December 24, 2016

Intel spending $50 million to develop silicon qubits that they would scale to quantum computers with millions of qubit

Intel has a team of quantum hardware engineers in Portland, Oregon, who collaborate with researchers in the Netherlands, at TU Delft’sQuTech quantum research institute, under a $50 million grant established last year. Earlier this month Intel’s group reported that they can now layer the ultra-pure silicon needed for a quantum computer onto the standard wafers used in chip factories.

This strategy makes Intel an outlier among industry and academic groups working on qubits, as the basic components needed for quantum computers are known. Other companies can run code on prototype chips with several qubits made from superconducting circuits

A quantum computer would need to have thousands or millions of qubits to be broadly useful, though. And Jim Clarke, who leads Intel’s project as director of quantum hardware, argues that silicon qubits are more likely to get to that point (although Intel is also doing some research on superconducting qubits). One thing in silicon’s favor, he says: the expertise and equipment used to make conventional chips with billions of identical transistors should allow work on perfecting and scaling up silicon qubits to progress quickly.

Intel’s silicon qubits represent data in a quantum property called the “spin” of a single electron trapped inside a modified version of the transistors in its existing commercial chips. “The hope is that if we make the best transistors, then with a few material and design changes we can make the best qubits,” says Clarke.

Another reason to work on silicon qubits is that they should be more reliable than the superconducting equivalents. Still, all qubits are error prone because they work on data using very weak quantum effects

Researchers at TU Delft in the Netherlands use equipment like this to test quantum computing devices at supercool temperatures, in a collaboration with chip maker Intel.

Bionic eyes and Arms

1. The NHS will pay for 10 people with an inherited form of blindness to be fitted with “bionic eye” implants.

Five patients with a condition known as retinitis pigmentosa will be treated at the Manchester Royal Eye Hospital and five at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London next year.

They will be given a pair of glasses mounted with a camera that captures light and sends wireless signals to an implant in the retina.

The implant will then relay information to the brain to help patients regain some sight.

2. DARP delivered the first two advanced “LUKE” arms from a new production line—shiny evidence that the fast-track DARPA research effort has completed its transition into a commercial enterprise. As part of that transition process, DARPA is collaborating with WRNMMC to make the advanced prostheses available to Service members and veterans who are rehabilitating after suffering upper-limb loss. The LUKE Arm ("Life Under Kinetic Evolution") is the first commercially available FDA-approved robotic prosthetic arm. It is manufactured by Mobius Bionics LLC of Manchester, N.H.

“The commercial production and availability of these remarkable arms for patients marks a major milestone in the [DARPA] Revolutionizing Prosthetics program and most importantly an opportunity for our wounded warriors to enjoy a major enhancement in their quality of life,” Sanchez said, “and we are not stopping here.”

The RP program is supporting initial production of the bionic arms and is making progress restoring upper-arm control, he added.

“Ultimately we envision these limbs providing even greater dexterity and highly refined sensory experiences by connecting them directly to users’ peripheral and central nervous systems,” Sanchez said.

The first production versions of “LUKE” arms, a groundbreaking upper-limb prostheses, were on display during a ceremony at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Dec. 22, 2016 The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is collaborating with Walter Reed to make the bionic arms available to service members and veterans who are rehabilitating after suffering upper-limb loss. DoD photo

As part of the production transition process, DARPA is collaborating with Walter Reed to make the bionic arms available to service members and veterans who are rehabilitating after suffering upper-limb loss, DARPA says.

December 23, 2016

Lack of wild fish in 2100 would be like lack of wild cows and buffalo today since fish farming will replace wild catch

The world’s fishing fleet will catch an estimated 25 billion fewer fish a year by the end of the century if global warming continues on its current path, scientists have said.

If countries live up to their current pledges to reduce greenhouse gases, the planet’s average temperature is set to rise by about 3.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100 – well beyond the point at which climate change produces significantly more dangerous weather conditions.

After considering the effects on 892 different species eaten by humans, they concluded that each degree of warming could potentially result in a 3.4 million ton fall in the weight of fish caught every year, they reported in the journal Science.

The global fish catch is currently about 109 million metric tons.

World seafood production neared 160 million tons in 2006, the last year for which there are data. The growth over the previous year was entirely due to increased fish farming, or aquaculture, which increased by more than 3 million tons, an annual addition that has been fairly consistent over the last 10 years. In contrast, fish caught in the wild declined for the second year in a row and dropped to almost 4 million tons below the peak catch in 2000

Prior to 2016, commonly cited statistics have understated the size of the global seafood catch by about 30%, a new tally finds. The estimate, drawn in part from a painstaking effort to gather statistics on poorly documented subsistence, recreational, and illegal fisheries, suggests that the world catch has also declined more steeply since the 1990s than official figures indicate.

Overall, fishers caught an estimated 109 million metric tons (mt) of fish in 2010, researchers report today in Nature Communications. That’s well above the 77 million mt that nations reported to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, which keeps global catch statistics.

The reconstructed 2010 catch was 15% below peak landings of 130 million mt in 1996, estimate the researchers, who are based at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver in Canada. In contrast, FAO figures for the same 14-year period showed an 11% decline, from 86 million mt to 77 million mt.

The FAO report on fishing and aquaculture is here

Fish farming and aquaculture produced 73.8 million tons in 2014 and is growing by about 3 million tons each year. 2016 likely had 80 million tons of fish farming production.

Almost all of the cows, sheep and chickens are on farms now.
In the future it is clear that farmed fish will go from about 40% to 90% in 2100.

The amount of wild fish would also be enhanced by fertilizing the ocean with iron.

In 2012 the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation conducted a massive ocean fertilisation test, fertilizing around 100 tonnes of iron sulphate off Canada's coast Satellite images confirmed the claim by Californian Russ George that the iron has spawned an artificial plankton bloom as large as 10,000 square kilometres. Now it appears that the fish catch in the area was boosted by over 100,000 tons.

Pink salmon mature in two years. Salmon can add a pound a month if they are well fed in the ocean. 2013 had the largest pink salmon run in 50 years.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has completed compilation of preliminary values for the 2013 commercial salmon fishery. Powered by a record pink salmon harvest of 219 million fish, this year’s harvest ranks as the second most valuable on record. At $691.1 million, 2013 is only exceeded by the 1988 harvest value of $724 million. In addition to setting a record for pink salmon, the total number of salmon harvested also set a new record at 272 million fish.

Nine month old article from Nextbigfuture is basis of Futurism article that tops Reddit Futurology today

Nextbigfuture article from March 31, 2016 is the basis of a futurism article that is now the number one article on Reddit Futurology.

The Futurism article is here

China is proposing a $50+ trillion global energy grid. Global Energy Interconnection (GEI), a vision of a world power grid, was outlined by the State Grid Corporation of China ("State Grid")

It would be based upon a global network of Ultra High Voltage power lines connecting global power generation including massive wind farm at the North Pole and solar power from equatorial areas to energy users around the world.

If renewable generation grows at an annual growth rate of 12.4 percent over the world, then by 2050 renewable energy shall increase to 80 percent of total consumption, realizing clean energy supplement forever and completely solving the dilemmas caused by fossil fuels.

Nextbigfuture also covered in November that China’s coal power generation capacity will grow as much as 19 percent over the next five years even as the world’s biggest energy consumer expands use of non-fossil fuels.

