May 01, 2010

The Physics and Applications of Superconducting Metamaterials

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Arxiv - The Physics and Applications of Superconducting Metamaterials

We summarize progress in the development and application of metamaterial structures utilizing superconducting elements. After a brief review of the salient features of superconductivity, the advantages of superconducting metamaterials over their normal metal counterparts are discussed. We then present the unique electromagnetic properties of superconductors and discuss their use in both proposed and demonstrated metamaterial structures. Finally we discuss novel applications enabled by superconducting metamaterials, and then mention a few possible directions for future research.

Revisiting World War 2

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One of the big secrets of World War 2 is why Nazi Germany succeeded in surprising Soviet Russia in June 1941. The usual reasons were that Stalin trusted a non-aggression pact with Hitler or Stalin was afraid of Nazi Germany. Viktor Sukorov analyzes some recently released Soviet documents and comes to a different conclusion which makes more sense. All of Stalin's actions and what happened with the Soviets was the result of Stalin planning to sweep across all of Europe. Stalin was planning to let the Nazis fight Europe and weaken themselves and weaken those they attacked and then the Soviets would attack and defeat the Nazis and what remained. The Soviets were prepared and positioned to launch an attack on the Germans and were out of position for defense when the Nazis attacked. This left planes too close to the front and in position to be overrun. Why did the Soviets not think that the Nazis were going to attack ? The Soviets spies detected no build up of winter gear by the Nazi units. How could an army unit attack the Soviets and Russia without winter gear ? They did not think the Germans would be so foolish as to think that they could attack and defeat the Soviets in three months before winter.

I would say that the Soviets were probably planning to attack but their attack may not have been launched until 1942. The Soviets made huge mistakes in not having some flexibility to react or to have some forces in a defensible position until they were launching their attack. The Nazis armies and the Soviets armies were set up for conquering and it was a good thing that they expended their resources fighting each other. It would have been far more costly for the United States, UK and Canada and the rest of Europe to fight 3 million more Nazis soldiers and then 9 million Soviet soldiers on top of the fraction of the Nazis armies that they did fight.
Looking at the wikipedia entries on the T-28 and T-35 tanks, the mainstream view is that those tanks were plagued my mechanical (in particular transmission) failures. The wikipedia T-34 description.

April 30, 2010

Six degree of freedom atomic-scale manipulation using carbon nanotube bundles

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Arxiv - Six degree of freedom atomic-scale manipulation using carbon nanotube bundles The designs can support the 9 tooltips designed by Freitas and Merkle.

Journal of Nanotechnology - A six degree of freedom nanomanipulator design based on carbon nanotube bundles [updated copy of the paper. Aug 2010]

Abstract. Scanning probe imaging and manipulation of matter presents is of crucial importance for nanoscale science and technology. However, its resolution and ability to manipulate matter at the atomic scale is limited by the rather poor control over the fine structure of the probe. In the present communication, a strategy is proposed to construct a molecular nanomanipulator from ultrathin single-walled carbon nanotubes. Covalent modification of a nanotube cap at predetermined atomic sites makes the nanotube act as a support for a functional ―tool-tip‖ molecule. Then, a small bundle of nanotubes (3 or 4) with aligned ends can act as an extremely high aspect ratio parallel nanomanipulator for a suspended molecule, where protraction or retraction of individual nanotubes results in a controlled tilting of the tool-tip in two dimensions. Together with the usual SPM three degrees of freedom and augmented with rotation of the system as a whole, the design offers six degrees of freedom for imaging and manipulation of matter with precision and freedom so much needed in modern nanotechnology. A similar design might be possible to implement with other high-aspect ratio nanostructures, such as oxide nanowires.

Study Estimates Currently Recoverable Three Forks Formation Oil at 2 billion barrels

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Lynn Helms, director of the North Dakota Industrial Commission’s Oil and Gas Division, said a new study pegs the recoverable oil in the Three Forks formation, under the famed Bakken Formation, at up to 2 billion barrels of oil within North Dakota alone.

In 2008, Helms released a new study of the Bakken Formation, also creating a buzz that dominated the event. It pegged the Bakken as having 3.6 billion barrels of oil recoverable at current technology, across the entire basin. North Dakota’s share of the Bakken’s recoverable oil is put at 2.1 billion barrels. So, Thursday’s report basically doubles the amount of oil considered recoverable in North Dakota, Helms said. Last year, 80 million barrels of oil were pumped out of North Dakota’s ground, a record well above the previous mark of 62.8 million in 2008.

