June 06, 2015

Pakistan wants to get relatively modern, peaceful and stable by 2025 which would be great for the world

Pakistan will target growth next year of 5.5 percent when it unveils its 2015-16 budget, with historically low interest rates and infrastructure spending expected to fuel the fastest expansion since the global financial crisis. GDP growth in 2014-15 was 4.2 percent, short of the 5.1 percent target.

Pakistan has a population of about 190 million. They added 30 million people in the last 8 years. Pakistan will have a population of about 220 million in 2025. Pakistan could have 300 million people in 2050. They have an objective of slowing population growth.

Infrastructure projects should be boosted by a $46 billion deal signed with China earlier this year to open up a road and energy corridor between the two countries.

Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Prof.Ahsan Iqbal has said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Pakistan’s Vision 2025 seeks to position itself from a lower middle income country to high middle income country by achieving the target per capita GDP of $4200. This would be a $925 billion economy.

Pakistan economic plan is to follow China's development model and get China to help them do it

“In order to achieve this goal and create employment opportunities for new entrants into the labor force, it aims to target a growth rate of 8 percent between 2018 and 2025 with single digit inflation”, he said while addressing the think tank of China at Pak-China Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) on CPEC in Beijing today.

“Vision 2025 seeks to increase exports from the present $25 billion to $150 billion, tax-GDP ratio to 16-18 percent, investment rate in the range of 22-25 percent of GDP through domestic saving of 18-21 percent and foreign saving of 3-4 percent of GDP in the long run”.

Vision 2025 is people centred and consider human resource as an asset for growth and development. Pakistan’s 110 million people below the age of 30 are great opportunity for growth. The leading priority is to tap the latent energies and potential skills of youth, in making them effective managers of change for tomorrow.

Pakistan Vision 2025 lays down a foundation to put Pakistan on a fast track of development with the ultimate goal of transforming it to become one of top ten economies in the world by 2047, its first centenary. By 2025, it envisions Pakistan among top twenty five economies of world and an upper middle income country.

June 05, 2015

Nantero emerges from Stealth to reveal enterprise ready carbon nanotube computer memory

Nantero, the world leader in carbon nanotube electronics, announced it has closed a $31.5 million Series E financing round, which included new investors and participation from existing investors Charles River Ventures, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Globespan Capital Partners, and Harris and Harris Group. This substantially oversubscribed round highlights Nantero’s ongoing success in delivering a new generation of super-fast, ultra-high density memory called NRAM® (non-volatile random access memory) that can enable a variety of exciting new features and products in both consumer and enterprise electronics.

Nantero’s NRAM has already been installed in multiple production fabs and is currently being designed into innovative new electronic products that require increased storage, low power consumption, high speed, reliability, and high endurance. The company intends to use its new funding to continue the acceleration of NRAM as the leading next–generation memory for both storage class memory and as a replacement for flash and DRAM.

“With Nantero’s NRAM, the wait for a new generation of super-fast, high-density non-volatile memory is over,” said Greg Schmergel, Co-Founder, President and CEO of Nantero, Inc. “Our technology is already under development today in multiple world-class manufacturing facilities and we have more than a dozen major corporate partners actively working on NRAM. We are excited to begin the next phase of commercialization which will bring Nantero’s NRAM into volume production and change the course of electronics innovation for decades to come.”

Nextbigfuture interviewed Nantero CEO Greg Schmergel

* Nantero NRAM is DDR4 compatible
* two top foundries are working with them
* they have a staff of 55 people
* they want to be the ARM of computer memory (ARM successfully licensed chip designs)
* multi-gigabyte designs should be complete in mid-2016 and released as products in mid-2017
* there is 10 thousand times resistance between on andoff states. This will allow for multiple resistant state memory for higher density and lower costs
* there is the potential for carbon nanotube logic in the future

How the carbon nanotubes are used and manipulated ?

* raw carbon nanotubes are obtained from suppliers
* the carbon nanotubes are placed into a pure water solution (no chlorination)
* they are purified in water (iron and other contaminants is removed, have to get to parts per billion purity.
* package in industry bottles
* they are deposited onto chips using spin coating to get a 40 nanometer layer
* hundreds of carbon nanotube connect each pair of electrodes.

Wild chimps teach scientists about gene that encodes HIV-fighting protein

Part of a gene variant present in some wild African chimps is nearly identical to a section of an analogous gene version found in HIV-infected humans who are uncharacteristically slow to progress to full-blown AIDS.

A gene variant in chimpanzees in a Tanzanian wildlife preserve probably protects them from rapidly succumbing to the primate equivalent of HIV, Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have discovered.

A gene variant is a naturally occurring difference in the DNA sequence of a gene. Part of the chimp variant strongly resembles that of an analogous human variant known to slow the human immunodeficiency virus’ progression to AIDS.

Researchers discovered that some of the chimpanzees in the Gombe Stream National Park, made famous by primatologist Jane Goodall, have a genetic variant that may help prevent them from succumbing to the primate equivalent of HIV.
Emily Wroblewski

Lightweight and quiet power to enable armored military exoskeletons

General Atomics is looking at a hybrid-electric power unit with a liquid piston engine that fits in the palm of the hand that will run at 10,000 RPMs. A lightweight and quiet power source is the key to the new powered military exoskeletons.

