August 27, 2016

Giant micrometer sized atoms that are thousands of times larger than regular atoms

Experiments confirm the existence of 1-micrometer-sized molecules made of two cesium atoms by showing that their binding energies agree with predictions.

Strongly bound diatomic molecules such as H2H2or O2O2 are less than a nanometer across. Surprisingly, scientists have been able to create two-atom molecules more than a thousand times larger by using exotic atoms that attract one another only very weakly. Now, a pair of physicists have calculated what makes these “macrodimers” stable, and they have verified their predictions by creating micrometer-sized molecules containing two cesium atoms. The macrodimers could have applications in quantum computing.

Interest in these macromolecules stems from the challenges they pose to conventional understanding of molecules and bonds. More than a decade ago, physicists predicted that molecules with interatomic distances as large as 1 micrometer might be created by using a pair of atoms in so-called Rydberg states. These are atoms in which a single outer-shell electron has been excited to a high quantum state so that it orbits far away from the nucleus. Although Rydberg atoms are unstable, they can live as long as tens of microseconds, and experimenters have succeeded in creating macrodimers from them, confirming their existence indirectly by destroying them and detecting specific spectroscopic signatures

Distant partners. In this sketch, two cesium atoms in high Rydberg states form a weakly bound molecule about 1 micrometer across, comparable to the size of typical bacteria.

However, physicists Heiner Saßmannshausen and Johannes Deiglmayr of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland, say that the earlier theoretical argument for the existence of macrodimers included some significant assumptions. To examine the argument more rigorously, they developed a sophisticated model of the interaction of Rydberg atoms and used it to predict in more detail the properties of stable macrodimers, such as the amount of energy binding them together. They then tested their model by creating the predicted molecules.

The physicists performed detailed quantum calculations of the force between two cesium atoms in specified Rydberg states. The interatomic force could be attractive or repulsive, they found, depending on the distance between the atoms. For some pairings of Rydberg atoms, the force vanished at certain distances, meaning that the two atoms could remain at rest in the form of a macrodimer with an expected lifetime of some tens of microseconds.

Physical Review Letters - Observation of Rydberg-Atom Macrodimers: Micrometer-Sized Diatomic Molecules

Global Skin in a successful economic transition in China - a 1% drop in China output growth would reduce G20 growth by one quarter percentage point

China is still enjoying strong growth – 6.6 percent in 2016- as it shifts from investment to consumption and industry to services, but the country needs faster progress on structural reforms to boost medium-term growth and reduce risks, the IMF said in its latest annual assessment of the economy.

China continues its transition to sustainable growth, with progress on many fronts yet also many challenges. Growth slowed to 6.9 percent in 2015 and is projected to moderate to 6.6 percent this year owing to slower private investment and weak external demand.

Inflation dipped below 1.5 percent in 2015 and is expected to pick up to around 2 percent this year, reflecting the rebound in commodity prices and the exchange rate depreciation since mid-2015.

Infrastructure spending picked up and credit growth accelerated in the second half of 2015. Accommodative macro policies are projected to continue supporting activity over the remainder of 2016.

China adopted a new five-year plan (2016-20), centered on rebalancing the economy. It aims to boost consumption, expand the service sector, protect the environment, further open up the economy, expand public services, and reduce poverty. The government has also announced elements of a reform plan for SOEs and capacity reduction targets in the coal and steel sectors (10–15 percent of existing capacity over the next 3‒5 years), together with a RMB 100 billion restructuring fund to re-employ and resettle an expected 1.8 million affected workers. However, in many areas, especially SOE reform, more details and guidelines are awaited.

China's economic growth will continue to slow for the next five years and will fall below 6 percent in 2020, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasted. The IMF has a 98 page report on China's economy


Economists have long disputed the accuracy of China's official economic data, but agree its economy has steadily slowed since growth above 10 percent was reported in 2010.

Despite the slowdown, China's growth outlook remains far higher than for advanced economies and many emerging ones. The IMF sees the world averaging economic growth of just 3.1 percent in 2016 and 3.4 percent in 2017.

Stackable microcrystal rods could laser design

New large crystals from stack of smaller microcrystals could sidestep longstanding difficulties with making the crystals that are a crucial part of laser technology. But the science behind their discovery has experts scratching their heads.

Relatively large crystals used to change several properties of light in lasers – changes that are crucial for making lasers into practical tools – might be created by stacking up far smaller, rod-shaped microcrystals that can be grown easily and cheaply.

So far, the team’s microcrystals outperform conventional crystals in some ways, suggesting that harnessing them could signal the end of a long search for a fast, economical way to develop large crystals that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to create. But the microcrystals also challenge conventional scientific theory as to why they perform as they do.


These potassium diphosphate (KDP) crystals, which self-assemble in solution as hollow hexagonal rods, could find use in laser technology, particularly for fiber-optic communications. The scanning-electron image at right shows a crystal at higher resolution with scale added.

Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology
Credit: L. Deng / NIST


Science Advances - Ambient-condition growth of high-pressure phase centrosymmetric crystalline KDP microstructures for optical second harmonic generation

DARPA tests 100 Networked, Nuclear-Radiation Detectors that cost $400 each and provide 100 fold increase in detection ability

A DARPA program aimed at preventing attacks involving radiological “dirty bombs” and other nuclear threats has successfully developed and demonstrated a network of smartphone-sized mobile devices that can detect the tiniest traces of radioactive materials. Combined with larger detectors along major roadways, bridges, other fixed infrastructure, and in vehicles, the new networked devices promise significantly enhanced awareness of radiation sources and greater advance warning of possible threats.

