August 29, 2015

China has the money and Russia has some needed experience and know how so they may jointly develop aircraft carriers

Russia is struggling to develop advanced military hardware thanks to economic challenges. Russia has touted what it calls a strategic alliance with China, which may develop into plans to build a joint aircraft carrier.

A defense industry official, however, said China is raising its demands, and wants a controlling stake in the project.

‘We both tout the benefits of our friendship,’ the official said. ‘But the truth is, the Chinese are playing hardball.’

Age of aircraft carrier over for any real war but they remain useful for gunboat diplomacy in non-world war situations

Even if aircraft carriers would be highly vulnerable in a full scale major nations war, they are useful for bullying the lower tier military powers.

* a joint China-Russia development would enable both to get better aircraft carriers sooner
* Russia can ill afford tens of billions for the development of carriers
* China could accelerate carrier technology and learning deep open operations with a Russian partnership

As China's military development partner Russia will stay relavant for another 2-3 decades.
Russia needs to restore its large navy ship building capability that they have essentially lost still the fall of the USSR.

China could try to work out an extended agreement for jet engines and military alloys with Russia.

Small, low power flatter metamaterial satellite receivers from Kymeta and possibilities for next generation stealth planes

Intelsat the world’s leading provider of satellite services, and Kymeta Corporation, the leading developer of metamaterials-based antenna technology, announced an agreement to design and produce innovative, flat, electronically steerable, Ku-band mTenna™ satellite antenna solutions that are optimized for the Intelsat EpicNG high throughput satellite (HTS) platform. The first Intelsat EpicNG satellite is expected to launch in late 2015.

Intelsat EpicNG satellite platform which will deliver increased throughput and cost efficiency. Just as important is our investment in this new, metamaterials-based ground technology which will simplify access to our satellites and open attractive new markets for our solutions.

Kymeta’s flat, thin, light and low-cost satellite tracking antennas will be designed to work seamlessly with Intelsat’s satellite fleet, providing complete flexibility to establish connectivity in sectors for which traditional antennas are not currently practical or feasible. The Intelsat-Kymeta development agreement is expected to lead to a range of antenna and terminal products across our core application verticals such as maritime and aero mobility, content delivery and wireless backhaul applications. In addition, it will provide the opportunity to expand our reach into new verticals such as the Internet of Things (IoT), machine-to-machine (M2M) and ground transportation which are expected to experience significant demand over the next 10 years. Kymeta has agreed to work exclusively with Intelsat on Ku-band technology development in certain application verticals.

“We are excited to partner with Intelsat to bring Kymeta’s patented mTenna™ technology to existing and newly enabled high-volume markets for mobile satellite communications,” stated Dr. Nathan Kundtz, President and Chief Technology Officer of Kymeta.

Metamaterial unit cells based on the complimentary ELC resonator structure, the orientation of the liquid crystal itself can be modulated through the application of a bias voltage to the central island of a unit cell. This bias is entirely capacitive, resulting in no continuous current draw and minimal total power requirements. In practice, less than 2 W of power are required for even large antenna panels. In principal, it is possible the power draw could be limited to several milliwatts.

One of the particularly intriguing aspects of liquid crystal for space applications is that LC is naturally radiation hardened. Studies have shown no observable systematic effects from even very high levels of radiation from Cobalt 60 and neutron sources. Regardless of architecture, this makes the use of LC attractive for these applications

Researchers Use DNA ‘Clews’ to Shuttle CRISPR-Cas9 Gene-Editing Tool into Cells

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have for the first time created and used a nanoscale vehicle made of DNA to deliver a CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tool into cells in both cell culture and an animal model.

The CRISPR-Cas system, which is found in bacteria and archaea, protects bacteria from invaders such as viruses. It does this by creating small strands of RNA called CRISPR RNAs, which match DNA sequences specific to a given invader. When those CRISPR RNAs find a match, they unleash Cas9 proteins that cut the DNA. In recent years, the CRISPR-Cas system has garnered a great deal of attention in the research community for its potential use as a gene editing tool – with the CRISPR RNA identifying the targeted portion of the relevant DNA, and the Cas protein cleaving it.

But for Cas9 to do its work, it must first find its way into the cell. This work focused on demonstrating the potential of a new vehicle for directly introducing the CRISPR-Cas9 complex – the entire gene-editing tool – into a cell.

“Traditionally, researchers deliver DNA into a targeted cell to make the CRISPR RNA and Cas9 inside the cell itself – but that limits control over its dosage,” says Chase Beisel, co-senior author of the paper and an assistant professor in the department of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NC State. “By directly delivering the Cas9 protein itself, instead of turning the cell into a Cas9 factory, we can ensure that the cell receives the active editing system and can reduce problems with unintended editing.”

Angewandte Chemie - Self-Assembled DNA Nanoclews for the Efficient Delivery of CRISPR–Cas9 for Genome Editing

3D printed 120 micron long microfish with microject engines could be efficient bloodstream robots

California, San Diego used an innovative 3D printing technology they developed to manufacture multipurpose fish-shaped microrobots — called microfish — that swim around efficiently in liquids, are chemically powered by hydrogen peroxide and magnetically controlled. These proof-of-concept synthetic microfish will inspire a new generation of “smart” microrobots that have diverse capabilities such as detoxification, sensing and directed drug delivery, researchers said.

The technique used to fabricate the microfish provides numerous improvements over other methods traditionally employed to create microrobots with various locomotion mechanisms, such as microjet engines, microdrillers and microrockets. Most of these microrobots are incapable of performing more sophisticated tasks because they feature simple designs — such as spherical or cylindrical structures — and are made of homogeneous inorganic materials. In this new study, researchers demonstrated a simple way to create more complex microrobots.

Red blood cells are 6 to 8 microns in diameter. These microfish are about three times thicker and 20 times longer. They are jet propelled robots that can travel in the bloodstream. The microfish are around the sie of a fat cell or skin cell.

White blood cells are 12 to 15 microns in diameter.

3D-printed microfish contain functional nanoparticles that enable them to be self-propelled, chemically powered and magnetically steered. The microfish are also capable of removing and sensing toxins. Image credit: J. Warner, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

Advanced Materials - 3D-Printed Artificial Microfish


Hydrogel microfish featuring biomimetic structures, locomotive capabilities, and functionalized nanoparticles are engineered using a rapid 3D printing platform: microscale continuous ­optical printing (μCOP). The 3D-printed ­microfish exhibit chemically powered and magnetically guided propulsion, as well as highly efficient detoxification capabilities that highlight the technical versatility of this platform for engineering advanced functional microswimmers for diverse biomedical applications.

IBM collaborates with GENCI on exascale computing

IBM and GENCI, the high performance computing agency in France, today announced a collaboration aimed at speeding up the path to exascale computing – the ability of a computing system to perform at least one exaflop, or a billion billion calculations, in one second.

Currently the fastest systems in the world perform between ten and 33 petaflops, or ten to 33 million billion calculations per second – roughly one to three percent the speed of exascale. Put into context, if exascale computing is the equivalent of an automobile reaching 1000 miles per hour, today’s fastest systems are running within a range between ten and 33 miles per hour.

The collaboration, planned to run for at least 18 months, focuses on readying complex scientific applications for systems under development expected to achieve more than 100 petaflops, a solid step forward on the path to exascale. Working closely with supercomputing experts from IBM, GENCI will have access to some of the most advanced high performance computing technologies stemming from the rapidly expanding OpenPOWER ecosystem. Supported by more than 140 OpenPOWER Foundation members and thousands of developers worldwide, the OpenPOWER ecosystem includes a wide variety of computing solutions that use IBM’s licensable and open POWER processor technology.

