December 27, 2014

Ido Bachelet announces 2015 human trial of DNA nanobots to fight cancer and soon to repair spinal cords

At the British Friends of Bar-Ilan University's event in Otto Uomo October 2014 Professor Ido Bachelet announced the beginning of the human treatment with nanomedicine. He indicates DNA nanobots can currently identify cells in humans with 12 different types of cancer tumors.

A human patient with late stage leukemia will be given DNA nanobot treatment. Without the DNA nanobot treatment the patient would be expected to die in the summer of 2015. Based upon animal trials they expect to remove the cancer within one month.

Within 1 or 2 years they hope to have spinal cord repair working in animals and then shortly thereafter in humans. This is working in tissue cultures.

Previously Ido Bachelet and Shawn Douglas have published work on DNA nanobots in the journal Nature and other respected science publications.

One Trillion 50 nanometer nanobots in a syringe will be injected into people to perform cellular surgery.

The DNA nanobots have been tuned to not cause an immune response.
They have been adjusted for different kinds of medical procedures. Procedures can be quick or ones that last many days.

Medicine or treatment released based upon molecular sensing - Only targeted cells are treated

Railguns are a better military project than improving chemical guns

The National Review thinks that Railguns will be a waste of money and believe it would be better to develop light gas guns for better long range navy and artillery guns.

We will look in some detail at the light combustion gun and railgun technology. Nextbigfuture believes that railgun technology is the better technological choice.

Magnetic gun technology would be better in the long run

The long run potential of electrically powered magnetic gun is what matters. Light combustion technology is still limited as other chemical technology is nearing its limits. Ultimately magnetic technology can have far better power density than any chemical technology. The argument about light gas guns would be like an argument that repeater crossbows, improved long bows and improved arrow technology are better than flint lock guns. Early cannons would have been inferior to improved ballista's.

The US military does not need either technology to make a difference in any actual likely combat situation. No military conflict with any nation in the middle east will be determined by having exceptional range on large guns. Large and long range guns also would not significantly impact any military scenario involving China or Russia. Improved drones modified for long range bombing would likely be the easiest solution for any situation that might also have long range guns as an option.

Here is a 2007 report on the Navy project for combustion light gas gun technology They built and tested 45 mm (millimeter) combustion light gas guns and built and had some work on 155 mm guns.

The Combustion Light Gas Gun or CLGG has been investigated for over ten years. During this time the research has shown that the technology provides a minimum of 30% more muzzle energy than advanced solid propellant guns which translates to significant advantages in range and/or throw weight. For the Navy Barrage round fired from a 155mm bore CLGG, the predicted range is up to 200 nm (nautical miles), sufficient to provide effective amphibious and in-shore fire support without endangering capital assets. In addition, the CLGG provides:

• The ability to “manufacture” propellant as needed on board ship
• The ability to remotely discharge propellant in damage control situations
• The ability to automatically adjust the propellant charge as needed

The 2006 work built on efforts by continuing to address remaining issues associated with successful system demonstration such as cryogenic propellant handling, multi-shot demonstration, modeling, and proof of principal at 155mm scale. The safe use cryogenic propellant as a viable means to store gaseous propellant before use as well as the subsystems (i.e. projectile, igniter, and auto-loader) required for rapid fire operation is mostly resolved. In addition the hardware for full scale (155mm) demonstration of CLGG technology was largely completed.

The Promised muzzle energy and firing range of the current railgun project could be achieved with the light gas gun

Ambri's long lasting and low cost electrical grid scale triple liquid batteries

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are building a low-cost long-lifespan battery designed for grid-scale stationary energy storage.

The battery, which promises to provide a viable solution for stationary grid storage of energy supplied by renewables, uses three inexpensive liquid layers as electroactive components, including a liquid metal positive electrode, a fused salt electrolyte, and a liquid metal negative electrode. The system operates at elevated temperature maintained by self-heating during charging and discharging.

Professor Donald R Sadoway of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT, explains more: “The battery consists of three liquid layers. On top is a low-density metal. On bottom is a high-density metal. In between there is molten salt, not salt dissolved in water but rather salt that has itself melted and turned to liquid. The contiguous layers are insoluble in one another and so they stratify according to density. There is no need for membranes or separators. The battery produces current when the metal on top alloys with the metal on bottom. Recharging the battery causes the metal on bottom to be purified, and sends the metal from the top back to its original location.”

