January 29, 2011

Star Wars video games and the Clone Wars cartoons are better than the movies

China will exceeded US electricity generation in early 2011 and forecasts to 2012

Carnival of Space 182

After a one month hiatus, the Carnival of Space is back. Nextbigfuture will be working with Universe today on the organization of the Carnival of Space. There are hosts signed up into April.

1. the Planetary Society has Amateur image processor Daniel Macháček took five images of Phobos from Mars Express' recent flyby and produced an amazing animation of the potato-shaped moon rotating.

Holographic unification of dark matter and dark energy

Arxiv - Holographic unification of dark matter and dark energy

Using a new version of the holographic principle, a constant term was introduced, which conduces to the description of the standard cosmological LCDM model, and unifies under the same concept the dark matter and dark energy phenomena. The obtained model improves the results of previously considered holographic models based on local quantities. The inclusion of constant term is interpreted as a natural first approximation for the infrared cutoff which is associated with the vacuum energy, and the additional terms guarantee an appropriate evolutionary scenario that fits the astrophysical observations. The model allows to reproduce the standard LCDM model without explicitly introducing matter content, and using only geometrical quantities. It is also obtained that the model may describe the dark energy beyond the standard LCDM.

January 28, 2011

Opinion, Prediction and Speculation on Egypt

Before this site reviewed various analysis on Egypt from Israeli security and from the Foreign Policy Journal I had said the odds were 2:1 that Mubarak would hold power. The 1/3 odds are not that he would be overthrown by Islamic/Iranian/popular dissent forces. I think the 1/3 is there is some kind of military coup where some General that Israel and the CIA think is strong enough takes over.

I think that Israel and Mubarak will pull out all the tops to keep Mubarak or someone acceptable in Egypt.

12 men have been to the moon but only two have been to the bottom of Ocean - James Cameron wants to be third

James Cameron is preparing to dive to the deepest point of the oceans as part of his research for a sequel to Avatar, his 3D epic.

He has commissioned Australian engineers to build a deep sea submersible which can reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench - 10.9km (36,000ft) down in the western Pacific - after deciding to set the film in the turbulent waters of Pandora, an alien moon.

The Daily Mail has information about the technology of James Cameron ocean bottom submarine

Individual First Aid Kits (IFAK) Help Save Lives in Tucson Shooting - links for training and amazon sells the parts

The United States military has long been at the forefront of providing lifesaving training and equipment to soldiers in combat. The Sheriff’s Department recognized the extreme value of taking these advancements and putting them into the hands of first responders in the field. In June 2010, all of our deputies were given an Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) designed for blunt force and penetrating trauma commonly associated with traumatic gunshot and stab wounds. Extensive research was conducted to develop these kits to include collaboration with SWAT trained paramedics and emergency room physicians. By the end of July 2010, every deputy had been trained and possessed the skills to successfully employ the IFAKs.

Smartphone improve Cochlear Implants and iPhone iCar app makes iphone into an accident blackbox

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 37

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 37 is up at Idaho Samizdat

ANS nuclear cafe goes over the economics of wind power and hydro power

Wind-generated electricity is not free. The cost of fuel for any power plant is just part of the cost that a consumer needs to pay. Because the fuel cost is zero does not mean that the cost of the generated electricity is zero.

This is similar to the electricity generated by hydro. The cost of the water is zero, but the hydro-generated electricity is not zero. It includes O&M costs and the cost of building the hydroelectric dam.

Oil News Roundup - Hess Plans in the Bakken, oilsand news and 2010 US crude oil production back up to 2003 level

Public version of Israeli security analysis of the Egypt situation

As with Iran in ’79, Islamists could hijack pro-democracy movements; ex-IDF research chief: “We're on thick ice, but even that melts eventually."

While no analysts here predict any immediate ramifications for Israel’s national security, some said mass protest movements that begin as pro-democracy uprisings could easily be hijacked by Islamists.

Probably should adjust some of the lists of the next hot growth emerging economies

Previously we had summarized the countries that come believed would be the hot growth emerging countries to follow China, India, Brazil and Russia

The CIVETS (Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey and South Africa) is an acronym for favored emerging markets coined in late 2009 by Robert Ward, Global Forecasting Director for the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The Next Eleven (or N-11) are eleven countries—Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, South Korea, Turkey, and Vietnam—identified by Goldman Sachs investment bank as having a high potential of becoming the world's largest economies in the 21st century along with the BRICs.

It seems likely that countries like Egypt, Iran. Pakistan could have instability problems that could hinder growth for many years. Also, more information is emerging that shows that Egypt's economy was more screwed up and unable to deliver hope to most of its people. Egypt's high population growth meant that Egypt needed to deliver 7% per year growth or better in order to provide jobs and a good economy for its people.

Volkswagen will produce at least 100 of the 261 mpg car

Automobilwoche heard in Qatar both from Piech (prior chariman of VW) and Winterkorn (Martin Winterkorn Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG) that Volkswagen will actually build a small series (about 100 first) of the 261 mpg XL1 car. Piech confirmed that the car will be made available for purchase at a yet undisclosed price. It’s not just a field test.

English translation of the Automobilwoche page

The two-seater will make do with less than one liter of diesel per 100 kilometers. The two-seater XL1 is the latest concept car from VW. With it renewed the manufacturer is formulated several years ago claiming to build a one-liter car. By some carbon existing body weighs only 795 kg the vehicle. Its inspired by a dolphin body shape is particularly aerodynamically (CW-value: 0.186).

Updates on Egypt and the Middle east

Foreign Policy journal analysis of "Just whose side are arab armies no anyway?"

Tunisia’s military saved the people’s revolution. But in other Arab countries on the brink -- such as Egypt and Yemen -- the armed forces are far less likely to do the same. The reactions of national militaries often determine whether a popular revolution lives or dies. And the armed forces of Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen -- three countries where stunning public uprisings are challenging the existing order this week -- couldn't be more different. Among the three, Tunisia's small, professional force stands out as the exception, not just for its quality but for its separation from an entrenched, autocratic regime. The armed forces rule Egypt

Jerusalem post - The number of dead in Egypt is now 18.