Accelerating Future e-book covers introduction to Singularity, AGI, Superintelligence and Nanotechnology

Michael Anissimov (who used to blog Accelerating Future) has written an e-book.

Michael's brand new book Our Accelerating Future: How Superintelligence, Nanotechnology, and Transhumanism Will Transform the Planet is now released! Get the epub/mobi/pdf package for $3.99.

In this collection of short articles, Singularity Summit co-founder and former Singularity Institute futurist Michael Anissimov describes the most important ideas in futurism and transhumanism: the Singularity, Artificial Intelligence, nanotechnology, and cybernetic enhancement. Within the next century, our world will be turned upside-down by the creation of smarter-than-human intelligence in a technological medium. This concise and clear book serves to introduce the concept to new audiences who are interested in the Singularity and want to know more about this important event which will impact every life on the planet. This book is meant for adults but is suitable for bright teens as well.

AI motivations: how will advanced Artificial Intelligences feel and act? Will they be a threat? How will they gain physical power in the real world? Explore the issues which have captivated great minds from Elon Musk to Stephen Hawking. Anissimov goes through reasoning behind why he went to work for the Singularity Institute (now the Machine Intelligence Research Institute) on their quest for AI safety.

Superintelligence: what does this concept mean? What does it mean to be "superintelligent"? What technological routes could make this possible? How is cognitive enhancement different than physical enhancement? How is this concept related to the Singularity? This book answers all these questions.

Nanotechnology: how is it important? What is a nanofactory? When will nanotech manufacturing be developed? What will the first products be? How will nanotech be used to enhance the human body? This book examines these issues in depth in a clear and easy-to-understand style.

Michael Anissimov is a futurist living in San Francisco, California. He has worked for the Singularity Institute, where he co-founded and co-organized the Singularity Summit conference series before it was acquired by Singularity University for an undisclosed sum in 2012. He has also worked for Kurzweil Technologies and cutting-edge startups in the Silicon Valley ecosystem.

August 28, 2015

LPP Fusion closes last of $2 million stock offering and slogs away on Tungsten electrode work

LPP Fusion again worked on the details of getting inpurities from the firing of the Tungsten electrode for their dense plasma focus nuclear fusion project.

They have cleaned the Tungsten. There was a lot of non-trivial engineering needed.

LPP fusion is working out theoretically ways to transfer more of the energy from the electron beam to the heating of plasmoid, leaving less available to damage the anode. This work involves mixing in heavier gases and is still under way. We’ll report more on it next month. Reassembly of the cleaned electrodes is now almost complete. LPP Fusion expects new experiments in early September.

In late August, LPPFusion sold the last shares from its fourth stock offering, completing the raising of $2 million in capital. The share offering was initiated in June, 2011 when 20,000 shares were offered at $100 a share. During the four years of this offering, LPPFusion also sold out a fifth special offering for $250,000, and raised $180,000 through its Indiegogo crowdfunding effort. Over these years, the rate of funding has increased, with total funds raised per year doubling for the period since January 2014 as compared with the prior period.

The LPPFusion Board of Advisors will soon decide on the terms of a new stock offering to fund the company on an expanded scale in the coming years. In accordance with US SEC regulations, shares will only be available to US citizens and to those living in the US who qualify as “accredited investors”, and will be available to all others in accordance with regulations in their countries.

Pakistan reported to be building 20 nuclear missiles each year, which will likely trigger nuclear arms race with India and China

A new report by two American think tanks asserts that Pakistan may be building 20 nuclear warheads annually and could have the world’s third-largest nuclear stockpile within a decade. Pakistan could have at least 350 nuclear weapons within five to 10 years, the report concludes. Pakistan then would probably possess more nuclear weapons than any country except the United States and Russia, which each have thousands of the bombs. Analysts currently estimate that Pakistan has about 120 nuclear warheads, while India has about 100. France has about 300 warheads and the United Kingdom has about 215, according to the Federation of American Scientists. China has approximately 250.

H/T Instapundit

India and Pakistan are rivals. China and India are rivals. Any buildup of nuclear weapons by Pakistan will be matched by India. China will match any move by India. If Pakistan gets 350 nuclear weapons then India will have the same or more and China will have as much as both combined.

The report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center concludes that Pakistan is rapidly expanding its nuclear capabilities because of fear of its archrival, India, also a nuclear power. The report, which will be released Thursday, says Pakistan is far outpacing India in the development of nuclear warheads.

In the coming years, the report states, Pakistan’s advantage could grow dramatically because it has a large stockpile of highly enriched uranium that could be used to quickly produce low-yield nuclear devices.

India has far larger stockpiles of plutonium, which is needed to produce high-yield warheads, than Pakistan does.

US B-3 stealth bomber planned for 2025 will try to get through pickets of large anti-stealth radar drones

A new US bomber, likely called the B-3 (aka Long Range Strike Bomber - LRS-B), will replace all or most of the current fleets of B-52 and B-1 bombers, while complementing the B-2 bombers built by Northrop that have been flying since the 1990s. These will be stealthy, adaptable aircraft that will initially incorporate existing technologies. and as the name implies, be able to bomb targets from a distant range. The contract will be for 80 to 100 aircraft.

The U.S. Air Force misstated the 10-year cost for research, procurement and support of its new long-range bomber in annual reports to Congress. The correct costs estimates $41.7 billion for each of two periods out to 2026. The 10-year cost is the first installment in what could be a 30-year program.

Research-and-Development costs alone are estimated to be around $25 billion, although the bomber is supposed to mainly be built from existing technologies, saving the R and D expenditures associated with new hardware and software.

Specific details on the B-3 program are scant and remain classified. Only three things appear to be mostly locked in: a 2025 in-service-date, a $550-$810 million unit cost (excluding development), and an 80-to-100 aircraft fleet

One analyst called 100 new bombers a “wild fantasy” and expects per unit cost to rise to $3 billion.

The B-3 could also carry bunker-busting, rocket-boosted munitions, high-powered lasers for self-defense and datalinks, and consoles for controlling radar-evading drones.

With a combat radius between 2,000 and 2,500 nautical miles, the US Air Force's new stealth bomber, known as the Long-Range Strike Bomber or B-3, is capable of flying in Chinese airspace for one hour, reports China Aviation News.

The new bomber has been developed to reach targets located deep in the interior of Russia and China.

China saving Terminator movie Sequels

Terminator Genisys had a disappointing box office ($89 million) in North America, but the Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi sequel opened with a whopping $27.4 million on its first day in China. That is the fourth-biggest opening day in that territory ever, behind Transformers: Age of Extinction ($30m), Avengers: Age of Ultron ($33m), and Furious 7 ($63m). It’s higher than the $17m single-day debut for Jurassic World. This indicates that Terminator Genisys is on track to make $200-270 million in China.

Terminator Genisys has made about $330 million outside of China. The worldwide total will now likely be $540-610 million.

This will be enough to green light the planned sequels to Terminator Genisys.

Terminator Genisys was planned to be the first film in a new stand-alone trilogy, with two sequels scheduled for release on May 19, 2017 and June 29, 2018.

The rights to the Terminator franchise will go back to Director James Cameron in 2019. It is not believed that Cameron would make his own new Terminator movies. However, he would likely have a larger advisory role.

