June 18, 2011

A cortical neural prosthesis for restoring and enhancing memory in Rats so far

Scientists have developed a way to turn memories on and off - literally with the flip of a switch.

Using an electronic system that duplicates the neural signals associated with memory, they managed to replicate the brain function in rats associated with long-term learned behavior, even when the rats had been drugged to forget.

Journal of Neural Engineering - A cortical neural prosthesis for restoring and enhancing memory

A primary objective in developing a neural prosthesis is to replace neural circuitry in the brain that no longer functions appropriately. Such a goal requires artificial reconstruction of neuron-to-neuron connections in a way that can be recognized by the remaining normal circuitry, and that promotes appropriate interaction. In this study, the application of a specially designed neural prosthesis using a multi-input/multi-output (MIMO) nonlinear model is demonstrated by using trains of electrical stimulation pulses to substitute for MIMO model derived ensemble firing patterns. Ensembles of CA3 and CA1 hippocampal neurons, recorded from rats performing a delayed-nonmatch-to-sample (DNMS) memory task, exhibited successful encoding of trial-specific sample lever information in the form of different spatiotemporal firing patterns. MIMO patterns, identified online and in real-time, were employed within a closed-loop behavioral paradigm. Results showed that the model was able to predict successful performance on the same trial. Also, MIMO model-derived patterns, delivered as electrical stimulation to the same electrodes, improved performance under normal testing conditions and, more importantly, were capable of recovering performance when delivered to animals with ensemble hippocampal activity compromised by pharmacologic blockade of synaptic transmission. These integrated experimental-modeling studies show for the first time that, with sufficient information about the neural coding of memories, a neural prosthesis capable of real-time diagnosis and manipulation of the encoding process can restore and even enhance cognitive, mnemonic processes.

The full article is available for free for 30 days)

Bad Astronomer on Reduced Sun Spots and Climate

Bad Astonomer makes the case that the amount of cooling we’d see from Maunder Minimum of reduced sunspot activity would still be less than the global warming we’ve been experiencing since the 20th century. It might slow things down for a while, but the climate change we’re seeing now — and it’s real, folks — is more than enough to take on a little temporary cooling, especially local cooling.

It’s not clear the studies if there will be a weak sun cycle next time around. It’s possible, but not a sure thing. And a weak cycle, as Dr. Biesecker points out, doesn’t necessarily mean anything to our climate, volcanoes or not.

This is pretty standard. Some groups are always claiming larger climate effects (warmer or colder) and then others are saying the effects will not be as large (warmer or colder).

Regenerating the Ear and the Eye

Finnish researchers have designed tiny nano-particles which can deliver a specific drug to cells of the inner ear. Once brought into position, this drug helps to repair damaged ear cells. As a result people with hearing loss have experienced a significant improvement of their condition.

In the European Commission-funded project NANOEAR, scientists from several countries in Europe are studying where different nanoparticles go within the inner ear and if these nanoparticles could be harmful or useful in therapeutics. They are currently testing eight nanoparticle classes, for example, biodegradable liposomes, micelles and lipid-core nanocapsules, regarding their delivery of genes, peptides, corticosteroids, siRNA and shRNA. Since nanoparticles also have properties that separate them, the researchers need to find the best carrier for each drug.

The project’s researchers are working on nanoparticles targeted towards hair cells, neurons and supporting cells. They have identified fundamental peptides helping the nanoparticles to avoid being trapped and dysfunctionalized by the lysosomal enzymes in the cell’s endosome system, so the nanoparticles are able to deliver the therapeutic drugs to their targets.

Nanodiamonds enable progress with Retina Prothesis

In France, nanotechnology is used to help blind people with a new generation of artificial retinal prostheses. Scientists have created synthetic diamond crystals and implant them on the retina of the patient. The diamond can stimulate the retina and compensate the damaged photoreceptors. The results are impressive, as Serge Picaud from the Inserm Institut de la Vision in Paris points out: “A patient who was blind can now see letters and read small words. That’s pretty exceptional!”

Superconductivity’s third side unmasked by RIKEN

Figure 1: The three types of glue for superconducting electrons: lattice vibrations (top), electron spin (middle), and fluctuations between two electron orbitals (zx and yz) (bottom). The yellow spheres represent Cooper pairs of electrons. © 2011 Shik Shin

A previously unknown and unexpected mechanism gives rise to superconductivity in specific types of materials.