The demonstration of efficacy earlier this year was part of DARPA’s SIGMA program, launched in 2014 with the goal of creating a cost-effective, continuous radiation-monitoring network able to cover a large city or region. Although radiation detectors have in recent years been installed in a number of key locations in the United States and around the world, the SIGMA program has sought to increase capabilities while lowering their costs, in order to network an unprecedented number of advanced detectors and provide a comprehensive, dynamic, and automated overview of the radiological environment.

The demonstration was conducted at one of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s major transportation hubs where DARPA tested more than 100 networked SIGMA sensors. During the month-long test, the system provided more than a 100-fold increase in ability to locate and identify sources of radiation as compared to currently installed systems. All sources of radiation that SIGMA sensors identified were non-threatening, but the system proved how it could pinpoint the location and intensity of a source and specify, in each case, the type of radiation to which it was alerting authorities.

Fulfilling the SIGMA program’s initial goals, the pocket-sized radiation “pager” sensors developed by DARPA and used in the exercise can be easily worn on a person’s belt, are one-tenth the cost of conventional sensors, and are up to 10 times faster in detecting gamma and neutron radiation. Moreover, the program achieved its price goal of 10,000 pocket-sized detectors for $400 per unit.

A large-scale test deployment of more than 1,000 detectors is being planned for Washington, D.C., later this year.




August 26, 2016

Answers to some of the issues raised about the Elevated Bus

The Economist and Bloomberg are slamming China's Straddle bus as a scam.

In early August, a prototype of the Transit Elevated Bus -- or TEB -- was tested in northern China.

It is claimed that speeds would eventually reach 40 miles per hour and use rails running either side of the road. Its 300 passengers (1,200, once a few buses were linked together like train carriages) would travel in comfort, in something akin to an airport lounge.



There are claims of investor fraud

According to China's state media organs, previously big boosters of the project, the TEB was little more than a publicity stunt -- one of the dozens of peer-to-peer lending scams that have duped retail Chinese investors in recent years by promising unreal annual returns.

Maybe it is a financial scam. However the claim that important technical questions have been unanswered does not seem to be difficult for me to answer.

How would such a bus pass beneath low bridges?

It could not go under low bridges. There would have to be routes where low bridges and power lines were moved or raised.

There are routes through cities where large objects like houses can be moved.


When Molecular Nanofactory is realized then a desktop Whiskey Machine will produce spirits at less than 36 cents per bottle

While a lot has been written on the application of molecular nanotechnology to medicine (http://nanomedicine.com/ ), computing ( http://www.imm.org/Reports/rep046.pdf), the environment ( http://www.imm.org/Reports/rep045.pdf), and so forth, very little has been written on the manufacturing of atomically precise food.

But which kind of food? When analyzing or developing a new technology, you start with the simplest case. Unadorned beverages will be technically easier to manufacture than solid foods (e.g., steaks) because they require no specific three-dimensional structure and are essentially just solutions of chemicals dissolved in water. The trick is to know what and how much of each chemical, and to be able to manufacture them quickly, accurately, and cheaply enough to represent a significant advance over current methods. Nanofactories will enable this.

Alcohol is always a fun topic of general public interest, and whiskey is perhaps the most challenging of the fine spirits to analyze and synthesize, so this seemed like a good representative exemplar on which to focus a preliminary study. Robert Freitas has completed this preliminary study. The proposed Whiskey Machine would make a low-cost beverage that tastes as good as it is physically possible for that type of beverage to taste, down to the last atom!

The analysis in the paper demonstrates that, as in most applications involving advanced molecular manufacturing and atomically precise machinery, gains of 10-1000 fold in speed, purity, cost, etc. are readily anticipated. So for consumers, the prospects are delightful.

Of course, alcoholic beverages typically have a high enough retail price, and the cost of replication using specialized nanofactories such as the Whiskey Machine is low enough, that most existing business models employed by manufacturing and retail organizations in this sector (e.g., distillers of fine spirits, wineries, beer breweries) will be seriously disrupted – possibly even bankrupted – as soon as nanofactories come into general use. The paper thus may serve as a wake-up call to these organizations that enormous change may be coming to their industry in the not terribly distant future, so it might be rational for them to begin now to think about preparing for this event.

The Whiskey Machine: Nanofactory-Based Replication of Fine Spirits and Other Alcohol-Based Beverages [139 pages]

As usual, Robert Freitas performs a thorough analysis. He starts from the roughly 100 chemical components and particulates in Whisky, the different types of Whisky and then performs a detailed cost and production analysis.

Robert Freitas

Russia to Deploy Hypersonic Mach 6-7 Missiles by 2020

Boris Obnosov, director of the state-run Tactical Missiles Corp, told the Russian Rambler news Service that the new hypersonic missile will be capable of penetrating advanced missile defenses and represents a revolutionary advance in military technology.

“It’s obvious that with such speeds—when missiles will be capable of flying through the atmosphere at speeds of seven to 12 times the speed of sound, all [air] defense systems will be weakened considerably,” Obnosov told the Rambler News Service this week.

The missile will be developed in Russia and fly at a speed of 6-7 times the speed of sound.

In 2014, Boris Obnosova also made the same claim.

"In my estimation, the first hypersonic products [Russian hypersonic missile] should appear … in this decade — before 2020. He said the russian hypersonic missile would have speeds of up to six to eight Mach. Achieving higher speeds is a long term perspective," Obnosov told journalists at the Airshow China-2014 space exhibition.

The hypersonic missiles will be air-launched at first, using the carrier aircraft’s initial velocity to reach the speeds necessary to run a ramjet engine.

Russia’s 3M22 Zircon hypersonic cruise missile is expected to enter into production in 2018. The new weapon—which is capable of speeds of around Mach 5.0-Mach 6.0—is currently in testing.

The Mach 6-8 hypersonic missile version sounds like it would be an upgrade of the short range 3M22 Zircon missile.