Robot movies have large movie box office in China. China had big box office for the Transformer movies and Pacific Rim.

August 27, 2015

Quantum Cognition: The possibility of processing with nuclear spins in the brain

The possibility that quantum processing with nuclear spins might be operative in the brain is proposed and then explored. Phosphorus is identified as the unique biological element with a nuclear spin that can serve as a qubit for such putative quantum processing - a neural qubit - while the phosphate ion is the only possible qubit-transporter. We identify the ``Posner molecule", Ca9(PO4)6, as the unique molecule that can protect the neural qubits on very long times and thereby serve as a (working) quantum-memory. A central requirement for quantum-processing is quantum entanglement. It is argued that the enzyme catalyzed chemical reaction which breaks a pyrophosphate ion into two phosphate ions can quantum entangle pairs of qubits. Posner molecules, formed by binding such phosphate pairs with extracellular calcium ions, will inherit the nuclear spin entanglement. A mechanism for transporting Posner molecules into presynaptic neurons during a ``kiss and run" exocytosis, which releases neurotransmitters into the synaptic cleft, is proposed. Quantum measurements can occur when a pair of Posner molecules chemically bind and subsequently melt, releasing a shower of intra-cellular calcium ions that can trigger further neurotransmitter release and enhance the probability of post-synaptic neuron firing. Multiple entangled Posner molecules, triggering non-local quantum correlations of neuron firing rates, would provide the key mechanism for neural quantum processing. Implications, both in vitro and in vivo, are briefly mentioned.

Researcher Matthew Fisher's interest in neural nuclear spin processing was stimulated by a paper that explored the effects of different isotopes of lithium on rats. Li naturally occurs in the ratio 92.6% Li-7 and 7.4% Li-6. Somewhat quizzically, mothers given the Li-7 isotope were less stimulated and ignored their pups while the Li-6 moms were maternalistic and nursed more. The interesting part for us here, is that while Li-7 has spin 3/2 and a short Tcoh of just a few seconds, Li-6 has an "honorary" spin 1/2 due to its electric dipole moment and a nice 5 minute long Tcoh

Fisher intends to re-explore the older Li isotope work and further refine the mechanisms and any potential shortfalls of the Posner conception. As alluded to above, electron spin itself is still a relatively obscure concept in biology save for a few niche revelations on things like chemical compasses or other radical pair-pair inspired biologics. Yet free radicals (unpaired electron spins) have a magnetic moment 1,000 or so times larger than that of a proton. Their presence alone could be a significant factor in things like phosphorus nuclear spin decoherence

pair of entangled Posner molecules in (a). The purple dashed lines represent singlet entangled phosphorus nuclear spins. Acomplex of highly entangled Posner molecules in (b). With two pairs of entangled Posner molecules, labelled(a; a0) and(b; b0) as in panel (c),a chemical binding between one member in each pair - the black box connecting(a; b)- can change the probability of a subsequent bindingof the other members of the pair,(a0; b0). If the Posner molecules chemically bind after being transported into two presynaptic neurons asdepicted in (d), they will be susceptible to melting, releasing their calcium into the cytoplasm enhancing neurotransmitter release, therebystimulating (quantum) entangled postsynaptic neuron firingrelease, thereby stimulating (quantum) entangled postsynaptic neuron firing

A stable narrow band atomic x-ray laser is near

An atomic laser operating at the shortest wavelength yet achieved has been created by bombarding a copper foil with two X-ray pulses tuned to slightly different energies. The results may lead to ultrastable X-ray laser.

The technology is not yet ready for primetime, Young, notes, the laser did not achieve saturation and some tests, such as angular divergence were not performed. Still, she notes, the work done by the team and others suggests that researchers will very soon be able to make use of very-short wavelength based lasers, offering perhaps, unprecedented resolution and atomic measurement capabilities.

Since the invention of the first lasers in the visible-light region, research has aimed to produce short-wavelength lasers that generate coherent X-rays; the shorter the wavelength, the better the imaging resolution of the laser and the shorter the pulse duration, leading to better temporal resolution in probe measurements. Recently, free-electron lasers based on self-amplified spontaneous emission have made it possible to generate a hard-X-ray laser (that is, the photon energy is of the order of ten kiloelectronvolts) in an ångström-wavelength regime, enabling advances in fields from ultrafast X-ray spectrosopy to X-ray quantum optics. An atomic laser based on neon atoms and pumped by a soft-X-ray (that is, a photon energy of less than one kiloelectronvolt) free-electron laser has been achieved at a wavelength of 14 nanometers. Here, we use a copper target and report a hard-X-ray inner-shell atomic laser operating at a wavelength of 1.5 ångströms. X-ray free-electron laser pulses with an intensity of about 10^19 watts per square centimeter tuned to the copper K-absorption edge produced sufficient population inversion to generate strong amplified spontaneous emission on the copper Kα lines. Furthermore, we operated the X-ray free-electron laser source in a two-colour mode9, with one colour tuned for pumping and the other for the seed (starting) light for the laser.

XFEL pulses are generated with undulators in single-color mode (the ASE experiment) (a) or two-color mode (the seeding experiment) (b). The two-stage focusing system generates, on average, a 120-nm focusing spot

Theory explaining Electromagnetic energy without radiation could be important physics breakthrough

Physicists have found a radical new way confine electromagnetic energy without it leaking away, akin to throwing a pebble into a pond with no splash

The theory could have broad ranging applications from explaining dark matter to combating energy losses in future technologies.

However, it appears to contradict a fundamental tenet of electrodynamics, that accelerated charges create electromagnetic radiation, said lead researcher Dr Andrey Miroshnichenko from The Australian National University (ANU).

"This problem has puzzled many people. It took us a year to get this concept clear in our heads," said Dr Miroshnichenko, from the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.

The fundamental new theory could be used in quantum computers, lead to new laser technology and may even hold the key to understanding how matter itself hangs together.

"Ever since the beginning of quantum mechanics people have been looking for a configuration which could explain the stability of atoms and why orbiting electrons do not radiate," Dr Miroshnichenko said.

The toroidal dipole moment is associated with the circulating magnetic field M accompanied by electric poloidal current distribution. Since the symmetry of the radiation patterns of the electric P and toroidal T dipole modes are similar, they can destructively interfere leading to total scattering cancelation in the far-field with non-zero near-field excitation.

Nature Communications - Nonradiating anapole modes in dielectric nanoparticles

Arxiv - Nonradiating anapole modes in dielectric nanoparticles (20 pages)

Rossi has an US Patent for his Energy Catalyzer but Ahern notes that it does not reveal anything replicatable

Andre Rossi is known for his controversial cold fusion (LENR) energy catalyzer. He has received a US Patent for it.

There is supposed to be some kind of standard where a Patent should allow a competent practitioner to follow the patent and repeat what was done. This is not the cast with this patent. Someone trying to follow this would still have a lot of guessing as to what to do to attempt to make it work.


An apparatus for heating fluid includes a tank for holding fluid to be heated, and a fuel wafer in fluid communication with the fluid. The fuel wafer includes a fuel mixture including reagents and a catalyst, and an electrical resistor or other heat source in thermal communication with the fuel mixture and the catalyst.