University of California Riverside has created Spin Polarized Positronium Antimatter Atoms

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Researchers have isolated collection of “pure” or spin polarized positronium atoms for the first time. Spin is a fundamental and intrinsic property of an electron, and refers to the electron’s angular momentum. Spin polarized atoms are atoms that are all in the same spin state. A collection of spin polarized positronium atoms is needed to make a special form of matter, called the Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC). The work could lead to gamma ray lasers and nuclear fusion power generation. Positronium is a short-lived system in which an electron and its anti-particle are bound together. [wikipedia]

US Navy Research - Railguns and fuel Cell UAVs

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The US Navy will be displaying latest advanced naval technologies geared toward the warfighter at the Navy League Sea Air Expo.

These technologies include

* Electromagnetic Railgun: The electromagnetic railgun uses electricity to launch projectiles. Its range exceeds 230 miles with accuracy within five meters of its targets.
* Ion Tiger: The Ion Tiger is an unmanned, fuel cell-powered, aerial vehicle capable of quiet surveillance flights in excess of 24 hours.
* Integrated Topside: Integrated Topside (InTop) is an Innovative Naval Prototype program. It is developing a scalable family of electronic warfare, radar and communications capability through an integrated multifunctional, multibeam architecture that allows a reduced topside aperture profile.
* REMUS: Remote Environmental Monitoring Unit(s), or REMUS, is a low-cost autonomous underwater vehicle. It is capable of rapid environmental surveys and underwater mine reconnaissance.

Uranium Production in Kazakhstan, Australia and Canada for 2009 and 2010-2014

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1. Uranium production volume in the Republic of Kazakhstan for the 1st quarter of 2010 made up 4,060 tons of Uranium that is 63% more in comparison with the same period of the last year. Such growth resulted from the increase of production at nearly all enterprises of the Holding, including the start of production at Baiken-U LLP and Kyzylkum LLP mines, and pilot production by JV Akbastau JSC. In 2009, 13,900 tons of uranium were mined for the year by Kazatomprom.

DNA construction kit for nanoengines

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There is fresh buzz in nanomechanics. Scientists at the University of Bonn have succeeded for the first time in making, out of DNA double stands, an interlocked molecule (rotaxane) with freely moveable components. As the researchers wrote in the latest edition of the science journal "Nature Nanotechnology" (doi: 10.1038/NNANO.2010.65), this opens up exciting possibilities for nanorobotics and synthetic biology. Researchers give a major boost to nanorobotics: Rotaxane molecules made of genetic material.

Nature Nanotechnology - A double-stranded DNA rotaxane

Energy Roundup - Another Round of ARPA E funding and a Proposed Plan to Phase out Greenhouse Gas Emissions from US Coal by 2030

IBM 3D Nanotip Patterning System Follow up

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Nano-patterning: At the heart of the new tool is a tiny silicon tip. It is able to carve out features as small as 15 nanometers through heating and the application of nanonewtons of pressure. Credit: IBM
This is a second article on the new IBM 3D nanotip based patterning system.

MIT Technology Review has more information.

E-beam lithography requires several steps and tends to be very expensive, with systems costing up to $5 million, says Berggren. The IBM instrument is small enough to sit on a desktop and should cost around $100,000.

It is also relatively fast, says Duerig. Because the tip can write each "pixel" in microseconds, it can be scanned across the substrate very rapidly. The world map, for example, which consists of 500,000 pixels, took just two minutes to draw.

$1,000 and Cheaper Personal Genome Analysis is Coming

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In the April 30 online issue of The Lancet, Ashley Caplan, PhD, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania and several of his colleagues note that the average person will discover he or she has about 100 genetic risks.

"Even if [counseling on] that information averaged only three minutes per disorder, this process would take more than five hours of direct patient contact, after many hours of background research," they calculate. And there are only about 2,500 trained genetic counselors and 1,100 clinical geneticists in North America, all now busy with other work.

Personal genome project wants to sequence and compare 100 thousand people

April 29, 2010

Augmented Reality Related Technology

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Augmented Steps This "haptic" floor can mimic the look and feel of sand.Credit: Yon Visell

MIT Technology ReviewAugmented reality floor tiling

Researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Canada have developed floor tiles that can simulate the look, sound and feel of snow, grass or pebbles underfoot. Such a tool could perhaps be used for augmented reality applications, tele-presence, training, rehabilitation or even as virtual foot controllers.