Zircon missile mockup

Kilocore processor with 1000 cores

A microchip containing 1,000 independent programmable processors has been designed by a team at the University of California, Davis, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The energy-efficient “KiloCore” chip has a maximum computation rate of 1.78 trillion instructions per second and contains 621 million transistors.

A Japanese startup Exascaler built the first 1000+ core chip PEZY-SC. It is a 28nm MIMD processor with 1024 cores and has rankings on the Green 500.

Nvidia had 240 cores in a GPGPU chip back in 2006 and 512 core shortly thereafter.

In 2006, Intel built the 80 core the Tera-Scale Teraflop Prototype.

The UC Davis Kilocore chip is the most energy-efficient “many-core” processor ever reported. The 1,000 processors can execute 115 billion instructions per second while dissipating only 0.7 Watts, low enough to be powered by a single AA battery. The KiloCore chip executes instructions more than 100 times more efficiently than a modern laptop processor.

There is a 3 page technical paper on Kilocore - A 5.8 pJ / Op 115 Billion Ops / sec, to 1.78 Trillion Ops / sec 32nm 1000-Processor Array

1000 programmable processors and 12 independent memory modules capable of simultaneously servicing both data and instruction requests are integrated onto a 32nm PD-SOI CMOS device. At 1.1 V, processors operate up to an average of 1.78 GHz yielding a maximum total chip computation rate of 1.78 trillion instructions/sec. At 0.84 V, 1000 cores execute 1 trillion instructions/sec while dissipating 13.1 W.





Thought-Controlled Nanoscale DNA Robots in a Living Host

Ido Bachelet and his team have made a new type of brain-machine interface enabling a human operator to control nanometer-size robots inside a living animal by brain activity. Recorded EEG patterns are recognized online by an algorithm, which in turn controls the state of an electromagnetic field. The field induces the local heating of billions of mechanically-actuating DNA origami robots tethered to metal nanoparticles, leading to their reversible activation and subsequent exposure of a bioactive payload. As a proof of principle we demonstrate activation of DNA robots to cause a cellular effect inside the insect Blaberus discoidalis, by a cognitively straining task. This technology enables the online switching of a bioactive molecule on and off in response to a subject’s cognitive state, with potential implications to therapeutic control in disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, and attention deficits, which are among the most challenging conditions to diagnose and treat.

Ido Bachelet had previously made 50 nanometer DNA buckets that would open when it encountered certain chemicals or biology.

To establish a direct control interface to DNA robots, they designed robots that can be electronically remote-controlled. This was done by adding metal nanoparticles to the robotic gates, which could heat in response to an electromagnetic field. This concept has been demonstrated previously, and has been recently implemented in controlling gene expression in an animal model of diabetes.

In the paper they integrate all components to allow EEG patterns associated with cognitive states to remotely trigger nanorobot activation in a living animal, and describe the design, construction, and implementation of this brain-nanomachine interface. Our working prototype highlights the potential of such a technology in managing disorders to which no effective treatment exists, and could inspire advanced modes of control over biological molecules in the body even outside therapeutic contexts.

The full experimental setup consisted of five components:
a) a headset used for collecting EEG data from the subject;
b) an algorithm that searches for patterns associated with cognitive load and rest states, running on a computer;
c) a waveform generator, remote controlled by the computer, which produces high-frequency alternate current through the coil; d) the coil itself; and
e) the DNA origami robots, injected into the living animal fitted within the coil.

Data collection was carried out separately from this setup, and included only the headset connected to a computer

They built nanorobots out of DNA, forming shell-like shapes that drugs can be tethered to. Because the drug remains tethered to the DNA parcel, a body’s exposure to the drug can be controlled by closing and opening the gate.

DNA bots to respond to a person’s thoughts. They trained a computer algorithm to identify between a person’s brain activity when resting and when doing mental arithmetic.

They attached a fluorescent drug to the bots and injected them into a cockroach sat inside an electromagnetic coil. A person wearing an EEG cap that measures brain activity was then instructed either to do mental calculations, or rest. The cap was connected to the electromagnetic coil, switching it on when the man was calculating and off when he was resting.

August 25, 2016

25 core chip designed for cloud applications

Princeton University researchers have developed a new computer chip that promises to boost the performance of data centers that lie at the core of numerous online services such as email and social media.

Princeton Piton Processor, is a many-core designed by Prof. Wentzlaff's research group in March, 2015. It was taped-out in IBM's 32nm SOI process. Some of Piton's features are listed below:

25 modified OpenSPARC T1 cores
Directory-based shared memory
3 On-chip networks
Multi-chip shared memory support
1 GHz clock frequency
IBM 32nm SOI process (6mm*6mm)
460 million transistors

It is possible to put together 8,000 Piton CPUs to build a 200,000 core machine.
The hardware design has been made open source


Piton was presented at Hot Chips 2016

Machine Learning is the engine that will drive Google's Future

The latest ABC earnings call had the following highlights Google's report is basically a state of the global internet and ecommerce report.

* total quarterly revenue was $21.5 billion, up 21% year­over­year, and up 6% sequentially [Annual numbers would be about 4.2 times bigger]
* U.S. revenue was up 25% year­over­year to $10 billion. U.K. revenue was up 14% year­over­year to $1.9 billion
* Rest­ of ­world revenue was up 19% versus last year, to $9.6 billion.
* GAAP other cost of revenues were $4.2 billion. Non­GAAP other cost of revenues was $3.9 billion, up 28% year­over­year, primarily driven by Google­related expenses, specifically, costs associated with operating our data centers, including depreciation; content acquisition costs, primarily for YouTube; and hardware costs.
* GAAP operating expenses were $7.4 billion in the quarter. Non­GAAP operating expenses were $6.2 billion or 29% of revenue, up 15% year­over­year, and up 2% versus Q1
* Non­GAAP operating income was $7.5 billion, up 25% versus last year. The operating margin was 35%.
* Headcount at the end of the quarter was 66,575, up 2,460 from last quarter. The vast majority of new hires continue to be engineers and product managers to support growth in priority areas such as Cloud and Apps

Google-ABC continues to invest in making search smarter and more useful.

