December 13, 2014

Massive space colonization and industrialization is within reach by 2030s

There was a NASA analysis of a minimized technological approach towards human self sufficiency off earth. We can now look at building up from the basic level with likely new space capabilities Spacex Heavy launches with some level of reusability, Bigelow expandable space stations and Spiderfab.

We should use Spiderfab (robotic assembly in space) to build the 2000 meter long channel between space station compartments. This will allow slow rotations to provide centrifugal force as a replacement for gravity.

Bigelow modules would need to be enhanced with an outer layer which could hold water. Ideally water would be obtained from the moon or asteroids for large numbers of habitats.

Emphasis needs to be placed on in situ manufacturing, using and developing resources in space, production of photo voltaic power, and production of food to enable the more self-sufficient off Earth settlement - "extending human presence across the solar system."

December 12, 2014

Stick on solar panels, spray on solar, super-high efficiency solar and storage could boost Solar Power into a major energy source

Promising new technologies, including more efficient photovoltaic cells that can harvest energy across the light spectrum, stick on solar cells and spray on solar cells have the potential to dramatically increase solar power generation in the next two decades. But major hurdles remain.

Today, despite recent progress, solar power accounts for about one percent of the world’s energy mix.

The answer, according to scientists and engineers, lies in a new generation of super-efficient, low-cost sunlight harvesters that take up where the recent flood of cheap silicon panels leaves off. New designs and novel solar materials have recently been setting new efficiency records seemingly every week. Although research and development of solar power still falls far short of where scientists and engineers say it needs to be, innovators are making steady progress in creating a new generation of materials that can harvest the sun’s energy far more efficiently than traditional silicon photovoltaic cells.

Glue on Solar Panels

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. 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.

Progress to Spray on Solar Power using Colloidal Quantum Dots

Kramer and colleagues have just invented a new way to spray solar cells onto flexible surfaces using miniscule light-sensitive materials known as colloidal quantum dots (CQDs)—a major step toward making spray-on solar cells easy and cheap to manufacture.

“My dream is that one day you’ll have two technicians with Ghostbusters backpacks come to your house and spray your roof,” says Kramer, a post-doctoral fellow with the Ted Sargent group in The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto, and IBM Canada’s Research and Development Centre.

Solar-sensitive CQDs printed onto a flexible film could be used to coat all kinds of weirdly shaped surfaces, from patio furniture to an airplane’s wing. A surface the size of your car’s roof wrapped with CQD-coated film would produce enough energy to power three 100-Watt light bulbs—or 24 compact fluorescents.

He calls his system sprayLD, a play on the manufacturing process called ALD, short for atomic layer deposition, in which materials are laid down on a surface one atom-thickness at a time.

A colloidal quantum dot solar cell is fabricated by spray coating under ambient conditions. By developing a room temperature spray coating technique and implementing a fully automated process with near monolayer control—an approach termed as sprayLD—an electronic defect is eliminated resulting in solar cell performance and statistical distribution superior to prior batch-processed methods along with hero performance of 8.1%.

$1,000 to build sprayLD

The approach requires a way to produce inexpensive, spray-paintable solar cells.

"We started by buying a few art store airbrushes," Kramer says, "and it kind of grew from there."

The scientists stopped by an art store near the university and purchased a few airbrushes for a little over $100. They also bought three spray nozzles, including one fine-mist type from a vendor who mostly services the steel mill industry.

The device they created, which looks like something constructed during a Junkyard Wars episode, cost a little less than $1,000 to build — solar cells not included.

Next, the scientists want to build a bigger version of the sprayLD device to test whether increased size will affect its performance. They also need to improve the efficiency of the solar cell material. The performance benchmark for solar energy is typically a product that can convert 10 per cent of the sun's energy into electrical energy. They need to increase from 8.1%.

Advanced Materials - Efficient Spray-Coated Colloidal Quantum Dot Solar Cells

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Integral Molten Salt Reactor targeting blueprint stage in late 2016

Terrestrial Energy Inc. ("TEI" or the "Company") announces that it has entered into a Letter of Intent for services with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, based in Ontario, Canada. This arrangement includes research and development work that is required to bring the company's Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) to the engineering blueprint stage, expected in late 2016.

Terrestrial Energy Inc

Terrestrial Energy Inc. ("TEI") has the objective of beginning commercial deployment of its proprietary Molten Salt Reactor technology by early next decade. Molten Salt Reactor technology represents a revolution in nuclear safety, waste and proliferation resistance, and in energy cost-competitiveness. TEI's Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) is a small modular design, with models ranging from 80 MWth to 600 MWth - ideally suited for remote communities and industrial operations, including on- and off-grid power provision. Canada provides a favorable jurisdiction for the company's Molten Salt Reactor development, licensing and marketing. TEI's board consists of executives from the nuclear, natural resources and finance sectors.

Unusual Electronic State Found in New Class of Unconventional Superconductors

A team of scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, Columbia Engineering, Columbia Physics and Kyoto University has discovered an unusual form of electronic order in a new family of unconventional superconductors. The finding, described in the journal Nature Communications, establishes an unexpected connection between this new group of titanium-oxypnictide superconductors and the more familiar cuprates and iron-pnictides, providing scientists with a whole new family of materials from which they can gain deeper insights into the mysteries of high-temperature superconductivity.

"Finding this new material is a bit like an archeologist finding a new Egyptian pharaoh's tomb," said Simon Billinge, a physicist at Brookhaven Lab and Columbia University's School of Engineering and Applied Science, who led the research team. "As we try and solve the mysteries behind unconventional superconductivity, we need to discover different but related systems to give us a more complete picture of what is going on—just as a new tomb will turn up treasures not found before, giving a more complete picture of ancient Egyptian society."

Top- Ripples extending down the chain of atoms breaks translational symmetry (like a checkerboard with black and white squares), which would cause extra spots in the diffraction pattern (shown as red dots in the underlying diffraction pattern). Bottom: Stretching along one direction breaks rotational symmetry but not translational symmetry (like a checkerboard with identical squares but stretched in one of the directions), causing no additional diffraction spots. The experiments proved these new superconductors have the second type of electron density distribution, called a nematic. Image credit: Ben Frandsen

Despite oil below $60 per barrel, US oil production continues to increase

US crude and total oil production continued to reach levels not seen since 1973.

