August 14, 2010

Dennis Bray - What Cells Can Do That Robots Can't

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Dennis Bray - What Cells Can Do That Robots Can't "For all the walking, talking, housekeeping, car-building, child-entertaining, elderly-caring marvels of present-day robots; for all their amazing, superhuman ability to crunch numbers, play chess, store data, analyze sequences and display graphics they are still not like us. Superb specialists able to do one thing supremely well, robots and their computer brains lack the adaptability and the self-regenerating generalist abilities of living organisms. Above all, they lack the capacity of independent survival in the real world-something possessed by even the simplest organism. " (Wetware. Y.U.P. 2009)

So what is missing? The answer, I argue, can be found in the discoveries of contemporary biology. Living cells are crammed full of molecules-especially proteins but also RNA molecules- that act as biochemical switches. Most are allosteric and modifiable- formally equivalent to transistors- and linked into extensive networks through diffusion limited binding events and biochemical reactions. Computational molecules perform tasks such as amplification, feedback inhibition, oscillation, coincidence detection, and memory storage. But although biological components act in ways that are comparable to those in electronic circuits, they are set apart by the huge number of different states they can adopt. Multiple biochemical processes create chemical modifications of protein molecules, further diversified by association with distinct structures at defined locations of a cell. The resulting combinatorial explosion of states endows living systems with an almost infinite capacity to store information regarding past and present conditions and a unique capacity to prepare for future events.

Dennis Bray provided a very detailed review of various cellular and protein processes. However, I get the impression that he has not seriously considered what can be done with artificial systems. So I am leaving partway through his talk and not staying for his debate.

Reverse Engineering Brains Is Within Reach

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Terry Sejnowski - Reverse Engineering Brains Is Within Reach

When physicists puzzle out the workings of some new part of nature, that knowledge can be used to build devices that do amazing things -- airplanes that fly, radios that reach millions of listeners. When we come to understand how brains function, we should become able to build amazing devices with cognitive abilities -- such as cognitive cars that are better at driving than we are because they communicate with other cars and share knowledge on road conditions. In 2008, the National Academy of Engineering chose as one of its grand challenges to reverse-engineer the human brain. This is already happening, though not in a way that might be obvious. In 2005, Simon Haykin, director of the Cognitive Systems Laboratory at McMaster University, wrote an influential article called “Cognitive radio: Brain empowered wireless communications” which laid the groundwork for a new generation of wireless networks that use computational principles from brains to predictively model the use of the electromagnetic spectrum, and are more efficient at using the bandwidth than current standards. Early versions of these intelligent communications systems are already planned for the next federal auction of the electromagnetic spectrum. Soon to come are similar ways to enhance other utilities, such as the “cognitive power grid,” which will automatically anticipate and regulate the flow of power around the country. The sensorium and motorium of these cognitive systems will be the infrastructure of the world. Sensors will stream information -- on the use of electricity, weather patterns, and travel conditions -- and use this information to optimize goals, such as reducing power usage and travel time, by regulating the flow of resources. Parts of this system are already in place, such as sensors and the internet, but there is as yet no central nervous system to integrate this torrent of information and take appropriate actions. But as it increasingly mimics the workings of our brains, the world around us will become smarter and more efficient.

Combining systems neuroscience and machine learning: a new approach to AGI

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Demis Hassabis - Combining systems neuroscience and machine learning: a new approach to AGI

Neuroscience is rapidly teasing apart the functional roles of the brain's components, and in some cases even the types of algorithms that they use. Machine learning, meanwhile, is producing a growing collection of techniques for specific kinds of problems, but as yet no general purpose algorithm for artificial intelligence. By bringing these two fields together, we can have both a high level architecture for an artificial general intelligence, and working algorithms for implementing many of the required components. In this talk I will outline the case for pursuing this approach, some current work in progress, and some of the challenges we face going forward.

He compares the biological and non-biological approaches.
The non-biological approaches like formal logic, neural networks tend to have several issues from a list of problems like being brittle, not good with uncertainty and ambiguity, time consuming to train... A main example is the CYC project (Lenat). ongoing for 25 years. One million propositions. Adding new assertions can cause a cascade of inconsistencies that can take weeks to resolve if ever.

Brian Litt and Brain-Computer Interfaces: Past, Present and Future

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Brian Litt and Brain-Computer Interfaces: Past, Present and Future

Brain-computer interfaces (aka Brain-Machine Interfaces or Neuroprosthetics), long of interest to science fiction writers and creative thinkers, became a government funded research discipline in the United States beginning in the 1970s. The vision of its architects at DARPA and the National Science Foundation was to restore motor control to soldiers with brain, spinal cord and limb injuries, programs that continue to flourish today. Early devices sampled a variety of neural signals, including scalp EEG and evoked potentials, though the first dramatic successes arose ~ 20 years later from more modern technologies that allowed completely paralyzed (or “locked in”) patients to operate computers or move robotic arms using nothing but their thoughts. These systems record multi-unit neuronal activity from small, targeted brain regions, compute transfer functions to transduce this activity into movement control signals, and conduct it to “effectors,” such as computer cursors or robotic limbs. What has followed is an explosion of innovation in hardware (materials, batteries, computation speed and miniaturization), software (e.g. machine learning), and systems neuroscience that is producing a growing array of implantable neural recording and activation devices to treat disease, restore and potentially augment human function.

