February 28, 2015

Brain Organoids

A new method for growing human brain cells could unlock the mysteries of dementia, mental illness, and other neurological disorders.

Researchers have used brain organoids for an investigation of microcephaly, a disorder characterized by small brain size, with Andrew Jackson of the University of Edinburgh. Using cells derived from a patient with microcephaly, the team cultured organoids that shared characteristics with the patient’s brain. Then the researchers replaced a defective protein associated with the disorder and were able to culture organoids that appeared partially cured.

This is just the beginning, says Lancaster. Researchers such as Rudolph Jaenisch at MIT and Guo-li Ming at Johns Hopkins are beginning to use brain organoids to investigate autism, schizophrenia, and epilepsy. What makes cerebral organoids particularly useful is that their growth mirrors aspects of human brain development. The cells divide, take on the characteristics of, say, the cerebellum, cluster together in layers, and start to look like the discrete three-dimensional structures of a brain. If something goes wrong along the way—which is observable as the organoids grow—scientists can look for potential causes, mechanisms, and even drug treatments.

China getting three to five times as many submarines each year compared to the USA

China is building some "fairly amazing submarines" and now has more diesel- and nuclear-powered vessels than the United States, a top U.S. Navy admiral told U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday, although he said their quality was inferior.

Vice Admiral Joseph Mulloy, deputy chief of naval operations for capabilities and resources, told the House Armed Services Committee's seapower subcommittee that China was also expanding the geographic areas of operation for its submarines, and their length of deployment.

Mulloy said the quality of China's submarines was lower than those built by the United States, but the size of its undersea fleet had now surpassed that of the U.S. fleet. A spokeswoman said the U.S. Navy had 71 commissioned U.S. submarines.

In its last annual report to Congress about China's military and security developments, the Pentagon said China had 77 principal surface combatant ships, more than 60 submarines, 55 large and medium amphibious ships, and about 85 missile-equipped small combatants.

The US Navy has a 30 year shipbuilding plan and there are Department of Defense (DoD) and Navy guidance documents. The USA is plans to get 2 to 3 submarines per year for the next 20 years.

Congressional Report of China Navy Modernization

Here is a report on China submarine acquistions.

If China went from 52 subs in 2012 to more than 71 in early 2015 then China must have gotten about 10 per year in 2013 and 2014. China's military budget is increasing at about 10 to 15% per year for the next ten years or more. This means that China can sustain a 10+ submarine per year acquisition rate indefinitely.

Child policies will determine if China's working age population drops 12% by 2050 or increases 5%

Across China, only one million eligible families applied to have a second child under the newly relaxed policy, just a third of the number authorities had expected.

“A lot of women working in high-competitive jobs look like they are less likely to have a second child,” Professor Zheng ZhenZhen of the Chinese Academy of Social Science’s Institute of population and labor statistics said.

Some experts are calling for an accelerated removal of restrictions on a second child, warning that the country’s birthrate is moving towards a dangerously low level.

A poll taken place in five provinces in China, including Guangdong, Shanghai and Beijing showed it doesn’t matter if families already had a child, over 30 percent said they wouldn’t have a second child.

A report from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, also known as CASS, said the fertility rate in China is at a dangerously low level, at 1.4 children per woman.

This number is close to the global warning of a low fertility trap, which could result in an ageing population and a labor shortage. Experts are calling on the government to fully lift all restrictions to have a second child, and the sooner the better, along with adjusting the family planning policy even more.

Stanford analysis of working age (15-64) population in 2050 based on 2008 UN medium projection. This is before the recent China policy shift which is boosting births by 1 million per year from about 15.5 million per year.

Project Solaris for enabling and then scaling space based light deflection

Project Solaris is to harness space based solar. It will use a distributed system composed of a multitude of small light deflecting units (cm-sized to µm-sized). These units will be uniformly scattered over a disc shaped plane and kept in place using different techniques (radiation pressure and/or electric fields and/or magnetic fields, or other methods). Easy deployment, fault tolerance and live scalability are some of the advantages that this system could provide.

[Image Credit: Nembo Buldrini]

Leonard Nimoy on Youtube

February 27, 2015

Spacex will try to launch two satellites on Sunday

SpaceX is now targeting a 10:49 p.m. Sunday launch of two commercial satellites from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the 45th Space Wing confirmed.

The launch had previously been scheduled for late this Friday.

SpaceX plans to launch two communications satellites from the Space Coast late Sunday but has no plans to try to land a used booster on a barge this time around.

Leonard Nimoy who played Spock on Star Trek has died

Leonard Nimoy, the actor best known for playing the emotionless, pointy-eared Spock on the "Star Trek" television series, died on Friday. He was 83.