There are reports that influential businessmen and even some government officials, many close to President Mubarak, have boarded planes and left the country.

Bloomberg and other sources report on the events in Egypt.

* Mohamed ElBaradei, 68, former head of the United Nations nuclear agency, returned to Egypt and said he would take part in the protest. ElBaradei was put under house arrest today.

* Tens of thousands of marchers in the capital chanted “liberty” and “change” at demonstration points across the city of 17 million, many of them intending to rally in Tahrir Square. Smoke rose from downtown as Al Jazeera said the ruling party’s offices were on fire.

Nanoworld in color with a projector that present in sun filled rooms

Touchscreen made in part from carbon nanotubes

Researchers at Fraunhofer have come up with an alternative display made of low-priced renewable raw materials available all over the world. The researchers are presenting touchscreens that contain carbon nanotubes at the nano tech 2011 fair in Tokyo (Hall 5, Stand E-18-11) from February 16-18.

The researchers at Fraunhofer have succeeded at coming up with a new material for electrodes that is on the same level as indium-tin-oxide (ITO) and on top of it is much cheaper. Its main components are carbon nanotubes and low-cost polymers. This new electrode foil is composed of two layers. One is the carrier, a thin foil made of inexpensive polyethylenterephthalate PET used for making plastic bottles. Then a mixture of carbon-nanotubes and electrically conducting polymers is added that is applied to the PET as a solution and forms a thin film when it dries.

Glasgow University and EADS developing conductive storage for solid hydrogen fuel project

the Scotsman - Scientists at the University and EADS IW are working on using nanotechnology to improve the efficiency of the Hydrisafe tank for hydrogen storage as a solid. The Hydrisafe tank was developed by Hydrogen Horizons to store hydrogen in a solid state. By modifying the composition and microstructure of the tank and hydrogen storage materials through nanotechnology, they hope to make it possible to store and distribute the hydrogen so efficiently that it becomes viable for powering fuel cells on aeroplanes. Following the successful completion of the initial project, the team plan to fly an unmanned aircraft using a hydrogen powered fuel cell as a prototype for a commercially usable plane.

If the project goes to plan, the researchers hope to be able to fly an unmanned aircraft using a hydrogen-powered fuel cell as a prototype for a commercially usable plane.

There is detailed information below from a 25 page presentation. This is an alternative hydrogen storage plan that has some compatibility (but also competes) with the Cella Energy micro bead hydride storage system.

January 27, 2011

Unrest in Egypt and Middle East and a summary of coverage of fast moving events

Egypt has gone offline.

In a stunning development unprecedented in the modern history of the Internet, a country of over 80 million people has found itself almost entirely disconnected from the rest of the world.

The near-disconnection -- at least one Internet provider is still online -- comes after days of street protests demanding an end to nearly three decades of autocratic rule by President Hosni Mubarak. Those followed this month's revolution in Tunisia, another country with little political freedom and high levels of corruption.

The UK Guardian has a summary of first hand reports

UK Telegraph coverage

In a further blow to his attempts to retain the office he has held for nearly 30 years, sources in Egypt said Mr Mubarak, who is 82, was told by police commanders that any demonstration attracting more than 70,000 protesters could not be contained.

Bigelow Aerospace inflatable expansion may be put onto the International Space station in 2014

SMS message from cellphone company sets off suicide bomber's bomb prematurely

A "Black Widow" suicide bomber planned a terrorist attack in central Moscow on New Year's Eve but was killed when an unexpected text message set off her bomb too early, according to Russian security sources.

The unnamed woman, who is thought to be part of the same group that struck Moscow's Domodedovo airport on Monday, intended to detonate a suicide belt on a busy square near Red Square on New Year's Eve in an attack that could have killed hundreds.

Security sources believe a spam message from her mobile phone operator wishing her a happy new year received just hours before the planned attack triggered her suicide belt, killing her but nobody else.

Magnetized Target Fusion

Discovery Magazine provides an update of the work at Los Alamos National Laboratory on magnetized target fusion

Wurden thinks his team has a shot at beating ITER to the break-even finish line, but only if he can scrounge up a little more cash. “We can’t do it with the funding we have now,” he says. “The Department of Energy sponsors all the magnetic fusion research in the country. Alternate projects like ours are at best about 10 percent of the budget, maybe $20 million divided among 10 universities and a couple of national labs.”

The Los Alamos work is similar to the work of General Fusion which we have covered extensively. We have also discussed the Los Alamos work before.

Outside the body filtration of free floating cancer cells treatment for Ovarian cancers

Schematic of magnetic nanoparticle treatment

A paper published in the January issue of the journal Nanomedicine could provide the foundation for a new ovarian cancer treatment option -- one that would use an outside-the-body filtration device to remove a large portion of the free-floating cancer cells that often create secondary tumors. Beyond cancer, the researchers believe their approach could be useful for treating other diseases in which a reduction in circulating cancer cells or virus particles could be useful. Using magnetic nanoparticles engineered to capture HIV could help reduce viral content in the bloodstream, for instance.

Related to poor US Public Health - Taco Bell Beef Below USDA Minimum of 40%

USA Today and others are reporting of a lawsuit against Taco Bell for the meat in their Tacos. The suit claims that the taco meat at Taco Bell is only 36% beef, which is less than the USDA minimum of 40% for taco meat filling. The suit seeks to have Taco Bell either rename their products or add more beef. Besides the fact that Taco Bell could be below the 40% standard, there is also the aspect that most people are not aware of the USDA labeling definitions for meat filling being only 40% meat. People are also unaware that Taco Bells labels their Taco meat as beef filling. Although I think most people know that fast food is not good quality food. However, Taco Bell is going below already low standards to qualify for the "Where's the beef ?" lawsuit. (classic Wendy's hamburger commercial asking Where's the beef?)

I think Taco Bell would be wise to follow the lead of Dominos Pizza and relaunch with real ingredients and disavow their old product.

