November 20, 2010

Extreme Tissue Engineering, spinal cord repair and regeneration paths to life extension

Tissue engineering is an interdisciplinary field that applies the principles of engineering and life sciences toward the development of biological substitutes that restore, maintain, or improve tissue function or a whole organ. There has been substantial progress to growing livers and kidneys.

What if you could go beyond growing whole, healthy replacement organs and grow new, young healthy replacements for all tissues of the body ? How long could someone live if everything was relatively easy to replace ? How long could the brain stay healthy if there was no deterioration in the function of any organ or system (immune, nervous etc...) of the body ? Stem cells would also be used to provide supplies of cells for more frequent rejuvenated cells. Especially for blood.

Mind uploading, brain emulation and zettaflop and yottaflop computing

This is a review of whole brain emulation and mind uploading.

This site has looked at brain emulation before

The human brain has about 100 billion neurons and 100 trillion synapses.

The brain emulation roadmap is a key reference.

It discusses how much more compute power might be needed to emulate a human brain if more modeling is required beyond neurons and synapses to ion channels and proteins.

At a whole brain emulation workshop it was estimated that 5×5×50 nm scanning resolution would be needed. It may also be possible to use embedded processor technology to manufacture large amounts of dedicated hardware relatively cheaply. A study of high resolution climate modelling in the petaflop range found a 24‐ to 34‐fold reduction of cost and about two orders of magnitude smaller power requirements using a custom variant of embedded processor chips (Wehner,Oliker et al., 2008).

Carnival of nuclear energy 28

1. Canadian Energy Issues - Nuclear subsidizes gas and renewables in Ontario: an inquiry into the price of political correctness

Natural gas has been cheap so far this year, and the wind and sun are "free." In spite of this, Ontario gas-fired and wind/solar generators still can't operate without enormous cost recovery payments from Ontario electricity rate-payers. In this post, Steve Aplin demonstrates that the province's three nuclear plants are generating most of the electricity and hence most of the revenue that covers the cost recovery payments to gas and renewables.

2. Idaho Samizdat - Patrick Moore ratchets up the rhetoric

When Patrick Moore first got started with his
Clean & Safe Energy Coalition to promote nuclear energy, his target was a nexus of green groups that opposed it. However, in an interview and in a recent speech to the nuclear industry in Cleveland, Moore came across as an astute analyst of financial and technology issues which are emerging as far much more formidable challenges to the nuclear renaissance

November 19, 2010

World nuclear power generation 2010

Nuclear power generation for 2009 was 2558 TWH and 2601 TWH in 2008. Currently the nuclear generation is tracking 40-60 TWH ahead of 2009 levels.

The OECD which generated 2134 TWH out of 2558 TWH in 2009 (83.4%) is 0.9% ahead of 2009 for the first eight months The OECD could still hit the 2008 levels which would be about 20 TWH higher than 2009 because there was a dropoff in the last three months in the US and France.

Russia's nuclear power (for Jan-Oct 2010) was 137.9 billion kWh which is an increase of 5% over 2009. Maintaining this pace will be a 9 TWH increase over 2009.

The Ukraine generated 84.3 TWH in 2008 and 77.8 TWH in 2009. They appear on track to surpass the 2008 level in 2010.

Ukrainian nuclear power plants (NPPs) produced 64.429 billion kWh of electricity in January-September 2010.

Ukrainian NPPs increased production by 6.9% tо 72.571 billion kWh up to the end of October. Ukrainian NPPs are planning to produce about 90 billion kWh of electric energy in 2011.

Technical details of the molecular chip project funded by Singapore and the EU

A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) partners 10 EU research organisations to work on the groundbreaking €10 million ATMOL project that lays the foundation for creating and testing a molecular-sized processor chip. They are pursuing Planar multiple interconnect Atom Technology.

A*STAR’s IMRE and 10 EU research organisations are working together to build what is essentially a single molecule processor chip. As a comparison, a thousand of such molecular chips could fit into one of today’s microchips, the core device that determines computational speed. The ambitious project, termed Atomic Scale and Single Molecule Logic Gate Technologies (ATMOL), will establish a new process for making a complete molecular chip. This means that computing power can be increased significantly but take up only a small fraction of the space that is required by today’s standards.

The fabrication process involves the use of three unique ultra high vacuum (UHV) atomic scale interconnection machines which build the chip atom-by-atom. These machines physically move atoms into place one at a time at cryogenic temperatures. One of these machines is located in A*STAR’s IMRE.

It seems like this is building off of the work of the Picoinside project Christian Joachim has had an EU project since 2005, to create an Atomic Scale Technology. It is now a necessity for any uni-molecular device and machine in molecular electronics, molecular mechanics, molecular transducers and for laboratory scale experiments on one molecule.