BCIs are now universally accepted in a variety of forms. Brain stimulation devices for movement disorders and pain are implanted in patients on almost every continent. New successes, such as recent reports of treating depression with brain stimulation, are world news. Auditory prostheses such as cochlear implants are now commonplace, visual prostheses have reached early milestones to restore low resolution sight, and haptics research holds promise to restore sensation in the setting of limb loss, brain and peripheral nerve injury. Early areas of emphasis, such as prosthetic limb research, have made the most progress, using both real-time feedback to improve responsiveness of artificial arms and legs, and transplanted peripheral nerves to drive sensors. BCIs for speech work slowly but they function enough to be gaining users, and those for cognition, particularly for memory, are being tested in early forms, with great promise. Underlying all of these implementations are an understanding that “neuroplasticity,” the brain’s ability to adapt and interpret regular and logical signals when taught, can take even low levels of information and interpret it logically. This is the case, for example, in cochlear implants where patients can learn to interpret crude electrical stimulations through a handful of macroelectrodes as intelligible speech.

The major hurdles to better BCIs are both technical and rooted in neuroscience. Materials science researcher must deliver more durable and better-tolerated implantable materials to prevent failure and rejection. Engineers must craft smaller, higher resolution devices with more contacts, higher density but that can also cover larger regions, to be able to record and activate the large neuronal networks involved in brain functions. Better machine learning techniques to extract pertinent information from neural signals without relying on human experts to identify them are required. Finally, ways of dramatically increasing information transfer rates, and to optimize neuroplasticity are required to get fast enough bandwidth from humans to devices to make their speed useful. Challenges on the neuroscience side are equally important, most crucially determining on what scale to record neural activity (e.g. single neurons, cortical columns, broad brain regions etc.), how much activity, and over how large a region. We also need better techniques to map the diverse regions in the brain that work together in cognition and other functions, both invasively and non-invasively in humans, in order to unlock how they work.

The future of BCI research is extremely bright. The scientific community worldwide is making rapid progress in each of the above challenge areas, as demonstrated by the number of devices being invented, tested, deployed for human use, and the dramatically increasing research literature in the area of BCI. Most crucially, the rate of information transfer from human brain to computers is rapidly increasing, though in part by using more invasive technologies. Taking the step from repairing damage and restoring function to augmenting our abilities to see, hear, move or think is a dramatic one, and one with major ethical and moral implications. Devices to restore and enhance memory are already being tested, and our growing understanding of how memories are encoded and retrieved give dim glimpses of how information might be transferred from computer storage to human consciousness, though this type of application seems far off now. Augmentation of strength, perhaps reducible to mechanical design once appropriate control is established, seems much less challenging by comparison. What seems most clear is that the pace of advancement in these areas is accelerating. That BCI research will eventually transition from plasticity and repair to augmentation is not in doubt. It is imperative that we think carefully about how and where, scientifically, this shift should take place, and how we might best guide this process.

How to become superhuman with haptics

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Enhancing our bodies and evolving our brains -how to become superhuman with haptics

Enhancing our bodies and evolving our brains

Machines and their maker, the human, are in an increasingly interactive relationship. Just as the primitive man forged hand tools to triumph over harsh nature, we continue to develop smart machines to interface with information-rich real and virtual worlds. Although machines range from a simple hand tool to a cochlear implant to a complex interplanetary spacecraft, they ultimately serve one purpose: to extend our ability to interact with the world around us. Rapid evolutions of technology in information processing, communication and robotics are bringing humans and machines ever closer, even occasionally merging the two within our bodies to augment our biological functions. Interactions with real and virtual environments through sophisticated machines can enhance both our sensorimotor and cognitive abilities, thus contributing not only to the extension of our bodies but also to the evolution of our brains.

Human-machine interaction includes two-way transmission of information: sensory information from the environment to the human that affects our perception of the environment, and action commands from the human to the environment to explore or modify the environment. The human–machine interface is thus the gatekeeper through which we convey our intentions to the machines and they, in turn, give us feedback on task performance. In order to fully realize the benefits of the rapid technological progress in the processing and communication of information, we need machines that augment our ability not only to perceive, but also to act on the environment. Current technologies that interface with our haptic system show the path towards removing some of the spatial, temporal and energetic limitations of our bodies in physically acting on the environment. By providing unprecedented stimuli and responses in real and virtual worlds, these machines enable evolution of our brains as well. In this talk, I will illustrate recent progress in and prospects for machines capable of extending our bodies and evolving our brains

Liveblogging the Singularity Summit Humanistic Intelligence Augmentation and Mediation

Humanistic Intelligence Augmentation and Mediation by Steve Mann

Humanistic Intelligence (HI) is intelligence that arises by having the human being in the feedback loop of the computational process. I will describe recent work in HI and social networking in cyborgspace in our small community of approximately 80,000 cyborgs on as well as approximately 30 years of living in cyborgspace and computer-mediated reality. Whereas Augmented Reality (AR) adds overlays, Mediated Reality is a more general (and earlier) concept that includes adding, subtracting, modulating, or more generally mediating one's space both individually and collectively in the cyborg community. I will present the concept of experiential bandwidth and explain why AR has not worked (and can not work) effectively, and why it is that cyborgspace has evolved into a mediated rather than merely augmented form of interaction. I will also present some recent developments in CyborGLOGGING. CyborGLOGS (''glogs" for short) pre-date WeBLOGS ("blogs" for short). Whereas blogs are usually digital, cyborglogs are typically "undigital", i.e. represent continuous, rather than discrete data. Glogs capture a stream of perceptual data without conscious thought or effort. This data often includes electrovisuogram (EVG), electrocardiogram (ECG), electroencephalogram (EEG), and the like.