His granddaughter, Dani, confirmed the death on Twitter. She called him "an extraordinary man." Nimoy revealed a year ago that he had been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

NASA Dawn's spacecraft will insert into dwarf planet Ceres orbit late next week and then spiral down for 20 months

NASA's Dawn spacecraft will be in orbit around Ceres in one more week. NASA has released a photo of Ceres

Dwarf planet Ceres continues to puzzle scientists as NASA's Dawn spacecraft gets closer to being captured into orbit around the object. The latest images from Dawn, taken nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers) from Ceres, reveal that a bright spot that stands out in previous images lies close to yet another bright area.

"Ceres' bright spot can now be seen to have a companion of lesser brightness, but apparently in the same basin. This may be pointing to a volcano-like origin of the spots, but we will have to wait for better resolution before we can make such geologic interpretations," said Chris Russell, principal investigator for the Dawn mission, based at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Using its ion propulsion system, Dawn will enter orbit around Ceres on March 6. As scientists receive better and better views of the dwarf planet over the next 16 months, they hope to gain a deeper understanding of its origin and evolution by studying its surface. The intriguing bright spots and other interesting features of this captivating world will come into sharper focus.

This image was taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft of dwarf planet Ceres on Feb. 19 from a distance of nearly 29,000 miles (46,000 kilometers). It shows that the brightest spot on Ceres has a dimmer companion, which apparently lies in the same basin. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDAM

February 26, 2015

Concentrated solar does set birds on fire and Wind turbines club birds so Environmentalists make stuff up about nuclear energy

Concentrated solar does set birds on fire and Wind turbines club birds so Environmentalists make stuff up about nuclear energy. [Atomic Insights]

First domestic and wild cats kill way more birds than any energy source

America’s cats, including housecats that adventure outdoors and feral cats, kill between 1.3 billion and 4.0 billion birds in a year, says Peter Marra of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C., who led the team that performed the analysis.

The USA has about 97 million pet cats and there are several million more feral cats.

Made up stuff about nuclear energy to misdirect from Spectacle is solar and wind flaw

There are statistics online that alleging 0.269 avian deaths per GWh for wind turbines as compared to 0.416 for nuclear power plant.

The most dominant contribution to Sovacool’s analysis of nuclear power impacts comes from uranium mining and milling operations which he claims “can poison and kill hundreds of birds per facility per year”. In his first report, he supports this by focusing on two “uranium mining” operations “in Wyoming” where he charges that bird deaths are caused by abandoned open pits. The first is the Canon City Uranium Mine in Colorado (not Wyoming), a mine that operated from 1958 to 1979, and only intermittently since. The owners of the mine were ordered to pay a $40,000 fine when a kerosene spill killed 40 geese in 2008. The spill was a one time occurrence and the operators were required to take steps to prevent further spills. Sovacool assumes the death of 40 geese is a routine occurrence, assumes it happens annually at every operating uranium mine, then based on estimates of the peak uranium production.

Concentrated solar is clearly setting the birds on fire in mid-air and wind turbines club birds out of the air

Concentrated solar power has set hundreds of birds on fire.

More than 100 birds have been injured during testing of a new solar power farm. Biologists say 130 birds caught fire mid-air while entering an area of concentrated solar energy created by the 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project near Tonopah, Nevada. Experts believe the birds may have been attracted by the glow of the farm’s tower, but the project’s owners, SolarReserve, say they have found a way to reduce the fatalities.

Wind Turbines do club some birds

USA will have 220-300 F35s by 2020 and Russia about fifty T-50 stealth jets

Lockheed Martin expects production of its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to expand significantly over the next several years. At nearly $1.5 trillion in lifetime costs, the F-35 is the most expensive weapons program ever undertaken by the Pentagon. So far the Pentagon has only purchased about 220 of the 2,400-plus F-35s it planned to buy, less than 10 percent of the total. If the F-35 isn’t going to work as advertised, stopping or scaling back the program now will prevent the Pentagon from throwing good money after bad. Cancelling the program now could save at most half that money. $400 billion is already sunk cost. Some amount would go to other fighter plane orders. Of course, the US military industrial complex rarely shrinks and would probably justify spending even more money.

An F35 is estimated to cost about $32000 per hour to operate.
Others have estimated $50,000 per hour to operate the F35. An F16 costs about $25,000 per hour to operate.

In 2013 the F-22 Raptor cost the Air Force about $68,000 per hour to operate once maintenance and other factors are added in, according to documents provided by the Center for Defense Information. According to the Pentagon, the Navy fired 47 Tomahawk missiles in a raid on Syria in Sept 2014, each of which cost about $1.6 million, for a total of $75.2 million. Assuming a mission duration of about six hours, and a strike package consisting of four F-22s, four F-15Es, four F-16s, two B-1 bombers and four MQ-9 Reapers—which would be consistent with Air Force doctrine—the total cost of Air Force portion of the bill would be about $3.9 million. Combined with the cost of the cruise missiles, the Syria raid cost the American taxpayer roughly $79 million, based on the Center for Defense Information data.