USA crude oil production reached 9.118 million barrels per day
USA crude oil and natural gas liquids reached 12.243 million barrels per day
USA total oil all liquids reached 14.44 million barrels per day

Google internet balloons and drones could boost GDP by trillions and save millions of lives

Expanding broadband access through wireless networks would be cheaper than building fixed wireline networks, however the benefits would be smaller, according to the Copenhagen Consensus latest study.

Reaching 90% of the world’s people with wireless service by 2030, up from 32% now, would produce economic gains of $17 for every $1 spent, it estimated. That’s below the $21 in benefits from a building out fixed broadband networks.

* this could provide over $22 trillion of GDP growth by 2030 ($2.2 trillion per year by getting to lifting developing world to the developed world 75% internet access)

* 160 million people could be lifted from poverty and 120 million jobs could be provided

Google internet balloons, drones and satellites could be the means to accelerate mobile internet deployment to the developing world. Facebook is also working on internet drones.

Deloitte estimates that extending internet access in developing economies to the level seen in developed countries can raise living standards and incomes by up to $600 per person a year, thus lifting 160 million people out of extreme poverty in the regions covered by this study.

The internet provides a route through which to improve awareness of diseases and provide information on health treatments. A number of free mobile-based and web-based applications exist in developing countries that provide information related to nutrition, hygiene and prevention of common illnesses. Evidence on the link between health literacy and mortality rates suggests that access to the internet has the potential to save nearly 2.5 million lives across the regions covered by this study, if they were to achieve the level of internet penetration seen in developed economies. In particular, Deloitte estimates that improved health information to expecting mothers and health workers could lead to a reduction of child mortality, saving 250,000 children who may otherwise have died during their first year of life.

If developing countries were to catch up with levels of internet access in developed economies today, they would reach a penetration level of around 75%, more than tripling the number of internet users from 800 million to 3 billion. This means that an additional 2.2 billion people would receive internet access; of these, 700 million would be in Africa, 200 million in Latin America and 1.3 billion in the Asian regions.

Deloitte estimates that increasing internet access to levels experienced in developed countries can increase the GDP of the regions considered by up to $2.2 trillion (an increase of 15%), with South and East Asia and India each gaining about $0.6 trillion in additional economic activity. Over ten years from 2020 to 2030 this would be a $22 trillion boost to GDP.

Output in Africa could increase by over $0.5 trillion. Across the developing world, this represents an increase in the GDP growth rate of over 72%: in India GDP growth rates have the potential to double, in Africa to grow by 92% and in South and East Asia to rise by 75%. These differences are based on GDP forecasts for the next years obtained from the IMF. They further highlight the potential impacts of internet access as a catalyst for economic growth, especially for regions, such as India, which are forecast to grow at a slower pace in the next years.

December 11, 2014

Dark Matter Physics, Hydrinos all want to claim the soft X-ray signal from Andromeda galaxy and Perseus galaxy cluster

EPFL scientists have picked up an atypical photon emission in X-rays coming from space, and say it could be evidence for the existence of a particle of dark matter.

Could there finally be tangible evidence for the existence of dark matter in the Universe? After sifting through reams of X-ray data, scientists in EPFL's Laboratory of Particle Physics and Cosmology (LPPC) and Leiden University believe they could have identified the signal of a particle of dark matter. This substance, which up to now has been purely hypothetical, is run by none of the standard models of physics other than through the gravitational force. Their research will be published next week in Physical Review Letters.

When physicists study the dynamics of galaxies and the movement of stars, they are confronted with a mystery. If they only take visible matter into account, their equations simply don't add up: the elements that can be observed are not sufficient to explain the rotation of objects and the existing gravitational forces. There is something missing. From this they deduced that there must be an invisible kind of matter that does not interact with light, but does, as a whole, interact by means of the gravitational force. Called "dark matter", this substance appears to make up at least 80% of the Universe.

Arxiv - Detection of An Unidentified Emission Line in the Stacked X-ray spectrum of Galaxy Clusters

Nextbigfuture mentioned this x-ray emission detection in July. Randall Mills of the controversial Blacklight power had claimed that the 3.51 keV xray emission detected by the NASA Chandra x-ray space telescope supports his hydrino claim.

Targeting Zettawatt pulses to explore novel physics such as Dark Matter and Dark Energy

The intense laser technology can drive the quest for fundamental physics research in a novel fashion. The International Center for Zetta- and Exawatt Science and Technology (IZEST) was created with the mission to study the possibility to produce intensities even higher than the ones predicted for ELI (0.2 Exawatt). In the time domain, extremely short pulses with duration in atto-zeptosecond associated with the large fields will be produced to reach these intensities. IZEST will be composed of the world’s top scientists in laser, plasma physics, nuclear physics, high energy physics, general relativity, and the like. We now see a concrete opportunity to carry out the first attempts at 100 GeV (and possibly TeV) laser wakefield acceleration, the search for novel fields (such as Dark Matter and Dark Energy) by copious laser photons, and acceleration of ions over cm toward TeV.

IZEST exploring is the possibility to produce Zettawatt (10^21 Watt) Pulse.

This theoretical possibility is coming into a more real project possibility, as PETAL and LMJ commit themselves toward fundamental research applications of kJ - MJ (kilojoule and megajoule) lasers. MJ systems are comprised of around 200beams of 10 - 20kJ beams. In order to realize coherent laser power at ZW, we need to have a technology that allow to compress and cohere a multiplicity of laser pulses into a single giant ultrashort pulse with peak power and intensity 1000 times what is planned with ELI.

Scaling to Teravolt laser plasma accelerators

Advanced acceleration techniques are actively being pursued to expand the energy frontier of future colliders. Although the minimum energy of interest for the next lepton collider will be determined by high - energy physics experiments presently underway, it is anticipated that over 1 TeV center - of - mass energy will be required. The laser-plasma accelerator (LPA) is one promising technique for reducing the size and cost of future colliders — if the needed laser technology is developed. LPAs are of great interest because of their ability to sustain extremely large acceleration gradients, resulting in compact accelerating structures

Laser - plasma acceleration is realized by using a short - pulse, high - intensity laser to ponderomotively drive a large electron plasma wave (or wakefield) in an underdense plasma. The electron plasma wave has relativistic phase velocity – approximately the group velocity of the laser – and can support large electric fields in the direction of propagation of the laser.