The debate over the mechanism that causes superconductivity in a class of materials called the pnictides has been settled by a research team from Japan and China1. Superconductivity was discovered in the pnictides only recently, and they belong to the class of so-called ‘high-temperature superconductors’. Despite their name, the temperature at which they function as superconductors is still well below room temperature. Realizing superconductivity at room temperature remains a key challenge in physics; it would revolutionize electronics since electrical devices could operate without losing energy.

Science - Orbital-Independent Superconducting Gaps in Iron Pnictides

Joe Eck calls out three universities for plagiarism and lack of attribution on his superconductor work

Joe Eck at superconductors.org has done a lot of research and experiments on superconductors.

Joe discovered, described and patented the observation and theory that Planar Weight Disparity Improves the critical temperature of a superconductor.

In 2006 and 2010 Universidad Nacional de Colombia published articles that claimed new discoveries within this same family of rare earth copper-oxides based on "planar weight disparity" without attribution of any sort. Below are direct quotes from both the UNAL article and original SCO article.

Universidad Nacional de Colombia 2010: "An exact 5050 mix of Yttrium and a heavy rare earth has been found to significantly improve Tc in the Lu0.5Y0.5Ba2Cu3O7-d by creating substantial planar weight disparity in alternating layers, which has previously been found to increase Tc.in copperoxide."

Original SCO article from 2005: "An exact 50-50 mix of Yttrium and a heavy rare earth has been found by Superconductors.ORG to significantly improve Tc. This creates substantial planar weight disparity in alternating layers, which has previously been found to increase Tc in copper-oxide superconductors."

Physicists say sunspot cycle is 'going into hibernation' which could cause a mini ice age within a decade

US solar physicists announce that the Sun appears to be headed into a lengthy spell of low activity, which could mean that the Earth – far from facing a global warming problem – is actually headed into a mini Ice Age.

The Sun normally follows an 11-year cycle of activity. The current cycle, Cycle 24, is now supposed to be ramping up towards maximum strength. Increased numbers of sunspots and other indications ought to be happening: but in fact results so far are most disappointing. Scientists at the National Solar Observatory (NSO) now suspect, based on data showing decades-long trends leading to this point, that Cycle 25 may not happen at all.

According to a statement issued by the NSO, announcing the research:

An immediate question is whether this slowdown presages a second Maunder Minimum, a 70-year period with virtually no sunspots [which occurred] during 1645-1715.

NASA discusses the sunspot cycle

Alfin has a larger collection of articles discussing the shutdown of the solar cycle

Early records of sunspots indicate that the Sun went through a period of inactivity in the late 17th century. Very few sunspots were seen on the Sun from about 1645 to 1715. Although the observations were not as extensive as in later years, the Sun was in fact well observed during this time and this lack of sunspots is well documented. This period of solar inactivity also corresponds to a climatic period called the "Little Ice Age" when rivers that are normally ice-free froze and snow fields remained year-round at lower altitudes. There is evidence that the Sun has had similar periods of inactivity in the more distant past. The connection between solar activity and terrestrial climate is an area of on-going research.

June 17, 2011

Railgun and Free Electron Laser programs funding is at risk

The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved its version of fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill without funding the railgun or free electron laser weapons programs.

The determination was that the Free Electron Laser has the highest technical risk in terms of being ultimately able to field on a ship, so we thought the Navy could better concentrate on other laser programs

With the Electromagnetic Railgun, the committee felt the technical challenges to developing and fielding the weapon would be daunting, particularly [related to] the power required and the barrel of the gun having limited life.

The process of passing a defense budget making it through no fewer than four committees and two floor votes, so it’s not like these programs cease to exist. But unless the Navy makes a big push for its futuristic weapons, both of them will die on the drawing board.