In mid-2014, Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said production of its next-generation fighter is expected to expand from about 36 in 2014 to more than 120 a year by the end of the decade. About 40% of the F35 production will be for the US military and the rest will be for partner nations.

Lockheed and the US government are trying to get the unit cost of the F35 down to $80 million by 2019 instead of the current $115 million. 80% of the per unit cost reduction is discussion to increase annual production from 36 to over 100 F35s. Building a new F16 would cost about $40 million.

The Russian Air Force (VVS) will have received 55 Sukhoi PAK-FA (T-50) fighter aircraft by 2020, according to Vladislav Goncharenko, the deputy director of the United Aircraft Corporation's (UAC's) combat aircraft department. The first PAK-FA deliveries are scheduled for 2016.

Nanolattices have the potential to increase strength to weight by one million times but massively scaling production is the main hurdle

If nanolattice material could be produced in large quantities, they could replace composites and other materials used in a wide range of applications, because they’d be just as strong at a fraction of the weight. Another possibility is to greatly increase the energy density of batteries—the amount of power they can hold at a given size.

So far, they can’t make enough of the nanostructured materials to cover your palm. MIT Technology Review thinks that the production breakthroughs could happen by 2020 for the initial commercialization applications.

Some recent publications:

Extreme Mechanics Letters - Ultra-strong architected Cu meso-lattices

Abstract -Ultra-strong architected Cu meso-lattices

3-dimensional solid Cu octet meso-lattices with characteristic features on the micron-scale were fabricated and mechanically tested under uniaxial compression. These architected cellular materials were fabricated by a three-step process: (1) direct laser writing of the lattice pattern into a polymer template, (2) electroplating of Cu into the template, and (3) removal of the polymer matrix. The microstructure of the electroplated Cu mainly consists of polycrystalline grains with average diameters of such that cross-sections of lattice beams mostly consist of a single grain. We discovered that the compressive yield strengths of the open-cell Cu meso-lattices can exceed the yield strength of monolithic bulk Cu as measured from a Cu thin film made with identical conditions. Meso-lattices with relative density of 0.8 had a strength of 332 MPa, which surpassed the bulk yield strength by 80%. This is diametrically opposite to predictions from structural mechanics theory, which states that strength scales linearly with relative density for the octet structure. We attribute the ability of solid Cu meso-lattices to attain such high strengths to the “smaller is stronger” size effect present in single crystalline metals with sub-micron dimensions. This work demonstrates the use and proliferation of the size-dependent strengthening unique to nanostructures in an architected structural material.

Gasoline average $2.33 per gallon in the USA except for California where it is $3.03

Gasoline prices are below $2.51 per gallon across the USA except in California. California has a refinery strike and a special California only blend of gasoline. Drivers across the USA are paying $2.33, which is 29 cents more than the $2.04 of a month ago.

California had a refinery fire at the Exxon Mobil plant in Torrance and a strike that's closed down a Martinez refinery.

Gasoline prices hit an average of $3.03 a gallon Wednesday, the first time they've exceeded $3 since Christmas. And while the current level is still far below the $3.80 price a year ago, significant hikes are expected in the days ahead. Some gas stations in the Bay Area are charging in the $3.50 range for regular unleaded.

Nextbigfuture had reported back in October, 2014 that gasoline would be in the $2.50 range for 2015 and possibly decades beyond.

Fluidized arc bed for cheaply convering titanium tetrachloride to titanium alloy powder

A new process, being developed by SRI International, takes fewer steps, uses less energy, and produces titanium powder, rather than ingots. The powder can be pressed and fused into something that’s very close to the shape of the final product, which reduces the amount of machining required.

SRI’s process uses plasma arcs to facilitate reactions between molecules of hydrogen and titanium chloride, a chemical produced from titanium ore. “Arcs, like lightning bolts, crack the hydrogen, producing atomic hydrogen that can readily react,” says Barbara Heydorn, senior director of the Energy Center at SRI. The reactions produce titanium vapor that quickly solidifies and forms titanium powder.

SRI talked about this ARPA-E funded work in 2014

SRI’s new approach to titanium or titanium alloy production uses a proprietary multi-arc fluidized bed reactor (MAFBR) that will either convert titanium tetrachloride to titanium powder or convert multiple metal chlorides to titanium alloy powder in a single step. The process will enable production of alloys that cannot be produced with conventional technology, at a cost similar to stainless steel.

Funding was from ARPA-E's Modern Electro/Thermochemical Advances in Light Metals Systems (METALS) program.

SRI is solving that problem by developing a multi-arc fluidized bed reactor (MAFBR) that will be able to either convert titanium tetrachloride to titanium powder or convert multiple metal chlorides to titanium alloy powder in a single step. The process will enable production of alloys that cannot be produced with conventional technology, at a cost similar to stainless steel.