The powder in the fuel mixture consists largely of spherical particles having diameters in the nanometer to micrometer range, for example between 1 nanometer and 100 micrometers. Variations in the ratio of reactants and catalyst tend to govern reaction rate and are not critical. However, it has been found that a suitable mixture would include a starting mixture of 50% nickel, 20% lithium, and 30% LAH. Within this mixture, nickel acts as a catalyst for the reaction, and is not itself a reagent. While nickel is particularly useful because of its relative abundance, its function can also be carried out by other elements in column 10 of the periodic table, such as platinum or palladium.

The nickel powder must be pre-heated to convert trapped water into supercritical steam, explode, and increase the porosity of the nickel. The concept of enhancing the porosity of the nickel is mentioned multiple times. Perhaps the enhanced surface area and tubercules of carbonyl nickel provide a good starting powder that is improved by pre-heating. It should also be noted that the most successful replicator of this technology, Alexander Parkhomov, who has successfully produced excess heat in at least a dozen different tests, recently revealed to the Martin Fleischman Memorial Project that he pre-heats his nickel to 200C to remove any water content

If Technology removes limits will there be larger families ?

There have been general assumptions that wealthy and urban people have small families.

This is true for the hard working affluent. People who are upper middle class but have two working parents.

Back in 2011, The New York Post wrote about the trend of large families in Manhattan, citing a study by the Council on Contemporary Families that had noted a "significant" uptick in families with three or four children among the top 2% of US households.

All over Manhattan, large families have become a status symbol. Four beautiful children named after kings and pieces of fruit are a way of saying, “I can afford a four-bedroom apartment and a hundred and fifty thousand dollars in elementary-school tuition fees each year. How you livin’?”

Steven Martin, professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, has actual numbers on the issue. “Families in the top 10 percent or even top 5 percent of household earnings aren’t having detectably larger families,” he wrote in 2008. But the story is different for Americans in the top 1 to 1.5 percent: “There has been a significant rise in the proportion of three- and four-child families among the super-rich.” In another analysis, he notes that the proportion of affluent American families with four or more kids increased from 7 percent in 1991-1996 to 11 percent in 1998-2004.

If nuclear fusion or advanced nuclear fission technology makes energy ten times cheaper and more abundant and advanced nanotechnology and other technology provides everyone with ten times more per capita income, then the future middle class could become like todays superrich. If carrying capacity of Earth and the solar system become a non-issue then there could be a new population boom among a mass affluent class.

If Technology removes the constraints are human wants unlimited ?

A fundamental assumption of the study of economics is that human wants are unlimited.

The economic problem is human wants are unlimited, but the means to satisfy human wants are scarce.

The environmental problems the world faces are primarily because technologies of industry and energy are currently based on upgraded 18th and 19th century coal power.

Peak oil were wrong about oil limits but had insights into the relationship of energy to population

Until 1850, most of the world’s population was still supported by traditional renewables (wood, dung, etc.) and animal power, with minor amounts of wind and hydropower. In 1750, the world’s population was approximately 720 million people. Over the previous 1000 years, this population had been growing very slowly at an average rate of about 0.13 percent.

A projection from 2009, was trying to predict decline but showed that the population based energy demand matched closely with what was the 2015 result below

By 1850 population pressures led to the commercialization of coal and the Industrial Revolution, and the energy derived from coal began to shape the forces that would raise the population ceiling.

By 1900, coal was powering the entire world’s major industrial processes, and powering the industrial nations’ population growth.

Between 1800 and 1900, Europe’s population more than doubled from about 187 million to 400 million.

World population will be around 15-25 billion in 2100 and will increase through 2200 because of African fertility, life extension and other technology

The United Nations (UN) recently released population projections based on data until 2012 and a Bayesian probabilistic methodology. Analysis of these data reveals that, contrary to previous literature, the world population is unlikely to stop growing this century. There is an 80% probability that world population, now 7.2 billion people, will increase to between 9.6 billion and 12.3 billion in 2100. This uncertainty is much smaller than the range from the traditional UN high and low variants. Much of the increase is expected to happen in Africa, in part due to higher fertility rates and a recent slowdown in the pace of fertility decline. Also, the ratio of working-age people to older people is likely to decline substantially in all countries, even those that currently have young populations.

There is only a 30% chance of population peaking by 2100. This is even without considering radical life extension or any other turnaround in human fertility.

African fertility alone means world population will not peak by 2100. The old world population forecast will flatten at 9-10 billion before 2100 is done and wrong

Here I describe how the world of 2100 and 2200 will have a lot more people, efficient urbanization in megacities with robotic cars and turbolifts and easy access to space and substantial colonization. Energy and food will not be constraints.

I think 2100 will see a population around 20 billion and 2200 a population in the solar system in the 40-80 billion range.

What could boost population growth ?

* radical life extension for fewer deaths
* lower cost and more effective in vitro fertilization. About 16-20% of couples who want children cannot have them
* if technology in the post-2050 timeframe delivers cheap access to space (orbit and solar system), material abundance from nanotechnology and other technology and abundant energy from nuclear fusion, molten salt fission, advanced solar power and space based solar power, then there could be population and wealth growth without adverse impacts even if population increased hundreds of times beyond current levels

if Africa's birthrate stayed at current levels and did not drop at all then world population would be about 20-25 billion in 2100.

The extreme longevity scenarios could add 1 billion, 3 billion or 6 billion people to projections.
1 billion would be the difference between the 2010 and 2012 African fertility adjustment.
3 billion would be the difference between 2000 and 2015 African fertility adjustments.
6 billion would be like a worldwide fertility increase of about 0.5 children per couple.

Later in this article I discuss how we can scale food production.

I have also previously looked at scaling nuclear power.

Deep burn nuclear power options -
* fast neutron breeder reactors with onsite or offsite reprocessing of fuel can close the fuel cycle and eliminate nuclear waste (unburned fuel)
* molten salt reactors (like Terrestrial Energy) can increase the power derived from existing uranium by six times

Various reactors from China and Terrestrial Energy and others can be factory mass produced.

Nanotechnology and nuclear fusion would deliver space planes that could easily move people around the solar system the way 20,000 commercial jets move hundreds of million of people around the world now. Colonization of space in orbit, planets or asteroids would become trivial.

Even more mundane technology will open up space and colonization
* Spacex reusable rockets seem likely within a couple of years
* Bigelow Aerospace can make affordable inflatable space stations
* Spiderfab robotic assembly can make large structures in space

Efficient and clean megacities will be possible on earth
* China will build high speed rail to connect cities all across Asia, Europe and South America
* robotic cars will be able to increase the size and speed of movement within cities without traffic jams
* factory built skyscrapers with cable less multidirection elevators will move people easily within supertall buildings and between buildings
* follow on devices to Segway will enable people to have lightweight electrical enhanced movement

Femtosecond EUV tabletop microscope able to get 0.5 nanometer axial resolution and should reach 0.1 nanometer resolution

A new microscope system can image down to sub-nanometer resolution and will be able to reach 0.1 nanometer (angstrom) imaging of atoms. It works by boosting wavelength to ultra-high harmonics using an aperture reflection-mode microscope illuminated by a 30-nanometer source. Full-field images of 40-to-80 nanometer lateral resolution result an axial resolution of just six angstroms (0.6 nanometers) with an exposure time of about one minute. The team is also working toward making movies of functioning nano systems with a temporal resolution of 10 femtoseconds

The secret sauce in their process is using coherent EUV light, unlike that used in lithography, which is an omnidirectional flash. By using femto-second pulses of EUV lasers the researchers hope to not only image tiny objects, but also to adapt the technology to memory devices and medical applications.

