January 07, 2017

Universal Quantum computers could replace supercomputers within 5 years

Some researchers are predicting that the market for "universal" quantum computers that do everything a supercomputer can do plus everything a supercomputer can not do — in a chip that fits in the palm of your hand — are on the verge of emerging. The rise of quantum computing may be as important a shift as John von Neumann's stored program-and-data concept.

Here are some of the scientists and breakthroughs that will enable this shift.

Robert Schoelkopf (Yale, Quantum Circuits inc) claims a number of "world's firsts," the latest of which is the longest "coherence time" for a quantum superposition.

Multilayer microwave integrated quantum circuit (left) uses silicon wafers with features etched using MEMS techniques to create enclosures that serve as high-Q resonators as well as providing shielding. Superconducting metalization (blue) covers the walls of these enclosures to provide low-loss wafer-to-wafer bonding. A cross-section of the rectangular cavity resonator (upper right) shows interlayer aperture coupling between the cavity and transmission lines above. 3D superconducting transmission lines (lower right) could be constructed using membranes (green) in the MEMS structure where qubits and act as a compact low-loss quantum bus.
(Source: Yale)

Nature - Extending the lifetime of a quantum bit with error correction in superconducting circuits

DARPA developing temporary 30 day underwater fiber-optics communications networks

DARPA’s Tactical Undersea Network Architecture (TUNA) program recently completed its initial phase, successfully developing concepts and technologies aimed at restoring connectivity for U.S. forces when traditional tactical networks are knocked offline or otherwise unavailable. The program now enters the next phase, which calls for the demonstration of a prototype of the system at sea.

TUNA seeks to develop and demonstrate novel, optical-fiber-based technology options and designs to temporarily restore radio frequency (RF) tactical data networks in a contested environment via an undersea optical fiber backbone. The concept involves deploying RF network node buoys—dropped from aircraft or ships, for example—that would be connected via thin underwater fiber-optic cables. The very-small-diameter fiber-optic cables being developed are designed to last 30 days in the rough ocean environment—long enough to provide essential connectivity until primary methods of communications are restored.

“Phase 1 of the program included successful modeling, simulation, and at-sea tests of unique fiber-cable and buoy-component technologies needed to make such an undersea architecture work,” said John Kamp, program manager in DARPA’s Strategic Technology Office. “Teams were able to design strong, hair-thin, buoyant fiber-optic cables able to withstand the pressure, saltwater, and currents of the ocean, as well as develop novel power generation concepts.”

Japan makes progress toward realization of MRI magnets using high temperature superconducting wire materials

Furukawa Electric and the Institute for Materials Research, Tohoku University have successfully developed superconducting connection technology and an HTS persistent current switch with a resistance of around 10^-12 (10 to the 12th power) Ω by connecting with rare earth superconducting wire materials. This research and development has been carried out with a view to realizing medical devices applying HTS wire materials, and with the support of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s “project to develop basic technologies for HTS coils” and the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development’s (AMED) “R and D on fundamental technologies of high-stability magnetic field coil systems in medical device and system R and D project to realize future medical care”.

The ohm is defined as an electrical resistance between two points of a conductor when a constant potential difference of 1 volt, applied to these points, produces in the conductor a current of 1 ampere, the conductor not being the seat of any electromotive force.

Japanese researchers connected a superconducting coil and persistent current switch using rare earth HTS wire materials and achieved a persistent current operation of 100A at 20K, and verified a persistent current operation that maintained a magnetic field of 3,500 Gauss for 10 hours.

US publishes Near Earth asteroid defense plan

The National Near-Earth Object Preparedness Strategy (Strategy) and the forthcoming National Near Earth Object Preparedness Action Plan (Action Plan) together seek to improve our Nation’s preparedness to address the hazard of near-Earth object (NEO) impacts by enhancing the integration of existing national and international assets and adding important capabilities that are currently lacking. The Strategy and Action Plan build on efforts at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to better detect and characterize the NEO population as well as recent efforts at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to prepare for and respond to a NEO impact. Together, they aim to foster a collaborative effort in which the Nation can better understand, prevent, and prepare for the effects of a NEO impact. The Nation must continue to leverage existing networks of expertise and capabilities, both public and private, and pursue targeted enhancements to improve the ability to manage the risks associated with NEOs.

China making steady progress towards longer range power projection

China is expected to “own” a third aircraft carrier in the near future, the People’s Daily online, the flagship of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is reporting, quoting a leading naval expert.

The website quoted Liang Fang:

At present, China’s second aircraft carrier is under construction. In the near future, the Chinese navy is expected to own a third aircraft carrier battle group, capable of safeguarding territorial sovereignty and maritime rights, said Liang.

Other sources had indicated that the third carrier was already under construction.

It is likely that the third carrier will have more capable catapult launchers instead of a ramp. This will enable the fighter planes to have longer range.

If China gets to catapult launchers and nuclear powered carriers in the 65,000 ton class they will be at about the level of the French or British carriers. The US has 100,000 ton class nuclear, catapult launch carriers.

It will likely take until the 2040s for China to start matching the US in terms of the ten or eleven 100,000 ton nuclear carriers with catapult launchers. The U.S. Navy operates 19 ships that could be called aircraft carriers, but only considers 10 to be actual carriers.

Currently, China's carrier ability is still catching up to India's.

If there was a future big war between the US and China, they both would likely quickly sink aircraft carriers.

The utility of aircraft carriers is for pushing around smaller militaries around the world without having to depend upon basing of fighters at another country.

Currently China is able to project power within the South China Sea and local waters.

Customized on demand 3D printed drones produced in less than 24 hours from spec to completion

US Army Research lab has created on demand custom 3d printing of drones. With this concept, once a patrol requires UAV support, Soldiers input all their requirements into mission planning software. The system then knows the optimal configuration for the aerial vehicle and it's printed and delivered within 24-hours.

