March 25, 2017

Russia designing submarine that will use composite materials for the hull and other parts and fire hypersonic Zircon missiles

Russia will start building multi-purpose nuclear-powered submarines of the fifth generation in 2020. Companies of the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) are ready to start the work in 2020, when 885 Yasen project is completed. The Russian Husky submarine will be the follow up to the Yasen submarine.

The new submarines will be smaller and cheaper than their Soviet-designed predecessors. Indeed, there are indications that Moscow will be extensively leveraging automation technologies developed for the Project 705 Lira-class attack submarine—better known in the West as the Alfa-class—for the new boats.

Russian analysts estimate that the next-generation submarines will displace no more than about 6,000-tons. Which means that another Soviet innovation might make a comeback—liquid metal cooled reactors.

Russia will also incorporate composite structures in its next-generation follow-on to the Project 855M Yasen-class in the 2020s. The next-generation Russian nuclear submarines may use composite structures in an attempt to drastically reduce their acoustical signatures.

The new composite materials are still in testing, but Russia will test its first composite propeller design in 2018. “This is one of our institute’s most promising projects,” Polovinkin said. “This trend reduces vibration in the blades and increases the efficiency of the screw. These various effects will help improve the ship’s acoustic signature.”

For the time being, engineers are designing the look of future submarines. The performance of the subs remains a secret. According to developers, performance characteristics will depend on requirements from the navy.

It is worthy of note that Project 885 Yasen stipulates for the construction of seven multi-purpose nuclear submarines. The main submarine of the project - Severodvinsk - has already been passed into service.

Earlier, Pravda.Ru reported that Russia was planning to launch Zircon hypersonic missiles in the spring of 2017 from a sea-based carrier. The launches are said to be conducted for the implementation of the concept of global non-nuclear deterrence. Zircon hypersonic missiles will be installed on board Yasen-M submarines, Husky submarines, as well as a number of surface ships.

Telsa reveals first Model 3 release candidate

Tesla revealed the first model 3 release candidate.

The model 3 is critical for Tesla to move toward mass market cars. It will cost about $35,000 and they have over 300,000 pre-orders. It could take Telsa from an 80,000 car per year company to 500,000 cars per year.

Global Military lasers see robust growth and soon will be over 1 billion in research and sales

Automotive, aerospace, energy, electronics, and communications (smartphones) materials processing applications continued to drive strong industrial laser sales. Of the three major industrial laser categories, the Micro category, which includes all applications using lasers with less than 500 Watts of power, climbed to 35% of the total laser market thanks to 105% growth in the sector that included display applications requiring excimer lasers­Coherent alone said in its third fiscal quarter 38 ended July 2, 2016, "As expected, we received significant orders for flat panel annealing lasers including a single order in excess of $100 million." The Macro category, including laser processes requiring over 500 Watts of power, is the largest (at 47%) of all laser revenues, thanks to fiber lasers that comprise 44% of all Macro revenues. And finally, Marking (including engraving) contributed about 18% of all laser revenues, with solid growth continuing at 3.9% dominated by fiber lasers representing 49% of total sales.

Laser sales for R and D applications will trend similarly to the global R and D spending rate of 3.5% in 2016, growing at a slightly better 4.2% to 471.4 million in 2016 compared to 2015. Companies like NKT Photonics (Birkerød, Denmark), who acquired Fianium (Southampton, England) for around $29 million in early 2016 to strengthen its position in ultrafast fiber lasers and supercontinuum lasers for scientific and metrology markets, is betting on a strong—or at least slow and steady— R and D growth market to solidify future sales. The military segment, however, offers a brighter laser future. For 2016, laser spending in the military segment reached $406.0 million, a 9.4% increase over 2015 spending levels amid improved demand for laser­ based military technology.

BAE concept for integrating drones and fighters that split into multiple vehicles

BAE Systems have lifted the lid on some futuristic technologies that could be incorporated in military and civil aircraft of 2040 or even earlier.

The Transformer is a flexible aircraft system that combines smaller jets for more efficient travel, before having them split apart to quickly adapt to any scenario.

The concept can be tailor-made to suit any scenario. For longer journeys, smaller sub-aircraft can be combined together during travel, to increase the range of the jet and save fuel through reducing 'drag'.

Once they have reached their objective however, the craft can then split off and adapt to any given situation -- whether that is going on the offensive if threatened, or performing functional tasks such as surveillance or the dropping of supplies.

BAE looked at having on board 3d printing.

Smaller unmanned aircraft -- or UAVs -- are created by super high-tech on-board 3D printers, via Additive Layer Manufacturing and robotic assembly techniques. The 3D printers respond to data fed to them by a remote control room where a human commander decides what should be produced.

The UAVs are best suited to each scenario -- be it a group of wide-winged aircraft for protracted or enduring surveillance -- or rotary-winged UAVs to rescue single civilians or soldiers from dangerous situations. After use the UAVs could render themselves useless through dissolving circuit boards or they might safely land in a recoverable position if re-use was required.

This creates the ultimate adaptable taskforce, with a lead aircraft able to enter any unknown scenario and quickly manufacture an effective toolset for any task.

Norway will build first ship tunnel that will be 121 feet tall and 87 feed wide and a mile long

Norwegian government has stated that they wish to proceed with a pilot project for a ship tunnel. They are working on the basis of the "large" tunnel alternative. This is considered to have greater potential utility value.

* 3 billion cubic meters (over 105 billion cubic ft) of solid rock removed.
* It will be more than a mile long, 121 feet tall and 87 feet wide
* from a maritime point of view this is still a canal, but with a "roof."
* expected daily average of 19 ships a day. The tunnel will have a 100 ship a day capacity.
* one-way traffic which will alternate every hour.
* The cost is estimated to be 1.7 billion kr, and construction may start in 2018.

It will provide an economic boost to the fishing industry and have some benefit for fast ferry service.

They will drill horizontally and use explosives to take out the roof part of the tunnel. Then all bolts and anchors to secure the roof rock before applying shotcrete. The rest of the tunnel will be done in the same way as in open mining. Vertical drilling and blasting with explosives down to the level of 12 m (42 ft) below the sea level.

Architecture and design firm Snøhetta will blast a tunnel through a 984 foot tall hill in the peninsula. A tunnel, the Norwegian government hopes, will help make the route safer.

Norway’s Stad peninsula is a notoriously difficult place for ships to pass through. As many as 100 days a year of hurricane weather create huge, choppy waves that give ships a very hard time sailing the coastline, delaying schedules and putting crews at risk.

March 24, 2017

Critical step in cellular repair of damaged DNA identified which could be big for reversing aging and human trials will start within six months

UNSW researchers have identified a critical step in the molecular process that allows cells to repair damaged DNA – and it could mean big things for the future of anti-ageing drugs, childhood cancer survivors and even astronauts. It could lead to a revolutionary drug that actually reverses ageing, improves DNA repair and could even help NASA get its astronauts to Mars.

Their experiments in mice suggest a treatment is possible for DNA damage from ageing and radiation. It is so promising it has attracted the attention of NASA, which believes the treatment can help its Mars mission.

While our cells have an innate capability to repair DNA damage − which happens every time we go out into the sun, for example – their ability to do this declines as we age.