Defense budget primer (72 pages)

Tuning laser-induced band gaps in graphene

Applied Physics Letters - Tuning laser-induced band gaps in graphene

Could a laser field lead to the much sought-after tunable band gaps in graphene? By using Floquet theory combined with Green's functions techniques, we predict that a laser field in the mid-infrared range can produce observable band gaps in the electronic structure of graphene. Furthermore, we show how they can be tuned by using the laser polarization. Our results could serve as a guidance to design optoelectronic nanodevices

Graphene may gain an 'on-off switch,' adding semiconductor to long list of material's achievements

Electrolytic method could produce carbon nanotubes 100 times cheaper

The new electrochemical process
(a) Schematic diagram of the cell for fabrication of carbon nanotubes (b) Scanning electron microscope image showing that the graphite electrodes are almost entirely converted to carbon nanotubes in the new process

A team at Cambridge University is investigating whether nanotubes made with the new method could be used to improve the energy density of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.

Currently carbon nanotubes cost about $1,000(£610)/kg.

Usually existing materials generally have the edge in terms of cost and function. Total worldwide production of carbon nanotubes is only around 1,300 tonnes a year.

Carbon nanotubes are produced using a hot, carbon-rich vapor in the presence of expensive catalysts. It has poor throughput, yield and selectivity.

A new electrochemical method could readily be scaled up (by using a multi-electrode cell with planar graphite electrodes) to produce more than 600kg of carbon nanotubes per day at a projected cost of around $10(£6.10)/kg.

Electrolytic Production of Carbon Nanotubes (2 pages)

A new method for low-cost, high-yield production of carbon nanotubes has been developed. The technique can also produce carbon nanotubes filled with metals such as tin. It is envisaged that the electrochemical method could readily be scaled up (by using a multi-electrode cell with planar graphite electrodes) to produce more than 600 kg/day of carbon nanotubes, far more than is possible with current commercial methods.

Smaller and Cheaper particle accelerator prototype could enable 600-megawatts thorium-fueled reactor

EMMA (Electron Model of Many Applications) is the first non- scaling, fixed-field, alternating-gradient (NS-FFAG) particle accelerator prototype of a new generation of nuclear energy solutions that will be significantly smaller and cheaper than its predecessors.

UK Daily Mail - The Electron Model of Many Applications – is an object of scientific beauty, a shiny blue-and-red metallic ring bristling with cables and flat, octagonal quadrupole magnets (magnets arranged in groups of four). Emma is a particle accelerator, the first of an entirely new type. Since the first such machines were built nearly 80 years ago, accelerators – devices that propel beams of electrons, protons or other particles to high speeds – have played a vital role in experimental physics, opening up fresh insights into the origins of the universe and the nature of matter. But most are big and expensive. The best known and biggest of all is the Large Hadron Collider operated by CERN in Switzerland, an underground ring 17 miles in circumference, which cost billions to construct.

Emma is different. She is the world’s first ‘non- scaling, fixed-field, alternating-gradient’ (NS-FFAG) accelerator. In layman’s terms, says Bliss, this means she is a ‘pocket-sized’ machine, the prototype of a new generation that will be significantly smaller and cheaper than its predecessors.

China is trying to shift from infrastructure investment to consumption driven economy

Collaborhythm a technology platform to empower an individual to control their own health

The foundation of CollaboRhythm is a speech- and touch-controlled collaborative interface for the office where doctor and patient make shared decisions. Patients can actively engage with their data, so they can take action in their lives with doctors serving as coaches rather than commanders.

CollaboRhythm is a technology platform that enables a new paradigm of healthcare delivery; one where patients are empowered to become active participants and where doctors and other health professionals are transformed into real-time coaches. We believe that this radical shift in thinking is necessary to dramatically reduce healthcare costs, increase quality, and improve health outcomes.

Alan Fletcher write up of how to Prove that the Rossi/Focardi eCAT LENR is Real

"Fake?" means that all Fakes are NOT excluded. "Real" means that ALL fakes are excluded

Alan Fletcher has written How to Prove that the Rossi/Focardi eCAT LENR is Real. He summarizes a lot of discussion at the Vortex mailing list

This paper attempts to prove that the Rossi/Focardi device is real, by ruling out all known fakes. For any particular fake the total energy and run-time is computed, assuming that the ENTIRE unknown volume is occupied by the fake material, and that its conversion to heat energy is 100% efficient. If the fake could run LONGER than the experiment, then it is NOT eliminated. If the fake would run out of fuel before the end of the experiment, then the fake is eliminated.

If ALL known fakes are eliminated, then the device must be real.

The December/January experiments were too short to rule out ANY of these theoretical fakes. But if Levi's informal reports on the February trial are accepted, then ALL chemical fakes are eliminated. However, neither the January or February reports rule out a Tarallo Water Diversion Fake.

