August 13, 2016

Kenny Baker who played R2D2 in Star Wars has died at 81

British actor Kenny Baker, who starred as R2-D2 in six Star Wars films, has died aged 81 after a long illness, his niece has confirmed.

Baker made his name as the robot in the first Star Wars film in 1977 alongside Anthony Daniels's C-3PO character.

Star Wars creator George Lucas paid tribute to a "real gentleman" and Mark Hamill - Luke Skywalker in the films - said he had lost "a lifelong friend".

Born in Birmingham, Baker's other films include Time Bandits and Flash Gordon.

After starring in the original Star Wars film he went on to appear in the sequels, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and the three prequels between 1999 and 2005.

Baker was a consultant on the last Star Wars production - The Force Awakens - but British actor Jimmy Vee was already lined up to take on the role of R2-D2 in the next film, due for release in 2017.

Britain invests £800m in Dragonfly drones, quantum gravimeters and combat lasers

Britain will spend more than £800million funding next-generation military technology including tiny "dragonfly drones" for gathering intelligence and laser weapons to eliminate missiles.

Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, will today announce an innovation unit which will encourage individuals and companies to pitch ideas to a panel of experts. The best ideas will be fast-tracked with the support of an £800million fund over the next decade.

Projects which will be funded include a "micro-drone" with tiny flapping wings inspired by the biology of a dragon fly, which could have a "huge impact" on operations in urban environments.

It weighs less than two pound coins, is less than five inches long and will be able to fly at speeds of up to 45mph. The drone, which has been developed by a company called Animal Dynamics in Oxford, will be equipped with a camera and a microphone enabling it to carry out covert surveillance.

Biggest ever 3-D mapping of 35 million galaxies begins Construction Phase

A 3-D sky-mapping project that will measure the light of millions of galaxies has received formal approval from the U.S. Department of Energy to move forward with construction. Installation of the project, called DESI (Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument), is set to begin next year at the Nicholas U. Mayall 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Ariz., with observations starting up in January 2019.

This latest DOE approval step, known as Critical Decision 3, triggers spending for major components of the project, including the remainder of the 5,000 finger-width, 10-inch-long cylindrical robots that will precisely point the fiber-optic cables to gather the light from a chosen set of galaxies, stars, and brilliant objects called quasars. The spending will also be used to complete the set of 10 fiber-fed spectrographs that will precisely measure different wavelengths of incoming light.

This light will tell us about the properties of the galaxies, stars, and quasars, and most importantly, how quickly they are moving away from us—light from objects that are moving away from us is shifted to redder wavelengths (“redshift”). These details can help us learn more about the nature of dark energy that is driving the accelerating expansion of the universe. DESI’s observations will provide a deep look back in time, up to about 11 billion years ago.

The first “petal” machined for the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) is shown in these photos. Ten of these petals, which together will hold 5,000 robots (like the one in the lower right photo)—each pointing a thin fiber-optic cable at separate sky objects—will be installed in DESI. (Credit: Joe Silber/Berkeley Lab)

Molecular Switch That Triggers Bacterial Pathogenicity has been found

The discovery of DNA-binding proteins could provide a new target for development of drugs to prevent or treat bacterial infection. Scientists have revealed for the first time the molecular steps that turn on bacteria’s pathogenic genes. Using an array of high-powered X-ray imaging techniques, the researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) showed that histone-like proteins that bind to DNA are related to the physical twisting of the genetic strand, and that the supercoiling of the chromosome can trigger the expression of genes that make a microbe invasive.

The top two rows show illustrations of crystals and solution structures of bacterial HU proteins with DNA represented by X-ray crystallography and small angle X-ray scattering, respectively. DNA strands are yellow and HU proteins are shades of blue. Soft X-ray tomography was used to visualize bacterial chromatin (in yellow) in wild type and invasive E. coli cells, shown in the bottom row. (Credit: Michal Hammel/Berkeley Lab)

Science Advances - HU multimerization shift controls nucleoid compaction

Discovery of odd Trans-Neptunian Object that is above the plane of the solar system and swings backward around the sun

There has been the discovery of an odd TNO or trans-Neptunian object. It sits beyond Neptune in the outer solar system. This one is 160,000 times fainter than Neptune, which means the icy world could be less than 200 kilometers in diameter. It’s currently above the plane of the solar system and with every passing day, it’s moving upwards – a fact that makes it an oddity.

The TNO orbits in a plane that’s tilted 110 degrees to the plane of the solar system. What’s more, it swings around the sun backwards unlike most of the other objects in the solar system. With this in mind, the team that discovered the TNO nicknamed it “Niku” after the Chinese adjective for rebellious.

Scientists think the object must have come into collision with something else, or was pulled off course by another gravitational source. But right now, nobody knows what this other object or group of objects could be.

Although the majority of Centaurs are thought to have originated in the scattered disk, with the high-inclination members coming from the Oort cloud, the origin of the high inclination component of trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) remains uncertain. We report the discovery of a retrograde TNO, which we nickname "Niku", detected by the Pan-STARRS 1 Outer Solar System Survey. Our numerical integrations show that the orbital dynamics of Niku are very similar to that of 2008 KV42 (Drac), with a half-life of ∼500 Myr. Comparing similar high inclination TNOs and Centaurs, we find that these objects exhibit a surprising clustering of ascending node, and occupy a common orbital plane. This orbital configuration has high statistical significance: 3.8-σ. An unknown mechanism is required to explain the observed clustering. This discovery may provide a pathway to investigate a possible reservoir of high-inclination objects.

Identity, the Prestige and Mind Uploading

Here is a video that explains identity. I will look at how it applies to mind uploading.

Mind uploading speculation and debate often concludes that a procedure described as gradual in-place replacement preserves personal identity while a procedure described as destructive scan-and-copy produces some other identity in the target substrate such that personal identity is lost along with the biological brain. A paper tried to establishe metaphysical equivalence between these two methods in terms of preserving personal identity.

When does something stop being what is was ?

So from the perspective of the individual. Changes from most experience are not destroying their own persistent identity.

However, lobotimization is destroying personality and a significant loss (I would say critical loss of identity). The person might still believe it has continuity of identity but people who know the individual would say that personality and the person are different.

Mild stroke destroys part of the brain, but not enough that the brain cannot heal itself and replace the functions and personality and identity are believed by the individual and the people who know them to be preserved.