The scientists identified that the metabolite NAD+, which is naturally present in every cell of our body, has a key role as a regulator in protein-to-protein interactions that control DNA repair.

Treating mice with a NAD+ precursor, or “booster,” called NMN improved their cells’ ability to repair DNA damage caused by radiation exposure or old age.

“The cells of the old mice were indistinguishable from the young mice, after just one week of treatment,” said lead author Professor David Sinclair of UNSW School of Medical Sciences and Harvard Medical School Boston.

Human trials of NMN therapy will begin within six months.

“This is the closest we are to a safe and effective anti-aging drug that’s perhaps only three to five years away from being on the market if the trials go well,” says Sinclair, who maintains a lab at UNSW in Sydney.

Science - A conserved NAD+ binding pocket that regulates protein-protein interactions during aging

An anti-ageing pill could be on the horizon

For the past four years, Professor Sinclair and Dr Wu have been working on making NMN into a drug substance with their companies MetroBiotech NSW and MetroBiotech International.

The human trials will begin this year at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston.

The findings on NAD+ and NMN add momentum to the exciting work the UNSW Laboratory for Ageing Research has done over the past four years.

They’ve been looking at the interplay of a number of proteins and molecules and their roles in the ageing process.

They had already established that NAD+ could be useful for treating various diseases of ageing, female infertility and also treating side effects of chemotherapy.

In 2003, Professor Sinclair made a link between the anti-ageing enzyme SIRT1 and resveratrol, a naturally occurring molecule found in tiny quantities in red wine.

“While resveratrol activates SIRT1 alone, NAD+ boosters activate all seven sirtuins, SIRT1-7, and should have an even greater impact on health and longevity,” he says.

French election in May 2018 will decide the future of Europe

The fate of the EU could be decided April 23-May 7, when the French vote for a new president in their elections. If a pro-European candidate doesn’t win there, the European project may instead be forced into a long, cold winter, and nationalist, protectionist and populist agendas may once again take the upper hand.

The French presidential elections, run in two rounds on April 23 and May 7.

Le Pen is very likely to advance to the second-round final vote with Emmanuel Macron, the leading centrist candidate. Both politicians poll at about 25% currently, well ahead of other contenders. In the second round, Le Pen is expected receive only around 35% of the votes. That is well below the poll numbers of 2016’s seminal election winners: the “Leave” campaign in the U.K., and Donald Trump in the U.S. elections. But a terror attack or political bombshell might still make Le Pen a real contender in that final round on May 7.

The reasons for that are multifold, but the fact that France was the European focal point for terror attacks in recent years, and has for years had a complicated relation to immigrants, certainly plays a major role.

A possible election of Le Pen in France would be much more fatal to the European project than Brexit.

France was the EU’s Founding ‘Motor’

France, unlike the U.K., was a founding member of the EU just as The Netherlands was. But more than The Netherlands, it was also the real motor behind the European integration, together with Germany. French politicians, particularly former EU Commission President Jacques Delors, are credited with shaping the European institutions we know today. Others, such as former President Francois Mitterrand, laid the foundations for the Franco-German tandem.

It is more likely that a moderately pro-European candidate will win the French elections with a more or less comfortable margin (65% to 35% according to projections).

However, experts had also predicted that Brexit would fail and that Hillary Clinton would become president of the United States in a landslide.

US Navy working on mostly automated 'Magic Carpet' aircraft carrier landings starting in 2019

When Magic Carpet software and systems are switched on, the USNavy pilot no longer directly controls the flaps, throttle, and so on. Instead, he or she chooses a path and the computer makes the fine adjustments to get and stay on it. Affecting one aspect of flight — angle, speed, alignment, and so on — still affects the others, but the pilot can focus on one at a time while the computer keeps the others under control. The pilot remains a crucial part of the system.

The system is expected to be released in 2019. In fact, the Naval Aviation Enterprise leadership told NAVAIR to deliver the system as is earlier than that because it performed so well.

The system takes on many of the stressful aspects of aircraft carrier landing, like having to gauge the course of landing with the moving ship and all of the things the pilot has to consider while doing it, such as adding and reducing power, adjusting the pitch, yaw and roll.

The system improves safety and efficiency for the pilots, taking much of the stress of landing off the pilot and putting it on the system.

India has 300 million people without electricity and will soon have the world's third largest hypersonic wind tunnel

India has parts which are very advanced and parts that are completely undeveloped.

Of the world’s 1.3 billion people who live without access to power, a quarter — about 300 million — live in rural India in states such as Bihar. Nighttime satellite images of the sprawling subcontinent show the story: Vast swaths of the country still lie in darkness. “It’s a matter of shame that 68 years after independence we have not been able to provide a basic amenity like electricity,” ­Piyush Goyal, India’s minister of state for power, coal and new and renewable energy, said recently.

The Indian government has launched an ambitious project to supply 24-hour power to its towns and villages by 2022 — with plans for miles of new feeder lines, infrastructure upgrades and solar micro­grids for the remotest areas.

India's progress in Space

ISRO (India's space agency) on Monday commissioned two major facilities -- a Hypersonic Wind Tunnel and Shock Tunnel -- at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram as part of its continuous and concerted efforts to minimise cost of access to space.

ISRO Chairman Kiran Kumar said commissioning of such facilities would provide adequate data for design and development of current and future space transportation systems in the country.

He said commissioning of the facility symbolizes the country's capability in establishing such world class facilities wherein technology from outside is restricted or not available.

The one meter Hypersonic Wind Tunnel and one meter Shock Tunnel have been established with a wide spectrum of simulation capabilities in terms of Mach number, Reynolds number and re-entry velocities, an official release said.

These facilities, indigenously designed, developed and 'Made in India' with the support of Indian industries, are the third largest in terms of size and simulation capability in the world, it said.

A few critical technologies, which are under embargo, have been jointly developed by ISRO and industries for realisation of these facilities.

VSSC Director Sivan in his presidential address said though excellent modeling capabilities exists with the advent of powerful computers, there was no other replacement for wind tunnel testing for aerodynamic characterisation.

The new facility would help aerodynamic characterisation of advanced space transportation systems, he said.

The facilities were dedicated in the memory of Satish Dhawan, a pioneer in the field and named as the Satish Dhawan Wind tunnel Complex.

ISRO is planning future missions such as Reusable Launch Vehicles, Two Stage to Orbit, Air Breathing propulsion systems and Human Space Flight Programme, the release added.

China exporting multi-trillion dollar investment infrastrcture led development to the world with One Belt One Road

One of the main factors driving the OBOR (One Belt One Road) effort is the slowdown in China’s own economy. The Communist Party is striving to transition away from growth led by investment and exports to development led by domestic consumer demand and services, and to keep growth at more sustainable levels than in the past. The government set a growth target of 6.5% in 2017 at the National People Congress in March, down from a 2016 target of 6.5% to 7%. In a sense, China is seeking to export the investment-led part of its economy, to help its own overbuilt heavy industries and provinces.

It will take a decade or more for the OBOR projects and construction to scale up to hundreds of billions of dollars per year where it will be a significant share of the business for major Chinese companies.

Compared to the size of China’s steel industry or other industries, it would take a very long time for demand from the projects to be big enough to make a difference, he says. “Many of the projects are far away from China, and some types of steel are worth transporting but not all kinds of steel. It would not help reduce excess capacity of cement because it is not economically viable to transport cement over such long distances,” Kuijs says. Bottelier, also, sees overcapacity as only a marginal factor in the OBOR plan.