12 page conclusion of the Pico Inside roadmap report

25 different Chinese models of the unmanned aircraft at air show

WJ600 jet powered drone

Wall Street Journal - China is ramping up production of unmanned aerial vehicles in an apparent bid to catch up with the U.S. and Israel in developing technology that is considered the future of military aviation. Western defense officials and experts were surprised to see more than 25 different Chinese models of the unmanned aircraft, known as UAVs, on display at this week's Zhuhai air show in this southern Chinese city. It was a record number for a country that unveiled its first concept UAVs at the same air show only four years ago, and put a handful on display at the last one in 2008

Engineering Acceptable Air Transportation Safety with a focus on preventing and reducing worst case scenarios

There is too much of a focus on perfecting air travel safety. The USA is spending about $6 billion each year on air travel security and the extra wait times from post-September 11 security procedures add another $8 billion ($50/hour for business and $15/hour for everyone else. Greater use of full-body scanners instead of metal detectors would very likely increase wait times and thus raise those costs. Poole says that getting a passenger through a full-body scanner takes about 30 seconds longer than through a metal detector.

Because driving is so much more dangerous than flying, the thousands of more people who took to the roads rather than the skies after September 11 led to more car accidents. Blalock estimated that from September of 2001 to October of 2003, the enhanced airport security led to 2,300 road fatalities that otherwise would not have occurred. If security delays were to lengthen again, a similar driving fatality effect could happen, Blalock says, as more travelers choose to drive to avoid the increased inconveniences of flying.

So you also have to consider the safety of the overall transportation situation, because more people driving means more fatalities. If we can make the worst case on the airplane the same as bus or train terrorism then that would be a reasonable level. We will not need to overprotect planes if we make buses or trains the targets.

The underwear bomber did not have the explosives to rupture the air plane fuselage according to simulations and tests. Newer planes with composite materials are likely even safer in the event of an explosion.

They placed about 80 grams of PETN's base material, pentaerythritol, near the 747's fuselage where Abdulmutallab was seated. Eighty grams of pentaerythritol contains about the same explosive power as a hand grenade, but lacks the the hot, sharp metal fragments of an actual grenade that cause so much damage. The BBC set up cameras and Wyatt set off the explosives.

In the BBC documentary, entitled "How Safe Are Our Skies," the controlled detonation of the explosives lasted a scant 0.94 milliseconds, but the results were clear to cameras. Shock waves rippled through the exterior aluminum skin of the aircraft like fat water drops of water hitting the surface of a smooth pond.

The metal was permanently bowed out, and a handful of rivets were punched out, but no gaping holes appeared. The pressurized air inside the cabin would have slowly leaked out of the missing rivets, said Joseph, a non- life-threatening situation. The amount of explosives was "nowhere near enough" to bring down the plane, concluded Wyatt and Joseph

November 18, 2010

Husab mine in Namibia should produce 5600 tons of uranium in 2014

1. Australian uranium explorer Extract Resources' Namibian subsidiary Swakop Uranium plans to start building a new mine in 2012 with production expected two years later

The Husab mine project would have a throughput of 15 million tonnes per annum to produce 8,000 tonnes of uranium yellow cake with 70 percent contained uranium.

The cost of developing the reserve are estimated to be over $700 million, Swakop Uranium said.

Graphene produced with controlled defects could have 95 GPa tensile strength

Among graphene’s remarkable properties is its roughly 100-GPa tensile strength, which is 40 times greater than the value for steel. That, however, is for defect-free graphene sheets; when formed by chemical vapor deposition, a proven industrial technique, graphene sheets contain crystallites separated by grain boundaries.

A computational study by Rassin Grantab and Vivek Shenoy at Brown University and Rodney Ruoff at the University of Texas at Austin reveals that graphene sheets with highly misaligned boundaries are actually stronger than slightly misaligned ones. As the image shows, misaligned grain boundaries consist of repeating pairs of 5- and 7-member rings separated by hexagonal rings. In simulations of the stress-strain curves as a function of the misalignment, the researchers found that, surprisingly, tensile strength increases with increasing misalignment angle

Science - Anomalous Strength Characteristics of Tilt Grain Boundaries in Graphene

China's share of manufacturing of advanced machinery could more than triple by 2020

Wall Street Journal - China's market share of manufacturing of advanced machinery could climb to 30% of global exports within the decade, from 8% today

The progression of China's rail business reflects a national economic strategy of boosting state-owned firms and obtaining advanced technology, even at the expense of foreign partners. Chinese rail companies that were once junior partners are vying against the Japanese and European companies that pioneered high-speed rail in the burgeoning global market for super-fast train system

The CRH380A is the newest train and is equipped with first-class seats that fold completely flat, and it can go up to 236 miles per hour. CSR obtained Japanese high-speed technology starting in 2004 as part of a deal with Kawasaki. CSR engineers and executives say they have adapted and improved that technology to make trains that are faster and better. The fastest trains now operating in Japan and Europe run about 199 mph.

Tyler Formation could be one-third to one-half the size of the Bakken oil field

State Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms says the Tyler Formation is most likely one-third to one-half the size of the Bakken in terms of coverage area and oil reserves. The Tyler lies about 2,000 feet above the Bakken. The Tyler Formation above the Bakken encompasses nearly all of western and southwestern North Dakota and extends into South Dakota. The Bakken covers some 25,000 square miles in North Dakota, Montana, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Officials believe more than 4-8 billion barrels of oil can be recovered using current technology.