In the U.S., they recently introduced a voter tool
A new keyboard for iOS called Gboard is off to a great start
At I/O, they shared a vision around the Google Assistant.
Google Assistant will be in products like our new messaging app Allo and our voice­activated device, Google Home

Machine Learning is the key to Google's Future

Machine learning is the engine that will drive Google's future

More than 100 teams are currently using machine learning at Google, from Street View to Gmail to Voice Search and more. For example, in Search, we use a ranking signal called RankBrain, which relies on deep learning to improve results. It's already enhancing the search experience in 40 languages. And based on user testing, RankBrain can accurately guess which results users will favor with about 80% accuracy. Advances like this help us make our search results even more relevant.

Machine learning is also creating an impact in other ways. Just last week, we announced a test that applied DeepMind's machine learning to our own Google data centers, resulting in up to a 40% reduction in the energy we use for cooling.

They introduced two Cloud Machine Learning APIs for speech and natural language to help our enterprise customers convert audio to text and easily understand the structure and sentiment of the text in a variety of languages.

They introduced Tensor Processing Units, or TPUs, which can deliver an order of magnitude better optimized performance per watt for machine learning projects

Google Fiber will cut staff in half to 500

Google Fiber was announced in February 2010, and its first deployment went live in Kansas City in November 2012. Google hoped to get 5 million customers within five years, but by the end of 2014, Google Fiber had just 200,000 Internet subscribers. While an updated number hasn't been revealed, "it’s still well short of initial expectations," The Information report said. The cost of installing fiber in each city has also exceeded Alphabet's expectations, the report said.

During a recent earnings call (transcript), Alphabet CFO Ruth Porat said Google still sees Google Fiber as "a huge market opportunity" but that it's "being thoughtful and deliberate in [its] execution path."

Past and Future of Aircraft Carriers

Over the past 20 years naval aviation in the United States has undergone a dramatic change in focus and capabilities, and not for the better. Its historical and traditional focus on long-range capabilities and the deep strike mission has been overtaken by a concentration on lower maintenance costs and higher aircraft sortie generation rates.

The rise of new powers, including China and its pursuit of anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) strategies and capabilities to include the carrier-killing 1,000 nautical mile (nm) range Dong Feng-21 anti-ship ballistic missile, now threatens to push the Navy back beyond the range of its carrier air wings.

Jerry Hendrix is a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Defense Strategies and Assessments Program at the Center for a New American Security. A career naval flight officer, he retired from the Navy with the rank of captain in 2014.

He lays out the past and future of US Aircraft carriers in a 72 page document.

Today's Carriers and their air wings, with their shrinking ability to project mass and power at great distance represent 25 years of actively forgetting critical historical lesson. History, like the enemy, does not forgive.

Recommended specs and mission for unmanned carrier based drones

If the Navy wanted to build on the lessons of naval aviation’s evolution in the post-World War II period and purchase a carrier-based unmanned combat aerial system (UCAS), such an aircraft could provide the long-range, deep strike capability necessary to keep the supercarrier relevant and in the fight, even in a mature anti-access/area-denial environment.
Such an aircraft would possess a wingspan of approximately 60–70 feet, a gross takeoff weight of 60,000–70,000 pounds, and an internal bomb load of 4,000–6,000 pounds.

It would also have an unrefueled combat radius of over 1,500 nm, a refueled mission endurance measured in days, and broadband, all-aspect RCS reduction. With a very low RCS across the threat radar spectrum, a carrier based UCAS could also provide difficult to counter, low power, stand-in jamming support, reducing the vulnerability of manned F-18s and
F-35s to enemy IADS.

These aircraft would bring a new critical characteristic to the carrier air wing that would both complement and strengthen the mass, range, payload capacity, and low observability characteristics identified in the past. The new characteristic would be persistence: the ability to remain present and on-station for days on end.

When combined with additional UCAS manufactured without stealth accruements serving as a mission tanker capable of providing over 25,000 pounds of give fuel to its counterparts within the air wing, the mission aircraft could remain airborne for up to 50 hours at a time during critical periods, landing only to change lubricating fluids. Persistence would allow these aircraft to maintain constant, unblinking surveillance and targeting of key geographic areas, enabling these aircraft to locate mobile platforms that move infrequently and yet quickly. It would also eliminate the need for constant transit to and from the carrier.

To be sure, such an aircraft would not be inexpensive. An unmanned combat air system for the carrier could cost upwards of $175 million to procure. It would, however, have two to three times the unrefueled combat radius of manned fighters, several times the mission endurance, and enhanced survivability.

Moreover, it is important to realize that while a $130 million Joint Strike Fighter might spend 80 percent of its life in the air pattern around the carrier maintaining the day and night carrier landing qualifications of its human pilot, the UCAS could be flown only when needed for combat operations and could be shifted from carrier to carrier as they deploy, allowing for a smaller buy of five or six squadrons’ (90–110 units) worth of aircraft to equip each operational carrier in the fleet with a squadron, rather than the 10 squadrons and training birds that are purchased for manned programs





Nearing scalable production highly crystalline graphene films which could be used for electronic devices and sensors

Researchers discovered a procedure to restore defective graphene oxide structures that cause the material to display low carrier mobility. By applying a high-temperature reduction treatment in an ethanol environment, defective structures were restored, leading to the formation of a highly crystalline graphene film with excellent band-like transport. These findings are expected to come into use in scalable production techniques of highly crystalline graphene films.