This isn't just about UASs," Spero said. "It's about forward-deployed, 3-D printing to help the Soldier.

The Army engineers continue to collaborate with partners at the Georgia Tech's Aerospace Systems Design Lab as they continue to refine technologies for future Soldiers.

$129 billion Columbia class ballistic missile submarine program begins detail design and engineering development

The Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program passed its Milestone B decision review and can move into detail design, an official told USNI News. The potential USD128 billion ORP has entered the engineering and manufacturing development phase.

These SSBNs should cost about $8 billion apiece, Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), whose district includes the prime contractor, told USNI News today after reading the acquisition review documents. That figure that is higher than the Navy’s previously cost estimate but is calculated differently. Most recently the Navy said it expected the lead ship to cost $10.4 billion – including $4.2 billion in detail design and non-recurring engineering work, as well as $6.2 billion for ship construction – and follow-on ships to cost $5.2 billion, all in 2010 dollars. The $8 billion per boat figure spreads the design and engineering cost evenly across the 12 boats in the class instead of consolidating it in the cost of the lead ship, and it is also calculated in 2017 dollars, which complicates the comparison.

It is a future United States Navy nuclear submarine class designed to replace the Trident missile-armed Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. The first submarine is scheduled to begin construction in 2021 and enter service in 2031 (some 50 years after its immediate predecessor, the Ohio class, entered service). From there, the submarine class will serve through 2085

Electric Boat is designing the Ohio replacement submarines with assistance from Newport News Shipbuilding. A total of 12 boats are planned to be built, with construction of the first boat planned to begin in 2021. Each submarine will have 16 missile tubes and each tube will be capable of carrying a Trident II D5LE missile. The submarines will be 560 feet long and 43 feet in diameter. That is the same length as the Ohio-class submarine design, and one foot larger in diameter

Movie Arrival and the Simpsons

Arrival has been out for a while and is actual mostly out of theaters

I just want to point something out that I noticed. Minor spoiler.

January 06, 2017

Air Force getting bids for defensive lasers on fighter jets

The US Air Force (USAF) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) related to its efforts to field a laser-based self-protection system for its tactical combat aircraft.

The laser will be housed in a supersonic flight-capable pod to be developed under the Laser Pod Research and Development (LPRD) contract.

The RFP, posted by the Air Force Research Laboratory, Directed Energy Directorate, Laser Division (AFRL/RDL) on the Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) website on 5 January, seeks research proposals for the service's Laser Advancements for Next-generation Compact Environments (LANCE) project, which is geared at integrating a defensive laser weapon aboard current and future fighter-sized aircraft.

The objective of LANCE is to perform research and development activities necessary to design, fabricate, and deliver a reliable, ruggedised high-power laser (with excellent beam quality and compact design) for integration within an aerodynamic integrating structure for use during flight testing on tactical aircraft for self-defence research during Phase II of the Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator (SHiELD) Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD)

High-power laser capabilities will be demonstrated during Phase II of the SHiELD ATD. The specific objectives of the laser subsystem are to:
1) develop/enhance innovative state-of-the-art laser designs, fabrication techniques, and operating approaches;
2) design/build a compact, ruggedized high-power laser that minimizes beam quality degradation under the stressing flight conditions of high performance tactical aircraft;
3) quantify performance of the subsystem to include key laser parameters (e.g. laser output power, electrical-to-optical efficiency, power stability, beam jitter, power in the bucket) under representative flight conditions; and
4) support integration of the laser subsystem within SHiELD's aerodynamic integrated structure while maintaining laser performance during test and demonstration.

Successful execution requires:
 Develop, design, build, and test a high-power laser capable of fulfilling technical objectives, which include:
o Anticipated laser Size, Weight and Power (SWAP) that meets allocated size and weight limits for the SHiELD aerodynamic integrated pod-like structure.
o Architecture compatible with integration and operation at altitude with minimum amount of environmental conditioning or protection (thermal, atmospheric pressure).
o Architecture compatible with operation during aircraft tactical maneuvers (orientation to g-load, level of sustained g-load, vibration).
o Technologies expected to be matureable to technology readiness level (TRL) 6 or higher by 2021.

 Detailed identification of the crucial laser subsystem components selected for design, based on:
o Coupled understanding and modeling of structural, mechanical, electrical, optical, and thermal environment within the laser subsystem.
o Analysis techniques following a structured methodology capable of accurately predicting laser system performance.
o Analysis of crucial components to determine points during operation when components are most vulnerable and essential to system performance.

F-35 could be cancelled or cut back in huge political fight in January and February. National Reviews urges Trump to Cancel F35

Mike Fredenburg at the National Review urges Trump to cancel the F35.

His arguments are
* negotiating a better price on incomplete, crippled fighters will not save taxpayers any money in the long run — because the prices being negotiated between Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon are prices designed to fool the public about the F-35’s true costs. Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon both know that any “discount” or price reduction negotiated in public will quickly be made up on the back-end
* fatal mistakes made during the conceptual design process well over 20 years ago, the F-35 will forever be crippled by intractable weight and heat issues that ensure that the program will never deliver a reliable, cost-effective fighter.
* on Wednesday, when Inside Defense exposed the fact that the Navy’s F-35C model has design defects that can cause pilots to suffer disorientation and severe pain when undergoing carrier catapult launches. As it stands, Navy pilots have determined the F-35C is not “operationally suitable” for carrier launches. New design changes to the F-35C will be required that could take years — and even our carriers may need to be modified to fix the problem. This issue has been known about for years, but until now it has been concealed from the public.
* The F-35’s severe, ongoing problems with weight have resulted in indefensible decisions affecting plane safety, reliability, and durability — the most egregious example being the removal of hundreds of pounds of equipment designed to keep pilots from dying in fiery explosions. Some of the safety equipment removed includes the fuel tank’s ballistic liner, critical fueldraulic fuses, the flammable coolant shut-off valve, and the dry bay fire-extinguishing unit. The unprecedented and pervasive presence of flammable hydraulic fluid, flammable coolants, and fuel throughout the plane makes the F-35 a flying tinderbox. But without these risky weight-reduction measures, the F-35 will not be able to meet even its bare-minimum contractually mandated range goals.
* A DOT&E memo said that on battlefield F-35s are not an asset. In fact, America’s new fighters will actually have to be protected in combat. Because of numerous performance deficiencies and limited weapons capacity, the so-called operationally capable F-35 will need support to locate and avoid threats, acquire targets, and engage enemy aircraft.
* In order to protect the F-35 from cancellation, the Pentagon has lowered key performance requirements and helped Lockheed cheat so that it could continue the charade that the F-35 will actually meet its bare-minimum threshold ranges.
* the published $32,000-per-flying-hour cost is a made-up number; its real cost per flying hour will likely be closer to the $62,000 of the much less complex F-22. Its truly dismal sustained-sortie-generation rate of one sortie (mission) every three or four days means that, as is the case with our F-22 pilots, F-35 pilots will only get a fraction of the 30 to 40 hours of stick-time (actual flying time) per month necessary to gain and maintain fighter-combat mastery.