"From the conventional standpoint (vertical wells) the wells drilled into the Tyler sandstones are better producers than most of the vertical wells drilled into the Bakken/Three Forks," Nordeng said. "This is because the Tyler contains reservoir rocks (sandstones) that allow economic oil production from vertical wells whereas the Bakken/Three Forks wells (outside the Antelope Field) do not. However, the new horizontal Bakken/Three Forks wells are much better producers, at least initially, than the old vertical Tyler wells

Petrobank THAI oil process could more than double oil extraction from the oilsands

Petrobank gives its latest update on the Toe Heal Air Injection (THAI) oil recovery process and on multi-stage frac drilling advances It appears that it will take until 2015 to prove this technology out at 100,000 barrel per day volumes. So this will not have significant impact on oil supplied until after 2020. The multistage frac technique that is making the Bakken oil and similar formations productive will have more actual oil production until about 2025-2030. Full production from the Bakken and similar formations in world could produce several million barrels of oil per day by 2025. The THAI process increases oil from heavy oil and oilsands but it is not clear how rapidly it can be built out. THAI might double or quadruple the rate of ramping up of oilsand production. Oilsand production with current methods might ramp up at 2 million barrels per day every 10-15 years. Increasing the speed with which you can ramp up oilsand production will help to offset peak oil decline. Doubling available oil from oilsands to 400 billion barrels could delay peak oil by over ten years or extend a peak oil plateau.

Demonstrated THAI ® Benefits
* Higher resource recovery
* Larger exploitable resource
* Higher recovery: 70‐80% of oil in place
* Superior economics
* Lower capital cost: no steam and water handling facilities, 1 horizontal well
* Lower operating cost: negligible natural gas & minimal water handling
* Higher netbacks: partially upgraded product
* Faster project p j execution time: less facilities
* Enhanced energy efficiency: generate power from produced gas
* Lower environmental impact
* No net impact on water resources; net usable water producer
* Smaller surface footprint
* Partially upgraded oil requiring less refining
* 50% less greenhouse gas emissions from production to refining
* CO2 capture‐ready technology

Simon Fraser University detect weak magnetic field and possible key to puzzle of room temperature superconductivity

Simon Fraser University physicist Jeff Sonier and scientists at TRIUMF have discovered something that they think may severely hinder the creation of room-temperature (37 degrees Celsius) superconductors. There is a weak magnetism in a certain type of lanthanum-based copper oxide material, which is the closest known warm-temperature superconductor.

Sonier says, “Understanding what destroys superconductivity during high chemical doping could provide a vital clue about the microscopic mechanism responsible for high-temperature superconductivity. Knowledge of this would be a monumental step toward making a room-temperature superconductor.”

PNAS - Direct search for a ferromagnetic phase in a heavily overdoped nonsuperconducting copper oxide

20 page arxiv version of the paper

Nuclear electricity generation a bit ahead of 2009 for OECD and Japan doing especially well

Exelon may add 1500 Megawatts from Nuclear Uprates by 2017

Exelon said that between now and 2014 it will add more than 400 MWe of new generating capacity through the implementation of nuclear uprates. These uprates will avoid more than 2 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions annually. It added that it has developed a plan to implement an additional 900 MWe worth of extended power uprates, "but these projects will not be achieved until 2015 at the earliest given their long lead times and large capital investment requirements."

Nuclear commercial ships on specific trade routes will be here sooner than expected

"We will see nuclear ships on specific trade routes sooner than many people currently anticipate," said Lloyd's Register CEO Richard Sadler. The organisation has been an independent service provider to the shipping industry for 250 years. There is the potential for market-based measures for controlling carbon dioxide emissions, while the entry into force of strict International Maritime Organisation controls in 2020 provides a firm deadline against which the industry can weigh the benefits of a range of technology enhancements and fuel options. But with no clear technological fix to lower emissions using traditional diesel or LPG fuels, nuclear energy is emerging as a practical option.

In response to its members' interest in nuclear propulsion Lloyd's Register has recently rewritten its 'rules' for nuclear ships, which concern the integration of a reactor certified by a land-based regulator with the rest of the ship. A draft of the rules was put before Lloyd's technical committee two weeks ago and this represents a further step towards an international regulatory regime to ensure worldwide safety in a potential nuclear shipping sector.

November 17, 2010

What Will Threaten Us in 2040?

TAU (Tel Aviv University) leads an international project to predict and prepare for threats from future technologies

Could terrorists of the future use a swarm of tiny robots — less an a quarter-inch high — to attack their targets? Will new bio materials be able to target individuals carrying specific genetic markers? Could cyber-attackers melt down a nuclear facility with the press of a "return" key, or implant chips to control our minds?

These scenarios may sound like science fiction, but according to Dr. Yair Sharan, Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Technological Analysis and Forecasting (ICTAF) at Tel Aviv University, they're all within the realm of possibility in the next few decades. That's why it's critical for nations to be aware of the risks, and primed to mitigate them to avert another 9/11 or Mumbai terror attack.

China’s Megatrends - China's future from government and business leaders

The strength of China’s Megatrends is that it tells us how China’s elites want outsiders to understand them.

Some of the Naisbitts’ business sources have a view of their country and its politics that strays from the official line, giving us a hint of China’s future direction.

