakthrough Technology

There are a lot of breakthrough technologies in space technology, nanotechnology, quantum computers, nuclear fusion, advanced nuclear fission and radical life extension which could really benefit from a few billion dollars per year in investment.

There are a lot of rich people in the world and they are potential angel and superangel investors that could fund breakthrough technology.

                                      2014                2020
Billionaires                           2,325         3,600-4,000
$500 million+                          4,300         6,000-7,000
$100 million+                         45,000         50,000-60,000
UHNW ($30 million+)                  211,000         250,000
HNW ($1 million investable)      12-13 million       15-17 million

Getting 0.1% of world wealth for breakthrough technology could greatly speed technological advances

New Charity Investing Model like Cystic Fibrosis Foundation - invest in research and retain rights from successful breakthroughs

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation will sell royalties it gets from Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (VRTX) for $3.3 billion to Royalty Pharma, taking a profit from charitable investments made to fight the fatal lung disease.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation plans to reinvest the money into new research efforts.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation initially gave Vertex about $150 million to do research and develop new therapies. Royalty Pharma will get royalties from Kalydeco and any other drugs Vertex makes that are tied to the foundation’s investment, including two experimental drugs it’s working on. The first, a combination of Kalydeco and the drug lumacaftor that targets a mutation that occurs in at least 22,000 cystic fibrosis patients, is being reviewed for approval. A second is still in development.

Rather than receiving royalties on sales of those drugs over the next two decades, the foundation decided to cash in now so it could have more money to put into research quickly.

While the windfall means more money for research, the drug itself costs more than $300,000 and has been out of reach for some with this fatal disease.

“This was a dramatic example of risk-taking that has paid off in a remarkable way,” said Dr. Francis S. Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, who co-discovered the gene behind cystic fibrosis in 1989 while at the University of Michigan.

November 19, 2014

Photosynthesis genetic 'Switch' Enables Rice Yield Increase of 30 Percent

Scientists at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture have found that they can harness photosynthesis – the process that plants use to convert light energy to chemical energy – to increase rice yields by up to 30 percent.

A research group led by Andy Pereira of the Crop, Soil, and Environmental Sciences Department faculty examined a protein that acts as a “switch” to activate genes that can enhance the photosynthesis activity of rice plants. The researchers discovered that the protein, known as higher yield rice (HYR), could enable the plants to survive stress, thrive and increase productivity.

Drought physiological response phenotypes of rice ​HYR lines at the vegetative stage.

Nature Communications - Coordinated regulation of photosynthesis in rice increases yield and tolerance to environmental stress

South Korea will raise $500 billion to fund reunification with North Korea and another $175 billion to build North Korean Infrastructure

South Korea plans to raise US$500 billion largely from the public sector, without raising taxes, to help North Korea prepare for a future reunification, the top financial regulator said Tuesday.

In a financial blueprint for a future North-South unification, the Financial Services Commission (FSC) said an estimated $500 billion is needed to raise North Korea's gross domestic product (GDP) per capita from $1,251 in 2013 to $10,000 within 20 years after a possible unification.

It will also spend an additional $175 billion on infrastructure and industrial development, it added.

North Korea's GDP totaled 34 trillion won ($31 billion) as of end-2013, a level equivalent to that of South Korea in 1971 and a mere 2 percent of the South's GDP in 2013.

How much US Emissions Improvements were from natural gas, nuclear, renewables and efficiency

US greenhouse gas emissions have gone down to below the level they were at in 1997 which met the Kyoto agreement. This happened even though the US did not sign the Kyoto agreement. Energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is widely believed to contribute to global warming, have fallen 12% between 2005 and 2012 and are at their lowest level since 1994. Last year, 30% of power in the U.S. came from burning natural gas, up from 19% in 2005, driven by drilling technologies that have unlocked large and inexpensive new supplies of the fuel. While natural gas releases less CO2 than coal and oil, though, it’s still dogged by problems like methane emissions and water pollution, not to mention its volatility in pipelines. It’s often referred to as a “bridge fuel,” and as BNEF notes, the U.S. energy sector is starting to focus not just on the bridge itself, but also where it leads.

Natural gas wasn't the only factor; improved efficiency for buildings and vehicles played a big role, too.

