November 27, 2014

Dynomak fusion details and summary of other nuclear fusion projects

There has been some recent coverage of the Dynomak nuclear fusion project in IEEE Spectrum and other sources over the last few days.

Nextbigfuture had extensive coverage of the Dynomak over 6 weeks ago. Dynomak makes the claim that they will be cheaper than coal power. The Dynomak is priced out at about $2.7 billion for a 1 gigawatt nuclear reactor. Nuclear fission reactors in China are lower than that cost and China's coal plants tend to be cheaper. China is developing a follow on to pressure water reactors which is the super-critical water reactors. The supercritical water reactor might be commercially ready around 2025 and could be about $1.5 to 2 billion for a 1 gigawatt nuclear reactor. The Canadian Terrestrial Energy molten salt reactor could have its first commercial scale unit in 2020 and could eventually be less than 1 cent per kilowatt hour.

Nextbigfuture had an updated summary of the prospects for commercial nuclear fusion. Below is a new update.

The Dynomak reactor system is the possible realization of economical fusion enabled by Imposed-Dynamo Current Drive (IDCD). IDCD could enable a spheromak commercial fusion development path.

• High CD (Current drive) efficiency improves over the tokamak.
• 30% CD efficiency enables the spheromak with high TBR and economically competitive with coal.

The HIT-SI, a cold (~10-20 eV) concept exploration experiment, has demonstrated such efficient sustainment with adequate confinement. (Reaches stability beta-limit with current drive power) IDCD.

The Steady Injective Helicity Injection method has achieved 90 kA toroidal current and current gains approaching 4.

NIMROD simulations of a bigger and hotter HIT show fluctuations may not break flux surfaces of stable equilibria

Scaling and testing geoengineering

There were some meetings and papers considering how to scale and test geoengineering. The papers did not consider iron sequesteration in the ocean. The 120 ton experiment of placing iron sulphate in the ocean was an Eddy scale experiment off of the coast of British Columbia Canada.

Ocean mesoscale Eddies are 10 to 500 kilometers across. (6 to 300 miles)

About two ago ago, an ocean fertilisation test, fertilizing around 120 tonnes of iron sulphate off Canada's coast. Satellite images confirmed the claim by the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation that the iron spawned an artificial plankton bloom as large as 10,000 square kilometers. Now it appears that the fish catch in the area was boosted by over 100,000 tons. Pink salmon mature in two years. Salmon can add a pound a month if they are well fed in the ocean. 2013 had the largest pink salmon run in 50 years.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has completed compilation of preliminary values for the 2013 commercial salmon fishery. Powered by a record pink salmon harvest of 219 million fish, this year’s harvest ranks as the second most valuable on record. At $691.1 million, 2013 is only exceeded by the 1988 harvest value of $724 million. In addition to setting a record for pink salmon, the total number of salmon harvested also set a new record at 272 million fish. There should be many more of these iron sulphate experiments at Eddy scale. They boost the amount of fish in the ocean. Human action is reducing the levels of iron in the ocean so this work restores those levels.

There also should be more focus on deep ocean science. The ocean covers most of the earth and has a larger impact on the climate and ecosystem than than the land. Atmospheric tests are also important but the ocean needs more scientific focus. There is not enough money invested in studying the deep ocean. Currently it has mainly been rare studies that hitch along with ocean going vessels.

Other geoengineering roadmaps and study summary

There is a summary of a portfolio of possible field experiments on solar radiation management (SRM) [geoengineering] and related technologies. The portfolio is intended to support analysis of potential field research related to SRM including discussions about the overall merit and risk of such research as well as mechanisms for governing such research and assessments of observational needs. The proposals were generated with contributions from leading researchers at a workshop held in March 2014 at which the proposals were critically reviewed.

The proposed research dealt with three major classes of SRM proposals:
1. marine cloud brightening
2. stratospheric aerosols
3. cirrus cloud manipulation.

The proposals are summarized here along with an analysis exploring variables such as space and time scale, risk and radiative forcing. Possible gaps, biases and cross-cutting considerations are discussed. Finally, suggestions for plausible next steps in the development of a systematic research programme are presented.

November 26, 2014

Impenetrable barrier to ultrarelativistic electrons in the Van Allen radiation belts

A team led by the University of Colorado Boulder has discovered an invisible shield some 7,200 miles above Earth that blocks so-called “killer electrons,” which whip around the planet at near-light speed and have been known to threaten astronauts, fry satellites and degrade space systems during intense solar storms.