The cyborglogging tradition brings with it fluid media (FLUID=Flexible Limitless User Interface Design). I will present some examples of fluid media as generalized undigital user interfaces that extend beyond the cyborg realm to include aspects of everyday life.

I will conclude by looking at post-cyborgism, and the coming post-cyborg era, with a sampling of post-cyborg technology such as the hydraulophone and WaterHammer Piano

AI for Increased Human Healthspan (Dr Ben Goertzel)

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Ben Goertzel- AI Against Aging

Modern science leaves little doubt that death due to aging is a solvable problem. The human body is a complex machine, and it is modifiable and reparable like any other machine. But though the roadmap to radical human healthspan extension is clearer than ever before, the magnitude of the challenges involved is also apparent. And the worst bottleneck we face in surmounting these challenges is: The effectiveness of the brains of human researchers. The human brain simply was not evolved for the integrative analysis of a massive number of complexly-interrelated, high-dimensional biological datasets. In the short term, the most feasible path to working around this problem is to supplement human biological scientists with increasingly advanced AI software, gradually moving toward the goal of an AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) bioscientist. In my talk I will spell out what this would concretely mean for biomedicine, and how we might get there from here via a plausible path of AI technology development. And I will also discuss some things that advanced AI technology is doing for bioscience right now, paving the way for these more radical future possibilities. The Biomind AI tools my colleagues and I have developed have helped discover the genetic basis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and to create novel diagnostics for Parkinson's Disease based on identifying subtle patterns of damage in mitochondrial DNA. In a current collaboration with Genescient Corp., these same AI tools are being used to analyze the genomes of flies that were experimentally evolved to live 5x as long as ordinary flies, in order to understand why the flies live so long and draw lessonstherefrom regarding which drugs and supplements may best enhance human healthspan. Today's AI systems are already comprehending the biological world in ways far beyond the human brain's capability, but they illustrate only a tiny fraction of what's to come.

Goertzel has an article up at Hplusmagazine

Liveblogging singularity summit Ray Kurzweil - the mind and how to build one

Ray Kurzweil The Mind and How To Build One

What does it mean to understand the brain? Where are we on the roadmap to this goal? What are the effective routes to progress – detailed modeling, theoretical effort, improvement of imaging and computational technologies? What predictions can we make? What are the consequences of materialization of such predictions – social, ethical? I will address these questions and examine some of the most common criticisms of the exponential growth of information technology including criticisms from hardware (“Moore’s Law will not go on forever”), software (“software is stuck in the mud”), the brain (“the brain is too complicated to understand or replicate”), ontology (“software is not capable of thinking or of consciousness”), and promise versus peril (“biotechnology, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence are too dangerous”).

There is now a grand project comprising at least a hundred thousand scientists and engineers working in diverse ways to understand the best example we have of an intelligent process: the human brain. It is arguably the most important project in the history of the human-machine civilization. The goal of the project is to understand precisely how the human brain works, and then to use these revealed algorithms as a basis for creating even more intelligent machines.

As we learn the algorithms underlying human intelligence, we will similarly be able to engineer it to vastly extend the powers of our intelligence. Indeed this process is already well under way. There are literally hundreds of tasks and activities that used to be the sole province of human intelligence that can now be conducted by computers usually with greater precision and vastly greater scale.

Was it inevitable that a species would evolve that is capable of creating its own evolutionary process in the form of intelligent technology? I will argue that it was.

According to my models we are only two decades from fully modeling and simulating the human brain. By the time we finish this reverse-engineering project, we will have computers that are millions of times more powerful than the human brain. These computers will be further amplified by being networked into a vast world wide cloud of computing. The algorithms of intelligence will begin to self-iterate towards ever smarter algorithms.

This is how we will address the grand challenges of humanity such as maintaining a healthy environment, providing for the resources for a growing population including energy, food, and water, overcoming disease, vastly extending human longevity, and overcoming poverty. It is only by extending our intelligence with our intelligent technology that we can handle the scale of complexity to address these challenges.

wanted to debate a critic who said look at this picture of cerebral cortex. It is too complex. Turns out the picture was of a simulation of the cortex.

Reverse engineering hearing and speech engineering helped boost development of artificial hearing and speech recognition.
In 2006 it happened for vision as well.
We will not mindlessly copy but gain insights, basic principles, counter intuitive from reverse engineering and then build and amplify upon them.

Liveblogging the Singulary Summit - Gregory Stock Evolution and the Posthuman Future

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Gregory Stock - Evolution and the Post-Human Future

We are in the midst of a major evolutionary breakthrough. Life is beginning not only to reshape itself and its workings, but to animate the inanimate world around it. I will examine the nature of this present transition in the context of previous breakthroughs like the emergence of eukayotes and multicellular organisms and look at what it might mean for the human.

The idea that human values and consciousness might transition to post-singularity cyberspace and survive in a realm populated by super-AI’s and brain emulations is alluring to many. But a macro-evolutionary perspective suggests that any uploaded “human” intelligence would be far more likely to mutate into something “other.”

Our nature and values evolved through selective pressures that enhanced reproductive success among primitive primates with strong group dependencies, rich social ties and small numbers of offspring with extended childhoods. Human values would make little sense for AIs living where backups and copies are easy, personal boundaries are weak, and sexual reproduction is absent. Evolution will drive such cyber beings towards values more suited to their circumstances and environment, and away from the human if it were even a starting point. And such shifts might occur relatively rapidly given the likely intensity of evolutionary selection in this realm.