Ambri has a liquid metal battery factory which can produce 20 MWh a year. It only required a few million dollars of capital, one of the advantages Ambri has. A full-size, 500 MWh per year battery factory would only require about $50 million of capital investment.

Ambri has a brochure that describes their technology

December 26, 2014

Pre-2015 Open thread

I hope everyone had a great Christmas.

We have another open thread.

We are also in the season on Festivus so you can air grievances but please still be polite and try to be amusing and interesting

Picosecond readout of diamond nitrogen-vacancy centres coupled to graphene for future Quantum Computers with Terahertz clockspeeds

Nitrogen-vacancy centers in diamonds could be used to construct vital components for quantum computers. But hitherto it has been impossible to read optically written information from such systems electronically. Using a graphene layer, a team of scientists headed by Professor Alexander Holleitner of the Technische Universität München (TUM) has now implemented just such a read unit.

Natural diamonds always contain defects. The most researched defects are nitrogen-vacancy centers comprising a nitrogen atom and a vacancy. These might serve as highly sensitive sensors or as register components for quantum computers. However, until now it has not been possible to extract the optically stored information electronically.

TUM researchers have now devised just such a methodology for reading the stored information in diamond nitrogen vacancy centers. The technique builds on a direct transfer of energy from nitrogen-vacancy centers in nanodiamonds to a directly neighboring graphene layer.

Non-radiative energy transfer

When laser light shines on a nanodiamond, a light photon raises an electron from its ground state to an excited state in the nitrogen-vacancy center. “The system of the excited electron and the vacated ground state can be viewed as a dipole,” says Professor Alexander Holleitner. “This dipole, in turn, induces another dipole comprising an electron and a vacancy in the neighboring graphene layer.”

In contrast to the approximately 100 nanometer large diamonds, in which individual nitrogen-vacancy centers are insulated from each other, the graphene layer is electrically conducting. Two gold electrodes detect the induced charge, making it electronically measureable.

Laboratory set-up measuring the interaction between graphene and nano-diamonds with implanted nitrogen-vacancy centers.
Credit: Astrid Eckert / TUM

Nature Nanotechnology - Ultrafast electronic readout of diamond nitrogen-vacancy centres coupled to graphene

December 25, 2014

Sony, Microsoft and Google fighting North Korean Cyber Oppression over The Interview

"The Interview," the Sony Pictures film about a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, opened in more than 300 [335] movie theaters across the United States on Christmas Day, drawing many sell-out audiences and statements by patrons that they were championing freedom of expression.

The film also was available to U.S. online viewers through Google Inc's Google Play and YouTube Movie, as well as on a Sony website, It can be seen in Canada on the Sony site and Google Canada's website.

Sony's PlayStation and Microsoft's Xbox Live gaming networks experienced widespread problems on Christmas Day as a hacker group claimed responsibility for what it said was an attack.

Hundreds of users took to Twitter to report problems with the systems, which lasted much of the day.

Fastest Internet in the world is in Minneapolis with 10 gigabits per second

US Internet announced Tuesday that it will use that network to offer 10-gigabit-per-pecond Internet speed, which is among the fastest Internet service available today. That’s 400 times faster than the average download speed in Minnesota, 25 megabits per second, according to Ookla, an Internet diagnostic firm.

The Minnetonka firm, US Internet, offers fiber-optic service to about 30,000 households in southwest Minneapolis.
“The fastest Internet in the world is going to be here in Minneapolis starting this afternoon,” said Joe Caldwell, co-CEO of US Internet. “We’re talking about a game-changing speed.”

The service will cost $400 per month, Caldwell said. The company already offers 1-gigabit-per-second service for $65 per month to the same 30,000 households west of Interstate 35W, and plans to expand its network east of 35W, mostly to neighborhoods south of Lake Street.

The upstart US Internet hopes to take business away from Comcast. First it must bury fiber-optic cable next to sidewalks in dozens of neighborhoods around the city. The smaller firm recently dropped the price on its 1-gigabit service from $114 per month to $65 per month.