The modular "haptic" floor tiling system is made up of a deformable plate suspended on a platform. Between the plate and platform are sensors that detect forces from the user's foot. And the plate can give off vibrations that mimic the feeling of stepping on different materials. A top-down projection and speakers add visual and audio feedback

There was a Haptics symposium with a lot more haptics technology. (the 2010 IEEE Haptics Symposium, in Waltham)

Hypertelescope Specifications and Capabilities

Astro Bio looks at the telescope array sizes needed to image other planets and objects on other planets in other solar systems.

* a 100-pixel image of a planet twice the width of Earth some 16.3 light years away would require the elements making up a space telescope array to be more than 43 miles apart. Such pictures of exoplanets could make out details such as rings, clouds, oceans, continents, and perhaps even hints of forests or savannahs. Long-term monitoring could reveal seasonal shifts, volcanic events, and changes in cloud cover.

Artificial Skin That Stretches like Real Skin Has been Created

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The photograph shows a hairless lab rat at the top with a 2.7 cm² patch of the new material grafted over a dermacission of the same area. By week 4 in the lower photograph, the natural rat skin has filled in the graft area, and is showing normal fibrous scar infill.
Scientists at Spain’s University of Granada have created artificial skin with the resistance, firmness and elasticity of real skin. It is the first time artificial skin has been created from fibrin-agarose biomaterial. Fibrin is a protein involved in the clotting of the blood, while agarose is a sugar obtained from seaweed, commonly used to create gels in laboratories. The new material could be used in the treatment of skin problems, and could also replace test animals in dermatological labs.

Self Assembly across Scales as a path to Molecular Manufacturing and Self Assembled Peptoid nanosheets as a platform for Nanotechnologies

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1. chris Phoenix at the Center for Responsible Nanotechnlogy reviews a talk by Erik Winfree of CalTech on advancing self assembly towards molecular manufacturing.

The Winfree walk was at the foundations of Nanoscience conference. The detailed schedule for the talks are here.

* While trying to build computational systems, he is working toward general-purpose manufacturing.
* He called for getting beyond pure self-assembly: You can do some things with passive self-assembly; you can do them much better if you're able to implement molecular motors.
* self-assembling tiles with carefully designed matching edges can implement any algorithmically-describable shape. And, of course, DNA can implement tiles with lots of different edge configurations.
* He has a slide titled "Theory of Active Self-Assembly (of Molecular Robots)." It includes the statement, "Any algorithmically-describable shape can be assembled _efficiently_." He talked about shapes with a billion components and said they could be assembled exponentially. He acknowledges "This is something for the future" since we're still at the stage of molecular motors rather than molecular robots.

There were a series of talks about self assembly across scales including Chris Phoenix's own talk.

April 28, 2010

Electric control of quantum spin and a Rydberg Quantum Simulator

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Nature Physics - Controlling the state of quantum spins with electric currents

A current of spin-polarized electrons senses and controls the magnetic state of nanostructured materials1. Obtaining similar electrical access to quantum spin systems, such as single-molecule magnets, is still in its infancy. Recent progress has been achieved by probing the spin system near thermal equilibrium. However, it is the elusive non-equilibrium properties of the excited states that govern the time evolution of such structures and will ultimately establish the feasibility of applications in data storage and quantum information processing. Here we use spin-polarized scanning tunnelling microscopy to pump electron spins of atoms on surfaces into highly excited states and sense the resulting spatial orientation of the spin. This electrical control culminates in complete inversion of the spin-state population and gives experimental access to the spin relaxation times of each excited state. The direction of current flow determines the orientation of the atom’s spin, indicating that electrical switching and sensing of future magnetic bits is feasible in the quantum regime.

Dimmer Switch Built for Superconducting Quantum Computing and US Army Research Solicits Quantum Computer Technology

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Colorized micrograph of superconducting circuit used in NIST quantum computing research. The chip combines a quantum bit (pink) for storing quantum information, a quantum bus (green) for transporting information, and a switch (purple) that "tunes" interactions between the other two components.Credit: M.S. Allman/NIST

1. Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed the first "dimmer switch" for a superconducting circuit linking a quantum bit (qubit) and a quantum bus—promising technologies for storing and transporting information in future quantum computers. The NIST switch is a new type of control device that can "tune" interactions between these components and potentially could speed up the development of a practical quantum computer.

Nanodots Breakthrough May Lead To ‘A Library On One Chip’

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A researcher at North Carolina State University has developed a computer chip that can store an unprecedented amount of data – enough to hold an entire library’s worth of information on a single chip. The new chip stems from a breakthrough in the use of nanodots, or nanoscale magnets, and represents a significant advance in computer-memory technology.