Transmission electron microscope images observed from the reduced graphene oxide films prepared by ethanol treatment at (a) 900ºC and (b) 1100ºC. For the high temperature treatment, the periodic bright spots are observed in the reduced graphene oxide films. This means that the crystallinity of the reduced graphene oxide is efficiently improved by high temperature treatment in ethanol environment. CREDIT Osaka University

Dark matter galaxy found that is the size of the Milky Way which is 10,000 times heavier than other dark matter galaxies

An Ultra Diffuse Galaxy (UDGs) has been discovered that is the mass of the Milky Way but 99.9% dark matter. Researchers used the 8-meter Gemini North telescope to see a halo of spherical clusters of stars around the galaxy's core, similar to the halo that surrounds our Milky Way galaxy.

Dragonfly 44's mass is estimated to be 1 trillion times the mass of the Sun, or 2 tredecillion kilograms (a 2 followed by 42 zeros), which is similar to the mass of the Milky Way. Only 0.01% of the dark matter galaxy is in the form of stars and "normal" matter. The other 99.99% is in the form of dark matter—a hypothesized material that remains unseen but may make up more than 90% of the universe.

Finding a galaxy composed mainly of dark matter is not new. Ultra-faint dwarf galaxies have similar compositions. But those galaxies were roughly 10,000 times less massive than Dragonfly 44.


MIT MegaMIMO algorithms can boost wireless data speed more than three times and double the range

MegaMIMO system from the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab speeds data transfer by coordinating multiple routers at the same time.

A team led by professor Dina Katabi demonstrate a system called MegaMIMO 2.0 that can transfer wireless data more than three times faster than existing systems while also doubling the range of the signal.

The soon-to-be-commercialized system’s key insight is to coordinate multiple access points at the same time, on the same frequency, without creating interference. This means that MegaMIMO 2.0 could dramatically improve the speed and strength of wireless networks, particularly at high-usage events like concerts, conventions and football games.

Experiments found that the system could increase the devices’ data-transfer speed 330 percent.






New method of cancer immunotherapy developed

A team of Stanford ChEM-H scientists has discovered a novel form of cancer immunotherapy, which works by removing certain sugars from the surface of cancer cells and making those cells visible to the immune system.

Scientists have long known that if certain sugars are present on a tumor, it is less likely to respond well to therapies. But nobody knew what that halo of sugars was doing, in part because such a small number of labs study the glycocalyx.

Evidence had been mounting within those few labs that do study the glycocalyx, including Bertozzi’s, that a subset of sugars called sialic acids act as a signal for the innate immune system to ignore the otherwise suspicious-looking tumor. Eliminate those sugars, and maybe innate immune cells would be more likely to recognize and attack the cancer cells, Bertozzi thought.

And essentially that’s exactly what happened.

Current immunotherapies on the market work by blocking one of the inhibitory signals that are recognized by the adaptive immune system. Block those and the balance tilts in such a way that the immune system will attack the now recognizable cancer.

Bertozzi’s approach provides a second way of tiling the balance in favor of attack, this time for the innate immune system. She said this study shows just one example of how it could work, but her sugar-removing lawnmower could be used on a wide variety of cell types, not just those expressing HER2, and on different types of sugars.

PNAS - Precision glycocalyx editing as a strategy for cancer immunotherapy

PNAS - Precision glycocalyx editing as a strategy for cancer immunotherapy [Supplemental information]

19th century had John Henry vs the steam drill and in 21st century smartphone speech recognition is 3 times faster than human typists

Smartphone speech recognition software is not only three times faster than human typists, it's also more accurate. The researchers hope the revelation spurs the development of innovative applications of speech recognition technology.

In the past two to three years, speech recognition was actually improving a lot, benefiting from big data and deep learning to train its neural networks to produce faster, more accurate results. So Stanford researchers decided to formally test it against humans



Steam machines versus Human

During the 1800s, railroads started to snake across the U.S., and bands of men would smooth out the land by driving stakes into rock with a big ole hammer (and then filling the holes with explosives). John Henry, an African American, was supposed to be the biggest — in spirit, in appetite, in the bulging of biceps — and best driver of all. When companies started to employ steam-powered drills to make better time, Henry decided to challenge one to a race. He won but, tragically, died of exhaustion following his miraculous feat. The story is based in fact, but the details change with the telling


Startup nuTonomy launches in the Singapore the world's first self-driving car service

nuTonomy press release announces the launch of the World’s first public trial of a self-driving car service and ride-hailing app.

nuTonomy, the leading developer of state-of-the art software for self-driving cars, today launched the first-ever public trial of a robo-taxi service. The trial, which will continue on an on-going basis, is being held within Singapore’s one-north business district, where nuTonomy has been conducting daily autonomous vehicle (AV) testing since April.

Beginning today, select Singapore residents will be invited to use nuTonomy’s ride-hailing smartphone app to book a no-cost ride in a nuTonomy self-driving car that employs the company’s sophisticated software, which has been integrated with high-performance sensing and computing components. The rides will be provided in a Renault Zoe or Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric vehicle that nuTonomy has specially configured for autonomous driving. An engineer from nuTonomy will ride in the vehicle to observe system performance and assume control if needed to ensure passenger comfort and safety.

Throughout the trial, nuTonomy will collect and evaluate valuable data related to software system performance, vehicle routing efficiency, the vehicle booking process, and the overall passenger experience. This data will enable nuTonomy to refine its software in preparation for the launch of a widely-available commercial robo-taxi service in Singapore in 2018.

Earlier this month, nuTonomy was selected by the Singapore Land Transport Authority (LTA) as an Rand D partner, to support the development of a commercial AV service in Singapore. This trial represents the first, rapid result of this partnership. nuTonomy is the first, and to date only, private enterprise approved by the Singapore government to test AVs on public roads.
CEO and co-founder of nuTonomy, Karl Iagnemma, said, “nuTonomy’s first-in-the-world public trial is a direct reflection of the level of maturity that we have achieved with our AV software system. The trial represents an extraordinary opportunity to collect feedback from riders in a real-world setting, and this feedback will give nuTonomy a unique advantage as we work toward deployment of a self-driving vehicle fleet in 2018.”