Future biological humans likely will persist in the various back eddies of the sweeping technological transformations ahead and may even thrive there, but it is hard to see how they will remain anything close to free-range.

* R&D up but output flat
Where are the wonder druges?
-FDA focus (makes it slower and risk adverse and costly) and its hard

There has been an explosion of info from genome, transcriptome, proteome, metabalome
when will get radical life extension ?

Liveblogging the Singularity Summit - Michael Vassar the Darwinian Method

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Capitalism and Science is what enabled us to go beyond merely rational methods to go beyond sailing ships and pyramids and enabled to take off and go beyond a backwater to dominance from the 17th through the 19th century.

People have always thought and achieved useful understanding of the world around them. Despite this, there is an important sense in which science only began a few hundred years ago. We resolved this apparent paradox by recognizing that humans have developed many different tools to allow reason to guide their collective actions. One of those tools, which we will call ‘Enlightenment Science’, grew out of philosophical skepticism to transform the world quite recently. Many scientific controversies can best be understood as conflicts between those who accept an earlier scientific method, that of ‘Scholarly Science’, and those who believe ‘Enlightenment Science’ to be the only source of authoritative knowledge. In truth, the scholarly and enlightenment scientific methods contain both serious drawbacks and great utility. From Darwin's theory of evolution to the theory of global warming, important science often depends on a proper synthesis of the two methods. The strongest arguments for anticipating a technological Singularity fall squarely into this synthetic paradigm. I will explain why these two scientific methods work, where they come into conflict, and how such conflicts can be resolved.

Archimedes and the ancient rational innovations - math, engineering, rules of logical argument and dialog and weak on naive empiricism.

But not science
No hypothesis testing

August 13, 2010

the full Credit Suisse China Hidden Wealth Report

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A Credit Suisse study suggests that Chinese households are hiding 9.3 trillion yuan of grey income

If China is earning 9.3 trillion yuan of "grey income", does that mean the country’s economy is 30% bigger than we thought? Not quite. China’s GDP figures do not rely on the NBS household survey, but on “flow-of-funds” data collected from enterprises. And some of the shadow income pocketed by Chinese families may already show up elsewhere in the national accounts, as corporate income or government income—it may be misreported, not unreported. The upshot is that China’s economy was about 10% bigger in 2008, according to Credit Suisse.

Mr Wang also assumes that people lie about how much they earn, but not about how much they spend or eat. Or if a household does underreport its spending, he assumes that it also downplays its food expenses proportionately, so that their Engel’s coefficient is unaffected.

If people underreported their overall spending, but told the truth about their food spending, their Engel’s coefficients will be artificially high. Mr Wang would therefore have paired them with the poorer households in his survey. In those circumstances, their underreported income would go undetected. If that’s the case, then 9.3 trillion may be an underestimate!

Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA)

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The New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2010) report by the Board on Physics and Astronomy (BPA) and the Space Studies Board also describes the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA)
LISA is a gravity wave observatory that would open an entirely new window in the universe. Using ripples in the fabric of space-time caused by the motion of the densest objects in the universe, LISA will detect the mergers of black holes with masses ranging from 10,000 to 10 million solar masses at cosmological distances, and will make a census of compact binary systems throughout the Milky Way. LISA's measurements of black hole mass and spin will be important for understanding the significance of mergers in the building of galaxies. LISA also is expected to detect signals from stellarmass compact stellar remnants as they orbit and fall into massive black holes. Detection of such objects would provide exquisitely precise tests of Einstein’s theory of gravity. There may also be waves from unanticipated or exotic sources, such as backgrounds produced during the earliest moments of the universe or cusps associated with cosmic strings.

Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is Top Priority Space Telescope Project

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Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) is the highest priority space based telescope project of the New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics (2010) report by the Board on Physics and Astronomy (BPA) and the Space Studies Board

WFIRST is a wide-field-of-view near-infrared imaging and low-resolution spectroscopy observatory that will tackle two of the most fundamental questions in astrophysics: Why is the expansion rate of the universe accelerating? And are there other solar systems like ours, with worlds like Earth? In addition, WFIRST’s surveys will address issues central to understanding how galaxies, stars, and black holes evolve. WFIRST will carry out a powerful extrasolar planet search by monitoring a large sample of stars in the central bulge of the Milky Way for small deviations in brightness due to microlensing by intervening solar systems. This census, combined with that made by the Kepler mission, will determine how common Earth-like planets are over a wide range of orbital parameters

Direct Current Stimulation more than Doubles Visual Memory Performance

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Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), in which weak electrical currents are applied to the scalp using electrodes, is the first non-invasive way of stimulating the brain that can more than double visual memory performance. In future, Chi says, it might eventually be possible to use tDCS to "develop a 'thinking cap' that enhances learning". Subjects then repeated the experiment 12 times, with one group receiving so-called anodal tDCS (which boosts activity) on their right ATL and cathodal tDCS (which inhibits activity) on their left. A second group received the opposite stimulation and a third group received a placebo treatment, which did not stimulate either side of the brain.
Pubmed Plos One - Temporal Lobe Cortical Electrical Stimulation during the Encoding and Retrieval Phase Reduces False Memories provides details on the stimulation procedure [H/T Space Pirate at Reddit]

A constant current intensity of 2 mA (current density of 0.06 mA/cm2) intensity was applied for approximately 10 minutes (according to the duration of the task – stimulation was ended when the task was completed). Cognitive tasks were initiated 5 minutes after the start of stimulation as it has been shown that 3 minutes of stimulation is the minimum duration of stimulation in order to induce significant after-effects changes in the cortical excitability

Those in the first group more than doubled their scores after receiving tDCS, experiencing a 110 per cent improvement in visual memory.