The breakthrough is that these nanodots are made of single, defect-free crystals, creating magnetic sensors that are integrated directly into a silicon electronic chip. These nanodots, which can be made uniformly as small as six nanometers in diameter, are all precisely oriented in the same way – allowing programmers to reliably read and write data to the chips.

The chips themselves can be manufactured cost-effectively, but the next step is to develop magnetic packaging that will enable users to take advantage of the chips – using something, such as laser technology, that can effectively interact with the nanodots.

Injected Wnt Proteins Accelerate Bone Healing by 3.5 Times and other Regeneration and Stem Cell News

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Compared to untreated bones, a broken bone heals 3.5 times faster after treatment with liposomal Wnt3a. In this image, yellow indicates bone, green/blue indicates new bone matrix. This image relates to an article that appeared in the April 28, 2010, issue of Science Translational Medicine. The study, by Dr. Steven Minear of Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, Calif., and colleagues was titled, "Wnt Proteins Promote Bone Regeneration."

Wired - Mice healed three times faster than normal after their broken bones were flooded by proteins naturally used to regrow new tissues. The discovery raises the possibility of a stem cell–free route to regeneration. The researchers are now conducing mouse tests of Wnt proteins for skin wounds, stroke and heart-attack recovery, and cartilage injuries. The protein enhancement of healing is applicable to all kinds of tissues.

Hyperion Power Generation In Inc Magazine and Beryllium Oxide Fuel

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1. There is a lengthy article in Inc Magazine feature John Grizz, CEO of Hyperion Power Generation The first model is a uranium nitride reactor that will sell for $45-70 million "all in" and provide 25 MW of electrical power. The company was told teh NRC will start evaluation February of 2011.

Deal gives a quick sketch of how his nuclear plant works: A room-size reactor is buried underground, where the uranium fuel heats up metal, which in turn heats up water sent to a conventional electricity-generating steam turbine above-ground.

"The top question you'll get from your customers," he continues, "will be about safety and security." And that just happens to be Hyperion's strong point. He goes on to describe how the more conventionally designed mini nuke offerings from other competitors resemble "big teakettles," in which boiling water around the nuclear core provides cooling and heat transfer, with a "real potential for failure." (No turbine water runs through Hyperion's metal-filled reactor.)

Analysis of Displaced Comets and Sedna Suggest Jupiter Class Object in the Oort Comet Cloud

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Persistent Evidence of a Jovian Mass Solar Companion in the Oort Cloud, 41 pages) (H/T Centauri Dreams)

We present an updated dynamical and statistical analysis of outer Oort cloud cometary evidence suggesting the sun has a wide-binary Jovian mass companion. The results support a conjecture that there exists a companion of mass with one to four times the mass of Jupiter orbiting in the innermost region of the outer Oort cloud. Such a companion could also have produced the detached Kuiper Belt object Sedna.

Carnival of Space 151 - Future Energy Debate Discussion Continued and Signatures of Advanced Civilizations

April 27, 2010

Breakthrough Computer Models will Enable Improved Laser Wakefield accelerators

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Laser-driven particle accelerators can accelerate electrons to energies in excess of 1 GeV over a distance of just a few centimetres. An innovative technique that drastically reduces the computational demands of simulating laser–plasma interactions should help increase this to tens of gigaelectronvolts.

European Extremely Large Telescope and Other Large Telescopes

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The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) project is the largest funded optical telescope in the World. With a diameter of 42 m and being fully adaptive from the start, the E-ELT will be more than one hundred times more sensitive than the present-day largest optical telescopes. Decision to build is expected by late 2010, with a start of operation in 2018. The European Southern Observatory has announced that the E-ELT will be built high on Cerro Armazones, a 3060-metre peak near the heart of Chile's Atacama desert.

The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) has also been funded and the Giant Magellan Telescope (24.5 meter diameter)

Dyson Bubbles, Statites, Molecular Nanotechnology and Submerged Dyson Spheres

Another type of Dyson Sphere is the "Dyson bubble". It would be similar to a Dyson swarm, composed of many independent constructs.
Previously, nextbigfuture had written about Dyson Swarms and dyson Spheres

Unlike the Dyson swarm, the constructs making it up are not in orbit around the star, but would be statites—satellites suspended by use of enormous light sails using radiation pressure to counteract the star's pull of gravity. Such constructs would not be in danger of collision or of eclipsing one another; they would be totally stationary with regard to the star, and independent of one another. As the ratio of radiation pressure and the force of gravity from a star are constant regardless of the distance (provided the statite has an unobstructed line-of-sight to the surface of its star), such statites could also vary their distance from their central star.