This relates to recent medical statistic reports that the USA is lagging other developed nations in life expectancy gains because too many Americans are fat, sedentary and smoking

Tethered Jetpack for recreational flying over water

Jetlev concept greatly improves thrust-to-weight ratio by locating the propulsion engine, fuel and related systems on a separate vessel tethered behind the jetpack, and uses water as the jet propulsion medium because its high density can carry vast amounts of power at much lower velocities, and generate nozzle reaction forces much more effectively, than gases.

JetLev will go on sale later this year and allows you to soar up to 8.5 meters above water at a maximum speed of 35 kilometres per hour. The jetpack is expected to be snapped up for recreational use, by resorts, rental agencies or anyone with $175,000. It could be used for search and rescue, marine structure inspection and repair, lifesaving, firefighting and even peacekeeping.

Flight ceiling (measured at feet level): 28 feet (8.5 meters)
Duration at wide open throttle (approx.) 1 hour
Duration at cruising speed (approx.) 1.5-2 hours

Progress to Affordable and Practical Consumer Holographic television at MIT

Using a single Xbox Kinect and standard graphics chips, MIT researchers demonstrate the highest frame rate yet for streaming holographic video. Naturally for the hologram demo (video below), one of the group's members donned full Princess Leia garb to re-enact the fabled "Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope," scene from Star Wars. The group is looking to develop alternative versions of the diffraction screen at lower costs, and is seeking to design a laptop-scale screen that retails at around $200. Scaling up the devices to the size of movie screens will be difficult because it is tough to generate complicated diffraction patterns on larger scales. The actual holographic effect doesn't look like much unless you're there in person.

In November, 2010, researchers at the University of Arizona made headlines with an experimental holographic-video transmission system that used 16 cameras to capture data and whose display refreshed every two seconds. The new MIT system uses only one data-capture device — the new Kinect camera designed for Microsoft’s Xbox gaming system — and averages about 15 frames per second. Moreover, the MIT researchers didn’t get their hands on a Kinect until the end of December, and only in the week before the conference did they double the system’s frame rate from seven to 15 frames per second. They’re confident that with a little more time, they can boost the rate even higher, to the 24 frames per second of feature films or the 30 frames per second of TV — rates that create the illusion of continuous motion.

researchers discover way to reverse immune system aging and improve vaccination response by 400%

Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have discovered a way to reverse the aging process by removing old B lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell in the vertebrate immune system) from old mice, and forcing the production of young, potent cells to replace them. The findings were reported in the January 2011 issue of the scientific journal "Blood."

January 26, 2011

Company that built a 15 story building in 6 days claims they will complete a 200 story skyscraper in 6 months in 2011

The proposed vertical city skyscraper is in the background

Singularity Hub has more details about the 15 story building that was built in 6 days and the company behind it.

China’s Broad Industrial Group wanted to showcase the speed and efficiency of its new construction technology, so it constructed the Ark Hotel in Changsha in record time.

A team of 200 workers erected the 15 story internal structure in just 46.5 hours.

External construction took another 90 hours, for a total of less than 6 days.

According to Broad, the hotel is built to withstand a 9.0 earthquake while using one sixth the material and costing 20% less.

The foundation and other ground construction was completed before main construction was timed. Also, the building is constructed from prefabricated parts which were manufactured off site and likely took weeks to fully produce.

40-inch Graphene Sheet made by Samsung

Konstantin Sergeyevich Novoselov, who is a professor at the University of Manchester, School of Physics & Astronomy, and a 2010 Nobel Physics Prize winner, delivered a lecture at Graphene Workshop. We are developing [a 30 inch graphene sheet] in collaboration with Samsung and others. We obtained a sample of the graphene sheet from them, and we are using it for validations and experiments.

I heard that they recently succeeded in making a 40-inch (diagonal length: about 102cm) or larger graphene sheet

Method Prints Nanostructures Using Hard “Pen” Tips Floating on Soft Polymer Springs

Northwestern University researchers have developed a new technique for rapidly prototyping nanoscale devices and structures that is so inexpensive the “print head” can be thrown away when done.

Hard-tip, soft-spring lithography (HSL) rolls into one method the best of scanning-probe lithography -- high resolution -- and the best of polymer pen lithography -- low cost and easy implementation.

HSL could be used in the areas of electronics (electronic circuits), medical diagnostics (gene chips and arrays of biomolecules) and pharmaceuticals (arrays for screening drug candidates), among others.

Nature - Hard-tip, soft-spring lithography
The pyramid on the dollar made only tens of microns across

Gene Therapy can make T-cells resistant to HIV without affecting other activity

A team of researchers from Japan, Korea, and the U.S. developed an anti-HIV gene therapy method in which a bacterial gene called mazF is transferred into CD4+ T-cells. The MazF protein is an enzyme (an mRNA interferase) that destroys gene transcripts, preventing protein synthesis. The design of this mazF gene therapy vector ensures that synthesis of the MazF protein is triggered by HIV infection. When HIV infects treated T lymphocytes, MazF is induced, blocking HIV replication and, essentially, making the T-cells HIV resistant.

Human Gene Therapy - Acquisition of HIV-1 Resistance in T Lymphocytes Using an ACA-Specific E. coli mRNA Interferase

Metamaterials should allow scientists recreate and study the properties of Quantum Foam in a lab

(a) Randomly generated instantaneous microscopic fractal map of dielectric permittivity in a mixture of aniline and cyclohexane just below the critical temperature Tc. (b) Same map as it looks if probed with small kz photons. (c) A similar fluctuating permittivity distribution, as it would be perceived by extraordinary photons propagating in a layered hyperbolic metamaterial at ω just below ω0. Areas shown in red appear as “virtual black holes”.

Arxiv - Virtual Black Holes in Hyperbolic Metamaterials (11 pages) Metamaterials should allow scientists recreate and study the properties of space time on the smallest scale.