LiquidPiston’s X Engine is a non-Wankel rotary embodiment of the company’s innovative High Efficiency Hybrid Cycle (HEHC). The X Engine has few parts and three combustion events per rotor revolution, resulting in tremendous power density.

LiquidPiston is currently developing and testing the X Mini, a power-dense, low-vibration, quiet, 70 cubic centimeter gasoline powered rotary four-stroke engine prototype. The compact engine (4-pound core) has only two primary moving parts.

The X Mini is based on LiquidPiston’s patented thermodynamic cycle and engine architecture. To date, the X Mini prototype has demonstrated 3.5 horsepower (net indicated) at 10,000 RPM and the ability to run steady state with air-cooling.

When mature, the engine is expected to weigh 3 pounds, produce over 5 horsepower (over 3728 watts) at up to 15,000 RPM, and be over 30 percent smaller and lighter than comparable four-stroke piston engines. The engine can fit in a 6.6” x 6.2” x 5.4” box. The compact, quiet, high-efficiency, low-vibration, multi-fuel capable combustion engines that are scalable from 1 horsepower to over 1000 horsepower. The power density will be about 2 horsepower per pound.

The X Mini prototype demonstrates that LiquidPiston’s innovative engine technology can scale down in size – prior prototypes focused on 40 and 70 HP designs – and is multi-fuel capable – able to run on gasoline (spark ignition), in addition to previously demonstrated diesel and JP-8 (compression ignition).

The X Mini will enable many small engine applications to be smaller, lighter, and quieter, including hand-held power equipment, lawn and garden equipment, portable generators, mopeds, unmanned aerial vehicles, robotics, marine power, range extenders, and auxiliary power units for boats, aviation and other vehicles. The engine’s improved noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) characteristics will also increase product performance, enhance operator comfort and prolong application life.

* engine runs the novel high-efficiency hybrid cycle (HEHC)
* achieves combustion at constant volume and overexpansion for greater energy extraction.
* Only two moving parts, a rotor and shaft, and no poppet valves—commonly used in other four-stroke ICEs to control fuel intake
* engine also has reduced noise, vibration, and harshness characteristics
* theoretical efficiency of 75 percent for HEHC using air-standard assumptions and first-law analysis
* up to 2 HP per pound (3.3 KW / kg)
* innovative rotary engine architecture shows a potential indicated efficiency of 60% and brake efficiency of over 50%.

In an exoskeleton the engines would only be run to recharge batteries.

Revision Military's powered exoskeleon with rifle proof armor

Revision Military unveiled an armored exoskeleton for the US Special Operations TALOS (Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit) project. Revision is based in Essex Junction, Vermont, Revision develops innovative capabilities for integrated, performance-enhancing soldier systems.

There are new liquid piston engines which would weigh 3 pounds and provide 5 horse power (3300 watts per kilogram). This would enable lightweight hybrid power charging of high density batteries. The Liquid Piston engines are also quieter than other engines.

Another articles looks at new developments to augment human vision and soldier shooting accuracy.

At the 2015 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, Revision Military displayed its prototype Kinetic Operations Suit on a full-sized mannequin Launched a year prior, the suit features a powered, lower-body exoskeleton to transfer the weight down to the waist belt and supports it with motorized actuators on each leg. The exoskeleton supports a body armor system capable of stopping rifle rounds that surrounds 60 percent of the operator, compared to 18 percent with current armor vests. To relieve weight, the leg actuators pick up each leg and moves it as the person moves, and takes the weight of the helmet, armor, and vest down through a rigid, articulated spine, transferring weight from weak areas of the neck and lower back. A small power pack powers the suit, and a cooling vest pumps water through three yards of tubing under the suit to maintain core temperature; the power pack has a cooling fan that be heard in close proximity, but it is thought that won't matter after breeching a door. The Kinetic Operations Suit has undergone live-fire testing and combat scenarios and successfully performed the same tasks as currently-outfitted operators in similar amounts of time

Every Soldier an Eagle Eyed Marksman on future battlefields

There a few methods for boosting vision to about 20 / 7.5. That would mean they could clearly see something at 20 feet away (6.1 meters) that mere mortals could only make out from a distance of 7.5 feet (2.3 m).

1) is a brain training exercises, which were tested on baseball players.
2) Another are improved laser eye surgery
3) Bionic lens which would be inserted into the eye. This could be availabe in 2017

Healthy young observers may have a binocular acuity superior to 20/20; the limit of acuity in the unaided human eye is around 20 / 10–20 / 8, although 20 / 8.9 was the highest score recorded in a study of some US professional athletes. Some birds of prey, such as hawks, are believed to have an acuity of around 20 / 2.

There is a limit for improving visual acuity without increasing the size of the eye.

Th US Army is developing an exoskeleton that automatically and effortlessly steadies a soldier’s firing arm.

There are of course, low-tech gun rests and other commercial devices for improving aim on the market, but the new Mobile Arm Exoskeleton for Firearm Aim Stabilization (MAXFAS) seeks to bring even more advanced technology to the process, actively sensing and canceling out even slight arm trembling, while also keeping the shooter’s arm free to point at different targets.

