February 05, 2011

US Dollar Decline as China Becomes Importer in 2013-2016

Bloomberg - China will curb its reliance on exports sooner than the U.S. can cut its budget and external deficits, removing a support from the dollar that will unsettle currency markets, Morgan Stanley's Stephen Roach said. "In the next three or five years China will move aggressively to increase its private consumption and reduce its surplus saving," Roach, who is non-executive chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia Ltd., said in an interview in Oslo yesterday.

Bigelow Aerospace has a big expansion of a production facility for space habitats with eleven times the staff to 1300 people

Bigelow is in talks with NASA to add a module to the International space station

Bigelow Aerospace is adding a 185,000 square foot expansion to its production plant in North Las Vegas. This represents the birth of a global industry. It is way beyond research and development. It's a production facility for spacecraft, a factory for building habitats for use on the moon, or Mars, or beyond. There are three spacecraft, three production lines and an assembly plant.

Computational Material Design

Questek innovations develops nanosteel and alloys of titanium and other materials.

Questek computationally designs materials to directly meet user-defined material needs by using our proprietary Materials by Design expertise and technology. They estimate that they reduce development times by as much as 50+% and costs by 70+% as compared to traditional material development methods.

Russians develop nanosteel that can improve nuclear reactors and other applications

Neal Stephenson explains why we have been locked into rockets for space launch

What the strange persistence of rockets can teach us about innovation.

* $4 trillion was spent to develop rockets for launching nuclear bombs
* communication satellites were built to be the same size as the nuclear bombs launched on missiles

Researchers find simple, inexpensive method to produce silicon wires for sensors, batteries and solar cells

Molten droplets of copper, at top, dissolve silicon out of a surrounding silicon-rich gas, and then the silicon precipitates out at the bottom of the drop to gradually build up a silicon microwire. This microscope image has had color added for clarity. Image courtesy of Tonio Buonassisi

Microwires made of silicon — tiny wires with a thickness comparable to a human hair — have a wide range of possible uses, including the production of solar cells that can harvest much more sunlight for a given amount of material than a conventional solar cell made from a thin wafer of silicon crystal. Now researchers from MIT and Penn State have found a way of producing such wires in quantity in a highly controlled way that could be scaled up to an industrial-scale process, potentially leading to practical commercial applications.

SENS looks at rejuvenating immunity through ablation

The degenerative aging of the immune system is responsible for an enormous burden of disease and disability, from the pain of recurrent Herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia, to elevated rates of chronic urinary tract infections, to complications in wounds, pressure sores, ulcers, and surgical incisions. Most prominently, it underlies the meteoric rise in mortality from respiratory infections with age: influenza, pneumonia, and septicemia rise from being negligible causes of death in healthy middle-aged adults in the USA, to emerge amongst the top 10 causes of death in adults over the age of 55, with mortality rates climbing with each successive year of aging. And in addition to increasing the morbidity and mortality specifically attributable to particular infections, the dysregulation of immune function by immunosenescence is widely acknowledged to exacerbate multiple chronic age-related illnesses, and to contribute to functional decline and frailty in aging people

Note: also there has been work that suggests that super-strengthening of the immune system could be paths to curing cancer and HIV Aids.

Quickly reviewing the scale of money spent on different energy

The IEA world energy outlook discusses the money spent subsidizing renewables and all other types of energy

Energy is not cheap. There is a recent estimate that $25 trillion will need to be put into building what is needed to meet global energy demand increases between 2010 and 2030. A lot of that money will still go to more coal power plants. Perhaps one or two trillion will go to conventional nuclear power. 120 nuclear fission reactors could be built by 2020 for about $300-500 billion.

Carnival of nuclear energy 38

February 04, 2011

Reconfigurable Terahertz Integrated Architecture

Simplified cross-sectional illustration of the basic RETINA SIW structure to create a virtual MPRWG using single-sided illumination.

Modelling of Reconfigurable Terahertz Integrated Architecture (RETINA) SIW Structures

Terahertz and millimeter wireless can provide multi-gigabit per second wireless communication.

Z Pinch roadmap to petawatts and beyond

Sandia's machine was dismantled in July 2006 for an upgrade, including the installation of newly designed hardware and components and more powerful Marx generators.

The refurbishment was completed in October 2007. The newer Z machine can now shoot 27 million amperes (instead of 18 million amperes previously) in 95 nanoseconds. The radiated power has been raised to 350 terawatts and the X-ray energy output to 2.7 megajoules.

Sandia's roadmap includes another Z machine version called ZN (Z Neutron) to test higher yields in fusion power and automation systems. ZN is planned to give between 20 and 30 MJ of hydrogen fusion power with a shot per hour using a Russian Linear Transformer Driver (LTD) replacing the current Marx generators. After 8 to 10 years of operation, ZN would become a transmutation pilot plant capable of a fusion shot every 100 seconds.

The next step planned would be the Z-IFE (Z-inertial fusion energy) test facility, the first true z-pinch driven prototype fusion power plant. It is suggested it would integrate Sandia's latest designs using LTDs. Sandia labs recently proposed a conceptual 1 petawatt (10^15 watts) LTD Z-pinch power plant, where the electric discharge would reach 70 million amperes.

China's economy US$7.5 trillion including underground economy at the end of 2010

China ended 2010 with $6.1 trillion GDP regular exchange economy.

China has more underground economy than the US. The underground economy is estimated to add about 9.3 trillion yuan or another 25%.

This is USD7.5 trillion at the end of 2010.

China should have 8-10% GDP growth in 2011, 5% inflation and 4-10% currency appreciation. The bottom of the range for 2011 is 8.8 trillion and the top is 9.52 trillion based on the ranges I described for growth, inflation and currency and the inclusion of the underground economy.