The barrier to the particle motion was discovered in the Van Allen radiation belts, two doughnut-shaped rings above Earth that are filled with high-energy electrons and proton

Scientists have discovered an invisible shield roughly 7,200 miles

Nature - An impenetrable barrier to ultrarelativistic electrons in the Van Allen radiation belts

3D Printing of Reduced Graphene Oxide Nanowires

3D printing of reduced graphene oxide (rGO) nanowires is realized at room temperature by local growth of GO at the meniscus formed at a micropipette tip followed by reduction of GO by thermal or chemical treatment. 3D rGO nanowires with diverse and complicated forms are successfully printed, demonstrating their ability to grow in any direction and at the selected sites.

The first digital animal will be open source nematode worm funded by kickstarter

OpenWorm is an open source project dedicated to creating a virtual C. elegans nematode in a computer.

The bot's artificial brain has the same number of cells as a real nematode brain, and they are connected up in exactly the same way. But instead of a fluid tubular body animated by 95 muscles, WormBot has a plastic body and two wheels. It does not eat, defecate, reproduce or die. That will be left to its future sibling, WormSim, which will be a cell-for-cell digital copy of the worm, living inside a computer.

A nematode has 959 cells each of which has also been mapped. Its network of 302 neurons connect via 6393 synapses – its connectome – and link to the worm's 95 muscles at 1410 junctions.

Independent researcher Tim Busbice launched the OpenWorm project on Kickstarter. He has already created WormSim's brain and musculature, linked them up, and is busy dropping it into virtual water to start fine-tuning its first strokes – a nematode worm swims by undulating its 1-millimetre-long body. Sensory organs will come next. The worm should be ready for testing by next year. For an investment of $49, Kickstarter backers will get their own WormSim to play with on their computers

Complex, reliable and modular synthetic biology networks will enable biosensing cancer and other applications

Individual biological circuit componentss can have precise and predictable responses but those outcomes become less predictable as more such elements are combined.

A team of researchers at MIT has now come up with a way of greatly reducing that unpredictability, introducing a device that could ultimately allow such circuits to behave nearly as predictably as their electronic counterparts.

There are many potential uses for such synthetic biological circuits, Del Vecchio and Weiss explain. “One specific one we’re working on is biosensing — cells that can detect specific molecules in the environment and produce a specific output in response,” Del Vecchio says. One example: cells that could detect markers that indicate the presence of cancer cells, and then trigger the release of molecules targeted to kill those cells.

It is important for such circuits to be able to discriminate accurately between cancerous and noncancerous cells, so they don’t unleash their killing power in the wrong places, Weiss says. To do that, robust information-processing circuits created from biological elements within a cell become “highly critical,” Weiss says.

Nature Biotechnology - A load driver device for engineering modularity in biological networks

USA crude oil production could surpass Saudi Arabia in 2015

US crude oil production increased to 9.077 million barrels per day. USA oil production is within about 500,000 barrels per day of Saudi Arabia oil production. Saudia Arabia and Russia are trying to curb over production to try to defend the oil price.

The Elite 0.01% will be flying supersonic again in 2019

The supersonic Concorde passenger jet had its last flight in November, 2003.

The Aerion supersonic businessjet could lead the re-emergence of supersonic commercial aviation. New technology will make the planes a lot more fuel efficient and there has been work to reduce the sonic booms.

The Aerion AS2 is a Mach 1.6 supersonic business jet under development by Aerion Corporation, the leader in commercial supersonic technology. The AS2 design is the product of more than a decade of research into enabling technologies to make supersonic flight efficient and practical. Key among them is the development of a supersonic natural laminar flow wing. It should be about twice as expensive as a Gulfstream business jet.

A supersonic natural laminar flow wing differs from earlier supersonic designs, such as the Concorde’s modified delta wing. It is relatively straight (low sweep), wide and very thin, allowing the wing to achieve laminar flow over as much as 90 percent of its surface. Laminar flow reduces skin friction drag, which can reduce overall airframe drag by as much as 20 percent, allowing for lower fuel consumption and longer range.

UK funds $400 million for quantum computers and has promising trapped ion results for a scalable system

A consortium of academic and industrial partners led by Oxford University will deliver quantum technologies including building a fully-functional prototype quantum computer. The Oxford-led Hub for Networked Quantum Information Technologies (NQIT) will look to combine state of the art systems for controlling particles of light (photons) together with devices that control matter at the atomic level to develop technologies for the future of communications and computing.

NQIT is one of four Quantum Technology Hubs that will be funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) from the £270 million (about $400 million) investment in the UK National Quantum Technologies Programme announced by the Chancellor, George Osborne in his Autumn Statement of 2013.