The US Energy Information administration provides data and analysis.

Number of World Billionaires will almost double by 2020 to 3873 from the number in 2012

211,000 people with over $30 million in net worth in 2014

The Wealth-X and UBS World Ultra Wealth Report 2014 shows that 12,040 new ultra high net worth (UHNW) individuals were added in 2014 which pushes the global UHNW population to a record 211,275, a 6% increase from 2013.

The combined wealth of the world’s UHNW individuals – defined as those with US$30 million and above in net assets – increased by 7% to US$29.725 trillion in 2014, almost twice the GDP of the world’s largest economy, the United States.

The United States maintains its position as the world’s top UHNW country in 2014 with a population of 69,560 UHNW individuals with a combined net worth of over US$9.6 trillion, a 6% and 7% increase respectively from last year.

The Wealth-X and UBS World Ultra Wealth Report 2014 forecasts that the global UHNW population will reach 250,000 individuals in the next five years. The report also predicts that Asia will be the region that sees the fastest growth in UHNW wealth, overtaking Europe in terms of UHNW wealth in the next ten years.

November 18, 2014

The Future arrives Black Friday with a wall full of TV's for less than $2000

Walmart has 32 inch LED televisions on Black Friday for $98 each.

So 20 TVs would be about $2000.
5 rows of 32 inch TV would be about 96 inches or 8 feet.
4 columns would be 112 inches (9.33 feet)

Will Great Companies and Great Innovators matter more than Great Nations

There have been several highly influential companies in the history of the industrialized world.

Ford Motors and GM were very important for adoption of the automobile.
Rail and oil companies were important to early industrialization.
Boeing was very important for aviation.
General Electric was important in developing modern industrialization
The British East India Company
AT and T was important in early telecommunications development
IBM was critical for the adoption of computers in business.
Intel and Microsoft were critical for distribution and improvement of the transistor and personal computers.
Walmart had great influence in altering the retail model and helping make China the factory to the world.

The economic rise of China, East Asia and India has been very important in shaping the past few decades and will continue to influence the coming decades.

However, if the plans of Google and related companies and projects like Calico and the GoogleX and Solve for X projects, come to fruition then the influence of Great Companies will be far more important for shaping the future. Calico could be one of the companies that enables radical life extension.

Google is also working on robotic cars, quantum computers, asteroid mining, cheap space telescopes and machine learning. Google is working disease cures via Solve for X and has super high speed internet to everyone on earth via internet balloons, satellites and other projects.

Elon Musk and his plans for Spacex, Tesla Motors and SolarCity and whatever other companies that follow could also have more impact than what is done by China. Spacex could deliver reusable rockets, the Falcon Heavy and the Mars Colonization Rocket. Elon Musk is also working on cheap satellites.

Elon Musk describing upgrades to the ship that could allow Dragons to fly up to 10 times without significant refurbishment.

Fifteen to Twenty years of a Global Economic Triumverate

GDP statistics are approximations of economic size. The US made adjustments to GDP statistics that included music and other content which boosted GDP by 3%.

China GDP including Hong Kong and Macau will be about $11.6 trillion in 2015. China including Hong Kong is about 61% of the US economy in 2014 and 64% in 2015. China has passed the USA in GDP based on purchasing power parity where adjustments are made for the relative prices in different countries. So for horseshoes, hand grenades and GDP China, European Union and the United States have entered a period of approximate economic parity. All three are in the same GDP weight class. China will pass the EU and USA sometime in the next 5 to 15 years with the exact timing based upon GDP growth differentials and currency appreciation.

November 17, 2014

HP driving hard to launch the Machine in 2016

Martin Fink, HP CTO and EVP of HP Labs presented to the attendees of the 2014 Nth Symposium. Beyond the Cloud: "The Machine" and other industry-changing innovations and another presentation at Software Freedom Law Center's 10th anniversary conference.

Martin Fink discusses developing OpenStack-Based Clouds and HP's new hardware platform, "The Machine." Fink outlines HP's vision for flexible and automated data centers and speaks on HP's new platform, The Helion Cloud. This Cloud brings the combination of open source benefits and Cloud deployment variability. Additionally, he discusses future plans for HP's Helion Development Platform and Network System.