New year and new Navy gatling guns for USA and China

The Phalanx, or CIWS, is an area weapon engineered to use a high rate of fire and ammunition to blanket a given area, thus destroying or knocking threats out of the sky before they reach a ship. The Phalanx CIWS, which can fire up to 4,500 rounds per minute, has been protecting ship platforms for decades.

The U.S. is in the process of upgrading all their Phalanx systems to the Block 1B configuration. All Phalanx systems in use by the U.S. Navy are scheduled to be upgraded to Block 1B by FY 2015. The Block 1B incorporates a stabilized Forward-Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) sensor, an automatic acquisition video tracker, optimized gun barrels (OGB), and Enhanced Lethality Cartridges (ELC) for additional capabilities against asymmetric threats such as small maneuvering surface craft, slow-flying fixed and rotary-winged aircraft, and unmanned aerial vehicles. The FLIR sensor improves performance against anti-ship cruise missiles, while the OGB and ELC provide tighter dispersion and increased first hit range; the Mk 244 ELC is specifically designed to penetrate anti-ship missiles with a 44 percent heavier tungsten penetrator and an aluminum nose piece. Another system upgrade is the Phalanx 1B Baseline 2 radar to improve detection performance, increase reliability, and reduce maintenance. It also has a surface mode to track, detect, and destroy threats closer to the water's surface, increasing the ability to defend against fast-attack boats and low-flying missiles; the Baseline 2 radar upgrade is to be installed on all U.S. Navy Phalanx systems by FY 2019.

Raytheon Missile Systems Phalanx Block 1B close-in weapon system (CIWS) on board the Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer HMS Daring.
“The Phalanx 1B fires Mk 244 ammunition, the Enhanced Lethality Cartridge specifically designed to penetrate anti-ship cruise missiles,” said Al Steichen, Business Development, Raytheon Naval and Area Mission Defense.

The Mk 244 ammunition is engineered with a 48 percent heavier tungsten penetrator and an aluminum nose piece, according to information from General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical System.

Russian media has reported that China's latest indigenous Type 1130 close-in weapon system can fire 10,000 rounds per minute and destroy 90% of hypersonic missiles traveling at a speed four times the speed of sound.

The system, which is the third-generation of the close-in weapon system developed by China, was recently spotted being installed on a PLA Type 054A frigate.

China's 1130 close in weapon system

NASA seed funds SR 72 hypersonic drones as other countries race for hypersonic missiles

NASA funded a parametric design study to establish the viability of a Turbine Based Combined Cycle (TBCC) Propulsion system consisting of integrating several combinations of near-term turbine engine solutions and a very low Mach ignition Dual Mode RamJet (DMRJ) in the SR-72 vehicle concept.

The SR72 drone would fly at speeds of Mach 6.0, or 4,500 mph. That’s almost double the speed of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, which made its first flight 50 years ago.

Lockheed Martin is working with Aerojet Rocketdyne to find a way to integrate a turbine engine, which would get the plane up to Mach 3, with a supersonic ramjet engine, or scramjet, to push it to Mach 6.

Lockheed believes it can develop its SR-72 by 2030.

Russia debt could be downgraded to junk in 90 days and the Economy will be very bad 2015 and 2016

S and P warned this week there was at least a 50 percent chance it would cut Russia's sovereign rating below investment grade within 90 days. Moody's ratings agency warned this week that Russia's GDP could contract by 5.5 percent in 2015 and 3 percent in 2016 due to weaker oil prices and the ruble's slide.

Russia's annual inflation was at 10.4 percent and could reach around 11 percent by the end of the month, surpassing the psychologically key 10 percent mark for the first time since the 2008/09 global financial crisis.

Prices for some goods, such as beef and fish, have risen 40 to 50 percent in recent months after Russia slapped an import ban on certain Western food products in retaliation for European Union and U.S. sanctions over Ukraine.

China could start about 12 nuclear reactors by the end of 2015 and 20 over the next 30 monhts

Only three of 9 expected nuclear reactors completions 2014 were actually completed. There was a slippage of a few months on several which are now mostly expected in the first half of 2015.

The third wave of construction should be completed by mid-2017 and have about 20 more nuclear reactors.

Hongyanhe-3 [1080 MWe CPR) did reach criticality in October. It should begin operation in the next few weeks Hongyanhe-4 should start by the end of 2015.

Two units at the Taishan Nuclear Power Plant are under construction in Chixizhen, Taishan, Guangdong province, China. It was planned to go online in 2013.