Estimated near term achievable goals are
1 teraVolt laser plasma accelerator would be 100-500 meters long
10 teravolt laser plasma accelerator would be 1000-5000 meters long

Desktop 4.25 gigavolt particle accelerator

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab), used a specialized petawatt laser and a charged-particle gas called plasma to get the particles up to speed. The setup is known as a laser-plasma accelerator, an emerging class of particle accelerators that physicists believe can shrink traditional, miles-long accelerators to machines that can fit on a table.

The researchers sped up the particles—electrons in this case—inside a nine-centimeter long tube of plasma. The speed corresponded to an energy of 4.25 giga-electron volts. The acceleration over such a short distance corresponds to an energy gradient 1000 times greater than traditional particle accelerators and marks a world record energy for laser-plasma accelerators.

A 9 cm-long capillary discharge waveguide used in BELLA experiments to generate multi-GeV electron beams. The plasma plume has been made more prominent with the use of HDR photography. Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt

Physical Review Letters - Multi-GeV Electron Beams from Capillary-Discharge-Guided Subpetawatt Laser Pulses in the Self-Trapping Regime

Japan needs to restart nuclear reactors for Steel companies to survive

Nuclear energy is likely be one of the big winners as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks set to return to power after elections on Dec. 14.

“Abe can take up drastic policies once this election is over,” said Shigeaki Koga, a former trade ministry official who writes about energy and policy issues. “He will push through policies to promote nuclear power including restarting many of the reactors next year.”

Nuclear power, which accounted for almost a third of Japan’s electricity generation before the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, has been identified by Abe and the LDP as an important source of “baseload power.” Even after the public outcry following Fukushima, Abe has insisted nuclear will continue to play a role in Japan’s energy mix.

Sending Embyros to colonize the stars will need human teachers

A seed ship is an interstellar spacecraft which is able to transport embryos or gametes over long distances. In order to keep them save and healthy it acts most of its flight like a huge fridge, because the unborn humans can only survive such long travel times in a frozen state. Close to the target system this “fridge” is transformed into some kind of brood chamber. Next the chamber begins to grow up the gametes or embryos to babies. After a few years when they have become older, the settlement can start. The two main questions that appear in this scenario are about transportation and how to parent and educate the children.

What are the different ways to transport unborn humans to the stars?
1) send frozen embryos to the target system
2) send donated egg and sperm cells
3) send only genetic information and produce the required egg and sperm cells at the planet you want to settle.

The last option might be not feasible at the moment, because there is no system such as a biosequencer that can create the sperm or egg cells. So let’s have a closer look at the two remaining possibilities.

Both options for frozen embryos and frozen sperm and egg cells may be no problem due to the action of freezing. This is already state of the art. But an interstellar trip might last over more than a hundred years and we do not know if the cells or the embryos might take serious damage over such a long period of time. Today we only know that children were raised of embryos or gametes which are not stored longer than 20 years.

Another requirement for the freezing options is that there must be some kind of artificial uterus to grow the embryos or gametes. This capability is technically feasible in the next 10-30 years. Artificial wombs have been used for sharks and mice.

Scandium production could be increased to about 2000 tons per year

A new super alloy is as strong as Titanium but as light as Aluminum, and currently needs 27% Scandium. The primary source of Scandium, estimated by one aspiring market participant to be 3.5 tonnes per annum, is in oxide form from old Soviet stockpiles. Other sources of the metal — in oxide form and as a byproduct (around 2.5 tonnes per annum of scandium oxide ) from China, Ukraine and Russia.

Scandium has fairly extensive supplies in coal and other materials that are already mined.

Scandium is expensive right now. The price is up about 4 times from the middle of 2011 Scandium is used for some aluminum alloys, fuel cells and some kinds of lighting.

HP Linux++ OS for Memristor servers 6 times the power and 10 times smaller than current computers

HP is planning to have working prototype of The Machine [memristor memory and logic and onchip optical networking] should be ready by 2016. HP wants researchers and programmers to get familiar with how it will work well before then. They aim to complete an operating system designed for The Machine, called Linux++, in June 2015. Software that emulates the hardware design of The Machine and other tools will be released so that programmers can test their code against the new operating system. Linux++ is intended to ultimately be replaced by an operating system designed from scratch for The Machine, which HP calls Carbon.

The main difference between The Machine and conventional computers is that HP’s design will use a single kind of memory for both temporary and long-term data storage. Existing computers store their operating systems, programs, and files on either a hard disk drive or a flash drive. To run a program or load a document, data must be retrieved from the hard drive and loaded into a form of memory, called RAM, that is much faster but can’t store data very densely or keep hold of it when the power is turned off.

HP plans to use a single kind of memory—in the form of memristors—for both long- and short-term data storage in The Machine. Not having to move data back and forth should deliver major power and time savings. Memristor memory also can retain data when powered off, should be faster than RAM, and promises to store more data than comparably sized hard drives today.

HP’s simulations suggest that a server built to The Machine’s blueprint could be six times more powerful than an equivalent conventional design, while using just 1.25 percent of the energy and being around 10 percent the size.

Human artificial wombs would enable premature baby survival at 14th week instead of 24th week of gestation

Journal of Reproductive Science - The artificial womb

The availability of computer-controlled artificial hearts, kidneys, and lungs, as well as the possibility of implanting
human embryos in ex vivo uterus models or an artificial endometrium, presents new perspectives for creating an artificial uterus. Survival rates have also improved, with fetuses surviving from as early as 24 weeks of gestation. These advances bring new opportunities for complete or partial ectogenesis through the creation of an artificial womb, one that could sustain the growth and development of fetuses outside of the human body.

Liquid ventilation constitutes the next important step in the treatments of premature infants. In 1989, the first human studies offering liquid ventilation to infants, with no chance for survival through conventional therapy, were performed. The results were promising and larger trials are now under way. Recently, a fluorocarbon liquid was developed that has the capacity to carry a large amount of dissolved oxygen and carbon dioxide. By inserting liquid into the lung, Shaffer and his colleagues argue, the lung sacs can be expanded at a much lower pressure. Thus, the development of liquid breathing could serve as an intermediate stage between the womb and breathing in open air. In conclusion, we foresee that partial ectogenesis—the growth and development of fetuses between 14 and 35 weeks of pregnancy—is within reach given our current knowledge and existing technical tools.

For a human to develop entirely outside of a human body, both a synthetic uterus and a synthetic amniotic environment will be necessary. Dr. Helen Hung-Ching Liu, director of the Reproductive Endocrine Laboratory at Weill Cornell Medical College in NY, researches embryo implantation in an effort to improve IVF efficiency. In her pursuit to help women, who otherwise couldn't conceive, she has experimented with engineering a synthetic uterus. Using a technique she developed called co-culture in which both an embryo and uterine tissue are grown together in culture.