HP has stated that a Machine-like computer could offer six times the performance requiring 80 times less power. Fink expects that the first prototype that HP is working on will have 150 compute nodes with 157 petabytes of addressable memory.

Such a machine would require an entirely new operating system, Fink said. Most of the work an OS involves copying data back and forth between memory and disk. The Machine eliminates the notion of data reads or writes.

Japan in 4th recession in 6 years and Europe on the brink of a 3rd recession

Japan had and annualized -1.6 percent GDP growth for the third quarter of 2014 and -7.1 percent in the second quarter. These two quarters of negative growth puts Japan in a recession. The first quarter showed an increase of 6.7 percent. This will likely accelerate demands for even more monetary easing.

According to Davy Research, the bulk of the decline was caused by business destocking, a temporary response to the dip in consumer spending in the second quarter.

Japan is a big producer of machinery used in Chinese factories. That is stoking some concern that China may have slowed down its order rate, raising questions about China's 7 percent GDP.

Folding Electric Bikes and Folding Electric Scooter

Military interest in bicycles arose in the 1890s, and the French army and others deployed folding bikes for bicycle infantry use. In 1900, Mikael Pedersen developed a folding version of his Pedersen bicycle for the British army that weighed 15 pounds and had 24 inch wheels. It included a rifle rack and was used in the Second Boer War.

The British WWII Airborne BSA folding bicycle was used from 1942-1945 in the Second World War by British & Commonwealth airborne troops, Commandos and some infantry regiments. Some were also used as run-abouts on military bases. A folding bicycle was developed as a small size was needed to enable it to be taken on parachute jumps from aircraft or in small gliders. The War Office in 1941 called for a machine that weighed less than 23 lb (this was not achieved - the final weight was about 32 pounds) and which would withstand being dropped by parachute. Folding bicycles were used by British paratroopers, Commandos and second-wave infantry units on the D-Day landings and at the Battle of Arnhem.

There are many folding bicycle options with many interesting selections in the $250 to $3000 price range.

Dahon Formula S18 with Bionx peddle assist

Dahon is a leader in folding bikes and has Dahon Formula S18 ($1350) weighs 24 pounds and has 18 speeds. It can be combined with Bionx peddle assist (add $1000-2000 or so in price) to still weigh 39 pounds and have 40 miles of 20 mph electric bike range.

Pulsed Electron beam could reduce smog pollution from coal plants 5-10 times cheaper than catalytic scrubbers

The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has partnered with a power company to apply its pulsed electron beam technology to reduce the nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide (NOx) emitted by coal power plants. "This is an opportunity for NRL to a get a technology that we developed here out in the real world," says Dr. John Sethian, the plasma physicist leading the project at NRL, "not only to show the technology works, but that NRL's contributing to cleaner energy." If NRL’s technology works as expected, it would be about 10-20% the cost of a catalytic scrubber for energy, and with no byproducts.

The concept is to inject electron beams into the exhaust of a fossil fuel power plant and, firing them in pulses, break apart the NOx bonds. When the bonds between the nitrogen (N) and oxygen (O) atoms are ruptured, says Sethian, "They naturally want to combine into just pure nitrogen and pure oxygen, because those are the most stable substances. That's what you're breathing right now."

NRL chemist Dr. Matthew Wolford has already proven the concept works at a small scale, using a mixture of just nitrogen and NOx. Wolford's now testing with a more realistic sample. "Real flue gas," says Sethian, "may have nitrogen, carbon dioxide (CO2), oxygen, water vapor, sulfur oxide (SOx), and particulates—depending on what the coal is."

Nitrogen oxides (NOx): NOx pollution causes ground level ozone, or smog, which can burn lung tissue, exacerbate asthma, and make people more susceptible to chronic respiratory diseases. A typical uncontrolled coal plant emits 10,300 tons of NOx per year. A typical coal plant with emissions controls, including selective catalytic reduction technology, emits 3,300 tons of NOx per year.