Taishan 1 is now expected to be operational June 2015 (1750 MWe)
Taishan 2 is now expected to be operational Sep 2016 (1750 MWe)
These are European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) by Areva

Japan could restart 9 nuclear reactors in 2015, 10 in 2016 and 12 in 2017

Japan has four approved nuclear reactors for restarts, just after a general election win showed steady support for the pro-nuclear ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The first are not expected to restart until early in 2015.

Sendai reactors aren’t expected to open until early 2015.

Those friendly painted colors at the Sendai reactors are real

Cantor Fitzgerald forecasts that 32 reactors will ultimately be restarted, with nine in 2015, 10 in 2016, 12 in 2017 and one in 2018.

In a note to investors, Rob Chang talked of the reactor restarts being viewed “as a key market catalyst as some investors remain sceptical on whether it will actually occur.”

David Talbot, with Dundee Capital Markets, largely echoed those thoughts.

“Dundee’s opinion is that these two reactors are part of the ‘friendly thirteen’ reactors that will likely gain local approval based on local support — of the 19 or so that are currently under application for start-up,” he said in a comment to investors.

The reactors will require a month-long consultation process, with both the local and municipal governments needing to give their approval.

December 24, 2014

In 2015 LPP Fusion will test Tungsten cathode, beryllium electrode and Proton Boron Aneutronic Nuclear Fusion

The long-awaited tungsten cathode is finally nearing completion with delivery to LPPFusion should occur by mid February, 2015.

Tungsten has extreme resistance to heat. It is the lowest risk material for the next step of our experiment. They need to eliminate evaporation of the electrode and the resulting impurities to get a jump in the density of our plasmoid, and in the resulting fusion energy output or yield. They have firm experimental evidence that tungsten does not erode under the condition FF-1 is currently running.

They will confirm or refine the theories and technique, paving the way for the beryllium extrudes. Beryllium electrode are expected to be ordered in January, with delivery in the first half of 2015.

December 23, 2014

Thailand and China sign rail, agriculture and bank deals

Thailand signed two memorandums of understanding with China on the development of a key rail link project and the purchase of agricultural products. China plans to construct two parts of railroads linking northeastern Nong Khai province to Bangkok and the eastern port of Map Ta Phut starting in 2016, according to the Thai government. The north-south rail link, covering 870 kilometers (544 miles), is expected to facilitate the transport of goods from China’s southern region to Gulf of Thailand ports via Laos.

The project is valued at around 400 billion baht or $12.2 billion, the Thai government has said.

Everybody in this region knows that Thailand - no matter which government is in power - wants to be the first among equals in engaging with China. Up to this point, every country has had to look forward to deals with China, but now Thailand is at the forefront.

Prayut has also helped fulfil a Chinese financial ambition to make the renminbi yuan a regional currency. During his visit to Beijing on Monday, Thai and Chinese central banks signed an extension of the Renminbi-Thai Baht Bilateral Swap Agreement (BSA) and an MoU to establish renminbi clearing arrangements in Thailand.

China has a BSA with many countries in this region, including Malaysia. The yuan clearing-house would facilitate access to and use of the Chinese currency for trade and investment in Thailand and the region. This will be more convenient as economic transactions increase, and if western currencies like the US dollar, fluctuate.

Two-way trade between the two countries amounted to $64.7 billion (2.1 trillion baht) last year, an increase from $42 billion in 2010. Two way trade is projected to reach $100 billion in 2016.

Zenncars reports independent tests say the Eestor Supercapacitor Technology works

ZENN Motor Company Inc. (TSXV: ZNN; “ZENN” or the “Company”), announced the findings of four independent reports on the testing of the capacitor technology developed by its 71.3% owned subsidiary, EEStor Inc. (EEStor”)

Zenncars and EEstor had made big claims about supercapacitors with the energy density of batteries or even higher but with superfast charging characteristics of supercapacitors.

The new reports are saying that EEStor supercapacitors have a higher voltage capability

EEStor has demonstrated stable capacitors to 1500 Vdc, (with hi-pot testing at significantly greater voltages) which is much higher than the standard limitation on aluminum electrolytic capacitors, which is about 450 Vdc, and 125 Vdc for tantalum capacitors. This is important because the EEStor technology can extend the capacitance value and the voltage rating well above 1500 Vdc (as tested by Intertek). This is an extremely disruptive development in the capacitor supply chain.