Progress and Potential of African Economies

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A new report from the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) Lions on the move: The progress and potential of African economies projects that at least four groups of industries in Africa could together generate as much as $2.6 trillion in annual revenue by 2020, or $1 trillion more than today.

Africa's GDP rose twice as fast from 2000 through 2008 as it did in the preceding two decades. Africa's growth acceleration was broadly based, resulting from more than the global commodity boom. All sectors contributed, including finance, retail, agriculture, and telecommunications. Key to the growth surge were government reforms that created greater political stability, improved the macroeconomic environment and fostered created a healthier business environment.

August 12, 2010

Silk Metamaterial Enable Implantable Biosensors and Edible Optics

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Silk optical material

Researchers at the Tufts University School of Engineering and Boston University have fabricated and characterized the first large area metamaterial structures patterned on implantable, bio-compatible silk substrates.
This is a promising path towards the development of a new class of metamaterial-inspired implantable biosensors and biodetectors. The team focused on metamaterial silk composites that are resonant at the terahertz frequency. This is the frequency where many chemical and biological agents show unique "fingerprints," which could potentially be used for biosensing. The resonance response could be used as an implantable electromagnetic signature for contrast agents or bio-tracking applications.

The researchers conducted a series of in vitro experiments that examined the electromagnetic response of the silk metamaterials when implanted under thin slices of muscle tissue. They found that the metamaterials retained their novel resonance properties while implanted.

"Our approach offers great promise for applications such as in situ bio-sensing with implanted medical devices and the transmission of medical information from within the human body," says Omenetto. "Imagine the benefits of monitoring the rate of drug delivery from a drug-eluting cardiac stent, making a perfect absorber that can be implanted to attack diseased tissue by heat, or wrapping an 'invisibility cloak' around an organ to examine the tissue behind it."

NanoFETs 15 Nanometers in Diameter can Probe and Measure Inside Cells

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Pictured is the delivery of a two-terminal nanoscale electronic sensor into single cells
Chemists and engineers at Harvard University have fashioned nanowires into a new type of V-shaped transistor small enough to be used for sensitive probing of the interior of cells.

NanoFETs,nanoscale field-effect transistors, could be used to measure ion flux or electrical signals in cells, particularly neurons. The devices could also be fitted with receptors or ligands to probe for the presence of individual biochemicals within a cell.

Human cells can range in size from about 10 microns (millionths of a meter) for nerve cells to 50 microns for cardiac cells and current probes measure up to 5 microns in diameter

Spearfish Oil Formation could be Another Bakken Oil Boom for North Dakota

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Lynn Helms is director of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources indicates that oil companies are expecting to drill 50 wells this year to figure out the edges of the primary part of the spearfish play, and 50 to 100 next year, and then they really expect to go into full development mode. They could drill anywhere between two and seven thousand wells up there. In Canada, the formation is called the Waskada. It appears to be another thin oil structure over a large area and is being unlocked the horizontal multi-fracturing drilling. It will be interesting to see if this oil formation also becomes significant for Canada.

The Spearfish oil is at a shallower depth than the Bakken oil, so it should be cheaper to drill the Spearfish.
They plan on drilling as many as 30 wells in each square mile for this Spearfish play so it's going to be very intense from year three through year ten it is going to be a huge amount of drilling rigs and trucks and people migrating in to the Souris area in central Bottineau County

Generating the Option of a Two-Stage Nuclear Renaissance

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Scientists, from Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge, suggest a two-stage plan in their review paper that could see countries with existing nuclear infrastructure replacing or extending the life of nuclear power stations, followed by a second phase of global expansion in the industry by the year 2030. The team say their roadmap could fill an energy gap as old nuclear, gas and coal fired plants around the world are decommissioned, while helping to reduce the planet's dependency on fossil fuels.

A possible two-stage nuclear renaissance in the United Kingdom. The first wave is being developed, allowing the United Kingdom to "replace nuclear with nuclear." The second wave would allow nuclear energy to play a major role in electricity decarbonization.

They outline a 20-year master plan for the global renaissance of nuclear energy (link is to draft copy) that could see nuclear reactors with replaceable parts, portable mini-reactors, and ship-borne reactors supplying countries with clean energy

Teaching the Memristor

Leon Chua, the originator of the theory of the memristor, believes memristor will not be taught in undergraduate courses until it is widely adopted in industry for the simple reason that any circuit containing even only one memristor must be analyzed by nonlinear techniques.

All electronic textbooks have been teaching using the wrong variables--voltage and charge--explaining away inaccuracies as anomalies. What they should have been teaching is the relationship between changes in voltage, or flux, and charge.

The memristor is a discovery, and memristive phenomena will become ubiquitous in nano-electronic circuits.

If you understand the math behind memristors, you can create superior device models, such as for SPICE, which means you can design better or more realistic circuits,” elaborates Stan Williams. (Computational neuroscience blog Neurdon has a tutorial on modeling the HP memristor with SPICE.)