In May of this year, nuTonomy completed a $16M Series A funding led by Highland Capital Partners that included participation from Fontinalis Partners, Signal Ventures, Samsung Ventures, and EDBI, the dedicated corporate investment arm of the Singapore Economic Development Board.

In addition to Singapore, nuTonomy is operating self-driving cars in Michigan and the United Kingdom, where it tests software in partnership with major automotive manufacturers such as Jaguar Land Rover.




Phase-change memory could be 1,000 times faster, while using less energy and requiring less space.

Stanford-led research shows that an emerging memory technology, based on a new class of semiconductor materials, could deliver the best of both worlds (large and fast memory), storing data permanently while allowing certain operations to occur up to a thousand times faster than today’s memory devices. The new approach may also be more energy efficient.

“This work is fundamental but promising,” said Aaron Lindenberg, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford and of photon science at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. “A thousandfold increase in speed coupled with lower energy use suggests a path toward future memory technologies that could far outperform anything previously demonstrated.”

Lindenberg led a 19-member team, including researchers at SLAC, who detailed their experiments in Physical Review Letters.

Their findings provide new insights into the experimental technology of phase-change memory.

This animation shows how data is stored using phase-change memory technology. Phase-change materials can exist in two atomic structures, disordered or ordered. An electric jolt flip-flops these structures back and forth to form the zeroes and ones of digital software. (Image credit: Tricia Seibold)

Arxiv - Picosecond electric-field-induced threshold switching in phase-change materials

Lack of Cash for investment and to pay rig operators could see 15-20% annual drops in Venezuela's oil production

Venezuela economy is expected to shrink 10 percent at the end of 2016, while inflation has reached more than 700 percent .According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Other analysts say did inflation has already reach 1,000 percent.

On Monday 22th August 2016 Brent oil traded around $49 a barrel, but two years before Brent which is $ 102 a barrel, and even then what Venezuela already having economic problems. Even with a recovery in crude, higher prices are unlikely to solve the economic, humanitarian and political crisis.

In Venezuela 96 percent of foreign currency earnings come from oil industry and with the collapse of the oil prices the income has fallen more 50 percent. But in addition to declining Revenues, oil production has therefore dropped, doubling the pain for Venezuela.

On June 28th 2016, Baker Hughes reported that the number of oil rigs in Venezuela dropped from 69 to 59 in May of this year. Halliburton Co are reducing their activities in Venezuela because of unpaid bills services. Venezuela's active rig count, a good indication of future production, fell from 71 to 49 in July.

Falling production in Venezuela could help reduce the world oil surplus.


South Korea mass producing tritium breeder pebbles for the $20 billion international experimental nuclear fusion reactor project

South Korea's state-run laboratory said Wednesday that it has successfully developed a technology for the mass production of tritium breeder pebbles for nuclear fusion energy.

The technology allows the annual production of more than 50 kilograms of tritium breeder pebbles, which is one of two core fuels used for nuclear fusion energy, according to the National Fusion Research Institute (NFRI). Another fuel, called deuterium, is naturally abundant while tritium can only be produced artificially.

This is the first time the mass production of the material will be possible.

The NFRI said the technology would gradually decrease the cost needed to import tritium breeder pebbles which costs about 30 million won ($ 26,700) per one kilogram.

The tritium breeder pebbles is needed for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project under way in France, the NFRI said.


In the present design of the helium cooled solid breeder blanket, these ceramics will be inserted in the plasma surrounding blanket modules as pebble beds with pebble diameters ≤1 mm. The unstable isotope of hydrogen, tritium, is generated during the operation of the reactor by the transmutation of the lithium-6 isotope under neutron irradiation into helium and tritium. In the European test blanket module, which will be tested in ITER in Cadarache, France, lithium orthosilicate shall be used as a possible tritium breeder material.


Pebbles with diameters ranging from 250 to 630 µm

Hybrid Airlander 10 Airship crashed on second test flight but minor damage will be repaired

The world's longest aircraft came into contact with "high voltage power cables" before nosediving on landing, an electricity firm has said.

Developers of the Airlander 10 had denied witness reports the airship struck a telegraph pole during its "heavy landing" on Wednesday.

The £25m Airlander, which is 302ft (92m) long, was damaged during its second test flight from Cardington Airfield, Bedfordshire.

Mr McGlennan said he did not think the "heavy landing" would cause a "substantial change" to the future schedule of test flights and development.

Nextbigfuture speculates that their could be an internal weight inside the Airlander 10 that is shifted around for movement control and that weight may have gotten stuck which caused the hard landing.





Rapamycin treated mice lived up to 60 percent longer

Geroscience researchers studying the biology of aging briefly treated middle-aged mice with the drug rapamycin to gauge the long-term effects of short-term therapy on health and longevity.

The most-senior mouse in the study was Ike, the namesake of a relative of one of the researchers. The mouse Ike lived 1400 days. For a person, that would be like hailing a 140th year birthday.

Rapamycin, approved by the Food & Drug Administration for certain organ transplant recipients, is already known to extend life in mice and delay some age-related problems in rodents and humans.

Still, many questions prevail about when, how much and how long to administer rapamycin, what its mechanisms of action are in promoting healthy aging, and ways to avoid serious side effects.

Scientists at the University of Washington, University of Missouri, and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center explored some of these issues.

Elife - Transient rapamycin treatment can increase lifespan and healthspan in middle-aged mice.



Research showed that a transient dose of rapamycin in middle age was enough to increase life expectancy and improve measures of healthy aging. The scientists treated mice with rapamycin for 90 days. The treatment was started at 20 months of age, approximately the mouse equivalent of a 60 year old person.