A statite deployed around our own sun would have to have an overall density of 0.78 grams per square meter of sail. The total mass of a bubble of such material 1 AU in radius would be about 2.17 × 10^20 kg, which is about the same mass as the asteroid Pallas. If you placed the statites closer to the sun at say 2.5 million miles from the surface of the sun, then the surface area would be about 28 trillion square miles or about 1000 times less than the 1 AU surface area. 2.17 × 10^17 kg (217 trillion tons) of material would be needed. The surface area would be about 12 times the surface area of the sun and about 150,000 times the 197 million square mile surface area of the Earth. About 100,000 tons of material (deployed as 2.5 million mile from the sun statite energy collectors) would be needed to capture the energy for a Kardashev level One civilization (equal to the solar energy hitting the earth). If you could get another one million miles closer then the amount of material would be halved. (2 million mile diameter sphere instead of 3 million mile). The systems would need to be able to handle the heat, variable magnetic fields and flares.

Let me repeat some key takeaway from this:
1. when we have nanotechnology that is able to produce carbon solar sails/solar power collectors/statites that are about four times lighter than we can make now and produce and launch 100,000 tons of it and get it in close to the sun and transmit and use the power then we are at Kardashev level one. It would be early molecular manufacturing capability or good high volume carbon nanotube and graphene capabilities. The amount of material would be about 20,000 times less than the surface area of the earth or about 10,000 square miles.

2. It would be even simpler and easier to make a weaponized version of this. You would not need to collect the energy but just focus it and guide it where you wanted. 100,000 tons of near molecular nanotech in space and nuclear bombs would be like firecrackers. Molecular nanotech also provides the technology for insanely powerful access to space.

A Giant Dome is Being Built to Contain the Sunken Oil Rig Oil Spill

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Cofferdams are shown in the picture
Engineers are building a giant dome to contain the oil spilling from the sunken oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico

The dimensions of the dome are still being worked out, but officials said it would be similar to welded steel containment structures called cofferdams that are already used in oil rig construction.

“If you could picture a half dome on top of the leak and the oil collects inside of this dome and is pumped out from there, that is the idea behind it,” said Danner.

It's a dome that would be placed over the leak and instead of the oil leaking into the water column it would leak into this dome structure," US coast guard spokesman Prentice Danner.

"They started working on the fabrication of this dome structure fairly recently and its estimated it will take two to four weeks to build

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics Look in Good Shape to Get to Proton Boron Burning by End of 2010

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Lawrenceville Plasma Physics is running dense plasma focus fusion experiments and are getting good levels of current and voltage.

The April 2010 technical report gives the March experimental results.

Analysis of shots we did in March gives more convincing evidence of high ion energies, certainly more than 40 keV (440 million degrees) and probably above 65 keV in the best shot (715 million degrees). These are very encouraging results, as they are as good as or better than those obtained in Texas at peak currents that were nearly twice as high.

In all three cases, Ti exceeds 40 keV, and in the best shot it exceeds 65 keV. This is strong additional evidence that FF-1 is achieving ion energies comparable to those in the Texas A&M experiments in 2001, but at currents of only 700 kA, as compared with the 1.2 MA used in Texas. This is encouraging, and we will no doubt have much stronger evidence of high ion energies as we get more shots at higher currents. For comparison, ion energies of around 100 keV will be enough to ignite pB11 fuel, given adequate density

Massively Parallel Computing on an Organic Molecular Layer

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A superthin computer just two molecules thick can solve complex problems and, somewhat like the human brain, can evolve to improve and perform many operations simultaneously

This is significant progress on molecular computing with molecular switches that is highly parallel and using cellular automata.

* This molecular processor can also heal itself if there is a defect
* The building block of this computer is an organic compound known as 2,3-dichloro-5,6-dicyano-p-benzoquinone, or DDQ for short. This molecule can basically switch between four different electrically conductive states — think of a ring with four spokes.
* molecules of DDQ were deposited onto a surface of gold, which then spontaneously assembled into two layers, each a hexagonal grid of molecules.
* at least 300 molecules in the system interact together like a massively parallel computer, each changing states when data is written into the system. (300 molecular switches operating as cellular automata)
* One important weakness of the system is how it depends on scanning tunneling microscopy, which is a slow process. In the future, it may be possible to use multiple tips to simultaneously scan many molecules at one time, Pati suggested.
* Since these molecules assemble themselves into grids, scaling them up to a larger system will not be a problem. The team's next target is a computer employing 1,000 molecular switches.