Already, more than US$900 billion in projects are planned or underway, Fitch Ratings says in a report titled “China’s One Belt and One Road Initiative Brings Risks.” It says most funding will likely come from China’s policy banks, the Export and Import Bank of China, China Development Bank and its largest commercial banks. “We estimate that outstanding loans from Chinese banks total US$1.2 trillion, and a large portion of that has financed infrastructure projects involving Chinese state-owned enterprises,” the report says. China also has other major financial resources such as its sovereign wealth fund and foreign exchange reserves.

One project that got a head start was construction of a railway link from the port of Piraeus in Greece to Eastern Europe. Piraeus is a gateway to Europe for Chinese products, and major Chinese companies have been using the port to enter the European market. China, through its China Ocean Shipping Company, bought a 67% stake in the port’s Pier I from the Piraeus Port Authority SA in January 2016.

The Japan and U.S.-led Asian Development Bank says infrastructure development in Asia and the Pacific will exceed $22.6 trillion through 2030, or $1.5 trillion per year. In a recent report, “Meeting Asia’s Infrastructure Needs” issued in February, the estimate rises to more than $26 trillion, or $1.7 trillion a year when costs for climate change adaptation and mitigation are included. “This is a grand vision, and it may take a decade, but there is no rush. You cannot really put any number on the total investment,” says Rajiv Biswas, Singapore-based Asia-Pacific chief economist at IHS Global Insight.

Gene sequencing for rapid diagnosis of tuberculosis and prompt initiation of correct life saving treatment

British scientists have made a world-first breakthrough in the diagnosis of tuberculosis using gene sequencing. The diagnosis can be made in days instead of months. This will enable the prompt treatment with the correct drugs.

Researchers in Oxford and Birmingham say they can isolate different strains of the disease using a process called genome sequencing.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the breakthrough "will save lives".

Speedy diagnosis means patients can begin their recovery much quicker and also reduces the chances of the infection being spread.

Consultant microbiologist Dr Grace Smith said: "We're able to provide information on the species of the organism and the drugs to which it may be resistant if it's TB."

Public Health England says it is the first time anyone in the world has applied the technique on such a large scale.

The breakthrough comes after experts warned that a rise in drug-resistant strains of TB was threatening to derail efforts to eradicate the disease.

A new study found one in five global cases of the disease is now resistant to at least one major treatment drug.

Africa will triple its urban population 500 million to 1.5 billion in 2050 will need China to help avoid mass slumification

The proportion of Africans living in urban areas soared from 15 percent in 1960 to 40 percent in 2010. It's projected to hit 60 percent in 2050. Against that backdrop, the big challenge for government policymakers is how to harness urbanization for sustainable and inclusive growth.

"There is a high rate of rural-urban migration, and an increasing number of slums and squatter settlements in urban areas across Africa," Obitou says. "This kind of migration has brought shortages of adequate housing, basic infrastructure and services - in addition To contribute to overcrowding and congestion, and increasing exposure to environmental hazards. However, with proper planning, we will be able to manage our urbanization process.

Africa will go from 1.2 billion people today to about 2.5 billion in 2050.
The urban population will go from about 500 million today to 1.5 billion in 2050.

China, during its rapid urbanization, was able to successfully controlled the number of slums, for example.

In most of the African countries, extreme poverty is more prominent in rural areas than in urban centers; hence, urbanization seems to be an effective method for providing better services and livelihoods to millions of Africans - as abrations in China - he says.

According to the world Bank, a cornerstone of China's urbanization strategy has been the hukou or household registration system to control migration, and trying to channel migrants to small medium-sized cities.

Another key element is the devolution of public services and many administration functions to city governments. In 2005, Chinese citizens' degree of satisfaction with local governments rose to 72 percent - surplus higher than in many other countries, including the United States.

China can help Africa to strengthen its city management and planning, so that cities do a better job of looking ahead and improved congestion, pollution and the emergence of urban slums.

China will also likely expand its funding and construction of infrastructure and large scale construction processes in Africa.

Across Africa, Chinese companies are building highways, railways, sports stadiums, mass housing complexes, and sometimes entire cities.

But China isn’t just providing the manpower to fuel quickly urbanizing African cities. It is exporting its own version of urbanization, creating cities and economic zones that look remarkably similar to Chinese ones.

Since 2005, Chinese businesses have invested an estimated $120 billion in sub-Saharan Africa . And don't expect China's focus on Africa to decrease over the next decade.

According to South China Morning Post, China's central government and state-owned banks will help finance $1 trillion in projects in Africa through 2025 -- 70-80 percent of which will come from the Export-Import Bank of China -- with a specific focus on infrastructure projects.

Office of Naval Research shows new Navy BAE railgun test

The Office of Naval Research and Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, conduct the first shot of the Railgun at the terminal range November 17, 2016.

There are also current tests of with an Army Howitzer is now firing a super high-speed, high-tech, electromagnetic Hyper Velocity Projectile.

Hypervelocity projectiles from regular howitzers and navy 5 inch guns would be mach 3 and have 60 to 100 mile range.
Full railguns are mach 6 to mach 10 weapons with a range up to 250 miles.
Regular navy guns with regular shells have to 10-35 mile range.

Two separate breakthroughs will combine for unlimited youthful blood for antiaging and immune system boosting transfusions

Two separate breakthroughs will combine for unlimited youthful blood for antiaging and immune system boosting transfusions
1. Immortalized cell lines can enable factory mass produced red blood cells
2. An activated protein can make blood youthful which boosts immune systems

This could be the first cells and tissue that could be immortalized and used for rejuvenation.

It could be possible to have regular resupply (two to four times per year or more often with automation) of youthful cells and tissues for health maintenance and as antiaging treatment. This would be combined with treatments to clear old cells more rapidly from the body.

Researchers have generated the first immortalised cell lines which allow more efficient manufacture of red blood cells. The team, from the University of Bristol and NHS Blood and Transplant, were able to manufacture red blood cells in a more efficient scale than was previously possible.

The results, published in Nature Communications, could, if successfully tested in clinical trials, eventually lead to a safe source of transfusions for people with rare blood types, and in areas of the world where blood supplies are inadequate or unsafe.

Previously, research in this field focused on growing donated stem cells straight into mature red blood cells. However that method presently produces small numbers of mature cells and requires repeat donations.

The world-leading team in Bristol have now developed a robust and reproducible technique which allows the production of immortalised erythroid cell lines from adult stem cells. These premature red cells can be cultured indefinitely, allowing larger-scale production, before being differentiated into mature red blood cells.

Dr Jan Frayne, from the University of Bristol’s School of Biochemistry, said: “Previous approaches to producing red blood cells have relied on various sources of stem cells which can only presently produce very limited quantities. By taking an alternative approach we have generated the first human immortalised adult erythroid line (Bristol Erythroid Line Adult or BEL-A), and in doing so, have demonstrated a feasible way to sustainably manufacture red cells for clinical use from in vitro culture.

NHS Blood and Transplant needs to collect 1.5 million units of blood each year to meet the needs of patients across England and the ongoing need for life saving blood donations remains. It would be many years before manufactured cells could be available on a large scale.