Operating 4-inch multi-arc fluidized bed reactor

(H/T to NBF commenter Mindbreaker for calling this out in the forum)

LPP Fusion has the Tungsten Cathode and lays out detailed plans for 2015

LPP Fusion published their scheduled plans for 2015

LPP Fusion Plans for 2015:
As in previous years we emphasize that our plans require adequate financing. They also depend
on critical suppliers coming through on time and within specifications. However we are confident
that the tungsten cathode will arrive soon, and we are planning a backup monolithic copper
cathode as well. Our main goal for this year remains to increase the density of the plasmoid, the
tiny ball of plasma where reactions take place, the third and last condition needed to achieve net
energy production.

1. We will complete our computer upgrade and the creation of our Processed Data Base, a powerful
tool for analyzing our data.
2. We will install our new tungsten electrode and perform experiments that we expect will
a) Increase density about 100-fold to around 40 milligrams/ cm³
b) Increase yield more than 100- fold to above 15 J
c) Demonstrate the effect of the axial field coil
d) Demonstrate the positive effects of mixing in somewhat heavier gases, such as nitrogen

LPP Fusion now has the tungsten cathode
The freshly machined tungsten cathode, shown here in THP’s San Diego facility, that will be used in the new experiments

The critical tungsten monolithic cathode, key to LPPFusion’s next set of experiments, has finally been completed and shipped. It arrived at Tungsten Heavy Powder headquarters in San Diego, California on Monday, Feb.23 from their manufacturing facilities in China. It is expected to arrive at LPPFusion’s Middlesex, NJ laboratory around March 2. “For a long time, this cathode has been in the future,” said LPPFusion Chief Scientist Eric Lerner,” and the future has finally arrived.” As described in the December LPP Focus Fusion report the great difficulty of manufacturing the part from pure tungsten to exacting requirements caused long delays, which have now ended.

Preparations for the new experiments have continued, with a successful test of the new adjustors. With the aluminum model standing in for the tungsten cathode, Lerner, Chief Research Officer Hamid Yousefi and Consulting Engineer Anthony Ellis succeeded in using the micrometer adjustors to center the cathode on the anode to an accuracy of 25 microns (one thousandth of an inch). In addition, a new gantry has been purchased and will be installed to help handle the tungsten cathode, whose concentrated 35 kg mass makes it too difficult to lift and position manually.

1. Move to shorter electrodes

1. Implement our improved connections and demonstrate peak currents above 2 MA
2. Increase density to over 0.1 grams/cm³

Human head transplant project proposed for 2017 and further mice and monkey work in next few months

Italian surgeon Sergio Canavero announce a project perform a human head transplant at a keynote lecture at the American Academy of Neurological and Orthopaedic Surgeons annual conference this June. He sees the procedure as being possible as soon as 2017 and believes it should be pursued as a means of saving people with, say, multi-organ cancer.

He believes the patient would be able to speak in his own voice upon waking and that walking could be achieved within a year. "If society doesn't want it, I won't do it," Canavero says. "But if people don't want it in the US or Europe, that doesn't mean it won't be done somewhere else.

Most other surgeons do not believe the procedure will be successful.

New Scientist reports that Xiao-Ping Ren of Harbin Medical University in China recently showed that it is possible to perform a basic head transplant in a mouse. Ren will attempt to replicate Canavero's protocol in the next few months in mice, and monkeys.

CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics - Allogeneic Head and Body Reconstruction: Mouse Model

Ren's approach, pioneered in mice, involves retaining the donor brain stem and transplanting the recipient head. Our preliminary data in mice support that this allows for retention of breathing and circulatory function. Critical aspects of the current protocol include avoiding cerebral ischemia through cross-circulation (donor to recipient) and retaining the donor brain stem. Successful clinical translation of AHBR will become a milestone of medical history and potentially could save millions of people. Ren's mouse experiment confirmed a method to avoid cerebral ischemia during the surgery and solved an important part of the problem of how to accomplish long-term survival after transplantation and preservation of the donor brain stem.

Head Transplant Procedure

* The sharp severance of the cervical cords (donor's and recipient's), with its attendant minimal tissue damage
* The exploitation of the gray matter internuncial sensori-motor "highway" rebridged by sprouting connections between the two reapposed cord stumps. This could also explain the partial motor recovery in a paraplegic patient submitted to implantation of olfactory ensheathing glia and peripheral nerve bridges: A 2-mm bridge of remaining cord matter might have allowed gray matter axons to reconnect the two ends
* The bridging as per point 2 above is accelerated by electrical SCS straddling the fusion point
* The application of "fusogens/sealants": Sealants "seal" the thin layer of injured cells in the gray matter, both neuronal, glial and vascular, with little expected scarring; simultaneously they fuse a certain number of axons in the white matter.