A computer algorithm is required to reconstruct the image from the light scattered by the 10-femtosecond pulses from the EUV laser that scans over the object to be imaged. For the future they plan on downsizing the beams from 30-nanometers to one-nanometer, producing sub-angstrom resolution — the size of atoms.

The laser-like beams of EUV are produced from the 27th harmonic of a 40-nanometer source and even more to 1-nanaometer by reaching up to 5000th harmonic.

Tabletop EUV ptychography. (a) Schematic of the tabletop EUV microscope. (b) SEM of the sample with a scale bar is 10 um. (c) Representative diffraction pattern from the ptychographic scan. (d) Diffraction pattern from (c) after tilted plane correction.

Ultramicroscopy - High contrast 3D imaging of surfaces near the wavelength limit using tabletop EUV ptychography

This image used false colors to bring out the details of a photo synthesized from the University of Colorado's extreme ultra violet (EUV) femtosecond laser pulses.(Source: University of Colorado)


• High NA reflection ptychography with 40nm resolution (1.3λ) on a tabletop.
• Amplitude and phase contrast provides 3D surface mapping with composition sensitivity.
• 5 Angstrom axial resolution, validated with AFM.
• Higher contrast than standard SEM is achieved.
• Noninvasive technique with a long working distance over 3cm.
• Enables future nanoscale imaging with fs resolution.

DARPA CRAFT Program Aims for Affordable Designer Circuits that Do More with Less Power

Demand for specialized integrated circuits for military electronics continues to surge exponentially with no end in sight. Systems that synchronize the activity of unmanned aerial vehicles; real-time conversion of raw radar data into tactically useful 3-D imagery; and instant access to high-resolution sensor feeds on the battlefield are only three examples of this reality. Despite the importance of these capabilities to national security, however, current circuit-design methods often result in devices that require more power than can be practically supplied on small flying platforms or on warfighters already burdened by too much battery weight.

It’s not that engineers are incapable of designing custom integrated circuits that can perform a specific task with optimum power efficiency. It is, rather, that they are today stymied by the prospect of spending up to $100 million and working for more than two years to complete such a design. As a result, Defense Department engineers often turn to more generic, inexpensive, and readily available general-purpose circuits, and then rely on software to make those circuits run the required specialized operations. Using general-purpose circuits can speed up design and implementation, but also burdens electronic systems with unnecessary power-gobbling circuitry.

“This dilemma has reduced the use of custom-integrated circuits and, consequently, the performance of DoD systems,” according to a just-published Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) in which DARPA invites the technical community to submit proposals for research that would help solve the problem. The three-phase program, Circuit Realization At Faster Timescales (CRAFT), is slated to last just over three years with total funding of about $30 million.

Circuit Realization At Faster Timescales (CRAFT) FBO request is here

DARPA working on several approaches for new advanced materials

Harnessing radical new tools—from ultrafast laser imagers to groundbreaking chemical synthesis approaches—DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office (DSO) is aggressively pursuing the development of novel materials with the potential to boost national security.

One major challenge in developing new materials has been the difficulty of retaining and exploiting the unique characteristics that emerge in materials at the nanoscale (a few 10-billionths of a meter). Many materials demonstrate unique and potentially useful electrical, optical and tensile characteristics at these nearly atomic scales, but lose these traits when engineered into millimeter- or centimeter-scale products and systems. DSO’s Atoms to Product (A2P) program aims to cross that divide by developing assembly methods that allow the retention of desirable nanoscale properties in macro-scale materials, components and systems.

“In the past, scientists made most of their new materials through variants of ‘mix, heat and form,’” said DARPA program manager John Main. “Now we’re taking an entirely different approach, starting with individual atoms, assembling them into nano-structures, then assembling the nano-structures into larger micro-devices. A2P is taking advantage of new methods for controlling nanoscale assembly at very high throughputs to economically build novel micro-devices.”

DARPA is pursuing other approaches to creating new materials with unique properties through its Materials with Controlled Microstructural Architecture (MCMA) program. This program seeks to control the architecture of material microstructures to improve structural efficiency and realize properties that traditionally aren’t achieved together in a single substance, such as the strength of steel and the weight of plastic. The work could also help incorporate other important properties, such as high rates of heat diffusion for thermal management applications and tailorability of thermal expansion to enable joining of normally incompatible materials.

Reports of improved jet engines in China and development for a mach 5 test plane faster than the SR71 Blackbird

An Aug. 25 report in Beijing-based newspaper China Aviation News praised the engine division of Xi'an-based aeronautic and aerospace firm AVIC Qingan Group. The report mentions a planned project which would see the development of China's first domestically-made turbofan-ramjet combined cycle engine, designed for an unnamed aircraft. The description of this engine suggests something resembling the Pratt and Whitney J58 variable cycle engine used by the SR-71 Blackbird.

A source close to the PLA Air Force was cited by New Outlook as stating that this is part of a project to develop a manned supersonic aircraft, currently in the preparation stages at a domestic research institute. The aircraft is expected to have a top speed faster than the Blackbird on completion, according to the source, although the project is yet to be formally launched.

The China Aviation News report stated that in the first half of 2015, the engine division of AVIC Qingan Group finished the design process for three engine products and gained approval for them in May and July.

The article went on to list descriptions of the three engines as China's first domestically developed turbofan-ramjet combined cycle engine designed for an unnamed aircraft, a classic model engine and a classic model engine with a medium bypass ratio. This suggests the latter two are improved versions of the WS-10 and WS-18 turbofan engines.

The turbofan-ramjet combined cycle engine project, however, has never before been made public. The article stated that there is no precedent for the project and that China currently has no suitable heat-resistant materials for the project and therefore will have to contract overseas suppliers, adding that without the appropriate tools, they will have to go about making them from scratch.

A PLA Air Force source told New Outlook that the aircraft that will use this engine has been in experimental development for several years by an aircraft institute in the southwest. The aim of the project is to surpass the SR-71 Blackbird with a plane that can reach speeds of almost five-times the speed of sound, which is the upper limit of a ramjet engine. For higher speeds, a supersonic combusting ramjet (scramjet) engine is necessary. The aircraft is said to be a large manned plane, with a similar design to Mikoyan's mysterious Project 301 hypersonic aircraft.

Popular Science had reported on China's most powerful aircraft engine, the WS-20. It was getting closer to finishing its tests in Feb 2015. With a power output of 14 tons, the WS-20 would replace the less powerful and less efficient Russian D-30KP, which has only 10.5 tons of thrust. The WS-20 turbofan has been flying on this Il-76 test aircraft since 2014, and it's likely that aerial testing will wrap up in late 2015.

Previously Flight Global had reported that Chengdu Aero-Engine Group may be making some progress with the 12t-thrust WS-18A. Apparently derived from the D-30-KP2, this turbofan may be a candidate for the Y-20 and the H-6K. While Galleon notes that production could have started in 2009, other sources indicate flight testing may have only begun last year.

The Pratt Whitney J58 is described here

China has had problems with materials, production and quality of its copycat jet engines

Global Security describes China's jet engine problem.