While coal-fired plant capacity will increase, it will still remain below 1,100 gigawatts, National Energy Administration Chief Engineer Han Shui said Monday in a webcast posted on the agency’s website. Non-fossil power will increase 48 percent to about 770 gigawatts over the five-year period through 2020 as total capacity expands by 31 percent to 2,000 gigawatts.

President Xi Jinping’s government is seeking to replace coal with cleaner fuels to help cut pollution that has plagued some of China’s biggest cities including Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai. The country has said it plans to raise natural gas consumption to 10 percent of its total energy mix by 2020 from around 6 percent now.

China's Asia wide super grid will be exporting mostly coal generated power until 2030-2045

The entire idea is contingent on ultra high voltage power transmission lines, thousands of miles operating at more than 1,000 kilovolts AC/800 kilovolts DC. High voltages reduce losses over long distances, and both Russia and Japan already have hundreds (in Russia's case thousands) of miles of ultra high voltage lines up and running. These pale in comparison to China's infrastructure; since 2009 China has built nearly 10,000 miles of UHV power lines, with about the same again to come online in the next two years.

The Asia Super Grid is Masayoshi Son’s brainchild. He’s the founder and head of the telecom and Internet giant SoftBank Group’s.

China is investing RMB 600 Billion (approx. USD 88 Billion) into UHV development between 2010 and 2020

Star Wars Princess Leia actress Carrie Fisher in critical condition after major heart attack

Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher was in critical condition Friday after suffering a “cardiac episode” during a flight from London to Los Angeles, according to airline and emergency officials.

Fisher, 60, was rushed to UCLA Medical Center by Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics shortly after noon, after her 11-hour flight touched down at LAX.

Fisher, who rose to stardom as Princess Leia, recently published an autobiography titled the “Princess Diarist,” her eighth book.

She is the daughter of famous Hollywood couple Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher.

Carrie Fisher, who has written and spoken openly about her struggles in Hollywood, is considered Hollywood royalty. She took on her prickly relationship with her mother in the book-to-movie "Postcards From the Edge.” She’s also been outspoken about her mental health issues and the solution she found — radical-sounding electroshock therapy.

News of Fisher’s condition sparked an outpouring of support and sympathy on social media.

Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbaca, tweeted “thoughts and prayers for our friend and everyone's favorite princess right now.”

Actor Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker, also took to Twitter: “as if 2016 couldn't get any worse... sending all our love to @carrieffisher”

Lunar Xprize landings are targeted for 2017

The Google Lunar XPrize challenges privately funded teams to be the first to land on the moon, travel 500 meters, and send back pictures, for a $20 million jackpot. Although science was never the primary driver for the prize, the organizers encourage it through a number of bonus prizes. But some of the teams in contention are planning to do some science on their own initiative—or by carrying a paid-for payload. As the prize reaches a major milestone this month—narrowing down from 16 contenders to the handful that have booked a launch before the end of 2017

Chips for Deep learning continue to leapfrog in capabilities and efficiency

Deep learning has continued to drive the computing industry’s agenda in 2016. But come 2017, experts say the Artificial Intelligence community will intensify its demand for higher performance and more power efficient “inference” engines for deep neural networks.

The current deep learning system leverages advances in large computation power to define network, big data sets for training, and access to the large computing system to accomplish its goal.

Unfortunately, the efficient execution of this learning is not so easy on embedded systems (i.e. cars, drones and Internet of Things devices) whose processing power, memory size and bandwidth are usually limited.

This problem leaves wide open the possibility for innovation of technologies that can put deep neural network power into end devices.

“Deploying Artificial Intelligence at the edge [of the network] is becoming a massive trend,” Movidius CEO, Remi El-Ouazzane, told us a few months ago.

Semiconductor suppliers like Movidus (armed with Myriad 2), Mobileye (EyeQ 4 & 5) and Nvidia (Drive PX) are racing to develop ultra-low power, higher performance hardware-accelerators that can execute learning better on embedded systems.

Their SoC work illustrates that inference engines are already becoming “a new target” for many semiconductor companies in the post-mobile era, observed Duranton.

Google’s Tensor Processing Units (TPUs) unveiled earlier this year marked a turning point for an engineering community eager for innovations in machine learning chips.

At the time of the announcement, the search giant described TPUs as offering “an order of magnitude higher performance per Watt than commercial FPGAs and GPUs.” Google revealed that the accelerators were used for the AlphaGo system, which beat a human Go champion. However, Google has never discussed the details of TPU architecture, and the company won’t be selling TPUs on the commercial market.

Many SoC designers view that Google’s move made the case that machine learning needs custom architecture

CEA is offering an ultra-low power programmable accelerator, called P-Neuro.

Compared to the embedded GPU (Tegra K1), P-Neuro based on FPGA running at 100MHz has proven to be faster by a factor of two, and four to five times more energy efficient.
P-Neuro is built on clustered SIMD architecture, featuring optimized memory hierarchy and interconnect

An EU project, called NeuRAM3, says its chip will feature “an ultra-low power, scalable and highly configurable neural architecture.” The goal is to deliver “a gain of a factor 50x in power consumption on selected applications compared to conventional digital solutions.”

Russian scientists claim breakthrough in nuclear fuel research

Physicists from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) and the Joint Institute for High Temperatures (JIHT) of the Russian Academy of Sciences have described the mobility of line defects, or dislocations, in uranium dioxide. This, they announced this week, will enable future predictions of nuclear fuel behaviour under operating conditions.

Their research findings have been published in the International Journal of Plasticity and they are looking for international collaboration to speed up the potential application of their work in the commercial and regulatory nuclear spheres.

In their paper, the scientists - Artem Lunev, Alexey Kuksin and Sergey Starikov - provide data of a simulation of dislocation behaviour in uranium dioxide, which is one of the most widespread compounds used as nuclear fuel in power plants. They say it is the first time that dislocation mobility in uranium dioxide at high temperatures and under stress has been studied in detail.

The new model is a major advance toward being able to describe processes as complex as nuclear fuel swelling and embrittlement during operation by means of computer simulations alone.

Exactly how Trump can end the F35 and save $15 billion or more per year for 30-50 years while improving US military capability

More than any other president, Trump appears to want to take a direct role in federal contracting, a technical, complex part of the government that is run by tens of thousands of career civil servants. It is normally a stodgy, rule-bound job, governed by the Federal Acquisition Regulation book, which has more than 50 parts and is nearly 2,000 pages long.

Politico David Vinik detailed the process and federal powers in ending contracts.

Unlike traditional contracts, most federal contracts include a “get-out-of-jail” free clause that allows the government to break a contract for a wide variety of reasons. That power is not unlimited, but for companies to prove the government illegally violated the contract, they must prove that the contracting officer acted in “bad faith,” a standard that is exceptionally hard to meet. In one case, a judge held that the company needed “well-nigh irrefragable” — meaning indisputable — “proof” to meet that standard.

What Trump is doing, by targeting specific companies or specific federal contracts, is new and unprecedented, experts said. “Never seen anything like this,” said Sean O’Keefe, a former secretary of the Navy and comptroller of the Defense Department.

In 1991, the US Navy terminated the $4.8 billion A-12 stealth plane contract “for default,” a legal standard meaning that the contractor failed to fulfill its contractual duties. Terminating a contract for default is rare and carries significant financial repercussions for the contractor, which does not get compensated for any uncompleted work.