The Oxford-led Hub will use a novel network architecture, where building blocks such as trapped ions, superconducting circuits, or electron spins in solids, are linked up by photonic quantum interconnects.

Oxford researchers published promising trapped ion quantum results recently.

The researchers trapped a Ca+ ion on a sapphire substrate using an electric field—modifying the field allowed for representing "0" or "1" qubit states. In so doing, the researchers found that they could achieve a coherence time of up to 50 seconds—a record for a non-shielded atomic-ion. researchers then used laser pumping techniques to prepare the ion's electron to a ground state, then applied optical excitation to read the qubit state. The team ran this same procedure 150,000 and reported an average error rate of just 0.07 percent—clearly much better than the 1 percent benchmark. The then applied 3.2-gigahertz microwave pulses to cause the qubits to act as logic gates—they report near perfect accuracy. They followed that up by generating a long sequence of logic gate operations which ran with an error rate of just 1×10−6—again, much better than the benchmark.

The results by the team suggest that trapped calcium ions may indeed prove to be a suitable means for representing qubits in a quantum computer, though a lot more research is yet to come—integrating all the functionalities in a single setup, for example.

Qubits made of a trapped 43Ca+ ion. RF and dc electrodes provide a trapping field for the ions, which are cooled by laser beams (blue) to microkelvin temperatures. A combination of laser pumping and microwave signals can deterministically prepare the qubit in a |0〉 or |1〉 state, and the state can be read out by monitoring its fluorescence (only |1〉 states result in the fluorescence, similar to that shown in the inset). Further logical gate operations can be carried out by applying various combinations of microwave pulses. The scheme yields preparation and readout errors of less than 0.07% and logic-gate errors of less than 10-6. Credit: APS/Alan Stonebrak

Physical Review Letters - High-Fidelity Preparation, Gates, Memory, and Readout of a Trapped-Ion Quantum Bit

Doubling the speed of cellphone data with a simple full duplex circuit

A circuit that lets a radio send and receive data simultaneously over the same frequency could supercharge wireless data transfer. The circuit makes it possible for a radio to send and receive signals on the same channel simultaneously – something known as “full-duplex” communications. That should translate to a doubling of the rate at which information can be moved around wirelessly.

Today’s radios must send and receive at different times to avoid drowning out incoming signals with their own transmissions. As a smartphone accesses the Internet via a cell tower, for example, its radio flips back and forth between sending and receiving, similar way to the way two people having a conversation take turns to speak and listen.

Circuit implementation of the non-reciprocal coupled-resonator loop at radio frequencies.

Nature Physics - Magnetic-free non-reciprocity and isolation based on parametrically modulated coupled-resonator loops

Iron superconductor has a critical temperature above liquid nitrogen

A single layer film of an Iron superconductor has a critical temperature above liquid nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen cooled superconductors are far cheaper to operate than those that require lower temperatures.

Recent experiments on ​FeSe films grown on ​SrTiO3 (​STO) suggest that interface effects can be used as a means to reach superconducting critical temperatures (Tc) of up to 80 K. This is nearly ten times the Tc of bulk ​FeSe and higher than the record value of 56 K for known bulk Fe-based superconductors. Together with recent studies of superconductivity at oxide heterostructure interfaces these results rekindle the long-standing idea that electron pairing at interfaces between two different materials can be tailored to achieve high-temperature superconductivity. Subsequent angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy measurements of the ​FeSe/​STO system revealed an electronic structure distinct from bulk ​FeSe, with an energy gap vanishing at around 65 K. However, ex situ electrical transport measurements have so far detected zero resistance—the key experimental signature of superconductivity—only below 30 K. Here, we report the observation of superconductivity with Tc above 100 K in the ​FeSe/​STO system by means of in situ four-point probe electrical transport measurements. This finding confirms ​FeSe/​STO as an ideal material for studying high-Tc superconductivity.

Influence of an external magnetic field on the zero resistance detected in 4PP transport measurement on another ​FeSe/​STO sample.

Nature Materials - Superconductivity above 100 K in single-layer ​FeSe films on doped ​SrTiO3

Hyve 3D has virtual reality without visors

Hyve 3D creates virtual reality environments without needing visors like Oculus Rift

The 3D images are the result of an optical illusion created by a widescreen high-resolution projector, a specially designed 5 meter-diameter spherically concave fabric screen and a 16-inch dome mirror projecting the image onto the screen. The system is driven by a MacBook Pro laptop, a tracking system with two 3D sensors, and two iPad mini tablets. Each iPad is attached to a tracker. "The software takes care of all the networking, scene management, 3D graphics and projection, and also couples the sensors input and iPad devices," Dorta explains. "The iPads run a Satellite application, which serves as the user interaction front-end of the system. Specialized techniques render the 3D scene onto a spherical projection in real-time." The Hyve-3D software also works on conventional 2D displays

Graphene/nanotube hybrid benefits flexible solar cells

Rice University scientists have invented a novel cathode that may make cheap, flexible dye-sensitized solar cells practical.