The F-35 joint strike fighter program could be terminated after the Donald Trump administration takes office, the Air Force’s top civilian leader said Jan. 6. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James indicated that the top Air Force, Navy and Marine brass will try to defend the program but the president can cancel or cutback the program.

Elon Musk says Trump will support both renewables and fossil fuels and FAA clears Spacex to launch

Elon Musk says that President-elect [Trump] has a strong emphasis on US manufacturing and so do we [Elon -Spacex -Tesla Motors]. We [Tesla Motors] are building the biggest factory in the world right here, creating US jobs… [Elon] think we may see some surprising things from the next administration. We don’t think they will be negative on fossil fuels… but they may also be positive on renewables.

Tesla currently employs over 30,000 people, more than 25,000 of which are in the US. Tesla wants to add over 3,000 manufacturing jobs at its factory in Fremont, California, 1,000 at its solar panel factory in Buffalo, New York, and over to 6,500 at the Gigafactory in Nevada.

Tesla claims that the 2170 cell offers the best performance at the lowest production cost in an optimal form factor for both electric vehicles and energy products. By 2018, the Gigafactory will produce 35GWh/year of lithium-ion battery cells, which is nearly as much as the rest of the world’s battery production combined.

Currently, with a total of 1.9 million square feet of footprint, the Gigafactory is less than 30 per cent complete. Once complete, the Gigafactory will have the largest footprint of any building in the world and will provide direct employment to 6,500 people

Elon Musk's SpaceX rocket company has been cleared to resume flying following a launch pad explosion four months ago, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Friday.

The decision clears SpaceX to attempt to launch a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 10 Iridium Communications satellites as early as Monday, a day later than originally planned.

The launch will be SpaceX's first since August. The company has a backlog of more than 70 missions for NASA and commercial customers, worth more than $10 billion.

As a result of the accident investigation, SpaceX is changing the way it fuels its rockets to prevent canisters of helium, located inside liquid oxygen tanks, from bursting. The company said the long-term solution will be to redesign the helium canisters, which are made of an aluminum liner and a carbon overwrap. The helium is needed to maintain oxygen tank pressure

MIT makes compressed graphene sponge material that is 20 times less dense than steel but 10 times stronger, light as stryofoam but stronger than steel

A team of researchers at MIT has designed one of the strongest lightweight materials known, by compressing and fusing flakes of graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon. The new material, a sponge-like configuration with a density of just 5 percent, can have a strength 10 times that of steel.

In its two-dimensional form, graphene is thought to be the strongest of all known materials. But researchers until now have had a hard time translating that two-dimensional strength into useful three-dimensional materials.

The new findings show that the crucial aspect of the new 3-D forms has more to do with their unusual geometrical configuration than with the material itself, which suggests that similar strong, lightweight materials could be made from a variety of materials by creating similar geometric features.


* light as stryofoam but stronger than steel
* 20 times less dense than steel but 10 times stronger
* could lead to a replacement for helium for strong yet light dirigible applications
* bringing 2D strength of graphene to 3D materials
* new range of lightness and strength combinations for different applications

Different atomistic and 3D-printed models of gyroid geometry for mechanical tests.(A) Simulation snapshots taken during the modeling of the atomic 3D graphene structure with gyroid geometry, representing key procedures including (i) generating the coordinate of uniformly distributed carbon atoms based on the fcc structure, (ii) generating a gyroid structure with a triangular lattice feature, and (iii) refinement of the modified geometry from a gyroid with a triangular lattice to one with a hexagonal lattice. (B) Five models of gyroid graphene with different length constants of L = 3, 5, 10, 15, and 20 nm from left to right. Scale bar, 2.5 nm. (C) 3D-printed samples of the gyroid structure of various L values and wall thicknesses. Scale bar, 2.5 cm. The tensile and compressive tests on the 3D-printed sample are shown in (D) and (E), respectively.

Science Advances - The mechanics and design of a lightweight three-dimensional graphene assembly

Current Flywheels moving to Superconducting flywheels using carbon fiber or carbon nanotubes

In 2015, Japan built the world's largest-class superconducting flywheel power storage system with a superconducting magnetic bearings. The completed system is the world's largest-class flywheel power storage system using a superconducting magnetic bearing. It has 300-kW output capability and 100-kWh storage capacity, and contains a CFRP (carbon-fiber-reinforced-plastic) flywheel. This flywheel is 2 meters in diameter and weighs 4 tons, and is rotated with a superconducting magnetic bearing at a maximum speed of 6,000 RPM. This is the world's first superconducting magnetic bearing which uses superconducting material both for its rotor and bearing, and is capable of supporting heavy weight, although it is a compact-sized system.