The government can also terminate contracts “for convenience.” Under such scenarios, the government ends a contract because it deems it no longer in the best interest of the country.

Unlike termination for default, termination for convenience allows the contractor to recoup the costs of all its work done up to the point of termination. The government may also pay settlement fees and even sometimes pays the contractor a profit. Still, the termination can be complicated and the contractor loses future revenue.

Experts suggested that it would be unlikely that Boeing or other companies would sue the federal government for acting in bad faith, even if they had a good chance of winning the case. Such a move might jeopardize their other federal contracts, especially if the courts ruled against them.

Despite detailing the leverage that Trump is wielding. Vinik at Politico says the ultimate result of Trump threatening to terminate federal contracts, whether to prevent companies from moving overseas or to cut down on perceived waste, could be higher costs for the government. Companies, faced with the increased risk of termination or negative publicity from an angry tweet from the president, would likely raise their prices in response, experts said. “With long-term complicated programs, the things that drive up prices are instability and uncertainty,” Schooner said. “That’s what he just added to the process.”

I disagree and think that having Trump as Negotiator in Chief to bring pressure on major spending programs will save federal money. Boeing's CEO is already saying they will find ways to lower the cost of the new Air Force One while providing good capabilities. This is because Trump has also put Boeing's F18 plane up against the F35, which is a bigger prize for Boeing.

The F35 is older plane design but it is capable. It has inferior stealth capabilities but still has stealth. However, stealth only comes into play if the US is fighting China and/or Russia. Any other opponent would have its air defenses easily ripped apart in a few days by the B2 bombers and the F22s. Even Russia and China have fewer advanced planes and would not be able to withstand the current air power of the USA. Boeing is also pushing an improved Super Hornet F18 that would have even more stealth. It would be perfectly adequate against Russia and China's gen 4.5 fighter planes. The F18 could be even better than the F35 for many missions. The F35 has and still has software and other design problems.

An advanced version of the F18 costs about $60 million each. Making even further improvements like conforming fuel tanks for more range while still staying stealthy might bump up the price a bit more. However, it is reasonable to think those improvements can be made while keeping the cost at $70 million each.

With the production data, we can calculate a F-35A has a price tag of $157 million, not $102 million. It’s $265 million for a F-35B and $355 million for a F-35C, not $132 million for either variant.

So an improved advanced super hornet F18 should cost less than half the price of F-35A and four times less than an F-35B and five times less than an F-35C.

An F/A-18F performed a flight equipped with the IRST (passive Infrared Search and Track) system in February 2014, and Milestone C approval authorizing low-rate initial production (LRIP) was granted in December 2014. Boeing and Northrop Grumman self-funded a prototype of the Advanced Super Hornet. The prototype features a 50% reduction in frontal radar cross-section (RCS), conformal fuel tanks (CFT), and an enclosed weapons pod.

Survivability is an important feature of the Super Hornet design. The U.S. Navy took a "balanced approach" to survivability in its design. This means that it does not rely on very low-observable technology, i.e. stealth. Instead, its design incorporates a combination of signature reduction, advanced electronic-warfare capabilities, reduced ballistic vulnerability, the use of standoff weapons, and innovative tactics that collectively enhance the safety of the fighter and crew in an affordable manner

Other proposed upgrades would add more powerful and fuel-efficient engines and vastly improved electronic warfare capabilities. Once developed to its full potential, the Block III Super Hornet could perform most of the missions envisioned for the F-35C except penetrating strike—it would have to rely on stand-off weapons for that mission.

The money saved from truncating the F-35C buy could be reinvested into the F/A-XX and a new long-range unmanned strike platform. The money saving could also be used to reduce the overall military budget.

The Super Hornet employs reportedly the most extensive radar cross section reduction measures of any contemporary fighter, other than the F-22 and F-35 as of 2004. While the F/A-18E/F is not a stealth fighter like the F-22, it will have a frontal radar cross-section an order of magnitude smaller than prior generation fighters. Additional changes for reducing RCS (radar cross section) can be installed on an as-needed basis. On 22 November 2016, the Liberal government of Canada announced its intention to immediately acquire 18 Super Hornets on an interim basis.

The F35 is more costly to operate and maintain. The F/A-18 Super Hornet has a per hour operational cost ranging from USD 11000 to USD 24000, depending on degree of operational capability. The conventional F-35 A, assuming operational service over 30 years with 200 hours per year for each aircraft, to amount to USD 21000 per hour of flight. The paper also sources US Navy projections of the cost of operation of the F-35 B and C variants until the year 2029, which come to USD 31000 per flight hour.

A superhornet can be about half the operational cost of the F35. If $10,000 per hour is saved, then with 200 hours per year, each plane would have $2 million per year on operation. A super hornet with more fuel efficient engines might get closer to the $5-8000 per hour cost of some advanced European fighters. The Gripen has a Boeing engine and an operational cost of $4700 per hour. $20000 to 25000 per hour operational cost savings is possible. This would be $4 to 5 million savings per year per plane.

The stealth coating on an F35 is very costly to maintain.

Between savings on purchasing, operating and maintaining the cost savings can be around $15 billion per year by cutting off the F35 and switching to Super hornets. Over 30 years that savings could be $450 billion and could be even more.

The procurement of over 2000 F35s is projected to be $379 billion but the procurement and operation to about 2060 has been projected to total $1.5 trillion.

China will be more of a capable military opponent around 2050. However, it would of course be idiotic to ever have a war between the USA and China. An advanced US military at that time would want the F/A-XX and the new long-range unmanned strike platform. This would happen sooner by not wasting money on F35s now through 2040.

US Federal government spending is tracked at

DARPA project willl advance metal 3D printing by improving speed, cost and repeatability

The third and final phase of the DARPA Open Manufacturing program is slated to begin before year’s end, and will continue through to mid-2018. The DARPA OM program seeks to develop an Integrated Computational Material Engineering framework that can accurately predict the properties of 3D printed metal components.

DARPA indicates that uncertainties in materials and component manufacturing processes are a primary cause of cost escalation and delay during the development, testing and early production of defense systems.” Despite extensive testing, DARPA reports that fielded military platforms often suffer unanticipated performance problems. “These uncertainties and performance problems are often the result of the random variations and non-uniform scaling of manufacturing processes.”

In other words, a material’s physical properties change according to different manufacturing methods. When 3D printed, for instance, metal behaves differently than it would through conventional manufacturing processes. If not accounted for properly, the result can be unpredictable, leading to unforeseen performance problems.

If successful, Open Manufacturing will reduce barriers to innovation in manufacturing, and expand the Defense manufacturing base by establishing methodologies for affordable, rapid, adaptable manufacturing with comprehensive design, simulation and processing tools and exposure to best practices. The resulting framework, through greater process understanding and control, would allow new manufacturing processes to be more readily transferred from the laboratory to the shop floor.

DARPA launched the Open Manufacturing program as a means to lower costs and expedite the delivery of high-quality manufactured goods with stable, predictable performance. This can be done by creating “a manufacturing framework that captures factory-floor and materials processing variability and integrates probabilistic computational tools, informatics systems, and rapid qualification approaches.”