The control mice and the rapamycin-treated mice were maintained identically both before and after the treatment period. Remarkably, the rapamycin treated mice lived up to 60 percent longer after the treatment was stopped, compared to the animals that received a mock control treatment.

This, the researchers said, seems to be the biggest increase in life expectancy ever reported in normal mice from a medication. The mouse Ike lived 1400 days. For a person, that would be like hailing a 140th year birthday.

Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei making progress to unified megaregion but challenge of uneven per capita levels are a challenge

The tremendous growth of the Chinese economy in the past 30 years was largely driven by the rise of the two super-city clusters – the Yangtze River Delta (YRD) and the Pearl River Delta (PRD).

These country-sized regions, consisting of one or two mega metropolises surrounded by an assortment of satellite cities, together produce over 25 per cent of the country’s GDP. Not only that, for the past few decades they were the world’s greatest social and economic testing ground for wealth creation through urbanisation.

Beijing is the only first-tier city in northern China.

A few years ago Beijing introduced the “Jing-Jin-Ji” super-city cluster, which integrates Beijing (Jing), with nearby Tianjin (Jin) City and Hebei Province (Ji). It is now being given support by the central government and expanding in full swing, vying to be the third major super-city cluster in the country in addition to the YRD and PRD.

There is already a high-speed rail line linking landlocked Beijing and the port city of Tianjin, reducing the hour-long journey to just 20 minutes. There are also extensive motorway networks crisscrossing the region. Meanwhile, Beijing is planning to build a second major airport in the southern suburb of Daxing county by 2019. Once completed, the airport, serving the surrounding regions, will reach a capacity of 72 million passengers per year by 2025.

Jing-Jin-Ji already accounts for about 10 per cent of national GDP and 6 per cent of the total population, eclipsing PRD and threatening YRD’s leading position. However, that is perhaps where the similarity ends. Lacking some of the economic and structural advantages enjoyed by their southern cousins, Jing-Jin-Ji is facing considerable challenges on the way to its goal.


Asia Monitor looked more closely at the jing jin ji economic integration

Source: NBS, BMI, Data in the graph are BMI forecasts

August 24, 2016

Google Fiber is operational in Salt Lake City

Google Fiber has lit up a fiber-optic network in and around downtown Salt Lake City and began seeking business and residential customers

This first phase of Google Fiber's rollout of web access with speeds of up to one gigabit per second — with optional television and phone services — covers roughly 112 blocks from 100 South to 800 South between 400 West and 1300 East.

Nearly 200 government and business officials gathered Wednesday morning to celebrate the occasion at Google Fiber's newly opened facility, Fiber Space, a trendy customer-service center and internet cafe at Trolley Square mall.

"As of 9 a.m., Google Fiber is live in Salt Lake City," Scott Tenney, head of Google Fiber business operations in Utah, told the crowd.

The company simultaneously emailed thousands of prospective customers, saying access to its broadband capacity had arrived.

Tenney said in an interview that other parts of the city would be turned on "in a matter of months and not years." He declined to provide specifics.



Upcoming Telescopes that will provide a better look at the Proxima Earth Like Exoplanet and find more of earthlike exoplanets

Astronomers have found clear evidence of a planet orbiting the closest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri. Proxima is a red dwarf. The planet is 1.3 Earth masses. It orbits at 0.05 AU. It lies squarely in the center of the classical habitable zone for Proxima.

What big telescopes are being built or are funded which will provide a better look a this and other earthlike exoplanets ?

* James Webb Space Telescope (2018)
* 24 meter ground based telescope, Giant Megallan (2022-2025)
* 39 meter ground based Extremely Large Telescope (2024-2027)
* 30 Meter Telescope (permit delays, around 2022-2025 if resolved)
* Proposed 12 meter High definition space telescope (could spot earth sized planets out to 45 light years and directly image Proxima B). If funded could get built by 2030 or so.

The James Webb space telescope should be deployed in 2018

JWST will have the capability to detect key markers that could indicate the presence of a climate like our own when looking at Earth-sized planets around stars that are smaller and redder than our sun (like Proxima b). A study shows that the James Webb Space Telescope – Hubble’s successor could distinguish between an Earth and a Venus orbiting a cool, red star not too far away. But making that observation wouldn’t be easy.




The 24 meter Giant Magellan Telescope should also be operating around 2022-2025. The GMT will have absolute magnitude capability of 29.




Targets for direct imaging exoplanets fall into a few distinct classes:
• Planets still embedded in their parent disks (age = 1 - 10Myr, at 30 - 150pc).
• Young (0.1 - 1Gyr), nearby (3 - 50pc) gas-giant planets, which are intrinsically bright in the near-infrared due to their on-going gravitational contraction and,
• Older (over 1Gyr) planets detectable via their thermal infrared emission or reflected light.

The GMT will provide high contrast, high resolution imaging capabilities in the near and mid-infrared enabling the detection of exoplanets in each of these categories.

One of the technical goals of the GMT is to detect objects more than one million times fainter than the host star at angular separations corresponding to 1.5 λ/D to 20 λ/D




Earth-mass world in habitable zone orbit around Proxima Centauri

Astronomers using ESO telescopes and other facilities have found clear evidence of a planet orbiting the closest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri. The long-sought world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool red parent star every 11 days and has a temperature suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface. This rocky world is a little more massive than the Earth and is the closest exoplanet to us — and it may also be the closest possible abode for life outside the Solar System.

Proxima is a red dwarf. The planet is 1.3 Earth masses. It orbits at 0.05 AU. It lies squarely in the center of the classical habitable zone for Proxima. As mentioned earlier, the presence of another super-Earth mass planet cannot yet be ruled out at longer orbital periods and Doppler semi-amplitudes less than 3 ms −1 . By numerical integration of some putative orbits, we verified that the presence of such an additional planet would not compromise the orbital stability of Proxima b.