The flywheel is made by stacking nine layers of CFRP rotors with a 2-meter outer diameter, 1.4-meter inner diameter and 10-centimeter thickness. With this method, flywheels of different storage capacities can be made by changing the number of layers.

It had grid-connection tests with a megawatt-class solar power plant at Komekurayama in Yamanashi Prefecture.

The superconducting magnetic bearing of this system uses a high-strength, high-temperature superconducting magnet made of a second-generation high-temperature superconducting wire material containing yttrium. The rotating shaft also uses high-temperature superconducting bulk. They succeeded in lifting the 4-ton flywheel without any contact by refrigerating the bearing to 50 K, that is, -223°C, and creating a powerful magnetic field. This technique has made it possible to rotate the flywheel at a highspeed, with less energy loss. Furthermore, since this system operates at significantly higher temperatures than 20 K or -253°C of the previous superconducting coil, the refrigeration cost can be reduced.

Boeing is also working on superconducting bearing flywheels. In 2012, Boeing flywheel tip speed was 800 m/sec. World record on small test rotor in 2012 was about 1,405 m/sec. FW tip speed is limited by material properties.
The Boeing plan was to develop new materials that would allow speed to reach 3,000 m/sec.

Boeing has the vision of combining advanced fiber technology and superconducting bearings to enable the development of a low-cost, extremely high energy-density, highefficiency flywheel energy-storage system. The superconducting bearings enable high efficiency and high spin rates. The new proprietary fiber enables high rotor tip speeds resulting in high energy density, with a projected cost of $100/kWh for the flywheel system at utility scale and large-rate factory production. The prototype flywheel will be small enough (7 kWh/5kW) to facilitate rapid development with a design that is easily scalable to a utility-size unit (~100 kWh) and amenable to factory production to achieve low cost. The vision for commercial production is that individual 100-kWh flywheels will be arrayed in a transportable container with a total storage of 2 MWh for utility applications

Power-thru uses magnetic levitation with no bearings.

All-composite rotors — versus steel hub and composite overlay — offer lighter weight and reportedly improve safety. The lighter weight also improves energy storage, as POWERTHRU explains: “Kinetic energy is roughly equal to mass times velocity squared. So doubling mass doubles energy storage, but doubling the rotational speed quadruples energy storage.” Thus, today’s all-composite rotors allow faster rotational speed (40,000 to 60,000 rpm), which increases short-term energy storage capacity.

UK building $38 million combat laser prototype by 2019 and field lasers in mid-2020s

The UK Ministry of Defence has officially awarded a £30m (US$38 million) contract to produce a prototype laser weapon. The aim is to see whether "directed energy" technology could benefit the armed forces, and is to culminate in a demonstration of the system in 2019. If the demonstration is successful, the first laser weapons could come into service in the mid-2020s.

This would be a delay from previous targets of 2017 land based combat lasers and 2019 for the UK navy

The contract was picked up by a consortium of European defense firms.

The prototype will be assessed on how it picks up and tracks targets at different distances and in varied weather conditions over land and water.

The demonstrator was not being developed to counter any specific threat, but to assess whether such weaponry could be delivered as a capability for the armed forces.

But in general, directed energy weapons could potentially be used to destroy drone aircraft, missiles, mortars, roadside bombs and a host of other threats.

The US military has been experimenting with high energy lasers for decades. But, until recently, technical hurdles had prevented them from being used on the frontline.

However, the US Navy fielded a laser weapon system called Laws for testing on the USS Ponce during a deployment to the Gulf starting in 2014.

In 2015 the UK Ministry of Defence said it had instructed its development arm, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), to look at building a prototype. DSTL is exploring the role that electric flywheel technology, the kind used in Formula 1 racing, could play to generate and store the power required for high-energy weapons

Beacon Power opened a 5 MWh (20 MW over 15 mins) flywheel energy storage plant in Stephentown, New York in 2011

William KERS flywheels weigh 40 kg and had about four times the energy density of ultracapacitors.

Advanced flywheels, such as the 133 kWh pack of the University of Texas at Austin, can take a train from a standing start up to cruising speed

January 05, 2017

US should not just fix infrastructure or stimulate the economy but fund massive leapfrog technology with large competitive prizes and goals

From 2016 to 2025, each household will lose $3,400 each year in disposable income due to infrastructure deficiencies; and if not addressed, the loss will grow to an average of $5,100 annually from 2026 to 2040, resulting in cumulative losses up to almost $34,000 per household from 2016 to 2025 and almost $111,000 from 2016 to 2040 (all dollars in 2015 value).

Over time, these impacts will also affect businesses’ ability to provide well-paying jobs, further reducing incomes. If this investment gap is not addressed throughout the nation’s infrastructure sectors by 2025, the economy is expected to lose almost $4 trillion in GDP, resulting in a loss of 2.5 million jobs in 2025.

The 2016 Failure to Act analysis indicates that the overall infrastructure gap has grown relative to the initial reports. However, recent federal, state and local investments are stabilizing the gap and moderating the potential economic losses from growing more significantly.

Is there really a $1.44 trillion gap ? About 70% of it is for more roads and transportation. But and MIT study found that 95 percent of New York transportation demand would be covered by just 2,000 ten-person vehicles, compared to the nearly 14,000 taxis that currently operate in New York City. Ride sharing and robotic cars could reduce traffic and reduce the need for increased roads.

The first of the Obama administration’s stimulus bills – the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 -- pledged to go heavy on shovel-ready construction projects that would result in thousands of work opportunities. But neither happened. The president later joked that the shovels, it seems, weren’t ready. Perhaps he was waiting for them to be shipped from China!

Even if the shovel-ready construction jobs were for real, how many American workers are even trained to do them?

What went wrong with the shovel ready infrastructure building ?

Of the $831 billion in the 2009 stimulus, $105 billion was spent on infrastructure $48 billion (transportation), 18 billion of sewers and water, $21 billion on energy, $27 billion on energy efficiency.