Rather talking about the PRC as a nation-state, these entrepreneurs see China as a corporate enterprise. This formulation caught the Naisbitts’ attention, leading them to conclude that “China has reinvented itself as if it were a huge enterprise.

I have felt that China is a corporate republic (a nation that is run like a corporation) for a few years.

"Building blocks" containing gels turn cells into different types of tissue

1) Khademhosseini begins by seeding a patterned slide with heart muscle cells

2) Guided by the pattern, the cells elongate until they resemble the cells in a living heart

3) After six days, the cells have formed "organoids" that beat on their own and may be removed from the slide

4) The organoids are embedded into blocks of gel that can be molded into any shape needed--and combined like tissue­-engineering "Legos"

Researchers at MIT have come up with a way to make "building blocks" containing different kinds of tissue that can be put together.

The MIT group, led by Ali Khademhosseini, an assistant professor in the Harvard-MIT division of Health Sciences and Technology and a recipient of a TR35 award in 2007, put embryonic stem cells into "building blocks" containing gel that encouraged the cells to turn into certain types of cell. These building blocks can then be put together, using techniques developed previously by Khademhosseini, to make more complex structures. The gel degrades and disappears as the tissue grows. Eventually, the group hopes to make cardiac tissue by stacking blocks containing cells that have turned into muscle next to blocks containing blood vessels, and so forth.

Halving risk of death with Seven steps

The American Heart Association is promoting Life's Simple 7, seven steps for halving your risk of death

The American Heart Association has defined "ideal cardiovascular health," identifying seven health factors and lifestyle behaviors that support heart health.

For the 2020 impact goal, the association categorizes cardiovascular health as poor, intermediate or ideal -- depending on where people are in each of the seven areas. While the metrics for children vary based on pediatric recommendations and guidelines, ideal cardiovascular health for adults is defined by the presence of these seven health measures, known as Life's Simple 7:

* Never smoked or quit more than one year ago;
* Body mass index less than 25 kg/m2;
* Physical activity of at least 150 minutes (moderate intensity) or 75 minutes (vigorous intensity) each week;
* Four to five of the key components of a healthy diet consistent with current American Heart Association guideline recommendations;
* Total cholesterol of less than 200 mg/dL;
* Blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg;
* Fasting blood glucose less than 100 mg/dL.

The association created the definition as part of its effort to achieve its new national goal: By 2020, improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20 percent while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent.

Artificial Retina More Capable of Restoring Normal Vision

A new retinal prosthetic creates an image (middle) that more accurately reconstructs a baby's face (left) than the standard approach (right).S. Nirenberg

Researchers have developed an artificial retina that has the capacity to reproduce normal vision in mice. While other prosthetic strategies mainly increase the number of electrodes in an eye to capture more information, this study concentrated on incorporating the eye's neural "code" that converts pictures into signals the brain can understand.

Science News has coverage.

To test its prosthetic system, the team decoded the output of the ganglion cells by measuring cellular activity when an image of a baby’s face was presented to the retinas of blind mice. Patterns measured from the mice with the new prosthetic reproduced a baby’s face in much finer detail than the standard method did. Instead of the standard method’s highly pixelized, blurry version of the face, the new prosthetic captured a smooth, clear view of the baby’s quizzical expression. “Not only can you tell it’s a baby’s face, you can tell it’s this baby’s face,” Nirenberg said.

Facebook to splinter within 5 years says someone who predicted the fall of Myspace

Jeffrey Cole gives social networking giant Facebook five years before its audience begins to splinter Facebook would be no more successful than MySpace and Bebo at hanging onto the fickle teenage audience. Dr Cole, who predicted the decline of MySpace at an earlier appearance he made for Ninemsn in Sydney four years ago, said it would take longer for Facebook's dominance to be challenged because of its global scale.

Only one or two newspapers in each country would survive by 2016 and they would become global news brands.

Nvidia describes Echelon 10 teraflops processor design

EETimes - Nvidia's chief scientist gave attendees at Supercomputing 2010 a sneak peak of a future graphics chip that will power an exascale computer. Nvidia is competing with three other teams to build such a system by 2018 in a program funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Nvidia's so-called Echelon system is just a paper design backed up by simulations, so it could change radically before it gets built. Elements of its chip designs ultimately are expected to show up across the company's portfolio of handheld to supercomputer graphics products.

Dally described a graphics core that can process a floating point operation using just 10 picojoules of power, down from 200 picojoules on Nvidia's current Fermi chips. Eight of the cores would be packaged on a single streaming multiprocessor (SM) and 128 of the SMs would be packed into one chip.

The result would be a thousand-core graphics chip with each core capable of handling four double precision floating-point operations per clock cycle—the equivalent of 10 teraflops on a chip. A chip with just eight of the cores would someday power a handset

Mars 'hopper' may run on nuclear decay and Martian CO2 and another Draper Labs Mars Hopper Prototype

Nuclear decay-driven machines could gather gases from the atmosphere of Mars, giving future robotic missions leaps of a kilometer once per week The Opportunity rover, which has been on the Martian surface for nearly seven years, passed the 25-kilometer mark this week. A new Mars hopper could cover 50 kilometers per year or 350 kilometers over seven years.