“Army soldiers have to be able to hit a target at over 300 yards away,” says Daniel Baechle, a mechanical engineer at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in Aberdeen, Maryland, and one of MAXFAS’s creators. “That's more than three football fields put end-to-end. Prior to basic training, many soldiers have never tried to hit a target that far away.”

MAXFAS should help them get up to speed much more quickly. The system relies on a network of cables and sensors to detect movement, then pulls on the shooter's arm as if he or she were a marionette.

Braces equipped with accelerometers and gyroscopes are attached to the shooter’s forearm and upper arm with velcro straps. These sensors then detect the shooter’s minute arm movements and transfer the data to microchips, where computer algorithms distinguish the shooter’s involuntary tremors from his or her voluntary motions.

MAXFAS is made with carbon fiber composite materials that weigh just 10 ounces. Future versions could incorporate lightweight motors in a backpack to make the exoskeleton mobile

The researchers found 14 of the 15 shooters shot better while wearing MAXFAS than before it, with accuracy improving by 27 percent across the group on average.

There may also be applications for MAXFAS outside the military. For example, it could help assist hunters, or even be modified to help train skills such as golf swings, tennis swings, or billiards shots.

Gene Therapy halts Type 1 Diabetes in Mice

Transferring part of an insulin gene into liver cells triggers a specific immune response that protects mice from one form of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes occurs when T cells target and kill insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas. Maria Grazia Roncarolo of Stanford University in California and her team transferred genes to hepatocytes which protects from type 1 diabetes by inducing Ag-specific FoxP3+ Tregs.

Antigen (Ag)–specific tolerance in type 1 diabetes (T1D) in human has not been achieved yet. Targeting lentiviral vector (LV)–mediated gene expression to hepatocytes induces active tolerance toward the encoded Ag. The insulin B chain 9–23 (InsB9–23) is an immunodominant T cell epitope in nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice. To determine whether auto-Ag gene transfer to hepatocytes induces tolerance and control of T1D, NOD mice were treated with integrase-competent LVs (ICLVs) that selectively target the expression of InsB9–23 to hepatocytes. ICLV treatment induced InsB9–23–specific effector T cells but also FoxP3+ regulatory T cells (Tregs), which halted islet immune cell infiltration, and protected from T1D. Moreover, ICLV treatment combined with a single suboptimal dose of anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody (mAb) is effective in T1D reversal. Splenocytes from LV.InsB9–23–treated mice, but not from LV.OVA (ovalbumin)–treated control mice, stopped diabetes development, demonstrating that protection is Ag-specific. Depletion of CD4+CD25+FoxP3+ T cells led to diabetes progression, indicating that Ag-specific FoxP3+ Tregs mediate protection. Integrase-defective LVs (IDLVs).InsB9–23, which alleviate the concerns for insertional mutagenesis and support transient transgene expression in hepatocytes, were also efficient in protecting from T1D. These data demonstrate that hepatocyte-targeted auto-Ag gene expression prevents and resolves T1D and that stable integration of the transgene is not required for this protection. Gene transfer to hepatocytes can be used to induce Ag-specific tolerance in autoimmune diseases.

Science Translational Medicine - Insulin B chain 9–23 gene transfer to hepatocytes protects from type 1 diabetes by inducing Ag-specific FoxP3+ Tregs

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop to Break Ground

Elon Musk gave no detail when he announced plans in January to build a hyperloop test track, likely in Texas. Since then, another entrepreneur has secured agreements to break ground early next year on a five-mile stretch in California.

This stretch, near the new town of Quay Valley along Interstate-5 midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, is estimated to cost $100 million and could start carrying passengers in 2018 after extensive safety testing.

“We look at it as a metro system,” says Dirk Ahlborn, head of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies or HTT, which is building the California project. “We envision a network” in the United States and elsewhere, he says, calling trains a “dinosaur industry” and high-speed rail too expensive.
Elon' Hyperloop vision

Another fast tube transport with a focus on improving maglev
Here was the 58 page document that Elon Musk kicked off the technical proposal of hyperloop

DARPA boosting additive manufacturing using more than 1000 microbots and enhancing quality of titanium products

Additive manufacturing, including emerging “3D printing” technologies, is booming. Last year an astronaut on the International Space Station used a 3D printer to make a socket wrench in space, hinting at a future when digital code will replace the need to launch specialized tools into orbit. Here on Earth, the Navy is considering applications for additive manufacturing aboard ships, and a commercial aircraft engine company recently announced its first FAA-approved 3D-printed part. Despite its revolutionary promise, however, additive manufacturing is still in its infancy when it comes to understanding the impact of subtle differences in manufacturing methods on the properties and capabilities of resulting materials. Overcoming this shortcoming is necessary to enable reliable mass production of additively manufactured structures such as aircraft wings or other complex components of military systems, which must meet demanding specification requirements.

DARPA’s Open Manufacturing program seeks to solve this problem by building and demonstrating rapid qualification technologies that comprehensively capture, analyze and control variability in the manufacturing process to predict the properties of resulting products. Success could help unleash the potential time- and cost-saving benefits of advanced manufacturing methods for a broad range of defense and national security needs.