In 2003, Helen Hung-Ching Liu and her team succeeded in growing a mouse embryo, almost to full term, by adding engineered endometrium tissue to a bio-engineered, extra-uterine “scaffold.” More recently, she grew a human embryo, for ten days in an artificial womb. Her work is limited by legislation that imposes a 14-day limit on research project of this nature. As complicated as it is, her goal is a functioning external womb. The embryos would not be able to survive and develop indefinitely in a synthetic uterus without an amniotic environment.

Mice and sharks have been grown in artificial uteruses

New Alloy Is As Light As Aluminum, As Strong as Titanium Alloys

Researchers from North Carolina State University and Qatar University have developed a new “high-entropy” metal alloy that has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than any other existing metal material.

High-entropy alloys are materials that consist of five or more metals in approximately equal amounts. These alloys are currently the focus of significant attention in materials science and engineering because they can have desirable properties.

The NC State research team combined lithium, magnesium, titanium, aluminum and scandium to make a nanocrystalline high-entropy alloy that has low density, but very high strength.

The Alloy is about 27% Scandium. The production of Scandium can be boosted from about 5-6 tons per year to 2000 tons if it was regularly recovered from coal and uranium mining. Currently Scandium metal costs $15500 per kilogram.

The high mechanical hardness of these alloys can partly be explained by their nanocrystalline grain sizes. However, their hardness values exceed nanocrystalline Al base alloys, for example, by factors of 2–3 times. A low-density (2.67 g cm−3) high-entropy alloy with composition Al20Li20Mg10Sc20Ti30 has been prepared by mechanical alloying of elemental powders. The as-milled structure is single-phase fcc, with a nanocrystalline grain size of 12 nm, and a mechanical hardness of 5.9 GPa. The sample without O, N contamination transforms to the hcp structure on annealing at 500°C. The sample containing O, N does not transform, but rather exhibits either a slight phase separation or unit cell distortion upon annealing at 800°C. Calculations of the energies of the competing structures are consistent with the experimental observations. This material exhibits a combination of hardness (strength) and low density that is not equaled by any other metallic material.

Ashby plot of strength vs. density for engineering materials. (Yield strength for metals and polymers, tear strength for elastomers, compressive strength for ceramics, and tensile strength for composites.) Reproduced from Elsevier 2010

Materials Research Letters - A Novel Low-Density, High-Hardness, High-entropy Alloy with Close-packed Single-phase Nanocrystalline Structures

Laser-induced graphene electronics scalable for roll-to-roll manufacture of nanoscale electronics

Researchers at Rice University have created flexible, patterned sheets of multilayer graphene from a cheap polymer by burning it with a computer-controlled laser. The process works in air at room temperature and eliminates the need for hot furnaces and controlled environments, and it makes graphene that may be suitable for electronics or energy storage.

Under a microscope, what the researchers call laser-induced graphene (LIG) doesn’t look like a perfect chicken wire-like grid of atoms. Instead, it’s a jumble of interconnected graphene flakes with five-, six- and seven-atom rings. The paired five- and seven-atom rings are considered defects – but in this case, they’re not. They’re features.

The material can be made in detailed patterns. For show-and-tell, the Rice team patterned millimeter-sized LIG Owls (the school’s mascot), and for practical testing they fabricated microscale supercapacitors with LIG electrodes in one-step scribing.

The one-step process is scalable, said Tour, who suggested it could allow for rapid roll-to-roll manufacture of nanoscale electronics.

Nature Communications - Laser-induced porous graphene films from commercial polymers

Interstellar Generation Ship Challenges

The TV show Ascension has a plot that a Project Orion style interstellar generation ship was launched in 1963.

Ignoring the challenge of needing many times the number of nuclear bombs that were ever made for an Interstellar project Orion there are other issues.

We have not solved a space portable sustainable artificial ecosystem. Icarus Interstellar has Project Persephone now. It is the research is looking at how a long-duration manned mission out of the solar system could feasibly survive. Any future ‘generation ship’ we build will need to be entirely self-sustainable in terms of not only food and water, but cultural advances as well. In essence, any manned vehicle we one day send into interstellar space will need a 'flourishing ecosystem'.

Project Persephone aims to develop a design approach for a worldship to underpin truly ecological architectural practices, in which matter can be attributed with agency. This requires us to think much more broadly about the performance and innate creativity of the materials we use.

December 10, 2014

Computers and Nuclear Bombs in 1963

The Syfy show Ascension has the premise of a Project Orion generation ship launched in 1963.

A 600 person cruise ship size vehicle would not be able to advance the state of the art in computer hardware. All the monitors would remain cathode ray tube. They would not have the means to fabricate a new generation of computing. Unlike the Apollo mission, a Project Orion mission would not have strict weight limitations. Thousands of tons of material could be taken.

What were the computers and nuclear bombs that existed in 1963 ?

The CDC 1604 was a 48-bit computer designed and manufactured by Seymour Cray and his team at the Control Data Corporation (CDC). The first 1604 was delivered to the US Navy in 1960 for applications supporting major Fleet Operations Control Centers in Hawaii, London, and Norfolk, Virginia. By 1964, over 50 systems were built. The CDC 3000 succeeded the 1604. Memory in the CDC 1604 consisted of 32K 48-bit words of magnetic core memory with a cycle time of 6.4 microseconds. It was organized as two banks of 16K words each, with odd addresses in one bank and even addresses in the other. The two banks were phased 3.2 microseconds apart, so average effective memory access time was 4.8 microseconds. The computer executed about 100,000 operations per second.

The CDC 3000 series computers from Control Data Corporation were mid-1960s follow-ons to the CDC 1604 and CDC 924 systems. The upper 3000 series used a 48-bit word size. The first machine to be produced was the CDC 3600; first delivered in June 1963. All 3000 series computers used core memory.