Optical space in electromagnetic metamaterials may be engineered to emulate various exotic space-time geometries. However, these metamaterial models are limited in many respects. It is believed that real physical space-time strongly fluctuates on the Planck scale. These fluctuations are usually described as virtual black holes. Static metamaterial models introduced so far do not exhibit similar behavior. Here we demonstrate that thermal fluctuations of optical space in hyperbolic metamaterials lead to creation of virtual electromagnetic black holes. This effect is very large if the dielectric component of the metamaterial exhibits critical opalescence.

MIT Technology Review has coverage

Flexblue underwater reactor prototype proposed for 2013 and commercial production for 2016

France's DCNS is proposing small offshore nuclear power plants called Flexblue and this is a follow up on that reactor.

DCNS has been making nuclear submarines for the French navy for 40 years, Flexblue is a cylindrical unit 100 metres in length and 12 to 15 metres in diameter. Inside would be a small nuclear power reactor and well as steam generators, turbines and a generator to produce 50 to 250 MWe.

DCNS said it had been working on the Flexblue underwater nuclear reactor concept for over two years. It said that both Electricité de France and Areva had "expressed interest in Flexblue's modularity and standardisation." The three companies as well as the CEA are now to begin the next two-year phase of development. Areva-TA already works with DCNS to make small reactors for the French navy.

Flexblue will compete with Areva’s third generation EPR reactor. This competition is likely to shape the future of European nuclear power, as the EU seeks to diversify its energy supplies in the face of fossil fuel depletion. The Flexblue project will enter the concept validation phase shortly, with a prototype proposed for 2013. If successful, commercial production could begin by 2016. DCNS’ CEO, Patrick Boissier, has hailed the project as a triumph of European engineering.

Thinner Nanowires Exhibit Giant Piezoelectricity - 100 times greater Piezoelectric effect

Northwestern University researchers have found that piezoelectricity in GaN and ZnO nanowires is enhanced by as much as two orders (100 times larger)of magnitude as the diameter of the nanowires decrease.

“This finding is very exciting because it suggests that constructing nanogenerators, sensors and other devices from smaller nanowires will greatly improve their output and sensitivity,” Espinosa said.

“We used a computational method called Density Functional Theory (DFT) to model GaN and ZnO nanowires of diameters ranging from 0.6 nanometers to 2.4 nanometers,” Agrawal said. The computational method is able to predict the electronic distribution of the nanowires as they are deformed and, therefore, allows calculating their piezoelectric coefficients.

Multibit error correction is a step towards practical reversible computing

Arxiv - Reversible Logic Based Concurrent Error Detection Methodology For Emerging Nanocircuits In a reversible logic gate, every output can be transformed back in to its input. If this is done perfectly then there would zero waste. Actually building such a logic gate is a difficult and has not been done.

Reversible computing seems to contradict one of the foundations of computer science: Rolf Landauer's principle that the erasure of a bit of information always dissipates a small amount of energy as heat. This is the basic reason that conventional chips get so hot. But this principle need not apply to reversible computing because if no bits are erased, no energy is dissipated. In fact, there is no known limit to the efficiency of reversible computing. If a perfectly reversible physical process can be found to carry and process the bits, then computing could become dissipation free.

New Scientist - Himanshu Thapliyal and Nagarajan Ranganathan, a pair of computer scientists at the University of South Florida have brought the technology one step closer by describing an error correcting scheme for reversible logic. Previous efforts could only detect single-bit errors, but their new method can deal with multi-bit errors, an essential requirement for practical reversible computing.

Trim Slice mini-PC will sell on Amazon in April, 2011

Following up on the Trim-slice mini PC that will be powered by a Tegra 2 and use 3 watts. The current products from CompuLab are selling on Amazon for about $300-400 with different Atom processors. The new Trim-slice will probably be in the same price range.

UK Cella Energy develops hydrogen based fuel in microbeads that can lead to US$1.50 per gallon fuel compatible with existing cars

 UK-based Cella Energy has developed a synthetic fuel that could lead to US$1.50 per gallon gasoline. It is hydrogen based fuel and produces no carbon emissions when burned. The technology is based on complex hydrides, and has been developed over a four year top secret program at the prestigious Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford. Early indications are that the fuel can be used in existing internal combustion engined vehicles without engine modification. Cella can manufacture the materials in the form of micron-sized beads it is possible to move the beads like a fluid. It looks a practical way to introduce hydrogen fuels that is mostly compatible with existing engines and fuel service station infrastructure.

UPDATE : EADS (Airbus) is working on a conductive storage system for hydrogen

Liquid hydrogen has a specific energy density of about 143MJ/Kg (megajoules per kilogram) compared to regular jet-fuel or kerosene at about 43MJ/Kg. This has big potential for rockets and airplanes and for military applications. Liquid hydrogen is very cold, and has to be stored at -253°C(-423°F). This means keep rockets on launch pads on standby is technically difficult and expensive. Cella's hydrogen micro-beads are also a liquid hydrogen fuel but can be stored at normal temperatures. This means rockets can be kept on permanent stand-by at significantly reduced cost. So the beads would not be used in the rockets since they 6% hydrogen but for safer and cheaper storage.

Cella Energy uses the benefits of nano-structuring to encase hydrides using coaxial electrospinning. Cella Energy replaces the high pressure cylinders with a conventional shaped fuel tank that can be more easily packaged within an existing vehicle chassis design. Refuelling takes place form a regular fuel pump and requires no high pressure or very-low temperatures. This fits easily within the existing refueling infrastructure and means hydrogen could be provided for a billion existing road vehicles immediately.

Bohai Economic Rim - future super city with 3% of the Worlds Population

The three major economic mega-urban zones are the pearl river delta in the south (merging into one 42 million person city) and Yangtze River delta around Shanghai and the Bohai economic rim

The area around Beijing and Tianjin, two of China's most important cities, is being ringed with a network of high-speed railways that will create a super-urban area known as the Bohai Economic Rim. China is merging Beijing/Tianjin and several other cities around the Bohai Sea into one big super-urban zone over the next several years. By 2020 there could be 260,000,000 people (3% of the world's population) in one big super-city.

Here is translation of a plan for the development of the Bohai Economic Rim.