U-Bend Graphene Transistor breakthrough

Scanning electron micrographs showing: (a) The graphene flake. The dashed outline marks the areas suitable for formation of the devices; (b) The device and the contact pads, with the dashed outline marking the same area as in (a); (c) the graphene U-shaped device with tungsten contact wires and pads, (d) detail of the graphene U-shaped device.

Arxiv - A U-shaped bilayer graphene channel transistor with a very high I on /I off ratio (8 pages) I is current. I on is current flowing and I off is the zero current state.

A novel graphene transistor architecture is reported. The transistor has a U-shape geometry and was fabricated using a gallium focused ion beam (FIB). The channel conductance was tuned with a back gate. The I on /I off ratio exceeded 100,000. Previously the best I on / I off ratio was less than 100.

Zakaria Moktadir and others at the Nano Research Group at the University of Southampton, UK created this latest improvement.

DARPA wants your help - Experimental Crowd-derived Combat-derived Vehicle (XC2V) Design Challenge

Experimental Crowd-derived Combat-derived Vehicle (XC2V) Design Challenge

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) seeks to engage the crowd for its latest challenge. The Experimental Crowd-derived Combat-support Vehicle (XC2V) Design Challenge, facilitated by Local Motors, Inc. asks individuals to conceptualize a vehicle body design for two different missions—Combat Reconnaissance and Combat Delivery & Evacuation.

This is an opportunity for servicemembers, race and auto enthusiasts, and those with an interest and talent in engineering, materials, industrial design, etc., to support the warfigther by contributing to the future of military vehicle manufacturing, win up to $10,000, and see their design become a reality in the form of a fully functioning concept vehicle.

This competition provides experts, novices and the curious the opportunity to provide input to the final design of the vehicle. Whether you provide a design or just vote on the best submission, you can contribute.

The challenge begins today, and final submissions are due March 3, 2011.

Smartphones of the future

This is a summary of how the smartphones of 2015 and 2020 could change.
1. More AI and speech recognition and better gesture control
2. Context awareness and more integration with sensors and other phones
3. Different display options (rollable displays, better picoprojectors and more)
4. Increased processing power and better energy efficiency and management

MIT is adding more Artificial Intelligence into Smartphones

A new system from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory’s Spoken Language Systems Group automatically combs through users’ reviews, extracting useful information and organizing it to make it searchable.

Two prototypes of the MIT system, both with speech interfaces, can currently be found online. One takes commands in Chinese and contains information on businesses in Taipei, Taiwan, and the other takes commands in English and includes information on businesses in Boston.

Carnival of Space 183

Europe plans to spend one trillion euros by 2020 for energy grid upgrades and nuclear included as a core part of the plan

The European Commission, steering EU energy policy, says about 1tn euros (£850bn; $1.4tn) will have to be invested over the next 10 years to modernise energy generation and supply. The EU has set itself a "20-20-20" goal: a 20% cut in emissions of greenhouse gases by 2020, compared with 1990 levels; a 20% increase in the share of renewables in the energy mix; and a 20% cut in energy consumption

North-south energy connections are seen as a priority - to link the Baltic energy market to the rest of Europe and to help develop South-East Europe, where many people live in energy poverty, spending a relatively high amount of income on fuel bills. A high-tech power grid -- estimated to cost about 200 billion euros -- to carry wind power from the north and solar power from the Mediterranean to central cities such as Paris and Prague.

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics ruggedizing research nuclear fusion machine

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics is ruggedizing their dense plasma focus fusion machine. A thicker tungsten rod will now require a much bigger spark plug and the widening of the hole in the electrode plates. They are doing this to end mechanical and electrical breakdown of the insulators. They want to press on to 45 kilovolts.

The fourth of eight goals is to increase the charging potential on the machine, by 5 kV steps, up to the full capacity of 45 kV and in the process achieve a peak current of about 2 million amps with deuterium.

Increasing the current (by increasing the voltage is where a lot of performance improvement is expected.

Scaling with increased current, I^5 scaling to 1.4 MA (55 times more power)

Optimization of axial magnetic field (3 times more power)

Scaling with increased current, I^4 scaling from 1.4 MA to 2.8 MA (16 times more power)

So far LPP has been achieving much faster scaling, almost I^7.

Changing the fuel to pB11 should enable an increase of 160 times (higher reaction rate at 600 keV, more energy per reaction, and more compression)

Bioengineered veins could help patients needing bypass surgery, dialysis

Vein drain: Using human cells, scientists have grown shelf-stable blood vessels, like this six-millimeter-diameter model, that they hope to eventually see used as grafts for heart surgeries and hemodialysis. Credit: Science/AAAS
New research published in the current issue of the journal Science Translational Medicine demonstrates the capability of tissue-engineered vascular grafts that are immediately available at the time of surgery and are less likely to become infected or obstructed. The bioengineering method of producing veins shows promise in large- and small-diameter applications, such as for coronary artery bypass surgery and for vascular access in hemodialysis.

Humacyte, a Morrisville biotechnology company, worked with East Carolina university researchers to develop the veins.

The researchers have grown vessels using human cells for the first time. They used the vessels
to link an artery and a vein in baboons, creating a structure called a fistula to mimic the setup required by hemodialysis patients, who have a needle injected into such a link two or three times a week to get their blood filtered. Also, while previous versions of the vessels required a wait of several weeks while the insides of the vessels were "personalized" with some of the patient's own cells, a process that makes them less likely to clog, these hemodialysis vessels did not need that treatment. They could potentially be immediately available to the patients

A cheap engine using sound waves possibly commercial in 2012

Etalim, based in Vancouver, Canada, says its engine, roughly the size of a basketball, could improve the economics of electricity production for the cogeneration of power and heat in homes, and as a way to harness the heat produced at concentrating solar collectors.