Magnetic-core memory was the predominant form of random-access computer memory for 20 years (circa 1955–75). It uses tiny magnetic toroids (rings), the cores, through which wires are threaded to write and read information. Each core represents one bit of information

Ascension TV series about Alternate World where Interstellar Project Orion was Launched in 1963

Ascension is inspired by the real-life Project Orion that existed under the administration of President John F. Kennedy. The show sets up an alternate version of reality in which, in 1963, President Kennedy and the U.S. government, fearing the Cold War will become hot and lead to the destruction of the Earth, decided to launch a covert space mission. They sent 600 men, women and children into space on a century-long voyage aboard the USS Ascension, a massive, self-sustaining generation ship. Their mission is to colonize Proxima Centauri, assuring the survival of the human race. Nearly 50 years into the journey (i.e. in the present), as they approach the point of no return, the mysterious murder of a young woman — the first homicide since their departure — causes the ship's crew to question the true nature of their mission.

It is an original science fiction mystery drama that takes places in an alternate present aboard a generation ship, and will consist of 6 one hour-long episodes.

Scaling up kites and gliders for competitive wind power is hard and Kitegen has made larger scale fabric wing

Airborne wind energy seem simple. You would use kites, gliders, rotors or lighter than air constructs (different air filled shapes) to capture wind energy at higher altitudes. The wind is stronger and more consistent at higher altitudes and the systems could use 100 times less material than conventional wind turbine systems. Many promising possibilities remain unexplored in airborne wind energy after over 30 years of research and commercial attempts. Yet in over 30 years there has been no breakthrough to commercial airborne wind power systems.

Airborne Wind Energy Consortium have noted progress toward working, power-generating prototypes in the last few years. Companies are proving energy-generation capability, many have demonstrated some level of autonomous control, and a few are planning... power farm development.

Experts in the industry think that without strong government support, installing even one gigawatt of airborne power could take 20 years or more. Government investment of $100 million per year, that one gigawatt goal could be attained in fewer than 10 years, wind industry executives say.

Airborne wind energy:

* offers the lowest cost renewable energy
* produces nearly double the energy of comparable conventional wind turbine [NBF - getting to the comparable scale has not been achieved]
* enables quicker deployment [NBF - in theory]
* makes offshore development more economical

There are two major scientific articles about jet stream power. Archer and Caldeira claim that the jet streams can generate the total power of 1700 TW, and that the climatic impact will be negligible. Miller, Gans, and Kleidon claim that the jet streams can generate the total power of only 7.5 TW, and that the climatic impact will be catastrophic.

Kitegen in Italy has finally built a larger scale Kite Wing.

The power wing KiteGen therefore represents the leap to tropospheric wind access. experimentation limited to low power prototypes enabling new generators of the class of megawatts and, thanks to the modular design or, more simply, the concept of kite wind farm, climb to the class of gigawatts or compete in the largest segment of the energy market. The choice of the market segment in which the tropospheric wind should position is not only relevant for economic but also from the point of view of the potential in terms of contribution to combating climate change.

A robotic assembly line has allowed the production of 20 tons of molds used for packaging and cooking segments in the composite. Even the production of accessories (ailerons and bulbs) is done by robots while all assemblies and processes are labor intensive and involve attentive and specialized. The result, as can be seen from the picture has the dimensions of the wing of a large airliner but is lightweight and semirigid. The wing is formed by 9 ashlars rigid composite hinged together by flexible joints, thanks to which it can easily change configuration to vary the lift.

Alcoa Unveils Next-Generation Aluminum Materials Through Breakthrough Manufacturing Technology

Alcoa today unveiled breakthrough manufacturing technology, the Alcoa MicromillTM, that will manufacture the most advanced aluminum sheet on the market. The Micromill will enable the next generation of automotive aluminum products, and equip Alcoa to capture growing demand.

Cars are about 10% aluminum now and could go to 20-30% in 2025.

Key Facts

* Micromill produces automotive alloy that is 40% more formable and 30% stronger than incumbent aluminum, while meeting stringent automotive surface quality requirements

* Automotive parts made with Alcoa Micromill® material will be twice as formable and 30% lighter than parts made from high strength steel

*Alcoa Micromill reduces time to transform molten metal into aluminum coil from 20 days to 20 minutes

* Micromill technology has the flexibility to transition seamlessly between producing rolled products for automotive, industrial and packaging markets

* Alcoa has completed successful customer product trials and is qualifying Micromill material for next-generation automotive platforms

Bank of America forecasts $50 oil and natural gas glut

Francisco Blanch, the bank’s commodity chief, said Opec is “effectively dissolved” after it failed to stabilize prices at its last meeting. “The consequences are profound and long-lasting,“ he said.

The free market will now set the global cost of oil, leading to a new era of wild price swings and disorderly trading that benefits only the Mid-East petro-states with deepest pockets such as Saudi Arabia. If so, the weaker peripheral members such as Venezuela and Nigeria are being thrown to the wolves.

The bank said in its year-end report that at least 15pc of US shale producers are losing money at current prices, and more than half will be under water if US crude falls below $55. The high-cost producers in the Permian basin will be the first to “feel the pain” and may soon have to cut back on production.

The claims pit Bank of America against its arch-rival Citigroup, which insists that the US shale industry is far more resilent than widely supposed, with marginal costs for existing rigs nearer $40, and much of its output hedged on the futures markets.
Bank of America said the current slump will choke off shale projects in Argentina and Mexico, and will force retrenchment in Canadian oil sands and some of Russia’s remote fields. The major oil companies will have to cut back on projects with a break-even cost below $80 for Brent crude.

It will take six months or so to whittle away the 1m barrels a day of excess oil on the market – with US crude falling to $50 - given that supply and demand are both “inelastic” in the short-run. That will create the beginnings of the next shortage. “We expect a pretty sharp rebound to the high $80s or even $90 in the second half of next year,” said Sabine Schels, the bank’s energy expert.

The World Bank has lowered its forecast for Russia's economy for 2015 and 2016 but the revision does not go far enough if oil is at $50 per barrel

December 09, 2014

Nanotechnology Against Malaria Parasites

Malaria parasites invade human red blood cells, they then disrupt them and infect others. Researchers at the University of Basel and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute have now developed so-called nanomimics of host cell membranes that trick the parasites. This could lead to novel treatment and vaccination strategies in the fight against malaria and other infectious diseases. Their research results have been published in the scientific journal ACS Nano.

For many infectious diseases no vaccine currently exists. In addition, resistance against currently used drugs is spreading rapidly. To fight these diseases, innovative strategies using new mechanisms of action are needed. The malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum that is transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito is such an example. Malaria is still responsible for more than 600,000 deaths annually, especially affecting children in Africa (WHO, 2012).