The March report probably rules out a Tarallo fake -- but since the Horizontal arm was NOT unwrapped, it does NOT rule out all chemical fakes.

Two new tests were run in April. These definitely rule out a Tarallo fake. The experimental setup was adequate, but since the eCat was NOT unwrapped the time of the run was NOT long enough to rule out ANY of the chemical fakes. (Only some of the stored-heat fakes are eliminated).

At present EVERY known fake has been eliminated by at least ONE of the experiments, but the Rossi eCat has NOT been proven to be real by any ONE experiment. Some will argue that this means it's real, while others will argue that it could still be fake.

It must, however be noted that Rossi made the "Calorimetric Black Box" eCAT available without any restrictions (other than the use of radioactive spectral detectors), so the lack of proof is due to defects in the observers instruments or techniques, not due to his attempt to conceal anything.

This paper considers UPPER BOUNDS for what a Fake could achieve.

Any actual fake would run into engineering difficulties long before those limits were reached.

Steven B. Krivit of New Energy Times has a Preliminary Report on the Rossi Energy Catalyzer

Steven B Krivit of New Energy Times blog is visiting Italy to investigate the Rossi and Focardi Energy Catalyzer.

The primary validity of the E-Cat trio’s dramatic energy claim is highly contingent on and derived from the heat output which they calculate indirectly from a claimed full or near-full vaporization of 100-degree water to steam. Complete vaporization of 100-degree water into steam requires the complete absence of suspended water droplets in steam.

Steve discussed the crucial difference in steam enthalpy calculations by mass versus by volume with Levi on Wednesday afternoon. Based on his initial response, he could not be sure if he had previously understood the potential impact.

Steve showed them calculations which displayed one to two orders of magnitude less enthalpy if the measurements had been made volumetrically. He was assured that the measurements had been measured by mass.

Rossi blasts Steve Krivit and the report

Mr Krivit has understood nothing of what he saw, from what I have read in his ridiculous report.

We made the measurement of the water in weight and we explained this to Krivit.

Beneq Launches Roll-to-Roll atomic layer deposition System for Wide Flexible Substrates

Single-tube linear DNA amplification (LinDA) for robust ChIP-seq

Nature Methods - Single-tube linear DNA amplification (LinDA) for robust ChIP-seq

An international team of researchers has developed a new DNA technology which makes it possible to perform reliable analyses on DNA quantities that are a thousand times smaller than was previously the case. The method can be used, for example, to study small quantities of stem cells, starting tumour tissue, parts of plant and animal tissue, and archaeological samples. The team, which includes a researcher from Plant Research International, part of Wageningen UR, is publishing the new method in Nature Methods under the name LinDA.

Genome-wide profiling of transcription factors based on massive parallel sequencing of immunoprecipitated chromatin (ChIP-seq) requires nanogram amounts of DNA. Here we describe a high-fidelity, single-tube linear DNA amplification method (LinDA) for ChIP-seq and reChIP-seq with picogram DNA amounts obtained from a few thousand cells. This amplification technology will facilitate global analyses of transcription-factor binding and chromatin with very small cell populations, such as stem or cancer-initiating cells.

9 pages of supplemental information

Highly Ordered Square Arrays from a Templated ABC Triblock Terpolymer

Nanoletters - Highly Ordered Square Arrays from a Templated ABC Triblock Terpolymer

Square-symmetry patterns are of interest in nanolithography but are not easily obtained from self-assembly of a diblock copolymer. Instead, we demonstrate highly ordered 44 nm period square patterns formed in a thin film of polyisoprene-block-polystyrene-block-polyferrocenylsilane (PI-b-PS-b-PFS) triblock terpolymer blended with 15% PS homopolymer by controlling the film thickness, solvent anneal conditions, the surface chemistry and topography of the substrates. The square patterns consist of PFS pillars that remained after removal of the PI and PS with an oxygen plasma. On an unpatterned smooth substrate, the average grain size of the square pattern was increased dramatically to several micrometers by the use of brush layers and specific solvent anneal conditions. Templated self-assembly of well-ordered square patterns was demonstrated on substrates containing nanoscale topographical sidewalls and posts, written by electron beam lithography, in which the sidewalls and base of the substrate were independently chemically functionalized.