The company has ambitious goals. A first prototype, completed last year, demonstrated that the concept works, but relatively low heat was used, so its efficiency was only 10 percent. A second prototype that aims for 20 to 30 percent efficiency at 500 °C is expected this spring. A commercial product with 40 percent efficiency running at 700 °C is targeted for 2012. It will initially be sold as a cheaper and longer-lasting competitor to fuel cells used for residential cogeneration. The company believes it can manufacture the engine for less than $1 per watt, and has a long-term target of 15 cents per watt, which would make it less expensive than a comparable internal combustion engine.

February 03, 2011

Iraq oil production could be 25-35% higher than 2010 in 2011 and the plans for Rumaila, West Qurna and Zubair oilfields

Extended the US State department graph of iraq oil production and exports with the new numbers and forecasts. Reaching 3 million barrels per day (mbpd) would be 25% higher (590,000 bpd increase) than the 2010 production and 3.26 mbpd (850,000 bpd increase) would be 25% higher than 2010.

Iraq's exports surged to a postwar record of 2.16 million b/d in January The semiautonomous Kurdistan region had been due to resume exports on Feb. 1 at a rate of 100,000 b/d, but in the event did not. And when exports do resume, Iraqi oil sources see initial rates closer to 70,000 b/d. Kurdish region's Tawke oilfield is expected to rise to 50,000 barrels per day in the next two to three days.

International oil companies involved in Iraq's oil opening are expected to add a further 300,000 b/d to production this year, hoisting the total to 3 million b/d -- which would allow for exports of about 2.4 million b/d. Most of the incremental oil will come from work by BP and China National Petroleum Corp. at Rumaila, an Eni-led group at Zubair and -- later in the year -- from Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell at West Qurna-Phase 1.

The Iraqi oil ministry has a target of 3.26 million barrels per day by Dec 31, 2011

The quick gains at Rumaila and Zubair entitle the contractors to claw back their costs and get paid.

Boosting body’s immune response may hold key to HIV cure

Australian scientists have successfully cleared a HIV-like infection from mice by boosting the function of cells vital to the immune response.

A team led by Dr Marc Pellegrini from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute showed that a cell signaling hormone called interleukin-7 (IL-7) reinvigorates the immune response to chronic viral infection, allowing the host to completely clear virus. Their findings were released in today’s edition of the journal Cell. Dr Pellegrini said the research had provided excellent ideas for new therapies that could target and boost host immune cells to fight disease, rather than targeting the disease itself. “The findings could help to develop drugs that target some of these host molecules, such as SOCS-3, and turn them off for very short, defined periods of time to reinvigorate the T cells, allowing them to regroup to fight infection,” he said.

Journal Cell - IL-7 Engages Multiple Mechanisms to Overcome Chronic Viral Infection and Limit Organ Pathology

Berkeley Lab Scientists Image Plasmonic Nanofields with nanoscale resolution

Scientists at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry have developed a web-based imaging toolkit designed for researchers studying plasmonic and photonic structures. This open-source software is available at http://www.nanohub.org.

Berkeley Lab team used their innovative imaging concepts to visualize plasmonic fields with nanoscale resolution. By imaging fluorescence from gold within the bowtie and maximizing the number of photons collected from their bowtie devices, the team was able to glean the position of plasmonic modes—oscillations of charge that result in optical resonance—just a few nanometers apart.

Sunlight to Hydrogen system works at ORNL

Neutron scattering analysis performed at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory reveals the lamellar structure of a hydrogen-producing, biohybrid composite material formed by the self-assembly of naturally occurring, light harvesting proteins with polymers.

Oak ridge national lab's sunlight to hydrogen system works. Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a biohybrid photoconversion system -- based on the interaction of photosynthetic plant proteins with synthetic polymers -- that can convert visible light into hydrogen fuel.

Nanosheets of carbon make the wonder material graphene, now over 150 other materials can be made into nanosheets

A) Free-standing films of BN, MoS2 and WS2. On the right is a graphene free-standing film. The bottom row represents hybrids of graphene mixed with BN, MoS2 and WS2. In each case the mass ratio is 50:50. B) Stress strain curves for the films in A. C) Free standing hybrid WS2/SWNT films.

A new way of splitting layered materials to give atom thin "nanosheets" has been discovered. This has led to a range of novel two-dimensional nanomaterials with chemical and electronic properties that have the potential to enable new electronic and energy storage technologies. The new method is simple, fast, and inexpensive, and could be scaled up to work on an industrial scale. The work will open up over 150 similarly exotic layered materials – such as Boron Nitride, Molybdenum disulfide, and Bismuth telluride – that have the potential to be metallic, semiconducting or insulating, depending on their chemical composition and how their atoms are arranged. This new family of materials opens a whole range of new "super" materials.

Journal Science - Two-Dimensional Nanosheets Produced by Liquid Exfoliation of Layered Materials

Kepler Telescope related - what is the probability of locating a planet in relation to its major-axis (orbit radius) from various stars

Reader Goat guy used the Monte Carlo estimation method to determine for the NASA Kepler Space telescope:

What is the probability of locating a planet in relation to its major-axis (orbit radius) from various stars?

So first off - I can tell you that anyone who claims "1%" detection probability is pulling that number "statistically" out of his arse. It is just as good as 0.1%, 0.5%, 2% or 5%. The reason all comes down to the very strong link between detection probability and orbital radius. Here are the results:

Sander Olson interviews roboticist Daniel Lee

University of Pennsylvania roboticist Daniel Lee is a researcher at the Penn's General Robotics Sensing and Perception (GRASP) lab. His students are building robots that compete in robotic soccer leagues, with the ultimate aim being to create a robotic soccer team that can beat the human world cup winners by 2050. Dr. Lee's team has also successfully participated in DARPA's Urban Challenge Program.