“The Open Manufacturing program is fundamentally about capturing and understanding the physics and process parameters of additive and other novel production concepts, so we can rapidly predict with high confidence how the finished part will perform,” said Mick Maher, program manager in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office. “The reliability and run-to-run variability of new manufacturing techniques are always uncertain at first, and as a result we qualify these materials and processes using a blunt and repetitive ‘test and retest’ approach that is inevitably expensive and time-consuming, ultimately undermining incentives for innovation.”

June 04, 2015

Conceptually Viable Brute Force Radical Life Extension by Swapping All Old Cells for Young Cells

A team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators has made the first steps towards development of bioartificial replacement limbs suitable for transplantation They had used decellularization technique to regenerate kidneys, livers, hearts and lungs from animal models, but this is the first reported use to engineer the more complex tissues of a bioartificial limb.

They took the leg from recently deceased rat and then:

* Over a period of 52 hours, infusion of a detergent solution removes cells from a rat forelimb, leaving behind the cell-free matrix scaffolding onto which new tissues can be regenerated.

* it is put in a specially designed bioreactor and after 2 weeks it is recellularized

* they graft some skin onto the fledgling leg, and the doctors had themselves their own, home-grown rat limb (minus the bones and cartilage).

* they attached it to a rat

What if instead of taking the leg of dead rat you took the leg of an old rat and recellularized it with its own stem cells.

So if this process were made to work with humans, then all of the organs, limbs and muscles could be recellularized with youthful cells.

After vascular and muscle progenitors have been introduced into a decellularized rat limb, it is suspended in a bioreactor, which provides a nutrient solution and electrical stimulation to support and promote the growth of new tissues. (Bernhard Jank, MD, Ott Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine)

An old person who be placed into a bioreactor and progressively get every cell rejuvenated. This would be an expensive procedure but one that would only need to be performed once every 40-50 years.

You could have wearable bioreactors that work on rejuvenating different body parts. A few weeks rejuvenating each limb one at time, and then other body sections. Then a final rejevation of the core body in a whole body tube.

If you could control the locations of recellularization and progressively recellularize the whole body, then it would something like the Star Wars procedure for Luke Skywalker. An old person who be placed into a bioreactor and progressively get every cell rejuvenated

China Nuclear will have a successful IPO to help fund reactor build and uranium acquisition

China National Nuclear Power's IPO is over one hundred times over subscribed. China National Nuclear will sell 3.9 billion new shares at 3.39 yuan each. This will raise about US$2 billion. The share price will likely jump given how oversubscribed it is. The company plans to use the money to build 10 reactors and for working capital needs.

NOTE - the author is currently a shareholder in Cameco.

China National Nuclear CEO Wang Ying said that the company is specifically looking at Kazakhstan, Canada and Australia for uranium assets.

Rob Chang of Cantor Fitzgerald has released a note on which projects in those three regions might be acquisition targets for CNNC International.

In Canada, Chang sees Fission Uranium’s (TSX:FCU) Patterson Lake South as one project that fits the bill in terms of size, although production costs have yet to be determined. Then there is Cameco’s (TSX:CCO,NYSE:CCJ) Millennium deposit, whose costs are likely to be within the specified range; it’s just a few million pounds short in size. UEX’s (TSX:UEX) Shea Creek deposit is another large project that is the right size, but its costs are still not finalized. Finally, there is Rio Tinto’s (ASX:RIO,NYSE:RIO,LSE:RIO) Roughrider project in Saskatchewan, which fits the size criteria and will likely be within the cost range as well.

CNNC International is looking to make its acquisitions within the next five years, and taking that into consideration, Chang also sees NexGen Energy’s (TSXV:NXE) Arrow project, Kivalliq Energy’s (TSXV:KIV) Angilak deposit, Denison Mines’ (TSX:DML,NYSEMKT:DNN) Wheeler River project and Areva’s Midwest project as others that may be of interest.

For projects Down Under, Energy Resources of Australia’s (ASX:ERA) Ranger 3 Deeps is a viable candidate, although Chang believes permitting may be an issue.

The other possibility for Australian projects would be Cameco’s Yeelirie, but again, costs are yet to be determined. Looking at the longer-term potential, Cameco’s Kintyre deposit, Toro Energy’s (ASX:TOE) Wiluna-Lake Maitland project and Laramide’s (TSX:LAM) Westmoreland project are also possibilities, although Chang is concerned that costs may be high for all three.

Massachusetts General has developed Transplantable bioengineered rat leg which is proof of method to regenerate human limbs

A team of Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators has made the first steps towards development of bioartificial replacement limbs suitable for transplantation. In their report, which has been published online in the journal Biomaterials, the researchers describe using an experimental approach previously used to build bioartificial organs to engineer rat forelimbs with functioning vascular and muscle tissue. They also provided evidence that the same approach could be applied to the limbs of primates.

They have shown that they can maintain the matrix of all of these tissues (muscles, bone, cartilage, blood vessels, tendons, ligaments and nerves) in their natural relationships to each other, that they can culture the entire construct over prolonged periods of time, and that we can repopulate the vascular system and musculature.”

The authors note that more than 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. have lost a limb, and although prosthetic technology has greatly advanced, the devices still have many limitations in terms of both function and appearance.

They had used decellularization technique to regenerate kidneys, livers, hearts and lungs from animal models, but this is the first reported use to engineer the more complex tissues of a bioartificial limb.