The Prestige movie (spoiler alert) had identical copies created of an individual. The instantaneous copies both exist at the same time, but then one kills the other. It is not known which version is killed. But from the perspective of the individual there is the one that existed before the copying process and then that one and another added. If I am the one copied then my identity and continuity is the essential property from my perspective. Having another copy is like having one part of a siamese twin exist after one dies.

30 countries now have more old than young and there will 56 countries in 2030 including the US

By 2030, 56 countries will have more people aged 65 and over than children under 15.

Nextbigfuture notes that this projection is not happening because of radical life extension it is happening because of smaller family sizes and regular medicine increasing lifespans to 80-90 years. Radical life extension could extend this shift to having people over 100 out numbering the young in 2100.

Joseph Chamie is an x-UN demographer and is now an independent researcher

In 1995, Italy became the first country where people aged 65 out numbered the than children under 15.

It’s not just industrialized nations like Japan and Germany succumbing to the age curse. The turning point will take place in 2020 in the Cuba and South Korea, followed five years later in Thailand and the U.S. By 2075, the global population is forecast to pass the demographic milestone.

Throughout human history children were substantially more numerous than the elderly. Even a half century ago, the world’s population of 3.3 billion had on average more than seven children under 15 years of age for each elderly person aged 65 and over. Africa’s population in 1965 topped other major regions with more than 14 children per elderly person, followed by Asia and Latin America with more than 11 children per elderly person and Europe and Northern America at around 3 children per elderly person.

Young outnumbered old 7 to 1 in 1965

Today the global ratio for the world’s 7.4 billion people has been halved to about three children per elderly person. While Africa’s population continues to have the highest ratio with nearly 12 children per elderly person, the ratios for Asia and Latin America are close to the current world average. In contrast, the population of Europe, which just recently experienced the Historical Reversal, has slightly less than one child per elderly person.

By 2075 the world’s projected population of 10.7 billion is expected to pass through the Historical Reversal with elderly persons becoming increasingly more numerous than children. The only major region that will not experience the Historical Reversal during the 21st century is Africa, which is projected to have 1.5 children per elderly person in 2100 with some countries, such as Niger, Nigeria and Somalia, having more than twice as many children as elderly. At that time, all the other major regions of the world are expected to have about twice as many elderly persons as children.

August 12, 2016

New solid 3-D superlenses extends magnification five times to reveal new detail

Nanobeads are all around us- and are, some might argue, used too frequently in everything from sun-screen to white paint, but a new ground-breaking application is revealing hidden worlds.

A paper in Science Advances (12 August) provides proof of a new concept, using new solid 3D superlenses to break through the scale of things previously visible through a microscope.

Illustrating the strength of the new superlens, the scientists describe seeing for the first time, the actual information on the surface of a Blue Ray DVD. That shiny surface is not as smooth as we think. Current microscopes cannot see the grooves containing the data- but now even the data itself is revealed.

Super-resolution optical imaging through the TiO2 mSIL. (A to P) SEM images of a Blu-ray disk containing 100-nm-wide grooves (A) and the wafer patterns with 60-nm (E), 50-nm (I), and 45-nm pitches (M) after gold coating of sample (I). (B) and (C), (G), and (K) are the bottom surfaces of the mSIL detached from the surface of samples (A), (E), and (I), respectively. AFM images of the wafer pattern with 60-nm (F) and 50-nm pitches (J). Optical microscopy images of the TiO2 mSIL focused on the surface of a Blu-ray disk (D) and wafer patterns with 60-nm (H), 50-nm (L), and 45-nm pitches (N to P), with magnification factors of 1.8, 3.1, 3.0, and 3.1, respectively. The last mSIL was illuminated under white light (N), green light (λ ~ 540 nm) (O), or blue light (λ ~ 470 nm) (P). The mSIL had widths of about 20 μm.

Schematic illustration of the assembly of the all-dielectric TiO2 mSIL.

Science Advances - Three-dimensional all-dielectric metamaterial solid immersion lens for subwavelength imaging at visible frequencies

NASA's Fermi Mission Expands its Search for Dark Matter

Dark matter, the mysterious substance that constitutes most of the material universe, remains as elusive as ever. Although experiments on the ground and in space have yet to find a trace of dark matter, the results are helping scientists rule out some of the many theoretical possibilities. Three studies published earlier this year, using six or more years of data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, have broadened the mission's dark matter hunt using some novel approaches.

“We've looked for the usual suspects in the usual places and found no solid signals, so we've started searching in some creative new ways," said Julie McEnery, Fermi project scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "With these results, Fermi has excluded more candidates, has shown that dark matter can contribute to only a small part of the gamma-ray background beyond our galaxy, the Milky Way, and has produced strong limits for dark matter particles in the second-largest galaxy orbiting it."

Dark matter neither emits nor absorbs light, primarily interacts with the rest of the universe through gravity, yet accounts for about 80 percent of the matter in the universe. Astronomers see its effects throughout the cosmos -- in the rotation of galaxies, in the distortion of light passing through galaxy clusters, and in simulations of the early universe, which require the presence of dark matter to form galaxies at all.

The leading candidates for dark matter are different classes of hypothetical particles. Scientists think gamma rays, the highest-energy form of light, can help reveal the presence of some of types of proposed dark matter particles. Previously, Fermi has searched for tell-tale gamma-ray signals associated with dark matter in the center of our galaxy and in small dwarf galaxies orbiting our own. Although no convincing signals were found, these results eliminated candidates within a specific range of masses and interaction rates, further limiting the possible characteristics of dark matter particles.

Top: Gamma rays (magenta lines) coming from a bright source like NGC 1275 in the Perseus galaxy cluster should form a particular type of spectrum (right). Bottom: Gamma rays convert into hypothetical axion-like particles (green dashes) and back again when they encounter magnetic fields (gray curves). The resulting gamma-ray spectrum ((lower curve at right) would show unusual steps and gaps not seen in Fermi data, which means a range of these particles cannot make up a portion of dark matter.
Credits: SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory/Chris Smith

Physics Review Letters - Search for Spectral Irregularities due to Photon–Axionlike-Particle Oscillations with the Fermi Large Area Telescope

New Chromebooks will be able to fully leverage Android Apps

Later this year, the Google Play Store is coming to Chrome OS. Millions of Android apps will be working on your Chromebook, which is going to change Chromebooks completely. Touchscreens will be more important; new sensors and processors will probably be integrated. Detachable keyboards and laptop - tablet convertibles will make a lot of sense.