Nature Physics - Massively parallel computing on an organic molecular layer

Iraq Oil Production to Start Surging in the Second Half of 2010 and Oil Service Companies Will Get About $40 Billion in Iraq Oil Field Business from 2010 to 2016

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BP Plc and China National Petroleum Corp. will drill and upgrade wells to raise output from Iraq's largest oil field of Rumaila and plan to increase oil production by 100,000 barrels per day by the end 2010.

CNPC and partner BP Plc will take over full management of the oil field by June 30, China National Petroleum said in its online newsletter April 20, 2010.

BP plans to increase production at Rumaila from 1.07 million barrels a day to 1.23 million barrels within 12 months.

Energy consultants IHS CERA say Iraq's plan to increase production is "extraordinarily ambitious" and predicted an increase of just less than two million barrels of oil a day by 2015.

North Dakota Has 400,000 Barrels of Oil Per Day Shipping Capacity By Pipeline and Rail

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North Dakota set a per-day record of 261,000 barrels in February.

Before the infrastructure improvements, the state's pipeline, rail and refining capacity was only 189,000 barrels a day. Now, based on recent investments, that capacity is about 400,000 barrels a day. It should be enough to handle the expected growth in crude oil production for the next two years, if the price remains steady. And recent history suggests that production from the Bakken Formation will continue to grow beyond that limit. North Dakota pockets $9.3 million a year for every $1 increase in the price of crude oil.

Lynn Helms, director of the state Department of Mineral Resources, said if crude prices hold, North Dakota could hit 350,000 barrels of oil a day by late 2011. That amount of production is within the state's shipping capacity

Superresolution MRI - magnetic force resonance microscopy

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In this diagram, viruses (colored orange) cling to the gold surface (yellow) at the end of a silicon cantilever. A magnetic tip (blue) creates a magnetic field that interacts with the viruses to create an image, using magnetic force resonance microscopy. Image: Martino Poggio, University of Basel

IBM physicists built the first magnetic resonance force microscopy (MRFM), in 1993 and since then, researchers including Degen and his IBM colleagues have improved the technique to the point where it can produce 3-D images with resolution as low as five to 10 nanometers, or billionths of a meter.

With MRFM, the sample to be examined is attached to the end of a tiny silicon cantilever (about 100 millionths of a meter long and 100 billionths of a meter wide). As a magnetic iron cobalt tip moves close to the sample, the atoms’ nuclear spins become attracted to it and generate a small force on the cantilever. The spins are then repeatedly flipped, causing the cantilever to gently sway back and forth in a synchronous motion. That displacement is measured with a laser beam to create a series of 2-D images of the sample, which are combined to generate a 3-D image.

MRFM resolution is nearly as good (within a factor of 10) of the resolution of electron microscopy, the most sensitive imaging technique that biologists use today. However, unlike electron microscopy, MRFM can image delicate samples like viruses and cells without damaging them

Traditional MRI takes advantage of the very faint magnetic signals emitted by hydrogen nuclei in the sample being imaged. When a powerful magnetic field is applied to the tissue, the nuclei’s magnetic spins align, generating a signal strong enough for an antenna to detect. However, the magnetic spins are so weak that a very large number of atoms (usually more than a trillion) are needed to generate an image, and the best possible resolution is about three millionths of a meter (about half the diameter of a red blood cell). Now scientists are combining the 3-D capability of MRI with the precision of a technique called atomic force microscopy. This combination enables 3-D visualization of tiny specimens such as viruses, cells and potentially structures inside cells — a 100-million-fold improvement over MRI used in hospitals.

Last year, Christian Degen, MIT assistant professor of chemistry, and colleagues at the IBM Almaden Research Center, where Degen worked as a postdoctoral associate before coming to MIT, used that strategy to build the first MRI device that can capture 3-D images of viruses. Last weekend, their paper reporting the ability to take an MRI image of a tobacco mosaic virus was awarded the 2009 Cozzarelli Prize by the National Academy of Sciences, for scientific excellence and originality in the engineering and applied sciences category.

April 26, 2010

Nanopatch induces a protective immune response Using 100 Times Less Vaccine

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The Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, demonstrated that a vaccine delivered by a Nanopatch induces a similarly protective immune response as a vaccine delivered by needle and syringe, but uses 100 times less vaccine.

Being both painless and needle-free, the nanopatch offers hope for those with needle phobia, as well as improving the vaccination experience for young children. The result is ten times better than the best results achieved by other delivery methods and does not require the use of other immune stimulants, called adjuvants, or multiple vaccinations.