January 25, 2011

Real Cryosleep - cold methuselah

Cryosleep is "sleeping" or "hibernating" for long periods of time in a controlled environment. Cryosleep is featured in the film Avatar, where Jake Sully and other passengers cryosleep while they travel to Pandora. While cryosleeping, or "in cryo", a person does not age.

We recently covered the real life use of magnetic fields to vibrate water to prevent the formation of ice crystals to prevent damaging organs during freezing. If techniques like this could be mastered for suspending life and then allowing people to be safely revived, it would be a method of extending life until there was improved longevity medicine from scientific progress.

Spintronic monolayer graphene and spintronic graphene nanoribbons

1. Graphene and ‘spintronics’ combo looks promising

Graphene, a two-dimensional crystalline form of carbon, is being touted as a sort of “Holy Grail” of materials. It boasts properties such as a breaking strength 200 times greater than steel and, of great interest to the semiconductor and data storage industries, electric currents that can blaze through it 100 times faster than in silicon.

Spintronic devices are being hotly pursued because they promise to be smaller, more versatile, and much faster than today’s electronics. “Spin” is a quantum mechanical property that arises when a particle’s intrinsic rotational momentum creates a tiny magnetic field. And spin has a direction, either “up” or “down.”

It is, however, difficult to generate a spin current in graphene, which would be a key part of carrying information in a graphene spintronic device. Chan and colleagues came up with a method to do just that. It involves using spin splitting in monolayer graphene generated by ferromagnetic proximity effect and adiabatic (a process that is slow compared to the speed of the electrons in the device) quantum pumping. They can control the degree of polarization of the spin current by varying the Fermi energy (the level in the distribution of electron energies in a solid at which a quantum state is equally likely to be occupied or empty), which they say is very important for meeting various application requirements.

US is lagging in life expectancy gains because too many are fat, sedentary and smoking

The United States (shown in red) has fallen behind other developed countries in life expectancy gains in recent decades. Shown above is the average number of additional years of life expected for a man who has reached age 50 in 10 nations (Australia, Japan, Canada, Sweden, Italy, France, England/Wales, Netherlands, United States and Denmark)

Americans are among the most sedentary people, vying with Poland for the dubious status of topping that category, followed by Italy, England and Spain.

Progress to vaccines against the Plague, bacterial pneumonias, Malaria and TB

TB causes symptoms such as coughing, chest pains and weight loss

1. BBC News reports that a new vaccine that can fight tuberculosis (TB) before and after infection has been developed by Danish scientists. There are nine million new TB cases globally each year and increasing levels of drug resistance new diagnostics, drugs and especially effective vaccines are desperately needed. The new treatment combines proteins that trigger an immune response to both the active and latent forms of Mycobacterium. It might be possible to give a booster jab post-exposure to older children or even young adults which would protect them well into adulthood.

TB is a huge global problem, particularly in developing countries, where access to antibiotics to treat the disease is limited. The latest vaccine, so far tested in animals, is featured in the journal Nature Medicine. TB is a disease of the lungs, causing symptoms such as coughing, chest pains and weight loss. Untreated, it can be deadly.

However, only in a small number of cases - fewer than 5% - do the symptoms develop immediately after infection. In more than 90% of cases, once Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium which causes the disease, has invaded the body it changes its chemical signature, and lives in a dormant - or "latent" - state.

Current vaccines, such as the BCG vaccine, work only if given before exposure to the bacterium.

McKinsey has six predictions for China in 2011

Gordon Orr, a director in McKinsey’s Shanghai office, peers into 2011 and finds ways China may once again surprise the world

1. Inflation in food prices will take longer than expected to control.

Chinese consumption patterns are shifting as people become wealthier—more meat eating requires more cereals to feed the animals. The food supply chain, running at the limit, is close to breaking, and the pressures this problem creates will lead to further food quality crises. A major second- or third-tier Chinese city will see demonstrations over food price rises, unemployment, or both, on a much larger scale than anything that has occurred in recent years.

India confident of starting new 500 MW breeder reactor in 2012, Japanese, Polish and other reactor starts, restarts and plans

1. Japanese utility Chubu Electric Power Co has announced that it is restarting unit 5 at its Hamaoka nuclear power plant, which has been offline since a strong earthquake struck Shizuoka prefecture 18 months ago.

Hamaoka 5 is a 1325 MWe reactor

The status of the seven reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station Reactors 2,3 4 are still undergoing inspection with reactor 3 being the closest to a restart.

Thermoelectric figure of merit increased to 0.8 at 700 oC for mass producable bulk material

Researchers from Boston College, MIT, Clemson University and the University of Virginia have used nanotechnology to achieve a 60-90 percent increase in the thermoelectric figure of merit of p-type half-Heusler, a common bulk semiconductor compound

the application of half-Heusler has been limited because of its poor thermoelectric performance: it previously registered a peak figure of merit of approximately 0.5 at 700 oC for bulk ingots.

Xiao, working with BC Professor of Physics Zhifeng Ren and MIT’s Soderberg Professor of Power Engineering Gang Chen, have increased the figure of merit value of p-type half-Heusler to 0.8 at 700 oC. Moreover, the groups’ material preparation methods proved to save time and expense compared with conventional methods.

Mother's stem cells could stop defects before birth

Mice studies show that as long as the transplanted stem cells are matched to the mother, it does not seem to matter if they are matched to the fetus.

If the same is true in humans, the stem cell therapy could work on sickle cell anaemia and diseases of the immune system.

"Now that we know a fetus can become tolerant to a foreign stem cell source, we can really think big and consider looking at how other types of stem cells might be used to treat everything from neurological disorders to muscular disorders before birth

Nanosail-D has deployed in orbit

NASA’s NanoSail-D spacecraft has become unstuck and has unfurled a gleaming sheet of space-age fabric 650 km above Earth, becoming the first-ever solar sail to circle our planet.

riday, Jan. 21 at 10 a.m. EST, engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., confirmed that the NanoSail-D nanosatellite deployed its 100-square-foot polymer sail in low-Earth orbit and is operating as planned. Actual deployment occurred on Jan. 20 at 10 p.m. EST and was confirmed today with beacon packets data received from NanoSail-D and additional ground-based satellite tracking assets. In addition, the NanoSail-D orbital parameter data set shows an appropriate change which is consistent with sail deployment.