Holtec designs 140 MW underground reactors designed to use passive operations for all functions

Holtec International has announced the completion of proof-of-principle studies for a new underground small modular reactor.

Holtec Asia also expect to play a major role in the development of the "Inherently Safe Modular Underground Reactor "(abbreviated as ISMUR) technology. Holtec International is a U.S.-based diversified energy technology company with its corporate technology center located in Marlton, New Jersey in the South Jersey region of the Philadelphia metropolitan area. The nuclear power division provides services and products to dozens of nuclear power plants

HI-SMUR 140 (for Holtec Inherently Safe Modular Underground Reactor – 140 MWe summary
* passive operations for all functions
* modular factory built construction with units being built in 24 months
* license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by the end of 2012
* probably a conventional light water reactor

New DARPA projects for 2011

DARPA has new solicitations for 2011

Controlling Cellular Machinery - Vaccines

Looking for new ideas about how to discover, design, evolve, assemble and demonstrate the ability to use genetic components, modules and circuits for the development of a highly efficacious nucleic acid based vaccine whose activity can be regulated in vivo by a mammalian host.

February 02, 2011

Google Android 3.0 Honeycomb for Tablets

Google demonstrated Honeycomb's features, as well as new apps developed by partners for the new operating system, using Motorola Xoom tablets, which are set to become available through Verizon in March. The tablet's dual-core processor is more efficient and powerful than previous mobile chips, allowing slick 3-D graphics, among other features.

Aric Cheston, a creative director with Frog Design, says some changes unveiled by Google do challenge Apple. For example, an upgrade to the Android market makes it possible to browse Android apps using a web browser and with a few clicks have that app it automatically install on their tablet remotely. Honeycomb is also tightly integrated with Google's web services - for example the camera has one-click upload to Youtube.

Yes there is still fighting in Egypt but Mubarak has won - chain of command unbroken

There is still fighting in Egypt

A Foreign policy analysis explains why Mubarak is going to win by Robert Springborg is a professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School

While much of American media has termed the events unfolding in Egypt today as "clashes between pro-government and opposition groups," this is not in fact what's happening on the street. The so-called "pro-government" forces are actually Mubarak's cleverly orchestrated goon squads dressed up as pro-Mubarak demonstrators to attack the protesters in Midan Tahrir, with the Army appearing to be a neutral force. The opposition, largely cognizant of the dirty game being played against it, nevertheless has had little choice but to call for protection against the regime's thugs by the regime itself, i.e., the military. And so Mubarak begins to show us just how clever and experienced he truly is. The game is, thus, more or less over.

Gallium Nitride boosted for high power electronics from 300 to 1,650 volts

High-power handling Gallium Nitride (GaN) devices will be useful for emerging applications ranging from smart-grid to electric cars.

By implanting a neutral species—argon—alongside its termination electrode (see figure) the electrical fields are spread out, thereby preventing premature breakdown,

Top down lithography and bottom up DNA origami combining for a path to next generation electronics

Using a concept called DNA origami, Arizona State University researchers are trying to pave the way to produce the next generations of electronics products. They integrate the 'bottom up' assembly of DNA origami with the 'top down' patterning of low cost lithography. The method, which involves sticking pieces of DNA to prepositioned gold islands, might help researchers in their bid to use DNA origami for nanoelectronics.

Nanoletters - Interconnecting Gold Islands with DNA Origami Nanotubes The research was covered late last year but there is some more information on the vision and goal.

The New Kepler exoplanet data - NASA videos and pictures

NASA press release on the 1202 new Kepler telescope exoplanets. NASA Kepler telescope found 1202 exoplanet candidates in 1/400th of the sky. The numbers extrapolated to some 20,000 habitable-zone planets within 3,000 light-years of Earth.

Exoplanets classified by size which are:

- 68 Earth-size exoplanets with a radius (Rp) of less than 1.25 Earth radius (Re)
- 288 super-Earth size exoplanets with 1.25 x Re < Rp ≤ 2.0 x Re - 662 Neptune-size exoplanets with 2.0 x Re < Rp ≤ 6.0 x Re - 165 
Jupiter-size exoplanets with 6.0 x Re < Rp ≤ 15 x Re - 19 
very-large-size with 15.0 x Re < Rp ≤ 22 x Re   

The Feb 2, 2011 pictures and videos from NASA are at this link

NASA's Kepler mission news page

Spacex proposes integrated rocket powered launch abort

Unlike traditional emergency systems, called a tractor design by engineers, SpaceX wants to build an integrated launch abort rocket to provide escape capability throughout the rocket's flight to orbit. Tractor designs used by the U.S. Mercury and Apollo programs were thrown away a few minutes after liftoff, as soon as their boosters cleared the atmosphere.

The integrated system would be part of the Dragon capsule, staying with the spacecraft during months at the International Space Station and returning to Earth at the end of a normal flight. It could even be fired for a rocket-assisted touchdown on land, bringing astronauts home to a soft landing closer to recovery teams.

After the Space Shuttle retires next year, NASA will be totally dependent on the Russian Soyuz to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station for a price of over $50 million per seat. Spacex is proposing to do it for about $20 million per seat.

Chinese yuan strengthens to 6.55

NASA Kepler Space telescope finds 1202 possible exoplanets from 1/400th of the sky

NASA's Kepler space telescope has found 1202 possible exoplanets. The expectation is 90% of those will be confirmed. The Kepler telescope surveys only one four-hundredth of the sky, the numbers extrapolated to some 20,000 habitable-zone planets within 3,000 light-years of Earth.

Of the new candidates, 68 are one-and-a-quarter times the size of the Earth or smaller — smaller, that is, than any previously discovered planets outside the solar system. Another 50 of these so-called exoplanets are in the habitable zones of their stars, where temperatures should be moderate enough for liquid water, the essential stuff for life as we know it; two of these are less than twice the size of Earth.