Artificial bubbles with receptors

Malaria parasites normally invade human red blood cells in which they hide and reproduce. They then make the host cell burst and infect new cells. Using nanomimics, this cycle can now be effectively disrupted: The egressing parasites now bind to the nanomimics instead of the red blood cells.

After maturation, malaria parasites (yellow) are leaving an infected red blood cell and are efficiently blocked by nanomimics (blue

ACS Nano - Nanomimics of Host Cell Membranes Block Invasion and Expose Invasive Malaria Parasites

Metals with nanoholes can harvest solar energy with nanoplasmons

Caltech researchers have found a way to absorb and make use of these infrared waves with a structure composed not of silicon, but entirely of metal.

The new technique they've developed is based on a phenomenon observed in metallic structures known as plasmon resonance. Plasmons are coordinated waves, or ripples, of electrons that exist on the surfaces of metals at the point where the metal meets the air.

While the plasmon resonances of metals are predetermined in nature, Atwater and his colleagues found that those resonances are capable of being tuned to other wavelengths when the metals are made into tiny nanostructures in the lab.

"Normally in a metal like silver or copper or gold, the density of electrons in that metal is fixed; it's just a property of the material," Atwater says. "But in the lab, I can add electrons to the atoms of metal nanostructures and charge them up. And when I do that, the resonance frequency will change."

An ultra-sensitive needle measures the voltage that is generated while the nanospheres are illuminated. Credit: AMOLF/Tremani - Figure: Artist impression of the plasmo-electric effect

Plasmoelectric potentials in metal nanostructures

China will start operating 32 new high speed rail routes tomorrow

China is launching 32 high-speed train routes on December 10 (tomorrow). The network extension includes a link between the biggest city Shanghai and the manufacturing hub of Guangzhou right next to Hong Kong.

The 1,106-mile route cuts the journey time down to 6 hours and 51 minutes, instead of the 16 hours it previously took. New bullet train lines are part of the government's plan to double the size of the domestic rail network.

The high speed rail lines that were scheduled for 2014 completion are the likely ones that will be opened tomorrow [wikipedia]

State of Artificial Intelligence and Nanotechnology

There are some readers who ask a question along the lines of "Why aren't there more articles about Artificial Intelligence, Nanotechnology and Biotechnology ?

There were several articles over the last four days here about
addressable quantum dots [nanotechnology and quantum computers]

Molecular electronics via conducting DNA

Complex 3D structures are being built from DNA.

Large structures 1000 times larger than what was previously believed possible have been built with DNA.

New levels of machine Intelligence by understanding cortical structures.

Details on the superconducting computer research at IARPA and making better superconducting qubits at IARPA

Substantial effort was put into researching the leading edge of Artificial Intelligence with video tutorials for Deep learning and Deep reinforcement learning.

Deep Learning and deep reinforcement learning is the basis for the work being done by Demis Hassibis who is a co-founder of Google Deep Mind. I have video of Demis explaining his views on AI and his views on the other approaches to AI

Shane Legg the other co-founder of Deep Mind provided insight to the Algorithmic Intelligence Quotient. These are tests which can be used to allow daily adjustments and measurement of the improvement of the intelligence of algorithms.

AI image recognition, voice recognition and robotic automation are about to make new leaps in capability. The improved quantum computing will also boost the capabilities of machine learning

Google and others will be leveraging this for major new industries and economic impact.

SpaceX Attempting Reusable rocket landing on a Floating Ocean Platform Next Week

During the Dec. 16 launch from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which will send SpaceX's robotic Dragon capsule toward the orbiting lab, Spacex will try to bring the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket back to Earth for a controlled landing on a floating platform in the Atlantic Ocean.

The platform base is 300 ft by 100 ft, with wings that extend width to 170 ft. It will allow refuel and rocket flyback in future.

Russia may increase nuclear reactor construction in India to 25 units instead of 16

Russia has agreed to India's request to expand the number of nuclear energy units it is supposed to construct in the country, 20 to 24 from the initial 14 to 16 units. India made the request based on its growing energy demand. The countries will start negotiating the construction of a fifth and sixth nuclear reactors at the Kudankulam nuclear plant soon.

Besides, road map on nuclear energy that could see Russia setting up 20-24 nuclear plants in India, stakes in oil fields will also be offered to Delhi, Kadakin informed. Russia has world's highest oil reserves. The Ambassador said Russia was also expecting from the Indian side the name of the new site for another "cascade of nuclear power units". Besides to further expand defence ties, Russia is keen to set up defence service centre in India for supply of spare-parts for defence equipment bought from Moscow.

December 08, 2014

Those worried about China passing the USA can have a freakout before 2030 looking at individual income

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) does not believe that China will match the US on per capita income on a purchasing power parity basis for another 74 years. The AEI believes the US is still almost 75 years ahead of China when we consider the more important measure of economic output per person. China and the US are both producing about the same amount of economic output this year, but China’s population is 4.25 times the size of the US population (1.355 billion vs. 319 million). Therefore, on a per-capita basis the IMF estimates that the US will produce $54,678 in economic output per person in 2014, which is more than four times the expected per-person GDP in China of only $12,893. The chart above shows that the US produced that amount of real GDP per person (about $13,000) back in 1940, almost 75 years ago.

The American Thinker believes the per capita GDP-PPP parity between China and the USA could be reached by the mid-2030s.

Nextbigfuture believes that although China's per capita income will not match the United States, the top 320 million in China will be at current US levels by 2030.

The top 10-20% of China's population are already wealthier than official figures indicate because wealth is being hidden.

The Euromonitor has a forecast of China to US GDP on a purchasing power parity basis to 2030.

The richest 25% of people in China will match up to the US population of 370 million on individual wealth basis before 2030

Even if China is only 50% bigger than the USA on an overall GDP basis and the average per capita PPP income in china is less than 45% of the US average per capita PPP. China will have people in the top 25% who will roughly match the individual wealth of the people in the USA. In 2030, China individual wealth will be like a combination of the United States (top 370 million) and then two South Americas (double 500 million populations with lower per capita income to get the bottom billion of China's 1.4 billion).

Oil hits 5 year low and Morgan Stanley now looking at average of $53 per barrel in 2015

Brent crude and West Texas Intermediate slumped to five-year lows amid concern that hedge funds and other money managers bet too much on rising prices. Brent and WTI tumbled 18 percent in November as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries decided to maintain its 30 million-barrel-a-day output target. Crude has traded in a bear market since October amid the fastest pace of U.S. production in three decades, rising output from OPEC and signs of weakening global demand.