NHS Blood and Transplant announced plans for in-man trials of manufactured blood in 2015. This first trial will not use Bel-A cells. The first trial, due to start by the end of 2017, will use manufactured red cells from stem cells in a normal blood donation.

Continuously expanding cells – images of the immortalised early erythroid cells, labelled with number of days since immortalisation, demonstrating no change in morphology of the cells with extended time in continuous culture.

Nature Communications - An immortalized adult human erythroid line facilitates sustainable and scalable generation of functional red cells

Separate work makes blood young which boosts immune systems

Researchers examined the bone marrow in mice, they found that older animals have much lower levels of a protein called osteopontin. To see if this protein has an effect on blood stem cells, the team injected stem cells into mice that lacked osteopontin and found that the cells rapidly aged.

But when older stem cells were mixed in a dish with osteopontin and a protein that activates it, they began to produce white blood cells just as young stem cells do. This suggests osteopontin makes stem cells behave more youthfully. “If we can translate this into a treatment, we can make old blood young again,” Geiger says.

Geiger’s team is developing a drug containing osteopontin and the activating protein to encourage blood stem cells to behave more youthfully. “It should boost the immune system of elderly people,” he says.

Such a drug might have benefits beyond fighting infection and alleviating anaemia. The team also think the protein will boost levels of mother stem cells. Having only a small number of such cells has been linked to heart disease, so Geiger says there is a chance that boosting them may help prevent this.

Osteopontin might also be useful for treating age-linked blood disorders, such as myelodysplasias that involve dysfunctional cells, says Martin Pera of the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine. “It is possible that rejuvenating bone marrow stem cells could help with these conditions,” he says.

Osteopontin attenuates aging‐associated phenotypes of hematopoietic stem cells

March 23, 2017

Traditional semiconductor CMOS scaling at end of roadmap in 2024 then it is neuromorphic, quantum and other new systems

Traditional semiconductor scaling is expected to reach an end by about 2024, according to a white paper from engineers working on a new version of the semiconductor roadmap. The good news is a wide variety of new kinds of devices, chip stacks and systems innovations promise to continue benefits in computing performance, power and cost.

“Die cost reduction has been enabled so far by concurrent scaling of poly pitch, metal pitch, and cell height scaling. This [will likely] continue until 2024,” according to one of nine white papers published today as part of the International Roadmap for Devices and Systems.

Beyond that date “there is no room for contact placement as well as worsening performance as a result of contacted poly pitch (CPP) scaling. It is projected that physical channel length would saturate around 12nm due to worsening electrostatics while CPP would saturate at 24nm to reserve sufficient CD (~11nm) for the device contact providing acceptable parasitics,” the white paper reported.

A preliminary version of a paper on new system architectures notes “many organizations are proposing remedies [to the end of Moore’s law] based on new device physics. Representative new devices include neuromorphic circuits, quantum qubits, spintronics, and many others. These new devices represent a significant broadening of the search space over the previous focus on CMOS and the microprocessor…[showing a wide] deviation from the current path.”

To enable such new architectures, the roadmap also includes a new section on applications benchmarks. It identifies 11 areas for tracking, spanning a broad range of computing styles.

A new section on system interconnects lays out broad challenges for both wired and wireless links. They include “increased use of germanium and III-V [materials] and possibly integration of these on silicon CMOS platforms” for advanced RF circuits.

The analysis of the future of semiconductors is here.

A preliminary paper that starts to scope out what comes after is here

CRISPR/Cas9 Reveals Cancer’s Synthetic Lethal Vulnerabilities

The CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing system has been used to identify more than 120 synthetic-lethal gene interactions in cancer cells. These interactions could guide drug developers to new combination therapies that could selectively kill cancer cells and spare healthy cells.

Synthetic-lethal gene interactions may occur when certain pairs of mutated genes are present. When there is a mutation in either of these genes within a cell, the cell remains viable. But when there are mutations in both genes, the result is cell death. Synthetic-lethal gene interactions are especially important in the context of cancer therapies. If at least one of the genes in the interaction is specific to cancer, then a drug that inhibits the other gene would selectively kill only cancer cells.

The method appeared March 20 in the journal Nature Methods, in an article entitled “Combinatorial CRISPR–Cas9 Screens for De Novo Mapping of Genetic Interactions.”

“We developed a systematic approach to map human genetic networks by combinatorial CRISPR–Cas9 perturbations coupled to robust analysis of growth kinetics,” wrote the article’s authors. “We targeted all pairs of 73 cancer genes with dual guide RNAs in three cell lines, comprising 141,912 tests of interaction.”

In this article, the UC San Diego team described how they used the gene-editing technique CRISPR/Cas9 to simultaneously test for thousands of synthetic-lethal interactions. The researchers designed a CRISPR/Cas9 system with two guide RNAs: (1) one that targets a tumor suppressor gene that is commonly mutated in cancer and (2) one that targets a gene that could also be disrupted by a cancer drug. They deployed this system against 73 genes in three laboratory cell lines—human cervical cancer, lung cancer, and embryonic kidney cells. Then they measured cell growth and death.

“Numerous therapeutically relevant interactions were identified, and these patterns replicated with combinatorial drugs at 75% precision,” the authors noted. “From these results, we anticipate that cellular context will be critical to synthetic-lethal therapies.”

"The ovarian cancer drug olaparib works by synthetic lethality—it inhibits a gene that, when a BRCA gene is also mutated, kills just those cancer cells," said John Paul Shen, M.D., clinical instructor and postdoctoral fellow at UC San Diego School of Medicine and Moores UCSD Cancer Center. "Many other cancers could likely be treated this way as well, but we don't yet know which gene mutation combinations will be synthetic-lethal."

They are scaling their cancer genetic networks maps so they can systematically identify new combination therapies.

CRISPR gene therapy is enhancing t-cell immnotherapy treatment of cancer and treatments in people could be available within 2 to 3 years

Marcela V. Maus, M.D., Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School identified three important improvements that CRISPR gene editing could potentially bring to T-cell-based therapies.

1. being more-effective tumor responses.
2. the targeted nature of CRISPR-mediated CAR integration into the genome might “prove safer than random integration, which carries the potential risk of generating a harmful mutation,” Dr. Maus wrote.
3. It could enable off-the-shelf CAR T cells to be made that need not come from a patient's own T cells. This would enable easier and cheaper manufacture of CAR T cells.

New gene-editing technologies will likely lead to rapid improvement in antigen-targeted T-cell immunotherapies for cancer.

David Edgell, an associate professor of biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario, thinks CRISPR treatments could be available within the next two to three years, with modified T-cells used to treat some types of cancer (there are already clinical trials for lung cancer in China, and a similar one slated to take place at the University of Pennsylvania was approved last June by the National Institutes of Health

CAR T cells created with CRISPR were less likely to stop recognizing and attacking tumor cells after a certain time point, a phenomenon researchers call “exhaustion."

Based on three measures of exhaustion, less than 2% of CRISPR-created T cells showed signs of exhaustion, compared with up to half of conventionally engineered CAR T cells.

Using CRISPR, researchers have genetically engineered immune cells and improved the ability of these cells to kill cancer cells in mice.