With its swift advance into the final phase of the DARPA OM program, Sigma Labs has announced that it has officially achieved the quality assurance that the Defense Department is looking for when using 3D printed metal. After completing Phase I and II in 2014 and earlier in 2016 respectively, Sigma Labs is ploughing steadily ahead.

Sigma Labs of Santa Fe, New Mexico has a new contract with Honeywell Aerospace. The project extends work with the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) as part of the Open Manufacturing (OM) program. Sigma Labs were founded in 2005 by scientists from the renowned Los Alamos National Lab.

Valued at $400k, the contract will see Sigma Labs continue to work on their PrintRite3D® technology. Mark Cola, President and CEO of Sigma Labs explains,

PrintRite3D® technology enables rapid manufacturing processes such as laser-based 3D printing for precision metal components. Through this award, they will have the opportunity to demonstrate how their PrintRite3D® software can be a key enabler for developing quality assurance standards for metal AM aerospace components.

More highly educated and healthier people have smaller families so world population would have lower increases if poor in Africa and Asia were educated

Today, the future of world population growth looks more uncertain than it did a decade ago because of a controversial recent stalling of fertility decline in a number of African countries and a controversy over how low below replacement level fertility will fall, particularly in China. Probabilistic population projections try to quantify these uncertainties based on statistical extrapolation, expert judgement, or a blend of both. Although such projections published in 2008 gave a 95% prediction interval ranging from 5.2 to 12.7 billion for the global population in the year 2100, probabilistic projections published by the United Nations (UN) Population Division in 2015 based on a different approach give a much narrower 95% interval ranging from 9.5 to 13 billion in 2100. Another recent set of world population projections defined alternative global population scenarios in the context of the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and related integrated assessment models. In the medium scenario these Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) show a peaking of world population around 2070 at 9.4 billion, followed by a decline to 9 billion by the end of the century with high and low scenarios reaching 12.8 and 7.1 billion, respectively. As discussed below, these differences in world population projections result from different approaches taken in terms of disaggregating national populations according to age, sex, and education structures and in combining statistical extrapolation with expert knowledge in specifying assumptions for the future.

One of the strongest and most consistent relationships in demography is between mothers’ education and infant mortality – the children of women with more years of schooling are much more likely to survive infancy. More-educated mothers have better health care, marry later and are significantly more likely to use contraception to space their children. They have better skills for obtaining and evaluating information on health care, disease prevention and nutrition. They also have better access to resources, through earning opportunities and marriage, and can manage them better. They are more likely to recognize the advantages of educating their children.

The relationship between women’s education and fertility is also complex, but the underlying pattern in most countries is that the more years of schooling a woman has, the fewer children she is likely to have. In a small number of countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, fertility rises slightly with the first few years of women’s schooling, then falls with subsequent years of education. In all recent studies, additional secondary education for women correlates with lower fertility.

Educated women are more likely to use modern methods of contraception, and they tend to marry later. Educated parents of both sexes also generally desire smaller families than those with less education, and educated women tend to act on that reproductive preference for fewer children.

Infant mortality and high risk of death for adults increases the family size as well. Why is this ? Say you are a poor person in Africa. You would like a healthy 2 or 3 children when you plan for you personal family. But you know from people around you that at least 1 child is likely to at childbirth or before the age of 5 and another could die from disease or violence before being old enough to marry and have a family of their own. So you have 5 to 6 children in your family, because of the likelihood of losing two and smaller chance of losing 3. You actually end of up having 5 children and losing 1 and your neighbor had size and lost 2. So on average the surviving family size is 4 children.

In the developed world the chance of losing a child at childbirth and before the age of five is 0.1%. and the chance of children not making it the age when they have their own family is say 0.5%. Thus many have two children and lose none.

Educated mothers and fathers have healthier children and lose less of them to disease or other factors.
Higher education boosts income levels and lifts people out of poverty.
Poverty increases death rates as well.
Higher education across an entire country boosts overall income levels and enables the society to afford the cost of better medicine and hospitals and sanitation.

Researchers show the extent to which the expected world population growth could be lowered by successfully implementing the recently agreed-upon Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs include specific quantitative targets on mortality, reproductive health, and education for all girls by 2030, measures that will directly and indirectly affect future demographic trends. Based on a multidimensional model of population dynamics that stratifies national populations by age, sex, and level of education with educational fertility and mortality differentials, they translate these goals into SDG population scenarios, resulting in population sizes between 8.2 and 8.7 billion in 2100. Because these results lie outside the 95% prediction range given by the 2015 United Nations probabilistic population projections, we complement the study with sensitivity analyses of these projections that suggest that those prediction intervals are too narrow because of uncertainty in baseline data, conservative assumptions on correlations, and the possibility of new policies influencing these trends. Although the analysis presented here rests on several assumptions about the implementation of the SDGs and the persistence of educational, fertility, and mortality differentials, it quantitatively illustrates the view that demography is not destiny and that policies can make a decisive difference. In particular, advances in female education and reproductive health can contribute greatly to reducing world population growth.

December 22, 2016

Trump asks Boeing to price out Advanced Super Hornet F-18 with conformal fuel tanks to put negotiation pressure on Lockheed and the F-35

In response to a series of cost overruns and other development issues for the F-35 fighter jet, President-elect Donald Trump said on Thursday he has asked Boeing to "price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet."

Trump's request — announced via tweet — came a day after meeting separately with the CEOs from Lockheed Martin and Boeing to discuss bringing the "costs down" on the F-35 fifth-generation stealth jet and the next fleet of presidential aircraft.

On December 12, Trump said the cost for Lockheed Martin's fifth-generation stealth F-35 Lightning II jet was also "out of control." The message sent Lockheed Martin's stock down from $251 at the opening bell to $245.50, before it rebounded to a little more than $253 a share.

Boeing would clearly be super happy if they cut the price of the new Air Force One but then got an order for Advanced Super Hornets to replace some of the F-35 contract.

War is Boring discusses how the F-35 price tags are actually about double what Lockheed and the US Air Force try to claim.

On Dec. 12, 2016, president-elect Donald Trump asserted that F-35 unit cost was “out of control” through his preferred medium Twitter. On Dec. 19, 2016, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, in charge of the Joint Strike Fighter project, gave the press his version of things.

The general said each one of the Air Force’s F-35A would cost $102.1 million, while both the U.S. Marine Corps’ F-35Bs and and U.S. Navy’s F-35Cs would set the taxpayer back 132 million each. Those costs average to approximately $122 million for a “generic” F-35.

Bogdan got these numbers from the funds Congress set aside in the 2015 defense budget for what the Pentagon called “Lot 9,” just one of a number of planned F-35 purchases. In November 2016, the U.S. military was still negotiating the final deal with plane-maker Lockheed Martin.

These figures are not the “sticker price.”

One could calculate a far more complete price from the appropriations that Bogdan told Congress he needed to buy functioning airplanes. The difference between what he is telling the press now and what he told Congress in 2015 is significant — it is also the difference between a factory simply putting together a airplane and delivering an airplane that can actually fly and operate.

For the 2015 fiscal year, the F-35 project chief petitioned Congress for $6.4 billion to produce 34 F-35s for the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy. This amount did not included separate funds for research and development and other costs that the Pentagon asked for in budget request.