During CSA, microsutures (mini-myelorrhaphy) will be applied along the outer rim of the apposed stumps. A cephalosomatic anastomosee will thus be kept in induced coma for 3-4 weeks following CSA to give time to the stumps to refuse (and avoid movements of the neck) and will then undergo appropriate rehabilitation in the months following the procedure.

In addition, the immunosuppressant regime that will be instituted after CSA is expected to be pro-regenerative

Figure 1: (a) Longitudinal cut along a primate spinal cord depicting the internuncial system (gray matter motor highway) and the nano-size of the proposed severance (left). The red circle on the right side of this panel is the pyramidal tract, shown in two exploded views of a sharply transected cord (middle right) and of the cord in the vertebral canal (lower middle right). (b)Visualization of the severed pyramidal tract. The uppermost image depicts a motor neuron in the cortex sending forth the axonal prolongation. Middle panel: The pyramidal tract (red) and a portion of its severed axons. Lower panel: The sharply severed axonal extensions (adapted from Laruelle 1937 and several images in the public domain)

The project for the first head transplant in man is code-named HEAVEN/GEMINI (Head Anastomosis Venture with Cord Fusion.

I covered the internet and news reactions to the 2013 discussion of technical feasibility of head transplants.

I consider the 2013 proposed procedure in the context of organ donation and xenotransplantation.

The technical hurdles have now been cleared thanks to cell engineering. As described in his paper, the keystone to successful spinal cord linkage is the possibility to fuse the severed axons in the cord by exploiting the power of membrane fusogens/sealants. Agents exist that can reconstitute the membranes of a cut axon and animal data have accrued since 1999 that restoration of axonal function is possible. One such molecule is poly-ethylene glycol (PEG), a widely used molecule with many applications from industrial manufacturing to medicine, including as an excipient in many pharmaceutical products. Another is chitosan, a polysaccharide used in medicine and other fields.

HEAVEN capitalizes on a minimally traumatic cut of the spinal cord using an ultra-sharp blade (very different from what occurs in the setting of clinical spinal cord injury, where gross, extensive damage and scarring is observed) followed within minutes by chemofusion (GEMINI). The surgery is performed under conditions of deep hypothermia for maximal protection of the neural tissue. Moreover, and equally important, the motoneuronal pools contained in the cord grey matter remain largely untouched and can be engaged by spinal cord stimulation, a technique that has recently shown itself capable of restoring at least some motor control in spinal injured subjects.

Surgical Neurological International - HEAVEN: The head anastomosis venture Project outline for the first human head transplantation with spinal linkage (GEMINI)

* a head of a monkey was transplanted in the 1970s but the spinal cord could not be repaired at the time
* Spinal cords have been regrown in rats.
* In 2000, guinea pigs had spinal cords surgically cut and then protected with PEG chemical (like what is proposed here) and they had over 90% of spinal nerve transmission restored with a lot of mobility and function restored

Over the last 30 years, scientists have worked to chemically encourage regrowth. Two chemicals, chondroitinase and FGF, show strong signs of doing exactly that--in rats, at least. Independently, over the past three decades, each chemical has shown some promise in restoring simple but crucial rat motor processes, like breathing, even with entirely severed spinal cords.

Two surgeons in the field figured that a combination of the chemicals might enhance the regrowth even more. The surgeons, from Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic, began by entirely severing the spinal cords of 15 rats to ensure no independent, natural regrowth. That shut off the rats' bladder control (a nervous system process that is especially important in rats, since they urinate often and to mark their territory). The researchers then injected the two growth-stimulating chemicals into both sides of the severance, and reinforced the gap in the cord with steel wiring and surgical thread.

The Cleveland clinic has the full description of the rat spinal cord repair.

USA has more fighter planes than Russia and China Combined

The United States currently has over 2200 fighter planes.

Currently the USA has:


F15C                     222  Will stay in service until 2025
F15D                      22
F15E Strike Eagle        219  [Being upgraded and will stay in service until 2025]
F16 C/D                  983
F22A                     186  [Fifth generation stealth fighter]
F35A Lightning II         47  [Fifth generation stealth fighter]

F18 A/C/D                149

F-18 A/B/C/D             433
F-18 E/F                 565
F-35 Lightning II          4          

At the end of 2014, Lockheed Martin and industry team had delivered 109 operational aircraft to the U.S. and partner nations since the program's inception. The USA could get 1700 to 3000 F35s. The US procurement of fifth generation fighters is currently set to far exceed the combined fifth generation jet procurement from Russia and China.

5G cellphone wireless speeds of 1 terabit per second done in the lab across 100 meters and will publicly demo in 2018

5G speeds of 1Tbps have been achieved during tests at the University of Surrey Professor Rahim Tafazolli, director of the 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) at the university explained that the 5GIC has been working on new technologies to support 5G services, which have been instrumental in producing the 1Tbps results.