Ben Goertzel interviews Josh Hall and Pei Wang for H+ magazine

Artificial General Intelligence researcher Ben Goertzel has interviewed nanotech/AI researcher Josh Hall and AGI researcher Pei Wang for Humanity+ magazine. In the Pang interview, Dr. Pang interview Pang claims that sentient machines could be only a decade away. In the Hall interview, Hall argues that advanced machine intelligence and desktop nanofactories will emerge sometime in the 2020s. Hall has published both Nanofuture, as well as Beyond AI, and is currently writing a book on machine ethics.

Mubarak sends goons to crush Egyptian uprising

UK Guardian - Egyptian president's regime orchestrates bloody battles in Tahrir Square against protesters seeking his removal from power.

Using clubs, bats, knives and even homemade spears, pro-Mubarak demonstrators charged the square at just before 2pm. They had been gathering for several hours 800 metres from the square on the Nile Corniche, outside the state television station

A significant number of the pro-Mubarak supporters are probably plain clothes secret police or loyal to Mubarak army units.

Sydney Morning Herald - The protesters, who have made Tahrir Square the epicentre of their anti-government demonstrations, said secret police were among the Mubarak supporters who took over the square. ''It seems to have been heavily choreographed,'' a Guardian journalist, Peter Beaumont, reported from the scene. ''It's quite clear some of these people came prepared for a violent confrontation. You can't help feeling that it has all been heavily co-ordinated. It's an extraordinary turnaround.''

El Baradei threatened violence and bloodshed and implied the death of Mubarak if Mubarak did not leave by Friday. Mubarak seems willing to test if El Baradei can back the threat up.

Twenty times more efficient electric vehicle with a top speed of 375 mph

Wired - Swiss company Acabion is working on the GTBO VIII “da Vinci,” a $15 million fully electric vehicle with a top speed of 375 mph that Acabion claims is 20 times more efficient than current Electric cars. It’s as much a work of art as a proof of concept: Maskus says that for production vehicles, the price will come down “by reducing the overall exclusivity and by reducing the power from our today’s top-of-the-line 700 horsepower or 800 horsepower to standard regions, and of course by mass production.

Acabion, a Swiss company led by former Porsche, BMW and Ferrari engineer Peter Maskus, is building vehicles it claims will be the “certified successor of cars.” They’re “streamliners” — upgraded land-speed racers that look like motorcycles wrapped in fighter jets, and Maskus hopes to have them in the hands of consumers by 2015.

February 01, 2011

NASA's NEOWISE Space telescope Completes Scan for Asteroids and Comets

During its one-year mission, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, mapped the entire sky in infrared light. Among the multitudes of astronomical bodies that have been discovered by the NEOWISE portion of the WISE mission are 20 comets. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

NASA's NEOWISE mission has completed its survey of small bodies, asteroids and comets, in our solar system.The mission's discoveries of previously unknown objects include 20 comets, more than 33,000 asteroids in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter, and 134 near-Earth objects (NEOs). The NEOs are asteroids and comets with orbits that come within 45 million kilometers (28 million miles) of Earth's path around the sun.

NEOWISE is an enhancement of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, mission that launched in December 2009. WISE scanned the entire celestial sky in infrared light about 1.5 times. It captured more than 2.7 million images of objects in space, ranging from faraway galaxies to asteroids and comets close to Earth.

When combined with WISE observations, NEOWISE data will aid in the discovery of the closest dim stars, called brown dwarfs. These observations have the potential to reveal a brown dwarf even closer to us than our closest known star, Proxima Centauri, if such an object does exist. Likewise, if there is a hidden gas-giant planet in the outer reaches of our solar system, data from WISE and NEOWISE could detect it.

The first batch of observations from the WISE mission will be available to the public and astronomical community in April.

NASA will have a Kepler Telescope news briefing Feb 2 to discuss over 1000 possible new exoplanets

- NASA will host a news briefing at 1 p.m. EST, Wednesday, Feb. 2, to announce the Kepler mission's latest findings about planets outside our solar system.

NASA released new data Wednesday from its Kepler telescope on more than 1,000 possible new planets outside our solar system — more than doubling the count of what astronomers call exoplanets. They haven't been confirmed as planets yet, but some astronomers estimate that 90 per cent of what Kepler has found will eventually be verified.

The news conference will follow the scheduled release of Kepler mission science data on Feb. 1. The data release will update the number of planet candidates and is based on observations conducted between May 2 and Sept. 17, 2009.

Development of Novel Transistor with Combined Logic and Memory Functions with Power Consumption Reduced to One-Millionth that of Conventional Devices

The University of Tokyo, succeeded in the development of a novel transistor, the “atom transistor,” which performs both logic and memory functions while reducing power consumption by one million times that of the conventional devices. Logic elements which are capable of retaining their state (i.e., memory) will be indispensible for the development of instant-on personal computers (PC) and other electronic equipment. The development in this work is expected to accelerate the realization of these devices.

Principles of logic element operation and memory element operation.

(a) When a positive voltage is applied to the gate electrode, metal atoms are supplied to the insulator from the gate electrode.
(b) When the concentration of metal atoms in the vicinity of the source/drain electrodes exceeds a critical value, the insulator changes to a conductive state.
(c) When an even higher voltage is applied, the metal atoms form a cluster.
(d) It is necessary to apply a negative voltage in order to dissolve the cluster.

Kazatomprom will boost uranium production to 19600 tons in 2011 and Areva delays Namibian mine Trekkopje

1. Kazakhstan plans to boost uranium output by 10 percent to 19,600 metric tons this year, said Vladimir Shkolnik, chief executive officer of the state nuclear company, Kazatomprom. The Central Asian nation produced 17,803 tons of uranium in 2010.