China’s problems with the copycat version of SU-27 AL-31 turbofans isn’t about advanced computerized production. The Chinese just can’t figure out the alloy composits of making a reliable heat bearing jet engine as yet. Because of this, Chinese copycat engine WS-10 of the SU-27 AL-31 turbofans tend to have blades that crack and break apart sucking debris into the engine. Chinese WS-10 also has shorter lifespans than original AL-31 turbofans because metal alloys in Chinese version reportedly break & can’t handle the high heat. Also Chinese WS-10 turbofans have ‘spooling’ issues with their copycat turbofans. It’s a lot more looming problem for the Chinese engineers than just advanced computerized production machinary. Plus the copycat WS-10 of the AL-31 is not powerful enough to allow the feature ‘super cruise’ ability of F-22, F-35, and the future PAK FA-50 joint venture stealth fighter by Indo-Russo design.

In 2013, internet photos revealed that the WS-10A engine was being used with the J-11BS, the modified version of the J-11B fitted with domestic active electronically scanned array radar and forward looking infrared system. With the capability to carry the PL-12 air-to-air missile, the J-11BS entered service with the PLA Air Force in 2007 and Navy Air Force in 2010, said the report.

In addition to the J-11BS, two of China's J-15 carrier-based fighters have been observed to be powered by the WS-10H, the upgraded version of the WS-10A.

Here is a photo from the Chinese military review blog

August 26, 2015

People in Poor Countries will still catch up and reduce world income inequality in 2035

Over the next two decades the structure of world population and income will undergo profound changes. Global income inequality is projected to decline further in 2035, largely owing to rapid economic growth in the emerging-market economies. The potential pool of consumers worldwide will expand significantly, with the largest net gains in the developing and emerging-market economies. The number of people earning between US$1,144 and US$3,252 per year in 2013 prices in purchasing power parity terms will increase by around 500 million, with the largest gains in Sub-Saharan Africa and India; those earning between US$3,252 and US$8,874 per year in 2013 prices will increase by almost 1 billion, with the largest gains in India and Sub-Saharan Africa; and those earning more than US$8,874 per year will increase by 1.2 billion, with the largest gains in China and the advanced economies.

In the baseline projections, the Gini coefficient for worldwide income distribution is expected to decline from 65 in 2013 to 61 in 2035. By comparison, it was 69 in 2003 and at similar values in the late 1980s. While individual income at the 90th percentile in the global distribution was 31 times that at the 10th percentile in 2013, this ratio is projected to fall to 24 in 2035. The projected improvement stems primarily from faster economic growth in the developing and emerging-market economies than in the advanced economies.

* Under an alternative “reversion to mean” scenario in which countries’ economic growth rates are projected to revert gradually toward the worldwide sample mean, inequality declines more slowly, to a Gini coefficient of 64 in 2035.

* Under an “optimistic scenario” for India and China in which both economies maintain rapid growth (assumed at 7 percent annually) for the next two decades through sound economic policies and reforms, the global Gini coefficient would fall to 63 in 2035

Average per capita GDP growth in 2013–35 is projected to be higher for the developing and emerging economies (3.8 percent annually)—not only China and India (4.4 and 4.8 percent, respectively) but also Sub-Saharan Africa (3.5 percent)—than for the advanced economies (1.8 percent). Considering total
GDP, Sub-Saharan Africa and India are projected to experience the highest growth rates (6.0 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively), combining rapid growth in both population and per capita incomes.

Although China’s growth is projected to remain among the fastest in per capita terms, it will no longer be the most rapid in overall GDP terms, owing to a relatively low population growth rate.

Researchers find pathway that controls metabolism and will try to use it to cure obesity

Obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges of the 21st century. Affecting more than 500 million people worldwide, obesity costs at least $200 billion each year in the United States alone, and contributes to potentially fatal disorders such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

But there may now be a new approach to prevent and even cure obesity, thanks to a study led by researchers at MIT and Harvard Medical School and published today in the New England Journal of Medicine. By analyzing the cellular circuitry underlying the strongest genetic association with obesity, the researchers have unveiled a new pathway that controls human metabolism by prompting our adipocytes, or fat cells, to store fat or burn it away.

Researchers showed that they could indeed manipulate this new pathway to reverse the signatures of obesity in both human cells and mice.

In primary adipose cells from either risk or non-risk individuals, altering the expression of either IRX3 or IRX5 switched between energy-storing white adipocyte functions and energy-burning beige adipocyte functions.

Similarly, repression of IRX3 in mouse adipocytes led to dramatic changes in whole-body energy balance, resulting in a reduction of body weight and all major fat stores, and complete resistance to a high-fat diet.

“By manipulating this new pathway, we could switch between energy storage and energy dissipation programs at both the cellular and the organismal level, providing new hope for a cure against obesity,” Kellis says.

The researchers are currently establishing collaborations in academia and industry to translate their findings into obesity therapeutics. They are also using their approach as a model to understand the circuitry of other disease-associated regions in the human genome.

New England Journal of Medicine - FTO Obesity Variant Circuitry and Adipocyte Browning in Humans

Samsung unveils higher capacity Lithium ion batteries for electric bikes to provide 100 kilometer range in one charge

Samsung SDI already had high capacity 2.9 Ah (29E) cells for E-bikes. High capacity cells such as 2.9 Ah improve the driving distance of the E-bike and provide convenience to the customers.

Samsung SDI unveiled a 500Wh e-bike Li-ion battery pack that can run for 100 km on a single battery charge. Samsung SDI is exhibiting six types of standardized battery packs that can either be built inside or installed on the outside for immediate use.

Samsung SDI has come up with a battery with an upgraded 35% more energy volume. It is known as the 21700 battery, and has successfully applied it onto e-bikes for the first in the world.

The 21700 model can have various applications other than e-bike, such as in electric tools, laptops, and more. It is expected to become the new standard in small cylindrical battery usage.

The global e-bike market is estimated to have reached the number of around 34 million bikes this year. B3 stated in their data that the replacement rate of lead-acid batteries in China has been on the rise and as a result, the demand for e-bike lithium-ion batteries will mark 163 million cells by the end of 2015, which is a 14% increase from last year.

Progress to Smaller, Cheaper Particle Colliders and efficient antimatter production

Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the University of California, Los Angeles have demonstrated a new, efficient way to accelerate positrons, the antimatter opposites of electrons. The method may help boost the energy and shrink the size of future linear particle colliders – powerful accelerators that could be used to unravel the properties of nature’s fundamental building blocks.

The scientists had previously shown that boosting the energy of charged particles by having them “surf” a wave of ionized gas, or plasma, works well for electrons. While this method by itself could lead to smaller accelerators, electrons are only half the equation for future colliders. Now the researchers have hit another milestone by applying the technique to positrons at SLAC’s Facility for Advanced Accelerator Experimental Tests (FACET), a DOE Office of Science User Facility.

“Together with our previous achievement, the new study is a very important step toward making smaller, less expensive next-generation electron-positron colliders,” said SLAC’s Mark Hogan, co-author of the study published today in Nature. “FACET is the only place in the world where we can accelerate positrons and electrons with this method.”

Simulation of high-energy positron acceleration in an ionized gas, or plasma – a new method that could help power next-generation particle colliders. The image shows the formation of a high-density plasma (green/orange color) around a positron beam moving from the bottom right to the top left. Plasma electrons pass by the positron beam on wave-like trajectories (lines). (W. An/UCLA)

Future particle colliders will require highly efficient acceleration methods for both electrons and positrons. Plasma wakefield acceleration of both particle types, as shown in this simulation, could lead to smaller and more powerful colliders than today’s machines. (F. Tsung/W. An/UCLA/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

Nature - Multi-gigaelectronvolt acceleration of positrons in a self-loaded plasma wakefield

Arms races in Middle East and Asia fuel Russian plans to increase arms sales to $50 billion per year in 2020s

Russia is ramping up arms sales across the middle east.