Credit Suisse Study Suggests There is 9.3 Trillion Yuan of Hidden Income in China

China’s households hide as much as 9.3 trillion yuan ($1.4 trillion) of income that is not reported in official figures, with 80 percent accrued by the wealthiest people according to a Credit Suisse Equities Research Study

* the money is mostly illegal or quasi-illegal equates to about 30 per cent of China's gross domestic product
* The average urban disposable household income in China is 32,154 yuan, or 90 percent more than official figures
* top 10 percent of China’s households take in 139,000 yuan a year, more than triple the official figures
* the bottom 10 percent earns 5,350 yuan, or 13 percent more
* The top 20 percent of households account for 81.3 percent of total hidden income
* Average per-capital income for the richest 10 percent, at 97,000 yuan, was 65 times of that of the poorest 10 percent, Wang's survey showed -- instead of the 23 times figure given by official National Statistics Bureau's household income survey.
* China’s wealth gap between rich and poor is even wider
* The “grey income” comes from many sources, including gifts to officials at weddings, profits from land transfers, kickbacks from construction projects, and payoffs from state monopolies such as the tobacco industry
* The potential of China’s consumer market is even bigger than we expected
* China's property bubble may not be so bad. China’s national real estate affordability ratio drops to 4x –similar to that in the US.
* If the effect of grey income is included, China’s Gini index is likely to be more than 0.55 – similar to many South American countries’

Android is number three worldwide and number in the USA and HTC is Eighth ranked mobile phone brand

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According to Garner, Google Android is number three worldwide and number one in the United States and HTC mobile phones are the number 8 brand in the world.
Worldwide mobile device sales to end users totaled 325.6 million units in the second quarter of 2010, a 13.8 percent increase from the same period in 2009, according to Gartner, Inc. Smartphone sales to end users accounted for 19 percent of worldwide mobile device sales, an increase of 50.5 percent from the second quarter of 2009.

HTC made its debut in the top 10 worldwide ranking, holding the No. 8 position with 139.1 percent growth year-on-year

Magnetic Nanovectors for Targeted Gene Delivery to brain cancer

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ACS Nano -Chlorotoxin Labeled Magnetic Nanovectors for Targeted Gene Delivery to Glioma

Glioma accounts for 80% of brain tumors and currently remains one of the most lethal forms of cancers. Gene therapy could potentially improve the dismal prognosis of patients with glioma, but this treatment modality has not yet reached the bedside from the laboratory due to the lack of safe and effective gene delivery vehicles. In this study we investigate targeted gene delivery to C6 glioma cells in a xenograft mouse model using chlorotoxin (CTX) labeled nanoparticles. The developed nanovector consists of an iron oxide nanoparticle core, coated with a copolymer of chitosan, polyethylene glycol (PEG), and polyethylenimine (PEI). Green fluorescent protein (GFP) encoding DNA was bound to these nanoparticles, and CTX was then attached using a short PEG linker. Nanoparticles without CTX were also prepared as a control.

Cell regeneration could damaged hearts

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Breakthrough in cell regeneration could lead to the repair of damaged hearts. Scientists have tried for 20 years to convert nonmuscle cells into heart muscle, but it turns out we just needed the right combination of genes at the right dose.

Cell Journal - Direct Reprogramming of Fibroblasts into Functional Cardiomyocytes by Defined Factors

The reprogramming of fibroblasts to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) raises the possibility that a somatic cell could be reprogrammed to an alternative differentiated fate without first becoming a stem/progenitor cell. A large pool of fibroblasts exists in the postnatal heart, yet no single “master regulator” of direct cardiac reprogramming has been identified. Here, we report that a combination of three developmental transcription factors (i.e., Gata4, Mef2c, and Tbx5) rapidly and efficiently reprogrammed postnatal cardiac or dermal fibroblasts directly into differentiated cardiomyocyte-like cells. Induced cardiomyocytes expressed cardiac-specific markers, had a global gene expression profile similar to cardiomyocytes, and contracted spontaneously. Fibroblasts transplanted into mouse hearts one day after transduction of the three factors also differentiated into cardiomyocyte-like cells. We believe these findings demonstrate that functional cardiomyocytes can be directly reprogrammed from differentiated somatic cells by defined factors. Reprogramming of endogenous or explanted fibroblasts might provide a source of cardiomyocytes for regenerative approaches.

August 11, 2010

Saving People from Bleeding to Death and Progress to Treating Fatal Hypertension

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Gopinath Sutendra and a group of collaborators have found that excessive cell growth can be reversed. Note: excessive cell growth is one of the seven damages from aging that SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence ) is trying to address

Hypertension causes 5 million premature deaths each year worldwide (WHO World Health Report, 2002) and 13% of global fatalities

Pulmonary arterial hypertension is a fatal disease with no treatment options. A research group in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta though is one step closer to changing that.

Pulmonary hypertension, which is high blood pressure in the lungs, is caused by a cancer-like excessive growth of cells in the wall of the lung blood vessels. It causes the lumen, which is the path where blood travels, to constrict, putting pressure on the right ventricle of the heart. University of Alberta cardiovascular and cancer researcher Evangelos Michelakis, his graduate student Gopinath Sutendra and a group of collaborators have found that this excessive cell growth can be reversed by targeting the mitochondria of the cell, which control metabolism of the cell and initiates cell death.

By using dichloroacetate (DCA) or Trimetazidine (TMZ), which are mitochondria targeted pharmaceuticals, the activity of the mitochondria increases, helping induce cell death and regressing pulmonary hypertension in an animal model, says Sutendra.

Camcorder with Picoprojector

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Ordro, a chinese company, is offering the HDV-350S which is a camcorder with a picoprojector. * captures up to 1080p video at 60 fps or 12 megapixel still pictures
* 10x optical zoom
* a removable pico-projector with a Texas instruments DLP chip
* projects a WVGA (854x480) resolution image with a brightness of 15 lumens for up to 60-inch projections

They are selling it for $549.95 with Free US Shipping.