The cells were modified to express proteins on their surfaces called chimeric antigen receptors (CARs), which enabled the cells to recognize and attack cancer cells that expressed the corresponding antigen.

In experiments with the mice, immune cells that had been engineered to express CARs using CRISPR were more effective at killing tumor cells than immune cells engineered using conventional methods.

Nature - Targeting a CAR to the TRAC locus with CRISPR/Cas9 enhances tumour rejection

LPP Fusion working on Tungsten anode relatedmimpurities and in the summer will have experiments with new Beryllium Cathode

Hardric Labs in Massachusetts has reported to LPPFusion that its work on machining the new beryllium cathode is nearing completion and they expect to ship the finished piece in early March, only a few weeks behind their initial schedule. Since the beryllium anodes have already been received at the Middlesex NJ lab, we will soon have a complete set of beryllium electrodes ready for our next set of experiments. This will be an important milestone for the project, as our effort to obtain the beryllium electrodes began in mid-2014, as soon as our crowdfunding effort had raised the money needed for the new set. Beryllium is crucial to the next step in the experiment for two reasons. First, as a light element with an atomic charge, or “z”, of only 4, it will eliminate any high-z impurities in the plasma, optimizing FF-1’s performance. Second, beryllium is highly transparent to x-rays, so will be much better able to withstand the heavy x-ray flux from the plasmoid as we increase fusion yields.

Once our current experiments with tungsten are complete, we will still need two or three months to prepare for the beryllium experiments. For one thing, our vacuum chamber will need a new coating of titanium oxide to coat over any remaining tungsten in the chamber. But with the electrodes soon to be in hand, we can be confident that the next set of experiments will be under way in the summer.

The Tungsten experiments have slow going because of the need to remove impurities from the fusion chamber.

Beryllium cathode for next experiment being machined at Hardric Lab. In Mass

If this shoestring budget effort were to succeed they would be able to create superlow cost energy from nuclear fusion.

Vaccine that does not need refrigeration could save 500,000 lives each year from fatal diarrhoea

Positive outcome of trials in Niger fuels hope that vaccine can protect children in sub-Saharan Africa and beyond from infection that causes often fatal diarrhoea.

A vaccine capable of enduring scorching temperatures for months at a time could strike a decisive blow in the fight against rotavirus, preventing nearly half a million children around the world from dying of diarrhoea each year.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has hailed successful trials of the BRV-PV vaccine in Niger as a “game changer” in tackling rotavirus infection, which is the leading cause of severe diarrhoea globally and claims the lives of an estimated 1,300 children daily, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to results published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the vaccine has proven as effective as those currently used to treat severe gastroenteritis. Trials in Niger’s Maradi region successfully treated 4,000 children under the age of two.

Unlike existing vaccines, the BRV-PV vaccine does not require refrigeration and can remain stable for up to one year at 37C or six months at 40C. It is particularly effective against the strains of rotavirus found in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as affordable: at only $2.50 (£2), the vaccine could potentially be rolled out quickly in routine immunisation programmes.

“This is a game-changer,” said Dr Micaela Serafini, MSF’s medical director. “We believe that the new vaccine can bring protection against rotavirus to the children who need it most.”

Diarrhoea is the second largest cause of death in infants and children worldwide, primarily in low-income countries where access to clean water and sanitation is limited. Rotavirus is highly contagious, particularly among babies and young children, and can be spread by contaminated hands, objects such as toys and surfaces, and water and food.

Children in the world’s poorest countries account for 82% of rotavirus deaths, but vaccines make a significant difference. In Mexico, diarrhoeal deaths among children under five declined by as much as 50% after rotavirus vaccines were introduced.

A nurse administers a rotavirus vaccine to a baby in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, as part of a 2014 public health initiative. Photograph: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

Automated collision avoidance and driver assistance will help Tesla model 3 drivers avoid 9 out of 10 accidents

Driver-assist hardware and software included in the Model 3 will make the $35,000 car 10 times safer than the average car.

Both Tesla and NHTSA assert that safety is also higher when Autopilot is activated. So, Model 3 customers who upgrade to the full Enhanced Autopilot, which includes automatic lane changes, steering, and parking, the ability to "summon" the vehicle short distances, and more, will likely benefit from even a higher level safety -- and this seems to be the safety Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas is referring to in his note to investors.

If Tesla achieves its goal, be an order of magnitude (i.e. 10x) safer than the average car on the road. According to nearly every OEM we talk to, safety is the number 1 determinant of car purchases. Look for safety to be the "ah-hah!" moment for this car due to launch this year ... To be clear, we are talking about automated driving (not fully autonomous driving) where the driver has a legal obligation to keep hands on the wheel at all times. The driver is still human... but with a 'superhuman' assist.

All new Tesla vehicles now include eight surround cameras with 360-degree visibility and up to 250 meters of range and 12 improved ultrasonic sensors. In addition, Tesla recently released an important and unprecedented update for its forward-facing radar sensor, enabling it to serve as a primary control sensor alongside the company's vision system -- a move Tesla believes will result in "a dramatic improvement in the safety of the vehicle."
Reducing car crashes by 90%

According to a recent analysis by NHTSA, Tesla is already making substantial progress in safety. The safety organization concluded Tesla Autopilot-equipped vehicles saw crash rates drop by 40% compared to vehicles without the technology. And this was notably a study of vehicles produced before Tesla started rolling out its updated Autopilot hardware in October last year.

Some aging reversal in appearance, liver, muscle and other functions with cell penetrating peptides in very old mice

Researchers have rejuvenated old mice to restore their stamina, coat of fur and even some organ function. The team at Erasmus University Medical Center, in the Netherlands, are planning human trials for what they hope is a treatment for old age. A UK scientist said the findings were "impossible to dismiss", but that unanswered questions remained. The approach works by flushing out retired or "senescent" cells in the body that have stopped dividing.

They tested it on mice that were just old (the equivalent of 90 in mouse years), those genetically programmed to age very rapidly and those aged by chemotherapy.

The findings, published in the journal Cell, showed liver function was easily restored and the animals doubled the distance they would run in a wheel.

Dr de Keizer said: "We weren't planning to look at their hair, but it was too obvious to miss.

The drug was given three times a week and the experiments have been taking place for nearly a year.

With life expectancy projected to increase in the foreseeable future, it is important to develop strategies to extend and restore healthspan. Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) are relatively understudied in aging research. Further analysis of their use is warranted as they serve several major advantages. Counter to broad-range inhibitors, CPPs can in theory target any surface-exposed stretch of amino acids to block specific protein-protein interactions and, in doing so, they can selectively modulate very specific downstream signaling events (discussed in de Keizer (2017))). Other compounds, classified as senolytics, have been described to influence senescent cell viability. As a CPP, FOXO4-DRI differs from these by being designed around a specific amino acid sequence in a molecular target only mildly expressed in most normal tissues (see e.g., Figures S2J and S2K). Though a more thorough analysis is required, at least as far as tested here FOXO4-DRI appears to be well tolerated, which is an absolutely critical milestone to pass when aiming to treat relatively healthy aged individuals.