Dr. John Sethian (left) and Dr. Matt Wolford (right) of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory have partnered with a power company to see if they can reduce NOx emissions with high-energy pulses from an electron beam. "We could probably have something ready to field in about two years," says Sethian.
(Photo: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory/Jamie Hartman)

Update on China's nuclear reactor construction in Fuqing and Jiangsu provinces

1. Unit 1 of the Fuqing nuclear power plant in China's Fujian province has reached full capacity for the first time. Meanwhile, first concrete could soon be poured at the plant's fifth unit, the first-of-a-kind Hualong One reactor.

The Fuqing plant will eventually house six Chinese-designed pressurized water reactors. The first four units of the plant are CPR-1000 reactors. Unit 2, construction of which began in June 2009, is expected to start operating in August 2015. First concrete was poured for units 3 and 4 in 2010 and 2012, respectively. Those reactors should begin operation in February 2016 and March 2017.

Preparatory work for the construction of Fuqing 5 and 6 - previously expected to use the ACP1000 design - is underway. However, last week plant owner China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) announced that the fifth and sixth units at the site will use the Hualong One design, marking its first deployment.

Once all six units at Fuqing are in operation their total generating capacity would be about 6300 MWe. CNNC has said this would provide about 10% of the electricity used in Fujian province by its population of 37.5 million people.

Work to line the basemat for Fuqing 5 has started (Image: CNEC)

Assuming this Fuqing relationship scaled, then for China's entire population of 1.38 billion people to get 70% of its electricity from nuclear energy would require 1,620 GWe of nuclear power.

Progress to next generation photonic chips

Researchers from the University of Southampton have developed a new technique to help produce more reliable and robust next generation photonic chips.

Photonic chips made from silicon will play a major role in future optical networks for worldwide data traffic. The high refractive index of silicon makes optical structures the size of a fraction of the diameter of a human hair possible. Squeezing more and more optical structures for light distribution, modulation, detection and routing into smaller chip areas allows for higher data rates at lower fabrication costs.

As the complexity of optical chips increases, testing and characterising such chips becomes more difficult. Light traveling in the chip is confined in the silicon, that is, it cannot be ‘seen’ or measured from the outside.

Ultrafast photomodulation spectroscopy. Credit: Image courtesy of University of Southampton

Nature Photonics - Device-level characterization of the flow of light in integrated photonic circuits using ultrafast photomodulation spectroscopy

Nvidia has Tesla K80 accelerator with 2.9 TeraFLOP double precision performance

NVIDIA introduced their high-performance Tesla K80 accelerator featuring two Kepler GK210 GPU cores. The Tesla K80 (Previously codenamed Atlas) was teased three months ago where it was denoted by the GK210-DUO name and today, they can finally confirm the specifications of NVIDIA’s latest Telsa accelerator with a double precision compute performance of 2.9 TFlops.

Reports from Italy that Bill Gates Foundation is close to investing $1 billion to support Cold Fusion Research

[Ecat world translation of L'Arena article] His [Bill Gates] foundation is considering in supporting some of our projects” said the commissioner Testa. Bill Gate’s foundation will invest in some of ENEA’s thermonuclear fusion projects. Much is due to the efforts of ENEA’s Commissioner, the Veronese Federico Testa, who last Wednesday toured Microsoft Corporation’s founder around the research centre of Frascati.

We have reached a statement of understanding” continued Testa, “to identify practical collaboration steps. The foundation will invest about 1 billion dollars in research. ENEA has all the technical and human characteristics to be successful in this venture: if we manage to get this money it will be not only to my satisfaction, as a commissioner, but also for the government. ENEA is the Italian leader in an international project regarding cold and hot fusion, call ITER. From this project ENEA is a 13% share holder, and with this share, it managed to get to Italy the 65% of funds reserved to it, that is 987 million euro. With all this money, many Italian industries have, and are still working. If the agreement with Bill Gates is reached, it can change Italy’s faith, concluded ENEA’s Veronese number one.

November 16, 2014

US Navy megawatt high energy laser vision

The U.S. Navy has deployed on a command ship in the Persian Gulf its first laser weapon capable of destroying a target.

The amphibious transport ship USS Ponce has been patrolling with a prototype 30-kilowatt-class Laser Weapon System since late August, according to officials. The laser is mounted facing the bow, and can be fired in several modes -- from a dazzling warning flash to a destructive beam -- and can set a drone or small boat on fire.