Update on the Global Middle Class

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The Emerging Middle Class in Developing Countries by Homi Kharas of the Brookings Institute Middle class definition used is those spending $10-100 per day. Some interesting things to notice is that the projection is for the world economy to get to 200 trillion in 2005 dollars by 2036 up from about 70 trillion now. Asia will be over half of the world economy. North America will go from about 26% now to about 12%, which will be the same as central and south America. By 2024-2030, the dominant share of the middle class economy from India and China and the rest of Asia will established according the Kharas forecast. It would then be a shift from the lower end of the middle class range to the upper part.

Glass Fiber and Basalt Fiber Industries

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There are two general trends in the glass fiber industry: one is upward, toward enormous growth, and the other is downward, toward lower cost.

A general trend is the continuing push toward increased performance at lower price. In a typical graph of specific tensile strength (GPa per pound, y-axis) vs. material cost (dollars per pound, x-axis), aluminum and steel are at the bottom left; E-glass and Advantex are slightly above; next comes R-glass and then S-glass; and then aramid and carbon fiber are at the top right.

Basalt fiber is still not widely used, it is slowly making its way into the hand of consumers. At price points that vary between S-glass ($5/lb to $7/lb) and E-glass ($0.75/lb to $1.25/lb), basalt fibers have properties akin to S-glass. A common use is in the fire protection sector because of its high melt-point.

Strength-to-weight ratio of basalt fiber exceeds the strength of alloyed steel by 2.5 times and the strength of fiber glass – 1.5 times.

$10,000 Monolithic Dome Ecoshells for Basic Permanent Shelter and Infrastructure

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An EcoShell with a diameter of 6 meters (19.69’) and a living area of 28 square meters or 8 pings or 305 square feet. That 6-meter dome is needed in the developing world by the tens of thousands – really millions. The United Nations, years ago, found that a family of eight needs a home of just 28 square meters.
(H/T to reader Trkiehl)

A few good workers can build an EcoShell in three to five days. For a 6-meter dome, you need: 50 bags of cement, 2500’ roll of basalt reinforcing or fiberglass, about 5 cubic meters of small size concrete aggregate, an Airform that can be used hundreds of times, a small inflator fan and a few workers primarily with hand tools.

The basalt reinforcing (basalt rebar is now produced by several countries) weighs 1/11th as much as steel, but is stronger and – most importantly – will not rust.

Energy required to heat or cool a Monolithic Dome is generally 1/4 to not more than 50% of any conventional building. The Domes will be mostly fire resistant and resistant to hurricanes and Tornadoes.

A little village using 6-meter domes would cost about $10,000 per dome, including the infrastructure to handle the dome. By the infrastructure, we mean the water systems, sewer systems, electric distribution and simple roads. 200,000 domes at $10,000 each equals $2 billion. Double that to include larger houses, government buildings, commercial buildings, we are now at $4 billion. If we throw another billion at infrastructure we are at $5 billion

400 Million Smartphones per Year by 2014

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ABI Research projects sales of smartphones could double from about 200 million this year to 400 million in 2014.

* smartphones will rise from being 15 percent of all handsets in the first quarter of 2009 to 19 percent in the last quarter of this year. By 2015 they could represent more than 30 percent of all cellphone sales.

* Nokia leads the smartphone market with sales of about 45 million handsets in the first half of 2010, twice its nearest competitor

iSupply forecasts that Google Android will be used in 75 million smartphones by 2012, up from 5 million in 2009

Nanofiber Energy Harvesters

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Researchers reported the creation of piezoelectric energy harvesting nanogenerators on both silicon and polymer substrates.

Energy harvesters could eventually power small electronic devices from environmental motions. A medical implant, for example, might be powered by the mechanical energy in flowing blood.

So far energy harvesters have been able to generate 1.6 volts at 30 nanoamps, but researchers plan to increase both the voltage and current output capabilities of future piezoelectric nanogenerators by adding more fibers and optimizing the architecture.

Oracle Plans 32 Sparc Cores per Chip by 2015 and 128 cores in a Sparc Server

Robin Hanson Interviewed by Sander Olson

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Here is the Robin Hanson interview by Sander Olson. Dr. Hanson is a Professor of Economics at George Mason University. Before becoming an economist Dr. Hanson worked on AI at NASA. Dr. Hanson has done pioneering work on prediction markets. Dr. Hanson also believes that whole brain emulation may be achieved within the next several decades, and that this could lead to true AI and soaring economic growth rates.

Robin Hanson blogs at Overcoming Bias.

Question: You started out your career working on AI. Why did you switch fields?
Answer: Back in the 1980s, I worked for the aerospace industry on AI. But the insights that I was getting in AI were running low, and I became increasingly interested in institution design. So I switched to that field, and I am now a professor of economics at George Mason.

August 10, 2010

Future of Carbon Fiber

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CompositesWorld's Carbon Fiber 2009 conference had a forecast of carbon fiber supply and demand World carbon fiber production should increase from 41240 tons to 113500 tons in 2018.