Carbon nanotubes for better solar cells

Angewandte Chemie International Edition - Flexible, Light-Weight, Ultrastrong, and Semiconductive Carbon Nanotube Fibers for a Highly Efficient Solar Cell

Tubes for sunlight: Solar cells with high short-circuit photocurrent, incident monochromatic photon-to-electron conversion efficiency, and power conversion efficiency have been made from flexible, light-weight, ultrastrong, and semiconductive nanotube fibers (see picture above). The alignment of the nanotubes in the fiber is crucial for the excellent charge separation and charge transport properties observed.

Chinese researchers fabricated fibers – with tunable uniform diameters ranging from micrometers to millimeters – that could be spun with lengths of tens of meters or even longer. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy indicates a multiwalled structure for the building nanotubes with diameter of approximately 8.5 nm in the fiber. Their nanotube fiber demonstrates much higher values in both specific strength and specific stiffness than current engineering fibers. The specific strength of a nanotube fiber is 2.9 times that of T1000, the strongest commercial fiber, and the specific stiffness is 3.9 times that of M70J, the stiffest commercial fiber.

9 pages of supplemental material

Status of Jordan, Yemen and other countries facing public demonstrations

NY Times reports that the King of Jordan has dismissed his cabinet

Changing cabinets is not new for King Abdullah. In his 12 years on the throne, he has done so eight times. But this was the first time that he had done so in reaction to public pressure, seeking to undermine a growing protest movement across a broad spectrum of society and to pre-empt further unrest. It came after four weeks of unusual public demonstrations.

Microsoft uses Internet Explorer to copy Google search results for Bing

Calcite cloaks a pink piece of paper

A piece of pink paper vanishes under a new invisibility cloak developed by MIT researchers.

Science news has a picture of a calcite cloak covering a pink piece of paper.

In principle, Barbastathis says, the same method could be used in real-life situations to conceal an object from view — and the only limitation on the size of the hidden object is the size of the calcite crystal that’s available. The team paid about $1,000 for the small crystal it used, he says, but much larger ones could be used to conceal much larger objects. (The largest known natural crystal of calcite measures 7 by 7 meters, or more than 21 feet across).

Synthetic calcite crystals could be made even larger.

Per capita GDP PPP of $10,000 to 15000 (2000 dollars) seems to correlate with freedom and democracy

There is a collection of statistics which show the correlation between per capita GDP PPP and freedom and other good things in society Correlations do not show causal links but it is likely that the causation works both ways: higher GPD per capita means better education (because of more investment in education) and better education means higher GDP.

World's largest steel maker will be commercially launching stronger nanostructured steel in 2 to 3 years

Media seems to think Mubarak will fade away quietly - confirmed

In 2006 cables from wikileaks, Oman Soliman a U.S. diplomatic cable described Suleiman as “formidable” and says he is Mubarak’s “consigliere” on foreign policy. Mubarak made his consigliere number two in his regime and told his consigliere to open talks (make offers to the opposition).

So now -
Mubarak’s Top Spy Rejected by Cairo Streets as Masses March.

So at least some of offers (as per Godfather analogy- 'offer he can't refuse') have been refused.

UPDATE- Mubarak has announced that he will leave over the next few months

He said that over the next few months, "the remaining of my current reign, I will work very hard to carry out all the necessary measures to transfer power."

The drama continues:
Demonstrators what Mubarak to step down immediately and for a national unity caretaker government to fill in. They feel that this is a trick and a stalling tactic and that the current regime will fix the election as they have past elections

Bio-nano-chip in human trials to spot cardiac disease, cancer, drug abuse

To obtain a saliva sample for the Nano-Bio-Chip, health care providers swab a patient's gums with a cotton-tipped stick. The saliva is transferred to the disposable diagnostic microchip. The microchip is then inserted into an analyzer and within a few minutes the saliva sample is checked and results delivered. The nano-bio-chip that can diagnose a heart attack in 15 minutes using saliva. He's already developed a nano-bio-chip quick test for HIV.

New microchip technology from Rice University is expected to advance the art of diagnosis. Cardiac disease is the focus of one of six ongoing major clinical trials of Rice's programmable bio-nano-chips (PBNCs).

Previous pilot studies showed that ice's diagnostic nano-bio-chip was found to be 97 percent "sensitive" and 93 percent specific in detecting which patients had malignant or premalignant lesions, results that compared well with traditional tests.

Rice University scientists model tiny rotors, key to future nanomachines

Kolomeisky and Rice graduate student Alexey Akimov have taken a large step toward defining the behavior of these molecular whirligigs with a new paper in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Physical Chemistry C. Through molecular dynamics simulations, they defined the ground rules for the rotor motion of molecules attached to a gold surface.

American Chemical Society's Journal of Physical Chemistry C - Dynamics of Single-Molecule Rotations on Surfaces that Depend on Symmetry, Interactions, and Molecular Sizes

The Total Universe flat and is at least 251 times larger than the visible universe

Arxiv - Applications of Bayesian model averaging to the curvature and size of the Universe

Bayesian model averaging is a procedure to obtain parameter constraints that account for the uncertainty about the correct cosmological model. We use recent cosmological observations and Bayesian model averaging to derive tight limits on the curvature parameter, as well as robust lower bounds on the curvature radius of the Universe and its minimum size, while allowing for the possibility of an evolving dark energy component. Because flat models are favoured by Bayesian model selection, we find that model-averaged constraints on the curvature and size of the Universe can be considerably stronger than non model-averaged ones. For the most conservative prior choice (based on inflationary considerations), our procedure improves on non model-averaged constraints on the curvature by a factor of ~ 2. The curvature scale of the Universe is conservatively constrained to be Radius of curvature greater than 42 Gigaparsecs (99%), corresponding to a lower limit to the number of Hubble spheres in the Universe NU (number of Universe volumes) over 251 (99%).