Electrical device signals the spleen reducing blood loss by 50-70% and could save over 80,000 lives each year from childbirth blood loss

A neural tourniquet reduces bleeding without a rope or physical compression of the blood vessel. doctors press a handheld device against the skin to stimulate the vagus nerve, which transmits information between the brain and the major organs. The nerve stimulation conveys a signal to the spleen, where the platelet blood cells that form clots receive their instructions. This signal “primes” the platelets, prepping them to form clots if they encounter a wound anywhere in the body.

“This grabs control of the mechanism the brain uses,” Czura says. “The body has this natural physiologic pathway to control bleeding, and this just ramps it up.”

The neural tourniquet could be useful for battlefield medicine, emergency response, surgery, and postpartum care. The tech is being developed by a company called Sanguistat, the Feinstein Institute’s second spin-off.

The tech will get its first tryout as a treatment for postpartum hemorrhage, the leading cause of maternal death around the world: it kills close to 80,000 women each year in Africa and asia and around 6,000 in the U.S. each year. In partnership with the Bill Gates-backed Global Good Fund, the Feinstein and Sanguistat researchers are launching clinical trials in the United States and in the developing world. Postpartum hemorrhage is the leading cause of maternal deaths worldwide.

Preclinical studies have shown that the Neural Tourniquet can reduce blood loss due to trauma by 50% and in hemophilia by 70% following a single treatment lasting only a few minutes.

The Neural Tourniquet is a medical device that reduces bleeding due to child birth, trauma, and hemophilia.

Neural tourniquet has US 8729129 B2 patent

Disclosed is a method of reducing bleed time in a subject by activation of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway in said subject. The cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway can be activated by direct or indirect stimulation of the vagus nerve. The cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway can also be activated by administering an effective amount of cholinergic agonist or acetylcholinesterase inhibitor to the subject.

New drug possible breakthrough against progressive multiple sclerosis

As many as 400,000 Americans are believed to suffer from multiple sclerosis -- a debilitating disease of the central nervous system. A new drug may provide relief from the most devastating form of MS.

Many MS patients can manage their disease through the use of several helpful medications, but about 10 to 15 percent have progressive MS, which has no approved treatment and continuously gets worse.

Three years ago, a new intravenous drug called Ocrelizumab began clinical trials.

It targets an immune system cell which, in MS, is felt to mistakenly attack the nervous system.

In the more serious progressive form that Gullick has, the drug slowed down the rate of disability by about 25 percent.

Ocrelizumab is the humanized form of Rituximab, a mouse antibody to CD20 that has been met with some success in the treatment of RRMS. The humanized ocrelizumab is expected to be less immunogenic and therefore less likely to cause infusion reactions.

B cells are believed to be involved in the abnormal immune response in MS. Ocrelizumab is thought to influence the immune system response in MS through its involvement with B cells. Ocrelizumab binds to CD20, found on the surface of B cells, and causes cell lysis leading to a dose-dependent depletion of B cells.

Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, had announced that the experimental therapy ocrelizumab has been granted “Breakthrough Therapy designation” by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of people with primary-progressive MS

FDA has granted Priority Review Designation, with a decision target of December 28, 2016.

Tesla is trying to prevent speeding while using autopilot but there are complaints this is less safe because of speed of traffic

Owners of Tesla vehicles equipped with Autopilot have, up until now, been able to set the speed of the Autopilot’s ‘Traffic-Aware Cruise Control’ feature to up to 5 mph over the speed limit on roads and non-divided highways.

Tesla's 8.1 software, with its UI update and Autopilot tweaks, is still unreleased. But to bring owners some more incremental updates, it's pushing 8.0.2 out to users as this is being written.

The biggest addition to 8.0.2 is a reported limitation to Autosteer on cars that have the system enabled. When Autosteer is engaged on roads and non-divided highways, it is now incapable of exceeding the speed limit. Before this, it could go up to 5 mph over the speed limit, based on the flow of traffic. On highways, the system is still capped to 90 mph.

Canada will spend C$750 million to provide all Canadians minimum internet broadband 50 Mbps download / 10 Mbps upload, currently 82% have such access

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) toda declared that broadband access Internet service is now considered a basic telecommunications service for all Canadians. The CRTC is also setting ambitious new speed targets and creating a new fund that will invest up to $750 million over and above existing government programs.

Currently, about 18 percent of Canadians, representing 2 million households, don't have access to 50Mbps/10Mbps service. "The CRTC's goal is to reduce that to 10 per cent by 2021 and down to zero in the next 10 to 15 years,

The CRTC has set the following targets for the basic telecommunications services that Canadians need to participate in the digital economy:

  • speeds of 50 megabits per second (Mbps) download/10 Mbps upload for fixed broadband Internet access services.
  • an unlimited data option for fixed broadband access services.
  • the latest mobile wireless technology available not only in homes and businesses, but also along major Canadian roads.

The CRTC is establishing a fund to support projects in areas that do not meet these targets. Applicants will be able to submit funding proposals in order to build or upgrade infrastructure for fixed and mobile broadband Internet access services. The fund will:

  • make available up to $750 million over the first five years;
  • be complementary to existing and future private investment and public funding;
  • focus on underserved areas; and
  • be managed at arm’s length by a third party.

Quick Facts

  • Broadband Internet access services are necessary to the quality of life for Canadians and empowers them as citizens, creators and consumers.
  • While most are well-served, many Canadians, particularly those in rural and remote communities, do not have access to broadband Internet access services that are comparable to those offered to the vast majority of Canadians in terms of speed, capacity, quality and price.
  • Broadband Internet services would allow more Canadian entrepreneurs to easily access crucial information relating to international markets and create more business opportunities across Canada.
  • In 2015, 82% of Canadians had access to speeds of 50 Mbps download/10 Mbps upload for fixed broadband services.
  • The CRTC is shifting its regulatory focus from wireline voice to broadband services.
  • Currently there is a subsidy for residential local voice services in rural and remote areas that amounted to approximately $100 million in 2016.
  • The current local voice subsidy will now be transitioned to the new funding mechanism announced today (for projects that meet the new targets).
  • Further to a broad consultation, more than 50,000 Canadians provided their views on the telecommunications services they need to participate in the digital economy.

China Yuan Depreciation and India demonetization drive up Bitcoin market and value

The total value of all bitcoins in circulation hit a record high above $16 billion on Friday, as the web-based digital currency jumped 5 percent on the day to its highest levels in three years after more than doubling in price this year.

The price of one bitcoin reached $875 on the Europe-based Bitstamp exchange, its strongest level since January 2014, putting the cryptocurrency on track for its best daily performance in six months.

That compared with levels around $435 at the start of the year, with many experts linking bitcoin's rise with the steady depreciation of the Chinese yuan, which has slid almost 7 percent this year.

Data shows the majority of bitcoin trading is done in China, so any increase in demand from there tends to have a significant impact on the price.

Bitcoin is a web-based "cryptocurrency" that can move money across the globe quickly and anonymously with no need for a central authority. That makes it attractive to those wanting to get around capital controls, such as China's.

Charles Hayter, founder of data analysis website Cryptocompare, said bitcoin had been helped higher by demonetization in India, and by global political uncertainty.

China's EMDrive research lead confident EMDrive will work in satellites and the race to prove EMDrive and Cannae drives in space and then commercialize

China's space agency has officially confirmed that it has been funding research into the controversial space propulsion technology EmDrive, and that it plans to add the technology to Chinese satellites imminently.