Calcite invisibility in the visible spectrum

Previously we covered the progress in invisibility for larger than microscopic objects in the visible light range using a calcite cloak.

MIT has some more information on the calcite cloaks

A team of researchers in the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) Centre has found a relatively simple, inexpensive system that can hide an object as big as a peppercorn from view in ordinary visible light.

A Step Closer to Practical Full Spectrum Solar Cells

A solar cell’s ability to convert sunlight to electric current is limited by the band gaps of the semiconductors from which it is made. For example, semiconductors with wide band gaps respond to shorter wavelengths with higher energies (lower left). A semiconductor with an intermediate band has multiple band gaps and can respond to a range of energies (lower right)

Although full-spectrum solar cells have been made, none yet have been suitable for manufacture at a consumer-friendly price. Researchers at Berkeley Labs have demonstrated a solar cell that not only responds to virtually the entire solar spectrum, it can also readily be made using one of the semiconductor industry’s most common manufacturing techniques.

January 24, 2011

Six millimeters thick pico projector that is ten times brighter

Light fantastic: This prototype pico projector produces a sharp image without needing a bulky lens thanks to an ultra-thin array of micro-lenses.
Credit: Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering

MIT Technology Review reports that researchers in Germany have developed the world's thinnest "pico" video projector. The prototype device contains an array of carefully shaped microlenses, each with its own miniature liquid-crystal display (LCD). The device is just six millimeters thick, but it produces images that are 10 times brighter than would normally be possible with such a small device. The new lens system is small enough to be incorporated into a slim smart phone.

IMF PPP numbers based on World Bank calculations

The World Bank PPP numbers will be updated in 2013. The International Comparison Program (ICP) is being implemented as a true global initiative for the second time, with the reference year 2011.

The ICP survey framework for household consumption prices will be reviewed to enhance the quality and consistency of household survey data, better delineate urban and rural areas wherever applicable, improve spatial pricing and geo-referencing sampled outlets.

This suggests that they will fix the problem of only sampling some urban cities in China, which may mean their numbers will be more in line with the Penn World tables 7.0 which will show that China is the worlds largest economy on a PPP basis.

Magnetic fields vibrates water to prevent damage of organs during freezing

Singularity Hub has coverage of a system for freezing organs without damaging them.

What do you do to prevent ice crystals during slow freezing? Use magnets. ABI is the Japanese company producing the freezer system.ABI’s “Cells Alive System” (CAS) vibrates water with magnetic fields, preventing freezing, even at supercool temperatures of -10 degrees Celsius (According to the Patent.) When the field is turned off, the water in the food instantly freezes. No time for ice growth means no damage to frozen organs.

Combining organ printing and organ freezing may lead to growing and freezing our own spare parts.

Prediction of 1.2 million barrels per day from North Dakota Bakken by 2015

Crude oil from the Bakken Shale in North Dakota’s Williston Basin will help account for nearly 1.2 million barrels a day, or 15 percent, of U.S. output by 2015, analysts from Raymond James.

1.2 million barrels per day would put North Dakota as the leading oil producing state unless Texas increases its production from 1.156 million barrels per day.

Genescient and Stem Cell 100

Hplus Magazine has detailed coverage on Genescient (life extension company) and their new Stem Cell 100 product

I have started taking Stem Cell 100. It is about $60 for a one month supply.

I would also recommend supporting SENS rejuvenation research and Robert Freitas's nanomedicine work (donate through IMM)

Genescient's primary business focus is on the development of pharmaceuticals for age-related diseases, but in conjunction with its spinoff firm Life Code LLC, it has provided testing services for the development of nutraceuticals based on its unique genomics platform. Our findings can be summarized as follows:

1. Aging is linked to altered expression in more than a hundred genes;
2. We employed artificial intelligence algorithms combined with animal longevity assays to screen for wide-spectrum herbal extracts that extend lifespan;
3. We succeeded in doubling animal lifespan using a novel class of nutrigenomic supplements that modulate genes involved in both aging and age-related disease.

GRIN Plasmonics: A Practical Path to Superfast Computing, Ultrapowerful Optical Microscopy and Invisibility Carpet-Cloaking Devices

On left is a scanning electron micrograph of a plasmonic Luneburg lens on a gold film. On the right, fluorescence imaging shows intensity of the SPPs propagated by the Luneburg lens (dotted circle). X marks the launching position of the electron beam and Z is the direction in which the SPPs propogate. (Image courtesy of Zhang group)

A team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California, Berkeley, have carried out the first experimental demonstration of GRIN – for gradient index – plasmonics, a hybrid technology that opens the door to a wide range of exotic optics, including superfast computers based on light rather than electronic signals, ultra-powerful optical microscopes able to resolve DNA molecules with visible light, and “invisibility” carpet-cloaking devices.

China to create largest mega city in the world with 42 million people by 2017

UK Telegraph - China is planning to create the world's biggest mega city by merging nine cities to create a metropolis twice the size of Wales with a population of 42 million.

The "Turn The Pearl River Delta Into One" scheme will create a 16,000 sq mile urban area that is 26 times larger geographically than Greater London, or twice the size of Wales. The new mega-city will cover a large part of China's manufacturing heartland, stretching from Guangzhou to Shenzhen and including Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Zhuhai, Jiangmen, Huizhou and Zhaoqing. Together, they account for nearly a tenth of the Chinese economy.

Over the next six years, around 150 major infrastructure projects will mesh the transport, energy, water and telecommunications networks of the nine cities together, at a cost of some 2 trillion yuan (US$310 billion). A high speed rail line will also connect the hub with nearby Hong Kong.

Accelerating electrification of transportation with more government dollars or a super-light electrical vehicle strategy

Electric Drive Transportation Association has an eight page document Driving Forward: An Action Plan for the Electric Drive Era which unsurprisingly calls for direct and indirect government subsidies for faster rollout of electric cars. Currently they are projecting 500,000 electric drive vehicles annually by 2015.