Chromium has a list of chromebooks that do or will support android

Chromebooks that will work with Android apps in June/July 2016

Android apps are now available on the dev and beta channel for:

Asus Chromebook Flip.
Acer Chromebook R11 / C738T
Google Chromebook Pixel (2015)

There are 40+ Chromebooks that will work with Android apps later in 2016/2017 and the list is growing.

Good Apps

Plex for playing different file types
Lightroom for photo editing
Solid Explorer is a better ile manager
Unclouded lets you plug in multiple cloud storage accounts including Dropbox, Drive, OneDrive, Mega, and Boxf
Use LastPass or 1Password to keep all your logins in order.
Line and Google Hangouts both have great Chrome apps
Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have decent web apps.
Evernote for taking notes
Word and Excel both work great in Chrome
Google Docs and Sheets will even work offline.

Lockheed and Elbit are working together on upgrading the British Challenger 2 tank

Lockheed Martin UK is to bid for the Ministry of Defence’s contract to upgrade the British Army’s Challenger 2 tanks.

In collaboration with Elbit Systems UK, Lockheed Martin UK will submit a proposal to undertake the Life Extension Project (LEP) that will see the main battle tanks in service until 2035.

Lockheed Martin UK is the prime contractor for the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme, which is upgrading a minimum of 380 armored fighting vehicles for the Army. The company is also designing and delivering 245 turrets for the AJAX vehicles that are being produced by GD UK.

The Challenger 2 will be getting new thermal imaging, new targeting and weapons control systems. It might also get new guns.

Tesla minibus will be built on a model X chasis

Elon Musk said that the “obvious priority” after Model 3 production would be the compact SUV that was also mentioned in the Master Plan, the one that has been rumored in the past as the “Model Y.” “That’s also a car where we expect to see demand in the 500,000 to 1,000,000-per-year level,” he said. Musk did not, however, mention when the Model Y might be unveiled.

Musk has confirmed that the brand’s upcoming compact crossover will be called the Model Y and will be based on the upcoming Model 3 platform. “Model Y (compact SUV) off Model 3 chassis,” tweeted Musk. The Model 3 will be the brand’s first high-volume offering and is expected to launch in 2017, so expect the Model Y sometime after that.

Tesla plans driverless buses that can be summoned by the press of a button and can drop you off right at your front door. Along with an all-electric heavy-duty semi-truck, Tesla’s new minibus is said to be ready to debut next year.

Speculation on what a Tesla Minibus would look like

Telsa is working on a pickup truck which will eventually spawn a cargo van to compete with the Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter.

Solid ball larger than a ping pong ball but half the weight was levitated with sound

Researchers demonstrated that acoustic levitation can levitate spherical objects much larger than the acoustic wavelength in air. The acoustic levitation of an expanded polystyrene sphere of 50 mm in diameter, corresponding to 3.6 times the wavelength, is achieved by using three 25 kHz ultrasonic transducers arranged in a tripod fashion. In this configuration, a standing wave is created between the transducers and the sphere. The axial acoustic radiation force generated by each transducer on the sphere was modeled numerically as a function of the distance between the sphere and the transducer. The theoretical acoustic radiation force was verified experimentally in a setup consisting of an electronic scale and an ultrasonic transducer mounted on a motorized linear stage. The comparison between the numerical and experimental acoustic radiation forces presents a good agreement.

The levitation capability of the proposed system was confirmed by levitating an expanded polystyrene sphere with a mass of 1.46 g and a diameter of 50 mm.

Although there are several different ways to acoustically levitate an object, most methods use an ultrasonic transducer, which converts electrical signals into ultrasonic waves. The current setup uses three ultrasonic transducers arranged in a tripod fashion around the sphere.

For now the leviation is to a fixed position but they would like to develop new devices capable of levitating and manipulating large objects in air

Acoustic levitation has applications for handling and manipulating various materials, such as very hot materials and liquid samples in space. In microgravity, the lower surface tension allows liquid droplets to reach larger sizes than they do on Earth, and acoustic levitation can be used to control and analyze these large liquid samples.

The International Table Tennis Federation changed the official ball diameter is 40mm and weight of 2.7 grams

The United States Golf Association specifies that a golf ball must weigh no more than 1.620 ounces (45.93g), be spherical in shape and be no less than 1.68-inches (42.7mm) in diameter. This is called "The American Ball". The "British Ball" is a teensy bit smaller, at 1.62-inches (41.1mm)

Russia concerned about hypersonic missiles being able to threaten its nuclear deterrent

Russia, the United States, China, and India are leading current development and testing of hypersonic cruise missiles. These missiles are intended for launching high-precision non-nuclear strikes against a range of targets and carrying them out in significantly less time than strikes conducted with existing cruise missiles.

Russian officials and experts believe that hypersonic weapons deployed by the United States will drastically increase the effectiveness of the global strike concept and give Washington a capability to deliver a disarming non-nuclear strike against Russia’s Strategic Nuclear Forces.

Russia's concern stem from their own current and past efforts to develop hypersonic missiles.

Russia had a hypersonic glide design study [called Albatross] in 1987. The design was relatively simple: At boost phase, the UR-100N UTTKh (SS-19) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) would launch a so-called hypersonic gliding vehicle (HGV) to an altitude of 80 to 90 kilometers, after which the HGV would make a low-angle turn toward the earth’s surface and accelerate at a descending trajectory, gliding to intercontinental range at hypersonic speed, or five times the speed of sound. An HGV armed with a nuclear weapon would supposedly make rapid cross-range maneuvers to circumvent ground-based U.S. missile defenses.

The Albatross was developed to defeat orbital SDI [Reagan antiballastic missile Star Wars] technology, ironically, the HGV is vulnerable to conventional anti-ballistic missiles weapons such as the Patriot PAC-3 or the THAAD

China has conducted six tests of its hypersonic WU-14 missile in a span of just under two years, starting in 2014.5 The WU-14 is a hypersonic gliding vehicle launched by a ballistic missile that, according to reports, may carry both conventional and nuclear weapons. During one test, the aircraft demonstrated a high degree of maneuverability that would enable it to penetrate the enemy’s missile defenses, which suggests that the Chinese aircraft almost fully replicated the design and flight pattern of the Russian Albatross HGV.