The China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), a subsidiary of the Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) and the manufacturer of the Dong Fang Hong satellites, has held a press conference in Beijing explaining the importance of the EmDrive research and summarizing what China is doing to move the technology forward.

China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) team statements corresponds with information provided to IB Times from an anonymous source. According to their informant, China already has an EM Drive on board its version of the International Space Station, the space laboratory Tiangong-2.

Chinese researchers have at least constructed an EM Drive and have been studying it for more than five years now.

Chief designer of the CAST communication satellite division, Li Feng, told the media that so far their EM Drive only produces millinewtons of thrust (similar to NASA's version) and to make it functional, they need to get those levels up to between 100 millinewtons and 1 newton.

The team is allegedly now working on the cavity design of the EM Drive and the position of the thruster, before testing their new versions on their satellites in orbit.

Logically if an EMDrive was placed on Tiangong-2 and no thrust was produced, this would be apparent right away. If tiny thrust was produced in orbit and in a vacuum then further research would be pursued. Further research could still occur if thrust seemed to be produced on the ground but did not appear in orbital microgravity. However in the case of no result in orbit, then the CAST team would probably not hold a press conference.

"This technology is currently in the latter stages of the proof-of-principle phase, with the goal of making the technology available in satellite engineering as quickly as possible," Li Feng explained at the press conference.

"Although it is difficult to do this, we have the confidence that we will succeed."

Race to prove EMDrive and Cannae drive and commercialize for satellite applications

In 2001 a small UK company, Satellite Propulsion Research Ltd (SPR), was set up to carry out an R and D programme into a revolutionary electrical propulsion concept. Roger Shawyer invented the first EMdrive.

In October 2016, a UK patent application describing a new superconducting EmDrive was published, followed by a first international version. Shortly thereafter Shawyer unveiled the creation of Universal Propulsion Ltd., a new company aimed to develop and commercialise such thrusters, as a joint venture with Gilo Industries Group, a small UK aerospace company designing and selling paramotors and the Parajet Skycar.

In November 2016 the International Business Times claimed the U.S. government was testing a version of the EmDrive on the Boeing X-37B and that the Chinese government has made plans to incorporate the EmDrive on its orbital space laboratory Tiangong-2. In 2009 an EmDrive technology transfer contract with Boeing was undertaken via a State Department TAA and a UK export licence, approved by the UK MOD. The appropriate US government agencies including DARPA, USAF and NSSO were aware of the contract. However, prior to flight, the propulsion experiment aboard the X-37B was officially announced as a test of a Hall-effect thruster built by Aerojet Rocketdyne

The Cannae Drive (formerly Q-drive), is another engine designed to generate propulsion from a resonant cavity without propellant, is another implementation of an idea in this category. However, Cannae drive is claimed to not be an EMDrive. Its cavity is also asymmetric, but relatively flat rather than a truncated cone. It was designed by Fetta in 2006 and has been promoted within the US through his company, Cannae LLC, since 2011. In 2016, Fetta announced plans to eventually launch a cubesat satellite containing a version of the Cannae Drive, which they would run for 6 months to observe how it functions in space

Friedwardt Winterberg believes gravitational wave background noise is masking gravitational waves

Friedwardt Winterberg is known for his work in the fields of nuclear fusion and plasma physics, and Edward Teller has been quoted as saying that he had "perhaps not received the attention he deserves" for his work on fusion

In a 1955 paper Winterberg proposed a test of general relativity using accurate atomic clocks placed in orbit in artificial satellites. At that time atomic clocks were not yet of the required accuracy and artificial satellites did not exist. Werner Heisenberg wrote a letter to Winterberg in 1957 in which he said the idea sounded "very interesting". This idea was later experimentally verified by Hafele and Keating in 1971 by flying atomic clocks on commercial jets. The theoretical approach was the same as that used by Winterberg. Today atomic clocks and relativistic corrections are used in GPS and it is said GPS could not function without them

Winterberg has published numerous articles in the area of inertial confinement fusion. In particular Winterberg is known for the idea of impact fusion and the concept of the magnetically insulated diode for the generation of multi-megampere megavolt ion beams for the purpose of heating plasmas to thermonuclear fusion temperatures. He conceived of a nuclear fusion propulsion reactor for space travel, which is called the Winterberg / Daedalus Class. Magnetic Compression Reaction Chamber, which was later developed at the University of Alabama at Huntsville's Propulsion Research Center. Most recently he has designed a giant spacecraft, propelled with deuterium micro-detonations ignited by a GeV proton beam, drawn from the space craft acting as an electrically charged up and magnetically insulated capacitor Winterberg also developed ideas for mining increasingly rare industrially crucial elements on planetary bodies such as the moon using fusion detonation devices. He became involved with the idea of using beam weapons in outer space in the late 1970s while working at the Desert Research Institute.

Winterberg continues to give technical talks and writing research papers

Vixra - Quantum Gravity Explanation of the de Broglie Pilot Wave

The particle-wave duality of the de Broglie pilot wave is explained by the emission of watt-less gravitational waves from Schrödinger’s “Zitterbewegung” of elementary particles obeying the Dirac equation. In particular is shown that the quantum potential of the Madelung-transformed Schrödinger Equation is gravitational in it’s origin.

Winterberg theory is that large gravitational wave background is masking gravitational waves but a system one thousand times larger than LIGO could detect them

Arxiv - Emission of Gravitational Waves from a Magnetohydrodynamic Dynamo
The failure of the laser-interferometer gravitational wave antennas to measure the tiny changes of lengths many orders of magnitude smaller than the diameter of a proton raises the question of whether the reason for this failure is a large gravitational wave background noise, and if so, where this background noise is coming from. It is conjectured that it comes from gravitational waves emitted from a magnetohydrodynamic dynamo in the center of the sun, with the large magnetic field from this dynamo shielded by thermomagnetic currents in the tachocline. Using the moon as a large Weber bar, these gravitational waves could possibly be detected by the Poisson diffraction into the center of the lunar shadow during a total solar eclipse.

Bootstrapping space industry and a solar system wide civilization with Robots and 3D printing

Advances in robotics and additive manufacturing (3D printing) technologies are game-changing for space colonization. As a result, it has become economically feasible – as we attempt to demonstrate in this paper – to bootstrap a self-sustaining, self-expanding lunar industry that will spread across the solar system at no further expense to the Earth’s economy. Another game-changer is the discovery of lunar polar ice providing vast quantities of hydrogen, nitrogen and carbon. The Moon has every element needed for healthy industry. In light of these game-changing advances and discoveries, it is important to reassess the prospects for initiating space industry

Arxiv - Affordable, rapid bootstrapping of space industry and solar system civilization

Simple modeling was developed to identify the main parameters of successful bootstrapping. This indicates that bootstrapping can be achieved with as little as 12 metric tons (MT) landed on the Moon during a period of about 20 years. The equipment will be teleoperated and then transitioned to full autonomy so the industry can spread to the asteroid belt and beyond. The strategy begins with a sub-replicating system and evolves it toward full self-sustainability (full closure) via an in situ technology spiral. The industry grows exponentially due to the free real estate, energy, and material resources of space. The mass of industrial assets at the end of bootstrapping will be 156 MT with 60 humanoid robots, or as high as 40,000 MT with as many as 100,000 humanoid robots if faster manufacturing is supported by launching a total of 41 MT to the Moon. Within another few decades with no further investment, it can have millions of times the industrial capacity of the United States. Modeling over wide parameter ranges indicates this is reasonable, but further analysis is needed. This industry promises to revolutionize the human condition.