Russia is not just looking at arms sales to Iran but also to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is looking at buying the Iskander tactical ballistic missile system. This missile system purchase would include a launcher, a loader-transporter, a routine maintenance vehicle, a command post vehicle, an information post, an ammunition equipment set and training aids. The Iskander-M has a range of 400km, can carry a 700kg warhead of several varieties, and has a circular error probability of around five meters.

There is a middle east arms race with an estimated $18 billion of arms being purchased this year alone.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt are buying thousands of new US-made weapons, including missiles and bombs, to rebuild depleted arms stockpiles.

Conflicts are raging in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, and with Egypt also battling Islamist extremists in the Sinai.

Russia is targeting $50 billion per year in arms sales in 2020, which would be up from $13 billion in 2013.

India is a main buyer of Russian Weapons. India is likely to continue to increase imports of weapons to try to keep pace with the increasing military in China. China increases its military budget by about 10% each year.

Many countries are interested in buying Russia's Su-35 fighter

China will buy 24 of them. Russia wanted to sell China 48 of them. Russia wanted a larger order because they know that after the first order, China will copy the fighter and make their own.

Natural Born killers and Robocop predictions that came true

The main movies and TV shows that get analyzed for accurate predictions of the future are usually Star Trek or Minority Report.

Those usually have technology predictions which turn out to be accurate.

Many movies with social or news media predictions have turned out to be accurate.

The movie Natural Born Killers had a reporter following and interviewing two serial killers as they went on a killing spree.

The mass murderers are irresponsibly glorified by the mass media.

Today there was a shooting of a TV reporter and her cameraman. The killer posted a video he took of the killing on Youtube and Twitter. The killer tweeted while being chased by police.

Robocop Prediction - Detroit would be crime-ridden and bankrupt
The movie RoboCop imagined a city ravaged by crime.

The average wait for a police car in Detroit on a high-priority crime was a whopping 58 minutes. The US average response time is 11 minutes.

In RoboCop 2 predicted Detroits future bankruptcy. It is main plot point. On Dec. 3, 2013 judge Steven Rhodes looked at Detroit’s $18.5 billion debt and deemed the city bankrupt — making it the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history

Russia shows off supersonic combusting ramjet engine at airshow and expects hypersonic cruise missile around 2021

Russia has made and is showing a supersonic combustion ramjet engine that is intended for their hypersonic missies.

An operational module of the supersonic combusting ramjet will be shown at the MAKS 2015 airshow.

Central Institute of Aviation Motors (CIAM) is one of the world leader’s in developing supersonic combusting ramjets.

A prototype BrahMos-II hypersonic cruise missile, currently under joint development by Russia and India, may be created in six to seven years, head of Russian-Indian BrahMos Aerospace enterprise Sudhir Mishra said Tuesday.

Crowdfunding Movies-- Why Isn't It Done More Often?

A guest post by Joseph Friedlander

Discussing crowdfunding heats up at times, and then takes a break, but the question recurs whenever the buzz does-- why don't we hear of more crowdfunding success stories?

Brian Wang has written of crowdfunding LPP fusion
and a general crowdfunding roundup including the game Star Citizen

The Raindance Film Festival has a writeup of crowdfunding films and the booting process thereof

The Star Trek Axanar Project
quote from Brian's page:

Why dump hundreds or thousands of dollars a year on 400 cable channels, when what you really want is a few good sci-fi shows? Hollywood is changing. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and other providers are redefining content delivery, and Axanar Productions/Ares Studios hopes to be part of that movement.

In that sentence the promise of crowdfunding is captured--- if people would suddenly wake up and command the market by withholding money from junk and diverting it to promising projects an awful lot of junk would disappear from the market and there would be an explosion of crafted quality in films, tech, nearly every area of endeavor-- and conceivably even education and government if the revolution goes far enough.

But let's get back to crowdfunding films and a narrow focus.
This last project mentioned,  Star Trek Axanar,  is noteworthy because they are going about it the right way-- known kind of product, not ticking off the fan base, reasonable and believable cast, hopefully good story well done and production well executed.  If they keep the cost low enough and make it through all the hoops (see below)  they are nearly certain to make payback.

But it is so easy to fail along the way making a movie. I like to tell people that there a thousand ways to do it wrong, and about ten ways to do it right.

  • The special effects need to look professional.  You can have high quality effects done to bad art direction and they can look bad.

As Brian has noted before, a few hundred thousand dollars today can buy indistinguishable from reality special effects.  A lot of pre 2000s movies with early digital effects, especially 1980s and  1990s are almost unwatchable without redoing the effects because they are laughably low res though they were impressive, cool and futuristic at the time. A lot of non digital effects from that era, done manually by artists, aped the new impressive low resolution digital animation style, so they too look awfully dated.

  • The special effects aren't enough. You need a movie connecting them. Even if the whole movie is animated, there has to be a story, a situation, compelling characters and compelling situations along a satisfying story arc.
Sometimes people who are computer orientated make amazing animations and renderings but there is no story there. It is worthwhile to remember that a cigarette smoking on screen is a special effect in a way, including the hot coffee steaming in a cup. No one would go to a movie just to see Humphrey Bogart's cigarette, though they might go to see the way he made tough guy talk while having a cigarette in his mouth. See the difference?

There was a movie based on the book The Keep, about a supernatural being wrecking havoc during World War 2 in Europe. The book was very good. The movie had a special effects duel between the good guardian and bad emergent menace. But you didn't feel for the characters --- it came down to an incomprehensible duel of ray blasts. (Other people may have been more impressed with me, the acting was good but...) The effects are not enough.
There are a lot of fan films showing the fans dueling with light sabers. How many of those are actually suspenseful?  
  •  Even if you have a good story professionally told and the genre right you can tick off the fan base if you get the feeling wrong.

Say after me people-- if you're trying to make money, people want happy endings, not sad, but if the story won't let that happen out of self respect then they want noble and uplifting not debased and depressing. People who go to a type of movie don't want deconstruction of that type of movie unless done in an extraordinarily clever way. They don't want cop shows that insult the idea of being a cop, space movies that say going to space is a stupid idea, relationship movies that say the sexes will NEVER get along together,  future movies that say we HAVE no future, etc, etc.