Kazakhstan doubles 2008 uranium production and Namibia Uranium expansion in progress

1. Kazakhstan's annual uranium production has doubled since 2008, according to preliminary uranium production results released by national atomic company Kazatomprom. The 17,803 tU produced by Kazakhstan in 2010 was nearly 30% up on the 14,020 tU produced in 2009 and double the amount produced in 2008.

Wall Street Journal lays out the Mubarak Strategy

Hundreds of thousands of people have flooded into central Cairo, where protesters have called for a "million-strong" march to press their demand that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak cede power.

Egypt's newly appointed vice president said Mr. Mubarak has asked him to begin immediate discussions with all "political forces" on constitutional and legislative reforms. Omar Suleiman, a longtime intelligence (head spy) chief and confidant of Mr. Mubarak, did not say what the changes will entail or which groups the government will contact.

Most of the WSJ article at luxlibertas - Egypt's leader has gambled that he can ride out the protests and hold on. It's a pretty good gamble.

What unites the protesters is anger. But anger is an emotion, not a strategy, much less a political agenda. What, really, does "Down With Mubarak" offer the average Egyptian?

If the Brotherhood has its way, Egypt will become a Sunni theocracy modeled on Iran. If the democracy activists have theirs, it'll be a weak parliamentary system, incapable of exercising authority over the army and a cat's paw for a Brotherhood that knows its revolutionary history well enough to remember the name of Alexander Kerensky.

January 31, 2011

Neuroscientists’ stimulate brain cells and reveal how those neurons influence the rest of the brain.

This image shows a map of neural activity in the awake mouse brain, top, and pattern of brain communication when the sensory projection neurons are optically driven, bottom. The hotter colors indicate higher correlation.

There are about 100 billion neurons in the human brain, and each one belongs to elaborate networks that control our behavior, thoughts and emotions. A message from a single neuron can have far-reaching consequences in other brain areas, but those connections are difficult to decipher with current technology.

To help map those networks, a team of researchers from MIT, Harvard, Boston University and Tufts University has now developed a way to selectively activate neurons in the awake mouse brain with light and then track the resulting activity in other brain regions, using a brain-scanning technique called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

UMD Advance Lights Possible New Path to Creating Next Gen Computer Chip

University of Maryland researchers have made a breakthrough in the use of visible light for making tiny integrated circuits. Though their advance is probably at least a decade from commercial use, they say it could one day make it possible for companies like Intel to continue their decades long tread of making ever smaller, faster, and cheaper computer chips.

The Solar future is nanodomes and plasmonics

Acting like a waffle iron, silicon nanodomes, each about 300 nanometers in diameter and 200 nanometers tall, imprint a honeycomb pattern of nanoscale dimples into a layer of metal within the solar cell.

Stanford engineers dance with plasmonics to yield new direction for thin, inexpensive solar cells.

In an article published in Advance Energy Materials, the Stanford/EPFL team announced a new type of thin solar cell that could offer a new direction for the field. They succeeded in harnessing plasmonics – an emerging branch of science and technology – to more effectively trap light within thin solar cells to improve performance and push them one step closer to daily reality.

Hardware boosts communication speed by six times in Multicore chips

Progress to 1200 kilometer per hour Vacuum Maglev Trains and increasing the average speed of high speed trains to 500 kph

Research conducted by the .Traction Power State Key Laboratory at the Southwest Jiaotong University, successfully developed a vacuum magnetic suspension train model able to run at between 600 (372.8 mph) and 1,200 (745.6 mph) kilometers per hour, equal to the speed of a plane, according to Shuai Bin, vice dean of the university's Traffic School.

The new technology is expected to be put into operation within 10 years and promoted across the country in 2030, the Shanghai-based Science Pictorial reported Sunday. Shuai told the Global Times Sunday that the possibility of the technology being put to use is small.

China began research and development on a new "super-speed" railway technology in 2010 The new technology will increase the average speed of trains to over 500 kilometers per hour (310.7mph), said MOR Chief Engineer He Huawu at conference held in central China's Wuhan City. Most new high speed trains in China have commercial speeds of 380 kph or less (typically just over 200 kph). The 400-500 km/h (248.5-310.7 mph) high-speed railway technology is in its final phase of development and the 380-km/h (236.1 mph) trains are already coming off production lines. China's high-speed railways with speeds above 300 km/h (186.4 mph) will account for 75 percent of those built in the 12th Five-Year period from 2011 to 2015. By 2020, China's railway network will be ready to serve over 90 percent of its population.

Part of the difficulty for the very low pressure maglev trains is that maglevs are only about 5% of the high speed trains in China. The non-maglev high speed trains have an established position and it is difficult to displace them.

Summary of Nuclear propulsion for space

A New Dawn for Artificial Intelligence

New Scientist - Artificial intelligence has finally become trustworthy enough to watch over everything from nuclear bombs to premature babies.

Given the choice between a flesh-and-blood doctor and an artificial intelligence system for diagnosing diseases, Pedro Domingos is willing to stake his life on AI. "I'd trust the machine more than I'd trust the doctor," says Domingos, a computer scientist at the University of Washington, Seattle.

Lying close to the heart of AI's revival is a technique called probabilistic programming, which combines the logical underpinnings of the old AI with the power of statistics and probability.

Southampton scientists begin patient trials of new leukaemia cancer vaccine

A new cancer treatment which strengthens a patient's immune system and enables them to fight the disease more effectively is being trialled on patients for the first time in the UK.

The treatment will use a new DNA vaccine, developed by scientists from the University of Southampton, which will treat a selected group of volunteers who have either chronic or acute myeloid leukaemia - two forms of bone marrow and blood cancer.