Royal Society Publishing - A Mars hopping vehicle propelled by a radioisotope thermal rocket: thermofluid design and materials selection

November 16, 2010

US satellite carrying the biggest commercial antenna reflector will support 4G for smartphones

BBC News reports the launch of a new 4G communication satellite. The mesh structure on the Skyterra-1 spacecraft is 22m (72ft) across. It will relay signals for a new 4G-LTE mobile phone and data system for North America run by Lightsquared. Callers whose networks are tied into the system will be automatically switched to a satellite if they are out of range of a terrestrial mast.

Two previous ventures ran into financial problems. Both Terrestar and DBSD North America had to seek legal protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy rules while they sought to restructure enormous debts built up as they rolled out their systems. LightSquared has promised a different approach. It says its business will be wholesale only. It will be selling capacity to carriers who wish to offer go-anywhere connectivity to their consumers, be they phone or data users

Crystalline Two-Dimensional DNA-Origami Arrays

Two-Dimensional DNA-Origami Arrays
The work is by Wenyan Liu, Dr. Hong Zhong, Dr. Risheng Wang, and Prof. Nadrian C. Seeman.

DNA origami gets large: A double-layer DNA-origami tile with two orthogonal domains underwent self-assembly into well-ordered 2D DNA arrays with edge dimensions of 2–3 μm (see schematic representation and AFM image). This size is likely to be large enough to connect bottom-up methods of patterning with top-down approaches.

More unlicensed and commercial Wireless spectrum for better broadband

Today, the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will take the first step by announcing a plan to free up 115 megahertz (MHz) of spectrum.

In June, President Obama set a goal of freeing up 500 MHz of federal and commercial spectrum over the next 10 years. Much of this newly available spectrum would be sold at auction to licensees. But some amount would be unlicensed and free for anyone to use. Unlicensed spectrum has spurred considerable innovation in the past, giving us technologies from Wi-Fi to the cordless phone.

NTIA has identified 15 MHz that can be freed up by consolidating what is currently used for meteorological observation systems. In addition, NTIA has identified 100 MHz of federal radar bands that can be shared with private users in the areas of the country currently beyond the reach of the radars. Going forward, the Department of Commerce is working to make more and better spectrum available for wireless broadband over the next 10 years.

The US ten year spectrum plan is here (34 page pdf)

Ioxus Increases Energy Density By 115 Percent with New Hybrid Ultracapacitor -battery

-Ioxus, Inc., a manufacturer of premium performance ultracapacitor technology for transportation, alternative energy, medical, industrial and consumer product markets, today announced it has developed a hybrid capacitor, a combination of an ultracapacitor and a lithium-ion battery, with an energy density 115 percent higher than standard electric double-layer capacitors (EDLCs). Its production of a hybrid capacitor makes Ioxus the only U.S. company, and one of only two manufacturers worldwide, offering this technology.

Ioxus hybrid capacitors are similar to lithium-ion batteries, but they retain a far superior cycle life with more than 20,000 charge/discharge cycles possible rather than the hundreds or few thousand delivered by batteries. The hybrid components offer advantages over standard ultracapacitors, as well, which have an energy density of 12.8 Wh/L. The hybrid capacitor offers an enhanced capability of energy storage, providing power to applications more quickly and efficiently.

The first generation of these hybrid capacitors are being targeted for automotive subsystems such as power windows and door locks, memory back-up, LED lighting and off-grid lighting.

Next generation hybrid capacitors could power any application which requires repetitive motion or a regular start and stop. That could mean a garbage truck, a fork lift or other material handling devices, which stop every few hundred feet.

Sander Olson interviews Randy Lewis who is making spider silk with silkworms

Here is the Randy Lewis interview by Sander Olson. Dr. Lewis is a molecular biologist who teaches at the University of Wyoming. His group has sequenced the genome of the orb spider, which has silk which is 10x as strong as steel. Dr. Lewis group aims to inject orb spider genes into silkworms in order to have silkworms produce pure spider silk. Dr. Lewis is also investigating combining orb spider silk with carbon nanotubes, which could yield materials which have unprecedented properties of strength and elasticity.

Question: Your lab has recently made some major advances in sequencing spider silk. What properties does spider silk have that make it so potentially valuable?

Answer: Our research is focused on cloning and sequencing spider silk genes. The gene sequence tells us what the silk proteins look like. Then we produce these proteins in bulk and turn them into fibers. We want to create fibers that are high in tensile strength and elasticity, a combination not found in manmade fibers, with the ultimate aim of mass producing fibers with the same properties as silk.

Your discovery has another video of this work

High Altitude wind companies Joby Energy, Makani Power, Ampyx Power, Kitegen and more

Joby Energy and several other companies are developing airborne wind turbines.

The Airborne wind conference was recently held and 156 participants in 2010 versus 68 participants in 2009

Makani Power in Alameda was awarded a $3 million ARPA-E grant to continue its work on an "airborne wind turbine." Makani, which is backed by Google, is working on wind "kites" that would be tethered to the Earth and capture the wind that blows at higher altitudes.