The failure of the stimulus was it was too spread out and untargeted. $116 billion in tax credits that amounted to $10 per week. It often seemed that the stimulus was providing money for everything. Instead of investing in a few marquee projects, Congress tried to make the stimulus a cure-all.

Delays meant that by the end of July 2009, only 20% of highway projects had started, according to DOT data. More and more, it appeared that what “shovel ready” really meant was ready for politicians to pose with a shovel for a photo op.

China is able to complete big infrastructure projects on time and budget and uses this ability to build big at home and abroad

China’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative is at the center of Asia's infrastructure buildout. Geographically, OBOR could span 65 countries responsible for roughly 70 percent of the world’s population. Economically, it could include Chinese investments approaching $4 trillion.

Asia's infrastructure market is growing by 8 percent annually over the next decade, rising to nearly 60 percent of the global total. All told, the region’s infrastructure needs are estimated to exceed $1 trillion annually.

China is spending about $5 trillion per year to build inside China each year. China builds or improves urban areas. They add about the area and population of Los Angeles each year. China builds a lot of high speed rail, new grid, regular rail, highways, energy plants, bridges etc...

In terms of large difference making infrastructure projects, China has a multi-year effort to integrate the cities into megacity regions
* around Shanghai into the Yangtze river delta regions
* around Beijing into the Jinj-Jin-Ji
* around Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shenzhen into the Pearl River Delta region

China will spend over $300 billion to integrate Hong Kong and Shenzhen and the other cities of the Pearl River delta. It should have about 80 million people in ten to fifteen years. This would be about the population of Germany

There are about 170 million people in the Yangtze river delta area now but should have about 260 million in ten to fifteen years as the full integration is achieved. With 20% of the GDP of China, this area already has about $2.2 to 2.5 trillion (nominal) in GDP and should be about $3 to 3.5 trillion in 2020 and about the level of Japan's GDP before 2030.

China has projects where travel times can be cut from 12 hours to two hours. This can be done with long bridges, tunnels and/or high speed rail

China takes what they do best and then boost it with a few trillion dollars and long term commitment.

The US needs to take what it does best and boost it.

The US best is Google, Amazon, Elon Musk, GE, Xprizes, DARPA, Silicon Valley and other technological winners.

High tech Megaprojects that would make a difference for the USA

In terms of projects, where could the US invest to drastically reduce time wasted on commuter travel or boost productivity.

A traditional infrastructure plan that invests in roads and bridges could increase employment in the short term, but the incoming Trump administration and new Congress also should focus on “innovation infrastructure” to spur long-term economic growth, according to a new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). ITIF, the leading U.S. science and tech policy think tank, urges policymakers to invest in the building blocks of innovation—such as R and D and tech-enabled “smart” infrastructure—because they can serve as the foundation of a more robust economy in the long run.

Accelerate Leapfrogging Future technology Winners like Amazon, Google, GE, Nvidia, Elon Musk and have supersized Xprizes

Boosting GDP is about accelerating an economy. Enable more and faster transactions to occur.

* Smart Cities
* Drone delivery - blimp warehouses
* Accelerate deployment of Multi-gigabit wireless communication
* Industrial Internet
* Use big goals and prizes that pay for results. Rewards winners with funding and clear away regulations that enable faster deployment and rapid scaling (supersize Xprizes)

A smart city is an urban development vision to integrate multiple information and communication technology (ICT) and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions in a secure fashion to manage a city's assets – the city's assets include, but are not limited to, local departments' information systems, schools, libraries, transportation systems, hospitals, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, and other community services. The goal of building a smart city is to improve quality of life by using urban informatics and technology to improve the efficiency of services and meet residents' needs

Amazon had the vision of flying warehouses to deliver products via drones within 20-30 minutes anywhere in cities

GE recently discussed an Industrial Internet which could add $10-15 trillion (£6-9 trillion) to global GDP by 2030 (37 pages)

Economic Xprizes with government funds and DARPA for economic productivity

Use economic version of DARPA to research and develop ground breaking technology that can boost the economy and boost productivity.

Can online training and virtual apprenticeships and other technology be used to massively accelerate effective new training and retraining.

Gigafactory Battery-cell production begins

The start of Tesla Gigafactory battery mass production is a huge milestone in Tesla’s quest to electrify transportation, and it brings to America a manufacturing industry—battery cells—that’s long been dominated by China, Japan, and South Korea. More than 2,900 people are already working at the 4.9 million square-foot facility, and another 4,000 jobs (including temporary construction work) will be added this year through the partnership between Tesla and Panasonic.

By 2018, the Gigafactory, which is less than a third complete, will double the world’s production capacity for lithium-ion batteries and employ 6,500 full-time Reno-based workers, according to a new hiring forecast from Tesla. The company’s shares, having touched their highest point since August, closed up $10 at $226.99 in New York trading.

Temporary exterior walls are repositioned to accommodate new sections. The factory doubled in six months and is now 30 percent complete.Source: Tesla, annotations by Bloomberg

Tesla initially promised to provide full-time jobs to 4,000 local residents by 2019 and 6,500 jobs by 2020. In May, Tesla moved its forecast for peak battery production at the Gigafactory up two years, to 35 gigawatt hours of cell production and 50 gigawatt hours of pack production by 2018

For Tesla to succeed, battery production is crucial—there simply aren’t enough lithium-ion batteries being made anywhere for Tesla to achieve its goal of 500,000 Model 3 sales by 2018. Equally problematic is the fact that current market prices are too high for the $35,000 car to be profitable. Tesla took its unprecedented leap into the desert in the hope that the massive scale of the $5 billion Gigafactory would drive down costs, and demand would arrive just in time to keep it all afloat.