I present my alternative plan for city by city for the affordable adoption of superlight electrical vehicles.

Understanding the bias in the BP 2030 Energy forecast which shows no growth in nuclear energy

BP recently released its annual Energy Outlook report, which projects the world energy future to the year 2030.

Alfin has a theory as to why there is so little growth predicted for nuclear energy

A number of things about BP predictions tend to jump off the page:

* The extremely slow predicted growth for nuclear energy
* The rate of growth of energy utilisation for undeveloped countries
* The rate of expansion predicted for "biofuels"

The best way to understand that prediction is to understand how much of a threat clean, cheap, and abundant nuclear energy poses to the petroleum industry overall.

Answer to Edge 2011 Question - What scientific concept to improve everyones cognitive toolkit

"How Would You Disprove Your Viewpoint?!" by Howard Gardner (H/T Reddit

Psychologist, Harvard University; Author, Truth, Beauty, And Goodness Reframed: Educating For The Virtues In The 21St Century

Thanks to Karl Popper, we have a simple and powerful tool: the phrase "How Would You Disprove Your Viewpoint?!"

In a democratic and demotic society like ours, the biggest challenge to scientific thinking is the tendency to embrace views on the basis of faith or of ideology. A majority of Americans doubt evolution because it goes against their religious teachings; and at least a sizeable minority are skeptical about global warming — or more precisely, the human contributions to global change — because efforts to counter climate change would tamper with the 'free market'.

Popper popularized the notion that a claim is scientific only to the extent that it can be disproved — and that science works through perpetual efforts to disprove claims.

Breakthrough in growth of carbon nanotubes at temperature compatible with CMOS

Researchers at the University of Surrey have discovered a way to grow high-quality carbon nanotubes over large areas at substrate temperatures below 350ºC, according to findings published this month in Carbon journal.

This breakthrough by experts in the University's Advanced Technology Institute means that lowering the substrate temperature below 400ºC would make this technology compatible with CMOS (a technology for constructing integrated circuits) and suitable for large area substrates.

Tegra 2 PC that needs only 3 watts of power

CompuLab has announced a new miniature computer powered by NVIDIA's Tegra 2 processing platform that's said to be its smallest, most energy efficient model to date

The 5.1 x 3.7 x 0.6-inch (130 x 95 x 15mm) Trim-Slice is the company's smallest and most energy efficient model to date, having an average operational draw of just 3 Watts Israel's CompuLab makes a range of energy efficient mini-PCs. The Trim-Slice computer is said to offer the rich multimedia capabilities and user experience of a full-size PC at only a fraction of the power draw. It benefits from a fanless design, Wireless-N connectivity, solid state memory and expansion via both a full size and a micro SD card slots.

EMBL software runs microscopy experiments on its own

Micropilot detected cells at particular stages of cell division (each row shows one cell's nucleus), and then instructed the microscope to remove fluorescent tags from proteins in half the cell’s nucleus (left), and record what happened next (middle and right). Image & video credits: EMBL.

The sight of a researcher sitting at a microscope for hours, painstakingly searching for the right cells, may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to new software created by scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany. Presented today in Nature Methods, the novel computer programme can rapidly learn what the scientist is looking for and then takes over this laborious and time-consuming task, automatically performing complex microscopy experiments when it detects cells with interesting features.

Yellowstone Has Bulged by as much as ten inches as Magma Pocket Swells

Volcanic eruptions are ranked on a scale ranging from 1 to 8 called the Volcanic Explosivity Index, or VEI. As the relative size of the circles representing the volume of ash and ejecta show, the last major Yellowstone Caldera eruption, more than 600,000 years ago, dwarfs that of "typical" volcanoes, like Mount St Helens.

National Geographic and other sources report that Yellowstone National Park's supervolcano just took a deep "breath," causing miles of ground to rise dramatically, scientists report.
Volcanologists with the U.S. Geological Survey believe that supervolcanoes are likely to give decades — even centuries — of warning signs before they erupt.

* Beginning in 2004, scientists saw the ground above the caldera rise upward at rates as high as 2.8 inches (7 centimeters) a year

* The rate slowed between 2007 and 2010 to a centimeter a year or less.

* since the start of the swelling, ground levels over the volcano have been raised by as much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) in places.

"At the beginning we were concerned it could be leading up to an eruption," said Smith, who co-authored a paper on the surge published in the December 3, 2010, edition of Geophysical Research Letters.

"But once we saw [the magma] was at a depth of ten kilometers, we weren't so concerned. If it had been at depths of two or three kilometers [one or two miles], we'd have been a lot more concerned.

Virginia Tech engineers work with InterDigital to increase the speed and accessibility of future wireless systems

How much technology driven growth would have been needed to avoid the financial crisis

Peter Thiel believes that an important factor in the financial crisis is that technological progress hasn’t been so impressive in the last 15 years (H/T Michael Anissimov Accelerating Future

President Obama will emphasize the desire to increase technological innovation in the State of the Union address tomorrow. However, there is a gap between the stated desires for more innovation and GDP growth and actual effective pro-growth policies.

SHAFFER: You once said that the tech bubble of the ’90s migrated into an entire financial-services bubble. What does that mean?

THIEL: There’ve been a whole series of these booms or bubbles in the last few decades, and I think it’s a very complicated question why there have been so many and why things have been so far off from equilibrium. There’s something about the U.S. in the last several decades where people had great expectations about the future that didn’t quite come true. Every form of credit involves a claim on the future: I’ll pay you a dollar on Tuesday for a hamburger today; I’ll buy this house, and I’ll pay off the mortgage over 30 years; and so you lend me money based off expectations on the future. A credit crisis happens when the future turns out not to be as good as expected.

[blaming lenders... blaming borrowers]

My orthogonal take is that the whole thing happened because there was not enough technological innovation. It was not really the fault of the borrowers or the lenders; the problem was that everybody had tremendous expectations that the country was going to be a much wealthier place in 2010 than it was in 1995, and in fact there’s been a lot less progress. The future is fundamentally about technology in an advanced country — it’s about technological progress. So a credit crisis happens when the technological progress is not as good as people expected. That’s not the standard account of the last decades, but that’s the way I would outline it.