We have detected a earth sized exoplanet at our nearest neighboring star. It seems likely that many more earth sized planets exist and are common and lack of detections has been because our telescopes and observation capabilities have been inadequate

The paper is Anglada-Escudé et al., “A terrestrial planet candidate in a temperate orbit around Proxima Centauri,” published online by Nature. Paper will be out tomorrow.





Just over four light-years from the Solar System lies a red dwarf star that has been named Proxima Centauri as it is the closest star to Earth apart from the Sun. This cool star in the constellation of Centaurus is too faint to be seen with the unaided eye and lies near to the much brighter pair of stars known as Alpha Centauri AB.

During the first half of 2016 Proxima Centauri was regularly observed with the HARPS spectrograph on the ESO 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla in Chile and simultaneously monitored by other telescopes around the world [1]. This was the Pale Red Dot campaign, in which a team of astronomers led by Guillem Anglada-Escudé, from Queen Mary University of London, was looking for the tiny back and forth wobble of the star that would be caused by the gravitational pull of a possible orbiting planet.

As this was a topic with very wide public interest, the progress of the campaign between mid-January and April 2016 was shared publicly as it happened on the Pale Red Dot website and via social media. The reports were accompanied by numerous outreach articles written by specialists around the world.

Russia's sodium lead cooled fast nuclear reactors

Russia has reached two more milestones in its endeavour to close the nuclear fuel cycle. Mashinostroitelny Zavod (MSZ) - part of Russian nuclear fuel manufacturer TVEL - has completed acceptance tests of components for its ETVS-14 and ETVS-15 experimental fuel assemblies with mixed nitride fuel for the BREST and BN fast neutron reactors. MSZ has also announced the start of research and development work on the technical design of the "absorbent element" of the core of the BREST-OD-300 reactor.

Russia plans to construct 11 new nuclear power reactors (not including 5 under construction) by 2030 - including two BN-1200 sodium-cooled fast neutron reactors. The BN-1200 units are to be built at the Beloyarsk and South Urals nuclear power plants.

The decree also approves building a facility to produce high-density U-Pu nitride fuel and the construction by 2025 of the BREST-OD-300

The planned Beloyarsk 5 BN-1200 will use larger fuel elements than the BN-600 and BN-800 and have a simplified refuelling procedure. Russian nuclear engineering company OKBM Afrikantov is developing the BN-1200 as a next step towards future reactor designs, commonly known as Generation IV.



NASA seeks Small spacecraft Tipping Point technologies

NASA announces opportunities for public-private partnerships to achieve the agency’s goals of expanding capabilities and opportunities in space. NASA seeks to enable industry to develop and qualify selected technologies for market through the solicitation titled "Utilizing Public-Private Partnerships to Advance Tipping Point Technologies” released on August 10.

NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) is seeking industry-developed space technologies that can foster the development of commercial space capabilities and benefit future NASA missions. A technology is considered at a ‘tipping point’ if an investment in a demonstration of its capabilities will result in a significant advancement of the technology's maturation, high likelihood of infusion into a commercial space application, and significant improvement in the ability to successfully bring the technology to market.

"The Tipping Point solicitation represents a continued focus on collaborations with the commercial space sector that leverage emerging markets and capabilities to meet NASA's strategic goals," said Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator for STMD at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "These technologies should bring substantial benefit to both the commercial and government sectors on completion, and could enable NASA's next generation of science and human exploration missions."



22000 pages of documents on French Scorpene stealth submarine secrets hacked

The Indian government is investigating the leak of more than 22,000 pages of documents that reveal secret data about its new high-tech fleet of submarines.

The leak, first reported by The Australian, includes sensitive information about the Scorpene submarines designed by French defense contractor DCNS for the Indian Navy. The documents detail the stealth submarines' sensors, torpedo launch systems, as well as communications and navigation capabilities.

The Indian Navy ordered six Scorpene submarines from DCNS. The first boat, called Kalvari, was built in a Mumbai shipyard, and should enter service this year. The program has suffered years of delays, but the remaining five submarines are scheduled to be delivered by 2020.

The Australian posted redacted versions of the leaked documents on its website. They are marked "Restricted Scorpene India," and include volumes of technical drawings and operations manuals. The documents also include highly sensitive information on noise levels produced by the submarine

Chile, Malaysia, Brazil have all ordered versions of the Scorpene. DCNS is also under contract to build 12 new submarines for Australia at a cost of $39 billion.




Google's Antiaging company Calico will use Computational Biology and Machine Learning

Calico, a company focused on aging research and therapeutics, today announced that Daphne Koller, Ph.D., is joining the company as Chief Computing Officer. In this newly created position, Dr. Koller will lead the company’s computational biology efforts. She will build a team focused on developing powerful computational and machine learning tools for analyzing biological and medical data sets. She and her team will work closely with the biological scientists at Calico to design experiments and construct data sets that could provide a deeper understanding into the science of longevity and support the development of new interventions to extend healthy lifespan.

Calico will try to use machine learning to understand the complex biological processes involved in aging.

Large scale mouse aging genetics study

Jackson Laboratory (JAX), a nonprofit biomedical research institution, and Calico, a company focused on aging research and therapeutics, today announced a multi-year collaboration focused on applying mouse genetics to the study of aging.

Millions of public family trees and over one million genetic samples

AncestryDNA and Calico will work together to analyze and investigate the role of genetics and its influences in families experiencing unusual longevity using Ancestry’s proprietary databases, tools and algorithms. Calico will then focus its efforts to develop and commercialize any potential therapeutics that emerge from the analysis.

Together, they will evaluate anonymized data from millions of public family trees and a growing database of over one million genetic samples.


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