China targets 2030 for operational hybrid hypersonic spaceplane

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation is beginning advanced research on hybrid combined cycle engines that can takeoff from an airport's landing strip and fly straight into orbit. The hybrid space plane's combined cycle engines would use turbofan or turbojet engines to takeoff horizontally from a landing strip. Once airborne, the engine then shifts to ramjet propulsion and, as speed increases, adjusts into a scramjet engine with supersonic airflow. At the scramjet stage, the hybrid spaceplane would enter hypersonic flight in 'near space', the part of the atmosphere between 20km to 100km above sea level. Finally, the hybrid spaceplane would use its rocket motors to push out of near space and into orbit.

Zhang Yong, a CASTC engineer, claimed that China will master the spaceplane's technologies in the next three to five years, and a full-scale spaceplane would then enter service by 2030.

CASTC's rapid research timeline suggests that the reports in 2015 of a Mach 4 test flight for a recoverable drone testbed for a combined cycle ramjet/turbofan engine were accurate. And China also has the world's largest hypersonic wind tunnel, the Mach 9 JF-12, which could be used to easily test hypersonic scramjets without costly and potentially dangerous flight testing at altitude.

Concepts currently appear to look similar to the UK Reaction engines skylon spaceplane.

Combined Cycle Engine

The combined cycle engine shares the same inlet and exhaust nozzle for both the turbojet/turbofan and ramjet. In the upper diagram, the air intake ramps behind the ramjet spike direct airflow into the turbo core. In the bottom diagram, the air intake ramps gradually block off air flow to the turbo core, redirecting air into the ramjet combustion engine for high supersonic (Mach 3.0-Mach 4.0). Chinese combined cycle engines like this blueprint would be paired with a scramjet (presumably via changing the ramjet) and a separate rocket motor to create a hypersonic space plane.

August 11, 2016

Aubrey de Grey on staying ahead of aging and 6-10 years clear antiaging progress will make it clear that dramatic antiaging will happen

50% of chance of next 20 years of achieving first generation SENS antiaging technology which could rejuvenate by 30 years.

Antiaging progress is going to be more and more dramatic.

6-10 years the progress will be made that will make it clear to everyone that the antiaging revolution will be happening.

Aging is major source of suffering in the world today with over 100,000 dying of aging every day.

Spotting planets and unseen objects in our solar system and beyond with current and near future telescopes

Adam Crowl describes the magnitude (telescope visibility) of new planets in our solar system. Currently the Pan-STARRS1 Sky Survey is trying to capture everything that can be seen from Hawaii down to a magnitude of +22.

Eventually Pan-STARRS hopes to push down to +24 in magnitude, which *might* capture Planet Nine, if Pan-STARRS sees its part of the sky.

Planet Nine averages a distance of 700 AU from the Sun and is about Neptune size. In that case it’s 13.7 magnitude points dimmer than Neptune’s current +8 at about +22. If it’s near its aphelion (furthermost position from the Sun) at a distance of ~1,200 AU, then it’d be ~40^4 times dimmer than Neptune, with a magnitude of +24. At its closest approach to the Sun (about 270 AU) then it’d be 9^4 times dimmer at magnitude 17.5.

Every doubling in distance, the light intensity decreases by 2^2 = 4 fold.

Astronomical Visual Magnitude is a strange scale – it goes up by 5 for every 100-fold *decrease* in observed brightness.

Large Synoptic Survey Telescope could reach +28 magnitude or 60 times less bright objects

In 2022, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) should begin operating. It is a wide-field survey reflecting telescope with an 8.4-meter primary mirror, currently under construction, that will photograph the entire available sky every few nights. The telescope uses a novel 3-mirror design which delivers sharp images over a very wide 3.5-degree diameter field of view, feeding a 3.2 gigapixel CCD imaging camera, the largest digital camera ever constructed.

From its mountaintop site in Chile, the LSST will image the entire visible sky every few nights, thus capturing changes and opening up the time-domain window over an unprecedented range of timescales for tens of billions of faint objects. Each sky patch will be visited 1000 times during the survey with a pair of exposures per visit. The LSST data will enable qualitatively new science. Tens of billions of objects in our universe will be seen for the first time and monitored over time. Thirty trillion photometric measurements will be made.

The speed with which you can survey an area of sky for objects of a given faintness is proportional to throughput (collecting area times field of view in meters squared degrees squared). The LSST enables totally new windows on the universe because it has such a high throughput, or "etendue." The etendue of LSST is 320 square meters square degrees. A primary mirror diameter of 8.4 m (effective aperture 6.7 m due to obscuration) is the minimum diameter that simultaneously satisfies the depth (24.5 mag depth per single visit and 27.5 mag for coadded depth) and cadence (revisit time of 3-4 days, with 30 seconds per visit) constraints. Above a throughput or "etendue" of 200-300 square meters square degrees, many different surveys can be done using the same wide-fast-deep survey data—a large multiplex advantage.

Some of the science can be done on a smaller telescope in a longer time, but consider the numbers: The speed with which you can survey an area of sky for objects of a given faintness is proportional to throughput (collecting area times field of view in meters squared degrees squared). The LSST enables totally new windows on the universe because it has such a high throughput, or "etendue." The etendue of LSST is 320 square meters square degrees. A primary mirror diameter of 8.4 m (effective aperture 6.7 m due to the tertiary mirror area in the middle of the primary-tertiary mirror, and some obscuration) is the minimum diameter that simultaneously satisfies the depth (24.5 mag depth per single visit and 27.5 mag for coadded depth) and cadence (revisit time of 3-4 days, with 30 seconds per visit) constraints. Above a throughput or "etendue" of 200-300 square meters square degrees, many different surveys can be done using the same wide-fast-deep survey data—a large multiplex advantage.

LSST will repeatedly scan the sky south of +10 deg Dec. accumulating ~1000 pairs of 15 second exposures through ugrizy filters, yielding a dataset that simultaneously satisfies the majority of the science goals. This concept, the so-called "universal cadence", will yield the main 18,000 square degree deep-wide-fast survey (typical single visit depth of r ~24.5) and use about 90% of the observing time. The remaining 10% of the time will be used to obtain improved coverage of parameter space such as ultra deep frequent observations, observations with very short revisit times (~1 minute), and observations of "special" regions such as the Ecliptic, Galactic plane, and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. For example, fifty selected 10 square degree "deep drilling" fields could be covered with 40 hour-long sequences of 200 exposures each. Each exposure in a sequence would have an equivalent 5-sigma depth of r~24, and each filter subsequence when coadded would be 2 magnitudes deeper than the main survey visits (r~26.5). When all 40 sequences and the main survey visits are coadded, they would extend the depth to r~28 AB mag.