The current status of EEStor’s technology indicates that the initial commercial targets, in order of priority, should be:
* High Voltage Aluminum Electrolytic and Tantalum capacitors (combined total worldwide 2014 market of USD $6 billion)
* The power film capacitor segment (combined total worldwide 2014 market of USD $1.3 billion)

* The direct sale of the composition modified barium titanate powders manufactured at EEStor to capacitor manufacturer customers worldwide (total 2014 worldwide market of USD $83 million)

UK, US and Singapore testing low speed self driving cars on real city streets

Singapore will open one of its neighborhoods to driverless cars in 2015, with the idea that such vehicles could operate as a kind of jitney service, picking up passengers and taking them to trains or other modes of public transportation. The vehicles might be like golf carts, taking people short distances at low speeds, similar to the driverless vehicles demonstrated this year by Google.

At 700 square kilometers, Singapore is about three times the size of Boston, but it has 5.5 million residents versus Boston’s 646,000. Because it is so dense, Singapore is aggressively trying to discourage car traffic. For example, if you want to own a car in Singapore you have to pay a “certificate of entitlement” fee that’s roughly equal to the price of a car. It also offers free travel on city trains before peak periods (along with free breakfast vouchers).

This electric car, retrofitted to drive itself, is being tested in Singapore.

Hybrid Electric Planes now and the future vision

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, in association with Boeing, have successfully tested the first aircraft to be powered by a parallel hybrid-electric propulsion system, where an electric motor and petrol engine work together to drive the propeller. The demonstrator aircraft uses up to 30% less fuel than a comparable plane with a petrol-only engine. The aircraft is also able to recharge its batteries in flight, the first time this has been achieved.

Nextbigfuture had previously looked at other hybrid electric passenger videos

Low Volume Production of Small Electric Passenger Planes

Liaoning General Aviation Academy hopes to sell 100 two passenger electric planes within three years. They plan to build a dedicated manufacturing plant that can make 100 a year in Shenyang. It will sell for $163,000, lithium batteries included.

The two-seater, light-duty aircraft runs on electric motors and can be powered by fuel-cells, solar, ultracapacitors, power beaming or batteries. It can fly for 90 minutes on fully charged batteries, and charging the 10 kilowatt-hour batteries takes only 40 minutes at a cost of $0.80.

Liaoning General Aviation RX1E electric plane

Pipistrel Taurus Electro G2

The Pipistrel Taurus Electro G2 is the only electric 2-seat aeroplane in serial production available on the market. Furthermore, Pipistrel believes it is the only truly useful electric aircraft out there, because the electric drive is applied to the glider airframe, where battery capacity is not a limiting factor in performance/endurance. Taurus Electro G2 represents a leap forward in performance, safety, functionality and user friendliness.

Pipistrel Taurus Electro G2

Battery swap Pilot program for Tesla cars is faster than gasing up a regular car

Model S is designed to allow a fast battery swap, exchanging your battery for a fully charged battery in less than half the time it takes to refill a gas tank. This offers Model S drivers another, even faster option when recharging while driving long distances.

Future Batteries: Lithium-Sulfur with a Graphene Wrapper

What do you get when you wrap a thin sheet of the "wonder material" graphene around a novel multifunctional sulfur electrode that combines an energy storage unit and electron/ion transfer networks? An extremely promising electrode structure design for rechargeable lithium-sulfur batteries.

Lithium-sulfur batteries are of great commercial interest because they boast theoretical specific energy densities considerably greater than those of their already-well-established cousin, lithium ion batteries.

In the journal APL Materials, from AIP Publishing, a team of researchers led by Dr. Vasant Kumar at the University of Cambridge and Professor Renjie Chen at the Beijing Institute of Technology describe their design of a multifunctional sulfur cathode at the nanolevel to address performance-related issues such as low efficiency and capacity degradation.

Metal organic frameworks (MOFs) have attracted plenty of attention recently, thanks to wide-ranging applications in hydrogen storage, carbon dioxide sequestration, catalysis and membranes. And to create their cathode, the team tapped MOF "as a template" to produce a conductive porous carbon cage -- in which sulfur acts as the host and each sulfur-carbon nanoparticle acts as energy storage units where electrochemical reactions occur.