Warning spoiler alert, skip to the  next  bold paragraph if you don't want to hear how Ascension ended.
Ascension could have been classic but they made it a 'they fooled the crew they were really underground facility bound for the last 50 years' series without considering the viewer reaction (how much of a fan base would Star Trek have developed if it was really a cynical psychological experiment?)
  • You have to give the fans what they want, and then you have a business, not until.
  • Even you can raise the money you will need to decide if it is a small focus or big focus movie. 
  • To keep costs down a small focus movie is cheaper. (Definition of small focus for this purpose, few cast members, not many sets and locations)  But then the movie has to be all the better to capture an audience. And the team has to be flawless if not gifted. 
An analogy from jewelry:  If a single stone is the focus of your setting, that stone better be flaw free (or at least the side on display.
  • If you go big focus (many cast members, sets locations) then you need to be able to manage it all and make it work together.
In either case you need a good script optimized for small or big focus.  A sufficiently prepared team would have a script optimized for each in case reality changes .
  • You can compare the process of making the movie to buying a first lottery ticket whose prize is a second lottery ticket whose prize is a third lottery ticket whose prize is a fourth lottery ticket whose prize is a fifth lottery ticket. 
  •  If you win the first lottery ticket you are funded (crowdfunded).
  •  If you win the second lottery ticket you assemble a competent team on a low but adequate budget and get a time slot in which the work can happen. So much is assumed here, including a good script, reliable people and a shared vision that compels them to work like fanatics.
  •   If you win the third lottery ticket your team actually pulls it off and produces good material which is then competently post-produced into a watchable movie--and after all that you still have a small financial reserve left.
  •   If you win the fourth lottery ticket your team now can spare the time and effort to promote and pre-market the movie and you win major distribution (not literally always major studio distribution, but you get buzz and access to markets.
  •  The fifth lottery ticket is how the movie actually does. The prize-- variable, from an honorable and respected line on a resume to incalculable wealth. Note that even here you can have a fantastic hit movie and due to 'Hollywood accounting' some people haven't collected  much at all. (In brief, a lot of studio overhead is added to the movie so on paper a hugely profitable movie kind of drips profit out at the end of the pipe, and the person with a share of the movie gets a drop or two in his cup.)
  •   A lot of people confuse buying the first ticket with automatically collecting the fifth ticket's highest prize.
  • Not all of these people are happy.
We can answer the title question with one brief answer:  To crowdfund a movie--even to make a movie out of your own pocket-- is harder than it looks to do successfully, and you seldom hear about the failures.  That is why crowdfunding movies isn't done more often.  Even with a dramatic increase in crowdfunding quantity and ease of raising money, it would only remove the money obstacle.  The obstacles of making a movie with even for the potential of success, and training it to leap through the four remaining hoops of assembling a team, executing competently, pre-marketing and marketing, all remain.

And this rule probably holds true for crowdfunding large scale tech as well:  Getting the money just lets you get to the field with an equipped team. How well you play is not predictable in advance.

An Outline of The Uses of Supertall Towers

A guest post by Joseph Friedlander

What qualifies as a supertall tower? In any era, a tower well beyond the previously built engineering limits. Many people think of towers as linked to the egos of builders, the peaks of finance (there is a theory of large amounts of simultaneous tall structures marking the pre-crash financial  frenzy of an overheated economic boom--sort of a climax forest of real estate finance before the clear-cutting of an oncoming depression).  But here we speak not of cost, not of even too many of the engineering concerns but simply outlining some of the uses and concerns of supertall tower building.

A previous post on the uses of Supertall Towers for travel and space access

Height regime (arbitrary selections based on various thresholds)

1 kilometer (where we are now, about)
3 kilometers --a good first target, high enough to smash all records, low enough to be routinely buildable.
5 kilometers (near strength limit of iron without tricks like staging/tapering)
8 kilometers (just under Everest height, near strength limit of aluminum without tricks like staging/tapering)
20 kilometers (U-2 height, good for space launch (around 90% vacuum thrust on the pad, easier Max Q, less gravity and drag losses)
30 kilometers (Martian height, 99% of air below you, darkening sky, kilometer per second rotary tether assist launch known possible because the SR-71 travelled at that speed at this height) 
50 kilometers (99.9% of air below you) 
75 kilometers (probably low limit of rotary tether launch at high fraction of orbital speed)
100 kilometers (Become an astronaut by taking an elevator-- major tourism potential above that of simple sightseers-- also 1 millionth atmospheric pressure at sea level)
130 kilometers-- 80 miles (Just below 90 mile stable orbit, high enough to be below low perigee satellites, and above height where loss of signal for reentry, so extremely light if any nose cone or fairings needed-- just launch spacecraft or shoot mass driver and the unshielded spacecraft saves great mass and the launch sequence saves a pyrotechnic event which can fail.)
Geosynchronous height-- If you can build this tall, you can simply leap off and you're in orbit. But above this height, you can get free launch assist, from the rotation of the Earth, at high sublunar heights enough energy for a minimum energy transfer to Saturn-- of course, you need to launch at the right time for that to work.

Advantages and Uses of Supertall Towers
(Arbitrary order)

  • Line of sight and sheer height (for individuals)
  • People will pay for the view
  • People will pay to get married/eat/impress people and clients  in an exclusive place
  • People will pay to get official astronaut certification
  • Sports/bungee jumping/glide jumping/rappeling/space parachuting
  • Line of sight and sheer height (applications)
  • Drop tower for near zero gravity processing
  • Drop tower for movie studio (the movie Apollo 13 used a zero gravity trajectory plane for filming and 30 seconds for a take was sufficient)
  • Pressure work (surface lab, tall standpipe, think Pascal's Barrel)
  • Observation, sensors, scanning radar, surveillance, placement of microwave antennas
  • Cheaper replacement for satellites with most of the coverage, stronger signal strength (closer to user)
  • Above a good fraction of the atmosphere
  • Vaccum processing much easier with lower outside ambient before pumpdown-- huge vacuum chambers possible if you have the lift capacity
  • Astronomical observatories --academic and personal (rent space for your remote controlled scope on top)--Imagine the Keck Observatory above the atmosphere--
  • Massive solar power payback possible if you pay attention to conflict between incoming winds and furling thin reflectors-- Above the clouds (certain rare high clouds excepted) nearly 40 percent of a day may give productive power as opposed to typically  10 percent on the ground.
  • Laser frequencies usable without much attenuation for massive data transfer without optical fibers between two high towers
  • Laser/particle beam/mass driver/ rotary tether/ other methods of direct space launch to orbit or escape (height required varies by method)-- 100 times cheaper space possible.
  • Possibility of catching incoming orbital or lunar payloads deborbiting and using the energy as a power source in near vacuum. Literally 1% of the Moon's mass incoming could power civilization for geological eras of time with very little increase in gravity. 
  • Possibility of intercity travel far faster than we have now. I wrote about that here --  Note that
  • Possibility of effective missile defense by laser without attentuation (But see last point in entry below)-- the cheapest means of anti-anti missile defense is to target your tower!
  • Enemies of Towers
  • Government permission required (active or passive-- they say no, it's over before it starts)
  • NIMBY-- This is the flip side of long  line of sight-- I don't want to see your tower from 300 km away in my pristine wilderness...
  • Earthquakes --You think they are tough on the ground? Try it in a space tower
  • Wind-- Say after me, class-- statics is not dynamics. First they teach statics, then they teach dynamics. There is a reason.
  • Resonance-- Rotary space launch tethers need to be precisely balanced and other resonance sources kept well under control
  • People with weapons who want to target your tower-- Governments, terrorists, criminals, kids with a new rifle just looking for a target.  It is hard enough keeping a tower standing against nature. You don't want people gunning for you too.

From Professor A.A. Bolonkin's paper on optimal steel towers found on arXiv here:

In Bolonkin’s Arxiv paper on a space tower of 100 km height he gave a mass ratio for steel of 135 times tower weight to payload weight.

In my post on his  AB Matter concept --if buildable could lead to 'cable cars to the planets' and space towers literally in Jovian gravity with no taper-- foundations secured by the clever means of literally sticking through the Jovian core with no fear of the fearsome temperatures within.

If Bolonkin's AB Matter can be built it would enable  towers and space cable cars of unspeakable capacity and utility. Not to neutron stars or worse but many unreachable places would soon be easy to reach. Gas giants, even other stars. Even probing within the Sun. 
The limit of AB Matter tether launch is probably 1/6 lightspeed or so.

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