Gingerbread Android OS 3.0 Expected Mid October 2010 and Android Smartphone and Tablet Rumors

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Codenamed Gingerbread, Android 3.0 is expected to ship in mid-October and will be aimed at high-end devices. More specifically it seems that Android 3.0 will only run on devices with at least a 1GHz processor, 512MB of memory and a 3.5-inch or larger display

* Android 3.0 will have a better copy and paste feature
* WebM,an open multimedia format, will be supported
* Google Music, a possible future competitor to Apple's iTunes could be included
* A new 3D interface is expected

Android Tablets and Smartphones

Boy Genius Report has information on the Verizon 2010-2011 roadmap

Ultrafast Digging and Super-foxholes

Army Working on Nanomissiles for Launching 10-23 kilogram Nanosatellites

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The Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) is working to develop a Nanomissile system. A nanomissile is as a liquid-fueled core booster with various strap-on solid-rocket motors.

The nanomissiles can be used as a missile defense target, sounding rocket and hypersonic test vehicle as well

Dynetics has information on their nanomissile project.

Dynetics has completed the first round of testing of a 250 lbf Nitrous/Ethane rocket engine. The test data is being used to anchor the design of a 2500 lbf engine that will be fired in the near future. The goal of this activity is to develop long duration 250 lbf and 2500 lbf flight weight engines and corresponding propulsion systems

Very Big Accelerators for Energy Production

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Arxiv - Very Big Accelerators as Energy Producers by R R Wilson of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (3 pages)

One consequence of the application of superconductivity to accelerator construction is that the power consumption of accelerators will become much smaller. This raises the old possibility of using high energy protons to make neutrons which are then absorbed by fertile uranium or thorium to make a fissionable material like plutonium that can be burned in a nuclear reactor. The Energy Doubler/Saver being constructed at Fermilab is to be a superconducting accelerator that will produce 1000 GeV protons. The expected intensity of about 10^12 protons per second corresponds to a beam power of about 0.2 MW. The total power requirements of the Doubler will be about 20 MW of which the injector complex will use approximately 13 MW, and the refrigeration of the superconducting magnets will use about 7 MW. Thus the beam power as projected is only a few orders of magnitude less than the accele ator power. But each 1000 GeV proton will produce about 60,000 neutrons in each nuclear cascade shower that is releaseq in a block of uranium, and then most of these neutrons will be absorbed to produce 60,000 plutonium a toms. Each of these when burned will Subsequently release about 0.2 GeV of fission energy to make a total energy of 12,000 GeV (20 ergs) for each 1000 GeV proton. Inasmuch as megawatts are involved, it appears to be worthwhile to consider the cost of making the protons to see if there could be an overall energy production.

Ohio State University Makes Prototype Plastic Spintronic Devices

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The hybrid magnetic tunnel junction fabricated to achieve electrical detection of spin polarization of the organic-based magnetic semiconductor
Researchers at Ohio State University have demonstrated the first plastic (spintronic) computer memory device that utilizes the spin of electrons to read and write data.

Epstein described the material as a hybrid of a semiconductor that is made from organic materials and a special magnetic polymer semiconductor. As such, it is a bridge between today’s computers and the all-polymer, spintronic computers that he and his partners hope to enable in the future.

University of Calgary Develops a Neurochip

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Naweed Syed's lab cultivated brain cells on a microchip.

The University of Calgary, Faculty of Medicine scientists who proved it is possible to cultivate a network of brain cells that reconnect on a silicon chip—or the brain on a microchip—have developed new technology that monitors brain cell activity at a resolution never achieved before

“This technical breakthrough means we can track subtle changes in brain activity at the level of ion channels and synaptic potentials, which are also the most suitable target sites for drug development in neurodegenerative diseases and neuropsychological disorders,” says Syed

Applied Materials Commercializing Roll to Roll Printing of Flexible Displays 2013-2015

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Plastic printer: This roll-to-roll printer can make simple circuits for devices like RFIDs on sheets of plastic. Now Applied Materials is developing a roll-to-roll printer to make flexible displays. Credit: Applied Materials

Applied Materials is developing a process that could print flexible transistor arrays that perform just as well as those on rigid substrates.

China, Japan and Vietnam Nuclear Updates

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1. Nuclear development in China has continued apace with the grid connection of a new reactor, the completion of a reactor building and a heavy forging deal.

* The third reactor (650 MWe) at Qinshan Phase II nuclear power plant was connected to the East China Power Grid just before midnight on 1 August. Qinshan II-3 is due to enter full commercial operation next year
* Another CNP-600 is also under construction at Qinshan, about one year behind, while four more are planned for the Changjiang site. Apart from two Areva EPRs being built at Taishan, the bulk of of China's new build program is based on CPR-1000s, Westinghouse AP1000s and then larger domestic derivatives of this.
* Meanwhile in Fujian province, China Nuclear Engineering and Construction Corporation celebrated the addition of Ningde 2's reactor dome - a full 68 days ahead of schedule, it said. This unit is a CPR-1000 slated to start commercial operation late in 2012

DARPA Has a $25 Million GPU supercomputer Project and Dell has a 16 GPU chasis

Amory Lovins on Energy in 1976 Versus Today

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Amory Lovins wrote the Energy Strategy : The Road not Taken? in 1976 for Foreign Affairs and now is promoting Reinventing Fire. The Energy Strategy from 1976 and Reinventing Fire are very similar.

Cogeneration at in 1976 was 4% of the energy of the United States. It is now 18%, and Amory now calls it micropower. Amory talked then of coal, conservation and soft technologies (wind and solar) reducing energy demand and squeezing oil and gas usage. He also called for the elimination of nuclear energy. He also indicated that there would be reduced use of some capital intensive energy sources. He has repeated the mostly the same points in his new Reinventing Fire proposal to eliminate oil and coal usage by 2050.

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