The same decellularization process used in the whole-organ studies – perfusing a detergent solution through the vascular system – was used to strip all cellular materials from forelimbs removed from deceased rats in a way that preserved the primary vasculature and nerve matrix. After thorough removal of cellular debris – a process that took a week – what remained was the cell-free matrix that provides structure to all of a limb’s composite tissues. At the same time, populations of muscle and vascular cells were being grown in culture.

* The secret to building a living, functioning, artificial limb starts with a dead one.

* Over a period of 52 hours, infusion of a detergent solution removes cells from a rat forelimb, leaving behind the cell-free matrix scaffolding onto which new tissues can be regenerated.

* it is put in a specially designed bioreactor and after 2 weeks it is recellularized

* they graft some skin onto the fledgling leg, and the doctors had themselves their own, home-grown rat limb (minus the bones and cartilage).

* they attached it to a rat

CRISPR/Cas9 gene therapy efficiently suppresses hepatitis B virus in mice

Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is prevalent, deadly, and seldom cured due to the persistence of viral episomal DNA (cccDNA) in infected cells. Newly developed genome engineering tools may offer the ability to directly cleave viral DNA, thereby promoting viral clearance. Here, we show that the CRISPR/Cas9 system can specifically target and cleave conserved regions in the HBV genome, resulting in robust suppression of viral gene expression and replication. Upon sustained expression of Cas9 and appropriately chosen guide RNAs, we demonstrate cleavage of cccDNA by Cas9 and a dramatic reduction in both cccDNA and other parameters of viral gene expression and replication. Thus, we show that directly targeting viral episomal DNA is a novel therapeutic approach to control the virus and possibly cure patients.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) chronically infects over 250 million people worldwide. Chronically infected individuals are at an increased risk for deadly complications, including cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma, resulting in approximately 600,000 deaths per year

Transiently transfected CRISPR constructs exhibit anti-HBV activity.

Scientific Reports - CRISPR/Cas9 cleavage of viral DNA efficiently suppresses hepatitis B virus

June 03, 2015

Pluto’s Moons Tumbling in Absolute Chaos

If you lived on one of Pluto’s moons, you might have a hard time determining when, or from which direction, the sun will rise each day. Comprehensive analysis of data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope shows that two of Pluto’s moons, Nix and Hydra, wobble unpredictably.

“Hubble has provided a new view of Pluto and its moons revealing a cosmic dance with a chaotic rhythm,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “When the New Horizons spacecraft flies through the Pluto system in July we’ll get a chance to see what these moons look like up close and personal.”

The moons wobble because they’re embedded in a gravitational field that shifts constantly. This shift is created by the double planet system of Pluto and Charon as they whirl about each other. Pluto and Charon are called a double planet because they share a common center of gravity located in the space between the bodies. Their variable gravitational field sends the smaller moons tumbling erratically. The effect is strengthened by the football-like, rather than spherical, shape of the moons. Scientists believe it’s likely Pluto’s other two moons, Kerberos and Styx, are in a similar situation.

The astonishing results, found by Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California and Doug Hamilton of the University of Maryland at College Park, will appear in the June 4 issue of the journal Nature.

This set of computer modeling illustrations of Pluto’s moon Nix shows how the orientation of the moon changes unpredictably as it orbits the “double planet” Pluto-Charon. Credits: NASA/ESA/M. Showalter (SETI)/G. Bacon (STScI)

This illustration shows the scale and comparative brightness of Pluto’s small satellites. The surface craters are for illustration only and do not represent real imaging data. Credits: NASA/ESA/A. Feild (STScI)

Nature - Resonant interactions and chaotic rotation of Pluto’s small moons

Slower Economic Growth for the World, USA and China and China's new economic plan through 2025

In March, the OECD was projecting 4% global economic growth for 2015. On Wednesday, it slashed that to 3.1% -- which would be less than the 3.3% growth the world saw last year.

Two of the largest engines of the world economy -- United States and China -- have slowed down.

China simply wasn't able to sustain its incredible growth, and that has had ripple effects around the world. Manufacturing and exports have cooled, and the real estate market isn't the slam dunk that it once was.

In the U.S., the strong dollar has been a drag on growth. American companies are losing money overseas and foreigners aren't buying as many U.S. goods since they appear more expensive. The OECD slashed its U.S. 2015 growth projection from 3.1% to 2%. If that comes to pass, it would be a dip from last year's 2.4% GDP.

If Greece fails to reach an agreement with its creditors, Europe will feel the strain again, especially in business confidence. While Germany's economy remains the lynchpin, overall unemployment is 11.2% in the euro area.

William Pesek talks about China repeating the mistakes of South Korea. South Korea's economy crashed in 1997 under the weight of debts compiled by the country's family-owned conglomerates. The government's strategy for dealing with the fallout consisted of shifting the debt burden to consumers. South Korea household debt as a ratio of gross domestic product is 81 percent. That far exceeds the ratios in U.S., Germany and, at least for the moment, China. As a result, Korea has been particularly susceptible to downturns in the global economy, which is why the country is now veering toward deflation.

South Korea's per capita GDP merely doubled since 1997. If China followed the same path then China's per capita GDP PPP (Purchasing power parity) would go from about $13000 to $26000 and the overall GDP PPP would be about $35-40 trillion.