Batteries are the limiting factor for electric cars, but few automakers have made a similar commitment to producing them, choosing instead to let suppliers like LG Chem and Samsung shoulder the risk. In 2015, 88 percent of the global lithium ion cell manufacturing took place in China, Japan, and South Korea, according to a report by the Clean Energy Manufacturing Analysis Center.

The cells produced at the Gigafactory today will be used to fill more energy-storage products until cell production for the Model 3 begins in the second quarter, according to Tesla.

Tesla also aims to begin shipping the Powerwall 2 home batteries by the end of January, at prices that by some estimates are 30 percent cheaper than the closest competitor. “We believe Tesla battery sales are accelerating," said Baird analyst Ben Kallo, who recently listed Tesla as the best stock pick for 2017. “The ramp of Tesla Energy and Model 3 production could exceed expectations.”

Bloomberg forecasts that batteries used for electric cars will go up by 10 times by 2024.

Cost of US wars from 2001 to 2016 is about $4.79 trillion

As of August 2016, the US has already appropriated, spent, or taken on obligations to spend more than $3.6 trillion in current dollars on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and on Homeland Security (2001 through fiscal year 2016). To this total should be added the approximately $65 billion in dedicated war spending the Department of Defense and State Department have requested for the next fiscal year, 2017, along with an additional nearly $32 billion requested for the Department of Homeland Security in 2017, and estimated spending on veterans in future years. When those are included, the total US budgetary cost of the wars reaches $4.79 trillion.

Interest costs for overseas contingency operations spending alone are projected to add more than $1 trillion dollars to the national debt by 2023. By 2053, interest costs will be at least $7.9 trillion unless the US changes the way it pays for the wars

Low estimate for US bombing in 2016 is 26,171 bombs dropped versus 2015 estimate of 23,144

The Council on Foreign relations estimates the United States dropped 26,171 bombs in seven countries in 2016. This estimate is undoubtedly low, considering reliable data is only available for airstrikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, and a single “strike,” according to the Pentagon’s definition, can involve multiple bombs or munitions. In 2016, the United States dropped 3,027 more bombs—and in one more country, Libya—than in 2015.

The primary US method for killing suspected terrorists has been with stand-off precision airstrikes. With regard to the self-declared Islamic State, U.S. officials have repeatedly stated that the pathway to “destroying” the terrorist organization is by killing every one of its current members.

In 2015, the United States dropped an estimated total of 23,144 bombs in six countries. Of these, 22,110 were dropped in Iraq and Syria. This estimate is based on the fact that the United States has conducted 77 percent of all airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, while there were 28,714 U.S.-led coalition munitions dropped in 2015. This overall estimate is probably slightly low, because it also assumes one bomb dropped in each drone strike in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, which is not always the case.

There were more U.S.-coalition airstrikes in Syria and Iraq from August 2014 to August 2015 than during more than five years of the Afghan war. From January 2010 to Aug. 31, 2015, there have been 20,237 weapons released over Afghanistan, according to U.S. military data. From August 2014 to August 2015, there have been 22,478 weapons released over Syria and Iraq, mostly by U.S. aircraft.

The cost of the war on ISIS up to April 2016 was $7.2 billion The running cost was about $11.5 million per day.

US is within days of $20 trillion in national debt

The US is within days of reaching $20 trillion in national debt according to the US debt clock

The state and local debt is a combined $3.1 trillion.
California has $465 billion in debt
NY has $354 billion in debt
Texas $273 billion in debt
Florida $181 billion in debt
Illinois has $155 billion in debt
Pennsylvania has $126 billion in debt
New Jersey $104 billion in debt

U.S. federal debt as percent of GDP by Senate majority party from 1940 to 2009

Federal outlays were projected to rise by 6 percent in 2016 —to $3.9 trillion, or 21.2 percent of GDP. That increase is the result of a nearly 7 percent rise in mandatory spending, a 3 percent increase in discretionary outlays (which stem from annual appropriations), and a 14 percent jump in net interest spending.

CBO anticipates that mandatory outlays will be $168 billion higher in 2016 than they were last year. A significant component of that growth is Social Security outlays, which are expected to increase by about $28 billion (or 3 percent)—a percentage increase that is smaller than last year’s, primarily because beneficiaries did not receive a cost-of-living adjustment in 2016 but did receive one in 2015. Nevertheless, because the program is so large, even that smaller-than-average increase accounts for one-sixth of the growth in mandatory spending projected for 2016. Federal spending for the major health care programs accounts for a much larger fraction—more than 60 percent—of the projected growth in mandatory spending: Outlays for Medicare (net of premiums and other offsetting receipts), Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, plus subsidies for health insurance purchased through exchanges and related spending, are expected to be $104 billion (or 11 percent) higher this year than they were in 2015.

In CBO’s baseline projections (which incorporate the assumption that current laws will generally remain the same), growth in spending—particularly for Social Security, health care, and interest payments on federal debt—outpaces growth in revenues over the coming 10 years. The budget deficit increases modestly through 2018 but then starts to rise more sharply, reaching $1.4 trillion in 2026. As a percentage of GDP, the deficit remains at roughly 2.9 percent through 2018, starts to rise, and reaches 4.9 percent by the end of the 10-year projection period. The projected cumulative deficit between 2017 and 2026 is $9.4 trillion.

President Trump and the Republican congress are expected to lower taxes and increase stimulus programs.

Google, Microsoft, labs and start-ups will create universal quantum computers in 2017 and achieve quantum supremacy over classical computers

Google started working on a form of quantum computing that harnesses superconductivity in 2014. In 2017 or 2018 Google hopes to perform a computation that is beyond even the most powerful ‘classical’ supercomputers — an elusive milestone known as quantum supremacy. Its rival, Microsoft, is betting on an intriguing but unproven concept, topological quantum computing, and hopes to perform a first demonstration of the technology.

The quantum-computing start-up scene is also heating up. Christopher Monroe, co-founded the start-up IonQ in 2015, plans to begin hiring in earnest this year.