Scuderi engine could improve fuel consumption by fifty percent

$50 million engine: It took Scuderi Group most of the $65 million it’s raised so far to develop just one engine, the prototype shown here. It’s a split-cycle two-cylinder engine, in which one cylinder compresses air and the other combusts a fuel-air mixture. Credit: Scuderi

MIT Technology Review reports that an engine development company called the Scuderi Group recently announced progress in its effort to build an engine that can reduce fuel consumption by 25 to 36 percent compared to a conventional design. Such an improvement would be roughly equal to a 50 percent increase in fuel economy.

Quadcore Nvidia Tegra 3 by Fall 2011

Current-generation Tegra 2 chips for smartphones and tablets include the AP20H and T20 SoC solutions, both built around ARM's 1GHz dual-core Cortex-A9 processor. They are to be replaced soon, however, with Tegra 2 3D architecture consisting of the T25 and AP25 chips for smartphones and tablets, respectively. Upping the CPU frequency to 1.2GHz and adding built-in support for 3D displays makes these chips the world's first mobile 3D processors.

The tablet version of the Tegra 3 chip will run at speeds up to 1.5 gigahertz, support Blu-ray video and screen resolutions up to 1920 by 1200 pixels. The phone version of the Tegra 3 will be available in quad or dual-core varieties and support displays up to 1366 by 768 pixels in resolution, something most often seen in laptops around 13 inches

Bologna University final reports of the January 15th heat production experiment during preliminary tests on the Rossi “Ni-H” reactor

Nanotape could make solder pads obsolete by 2014

EETimes reports Solder pads could soon be made obsolete by a new nanotape material created by the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) and Stanford University The researchers predict that early adopters will be start using the nanotape by the end of next year, with mainstream benefits to end users commencing circa 2014.

By sandwiching thermally conductive carbon nanotubes between thin metal foils, nanotape transfers heat away from chips better than solder but with a lightweight flexible material that is cheaper and and more compliant, according to researchers.

Nanoletters - Temperature-Dependent Phonon Conduction and Nanotube Engagement in Metalized Single Wall Carbon Nanotube Films

January 23, 2011

Single Cell Manipulation using Ferromagnetic Composite Microtransporters

University of Pennsylvania has a micron precision cell manipulation system using micromagnets

For biomedical applications, such as single cell manipulation, it is important to fabricate microstructures that can be powered and controlled wirelessly in fluidic environments. In this letter, we describe the construction and operation of truly micron-sized, biocompatible ferromagnetic microtransporters driven by external magnetic fields. Microtransporters were fabricated using a simple, single step fabrication method and can be produced in large numbers. We demonstrate that they can be navigated to manipulate single cells with micron-size precision without disturbing the local environment.

Watts up with that covers the Rossi Focardi Energy Amplifier

Watts up with that has coverage of the recent cold fusion experiment

The bottom line is that Italian scientists Sergio Focardi and Andrea Rossi have a unit they claim takes in 400 watts of electricity and, with the assistance of nickel-hydrogen fusion, puts out 12 kilowatts of heat. Okay, that’s interesting and the power amplification doesn’t require some of the extremely careful calorimetry early experiments needed. The elements involved are affordable and if it works, things become interesting. (There are undisclosed “additives” to consider too.) The reactor is going commercial in the next few years, which may or may not mean it’s ready.

Tomorrow (Monday Jan 24) the Bologna University Report will be published on the Journal Of Nuclear Physics (Rossi's blog)

Nanorattle drug delivery

ACS Nano - n Vivo Delivery of Silica Nanorattle Encapsulated Docetaxel for Liver Cancer Therapy with Low Toxicity and High Efficacy

Mesoporous silica nanomaterial is one of the most promising candidates as drug carrier for cancer therapy. Herein, in vitro and in vivo study of silica nanorattle (SN) with mesoporous and rattle-type structure as a drug delivery system was first reported. Hydrophobic antitumor drug docetaxel (Dtxl) was loaded into the PEGylated silica nanorattle (SN-PEG) with a diameter of 125 nm via electrostatic absorption. In human liver cancer cell Hep-G2, the half-maximum inhibiting concentration (IC50) of silica nanorattle encapsulated docetaxel (SN-PEG-Dtxl) was only 7% of that of free Dtxl at 72 h. In vivo toxicity assessment showed that both nanocarrier of silica nanorattle (40 mg/kg, single dose) and SN-PEG-Dtxl (20 mg/kg of Dtxl, three doses) had low systematic toxicity in healthy ICR mice. The SN-PEG-Dtxl (20 mg/kg, intravenously) showed greater antitumor activity with about 15% enhanced tumor inhibition rate compared with Taxotere on the marine hepatocarcinoma 22 subcutaneous model. The results prove that the SN-PEG-Dtxl has low toxicity and high therapy efficacy, which provides convincing evidence for the silica nanorattle as a promising candidate for a drug delivery system.

Beyond flash memory

New Electronics (UK) looks at technologies that may succeed flash memory.

Every memory technology other than dram or flash has looked promising right up to the point where it has hit the market – and then been outrun by devices with a much longer heritage that may not be as convenient to use, but which can deliver the highest number of bits at the lowest cost. The last non volatile technology to have made it big is flash, which evolved from earlier work on ultraviolet erasable (eprom) and electrically erasable read only memories (eeproms)

Technomass and Biomass

By Joseph Friedlander

One of my great interests for many years has been the quantities and ratio of the natural biological world (excepting geology) to the works of Man. In other words, how much Biomass vs Technomass. I recently read a paper by Richard Cathcart that piqued my old curiosity so here are the results...

To use the phrase Biomass vs Technomass begs definitions of each. Regarding biomass estimates, the deep biosphere hypothesized by Dr. Thomas Gold almost certainly exists at some scale, but because it by definition is unknown it is not counted. Only known life is included.

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