Longest lived vertebrates are Greenland Sharks and they can live up to 500 years

A Greenland shark has lived at least 272 years, making the species the longest-lived vertebrate in the world – smashing the previous record held by a 211-year-old bowhead whale. But it may have been as old as 500 years. Living deep in the North Atlantic and the frigid surface waters of the Arctic, Greenland sharks have a stable environment and grow just a few centimeters per year.

Nielsen and his colleagues focused on radiation in the sharks’ eyes. Nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s and ’60s blasted radioactive particles into the atmosphere.

Those particles entered food webs all over the world and show up in the form of radioactive forms of carbon in organisms that lived through that period. Because Greenland sharks’ eye lens tissue doesn’t change during its lifetime, it preserves the historic radiation.

After catching a 2.2-metre shark that showed radiation levels indicating it was born in the 1960s and was about 50 years old, the team calculated how fast the sharks grew.

The team estimated that one 5-meter animal was at least 272 years old – but could be more than 500 years old (392 +/- 120 years). Another was at least 260 years old, and could be more than 400 years old.

Science - Eye lens radiocarbon reveals centuries of longevity in the Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus)

Deep living for centuries

We tend to think of vertebrates as living about as long as we do, give or take 50 to 100 years. Marine species are likely to be very long-lived, but determining their age is particularly difficult. Nielsen et al. used the pulse of carbon-14 produced by nuclear tests in the 1950s—specifically, its incorporation into the eye during development—to determine the age of Greenland sharks. This species is large yet slow-growing. The oldest of the animals that they sampled had lived for nearly 400 years, and they conclude that the species reaches maturity at about 150 years of age.


The Greenland shark (Somniosus microcephalus), an iconic species of the Arctic Seas, grows slowly and reaches >500 centimeters (cm) in total length, suggesting a life span well beyond those of other vertebrates. Radiocarbon dating of eye lens nuclei from 28 female Greenland sharks (81 to 502 cm in total length) revealed a life span of at least 272 years. Only the smallest sharks (220 cm or less) showed signs of the radiocarbon bomb pulse, a time marker of the early 1960s. The age ranges of prebomb sharks (reported as midpoint and extent of the 95.4% probability range) revealed the age at sexual maturity to be at least 156 ± 22 years, and the largest animal (502 cm) to be 392 ± 120 years old. Our results show that the Greenland shark is the longest-lived vertebrate known, and they raise concerns about species conservation.

Cheap $100 per kilowatt grid scale flow batteries appear in the 2020-2025 timeframe

A Harvard team is addressing the challenges of grid storage by designing a flow battery based on inexpensive organic molecules in aqueous (water-based) electrolyte. The team has focused on non-toxic quinone molecules, which can be found in plants such as rhubarb, as an electroactive chemical that can reversibly store energy in a water-based solution at room temperature. The group employed theoretical and organic synthetic methods to evaluate hundreds of thousands of possible quinone-based chemicals that might offer the necessary electrochemical potential, solubility in water, and thermodynamic stability. The first demonstration of these systems, 2,7-anthraquinone disulfonic acid coupled to a bromine solution, has a reduction-oxidation window of 0.8 V. Details of this early, proof of concept battery were published in 2014

Professor Michael Aziz, leader of the Harvard project, said there are still problems to sort out with the "calendar life" of storage chemicals but the basic design is essentially proven.

"We have a fighting chance of bringing down the capital cost to $100 a kilowatt hour, and that will change the world. It could complement wind and solar on a very large scale," he told the Daily Telegraph.

The latest refinement is to replace toxic bromine with harmless ferrocyanide - used in food additives. The battery cannot catch fire. It is safe and clean. "This is chemistry I’d be happy to put in my basement," he said.

The design is delightfully simple. It uses a tank of water. You could have one at home in Los Angeles, Lagos, Buenos Aires, Delhi, or Guangzhou, storing solar power in the day to drive your air-conditioning at night. It could be scaled up for a 500 megawatt wind farm.

Italy's Green Energy Storage has the European licence. It is building a prototype with the Kessler Foundation at Trento University, backed by EU funds. "We have a chemistry that is ten times cheaper than anything on the market," said Salvatore Pinto, the chairman.

"We are speaking to three utilities in Europe and we will install our first battery as a field test next year," he said.

It is a race. Tim Grejtak, an energy expert at Lux Research, said Lockheed Martin and Pacific Northwest labs are both working on their own organic flow batteries, while others are developing variants with designed molecules.

Since these experiments were completed, the group has moved to make their system cheaper and less toxic, and to increase the voltage to 1.2 V. To date, the team has analyzed over one million quinone-based molecules using computer simulation, with thousands of them determined to be promising for storage. Of these, a dozen were selected for synthesis and testing, based upon their expected synthetic feasibility, electrochemical redox potential, aqueous solubility, and chemical stability during operation.

The team has developed a prototype cell design using safer alkaline liquids, no precious metals, and other battery components made of plastic or inexpensive metals with coatings proven to protect against corrosion. The team is advancing this innovative storage concept with goals of improving performance, including power density, cycle life and round trip efficiency. Their goal is to have a pilot-sale system ready for external testing by the end of the performance period.

Pathway to Economic Impact

Sustainable Innovations, Harvard’s commercialization partner, is developing a 3 kW system incorporating Harvard’s chemistry for demonstration by the end of the performance period. Sustainable Innovations is currently raising funding to complete
commercialization of a low-cost electrochemical platform that will support the launch of a series of products that meet critical market needs. If Harvard’s innovative storage concept proves commercially competitive, this technology can be inserted into a low-cost platform to yield a range of quinone based battery systems, with toxicity, cost and performance features that suit a variety of applications ranging from uninterruptable power supplies through micro-grid back-up, to full grid support.

Technoeconomic analysis and customer interest will determine the top candidates resulting from this project. The relatively non-toxic chemicals used in the battery design are widely used in the textile dye industry. Because these materials are already in commercial production, it is likely that scale-up for the organic battery will be rapid and cost effective.

Long Term Impacts

The use of redox-active organics in flow batteries has the potential to significantly drop the cost and toxicity of large scale grid storage batteries. This specific concept of using water-soluble quinones is unprecedented for flow batteries, and now provides a proof-of-concept for low-cost, more environmentally benign alternatives to the accepted chemistries of the past. With continuing development, and scale up to manufacturing in large quantities, redox-active organic battery technology has the potential for a highly competitive evolution of costs

Economist magazine looks at possibility of imminent medical life extension successes

Treatment based on calorie restriction manipulation might improve the prospects of longer and healthier life in ways that drugs aimed at specific diseases cannot match. Eileen Crimmins, a researcher at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, points to calculations which show that the complete elimination of cardiovascular disease would add only 5.5 years to overall life expectancy in America, and removing deaths from cancer would add just 3.2 years. This is because diseases compete to kill people as they age; if one does not get you the next will. According to Dr Crimmins, increasing life expectancies much beyond 95 would require an approach that held the whole pack at bay, not just one particular predator.