FOXO4-DRI effectively disrupts the p53-FOXO4 interaction, but the importance of the FOXO4 protein itself is more complicated in DNA damage and senescence. As FOXO4-DRI causes nuclear exclusion of active p53, the levels of p21Cip1 decline. However, the loss of p21Cip1 alone is insufficient to induce apoptosis and was actually shown to induce a senescence-escape instead (Brown et al., 1997). Rather, the exclusion of p53 itself has been reported to induce apoptosis directly when relocated to mitochondria (Mihara et al., 2003), thereby explaining the FOXO4-DRI effects. FOXO4 shRNAs induce apoptosis in senescent IMR90, arguing that full FOXO4 inhibition might also be of use against senescence. True as this may be, chronic FOXO4 reduction is not advisable as FOXOs play a role in DNA-damage repair and Foxo4−/− mice are susceptible to acute damage (Zhou et al., 2009). In contrast to loss of FOXO4, FOXO4-DRI does not sensitize healthy cells to acute DNA damage (Figure 4G). Thus, while permanent FOXO4 inhibition is inapplicable, the fact that as a CPP it can block a specific protein-protein interaction makes FOXO4-DRI selective and thereby well tolerated and effective.

Based on these positive effects, it is now possible to envision a point on the horizon where the disease indications are identified that could benefit most from FOXO4-DRI therapy. High SASP-secreting cells are likely to play a much larger role in disease development than more sterile senescent cells. Through SASP, senescent cells may permanently confer a state of stemness in neighboring cells and thereby impair tissue function and renewal, an effect that we recently described in the senescence-stem lock model for aging (de Keizer, 2017). FOXO4-DRI has a strong preference for targeting high-SASP subpopulations of senescent cells, but it is unclear what causes heterogeneity in the SASP. It will be a major achievement to unravel those mechanisms and to steer these such that therapeutic targeting is most beneficial. In that sense, identification of senescence-driven pathologies that rely on SASP may help in optimizing candidates for therapy. XpdTTD/TTD is a pleiotropic model for aging that can be effectively used as a basis for such research. It is a well-established model for osteoarthritis, especially in cohorts of older age than we used here (52 weeks) (Botter et al., 2011) and for the unhealthy loss in muscle (sarcopenia) and fat mass.

Last, it is relevant to note that independent of aging and age-related diseases, FOXO4-DRI may be of use against the progression, stemness, and migration of malignant cancer. Given that SASP factors influence these (Campisi, 2013), it will be particularly interesting to determine whether FOXO4-DRI affects those p53-wt cancer cells that have adopted a more migratory and stem-like state due to reprogramming by chronic SASP exposure. In any case, the here reported beneficial effects of FOXO4-DRI provide a wide range of possibilities for studying the potential of therapeutic removal of senescence against diseases for which few options are available.

Fightaging points out we really have little idea as to how the life extension observed in mice lacking senescent cells will scale in humans. Near all methods of extending life in mice to date have been based on modestly slowing aging, changing the operation of metabolism to reduce the rate at which molecular damage accrues. Short-lived species like mice have a much greater response to this sort of thing than do humans, demonstrated when we compare the effects of calorie restriction and growth hormone receptor loss of function mutations. In mice these can extend life by as much as half again, but if that was the case in humans, we'd have certainly noticed by now. Clearing senescent cells is a completely different form of therapy, however, a type of damage repair carried out intermittently rather than an ongoing slowing of damage. I know of no such approach that has been tried in both mice and humans, and thus there is no basis for comparison.

  • A modified FOXO4-p53 interfering peptide causes p53 nuclear exclusion in senescent cells
  • This FOXO4 peptide induces targeted apoptosis of senescent cells (TASC)
  • TASC neutralizes murine liver chemotoxicity from doxorubicin treatment
  • TASC restores fitness, hair density, and renal function in fast and naturally aged mice


The accumulation of irreparable cellular damage restricts healthspan after acute stress or natural aging. Senescent cells are thought to impair tissue function, and their genetic clearance can delay features of aging. Identifying how senescent cells avoid apoptosis allows for the prospective design of anti-senescence compounds to address whether homeostasis can also be restored. Here, we identify FOXO4 as a pivot in senescent cell viability. We designed a FOXO4 peptide that perturbs the FOXO4 interaction with p53. In senescent cells, this selectively causes p53 nuclear exclusion and cell-intrinsic apoptosis. Under conditions where it was well tolerated in vivo, this FOXO4 peptide neutralized doxorubicin-induced chemotoxicity. Moreover, it restored fitness, fur density, and renal function in both fast aging XpdTTD/TTD and naturally aged mice. Thus, therapeutic targeting of senescent cells is feasible under conditions where loss of health has already occurred, and in doing so tissue homeostasis can effectively be restored.

Cell - Targeted Apoptosis of Senescent Cells Restores Tissue Homeostasis in Response to Chemotoxicity and Aging

China working on reusing rocket stages and will try to use parachutes and airbags to recover stages

China is developing a rocket stage and engine recovery system at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in Beijing.

It uses using a set of multiple parachutes, which are stored in the first stage of the rocket, which is released from the rest of the craft before it burns its way through the Earth's atmosphere.

An airbag inflates under the discarded part of the rocket, which cushions impact when it finally hits the ground.

In 2011, Spacex tried to use parachutes for a stage recovery. Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX's president, admitted in 2011: "We have recovered pieces of the first stages." The first stages weren't even getting as far as deploying their parachutes – they were breaking up during atmospheric re-entry.

A similar program was announced by Roscosmos in mid-2016 when they formed a department dealing with the returned systems. China and Russia may cooperate on recoverable and reusable rocket stage development.

The initial miniparachute system has to prevent the stage from breaking up and needs to stabilize it for re-entry.

SpaceX has performed a series of successful vertical landings (rockets used to slow down and land the stage) which demonstrate the technology the feasibility, but Chinese paper has rejected the approach.

Deng wrote that the vertical landing system needed additional fuel for landing, which icons rockets could only carry smaller payloads into space.

The Falcon rocket development is to increase the thrust and reduce the number of rocket engine. That is also why China, As well as airbus, Boeing and Lockheed Martin did not use the technology, "Deng said.

China has yet to the official rule out the vertical landing technology to recover rockets, according to Xinhua. A final decision will be made before 2020, the report said.

The final goal was to hit a small recovery zone as exactly as the vertical landing zone, which will be assisted by multiple sensors and a sophisticated flight control system to guide the descent.

Professor Sun Yi, the director of the aerospace science and mechanics department at the Harbin Institute of Technology, said he had concerns about the parachute-assisted landing system as it could have a miss a target area in high winds.

"Falcon 9 can be brought back to the launch pad, or even land on a ship. With a parachute you may hit a mountain top or end up in thick forest on a tropical island," he said.

Sun also doubted whether the air bag could significantly adequate impact during the landing of a heavy rocket.

"Even a mild shock can cause damage to the components in rocket engines," he said.

Tissue created with microblood vessel network and integrated the tissue into mice - a major advance for bioprinting organs

New research, led by nanoengineering professor Shaochen Chen, addresses one of the biggest challenges in tissue engineering: creating lifelike tissues and organs with functioning vasculature —networks of blood vessels that can transport blood, nutrients, waste and other biological materials — and do so safely when implanted inside the body.

Researchers from other labs have used different 3D printing technologies to create artificial blood vessels. But existing technologies are slow, costly and mainly produce simple structures, such as a single blood vessel — a tube, basically. These blood vessels also are not capable of integrating with the body’s own vascular system.