US GDP growth 5% in Q3 2014 and forecast for 3.1% in 2015

Standard and Poor's bumped up its GDP growth forecast for the USA to 3.1% from 3.0% for 2015 based upon cheap oil.

US stocks are hitting all time highs. The Dow passed 18,000 mark for the first time in history and the S&P 500 set a new intraday record after an unexpectedly strong report on economic growth. The final estimate of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) for the third quarter was revised up to a 5 percent annual pace, its quickest in 11 years, on stronger consumer and business spending, easily topping expectations calling for a 4.3 percent pace.

Wells Fargo US GDP forecast

Wells Fargo sees all of the domestic sectors of the US economy are growing again for 2015 and 2016. Wells Fargo sees the US economy expanding between 2.5 and 3% over the next two years.

Solid state nanostructured batteries could double lithium ion battery range but peroxide could boost by 7 times

An experimental lithium-ion battery based on materials developed at a U.S. Department of Energy lab stores twice as much energy as the batteries used in most electric cars.

Seeo has DryLyte batteries which is entirely solid-state, containing no liquid or gel components in the polymer electrolyte. It is a transformational solid-state battery technology based on a nanostructured solid polymer electrolyte. However, their current energy density is not better than what is in the Tesla Model S.

A group led by Noritaka Mizuno, professor at the School of Engineering, the University of Tokyo has a new battery which uses the oxidation-reduction reaction between oxide ions and peroxide ions at the positive electrode. The group proved that peroxides are generated and dispersed due to charge and discharge reactions by using a material made by adding cobalt (Co) to the crystal structure of lithium oxide (Li2O) for the positive electrode, verifying a battery system based on a new principle.

The new technology can realize an energy density seven times higher than that of existing lithium (Li)-ion rechargeable batteries, increase capacity, lower price and enhance safety. It is expected to be used for batteries for electric vehicles (EVs) and next-generation stationary batteries. The peroxide battery has a theoretical capacity of 897mAh per 1g of the positive/negative electrode active material, voltage of 2.87V and theoretical energy density of 2,570Wh/kg.

At that time, the energy density is 370Wh per 1kg of the positive/negative electrode active material, which is about seven times higher than that of existing Li-ion rechargeable batteries using LiCoO2 positive electrodes and graphite negative electrodes.

December 22, 2014

China and Russia are leaders in Illicit Financial Flows

The Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2003-2012 report reaffirms the $1 trillion estimate of unrecorded money shifting yearly out of emerging market and developing countries.

They use the World Bank Residual Method and International Monetary Fund Direction of Trade Statistics. Both are dependent on data filed by governments with these institutions. Global Financial Integrity (GFI) did not invent the methodology nor create the statistics. Both had been around for decades. What GFI did do was apply these existing analytical methodologies to data from the whole of developing countries. In the intervening years we have made two adjustments to our methodology, both tending to produce more conservative estimates.

Today our data are drawn entirely from IMF balance of payments and IMF international trade statistics. These statistics and their derivatives are used every day by international institutions, governments, corporations, banks, and individuals making millions of decisions on investments, loans, interest rates, exchange rates, and more. They are, in short, the statistics on which the economic and financial worlds work, influencing as well political and security concerns for all nations.

China gaining greater influence as lender of last resort for Russia, Argentina and Venezuela

Quotes from the Godfather Movie about Debts and favors owed

Bonasera: How much shall I pay you?
[the Don turns away dismissively, but Bonasera stays on]
Don Corleone: Bonasera, Bonasera, what have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? If you'd come to me in friendship, this scum who ruined your daughter would be suffering this very day. And if by some chance an honest man like yourself made enemies they would become my enemies. And then, they would fear you.
Bonasera: Be my friend... Godfather.
[the Don at first shrugs, but upon hearing the title he lifts his hand, and a humbled Bonasera kisses the ring on it]
Don Corleone: Good.
[He places his hand around Bonasera in a paternal gesture]
Don Corleone: Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, consider this justice a gift on my daughter's wedding day.

Later: This is Tom Hagen, calling for Vito Corleone at his request. Now, you owe your Don a service. He has no doubt that you will repay him. In one hour he will be at your funeral parlor to ask for your help. Be there to greet him.