“We have developed 10 more breakthrough technologies and one of them means we can exceed 1Tbps wirelessly. This is the same capacity as fibre optics but we are doing it wirelessly,” he said.

Tafazolli said that the tests were carried out in lab conditions over a distance of 100 metres using transmitters and receivers built at the university.

The plan is to take the technology outside the lab and onto the campus at the university during 2016 or 2017 before demonstrating it to the public in early 2018, ahead of rivals from South Korea, Russia and Japan.

"We need to bring end-to-end latency down to below one millisecond so that it can enable new technologies and applications that would just not be possible with 4G," he told V3.

February 25, 2015

Carnival of Space 394

The Venus Transit has a summary of Venus and Mars conjunction

Venus and Mars between the clouds -19/2/2015

AMD showing chips and chip technology pipeline

AMD is showing its chip roadmap and technical details.

AMD Carrizo chip will be the first AMD APU to integrate the use of High Density Libraries (HDL)’s on the PC side. High Density Libraries enable the CPU to be dramatically smaller than it would’ve been otherwise, with a 30-40% reduction for specific areas. AMD claims that they can drive 10% higher frequency on the GPU core at the same power level or cut power consumption by 20% at the same frequency.

Intel describing 10 nanometer chips and 7 nanometer will need new materials

The 2015 IEEE international Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) is on this week

The first chips based on Intel's new 10nm process are expected in late 2016 to early 2017.

The 7 nanometer chips will use III-V semiconductors.

Extreme UV (EUV) lithography will not be used by Intel for the 10 nanometer chips and will not be used for the 7 nanometer chips.

Intel indicates that 10 nm chips will come with innovation, and getting down to 7 nm will require new materials and processes which Intel wants to promote as a progressive integration between process development and the product design teams. New materials and device structures are key elements on that list, and while III-V materials were discussed in the ISSCC preview, no exact details were given.

Russian Military accepting first of the new T50 stealth fighters

Russia getting about a dozen new submarines and another dozen navy ships over the next two to three years

By the end of 2015, Russia's Black Sea Fleet will receive a Grigorovich-class frigate, two new improved Kilo-class diesel-electric submarines, and a handful of small Project 21631 missile corvettes.

Admiral Grigorovich class frigates (also known as Project 11356M) are based on a joint Indian-Russian endeavor. Admiral Grigorovich class frigates are very modern guided missile ships and they implement all the best Russia has in this class. The main armament consists of 8 cells for 3M54E Klub and 3M55 Oniks missiles. These missiles are capable of multi-vector attacks at supersonic speeds.

The newer Kilo advanced version are designated as Improved Kilo-class submarine in the west, and Project 636 Varshavyanka in Russia. The new subs have improved sonar and other improvements.

By 2016, six new Grigorovich-class frigates and six improved Kilo-class submarines will take positions in the Black Sea Fleet. In 2015, the fleet is expected to receive a handful of small Buyan-class missile corvettes, according to RIA.

February 24, 2015

Easing Fertility Restrictions in China is having an impact and further easing likely to boost population by 15% by 2050

Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) has a projection of the world economy with breakouts for each country in purchasing power parity terms and by market exchange rate in 2050.

PWC uses United Nation population projections. The medium UN population projections assume no easing in China's fertility policy. Fertility policy easing is already happening and will be completely lifted in a few years.

The PWC model projects that China’s share of world GDP in PPP terms will increase from 16.5% in 2014 to a peak of around 20% in 2030 before declining to around 19.5% in 2050. India’s share of world GDP in PPP terms could increase steadily from just under 7% in 2014 to around 13.5% in 2050. Our model suggests that India could overtake the EU and the US in terms of share of world GDP in PPP terms by 2044 and 2049 respectively. Given the rise of India and China, our model suggests that the US and the EU’s share of world GDP in PPP terms will face a steady decline from around 33% in 2014 to only around 25% by 2050.

Joseph Chamie is a former director of the United Nations Population Division wrote in Yale Global Online. Estimates by Chinese officials and some scholars, however, suggest the relaxation in policy may lead to an increase of up to 2 million births per year, possibly a 10 percent increase – increasing China’s fertility rate from the current 1.6 births per woman to about 1.8 births per woman. With such a rise in fertility, the medium variant, China’s population would peak at 1.45 billion in 2030 and then decline to around 1 billion by the century’s close. Again, the population would continue aging, the elderly accounting for one-quarter of the population by 2050, and the potential support ratio falling to 2.6 working-age persons per retiree. If China decided to further relax to a “two-child policy,” the number of additional births might reach 5 million annually, with the fertility rate perhaps rising to replacement level. Under the instant replacement scenario, China’s future population does not decline, but stabilizes around 1.6 billion by mid-century. The Chinese population, however, would still age, with the proportion elderly increasing to a fifth and the potential support ratio falling to three working-age persons per retiree.