Brent for January settlement declined $2.86, or 4.1 percent, to $66.21 a barrel at 12:18 p.m. New York time on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange after reaching $65.93, the lowest intraday level since October 2009. The volume of all futures was 9.3 percent below the 100-day average.

Saudi Arabia expects oil prices to stabilize around $60 a barrel, Dow Jones reported last Wednesday.

Yale working with Organovo to develop 3D printed organs with bioprinted blood vessels

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Surgery and Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science have joined forces with a leading three-dimensional biology company [Organova] to develop 3D printed tissues for transplant research.

As the number of donors for vital tissue and organ transplants decreases worldwide and the demand for transplants increases, 3D bioprinting technology offers a solution to a long-standing and growing problem. “This field may provide a unique and new opportunity where we can print 3D organs that can supplement or replace the shortage of organs out there worldwide,” said Dr. John Geibel, vice chair and director of surgical research at Yale School of Medicine.

Organovo’s 3D human tissues offer many advantages over standard cell-culture platforms due to the fact that three-dimensionality is achieved without dependence on biomaterial or scaffold components that would not be found in native tissues.

The layer-by-layer bioprinting of a blood vessel. (Photo courtesy of Organovo)

Ultra wealthy have twice as much private equity than public stocks

Almost US$13 trillion of the world’s UHNW (ultra high new worth, those with over $30 million) wealth is held in private company holdings, nearly twice the amount held in public company stakes. 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 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.

Powercube details for outdoor 40% efficient solar to electricity conversion using commercial cells

A solar research team at the University of New South Wales has converted over 40 per cent of sunlight into electricity, with an innovative take on Australian-designed solar tower technology.

This is a follow up to an article yesterday about record outdoor solar power conversion efficiency.

The team achieved 40.1 per cent efficiency in outdoor testing in Sydney in late October, using a solar ‘Power Cube’ system made up of commercially available solar cells, but with innovative efficiency improvements.

A key part of the ‘Power Cube’ prototype’s design is the use of a custom optical bandpass filter to capture sunlight that is normally wasted by commercial solar cells on towers – reflecting particular wavelengths of light while transmitting others – and convert it to electricity at a higher efficiency than the solar cells themselves ever could.

The project funding page is here The concentrated solar power project goal is to reduce the cost of utility scale photovoltaics by developing a technology that splits sunlight into specific wavelength bands (called spectrum splitting) and converts each separate band into electricity using commercially available triple-junction and silicon (Si) solar cells, thereby increasing the overall amount of electricity generated.

The triple-junction solar cells used in the power tower receiver are fabricated on a Germanium (Ge) substrate to ensure good crystal quality, but the downside is that some of the sunlight absorbed in the Ge is wasted as heat.

This project uses an innovative ‘power cube’ receiver to divert some of this lost energy to additional solar cells made from Si, which are relatively inexpensive to produce and potentially increase the overall amount of energy converted from the sunlight by 10 per cent.

December 07, 2014

Carnival of Space 383

Carnival of Space 383 is up at Urban Astronomer

Universe Today - Meteorite May Contain Proof of Life on Mars, Researchers Say

According to a recent paper submitted by an international team of scientists, evidence of Mars life may have arrived on Earth three and a half years ago aboard a meteorite that fell in the Moroccan desert. Believed to have broken away from Mars 700,000 years ago, so-called Tissint meteorite has internal features that researchers say appear to be organic materials.

Research challenges work proposed in 2012 that asserted that the carbon traces originated through the high-temperature crystallization of magma. According to the new study, a more likely explanation is that liquids containing organic compounds of biological origin infiltrated Tissint’s “mother” rock at low temperatures, near the Martian surface

A piece of the Tissint meteorite that landed on Earth on July 18th, 2011. Credit: EPFL/Alain Herzog

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 238

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 238 is up at Neutron Bytes

Brave New Climate - If the world was to almost triple nuclear power capacity from 337 GW today to 983 GW by 2030, as estimated by WNA assuming all planned and proposed plants were operable by then, this would only reduce coal consumption by about half. This still leaves a gigantic challenge for other low-carbon energy sources.

It is clear that we need to consider all low-carbon energy sources for the future. Nuclear power can clearly do the heavy lifting to reduce CO2 emissions and it must not be ignored or unfairly vilified. When we consider the current very small energy contribution from renewable energy sources, about 1 percent, then the task of substantially growing that contribution 30 fold by 2030 to replace coal would be enormous.

World Nuclear Association Estimates

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 237

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 237 is up at ANS Nuclear Cafe

Forbes - Net Energy Metering -- Are We Capitalists Or What? Net metering, or net energy metering (NEM), is a billing system that credits small customers at the full retail electric price for any excess electricity they generate and sell to their local electric company via the grid from on-site small sources such as residential rooftop solar arrays.

Currently in place in 43 states and the District of Columbia, net metering is becoming another unnecessarily controversial issue.

Under most net metering policies, utilities are required to buy a DG customer’s excess power at full retail price even though it costs those utilities much less to produce that electricity themselves, or buy it on the wholesale market.

When roof top solar customers expand to a significant number, say 5% or 10% of total capacity in the next ten years, the utilities will lose significant power sales. But the utilities are still required to maintain the electric grid from which everyone, including DG customers, must obtain their electricity. So the burden of maintaining the grid, and providing these services, falls on fewer and fewer non-DG customers, and their cost grows.

This graph shows the typical energy production and consumption for a small source owner, or distributed generation (DG) customer with a rooftop PV solar array. When the customer produces more power than is being consumed, during peak sunlight hours, they can sell it back to the utility company at the full retail price. This is called net energy metering (NEM) or net metering. In 43 States and the District of Columbia, the utilities are forced to pay the full retail price even though it usually costs those utilities much less to produce that electricity themselves, or even to buy it on the wholesale market, and the utilities pay over half of that price in infrastructure support. These small users are still connected to the grid, a requirement for net metering, and also to power their homes at night or when their solar systems don’t produce enough power. Source: Edison Foundation Institute for Electric Innovation.