Something which slowed ageing down across the board might fit the bill. And if it delays the onset of a range of diseases it might also go some way to reducing the disability that comes with age. An ongoing long-term study at Newcastle University has been looking at the health and ageing of nearly 1,000 subjects now aged 85. At this point they have an average of four to five health problems. None of them is free from disease. Most researchers in the field scoff at talk of escape velocities and immortality. But they take seriously the prospect of healthier 85 year olds and lifespans lengthened by a decade or so.

Reducing the function of mTOR extends life in yeast, worms and flies. In 2009, work in a number of laboratories showed that rapamycin can extend the lifespan of middle-aged mice by 14%.

Alexander Zhavoronkov, the boss of Insilico Medicine, a longevity firm, says he is testing rapamycin on himself (self experimentation does not seem uncommon in the field). But he warns it is necessary to have a significant knowledge of biomedicine to do so safely. The drug has serious side effects; rodents treated with it suffer from insulin resistance and it suppresses the immune system.

João Passos, also at Newcastle University, says cells from which mitochondria are removed start to look more like young cells and stop secreting cytokines. Other work has shown that killing off mitochondria can mimic some of the effects of drugs that activate mitochondrial renewal—such as rapamycin. Faster turnover of mitochondria seems to improve their functioning.

Craig Venter, a pioneer in gene sequencing. In 2013 he founded Human Longevity Inc (HLI), based in San Diego. Like Insilico, HLI wants to sift through genomic data; but it does so on a vastly larger scale, generating the genomic data itself and matching them with details of physiology and appearance. Dr Venter hopes this will allow the company to unpick the genetics of longevity and predict how long people will live. Research at HLI has already found that some genetic variations are absent in older people, a finding that implies they might be tied to shorter lifespans. Companies such as Celgene and AstraZeneca that work in drug discovery have made deals to collaborate with HLI. Dr Venter says HLI may eventually move into the drug business itself.

For those who cannot wait for drugs, HLI has a high-end “wellness” service called the Health Nucleus. At prices starting from $25,000 it will give a customer a constellation of cutting-edge tests, including a full sequence of both his genome and a battery of tests for the signs of cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease. Lots of tests means lots of possibilities for “false-positive” results; but the affluent clients of Health Nucleus may worry less about follow-ups that reveal false alarms than other people do.

In 2013 Google (now Alphabet) started a venture called the California Life Company, or Calico, to take a “moonshot” approach to anti-ageing; the company has said it will invest up to $750m in the venture. Calico is a drug-development company much more willing to talk about its world-leading scientists, such as Cynthia Kenyon, a worm biologist, and the track record of its boss, Arthur Levinson, who used to run Genentech, a biotech giant, than about what it is actually doing. But it has announced a series of collaborations, the most significant of which is a ten-year R and D deal with AbbVie, a pharma company based in Chicago, focused on cancers and degenerative nerve conditions.

Another regenerative possibility flows from studies which find signs of rejuvenation in elderly animals exposed to the blood of younger animals. Infusions of young people’s blood plasma are being tried out on some Alzheimer’s patients in California. A startup called Ambrosia, based in Monterey, recently began “trials” of such a therapy with healthy participants who pay $8,000 to take part; critics say they are so lacking in controls that they are unlikely to generate any useful information.

A new longevity increase could be brought about by specific anti-senescence drugs, some of which may already exist.

Some of them want to upgrade worn-out tissues using stem cells (precursors to other sorts of cell). Such bio-renovation is the basis of an unproven, almost vampiric, treatment in vogue in some circles: transfusion into the old of the blood of the young. The business of growing organs from scratch is also proceeding. At the moment, these “organoids” are small, imperfect and used mainly for drug testing. But that will surely change. Longevity is known to run in families, which suggests that particular varieties of genes prolong life. Some are investigating this, with the thought that modern gene-editing techniques might one day be used to make crucial, life-extending tweaks to the DNA of those who need them.

Optimists claim treatments in the pipelines will extend life for many people to today’s ceiling of 120 or so. But it may be just the beginning. In the next phase not just average lifespans but maximum lifespans will rise. If a body part wears out, it will be repaired or replaced altogether. DNA will be optimized for long life. Add in anti-ageing drugs, and centenarians will become two a penny.

August 10, 2016

Apple will use South Korea Hollow battery technology for self-driving electric cars

Korean news site ETNews claims that Apple has signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with an unnamed South Korean battery developer, which would presage a partnership of some sort. Apple did not immediately return a request for comment.

MacRumors did some digging and did, in fact, come across a Korean battery company called Orange Power, which has a patent application in Europe for a type of hollow battery

The Hollow Core battery page has been removed from the Orange Power site

Orange Power has a roadmap for their battery technology

The companies are said to be in partnership since the beginning of FY16, as one of the officials of Apple has been visiting the said South Korean battery developer. This company is expected to be solely responsible for its batteries. In this way, the tech giant is focused on securing its innovative battery technology reserved for its self-driving vehicles only.

The Korean company is said to be a small company of 20 employees with expertise in battery technologies. The company holds patented technologies reserved for hollow batteries. The batteries produced by this company are lithium ion battery with a hollow core and a thickness of two fingers and are expected to result in higher electrical output for the self-driving electric cars.

Apple is interested in this hollow-cored lithium ion battery as it provides a cell with more surface area to allow more efficient air flow to dissipate heat that is generated in duration of normal charge-discharge cycle. This would reduce the additional costs of installing a cooling device. The battery is easy to use as it can be engineered to make both parallel and series electrical circuits without the need of soldering or welding. It provides with the ease of replacing a single battery when it fails instead of replacing the entire bank

Until coal, oil and natural gas are eliminated from power and transportation usage any argument about solar versus nuclear is meaningless

Usually when I write an article about new safer nuclear technology, someone will comment about how nuclear is still dangerous and magical future solar will make replace all other power.

Nuclear is not dangerous and solar will not possibly replace all other power until well past 2060

1. Solar energy just passed 1% of global electricity generation. Electricity is just part of world energy usage. We still need steam and heat for industrial processes and for homes and offices and for cars until things are fully electrified.