"Makani is taking a totally unconventional approach to wind power. It's a very clever idea and it's also very risky," said Majumdar, whose childhood hobbies included making model airplanes. "The kite has to take off and land on its own, and it can't crash

Makani Power website is here

China also has a 100 KW high altitude wind project in Foshan.

November 15, 2010

'Space-time cloak' to conceal events revealed in new study

The study, by researchers from Imperial College London, involves a new class of materials called metamaterials, which can be artificially engineered to distort light or sound waves. With conventional materials, light typically travels along a straight line, but with metamaterials, scientists can exploit a wealth of additional flexibility to create undetectable blind spots. By deflecting certain parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, an image can be altered or made to look like it has disappeared.

Previously, a team led by Professor Sir John Pendry at Imperial College London showed that metamaterials could be used to make an optical invisibility cloak. Now, a team led by Professor Martin McCall has mathematically extended the idea of a cloak that conceals objects to one that conceals events.

Domed Cities and large structures designed to handle ice and snow and Harvard has developed super-hydrophobic material to prevent icing

Khan Shatyr is a 150 meter tall (50 stories) transparent tent in Kazakstan which can hold 100,000 people. The hub and ETFE (strong form of teflon) skin of the could have to withstand the weight of 20,000 tonnes of snow and ice.

MIT Technology review reports that Harvard scientists say they have created materials that can prevent ice from forming on surfaces in the first place. Ice is a hazardous fact of winter life, playing havoc with roads, utility lines, buildings, and air travel. Conventional methods of getting rid of the ice, such as direct heating, applying salt, or using chemicals to trigger melting, all have liabilities: they can corrode the materials they're applied to, and damage the environment, and they are only modestly or temporarily effective.
The researchers say their breakthrough, reported in the latest issue of ACS Nano, could apply not only to aviation but to road paving, construction, power transmission, and virtually any other industry for which chemical and physical deicing is a concern. "What we want to do is to have ice not form at all," says Joanna Aizenberg, a materials scientist and leader of the project.

When an incipient ice droplet hits a conventional surface, it spreads out and grips, becoming a base for the aggregation of more droplets and ultimately a sheet of ice. But Aizenberg's surfaces are "super-hydrophobic," which literally means "very afraid of water." They contain micron-sized geometric patterns, including posts, bricks, and other structures, that cause droplets to bounce away before they can adhere. "The key feature is that we design these structures to be nearly friction-free," Aizenberg explains. "The droplets are effectively deflected before ice formation can occur."

The nanostructures can be etched or molded into metal, rubber, or other substances. Although airplanes are an obvious destination for ice-blocking materials, Aizenberg says another important application would be in construction. The accumulation of ice on roofs can threaten their structural integrity. Roofing surfaces that shrugged off ice could avert catastrophic collapses.

Matthew Herman, a building physicist with the international engineering firm Buro Happold, says ice-repellent technology would be extremely useful for large edifices

Microthreads Help Grow New Muscles

Mending muscle: Hair-thin threads like the ones shown here were seeded with muscle cells and implanted into wounds to help heal muscle in mice.
Credit: Tissue Engineering/Mary Ann Liebert

MIT Technology Review - Researchers have repaired large muscle wounds in mice by growing and implanting "microthreads" coated with human muscle cells. The microthreads—made out of the same material that triggers the formation of blood clots—seem to help the cells grow in the proper orientation, which is vital for rebuilding working muscle tissue.

China has a new very inexpensive car a relaunched Jiangnan Alto

the information is for the previous version of the Jiangnan Alto which should currently be the same other than the price.

In a strategy previously followed by India's Tata Motors, Zotye Auto based in Yongkang, Zhejiang Province, launched its basic model called Jiangnan Alto on November 9, with a retail price of 18,800 yuan ($2,838).

Equipped with a 0.8-liter engine, the Jiangnan Alto's basic model has a top speed of 120 kilometers per hour. The whole body measures 3.3 meters long, 1.465 meters wide, and 1.41 meters high. The wheelbase of the vehicle is 2.175 meters.

Though the present basic model does not yet meet Beijing's vehicle discharge standards, Zotye Auto is in the process of upgrading the vehicle to meet the capital's emission regulations

The Jiangnan Alto is based on the Maruti 800 version of the Suzuki Alto

The Maruti had Fuel Economy

* Mileage Highway (km/liter) 18.7 km/L (5.35 L/100 km; 44 mpg-US)
* Mileage City (km/litre) 13.1 km/L (7.63 L/100 km; 31 mpg-US)
* Mileage Overall (km/litre) 14.22 km/L (7.032 L/100 km; 33.4 mpg-US)

New Nanoscale Light Sensor Compatible With Etch A Sketch(TM) Nanoelectronics Platform

University of Pittsburgh researchers have created a nanoscale light sensor that can be combined with near-atomic-size electronic circuitry to produce hybrid optic and electronic devices with new functionality. The team, which also involved researchers from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, reports in Nature Photonics that the development overcomes one of nanotechnology’s most daunting challenges.