If China ended the one-child policy altogether, future fertility could, although improbable, exceed the replacement level. For example, if Chinese fertility increased to a quarter-child above replacement, the high variant, China’s population by the close of the century would be nearly 1.8 billion. China’s population would not attain stabilization, but would continue growing at about 0.5 percent per year, an annual addition of 8 million Chinese.

So far about half the top end effect from Easing Fertility Controls

China is expecting at least one million more births in 2015 than last year, as a result of policy changes. A total of 16.9 million new citizens came into the world in 2014, 470,000 more than in 2013, said the China Population Association (CPA) two weeks ago.

As of the end of 2014, around one million couples had applied to have a second child.

Zhai Zhenwu, head of the CPA, said many families are at the preparing stage and the number of newborns is expected to increase noticeably in 2015.

As the birth policy may continue to be eased, the baby boom may last for five to eight years, said Zhai, adding that more efforts will be made in the public service sector to meet the challenge.

After the change (plus a complete lifting of any restriction children before 2018 and a shift to incentiving babies before 2022), I estimate

2020: 1.43 billion
2030: 1.53 billion
2040: 1.6 billion
2050: 1.65 billion

Here is an analysis of China's population based on changes in total fertility combined with improved life expectancy.

Confirmation of ultra-high energy molecules with 500 times the bond energy of a triple carbon bond

Metastable Innershell Molecular State (MIMS), an innershell-bound ultra-high-energy molecule, was previously proposed to explain a ∼40% efficiency of soft-X-ray generation in ∼0.05 keV/amu nanoparticle impact on solids. Here, the MIMS model has been extended and applied to interpreting the experimental K-shell X-ray satellite spectra for more than 40 years in keV-MeV/amu heavy-ion impact on solids. The binding energies of the K-shell MIMS of elements from Al to Ti were determined to be 80–200 eV. The successful extension of the model to the K-shell MIMS confirms that all elements in the periodic table and their combinations are subjected to the MIMS formation. Uranium and gold should have MIMS with bond energies in the range of 4000 eV.

In 2012, buckyball ions (C60+) were impacted on an Al target in an independent tabletop apparatus. The experiment detected X-ray photons off-axis of the C60+ ion beam, thus unambiguously proving the signals resulted from X-ray photons and confirmed the high X-ray energy conversion efficiency.

All elements can form molecules with Metastable Innershell Molecular State (MIMS) under high pressures that are 100 million times regular atmostpheric pressure.

MIMS radiation mechanism can be exploited for generating unprecedentedly intense x-rays that are presently beyond the reach of the state-of-the-art X-ray generation technologies. Therefore, the MIMS model and its energy-efficient generation methods potentially open a new scientific field: High Energy Molecular Physics and Chemistry, as well as provide a pathway for practical utilization of high intensity X-ray beams for a wide range of innovative applications.

Metastable innershell molecular state (MIMS) III: The universal binding energy and bond length of the homonucleus K-shell MIMS

The strongest regular chemical bond is about 9 eV (HC-CH triple carbon bond)

Finance goes from helping to hurting the economy when debt passes 100% of GDP

A new study from the Bank for International Settlements shows exactly why rapid finance sector growth is bad for the rest of the economy.

When private sector debt passes 100% of GDP, that point is reached. Another way of looking at the same topic is the proportion of workers employed by the finance sector. Once that proportion passes 3.9%, the effect on productivity growth turns negative. Ireland and Spain are cases in point. During the five years beginning 2005, Irish and Spanish financial sector employment grew at an average annual rate of 4.1% and 1.4% respectively; output per worker fell by 2.7% and 1.4% a year over the same period.

People who might have become scientists, who in another age dreamt of curing cancer or flying to Mars, today dream of becoming hedge fund managers.

Nextbigfuture notes that the USA has at least a double problem. There are too many highly qualified people going into finance and too many becoming lawyers.

Why does financial sector growth crowd out real economic growth? (31 pages)

In this paper we examine the negative relationship between the rate of growth of the financial sector and the rate of growth of total factor productivity. We begin by showing that by disproportionately benefiting high collateral/low productivity projects, an exogenous increase in finance reduces total factor productivity growth. Then, in a model with skilled workers and endogenous financial sector growth, we establish the possibility of multiple equilibria. In the equilibrium where skilled labour works in finance, the financial sector grows more quickly at the expense of the real economy. We go on to show that consistent with this theory, financial growth disproportionately harms financially dependent and R&D-intensive industries.

The productivity of a financially dependent industry located in a country experiencing a financial boom tends to grow 2.5% a year slower than a financially independent industry not experiencing such a boom

Growing a mature forest in ten years instead of 600 to 1000 years

With his company Afforestt, eco-entrepreneur Shubhendu Sharma is creating mini-forest ecosystems using an accelerated method. It’s based on the practices of Japanese forester Akira Miyawaki, as well as on Sharma’s own experiences gleaned from his former career in car manufacturing.