Macroscale Carbon Nanotube Fibers

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In a Rice University lab, a black fiber the diameter of a human hair spools into a beaker of ether. Made up of pure nano­tubes, the strand is the culmination of nearly a decade of experimentation. Chemical engineer Matteo Pasquali and his colleagues have spun nanotubes into fibers several hundred meters long"

Update - the carbon nanotube fibers they are producing are weak and held together with friction. They are not chemically bonded rope (the individual pieces are but the whole is not). They are pieces that they mix together in super acid and extrude. They want to have more surface area and longer pieces. So it becomes like longer pieces of spaghetti that are boiled in a swimming pool or pond until mushy and formed into long pipes meters across. They just are targetting making the extruded carbon nanotube tangle strong enough to make electrical cable with better properties than copper. They are not there yet. I think nanocomp technologies is farther ahead in forming conducting macroscopic pieces of carbon nanotube rope and tapes. They use a process which looks like a cotton candy machine. This site has covered the nanocomp technologies before.

Blacklight Power Claims Validation and Due Diligence Being Performed by National Labs and Major Corporations

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Blacklight Power claims to have a revolutionary and highly controversial energy generation process that is about one hundred times more powerful than chemical processes. They have a new 169 page technical presentation, but the main point of interest is on the bottom of the page three slide.
Validations and Technical Due Diligence - underway with National Labs, defense contractors, electronics manufacturers, large conglomerates, multi-national energy companies and others.

This would suggest that they have widely distributed something for those organizations and institutes to test and validate. It is probably the powders which are supposed to generate more heat than normal chemical processes. Those powders were validated by researchers at Rowan University. If there is something being widely validated then one would think that it would be in Blacklight Power's interest to widely publicize results by those third parties (assuming success). Also, it should not take more than a few weeks to perform the actual tests and no more than months to verify. It would be highly suspect if none of these validations were published by the end of 2010.

Progress on Indian and Chinese Nuclear Renaissance and a Reminder on Japan, Vietam and Finland

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1. The first of India's Russian-designed nuclear power reactors has taken a step closer to start-up with the loading of dummy fuel assemblies into the core of Kudankulam 1.

The plant is one of two Russian-supplied 950 MWe VVER pressurised water reactors currently being built by NPCIL at Kudankulam and due to start up later this year. Construction is planned to begin on the next two Kudankulam VVERs by mid-2011.

India's plans for 20,000 MWe nuclear capacity on line by 2020 and 63,000 MWe by 2032. Construction of ten nuclear reactors will be started over the next five year. Four should start by July, 2010 and two more by mid-2011.

Eco-terrorists 'plot to blow up IBM headquarters' thwarted in routine traffic stop

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UK Daily Mail - A routine traffic-stop in Switzerland has allegedly thwarted eco-terrorists from blowing up the site of the £55million nano-technology HQ of IBM in Europe.

The three members – two men and a woman – of the Italian terrorist group Il Silvestre were stopped just a few miles from their target with their explosive device primed and ready to go.

So Luddites Zero and Emerging technologies and Societal Law Enforcement One. However, there is ongoing investigation and interrogation to see if this was part of a larger series of planned attacks. This may herald the start of societal conflict and attempted disruptions over emerging technology.

Chitosan a Sugar from Lobster Shells Could Repair Spinal Injury and Gene therapy and Acupuncture for Preventing Paralysis

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1. Chitosan may repair damaged nerve membranes and restore the spinal cord's ability to transmit signals to the brain.

Richard Borgens and his team comprising of physiologist Riyi Shi and chemist Youngnam Cho from the Center for Paralysis Research at the Purdue School of Veterinary Medicine have discovered that Chitosan, the simple sugar found in the crustacean shells of lobsters, is capable of targeting damaged membranes.

Adding Graphene Makes Polymers 31-53% Stronger Versus Carbon Nanotubes 3-20% Enhancement

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ACS Nano - Enhanced Mechanical Properties of Nanocomposites at Low Graphene Content

The mechanical properties of epoxy nanocomposites with graphene platelets, single-walled carbon nanotubes, and multi-walled carbon nanotube additives were compared at a nanofiller weight fraction of 0.1 ± 0.002%.