December 21, 2016

China's military leaders talk up plans for the H-20 strategic bomber

An article published by the China Military Online website on 7 December has provided further insights into the requirements for China's new strategic bomber.

China is developing a new long-range strategic bomber referred to in the article as the H-20.

While General Ma gave no details of the programme, Rear Admiral Yin, who is also a regular media commentator on Chinese military developments, commented that as the "cruise missiles, nuclear weapons, and other weapons and equipment that will be carried by domestic strategic bombers are all in place", the time was right for China to develop a new strategic bomber.

He stated that China's current long-range bomber, the Xian Aircraft Corporation (XAC) H-6 series (a modernised Tupolov Tu-16 Badger derivative) is not truly a strategic bomber and suggested that the new aircraft will have characteristics comparable with those of the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.

The experience and knowledge in the design of stealth aircraft gained from the development of the stealthy J-20 and F-31 combat aircraft, together with the associated understanding and application of advanced materials technology, also present an opportune moment to progress the requirement for a new strategic bomber.

Speaking of whether China can develop supersonic stealth strategic bombers, military expert Li Li said that this is technically Precisely because of the emphasis is laid on the stealth performance, the aircraft's aerodynamic configuration will be quite different from that of a supersonic bomber. May be a more realistic solution to select from the stealth capability and supersonic penetration.

Pregnancy is brain structure mind altering for at least two years

Pregnancy reduces grey matter in specific parts of a woman's brain, helping her bond with her baby and prepare for the demands of motherhood.

Scans of 25 first-time mums showed these structural brain changes lasted for at least two years after giving birth.

European researchers said the scale of brain changes during pregnancy were akin to those seen during adolescence.

But they found no evidence of women's memory deteriorating.

Many women have said they feel forgetful and emotional during pregnancy and put it down to "pregnancy" or "baby" brain - and, it seems, with good reason.

They compared these women's brains with those of 19 first-time fathers, 17 men without children and 20 women who had never given birth.

The researchers found "substantial" reductions in the volume of grey matter in the brains of first-time mothers.

The grey matter changes occurred in areas of the brain involved in social interactions used for attributing thoughts and feelings to other people - known as "theory-of-mind" tasks.

The researchers thought this would give new mothers an advantage in various ways - help them recognise the needs of their child, be more aware of potential social threats and become more attached to their baby.

Surface maps of GM volume changes between the Pre and Post session

Nature Neuroscience - Pregnancy leads to long-lasting changes in human brain structure

Inexact computing can improve quality of supercomputing answers by 1,000 times

omputer scientists from Rice University, Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have used one of Isaac Newton’s numerical methods to demonstrate how “inexact computing” can dramatically improve the quality of simulations run on supercomputers.

The research is summarized in a paper on the preprint server ArXiv and is part of an ongoing effort by scientists at Rice University’s Center for Computing at the Margins (RUCCAM) to dramatically improve the resolution of weather and climate models with new ultra-efficient approaches to supercomputing.

Computer scientists from Rice University, Argonne National Lab and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have used one of Isaac Newton’s numerical methods to demonstrate how “inexact computing” can dramatically improve the quality of simulations run on supercomputers. (Image courtesy of University)

Arxiv - Doing Moore with Less – Leapfrogging Moore’s Law with Inexactness for Supercomputing

Only Makes Sense that Spacex would use Raptor Engines for upgrading Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy

The Spacex Raptor engines are a family of cryogenic, methane-fueled, rocket engines. The engines are specifically intended to power both high-performance lower and upper stages of the Interplanetary Transport Ssystem launch vehicle that Elon Musk is championing to support substantial new technological and economic capabilities in the area of interplanetary spaceflight, particularly with respect to a long-term aim of colonizing Mars. The engine will be powered by densified liquid methane and liquid oxygen (LOX), rather than the RP-1 kerosene and LOX used in all previous Falcon 9 rockets, which use Merlin 1C and D engines. The Raptor engine will have over three times the thrust of the Merlin 1D vacuum engine that powers the current Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Spacex has not announced that they will use the Spacex Raptor engine to re-engine the Falcon 9 or the Falcon Heavy.

However, if they have an engine that is the same size and roughly the same weight but has three times the thrust then why would they not use those engines exclusively ?

The developmental Northrop Grumman TR-107 engine was built by Tom Mueller, the co-founder of Spacex. It was designed in 2002.

The Falcon Heavy configuration consists of a standard Falcon 9 with two additional Falcon 9 first stages acting as liquid strap-on boosters, which is conceptually similar to EELV Delta IV Heavy launcher and proposals for the Atlas V HLV and Russian Angara A5V. Falcon Heavy will be more capable than any other operational rocket, with a payload to low earth orbit of 54,400 kilograms (119,900 lb) and 13,600 kilograms (30,000 lb) to Mars. The rocket was designed to meet or exceed all current requirements of human rating. The structural safety margins are 40% above flight loads, higher than the 25% margins of other rockets. The Falcon Heavy is currently scheduled for a demonstration flight in Q2 of 2017.

December 20, 2016

Mark Zuckerberg has made a Jarvis Artificial Intelligence for his home

So far this year, Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook CEO) built a simple AI that he can talk to on his phone and computer, that can control his home, including lights, temperature, appliances, music and security, that learns my tastes and patterns, that can learn new words and concepts, and that can even entertain his daughter Max. It uses several artificial intelligence techniques, including natural language processing, speech recognition, face recognition, and reinforcement learning, written in Python, PHP and Objective C. He explained what he built and what he learned along the way.

Before he could build any AI, he first needed to write code to connect his home systems, which all speak different languages and protocols.
They use a Crestron system with their lights, thermostat and doors,
a Sonos system with Spotify for music, a Samsung TV, a Nest cam for Max, and
of course his work is connected to Facebook's systems.

He had to reverse engineer APIs for some of these to even get to the point where he could issue a command from his computer to turn the lights on or get a song to play.

China says tests of Propellentless EMDrive on Tiangong 2 space station were successful

Dr. Chen Yue, Director of Commercial Satellite Technology for the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) announced on December 10, 2016 that not only has China successfully tested EmDrives technology in its laboratories, but that a proof-of-concept is currently undergoing zero-g testing in orbit (according to the International Business Times, this test is taking place on the Tiangong 2 space station).

Scientists with the China Academy of Space Technology claim NASA’s results ‘re-confirm’ what they’d already achieved, and have plans to implement it in satellites ‘as quickly as possible.’

‘The establishment of an experimental verification platform to complete the milli-level micro thrust measurement test, as well as several years of repeated experiments and investigations into corresponding interference factors, confirm that in this type of thruster, thrust exists.’

Cast is a subsidiary of the Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) and the manufacturer of Dong Fang Hong satellites.

According to Li Feng, chief designer of Cast’s communication satellite division, the team has built a prototype that so far generates just a few millinewtons of thrust, IBTimes UK reports.

A chinese language paper posted the successful chinese tests of the Emdrive

Successful propellentless Emdrive is tests in microgravity in space would be conclusive and definitive.