US Crude oil production heading 11 to 15 million barrels per day depending upon the scenario and a quick look at Peak Oil people are saying now

The latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecast for US crude oil production is for an increase to about 11 million barrels per day and then having a plateau.

When US crude oil production gets past 10.1 million barrels per day then it will have passed the old production peak in 1970.
This will take a further increase of about 500,000 barrels per day. About 5% more production.

Getting to 11 million barrels per day is the the low oil price case.

If oil prices strengthen and/or oil recovery technology improves more then the US crude oil production would head to 13-15 million barrels per day by 2025.

The High Oil and Gas Resource case in AEO2015 was developed using assumptions that result in higher estimates of technically recoverable crude oil and natural gas resources than those in the Reference case. Estimates of technically recoverable tight and shale crude oil and natural gas resources are particularly uncertain and change over time as new information is gained through drilling, production, and technology experimentation. The assumptions for the High Oil and Gas Resource case are very optimistic.

US daily crude oil production higher than at any point except 11 months scattered in 1970, 1971 and 1972

US daily Crude oil production is at 9.586 million barrels per day.

There were only 11 months in US history where crude oil production reached higher levels.

US all liquids oil production is at 14.8 million barrels per day. This is the highest ever.

It includes 3.1 million barrels per day of natural gas liquids.
1 million barrels per day of biofuels (mostly ethanol).
1.1 million barrels per day of refinery process gains.

The US is a net exporter of oil products. Exporting 1.6 million barrels per day more than it imports.
The US imports about 5 million barrels per day of crude oil.

Accelerated wound healing by injectable microporous gel

Nature Materials - Accelerated wound healing by injectable microporous gel scaffolds assembled from annealed building blocks

Injectable hydrogels can provide a scaffold for in situ tissue regrowth and regeneration, yet gel degradation before tissue reformation limits the gels’ ability to provide physical support. Here, we show that this shortcoming can be circumvented through an injectable, interconnected microporous gel scaffold assembled from annealed microgel building blocks whose chemical and physical properties can be tailored by microfluidic fabrication. In vitro, cells incorporated during scaffold formation proliferated and formed extensive three-dimensional networks within 48 h. In vivo, the scaffolds facilitated cell migration that resulted in rapid cutaneous-tissue regeneration and tissue-structure formation within five days. The combination of microporosity and injectability of these annealed gel scaffolds should enable novel routes to tissue regeneration and formation in vivo.

Microfluidic generation of microsphere hydrogel building blocks for the creation of microporous annealed particle (MAP) scaffolds.

Drone Tourism

Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the Valley of the Temples, a large park of Greek ruins situated on the south-west coast of Sicily. But soon you could be able to get a drone's-eye view of the sights.
Helmut Hlavacs at the University of Vienna has developed a system that allows people to control a drone as it visits faraway sites. The budding tourist sits at home, wearing a pair of virtual reality goggles. As they move their head, they direct a drone that has cameras pointed in all directions, feeding the view back to the user.
Hlavacs has only tested his system locally, in an open field and on a narrow city street. He plans on making the software work over long distances; if there is too much of a lag between the drone and the goggles, the wearer is likely to become nauseated.

Antonio Gentile, founder of InformAmuse, an archaeology app start-up is one of the researchers who has teamed up with Hlavacs

There is also a site Travel by Drone which shows streaming drone video

US Air Force and DARPA developing a complete hypersonic vehicle by 2023 and China looking at morphing hypersonic vehicles

The Air Force and DARPA are researching and will build a next generation hypersonic vehicle by 2023. It will use some of the X-51 tech that is capable of operating "at the kind of temperatures you have when you are going at hypersonic speeds." They are developing a guidance system that can still function at Mach 5.

The Pentagon also hopes that costs could be lowered over a traditional turbine engine because of fewer parts in the hypersonic system.

Here is an open access article on the topic of hypersonic control and guidance by Chinese researchers. International Journal of Aerospace Engineering - Collaborative Deformation Design Using Control Integrated Analysis Methods for Hypersonic Waverider

Hypersonic waveriders have a large flight envelope, leading to the difficulty in keeping overall flight stability for a fixed geometry. Accordingly, hypersonic waveriders can be considered to design as a morphing vehicle such that the flight range is expanded for waveriding stability. To this end, this paper investigates the collaborative deformation design using control integrated analysis methods for the hypersonic waverider. Firstly, a parametric model is applied to combine the shape deformation with the geometrical properties. Secondly, the morphing process with regard to the change in a single geometric parameter and the static and dynamic characteristics affected by this deformation are analyzed. Afterwards, the collaborative relations are discussed for the changes in the lower forebody angle and elevon area. Furthermore, a flight control law is designed to guarantee flight stability while implementing the collaborative deformation, and the morphing results are evaluated based on the control-oriented idea. Finally, a simulation example is used to verify the effectiveness of the proposed methods for the hypersonic waverider.

A cancelled Blackswift hypersonic project design

June 02, 2015

Japan unlikely to hit 22% 2030 nuclear power target and South Korea will add two more nuclear reactors by 2029

Japan’s expectation that nuclear generation will account for as much as 22 percent of its electricity in 2030 is overly optimistic, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said.