Storing quantum information for 30 seconds in a nanoelectronic device

The spin of an electron or a nucleus in a semiconductor naturally implements the unit of quantum information—the qubit. In addition, because semiconductors are currently used in the electronics industry, developing qubits in semiconductors would be a promising route to realize scalable quantum information devices. The solid-state environment, however, may provide deleterious interactions between the qubit and the nuclear spins of surrounding atoms, or charge and spin fluctuations arising from defects in oxides and interfaces. For materials such as silicon, enrichment of the spin-zero 28Si isotope drastically reduces spin-bath decoherence. Experiments on bulk spin ensembles in 28Si crystals have indeed demonstrated extraordinary coherence times. However, it remained unclear whether these would persist at the single-spin level, in gated nanostructures near amorphous interfaces. Here, we present the coherent operation of individual 31P electron and nuclear spin qubits in a top-gated nanostructure, fabricated on an isotopically engineered 28Si substrate. The 31P nuclear spin sets the new benchmark coherence time ( over 30 s with Carr–Purcell–Meiboom–Gill (CPMG) sequence) of any single qubit in the solid state and reaches over 99.99% control fidelity. The electron spin CPMG coherence time exceeds 0.5 s, and detailed noise spectroscopy indicates that—contrary to widespread belief—it is not limited by the proximity to an interface. Instead, decoherence is probably dominated by thermal and magnetic noise external to the device, and is thus amenable to further improvement.

Device structure and the energy states of the electron and nuclear spin qubits.

Molecular electronics: A DNA that conducts

Experiments with conducting atomic force microscopy provide a clear demonstration of long-range charge transport in G-quadruplex DNA molecules, and allow a hopping transport model to be developed that could also be applied to other conductive polymers.

Nature Nanotechnology - Long-range charge transport in single G-quadruplex DNA molecules

DNA and DNA-based polymers are of interest in molecular electronics because of their versatile and programmable structures. However, transport measurements have produced a range of seemingly contradictory results due to differences in the measured molecules and experimental set-ups, and transporting significant current through individual DNA-based molecules remains a considerable challenge. Here, we report reproducible charge transport in guanine-quadruplex (G4) DNA molecules adsorbed on a mica substrate. Currents ranging from tens of picoamperes to more than 100 pA were measured in the G4-DNA over distances ranging from tens of nanometres to more than 100 nm. Our experimental results, combined with theoretical modelling, suggest that transport occurs via a thermally activated long-range hopping between multi-tetrad segments of DNA. These results could re-ignite interest in DNA-based wires and devices, and in the use of such systems in the development of programmable circuits.

Addressable quantum dot qubit with fault-tolerant control-fidelity

Exciting progress towards spin-based quantum computing has recently been made with qubits realized using nitrogen-vacancy centres in diamond and phosphorus atoms in silicon. For example, long coherence times were made possible by the presence of spin-free isotopes of carbon and silicon. However, despite promising single-atom nanotechnologies6, there remain substantial challenges in coupling such qubits and addressing them individually. Conversely, lithographically defined quantum dots have an exchange coupling that can be precisely engineered, but strong coupling to noise has severely limited their dephasing times and control fidelities. Here, we combine the best aspects of both spin qubit schemes and demonstrate a gate-addressable quantum dot qubit in isotopically engineered silicon with a control fidelity of 99.6%, obtained via Clifford-based randomized benchmarking and consistent with that required for fault-tolerant quantum computing. This qubit has dephasing time T2* = 120 μs and coherence time T2 = 28 ms, both orders of magnitude larger than in other types of semiconductor qubit. By gate-voltage-tuning the electron g*-factor we can Stark shift the electron spin resonance frequency by more than 3,000 times the 2.4 kHz electron spin resonance linewidth, providing a direct route to large-scale arrays of addressable high-fidelity qubits that are compatible with existing manufacturing technologies.

Silicon quantum dot qubit with single electron transistor (SET) readout and on-chip microwave spin control.

Bitter fight over the patents for CRISPR, a breakthrough in DNA editing

Biologists Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier won a $3 million Breakthrough Prize for CRISPR-Cas9, a “powerful and general technology” for editing genomes that’s been hailed as a biotechnology breakthrough. Feng Zhang a researcher in Cambridge at the MIT-Harvard Broad Institute won a broad U.S. patent on CRISPR-Cas9 that could give him and his research center control over just about every important commercial use of the technology.

Three heavily financed startup companies, a half-dozen universities are fighting over CRISPR.

During the last few months, scientists have shown that it’s possible to use CRISPR to rid mice of muscular dystrophy, cure them of a rare liver disease, make human cells immune to HIV, and genetically modify monkeys.

Sunlight converted to electricity with over 40 percent efficiency outdoors using commercial solar cells in a new way

UNSW Australia's solar researchers have converted over 40% of the sunlight hitting a solar system into electricity, the highest efficiency ever reported.

The record efficiency was achieved in outdoor tests in Sydney, before being independently confirmed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) at their outdoor test facility in the United States.

The work was funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and supported by the Australia-US Institute for Advanced Photovoltaics (AUSIAPV).

"This is the highest efficiency ever reported for sunlight conversion into electricity," UNSW Scientia Professor and Director of the Advanced Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) Professor Martin Green said.

"We used commercial solar cells, but in a new way, so these efficiency improvements are readily accessible to the solar industry," added Dr Mark Keevers, the UNSW solar scientist who managed the project.

China and Australia close to a big Free Trade Deal and could be the basis for a China-US deal which would be a big global economic boost

Last month saw the agreement, in principle, for the conclusion of the China-Australia FTA (ChAFTA [Free Trade Agreement]), nearly 10 years after the start of negotiations. Hailed by Prime Minster Tony Abbott as “the most comprehensive agreement China has concluded with anyone,” ChAFTA does indeed appear to be groundbreaking.

Bridging the Pacific looks at progress to Free Trade and Investment between China and the United States.

Russia could spiral into a deep recession starting in late 2015

The Russian economy suffers from three severe blows:

1. ever worsening structural policies
2. financial sanctions from the West
3. a falling oil price.

Observers tend to focus on one or the other of these three big blows, when discussing Russia's economic growth in 2015, but they all come together. Furthermore, the falls in reserves and in the oil price are likely to have nonlinear effects, that is, the more they slump the greater the negative impact will be. Therefore, a prediction of a decline in Russia's GDP of 1 percent next year sounds optimistic. Without making any exact forecast, conditions are in place for a downward spiral in the second half of 2015 with falling reserves, exchange rates, and oil prices, but rising inflation and interest rates. Then, a GDP fall of 4 to 6 percent during the second half of 2015 becomes quite possible, though not yet likely.

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