“Almost all tissues and organs need blood vessels to survive and work properly. This is a big bottleneck in making organ transplants, which are in high demand but in short supply,” said Chen, who leads the Nanobiomaterials, Bioprinting, and Tissue Engineering Lab at UC San Diego. “3D bioprinting organs can help bridge this gap, and our lab has taken a big step toward that goal.”

Chen’s lab has 3D printed a vasculature network that can safely combine with a host network to circulate blood. The blood vessels branch out into many series of smaller vessels, similar to the blood vessel structures found in the body.

Chen’s team developed an innovative bioprinting technology, using their own homemade 3D printers, to rapidly produce intricate 3D microstructures that mimic the sophisticated designs and functions of biological tissues. Chen’s lab team has used this technology in the past to create liver tissue and microscopic fish that can swim in the body to detect and remove toxins.

Researchers first create a 3D model of the biological structure on a computer. The computer then transfers 2D snapshots of the model to millions of microscopic-sized mirrors, which are each digitally controlled to project patterns of UV light in the form of these snapshots. The UV patterns are shined onto a solution containing live cells and light-sensitive polymers that solidify upon exposure to UV light. The structure is rapidly printed one layer at a time, in a continuous fashion, creating a 3D solid polymer scaffold encapsulating live cells that will grow and become biological tissue.

Digital model of a blood vessel network

The system used digital 3-D designs from a computer to guide a 3-D printer’s fabrication of blood vessels using biocompatible hydrogel materials. The device relied on ultraviolet light and about 2 million microscopic mirrors to guide the polymerization of the hydrogel materials into particular solid shapes. The designs from the computer dictated the angles of the microscopic mirrors to print the 3-D shape layer by layer.

The engineers created 2 versions of their 3-D blood vessel network. One was made using 2 hydrogels. The other was made with the 2 hydrogels plus 2 types of living cells. Each version measured about 4 mm by 5 mm (about the size of a pencil eraser) and was only 0.6 mm thick.
3-D printed blood vessels made with living cells (green and purple). Chen laboratory, Biomaterial

Biomaterials - Direct 3D bioprinting of prevascularized tissue constructs with complex microarchitecture

March 22, 2017

Navy focused on UAV just for refueling for faster development and deployment

Currently the US Navy refuels its carrier aircraft with its Super Hornet fleet. The tanking mission accounts from anywhere from 25 to 30 percent of Super Hornet sorties, further exacerbating the ongoing tactical aviation shortfalls in the service.

That demand – in part – is pushing the Navy to get a tanking UAV into service as soon as possible rather than creating a more multi-mission platform.

The Navy’s latest revision to the requirements seem to push all the competitors to a wing-body-tail design for Stingray rather than the flying wing concept both Lockheed and Northrop were thought to be developing for the MQ-25A program.

“The requirements have been defined to be a tanker, so you really don’t want to go with a tailless design if your primary requirement is associated tanking,” he said.

Wi-fi on rays of infrared light: 100 times faster at 40 gigabits per second, and never overloaded

Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology have come up with a solution to slow wifi. Use a wireless network based on harmless infrared rays. The capacity is not only huge (more than 40Gbit/s per ray) but also there is no need to share since every device gets its own ray of light. This was the subject for which TU/e researcher Joanne Oh received her PhD degree with the ‘cum laude’ distinction last week.

The system conceived in Eindhoven is simple and, in principle, cheap to set up. The wireless data comes from a few central ‘light antennas’, for instance mounted on the ceiling, which are able to very precisely direct the rays of light supplied by an optical fiber. Since there are no moving parts, it is maintenance-free and needs no power: the antennas contain a pair of gratings that radiate light rays of different wavelengths at different angles (‘passive diffraction gratings’). Changing the light wavelengths also changes the direction of the ray of light. Since a safe infrared wavelength is used that does not reach the vulnerable retina in your eye, this technique is harmless.

No interference

If you walk around as a user and your smartphone or tablet moves out of the light antenna’s line of sight, then another light antenna takes over. The network tracks the precise location of every wireless device using its radio signal transmitted in the return direction. It is a simple matter to add devices: they are assigned different wavelengths by the same light antenna and so do not have to share capacity. Moreover, there is no longer any interference from a neighboring wi-fi network.

Data capacity of light rays

Current wi-fi uses radio signals with a frequency of 2.5 or 5 gigahertz. The system conceived at TU Eindhoven uses infrared light with wavelengths of 1500 nanometers and higher; this light has frequencies that are thousands of times higher, some 200 terahertz.

which makes the data capacity of the light rays much larger. Joanne Oh even managed a speed of 42.8 Gbit/s over a distance of 2.5 meters. For comparison, the average connection speed in the Netherlands is two thousand times less (17.6 Mbit/s). Even if you have the very best wi-fi system available, you won’t get more than 300 Mbit/s in total, which is some hundred times less than the speed per ray of light achieved by the Eindhoven study. The Eindhoven system has so far used the light rays only to download; uploads are still done using radio signals since in most applications much less capacity is needed for uploading.

Five years

The work of doctoral student Oh is part of the wider BROWSE project headed up by professor of broadband communication technology Ton Koonen, and with funding from the European Research Council. Joanne Oh focused predominantly on the technology of data transmission via directable infrared light rays. Other PhDs are still working on the technology that tracks the location of all the wireless devices as well as on the essential central fiber-optic network connecting the light antennas. Koonen expects it will still be five years or more before the new technology will be in our stores. He thinks that the first devices to be connected to this new kind of wireless network will be high data consumers like video monitors, laptops or tablets.

Many devices at the same time

Koonen’s group is not the only one working on ‘indoor optical wireless networks’. A few other universities and research institutes around the world are also studying whether data can be transmitted via a room’s LED lighting. However, the drawback here is that the bandwidth is not high and that the connected devices still have to share. A few other groups are investigating network concepts in which infrared light rays are directed using movable mirrors. The disadvantage here is that this requires active control of the mirrors and therefore energy, and each mirror is only capable of handling one ray of light at a time. The grating used by Koonen and Oh can cope with many rays of light and, therefore, devices at the same time.

The work of Oh and Koonen comes under the auspices of the TU/e Institute for Photonic Integration, one of the world’s leading research institutes for ‘photonics’, the use of light (photons) rather than electricity (electrons) to transmit data.

Dig Once Bill would lower cost of fiber and broadband by up to 90% and has bipartisan support

Broadband Conduit Deployment Act of 2017 is being discussed at the The House Communications Subcommittee. President Donald Trump plans a trillion dollar infrastructure package that will almost certainly include broadband.

If the US adopts a "dig once" policy, construction workers would install conduits just about any time they build new roads and sidewalks or upgrade existing ones. These conduits are plastic pipes that can house fiber cables. The conduits might be empty when installed, but their presence makes it a lot cheaper and easier to install fiber later, after the road construction is finished.

The dig once bill requires states to evaluate the need for broadband conduit any time they complete a highway construction project that gets federal funding. Conduit must be installed if the evaluation, done in consultation with local and national telecom providers and equipment makers, "reveals an anticipated need in the next 15 years for broadband conduit." Projects should include enough conduits "to accommodate multiple broadband providers," the bill says.

Dig once doesn't have to be just for state and federal projects, as cities such as Boston and San Francisco already require it locally.