Factoring in costs and the regulatory hurdles required to extend the life of operating reactors beyond the typical 40 years, atomic power will probably supply no more than 10 percent of electricity in 2030, an analysis by BNEF shows. To achieve the government target, at least 13 reactors would need to receive extensions beyond their 40-year lifetime, BNEF said in a report released Tuesday. That would be challenging amid continued anti-nuclear power sentiment among the public, the researcher said.

Gas is likely to account for about 42 percent of Japan’s electricity generation in 2030, far greater than the government’s projection of 27 percent, according to the report.

As for clean energy, renewables will probably make up 26.1 percent of the generation mix, compared with 22 percent to 24 percent projected by the government, BNEF said.

BNEF expects 23 percent of Japan’s electricity to come from coal in 2030. The government pegs coal at 26 percent.

South Korea will add two more nuclear reactors to the national power grid by 2029 and scrap a plan to build four new fossil fuel plants as part of efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy recently drew up its 7th power supply plan for 2015 to 2029. It will review the plan with the Ministry of Environment and other related state bodies this month and then hold a mandatory public hearing before confirmation.

If the plan is endorsed, Korea will operate 36 nuclear reactors by 2029, up from current 23. The constriction of 11 reactors is underway.

Mach 3 naval guns are double the speed of standard shells and brings some benefits expected from hypersonic railguns

A guided HVP (Hyper Velocity Projectile.) round from a standard Mk 45 deck gun could bring a significant margin of the railguns promised capabilities to the fleet sooner, USNI News understands. The HVPs from a traditional deck gun will be slower than one launched from a railgun — a little over Mach 3 versus Mach 5 — but still more than double the speed of an unguided regular shell from the service’s Mk 45 five-inch gun found on its guided missile cruisers and destroyers, according to information from NAVSEA.

While deck guns are standard through out the fleet, they lack the range precision of the guided missiles found on cruisers and destroyers and have had shrinking utility in high-end warfare.

A high speed guided round from a deck gun could give U.S. ships more options to deal with air and ballistic missile threats while the Navy continues to refine the railgun design.

Unlike standard high-explosive rounds, the speed of the HVPs doesn’t need explosives and relies on the force brought from its speed to destroy targets.

The addition of the HVP to the arsenal could mean instead of sending a Standard Missile to interdict an air threat, a ship could instead fire a much more inexpensive salvo of guided shells from the deck gun to handle an enemy aircraft.

According to NAVSEA, the service is also investigating using HVP in larger guns than the MK 45.

“The round is being designed to be compatible with multiple guns in the U.S. inventory,” read the NAVSEA statement to USNI News.

NAVSEA didn’t specify, but USNI News understands the Navy is looking for alternatives to the $400,000-per-round guided rocket assisted Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) fired from the 155mm Advanced Gun System (AGS) of the Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyers (DDG-1000).

A BAE Systems designed railgun will undergo a first round of at-sea testing next year.

An artist’s conception of BAE Systems’ Hyper Velocity Projectile. BAE Systems Image

Additive manufacturing of plane parts could swap in and make planes 7% lighter but eventual redesigns would enable 50% lighter planes

A Northwestern University team has confirmed a new way to help the airline industry save dollars while also saving the environment. And the solution comes in three dimensions. By manufacturing aircrafts’ metal parts with 3-D printing, airlines could save a significant amount of fuel, materials, and other resources.

Led by Eric Masanet, the team used aircraft industry data to complete a case study of the life-cycle environmental effects of using 3-D printing for select metal aircraft parts, a technique that is already being adopted by the industry. The team concluded that 3-D printing the lighter and higher performance parts could significantly reduce both manufacturing waste and the weight of the airplane, thus saving fuel and money and decreasing carbon emissions.

Conventional manufacturing methods tend to be inefficient and wasteful. To produce a 1-kilogram bracket for an airplane, for example, it may require 10 kilograms of raw material input into the manufacturing process. And, from an engineering design perspective, that final bracket may still contain much more metal than is required for the job. 3-D printing, on the other hand, requires far less raw material inputs and can further produce parts that minimize weight through better design.

“We have suboptimal designs because we’re limited by conventional manufacturing,” Masanet said. “When you can make something in layer-by-layer fashion, those constraints diminish.”

Masanet does not anticipate a change to the crucial parts of the aircraft, such as the wings and engine, any time soon. But he does see real potential in the replacement of less flight-critical parts, such as brackets, hinges, seat buckles, and furnishings. According to the case study, 3-D printing a bracket, for example, reduced its weight from 1.09 kilograms to 0.38 kilograms. This might not seem like much, but it adds up.

“There are enough parts that, when replaced, could reduce the weight of the aircraft by 4 to 7 percent,” Masanet said. “And it could be even more as we move forward. This will save a lot of resources and a lot of fuel.”

GE is working on lighter plane engines and other parts

Journal of Cleaner Production - Energy and emissions saving potential of additive manufacturing: the case of lightweight aircraft components

Futurama reference appropriate for Caitlyn Jenner

Bruce Jenner became the transgender Caitlyn Jenner

So we get to have a reference from my favorite Futurama episode "Raging Bender".

Bender joins the Ultimate Robot Fighting league. He eventually becomes the 'The Gender Bender'.

I would also note that there has been a 39 year delay but a "woman" has won the gold medal in the Olympic Decathalon.