Trees are planted close to each other to simulate natural conditions of growth and competitions. For the same reason, Afforestt plants trees randomly. This method has been developed by Dr. Akira Miyawaki after extensive and exhaustive research and has been proved to work in over 3000 locations, including Gobi Desert and Central Africa.

If a piece of land is free from human intervention, a forest will naturally self-seed and take over within a period of around 600 to 1,000 years. Akira Miyawaki’s methodology amplifies that growth process to establish a mature, native forest in ten years.

It takes six steps.

1) you start with soil. We identify what nutrition the soil lacks.
2) we identify what species we should be growing in this soil, depending on climate.
3) We then identify locally abundant biomass available in that region to give the soil whatever nourishment it needs. This is typically an agricultural or industrial byproduct — like chicken manure or press mud, a byproduct of sugar production — but it can be almost anything. We’ve made a rule that it must come from within 50 kilometers of the site, which means we have to be flexible.

Once we’ve amended the soil to a depth of one meter

The soil is amended before saplings are planted. Photo: Afforestt

4. we plant saplings that are up to 80 cm high, packing them in very densely — three to five saplings per square meter.

5. The forest itself must cover a 100-square-meter minimum area. This grows into a forest so dense that after eight months, sunlight can’t reach the ground. At this point, every drop of rain that falls is conserved, and every leaf that falls is converted into humus. The more the forest grows, the more it generates nutrients for itself, accelerating growth. This density also means that individual trees begin competing for sunlight — another reason these forests grow so fast.

A freshly planted sapling. Photo: Afforestt

6. The forest needs to be watered and weeded for the first two or three years, at which point it becomes self-sustaining

But after that, it’s best to disturb the forest as little as possible to allow its ecosystem — including animals — to become established.

An Afforest project transforms a barren piece of land into a lush, dense forest on a residential estate. Photo: Afforestt

February 22, 2015

China and USA working on mach 10+ hypersonic weapons

China's hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), called WU-14 by the Pentagon, was launched into space by an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) booster, after which it returned to the atmosphere to glide at up to Mach 10. The test was conducted within China, says the defense ministry in Beijing. On Jan. 19, another object was test-launched from the same space base at Taiyuan, says analyst Richard Fisher of the Washington-based International Assessment and Strategy Center. The Jan. 9 test was first detailed by Bill Gertz of the Washington Free Beacon.

China became the third country after the Russian Federation and the United States to have successfully tested a hypersonic delivery vehicle able to carry nuclear warheads at a speed above Mach 10 - or 12,359 kilometers per hour (7,675 mph). China is also believed to be developing a hypersonic scramjet version that can be launched from air or ground.

Prompt Global Strike (PGS) is a United States military effort to develop a system that can deliver a precision conventional weapon strike anywhere in the world within one hour. A PGS system could also be useful during a nuclear conflict, potentially replacing nuclear weapons against 30 percent of targets. The PGS program encompasses numerous technologies, including conventional surface-launched rockets and air-launched hypersonic missiles, although no specific PGS system has yet been finalized.

NASA and ESA Prove that Super massive blackholes shape their host galaxies

NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and ESA’s (European Space Agency) XMM-Newton telescope are showing that fierce winds from a supermassive black hole blow outward in all directions -- a phenomenon that had been suspected, but difficult to prove until now.

This discovery has given astronomers their first opportunity to measure the strength of these ultra-fast winds and prove they are powerful enough to inhibit the host galaxy’s ability to make new stars.

Supermassive black holes blast matter into their host galaxies, with X-ray-emitting winds traveling at up to one-third the speed of light. In the new study, astronomers determined PDS 456, an extremely bright black hole known as a quasar more than 2 billion light-years away, sustains winds that carry more energy every second than is emitted by more than a trillion suns.

"Now we know quasar winds significantly contribute to mass loss in a galaxy, driving out its supply of gas, which is fuel for star formation," said the study’s lead author Emanuele Nardini of Keele University in England.

Astronomers think supermassive black holes and their home galaxies evolve together and regulate each other's growth. Evidence for this comes in part from observations of the central bulges of galaxies -- the more massive the central bulge, the larger the supermassive black hole.

This latest report demonstrates a supermassive black hole and its high-speed winds greatly affect the host galaxy. As the black hole bulks up in size, its winds push vast amounts of matter outward through the galaxy, which ultimately stops new stars from forming.

Supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies blast out radiation and ultra-fast winds, as illustrated in this artist's conception. NASA's NuSTAR and ESA's XMM-Newton telescopes show that these winds, containing highly ionized atoms, blow in a nearly spherical fashion.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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