New graphene transistor with 1000 times higher on/off switching ratio

Metamaterials approach makes better satellite antennas

3-dimensional rendering of metamaterial lined feed horn antenna with low loss, low weight, and over an octave bandwidth for satellite communications shown with satellite.

Cheaper, lighter and more energy-efficient broadband devices on communications satellites may be possible using metamaterials to modify horn antennas, according to engineers from Penn State and Lockheed Martin Corp.

Google’s Android becomes the world’s leading smart phone platform

Canalys today published its final Q4 2010 global country-level smart phone market data, which revealed that Google’s Android has become the leading platform. Shipments of Android-based smart phones reached 32.9 million, while devices running Nokia’s Symbian platform trailed slightly at 31.0 million worldwide. But Nokia did retain its position as the leading global smart phone vendor, with a share of 28%. The fourth quarter also saw the worldwide smart phone market continue to soar, with shipments of 101.2 million units representing year-on-year growth of 89%. The final quarter took shipments for the year to fractionally below 300 million units, with an annual growth rate of 80% over 2009

Egyptians on the streets of Cairo think opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei is too Weak

Egyptians on the streets of Cairo said on Monday they had reservations about opposition leader Mohamed ElBarade

Egyptian authorities harassed his supporters and ElBaradei lost much credibility through his long absences abroad. The official media tried to ridicule him, saying he knew nothing about Egypt and had no political experience.

Some elements of the government's campaign appear to have stuck. "ElBaradei won't do. He doesn't have the experience here and he's a little weak," said Khaled Ezzat, 34, an information technology engineer who had joined the evening vigil in Tahrir Square.

January 30, 2011

Widom Larsen Theory and Zawodny at NASA Aviation Unleashed

Joseph Zawodny, NASA Langley Research Center - Energetics, had a presentation at NASA Aviation Unleashed where he looked at low energy nuclear reactions and other possible game changing technologies.

Lewis G. Larsen developed a theory of LENRs (WLT) that explains ALL the evidenceand along with Dr. Alan Widom published their theory in Eur. Phys. J. C (2006)
• WLT is the 1st theory to not require “New Physics”.
• It relies on the Weak Nuclear force which:
* Produces a neutron via electron capture
* Does not have a Coulomb barrier to overcome
• The theory combines QED, Condensed Matter, Nuclear, and Plasma Physics

LENR (low energy nuclear reactions) IS NOT “COLD FUSION”

New Energy Times Interviews Rossi who hopes to reveal a one megawatt low energy nuclear reaction device in September or October 2011

New Energy Times - Energy Catalyzer: It Works and It's Not Fusion

* it is not "cold fusion" but weak [force] nuclear reactions. Pons and Fleischmann did heavy-water electrolysis with a palladium cathode and a platinum anode. I don't do electrolysis, I don't use either platinum or palladium and I use temperatures that manage to melt nickel.

Molybdenite better than silicon and in some ways graphene for computer chips

Molybdenite can make smaller and 100,000 times more energy-efficient electronic chips. Molybdenite is abundant in nature, is often used as an element in steel alloys or as an additive in lubricants. It’s a two-dimensional material, very thin and easy to use in nanotechnology. It has real potential in the fabrication of very small transistors, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and solar cells.

One of molybdenite's advantages is that it is less voluminous than silicon, which is a three-dimensional material. "In a 0.65-nanometer-thick sheet of MoS2, the electrons can move around as easily as in a 2-nanometer-thick sheet of silicon," explains Kis. "But it's not currently possible to fabricate a sheet of silicon as thin as a monolayer sheet of MoS2." (H/T nanopatents and innovations)

Another advantage of molybdenite is that it can be used to make transistors that consume 100,000 times less energy in standby state than traditional silicon transistors. A semi-conductor with a "gap" must be used to turn a transistor on and off, and molybdenite's 1.8 electron-volt gap is ideal for this purpose.

Graphene doesn't have a bandgap, and it is very difficult to artificially reproduce one in the material. Molybdenite has a bandgap.

Nova Science now video on life extension

Watch the full episode. See more NOVA scienceNOW.

Nova Science now video on the VASIMR plasma Rocket

Watch the full episode. See more NOVA scienceNOW.

Kinect, Move, Wii and hardcore gamers

The motion-sensing technology used to make Kinect what it is today is something Sony was shown four years ago. John Koller, director of hardware marking for Sony Computer Entertainment America, believes his company's competing motion controller — the PlayStation Move — offers something Kinect can't: motion-controlled gaming for hardcore players.

While the Wii has been criticized for having frustratingly inaccurate motion controls, the Move motion-control system has quite the opposite reputation, and for good reason. Sony's motion control system combines the PlayStation Eye camera with a wand-like motion-sensing controller (the one with the lighted ball on the end of it) and a navigation controller. With the camera and the motion-controller working together, the system tracks the controller's movements and replicates them on screen with a high degree of accuracy.

Hardcore gamers by far more games than the casual players. Casual buyers might just buy the initial games that came with the unit and then use it to connect to Netflix. Gamers also do not want a controller and games where the time they are investing to develop skills is not rewarded by the gamer being totally superior. If a novice can come in and be competitive because the controller is not accurate enough to capture the gamers skill the the hardcore gamer will not play that system.

Cella Energy developing a Hydrogen bag for fuels cells for soldiers

Cella Energy is developing the Hydrogen Bag™ that contains micro-fibres. The fibres resemble white tissue paper and can be packaged in any container or even in clothing. There is no need for a metal canister because the hydrogen is stored at normal temperatures and pressures, and is safe to handle in the open air. Previously we have discussed the Cella Energy markets of cars and rockets.

The way the hydrogen is supplied has held up the adoption of these fuel cells up to now because hydrogen storage has only been possible in hydrogen cylinders. These metal cylinders present safety risks and are not practical for large scale market adoption

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