The Rice lab of materials scientist Jun Lou created the new cathode, one of the two electrodes in batteries, from nanotubes that are seamlessly bonded to graphene and replaces the expensive and brittle platinum-based materials often used in earlier versions.

A sample of the graphene/nanotube hybrid grown on a flexible nickel substrate. Photo by Jeff Fitlow

Journal of Materials Chemistry A - Vertically Aligned Carbon Nanotubes/Graphene Hybrid Electrode as a TCO- and Pt-Free Flexible Cathode for Application in Solar Cells

Magnetic nanoparticles stimulate stem cells to regenerate bones

Researchers in bone tissue regeneration believe they have made a significant breakthrough for sufferers of bone trauma, disease or defects such as osteoporosis.

Medical researchers from Keele University and Nottingham University have found that magnetic nanoparticles coated with targeting proteins can stimulate stem cells to regenerate bone. Researchers were also able to deliver the cells directly to the injured area, remotely controlling the nanoparticles to generate mechanical forces and maintain the regeneration process through staged releases of a protein growth stimulant.

Stem Cells Translational Medicine - Remotely Activated Mechanotransduction via Magnetic Nanoparticles Promotes Mineralization Synergistically With Bone Morphogenetic Protein 2: Applications for Injectable Cell Therapy

November 25, 2014

Support Mach Effect Propulsion research via the Space Studies Institute fund raising effort

The Space Studies Institute is raising $42,000 support Mach Effect Propulsion. They will provide the Woodward Lab at CalState Fullerton the new instrumentation, computers and power supplies that Emeritus Professor Jim Woodward and his colleague Professor Heidi Fearn need to continue their research on Mach Effect propulsion. Funds will be used by SSI to purchase new, larger power supplies and instrumentation for the lab, as well as to fabricate devices to be sent to other labs for replication. All donations are tax-deductible.

A book by Professor Jim Woodward, Making Starships and Stargates: The Science of Interstellar Transport and Absurdly Benign Wormholes (Springer Praxis Books / Space Exploration), has further heightened interest in “exotic” physics propulsion concepts.

While no one can predict if or when these technologies might become practical, we can say for certain that not funding basic research will consign any breakthroughs to the realm of science fiction forever.

Advanced and exotic means propellentless high acceleration up to near light speed and even possible stargate wormholes. Recent experiments produced 2-3 micronewtons and a refined theoretical model now more closely expects 3.2 micronewtons based upon the materials and other methods used in this case.

Nextbigfuture has been following the Woodward Mach Effect Propulsion work

Will 2015 see the emergence of a Diamond Age of Microelectronics ?

AKHAN has exclusive rights to a suite of breakthrough diamond-based semiconductor inventions developed by nanoscientist Ani Sumant of Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials, a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

With the licensing agreement, AKHAN will be able to exclusively expand the capabilities of the diamond semiconductor platform, allowing for improved performance and thermal efficiency of existing silicon-based devices. The agreement will enable and define the future of semiconductors through incorporation with other next-generation high-performance materials such as graphene, sapphire and quartz.

The licensed patent portfolio covers critical semiconductor processes such as deposition, which is the process of growing a layer of polycrystalline diamond on a semiconductor wafer, as well as doping, which refers to the process of intentionally introducing impurities into an extremely pure semiconductor in order to modulate its electrical properties. The portfolio also covers the formation of circuit elements such as transistors, capacitors and resistors, which are then connected to form complex circuits, such as logic devices and microelectromechanical systems. Finally, the patents include the integration of electronic circuits that are built on a single semiconductor base material or single chip.

The agreement is the second licensing deal between Argonne and AKHAN and represents the result of more than two years of collaboration between the two organizations. Previously, the two organizations combined Argonne’s low-temperature diamond deposition technology with AKHAN’s novel doping process, which has begun to enable the next generation of energy efficient semiconductor devices.

November 24, 2014

Mach Effect Propulsion Lab and theoretical work

Nextbigfuture has been covering the work of independent researchers who are working to enable the Mach Effect to be used for propellentless space propulsion and potential as a means to create wormholes. James Woodward is the primary researcher and theorist in this area. He wrote written a book "Making Starships and Stargates". If James Woodward is correct this would be the technology that enables near lightspeed propellentless space propulsion and potentially Stargates.