The tiny cost of installing conduit (about 1 percent in added costs) pales in comparison to the taxpayer burden of unnecessary digs, traffic congestion, and the opportunity cost of not having high-speed networks that both help support public services and grow the economy.

The policy can cut broadband costs by up to 90 percent.

Army testing 100 mph tracked ATV

The 750-horsepower, optionally manned EV2 is capable of reaching speeds of almost 100 miles per hour and costs roughly $250,000.

At 9,000 pounds, the Ripsaw is closer in size to the Humvee than a tank. For example, the Army’s M1A2 Abrams main battle tank tips the scales at more than 70 tons. Indeed, the Ripsaw isn’t even in the same weight class as an M1126 Stryker Combat Vehicle or M2/M3 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle.

Also, it doesn’t carry the same firepower. The Ripsaw is designed to accommodate the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station, which can mount any number of weapons — including the M2 .50-caliber machine gun, Mk19 40mm automatic grenade machine gun, M240B 7.62 mm machine gun and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. By comparison, the M1A2 tank’s main armament is the 120mm L/44 M256A1 smoothbore tank gun.

It doesn’t have any armor to speak of, just an aluminum frame.

The army has evaluated eight of the vehicles at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey to assess in part how remote weapons technology could be used in future combat operations.

The Army continues to research how it might incorporate armed unmanned ground vehicles into its combat formations. Last year, for example, a soldier operated an unmanned Ripsaw from a seat in an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier a kilometer away.

A humvee has a max speed of 70 mph.

China's low fertility rate will cause policies to shift and IVF to boom to millions per year and then mass embryo selection

Statistics released by the China Population Association (CPA) in 2013 revealed that the infertile population of the country has surpassed 40 million, making up 12.5 percent of the total population of childbearing age.

Some forecast that the Chinese baby boom by going to a full two child policy will fade after pent up demand is satisfied. Then the aging out of women of child bearing age will prevent policy from effecting birthrates.

IVF rates of 2000 to 3000 per million exist in developed countries. China was at 30,000 per year in 2013 but there has been an IVF boom with the increased wealth and with the two child policy.

IVF rates are still increasing worldwide and costs for IVF procedures are going down. There is also the freezing of eggs and embryos by younger women who would have eggs that would have higher success rates.

The success rate of IVF procedures in Thailand is around 10 percent higher than that in China, the Guangzhou Daily reported.

The success rate could reach 75 percent for female clients aged between 25 and 28. Although the rate drops over time, it is still higher than other Asian countries, medical staff at Jatanin institute were quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Meanwhile, IVF fees in Thailand are a mere between 80,000 and 100,000 yuan each time - much less than in the West. IVF fees can reach 160,000 yuan in the US.
The size of the upper middle class in urban settings was 14% of the overall urban population in 2012. Lower cost IVF procedures and a larger middle class could enable 50-60% of infertile population to afford IVF. A new Invitro fertilization method lowers the cost by 30 times to $250 (1700 yuan).

A more recent Boston Consulting Group estimate is that the number of upper middle-class and affluent households is forecast to double to 100 million by 2020. That will account for 30 percent of all urban households, compared to 17 percent today and 7 percent in 2010, according to BCG data. Upper middle-class households have an annual disposable income of between roughly $24,000 and $46,000.

Child benefits have also been shown to affect fertility rates. In 1988 Quebec introduced the Allowance for Newborn Children, which paid up to C$8,000 to families after the birth of a child. The incentive was large and rose with family size. Because the other provinces did not have similar policies, the study could compare people eligible for
the benefit in Quebec with a control group of Canadians outside Quebec with similar characteristics who were not eligible for payments. Fertility rose an average of 12% among those eligible for the program and rose to 25% for those eligible for the maximum benefit.

Policies that change the cost of having an additional child have also been shown to have a causal effect on childbearing. Israel changed its child subsidy over 1999–2005, raising and lowering it and adjusting it according to the number of children.

Nextbigfuture predicts the following for China, China fertility policy, birthrates and IVF usage.
- China will lift all child restrictions within 5 years
- China will introduce subsidies or coverage for IVF within 8 years
- China will introduce bonuses and financial incentives for children and for reducing childbearing costs within ten years

China will use these policies to increase the overall level of annual births to over 20 million per year from about 17 million per year now.

Molecular Psychiatry - Genetic contributions to variation in general cognitive function: a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in the CHARGE consortium

General cognitive function is substantially heritable across the human life course from adolescence to old age. We investigated the genetic contribution to variation in this important, health- and well-being-related trait in middle-aged and older adults. We conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of 31 cohorts (N=53 949) in which the participants had undertaken multiple, diverse cognitive tests. A general cognitive function phenotype was tested for, and created in each cohort by principal component analysis. We report 13 genome-wide significant single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) associations in three genomic regions, 6q16.1, 14q12 and 19q13.32.

The proportion of phenotypic variation accounted for by all genotyped common SNPs was 29% (s.e.=5%) and 28% (s.e.=7%), respectively. Using polygenic prediction analysis, ~1.2% of the variance in general cognitive function was predicted in the Generation Scotland cohort (N=5487; P=1.5 × 10−17). In hypothesis-driven tests, there was significant association between general cognitive function and four genes previously associated with Alzheimer’s disease: TOMM40, APOE, ABCG1 and MEF2C.

Stephen Hsu posted on the main genetic findings on intelligence. Stephen Hsu has written extensively on the genetic basis on intelligence and the near future of embryo selection. Stephen advises BGI the main genomics company of China.

There was a review of five years of genome-wide association studies in 2011.

Fantasy land climate change scenarios

The Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and CoalSwarm have released their third annual survey of the global coal plant pipeline, Boom and Bust 2017: Tracking The Global Coal Plant Pipeline. The report’s findings include a 62 percent drop in new coal plant construction starts globally, a 48 percent reduction in worldwide pre-construction activity, and an 85 percent decline in new Chinese coal plant permits.

According to the report, the combination of a slowed new coal plant pipeline and an increase in outdated coal plant retirements brings the possibility of holding global temperature increase to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels “within feasible reach,” provided countries continue to step up action.

This is a weird statement as China is still building coal plants and still plans to have more coal usage. It is only shaving the growth by half and that is mainly because of slower economic growth.

Nature discussed how the 1.5C and even the 2C scenarios are fantasy land scenarios.

On the low estimate for 1.5C degree change, the world is about 14 months away from using up the permitted CO2 emissions. On the low estimate for 2C degree change, the world is less than ten years away from using up the permitted CO2 emissions. They must be looking at the 33% chance of 1.5C and 2C instead of the 66% chance. They also are not discussing how 1.5C must have insanely massive forest growth projects and huge scale carbon sequestering. It would involve overshoot and then massive negative emission projects.

China added 5% more power generation in 2016. This was 240 TWh more to 5920 TWh. Almost half of this was coal or other fossil fuel power.

India, Africa and south Asia will be developing and many of them will depend upon coal power for their development.

Japan, Germany and many other developed nations are building more coal power. These are new plans for the 2020s or already happened a few years ago when the population freaked out about nuclear power. Nuclear power does not emit CO2. Under most assumptions a few life cycle analysis shows nuclear is about ten to twenty times less emitting than coal.

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