The group, led by Jeremy Levy, a professor of physics and astronomy in Pitt’s School of Arts and Sciences, fashioned a photonic device less than 4 nanometers wide, enabling on-demand photonic interaction with objects as small as single molecules or quantum dots. In another first, the tiny device can be electrically tuned to change its sensitivity to different colors in the visible spectrum, which may forgo the need for the separate light filters other sensors typically require.

Experimental demonstration of information-to-energy conversion

Schematic of the information-energy conversion with a macroscopic demon and a microscopic system Szilard engine as an example). The Szilard-engine can achieve the 100% conversion rate from information to energy

Nature Physics - Experimental demonstration of information-to-energy conversion and validation of the generalized Jarzynski equality Scientists in Japan are the first to have succeeded in converting information into free energy in an experiment that verifies the "Maxwell demon" thought experiment devised in 1867.

In 1929, Leó Szilárd invented a feedback protocol in which a hypothetical intelligence—dubbed Maxwell’s demon—pumps heat from an isothermal environment and transforms it into work. After a long-lasting and intense controversy it was finally clarified that the demon’s role does not contradict the second law of thermodynamics, implying that we can, in principle, convert information to free energy. An experimental demonstration of this information-to-energy conversion, however, has been elusive. Here we demonstrate that a non-equilibrium feedback manipulation of a Brownian particle on the basis of information about its location achieves a Szilárd-type information-to-energy conversion. Using real-time feedback control, the particle is made to climb up a spiral-staircase-like potential exerted by an electric field and gains free energy larger than the amount of work done on it. This enables us to verify the generalized Jarzynski equality, and suggests a new fundamental principle of an ‘information-to-heat engine’ that converts information into energy by feedback control.

Sandia's nuclear z-pinch fusion project targets scientific breakeven in two to three years

This is an optical photograph of an aluminum z-pinch target tube installed in the Z machine.

A new X-ray imaging capability has taken pictures of a critical instability at the heart of Sandia’s huge Z accelerator. The effort may help remove a major impediment in the worldwide, multidecade, multibillion dollar effort to harness nuclear fusion to generate electrical power from sea water. Previously, competing computer simulation programs had given conflicting predictions as to the extent of the threat posed by the MRT (magneto-Rayleigh-Taylor ) instability.

The more accurate simulations will enable researchers to better tweak the conditions of future Z firings, more effectively combating the effect of the instability.

Researchers believe that with thick liners and control of the MRT, the Z machine could achieve an output of 100 kilojoules to match the 100 kilojoules input to the fuel to start the fusion reaction. “That would be scientific breakeven,” Sinars said. “No one has achieved that.”

That day, he says, may be just two to three years away.

Russian architects propose a one kilometer domed city in an old diamond mine crater

Eco-city 2020 is a proposal for a domed city for the rehabilitation of the Mirniy industrial zone in Eastern Siberia, Russia designed by the innovative architectural studio AB Elis Ltd.

This site has proposed new domed city plans before.

Nextbigfuture has tried to show that dome cities can be made profitably and that they can provide energy efficiency and other benefits. Examples were provided of large EFTE (superstrong and light teflon) and aluminum structures that provide climate control for the interior structures and current largest examples of geodesic domes. An EFTE Geodesic dome can probably be brought down to $3-5 million per acre in cost. However, even $10-20 million per acre domes can be very profitable. Domes can make buildings inside more economical by reducing the need to heat or cool them. The Dome themselves can leverage atmospheric and other effects to maintain constant internal climate and generate power. The domes can use vents and can have a large chimney for airflow and even more temperature control.

Temcor Aluminum Domes are unique and patented triangulated space truss skinned with aluminum panels secured by a patented Temcor batten closure system. Temcor has built 7000 domes it the several hundred feet to one thousand feet in diameter size range. With an ability to cover spans from 40 to more than 1000 feet, Temcor Aluminum Domes are specified for churches, arenas, planetariums and observatories… wherever clear-span roof systems are needed. The conventional construction of the large (up to 1000 foot or 300 meter diameter) geodesic domes is with a tower about twice as tall as the final height of the dome. China has built a hyperboloid tower of 612 meters in height for $324 million.

The project would be located inside a giant man-made crater of more than one kilometer in diameter and 550 meters deep that used to be one of the world’s largest quarries. The idea is to create a new garden city that will be shielded from the harsh Siberian environmental conditions characterized by long and severe winters and short hot summers. The new city would attract tourists and residents to Eastern Siberia and would be able to accommodate more than 100,000 people. The new city is planned to be divided in 3 main levels with a vertical farm, forests, residences, and recreational areas. On of the most interesting aspects of the proposal is the glass dome that will protect the city and would be covered by photovoltaic cells that will harvest enough solar energy for the new development. A central core houses the majority of the vertical circulations and infrastructure along with a multi-level research center. The housing area is located in the first level with outdoor terraces overlooking a forest in the center of the city. The idea is to create a new type of highly dense urbanism in harmony with nature.

The alphabet of spin in nanostructures and progress to racetrack memory and spin computers

Permalloy disk sample and contacts for current injection. (Top) Four 90° domain walls intersect at the vortex core with its out-of-plane magnetization. (Bottom) As current flows through the disk, the vortex core is displaced due to the magnetic field of the current and due to spin-transfer torque. This displacement has been measured to quantify the nonadiabatic part of spin torque.