China Lender of Last Resort for Russia, Venezuela, Argentina
Steffen Reichold, an economist at Stone Harbor Investment Partners in New York, said in an e-mail. “Several countries [Russia, Venezuela, Argentina] are currently in a tight spot and the Chinese are offering to help. That buys them some goodwill and influence, and promotes the use of the yuan.”

China is stepping up its role as the lender of last resort to some of the world’s most financially strapped countries.

Chinese officials signaled Saturday that they are willing to expand a $24 billion currency swap program to help Russia weather the worst economic crisis since the 1998 default. China has provided $2.3 billion in funds to Argentina since October as part of a currency swap, and last month it lent $4 billion to Venezuela, whose reserves cover just two years of debt payments.

100,000 genome sequences will be used to find DNA targets for new tests and drugs against cancerand other diseases

11 Genomics Medicine Centres are being set up in English hospitals to gather DNA samples to help devise targeted treatments for a wide range of diseases.

It is focusing on cancer and rare genetic diseases.

The aim is to sequence 100,000 genomes within three years in order to develop new tests and drugs.

Patients will have to agree to have their genetic code and medical records - stripped of anything that could identify them - made available to drugs companies and researchers.

Up to 25,000 cancer patients will have the genetic code of their healthy tissue compared to the genetic code of their tumor.

A giant game of spot-the-difference will then take place to identify the precise mutations in DNA that are causing a patient's tumor.

Opening ceremonies for start of Nicaragua Canal project

There were protests as Nicaragua started work on a $50 billion interoceanic canal project [UK Guardian]

Wang Jing a chinese telecoms magnate launched construction in Rivas.

A Chinese company has launched work on a $50bn canal across Nicaragua, an ambitious rival to the Panama canal that sceptics dismiss as a pipe dream and environmentalists say will wreck the country’s ecosystem.

The Chinese telecoms magnate behind the canal, Wang Jing, inaugurated the project at a ceremony in the southern town of Rivas that was moved forward by several hours after anti-canal activists called protests.

“Today we are going to begin initial work on the Nicaragua canal with the support of the government, the understanding and strong support of the Nicaraguan people,” Wang said in Rivas, the epicentre of three months of demonstrations against the canal.

Hundreds of protesters blocked the highway connecting the region to the capital Managua, despite what community leader Octavio Ortega called a “militarised” response from security forces in the region.

Carnival of Space 385 - Understanding dunes of Titan which are as tall as Pyramids of Egypt

The Carnival of Space 385 is up at Photos to space.

The Meridiani journal - Strong winds explain Titan’s immense dunes, according to new study

Saturn’s largest moon Titan is one of the most Earth-like places in the Solar System, as least in terms of appearances, with its seas, lakes, and rivers (of liquid methane/ethane). But it is similar in another way as well, with vast stretches of huge wind-blown dunes in its equatorial regions. Only Earth, Venus, and Mars are known to have such dunes. Now, scientists think they have figured out how Titan’s dunes can become so immense in size: fast-blowing winds.

The dunes cover about 13 percent of Titan’s surface, stretching over an area of 4 million square miles (10 million square kilometers). That’s about the same surface area as the United States. On average, they are 0.6 to 1.2 miles (1 to 2 kilometers) wide, hundreds of miles (kilometers) long, and around 300 feet (100 meters) high. Their size and spacing can vary, however, according to location. They are similar in shape to the linear dunes found on Earth in Namibia or the Arabian Peninsula, but on larger scales, and confined to the equatorial region, in a band between 30 degrees south latitude and 30 degrees north latitude.

Dunes in the Belet and Fensal regions of Titan, compared with Oman and Kalahari dunes on Earth. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech, and NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

Red Pyramid was 104 meters tall

The Red Pyramid, also called the North Pyramid, is the largest of the three major pyramids located at the Dahshur necropolis.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 240 - Bad Energy Plans driving up New England energy bills and EPA CO2 plan ignores 60% of existing clean energy

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 240 is up at Yes Vermont Yankee

Forbes James Conca - New England Utility Bills could be double the US average. Gas needs pipelines. Reliability requires nuclear

Consumers in New England got a shock in their utility bills this month. A 40% increase over the previous month. National Grid , the largest utility in Massachusetts, decided that electricity prices for this winter would rise to 24¢/kWh, a record high.