Physicist Robert Schoelkopf at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, who co-founded the start-up Quantum Circuits, and former IBM applied physicist Chad Rigetti, who set up Rigetti in Berkeley, California, say they expect to reach crucial technical milestones soon.

The largest trapped ion quantum computer with 20 qubits is being tested in an academic lab led by Rainer Blatt at the University of Innsbruck in Austria.

In 2016, Rainer Blatt's and Peter Zoller's research teams have simulated lattice gauge theories in a trapped ion quantum computer. Gauge theories describe the interaction between elementary particles, such as quarks and gluons, and they are the basis for our understanding of fundamental processes.

"Dynamical processes, for example, the collision of elementary particles or the spontaneous creation of particle-antiparticle pairs, are extremely difficult to investigate," explains Christine Muschik, theoretical physicist at the IQOQI. "However, scientists quickly reach a limit when processing numerical calculations on classical computers. For this reason, it has been proposed to simulate these processes by using a programmable quantum system."

The two leading approaches to quantum computers are superconducting loops or trapped ion.

Schoelkopf helped to pioneered superconducting loop quantum computers and which Google, IBM, Rigetti and Quantum Circuits have adopted. This involves encoding quantum states as oscillating currents in superconducting loops.

IonQ and several major academic labs, encode qubits in single ions held by electric and magnetic fields in vacuum traps.

John Martinis, who worked at the University of California, Santa Barbara, until Google hired him and his research group in 2014, says that the maturity of superconducting tech­nology prompted his team to set the bold goal of quantum supremacy. The team plans to achieve this using a ‘chaotic’ quantum algorithm that produces what looks like a random output. If the algorithm is run on a quantum computer made of relatively few qubits, a classical machine can predict its output. But once the quantum machine gets close to about 50 qubits, even the largest classical supercomputers will fail to keep pace

IonQ aims to build trapped ion machines that have 32 or even 64 qubits. The ion-trap technology will enable their designs to be more flexible and scalable than superconducting circuits, he says.

The people running IonQ have industry heavyweights taking notice. The firm’s founders have received about $64 million in government research funding to date. After years of badgering the IonQ founders to step into the venture capital space, Weller helped put together a team from some of the highest reaches of government and business. At Weller’s urging, New Enterprise Associates made a $2 million investment to help the firm develop a marketable product.

China invests in solar, wind, hydro and natural gas for energy but will still be mainly reliant on coal

China will plow 2.5 trillion yuan ($361 billion) into renewable power (which includes hydro, tidal, geothermal as well as wind and solar generation by 2020.

1 trillion yuan for solar power as the country seeks to boost solar capacity by five times
700 billion yuan for wind farms
500 billion yuan for hydro power
300 billion yuan tidal and geothermal

China’s investment in renewables sources of electric power in 2015 reached a world record of $110.5 billion – mostly going on wind farms, solar farms and hydro dams (including smaller hydro facilities, not just giant dams)

According to China's five year energy plan, by 2020,
* hydropower installed capacity will reach 380 million kilowatts (including 40 million kilowatts of pumped storage power stations)
* installed capacity of wind power will reach 210 million kilowatts.
* Solar Installed capacity of more than 110 million kilowatts,
* biomass power generation installed capacity of 15 million kilowatts,
* the total utilization of geothermal heating to 42 million tons of standard coal development goals.

These targets add up to a total of 580 million tons of standard coal by 2020, plus nuclear power, which basically ensures the completion of the 15% non-fossil energy development target for 2020, To achieve non-fossil energy accounts for 20% of the primary energy consumption target to lay a solid foundation.

What China built in 2015

China’s investment of $110 billion accounts for no less than 33% of the global green investment of $329 billion in 2015 – itself a world record total. China’s investment matches the combined total of the next two industrial powers, namely the US ($56 billion) and the EU ($58.5 billion).

In 2015, China invested 139.6 billion yuan (around US$21 billion) in new coal-fired power stations.

In 2015 China's investment in hydro amounted to 78.2 billion yuan (or US$11.7 billion) and in nuclear power investment was 56 billion yuan (or US$8.4 billion).

Renewables (incluging hydr) will still only account for just 15% of overall energy consumption by 2020, equivalent to 580m tonnes of coal.

More than half of the nation’s installed power capacity will still be fueled by coal over the same period.

China had aimed to boost natural gas output by 13.26% in 2016 and had set a lower production target for crude oil in a bid to raise the share of natural gas in the country's energy mix to 6.3%. The targets had been set to meet the government's goal of raising domestic natural gas consumption to 6.3% of total energy consumption of 4.34 billion mt of standard coal equivalent in 2016.

China plans to boost natural gas to 10% of the energy mix by 2020

Scalar Tensor Theory of gravitation to explain EMDrive

Arxiv - Revaluation of Mbelek and Lachièze-Rey scalar tensor theory of gravitation to explain the measured forces in asymmetric resonant cavities

EMDrives are claimed to be propellentless space propulsion systems. If propellentless propulsion is possible it could enable fast human travel throughout the solar system and possible interstellar missions.