A robust measurement scheme indicates that a spin-related torque that speeds up moving domain walls in magnetic nanostructures is larger than previously estimated.

Imagine a computer equipped with shock-proof memory that's 100,000 times faster and consumes less power than current hard disks. EPFL Professor Mathias Klaui is working on a new kind of "racetrack" memory, a high-volume, ultra-rapid non-volatile read-write magnetic memory that may soon make such a creature possible.

Scientists at the Zurich Research Center of IBM (which is developing a racetrack memory) have confirmed the importance of the results in the Viewpoint article. Millions or even billions of nanowires would be embedded in a chip, providing enormous capacity on a shock-proof platform. A market-ready device could be available in as little as 5-7 years.

Racetrack memory promises to be a real breakthrough in data storage and retrieval. Racetrack-equipped computers would boot up instantly, and their information could be accessed 100,000 times more rapidly than with a traditional hard disk. They would also save energy. RAM needs to be powered every millionth of a second, so an idle computer consumes up to 300 mW just maintaining data in RAM. Because Racetrack memory doesn't have this constraint, energy consumption could be slashed by nearly a factor of 300, to a few mW while the memory is idle

All optical transistor

Researchers at EPFL and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics announced the discovery of a method for coupling photons and mechanical vibrations that could have numerous applications in telecommunications and quantum information technologies.

Controlling and modulating the flow of light is essential in today’s telecommunications-based society. Professor Tobias Kippenberg and his team in EPFL’s Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements have discovered a novel way to couple light and vibrations. Using this discovery, they built a device in which a beam of light traveling through an optical microresonator could be controlled by a second, stronger light beam. The device thus acts like an optical transistor, in which one light beam influences the intensity of another.

Water may have been part of the formation of the earth, modeling thawing of the earth and global warming could increase rainforest


Chemical Communications - Where on Earth has our water come from?

The presence of water in the Earth has long been an enigma. However, computer modelling techniques have shown that the adsorption of water onto the fractal surfaces of interplanetary dust particles, which are present in the planetary accretion disk, is sufficiently strong to provide a viable origin of terrestrial water.

New Scientist - water may after all have been present in Earth's building blocks.

"Some of the Earth's water probably came from this source, and quite possibly most of it," says co-author Michael Drake of the University of Arizona, Tucson. As the planet coalesced from the dust, pressures and temperatures would have grown high enough to detach the water from the grains, freeing it up to become streams and oceans.

Baking soda shows over twice algael biodiesel productivity and four times the production rate

MSU researchers Keith Cooksey, Brent Peyton and Rob Gardner (from left) discovered that baking soda, added at a specific time in the growth cycle of algae, dramatically increases the production of oil. (MSU photo by Kelly Gorham).

Montana State University researchers have discovered that baking soda can dramatically increase algae's production of the key oil precursors for biodiesel. When added at a particular time in the growing cycle, baking soda more than doubled the amount of oil produced in half the time in three different types of algae.

Lloyd's Register, Enterprises Shipping and Trading, Hyperion Power Generation and BMT examine nuclear powered commercial shipping

Lloyd's Register, Enterprises Shipping and Trading, Hyperion Power Generation and BMT have joined forces to explore the potential for nuclear power (Hyperions small 25 MWe reactors) to propel future generations of commercial tankers

Changing to nuclear powered container ships would reduce air pollution by the equivalent of about 20,000 cars converted to electric for each container ship that is converted.

Savannah River national lab has an agreement to build one of the first Hyperion Power Generation 25 MWe reactors and it could be operating in as little as three years.

There has been commercial nuclear cargo ship and the russians have nuclear ice breakers and there have been hundreds of nuclear powered submarines and aircraft carriers.

November 14, 2010

Longer SAT essays have better scores

Fourteen-year-old Milo Beckman, dubbed a prodigy and a student at arguably the best specialized math and science secondary school in the country, will be one of those test takers, but with a trick up his sleeve. He's cracked the code to getting a higher score on the essay portion of the infamous SATs.

Milo wanted to test the research of Les Perelman, the director of the undergraduate writing program at MIT, who found that the longer the SAT essay, the better the grade. According to, the essays, added to the test in 2005, are graded not for their individual qualities but for the general impression they give the reader

Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China targets 2016 for new 156 seat passenger plane

China is developing the C919 plane. They are targeting 2016 for a new 156 seat passenger plane. At the previous Airshow China in 2008, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) made its debut as the state-owned company tasked with developing the country's first large commercial aircraft, the C919.

The Comac C919 will be a planned 156-190 seat narrow-body airliner The C919 forms part of China's long-term goal to break Airbus and Boeing's duopoly, and will compete against Airbus A320 family and the Boeing 737 Next Generation.

Honeywell International Inc. will supply power units, on-board computing systems, wheels and brakes; Rockwell Collins Inc. will handle navigation systems; GE Aviation is building the avionics; Eaton Corp. is involved with fuel and hydraulics; and Parker Aerospace of Irvine is responsible for flight controls. Powering the aircraft will be two fuel-efficient engines built by CFM International, a company co-owned by GE and French conglomerate Safran.

Carnival of Space 177

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