First Korean APR-1400 nuclear reactor enters commercial operation

The first Korean-designed Advanced Pressurised Reactor-1400 (APR-1400) officially entered commercial operation on 12 December. Unit 3 of the Shin Kori nuclear power plant in the south east of South Korea was connected to the grid in January.

Shin Kori units 3 and 4 (Image: KHNP)

Construction of Shin Kori 3 began in October 2008. Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) was issued with an operating licence for the unit by the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission in late October 2015. The reactor achieved first criticality on 29 December and was connected to the grid on 15 January.

KHNP noted in a statement today that the start of commercial operation at Shin Kori 3 brings the total number of power reactors in operation in South Korea to 25. Together they have an installed capacity of 23.1 GWe and represent 22.1% of the country's total generating capacity.

"In addition, Shin Kori 3 will produce about 10.4 billion kWh of electricity annually, which will account for about 12% of the power in Busan, Ulsan and Gyeongnam," KHNP said.

Operation of unit 4 at Shin Kori - also an APR-1400 - is expected to be approved during the first half of 2017.
Unit 3 had originally been due to begin operating at the end of 2013, with unit 4 following in September 2014. However, their operation was delayed by the need to test safety-related control cabling and its subsequent replacement.

Two more of the 1350 MWe pressurized water reactors are under construction as units 1 and 2 of the Shin Hanul site in South Korea. Those units are expected to enter service in April 2017 and February 2018, respectively.

Two further APR-1400 units are planned for both the Shin Kori and Shin Hanul sites.
Four more APR-1400s are under construction at Barakah in the United Arab Emirates. All four are scheduled to be in operation by 2020.

New Thermoelectrics with ZT over 7, could have twice the efficiency of combustion engines, fridges and be lighter, smaller and more reliable

The search for thermoelectrics with higher figures of merit (ZT) will never stop due to the demand of heat harvesting. Single layer transition metal dichalcogenides (TMD), namely MX2 (where M is a transition metal and X is a chalcogen) that have electronic band gaps are among the new materials that have been the focus of such research. Here, we investigate the thermoelectric transport properties of hybrid armchair-edged TMDs nanoribbons, by using the nonequilibrium Green's function technique combined with the first principles and molecular dynamics methods. They found a ZT as high as 7.4 in hybrid MoS2/MoSe2 nanoribbons at 800K, creating a new record for ZT. Moreover, the hybrid interfaces by substituting X atoms are more efficient than those by substituting M atoms to tune the ZT. The origin of such a high ZT of hybrid nanoribbons is the high density of the grain boundaries: the hybrid interfaces decrease thermal conductance drastically without a large penalty to electronic conductance.

In this paper, they investigate thermoelectric properties of hybrid TMD nanoribbons using a ballistic transport approach. The hybrid armchair-edged nanoribbons show high ZT due to the fact that the hybrid interfaces reduce thermal conductance drastically without a large penalty to electronic conductance. The ZT values of pristine armchair TMD nanoribbons are approximately 1.5 ~ 2.1 at room temperature, while those of hybrid nanoribbons are 2 ~ 3 times that of pristine ones, depending on the number of hybrid interfaces. For example, the ZT of the hybrid nanoribbons MoS2/MoSe2 or MoS2/WS2 with three interfaces is around 3.0 while that of pristine MoS2 is only 1.5. With the increase of temperature and interface number, the ZT values are considerably improved. Our calculations indicate that the highest ZT of hybrid nanoribbons can approach 7.4 at a temperature of 800 K. Moreover, the value is expected to be further increased by doping, edge defects, and adsorption. Therefore, the hybrid TMD nanoribbons may have promising applications in thermal energy harvesting.

They investigated the thermoelectric properties of hybrid armchair-edged TMD nanoribbons using the NEGF method combined with first-principles calculations and molecular dynamics simulations. The hybrid armchair nanoribbons show high ZT due to the fact that the hybrid interfaces reduce thermal conductance drastically. In the hybrid structures that have only three interfaces, the highest ZT approaches 6.1 at 800 K, while the ZT can be further optimized to 7.4 by more interfaces, which is a new record of high ZT among all the thermoelectric materials. They find that it is more efficient to improve thermoelectric properties of the hybrid interfaces by substituting X atoms than by substituting M atoms at high temperature, because the latter can pass through more electrons and thus results in a larger ke. This study could be useful to design high efficient thermoelectric devices. In addition, the effect of the hybrid structures’ widths on the ZT is very week. Although thermal conductance increases with the widths, electronic conductance also increases simultaneously, because more transport channels for electrons and phonons are opened together.

Arxiv - New record of high ZT found in hybrid transition-metal-dichalcogenides

Nextbigfuture notes that mass production of thermoelectrics with figures of merits over 5 transforms the world

Refrigerators convert heat at about a figure of merit of 3.

Thermoelectric materials can be used as refrigerators, called "thermoelectric coolers", or "Peltier coolers" after the Peltier effect that controls their operation. As a refrigeration technology, Peltier cooling is far less common than vapor-compression refrigeration. The main advantages of a Peltier cooler (compared to a vapor-compression refrigerator) are its lack of moving parts or refrigerant, and its small size and flexible shape (form factor).

The main disadvantage of Peltier coolers is low efficiency. It is estimated that materials with ZT over 3 (about 20–30% Carnot efficiency) would be required to replace traditional coolers in most applications. Today, Peltier coolers are only used in niche applications, especially small scale, where efficiency is not important.

Thermoelectric generators serve application niches where efficiency and cost are less important than reliability, light weight, and small size.

Internal combustion engines capture 20–25% of the energy released during fuel combustion. Increasing the conversion rate can increase mileage and provide more electricity for on-board controls and creature comforts (stability controls, telematics, navigation systems, electronic braking, etc.) It may be possible to shift energy draw from the engine (in certain cases) to the electrical load in the car, e.g. electrical power steering or electrical coolant pump operation.

Cogeneration power plants use the heat produced during electricity generation for alternative purposes. Thermoelectrics may find applications in such systems or in solar thermal energy generation

Thermoelectrics with ZT of 7-9 could have twice the efficiency of combustion engines, fridges and be lighter, smaller and more reliable.

Researchers at Japan Tokai University found a room temperature Superconductor with critical temperature near the melting point of Tin

Researchers at Tokai University have created materials obtained by bringing n-alkanes into contact with graphite which are capable of conducting electricity with almost no energy loss at room temperature. They report that the sudden jump in resistance showing a phase transition is observed in the materials during heating by two-probe resistance measurement. The measured critical temperatures of the materials consisting of pitch-based graphite fibers and n-alkanes having 7-16 carbon atoms range from 363.08 to 504.24 K (231 Celsius) and the transition widths range between 0.15 and 3.01 K. They also demonstrate that superconductors with critical temperatures beyond 504 K (231 Celsius) are obtained by alkanes with 16 or more carbon atoms.

Melting points in Celsius

In 1986, a cuprate superconductor (Ba-La-Cu-O system) having a critical temperature which goes over the BCS limit (~30 K) was discovered and then a cuprate superconductor (Y-Ba-Cu-O system) with a critical temperature higher than 77 K was discovered. Furthermore, a Hg-based cuprate with a critical temperature of 133 K was found. The 133 K is still the highest critical temperature of conventional superconductors under atmospheric pressure

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