Improved combination treatment against high-risk, localized prostate cancer

Two abstracts presented during the Genitourinary (Prostate) Cancer Oral Abstract Session on Sunday, May 31, showed significantly improved overall survival (OS) when docetaxel chemotherapy was added to standard hormone therapy in patients with advanced, hormone-naive prostate cancer (Abstract 5001) and hormone therapy plus radiation therapy in men with high-risk localized prostate cancer (Abstract LBA5002)


Nicholas D. James, MD, PhD, of the University of Warwick and Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, United Kingdom, presented the first OS results from the randomized, controlled STAMPEDE trial, a multistage, multi-arm assessment of therapies for men with advanced, hormone-naive prostate cancer.

The trial was designed to continuously adapt the standard of care (SOC) aspect of the trial as new treatment options emerge. Dr. James presented results of four of the trial’s arms, which randomly assigned 2,962 men at a 2:1:1:1 ratio to SOC alone (at least 3 years of androgen-deprivation therapy with radiation when needed), SOC plus six cycles of docetaxel, SOC with zoledronic acid for 2 years, or SOC with docetaxel and zoledronic acid.

Sixty-one percent of the men had metastatic disease, and the rest had locally advanced, non-metastatic prostate cancer. Patients were followed for a median of 42 months.

There were 165 deaths in the SOC plus docetaxel arm compared with 405 in the SOC alone arm. Men assigned to docetaxel had a significantly improved median OS of 77 months compared with 67 months for men in the SOC arm

Immunology Cancer treatment could replace chemotherapy as the standard treatment within five years

Immunotherapy, which harnesses the body's immune system to attack cancerous cells, is proving so effective that in one British-led trial, more than half of patients with advanced melanoma saw tumours shrink or being brought under control, researchers said.

A number of trials of the drugs have been presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual conference in Chicago.

Professor Roy Herbst, chief of medical oncology at Yale Cancer Centre in the US, described some of the findings as "spectacular".

He said immunotherapy could replace chemotherapy as the standard treatment for cancer within the next five years, according to reports.

He told reporters: "I think we are seeing a paradigm shift in the way oncology is being treated.

"The potential for long-term survival, effective cure, is definitely there."

The news from the American Society of Clinical Oncology's 2015 annual conference is here

High cost combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab proving more effective against advanced melanoma

The combination of nivolumab and ipilimumab significantly increased progression-free survival (PFS) for patients with advanced melanoma compared with ipilimumab alone, according to a randomized, double-blind, phase III trial (Abstract LBA1). Nivolumab monotherapy also performed better than ipilimumab alone. Though this was a positive trial, a Discussant also noted the extreme high costs of these drugs, and others like them.

In patients with PD-L1 expression of at least 5%, the median PFS was similar among the combination (14.0 months) and nivolumab monotherapy (14.0 months) arms, whereas the PFS was 3.9 months in the ipilimumab monotherapy arm.

Mary Meekers 2015 Internet Trends

May 31, 2015

Turkey completing a 26000 ton amphibious assault helicopter carrier in 2021

The Turkish government announced it signed a nearly $ 1 billion deal with a local shipyard to produce the country's first Landing Platform Dock (LPD).

The planned amphibious assault vessel will carry a battalion-sized unit of 1,200 troops and personnel, eight utility helicopters, three unmanned aerial vehicles and transport 150 vehicles, including battle tanks. It also will have an aircraft platform for vertical take off and landing. A ski jump at the front of the deck can be used to launch fighter aircraft.

Industry sources estimate the cost of the contract at close to $1 billion.

SSM said the 231-meter-long vessel will be completed by 2021. The LPD will deploy on the Aegean, the Black, and the Mediterranean seas, as well as on Turkish Navy's operations on the Atlantic and Indian oceans.

Turkey will be the third operator in the world of this ship type after Spain and Australia.

The $1 billion deal to cooperate with Spanish shipbuilder Navantia to build a Juan Carlos I-class light aircraft carrier. Here's what we know about it.

Stretching 758 feet in length, and weighing 26,000 tons, the Juan Carlos is the largest naval warship ever built in Spain. Once Turkey gets its copy, it will outweigh the next-largest Turkish warship by a whopping seven times.

Similar to the USS Antonio

Near term Transparent solar power windows could provide 60-90% of the energy for a high rise building

Oxford PV is developing and commercialising thin-film perovskite solar cells, which can be printed directly onto silicon solar cells, CIGS solar cells or glass. This will drive a paradigm shift in the aesthetics, performance and cost of both current solar panels and Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) systems.

Perovskite materials have astounded the solar cell community with a steep rise in efficiency from ~4% in 2010 to a certified efficiency of 20.1% (NREL) in 2014- already surpassing many other solar technologies.

To reach this remarkable efficiency in such a short time, many iterations of the cell architecture were trialled through to the current planar thin-film devices – more akin to other thin-film technologies.

Perovskite solar cells are already performing at 17% in the laboratory. We expect to see single-junction perovskite solar cells reach 25% cell efficiency within a few years. For a tandem perovskite/perovskite solar cell 30% is quite possible within the same timeline.

At 20% efficiency a 35 story office building with all semi-transparent Perovskite solar cells would get 60% of its power from the windows.

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