Solar has grown by about 30% per year. But that would still take many decades to displace coal. All fossil fuels are 100 time more deadly than nuclear on a death per TWH basis.

Solar and wind have not displaced all of the new fossil fuel generation that is being added globally each year.

Energy Source              Death Rate (deaths per TWh)

Coal (elect, heat,cook –world avg) 100 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
Coal electricity – world avg        60 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
Coal (elect,heat,cook)– China      170
Coal electricity-  China            90 
Coal – USA                          15
Oil                                 36  (36% of world energy)
Natural Gas                          4  (21% of world energy)
Biofuel/Biomass                     12
Peat                                12
Solar (rooftop)                      0.44 (1% of world energy for all solar)
Wind                                 0.15 (3% of world energy)
Hydro                                0.10 (europe death rate, 2.2% of world energy)
Hydro - world including Banqiao)     1.4 (about 3000 TWh/yr and 171,000 Banqiao dead)
Nuclear                              0.04 (5.9% of world energy, 11% of electricity)

Most of the new energy production being added is in China and developing countries. China already is using 30% more energy than the USA which has been flat in energy usage for a decade.

World energy usage will probably triple by 2050.

2. Adopting solar or wind above 10-20% would destabilize the energy grids. Rebuilding the energy grids would take decades. Deploying batteries and electric cars will take many decades. There a few hundred thousand electric cars out of over a billion cars in the world. There will be 2 billion cars by 2030. Cars could be reduced only if there was a complete shift to self driving robot taxis. Then the world might need only 300-500 million self driving cars.

Lithium and other battery supply chain would have to be built out to 100 or more times current scale.

3. Energy usage is still growing and most of the growth is coal, oil and natural gas.

4. Advanced nuclear can deal with the unburnt fuel which is most of the "nuclear waste". The unburnt fuel is about 60,000 tons per year. This can be stacked up in barrels on a basketball court. Fossil fuel waste is tens of billions of tons of solid, liquid and gas wastes. Literally mountains of fuel and mountains of waste.

Advanced nuclear like supercritical water reactors can be cheaper than coal power and generate at the same temperature as coal. This can replace the coal burner in existing plants which are already grid connected.

5. Wind literally is being blocked for electricity. Blocking enough wind and that is directly and significantly effecting climate.

When solar is at 40% of world energy and has eliminated most fossil fuel usage then we can start talking about whether solar displacing whatever advanced nuclear is developed makes sense.

New Doctor Strange and Luke Cage Trailers

Doctor Strange is scheduled to be released in the United States on November 4, 2016.

Luke Cage is a new Netflix series will drop on Friday, September 30th. It is part of the Defenders (Daredevil, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones).

When a sabotaged experiment gives him super strength and unbreakable skin, Luke Cage becomes a fugitive attempting to rebuild his life in Harlem and must soon confront his past and fight a battle for the heart of his city

A potential second Netflix season would not debut until 2018 at the earliest, after Marvel's The Defenders released in 2017.

The Marvel's The Defenders miniseries would begin filming after Iron Fist scheduled to begin in late 2016.

There will also be a Punisher netflix series.

Guardians of the Galaxy volume 2 will be out May 5, 2017

Spiderman Homecoming will be out July 7, 2017

Thor Ragnarok will be out November 3, 2017

Cate Blanchett will be the lead villain as Hela, Tessa Thompson is Valkyrie, and Karl Urban is the villain Skurge
Jeff Goldblum is Grandmaster, one of the Elders of the Universe.

Black Panther will be out February 16, 2018. The movie will explore Wakanda and how it opens to the Marvel World.

Avengers Infinity War will be out May 4, 2018

Spacex testing Raptor engine that will be three times more powerful than current Spacex engines and will enable manned Mars missions

SpaceX has shipped its next generation Raptor rocket engine to its test site in MacGregor, Texas. The Raptor engine, which will be powered by liquid methane and oxygen, is expected to be three times more powerful than the Merlin engines that currently power SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets, and will be used in its next generation of rockets.

In January 2016, the US Air Force awarded a US$33.6 million development contract to SpaceX develop a prototype version of its methane-fueled reusable Raptor engine for use on the upper stage of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles, which required double-matching funding by SpaceX of at least US$67.3 million. Work under the contract is expected to be completed in 2018, and engine performance testing will be done at NASA's John C. Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

Raptor will utilize a full-flow staged combustion cycle, where 100 percent of the oxidizer—with a low-fuel ratio—will power the oxygen turbine pump, and 100 percent of the fuel—with a low-oxygen ratio—will power the methane turbine pump. Both streams—oxidizer and fuel—will be completely in the gas phase before they enter the combustion chamber. Prior to 2014, only two full-flow staged combustion rocket engines have ever progressed sufficiently to be tested on test stands: the Soviet RD-270 project in the 1960s and the Aerojet Rocketdyne integrated powerhead demonstration project in the mid-2000s

The Raptor engine is designed to work using deep cryogenic methalox propellants—fluids cooled to near their freezing points rather than nearer their boiling points which is more typical for cryogenic rocket engines.

The turbopump and many of the critical parts of the injectors will be manufactured by using 3D printing, which also increases the speed of development and iterative testing.

Additional characteristics of the full-flow design that are projected to further increase performance or reliability include:

  • eliminating the fuel-oxidizer turbine interseal, which is a potential point of failure in more traditional engine designs
  • lower pressures are required through the pumping system, increasing life span and further reducing risk of catastrophic failure
  • ability to increase the combustion chamber pressure, thereby either increasing overall performance, or "by using cooler gases, providing the same performance as a standard staged combustion engine but with much less stress on materials, thus significantly reducing material fatigue or [engine] weight

Stated design size for the Raptor engine has varied widely as design continues, from a high target of 8,200 kN (1,800,000 lbf) of vacuum thrust to a more recent, much lower target of 2,300 kN (510,000 lbf). Estimates target a vacuum Isp of 363 seconds and a sea-level Isp of 321 seconds. Final thrust and Isp specifications for the as-built engines may continue to change dramatically as SpaceX moves the engine through the multi-year development cycle

SpaceX announced an ambitious plan to send its first uncrewed Dragon capsule to Mars as early as 2018. The Merlin engine — which uses kerosene and liquid oxygen as propellants — will power the Falcon 9 and future Falcon Heavy launch vehicles, the Raptor engine will power the next-gen rocket.