* graphene platelets significantly out-perform carbon nanotube additives.
* The Young’s modulus of the graphene nanocomposite was 31% greater than the pristine epoxy as compared to 3% increase for single-walled carbon nanotubes.
* The tensile strength of the baseline epoxy was enhanced by 40% with graphene platelets compared to 14% improvement for multi-walled carbon nanotubes.
* The mode I fracture toughness of the nanocomposite with graphene platelets showed 53% increase over the epoxy compared to 20% improvement for multi-walled carbon nanotubes.
* The fatigue resistance results also showed significantly different trends

Stephen Hawking Repeats His View that Active SETI is not a Good Idea and Promotes His New TV Show

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Stephen Hawking has repeated his long-held belief that intelligent aliens are likely to exist, and that a visit by them to present-day humanity would probably have unfortunate consequences for us.

* To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational... If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”

I agree that life and probably intelligent life is pretty common. I disagree that it makes much difference whether we broadcast out via SETI or not. Before aliens or we can cross interstellar space we can go to the gravitational lens of the sun (500 AU about 2 light days away) and set up large telescopes or create hypertelescopes at other locations. These observatories would be able to image planetary surfaces and take spectrographs of planets. (World Imaging telescopes)

April 25, 2010

Dyson Swarms and Dyson Spheres

image by steve Bowers, this power collection swarm consists of thousands of elements in inclined orbits, each with a slightly different ascending node and pericenter. This arrangement ensures the elements never come close to each other. The various orbits form a toroid shape, surrounding the star.

Here is a copy of the Dyson sphere discussion from 1960.

Freeman Dyson -
A solid shell or ring surrounding a star is mechanically impossible. The form of "biosphere" which I envisaged consists of a loose collection or swarm of objects traveling on independent orbits around the star. The size and shape of the individual objects would be chosen to suit the inhabitants. I did not indulge in speculations concerning the constructional details of the biosphere, since the expected emission of infrared radiation is independent of such details.

Here is the Dyson sphere FAQ
Update: There is a follow up article on Dyson bubbles, statites, molecular nanotechnology and submerged dyson spheres

Passive, sun-pointing, millimeter-scale solar sails could be used for the heliocentric orbits.

Update: Welcome instapundit readers

Burj Al Meel Mile high Skyscraper will be the Skyscraper Built by the Bailout of Citigroup

Kingdom Holding Company plans to build the Mile High Tower (Burj Al Meel) in Jeddah. The Mile High Tower could reach a height of 1,600 meters (one mile), the total built up area is 170,000 sq.m. The tower is part of the Kingdom City, a community development including residential units, commercial space, office area, education vicinity, entertainment facilities and hotels.

Kingdom Holding company remains in good financial shape

Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) made a net income of SR75.2 million ($20 million) in the three months to end of March, approximately a 50 percent increase over last year’s first quarter results. The company’s shareholders’ equity increased from SR21.6 billion as of March 31, 2009, to SR25.8 billion (about USD$ 7 billion) as of March 31, 2010, representing a year on year increase of 19.5 percent, or approximately SR1.14 per share in book value, the company said in a statement.

Alwaleed transferred about 2.24 billion riyals of Citigroup Inc. shares to Kingdom to enable the Saudi company to pay dividends and improve earnings. Kingdom rose the most in three months in Riyadh before the results were released and after Citigroup said yesterday that profit more than doubled in the first quarter

Assuming that the Burj Al Meel is built, then it will be the skyscraper that had a lot of key financial support from the American bailout of Citigroup. Most of the rest of the support from US dependence on oil.

Cell by Cell Map of the Fruit Fly Brain

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A new computer-based technique is exploring uncharted territory in the fruit fly brain with cell-by-cell detail that can be built into networks for a detailed look at how neurons work together. The research may ultimately lead to a complete master plan of the entire fly brain. Mapping the estimated 100,000 neurons in a fly brain, and seeing how they interact to control behavior, will be a powerful tool for figuring out how the billions of neurons in the human brain work.

Comprehensive understanding of neuron structures and shapes and simpler than human brains are important steps to successful human scale brain emulation.

Ranking algorithms for better Drug Discovery and Computers Track Pathogen changes for Better Public Health

Three Megatrends in China for the Next Five Years

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Bloomberg Business Week - aside from increasing domestic consumption, there are two further megatrends developing in China over the next five years that senior executives need to keep in mind.

1. Increasing domestic consumption
2. Instead of moving to find work in manufacturing centers in southern China or such first-tier cities as Shanghai and Beijing, more young people are moving to second- and third-tier cities such as Wuhan, Hefei, and Shenyang, where they can find good white-collar jobs closer to home.
3. A further megatrend unfolding in China is the upgrading of quality and capabilities in Chinese factories. Many factory owners are looking at how to move away from simply being outsourcing manufacturers and toward building their own brands, just as Taiwanese computer vendors such as Acer and Asustek have done

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