Update The Space Studies Institute is raising $42,000 support Mach Effect Propulsion. They will provide the Woodward Lab at CalState Fullerton the new instrumentation, computers and power supplies that Emeritus Professor Jim Woodward and his colleague Professor Heidi Fearn need to continue their research on Mach Effect propulsion.

Dr. Heidi Fearn is a physicist who checked Dr Woodward's math in regards to Mach Effect propulsion. She obtained her Ph.D. in physics at Essex University in England, and has been teaching physics at Fullerton since 1991, where she has known Woodward for more than twenty years. (The two of them are shown above.) She didn't take a serious interest in his work until she discovered that stacks of his equipment had been unexpectedly relocated in her back office while she was on vacation. As Woodward's project was now unavoidable, she found herself watching the experiments. "I saw that it wasn't just experimental noise," she recalls. "It was a very clear effect, on every run. It was a huge signal, relatively speaking. You can't get a signal like that from nothing. Something obviously was happening, and it wasn't something I could explain very easily."

She was skeptical about Woodward's ideas and was surprised when she found nothing wrong with the theoretical basis.

She became, as she puts it, "ninety-nine percent convinced," and started to collaborate informally on the project while still teaching physics at the university. She bought some test equipment with her own money, along with modeling software that she wants to use to design the next prototype. "Right now, I'm a theorist, but I find myself using trial-and-error," she says. "I'm not comfortable with that. Jim's been tinkering for more than twenty years. I want to get to the point where I can suggest something optimal."

Her goal is to scale up the effect by an order of magnitude.

Elon Musk tweets picture of drone football field sized landing platform for reusable rocket

The reusable Spacex rocket system is reliable enough for Spacex to launch drone vessels as remote landing pads. The ships will use thrusters adapted from deep sea oil rigs to hold position within three meters of their intended target, even under rough seas. The seaport’s base measures 300 feet by 100 feet, with “wings” that extend back to 170 feet.

Elon Musk tweeted out pictures of SpaceX's latest version of the reusable Falcon 9R rocket, which is now fitted with a set of four independently-adjustable fins. Elon Musk described them as real-life X-wings. The grid fins are designed to deploy only after takeoff, when they'll work together with thrusters to help the rocket maneuver itself into position for those spectacular vertical landings.

Second open thread for November

Please provide any interesting links or discussion topics. Remember to be poli polite and courteous. Thanks

Reports of India's emergence as a great power are bogus

The National Interest had an article by Rajan Menon called the Indian Myth. The India Myth is that the ubiquitous reports of India’s emergence as a great power are bogus. The road is long, the advance slow and the arrival date uncertain.

Rajan Menon is the Anne and Bernard Spitzer Professor of Political Science at the Colin Powell School, City College of New York/City University of New York, and Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council.

Over the last two decades, numerous books, articles and press commentaries have hailed India as the next global power. This flush of enthusiasm results partly from the marked acceleration in India’s economic growth rate following reforms initiated in 1991. India’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew at 6 percent per year for most of the 1990s, 5.5 percent from 1998 to 2002, and soared to nearly 9 percent from 2003 to 2007, before settling at an average of 6.5 percent until 2012. The upswing offered a contrast to what the Indian economist Raj Krishna dubbed “the Hindu rate of growth”: an average of 2.5 percent for the first twenty-five years following India’s independence in 1947. The brisker pace pulled millions from poverty, put Indian companies (such as Indian Oil, Tata Motors, Tata Steel, Infosys, Mahindra, Reliance Industries and Wipro) even more prominently on the global map, and spawned giddy headlines about India’s prowess in IT, even though that sector accounts for a tiny proportion of the country’s output and workforce. India also beckoned as a market for exports and a site for foreign investment.
Since 1977, China has surpassed India's GDP growth for every year except 1982, 1989, 1990, 1997

November 23, 2014

Microsoft testing new Security Robot

Knightscope, a startup based in Mountain View, California, has been busy designing, building, and testing a security robot, known as the K5, since 2013. Seven have been built so far, and the company plans to deploy four before the end of the year at an as-yet-unnamed technology company in the area. The robots are designed to detect anomalous behavior, such as someone walking through a building at night, and report back to a remote security center.

A quartet of five-foot-tall, 300-pound shiny white robots patrolled in front of Building 1 on Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus. Looking like a crew of slick Daleks imbued with the grace of Fred Astaire, they whirred quietly across the concrete in different directions, stopping and turning in place so as to avoid running into trash cans, walls, and other obstacles.

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