One audience member at the 30th Annual Conference on Small Satellites at Utah State University questioned SpaceX’s plans for human settlement of Mars, wondering why anyone would want to live there. “There are a lot of people on this planet that have a lot of very different ideas,” she said. “I’m sure there’s plenty of people who will want to go settle on Mars.”

To test this, Spacex President and COO Gwynne Shotwell asked a show of hands from the standing-room-only audience of those who would be willing to go to Mars on an early expedition. About five to ten percent of the audience raised their hands. “Five percent of the world’s population is a lot,” she said.

Reusability progressing

Shotwell also emphasized the company’s efforts to make the Falcon 9 first stage reusable as another key element in its efforts to provide affordable smallsat launch services, calling reusability “the single most important thing SpaceX is working on.”

As part of that work, SpaceX is test-firing one of the Falcon 9 stages it successfully landed, from the May launch of the JCSAT-14 satellite, at its McGregor, Texas, test site. That stage has already completed some full-duration static test firings. “We’re going to run as many tests on this stage as we can pull off,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll get more than four, and maybe eight to ten of these, before we go ahead and refly.”

Shotwell said there’s “a lot of interest” from customers interested in flying on a Falcon 9 with a reused first stage. “We may fly two of the previously-flown hardware this year,” she said.

Ride sharing with small satellite rings

SpaceX, which retired its Falcon 1 small launch vehicle several years ago, believes it can more effectively serve the growing small satellite market through rideshare accommodations on its larger vehicles, the company’s president said Aug. 9.

In a keynote speech at the 30th Annual Conference on Small Satellites at Utah State University here, Gwynne Shotwell said the company was working with companies that aggregate secondary payloads, such as Seattle-based Spaceflight, to fly on the Falcon 9 and future Falcon Heavy launch vehicles.

Spaceflight announced in September 2015 that it had purchased a Falcon 9 launch for what it called a “dedicated rideshare” mission planned for the second half of 2017. That mission will carry more than 20 spacecraft, including a lunar lander developed by SpaceIL, an Israeli team competing in the Google Lunar X Prize.

Spaceflight is also flying nearly 90 satellites as secondary payloads on its SHERPA payload adapter. SHERPA will fly with a Taiwanese satellite, Formosat-5, on a Falcon 9 later this year. Jason Andrews, president and chief executive of Spaceflight, said in an Aug. 8 presentation here that he expects that launch to take place in late October.

Shotwell said SpaceX also believes it can offer extensive secondary payload accommodations on its Falcon Heavy rocket. “There should be a lot of extra capacity on this rocket, and hopefully we will fly a lot of ESPA or ESPA-like rings underneath the primary payload to provide regular access for you all,” she said, referring to the EELV Secondary Payload Adapter, a common payload interface for small secondary payloads.

Development of the Falcon Heavy has been beset by delays, she acknowledged. “Sorry we’re late,” she said. “This is actually a harder problem than we thought.” Those delays have pushed back one early Falcon Heavy mission, carrying the Space Test Program 2 mission, with more than 30 satellites, to the third quarter of 2017.

Russia's future nuclear energy plans and the VVER-TOI designs

Russia is currently operating about 26 GW of nuclear power. 30.5 GWe of nuclear is projected for 2020. This was confirmed in a January 2015 ‘roadmap’, with an average of one reactor per year commissioned to 2025, including the first three TOI units and excluding the Baltic plant. From 2028 to 2035 there are two 1200 MWe-class additions per year. The ‘roadmap’ excluded smaller and experimental units. But net additions to 2020 were only 6 GWe.

Moscow having set a target of increasing the share of electricity generated to 25% by 2030, and Rosatom focussed on developing new technologies, including types of reactors that will be able to burn some spent fuels.

Russia is uprating the power of all of its reactors and extending the operating life of reactors.

The nuclear program is based on VVER technology at least to about 2030.

VVER-TOI reactors with modern design and control for the 2020s

The VVER-TOI or WWER-TOI is a design for a two-unit nuclear power plant. It would use VVER-1300/510 water pressurized reactors constructed to meet modern nuclear and radiation safety requirements. The VVER-TOI project is developed on the basis of the design documents worked out for AES-2006, considering the experience gained in development of projects based on VVER technology both in Russia and abroad, such as Novovoronezh NPP-2.

VVER-TOI is a new generation III+ Power Unit based on VVER technology, which meets a number of goals using modern information and management technologies.

The VVER-TOI design is intended to improve the competitiveness of Russian VVER technology in international markets; it is oriented to further serial construction of NPP with VVER-TOI both in Russia and abroad.

The accident control facility of the VVER-TOI project includes a corium trap, a unique Russian safety technology, which provides the guaranteed safety control through melt localizing and cooling in the terms of a severe accident at the beyond-vessel stage of core-melt localization. Within the frame of VVER-TOI, there are performed the works directed toward optimization of technical solutions made for corium trap project to decrease cost indicators and justify the corium trap operation efficiency. It is supposed to achieve a considerable decrease in the trap vessel overall sizes and sacrificed materials weight, as well as to transfer to module design of the trap vessel that make it possible to simplify transportation of the large-sized equipment to the site of NPP construction.

Combination of passive and active safety systems provided for in the VVER-TOI project ensures that core will not be destroyed for not less than 72 hours from the moment of severe accident happening in case of any possible scenario. The corresponding technical solutions guarantee that reactor plant will be transferred to safe conditions at any combination of initial events (natural and human-induced) triggering to loss of all the electric power sources. This fact increases considerably the project competitiveness both in foreign and domestic markets of electric power production

Russia has a goal of moving to fast neutron reactors and closed fuel cycle, for which Rosatom proposed two options

Transition to Fast Reactors

The principal scheme of innovative nuclear power for Russia based on new technology platform envisages full recycling of fuel, balancing thermal and fast reactors, so that 100 GWe of total capacity requires only about 100 tonnes of input per year, from enrichment tails, natural uranium and thorium, with minor actinides being burned. About 100 t/yr of fission product wastes go to a geological repository. The BN-series fast reactor plans are part of Rosatom's so-called Proryv, or "Breakthrough," project, to develop fast reactors with a closed fuel cycle whose mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel will be reprocessed and recycled. Starting 2020-25 it is envisaged that fast neutron power reactors will play an increasing role in Russia, though these will probably be new designs such as BREST with a single core and no blanket assembly for plutonium production. An optimistic scenario has expansion to 90 GWe nuclear capacity by 2050.

Russia developing and improving passively safe systems

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