The prototype focuses the light from six solid-state commercial welding lasers on a single spot, according to a July 31 Congressional Research Service report. It “can effectively counter surface and airborne threats, to include small boats” and drones, Miller said, and firing it costs about a dollar a shot, according to the Navy.

The Congressional report on shipboard lasers for Surface, Air, and Missile Defense

Department of Defense (DOD) development work on high-energy military lasers, which has been underway for decades, has reached the point where lasers capable of countering certain surface and air targets at ranges of about a mile could be made ready for installation on Navy surface ships over the next few years. More powerful shipboard lasers, which could become ready for installation in subsequent years, could provide Navy surface ships with an ability to counter a wider range of surface and air targets at ranges of up to about 10 miles.

The Navy reportedly anticipates moving to a shipboard laser program of record in “the FY2018 time frame” and achieving an initial operational capability (IOC) with a shipboard laser in FY2020 or FY2021

The Navy would want to deploy tactical and point defense lasers on ships in 2020-2025 and then move up to megawatt lasers on aircraft carriers for area defense.

Powerwalk energy harvester is being tested by Marines

Marines with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion test out the PowerWalk, just one exhibit of energy saving gear at Camp Pendleton's ExFOB14. The PowerWalk harnesses energy as the user walks, charging batteries and other devices. The PowerWalk may look like a brace, but reviews showed it actually made walking less of a chore while not restricting movement.

Modern armed forces are becoming more dependent on technology. In particular, the dismounted soldier is increasingly reliant upon portable electronic devices - night vision goggles, small arms laser pointers, laser range finders, GPS, communication devices, personal flashlights and other devices that are essential for soldier safety and effectiveness. Portable power is beginning to be treated with the same "combat supply" priority as water, food, and ammunition. As a result, on a 72-hour mission, soldiers can carry as much as 13 kg of batteries to power this equipment - significantly limiting their range and speed of travel. A number of militaries have acknowledged that this weight is a limiting factor to mission duration and success.

Bionic Power’s first product - the PowerWalk™ M-Series - was developed in collaboration with the Canadian Forces and the US Army. It resembles an athletic knee brace and weighs about 850 grams (1.7 lbs) per leg. With a device on each leg, a user walking at a comfortable speed generates an average of 12 watts of electricity. At this rate, a little over one hour of walking generates enough electricity to charge four mobile phones

BAE proposes tank-killing railgun by shrinking 2016 navy railgun for the next Bradley fighting vehicle

BAE Systems officials said an electromagnetic rail gun firing a kinetic energy warhead could be a real option for the Army’s next generation Future Fighting Vehicle, which the service hopes to replace the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

Following the cancellation of the Ground Combat Vehicle, Army officials said they want the defense industry to offer a wide range of technologies before the Army decides whether to pursue the Future Fighting Vehicle, or an additional Bradley upgrade.

The 23-pound hyper-velocity projectile can be fired from a rail gun as well as from Navy 5-inch guns and even 155mm artillery weapons, Klunder added. The round currently has what’s called command guidance but may be engineered for self-guidance in the future.

BAE Systems officials said the rail gun would have to be scaled down if it were to be mounted on top of the turret of a Future Fighting Vehicle. However, the officials on the AUSA show floor were confident it was possible.

* mach 7 kinetic energy round (twice the muzzle velocity and four times the kinetic energy)
* cheaper round that has no explosives in it so it is safer to store
* the Navy gun is 30 feet (10 meters long) which is the same as the M1 tank gun. It is the power and other systems that need to be fitted to a ground vehicle
* more ammo for deeper magazine
* General Atomic has a larger (almost no miniturization work needed) mobile land based railgun system proposed that would be multiple mission and focused on destroying missiles and other targets

Railgun on the back of flatbed of a truck during testing. Firing through concrete and metal. This if from the General Atomics video

Image of the navy railgun to be deployed in sea trials in 2016. This gun would be reduced in size for a tank killing railgun for a new ground Vehicle

General Atomics has a vision of a mobile ground based railgun system that involves three heavy trucks. BAE would have to reduce the size and weight of a fighting vehicle gun by about ten times.

November open thread

This is the open thread for November.

Please contribute any articles or initiate discussion topics below.

Be courteous and polite in all discssions to your fellow readers.

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