The scalar-tensor theory of gravitation proposed by Mbelek and Lachièze-Rey has been shown to lead to a possible explanation of the forces measured in asymmetric resonant microwave cavities. However, in the derivation of the equations from the action principle some inconsistencies were observed, like the need no to vary the electromagnetic invariant in a scalar source term. Also, the forces obtained were too high, in view of reconsideration of the experiments originally reported and of newly published results. In the present work the equations are re-derived using the full variation of the action, and also the constant of the theory re-evaluated employing the condition that no anomalous gravitational effects are produced by the earth's magnetic field. It is shown that the equations originally employed were correct, and that the newly evaluated constant gives the correct magnitude for the forces recently reported

The scalar-tensor (ST) gravitational theory of Mbelek and Lachièze-Rey (MLR), allows electromagnetic (EM) fields to modify the space-time metric far more strongly than predicted by General Relativity and standard ST theories.
The theory was applied in cosmological and galactic contexts, and it was used to explain the discordant measurements of Newton gravitational constant as due to the effect of the earth’s magnetic field. It was further shown that a ST theory of the MLR type could explain the unusual forces on asymmetric resonant cavities reported at that time. However, in the derivation of the equations from the action principle some inconsistencies were observed, and also the forces obtained, after reconsideration of the experiments originally reported and new results were too high. In the present work the equations are re-derived using the full variation of the action, and the constant of the theory re-evaluated with the consideration that no anomalous gravitational effects are produced by the earth’s magnetic field. It is shown that the originally employed equations were correct, and that employing the new evaluated constant a correct magnitude for the forces reported recently is obtained.

January 04, 2017

Image Sensor chip key to augmented reality in smartphone

The REAL3™image sensor chip from Infineon Technologies AG plays a key role in the newest innovative Augmented Reality (AR) smartphone by ASUS. The mobile device was launched yesterday at International CES ® 2017 (International Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. The ASUS Zenfone AR is the world’s thinnest smartphone that offers a 3D Time-of-Flight (ToF) camera for 3-dimensional perception of its surroundings in real-time.

AR enriches the perception of the real environment with written text as well as virtual objects that are embedded in correct scale and realistic perspective. For instance, these virtual objects may be animated animals or domino bricks in gaming applications. Projecting virtual furniture into a real home environment before ordering items at an online store is another application example. Besides consumer applications, AR can also be used in industrial manufacturing for maintenance of complex equipment and construction.

MEMS LIDAR chip for less than $250 will make affordable self driving cars

Infineon is using a micro-electro-mechanical system (MEMS) to make a low cost LIDAR chip. This particular MEMS was invented by Innoluce, a Dutch firm which Infineon bought in October 2016. The device consists of an oval-shaped mirror, just 3mm by 4mm, contained on a bed of silicon. The mirror is connected to actuators that use electrical resonance to make it oscillate from side to side, changing the direction of the laser beam it is reflecting. This, says Infineon, permits the full power of the laser to be used for scanning instead of its light being dispersed, as it would be in a flash-based system.

The MEMS lidar can scan up to 5,000 data points from a scene every second, and has a range of 250 meters, says Ralf Bornefeld, Infineon’s head of automotive sense and control. Despite its moving mirror, he thinks it should prove as robust and reliable as any other silicon chip. In mass production and attached to, say, a windscreen, the MEMS lidar is expected to cost a carmaker less than $250. These tiny lidars would have other applications, too—in robots and drones, for example.

Many engineers, Mr Bornefeld included, reckon autonomous cars of the future will use multiple miniature lidars, radars, ultrasonic sensors and digital cameras. Each system of sensors has advantages and disadvantages, he says. Combining them will provide a “safety cocoon” around an autonomous vehicle.

AlphaGo won 60 out of 61 games against Go Masters online and tied a game because of internet connection timeout

DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis revealed in a tweet that the online game account Master was in fact a new version of AlphaGo.

“We’ve been working hard at improving AlphaGo, and over the past few days we’ve played some unofficial online games,” Hassabis said, adding that DeepMind is “excited by the results.”

Master beat the world number one player Ke Jie twice, and won 60 out of 61 games that it played, drawing the one it didn’t win outright due to an internet connection time out.

Since Dec. 29, Master has defeated a long list of top Go players including Korea’s Park Jung-hwan (world No. 3), Japan’s Iyama Yuta (No. 5) and Ke in fast-paced games. He won 51 games straight before his 52nd rival, Chen Yaoye, went offline, forcing the game to be recorded as a tie. By Jan. 4 when the test was completed, Master had racked up 60 wins, plus the one tie, and zero loss

Now that our unofficial testing is complete, Deepmind is looking forward to playing some official, full-length games later this year in collaboration with Go organisations and expert

Organ first identified by Leonardo da Vinci has received official organ designation

Researchers have classified a brand-new organ inside our bodies, one that's been hiding in plain sight in our digestive system this whole time.

One of the earliest descriptions of the mesentery was made by Leonardo da Vinci, and for centuries it was generally ignored as a type of insignificant attachment. Over the past century, doctors who studied the mesentery assumed it was a fragmented structure made of separate sections, which made it pretty unimportant.

But in 2012, Coffey and his colleagues showed through detailed microscopic examinations that the mesentery is actually a continuous structure.

"When we approach it like every other organ… we can categorise abdominal disease in terms of this organ," said Coffey.

That means that medical students and researchers will now investigate what role - if any - the mesentery might play on abdominal diseases, and that understanding will hopefully lead to better outcomes for patients.

The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology. - The mesentery: structure, function, and role in disease

Carnival of Space 490

The Carnival of Space is up at Everyday Spacer

Universe Today - NASA Might Build an Ice House on Mars

The “Mars Ice Home” is a large inflatable dome that is surrounded by a shell of water ice. NASA said the design is just one of many potential concepts for creating a sustainable home for future Martian explorers. The idea came from a team at NASA’s Langley Research Center that started with the concept of using resources on Mars to help build a habitat that could effectively protect humans from the elements on the Red Planet’s surface, including high-energy radiation.

Langley senior systems engineer Kevin Vipavetz who facilitated the design session said the team assessed “many crazy, out of the box ideas and finally converged on the current Ice Home design, which provides a sound engineering solution,” he said.

The advantages of the Mars Ice Home is that the shell is lightweight and can be transported and deployed with simple robotics, then filled with water before the crew arrives. The ice will protect astronauts from radiation and will provide a safe place to call home, NASA says. But the structure also serves as a storage tank for water, to be used either by the explorers or it could potentially be converted to rocket fuel for the proposed Mars Ascent Vehicle. Then the structure could be refilled for the next crew.

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