But peak electricity prices could exceed 100¢/kWh like they did last year during the polar vortex (Forbes).

Not sure why New Englanders are so surprised. It was their choice to throw all-in for natural gas and renewables in a land of harsh winters. But they’ve refused to build new gas pipelines. And they’re shutting a nuclear plant that has 20 years of cheap reliable cold-resistant energy left on it.

New England already has the highest electricity prices in North America – about 18¢/kWh averaged over the whole year. The national average is 12¢/kWh.

You have to be smart. Gas needs pipelines. Reliability requires nuclear. You better get that infrastructure built. And it’s not too late to keep Vermont Yankee running.

There aren’t enough gas pipelines serving New England and much of New York, as seen from the lack of blue lines in this region of the map. Along with shutting Vermont’s only nuclear plant and various coal plants, this will continue to cause electricity shortages, and higher prices, during every winter for years to come. Source: US DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)

December 21, 2014

Nextbigfuture will change discussion system and UI tonight

Nextbigfuture will be changing its discussion system and UI tonight.

Hopefully this will done with minimal disruption.

A new logo will also be implemented in a few days.

Terminator: Genisys will be first of reboot trilogy and then rights revert to James Cameron

Paramount Pictures is amping up its rebooted “Terminator” franchise, dating two sequels to “Terminator: Genisys,” [aka Terminator 5] which opens July 1.

The studio has dated “Terminator 2″ for May 19, 2017, and “Terminator 3″ on June 29, 2018.

A spokeswoman for Annapurna said in 2012 that under new copyright rules, North American rights to The Terminator franchise could revert back to creator James Cameron in 2019 — 35 years after the original “Terminator” was released.

James Cameron is getting writing credits for the trilogy of terminator reboots. However, it is not clear if he was only involved in some writing brainstorming sessions.

Baidu Deep Speech system 81% accurate in noisy environments compared to 65% for best commercial systems

Arxiv - DeepSpeech: Scaling up end-to-end speech recognition

Baidu researchers present a state-of-the-art speech recognition system developed using end-to-end deep learning. Our architecture is significantly simpler than traditional speech systems, which rely on laboriously engineered processing pipelines; these traditional systems also tend to perform poorly when used in noisy environments. In contrast, our system does not need hand-designed components to model background noise, reverberation, or speaker variation, but instead directly learns a function that is robust to such effects. We do not need a phoneme dictionary, nor even the concept of a “phoneme.” Key to our approach is a well-optimized RNN training system that uses multiple GPUs, as well as a set of novel data synthesis techniques that allow us to efficiently obtain a large amount of varied data for training. Our system, called DeepSpeech, outperforms previously published results on the widely studied Switchboard Hub5’00, achieving 16.5% error on the full test set. DeepSpeech also handles challenging noisy environments better than widely used, state-of-the-art commercial speech systems.

In restaurant settings and other loud places where other commercial speech recognition systems fail, the deep learning model proved accurate nearly 81 percent of the time. Commercial speech-recognition APIs against which Deep Speech was tested, including those for Microsoft Bing, Google and Wit.AI, topped out at nearly 65 percent accuracy in noisy environments. Those results probably underestimate the difference in accuracy, said Baidu Chief Scientist Andrew Ng, who worked on Deep Speech along with colleagues at the company’s artificial intelligence lab in Palo Alto. His team could only compare accuracy where the other systems all returned results rather than empty strings.

Mars Curiosity Rover measures a tenfold spike in methane which could mean life on Mars

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory's drill.

"This temporary increase in methane -- sharply up and then back down -- tells us there must be some relatively localized source," said Sushil Atreya of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, a member of the Curiosity rover science team. "There are many possible sources, biological or non-biological, such as interaction of water and rock."

Researchers used Curiosity's onboard Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) laboratory a dozen times in a 20-month period to sniff methane in the atmosphere. During two of those months, in late 2013 and early 2014, four measurements averaged seven parts per billion. Before and after that, readings averaged only one-tenth that level.

This illustration portrays some of the reasons why finding organic chemicals on Mars is challenging. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Science Express - Mars Methane Detection and Variability at Gale Crater

Science Express - The Imprint of Atmospheric Evolution in the D/H or Hesperian Clay Minerals on Mars

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