Holographic lithography

Nanoletters - Holographic Control of Motive Shape in Plasmonic Nanogap Arrays

Here we demonstrate that 4-beam holographic lithography can be utilized to create plasmonic nanogaps which are 70 times smaller than the laser wavelength (488 nm). This was achieved by controlling phase, polarization, and laser beam intensity in order to tune the relative spacing of the two sublattices in the interference pattern of a compound-lattice in combination with the nonlinear resist response. Exemplarily, twin and triplet motive features were designed and patterned into polymer in a single exposure step and then transferred into gold nanogap arrays resulting in an average gap size of 22 nm and smallest features down to 7 nm. These results extend the utility of high-throughput, wafer-scale holographic lithography into the realm of nanoplasmonics.

UCLA team reports scalable fabrication of self-aligned 10-50 gigahertz graphene transistors, circuits

In September 2010, a UCLA research team reported that they had overcome some of these difficulties and were able to fabricate graphene transistors with unparalleled speed. These transistors used a nanowire as the self-aligned gate — the element that switches the transistor between various states. But the scalability of this approach remained an open question.

Now the researchers, using equipment from the Nanoelectronics Research Facility and the Center for High Frequency Electronics at UCLA, report that they have developed a scalable approach to fabricating these high-speed graphene transistors.

The team used a dielectrophoresis assembly approach to precisely place nanowire gate arrays on large-area chemical vapor deposition–growth graphene — as opposed to mechanically peeled graphene flakes — to enable the rational fabrication of high-speed transistor arrays. They were able to do this on a glass substrate, minimizing parasitic delay and enabling graphene transistors with extrinsic cut-off frequencies exceeding 50 GHz. Typical high-speed graphene transistors are fabricated on silicon or semi-insulating silicon carbide substrates that tend to bleed off electric charge, leading to extrinsic cut-off frequencies of around 10 GHz or less.

Taking an additional step, the UCLA team was able to use these graphene transistors to construct radio-frequency circuits functioning up to 10 GHz, a substantial improvement from previous reports of 20 MHz.

June 16, 2011

Cable Internet demonstrated at 4.5 Gbps

ARRIS demonstrated real file transfer throughput of 4.5 Gbps of DOCSIS downstream traffic being transmitted over 128 DOCSIS downstream channels into a single Fiber Node. An ARRIS C4 CMTS was configured using four newly-released 32 Downstream Cable Access Modules (32D CAMs) to source the 128 DOCSIS downstream channels into the Fiber Node. The Bandwidth Monitor will illustrate that the total downstream bandwidth sent into the Fiber Node remains fairly constant at about 4.5 Gbps. These record-breaking bandwidth levels may be required for large-scale IP Video systems in the future.

The demo will also show a proof-of-concept implementation of a 5-200 MHz high-split DOCSIS upstream system with 575 Mbps of DOCSIS upstream bandwidth being transmitted over 24 DOCSIS Upstream channels out of a single Fiber Node.

The fastest cable internet services are 160 Mbps in Japan and 101 Mbps in New York. There is a pilot of 200 Mbps for 100 people in England.

The demo shows that if cable television channels were compressed or converted to IPTV that there would be room for true ultrabroadband communication speeds.

The Moon may have the same proportion of water as Earth does

Boeing makes the case for megawatt solar electric propulsion development

Impact of geometry on the performance of memristive nanodevices

Ribbed (left) and planar (right) memristor structures

Memristors last over four times longer when created in a planar structure in which the bottom electrode is embedded into the substrate (instead of a ribbed structure)

We examined the influence of memristor geometry on switching endurance by comparing ribbed and planar TiO2-based cross-point devices with 50 nm × 50 nm lateral dimensions. We observed that planar devices exhibited a factor of over four improvement in median endurance value over ribbed structures for otherwise identical structures. Our simulations indicated that the corners in the upper wires of the ribbed devices experienced higher current density and more heating during device forming and switching, and hence a shorter life time.

Large Area 3D metamaterials using nanotransfer printing

Nanotransfer printing based 3D NIM fabrication scheme. Schematics
showing complete steps from stamp fabrication, multi-layer growth to transfer

Nature Nanotechnology - Large-area flexible 3D optical negative index metamaterial formed by nanotransfer printing This nanotransfer process should be able to be used to produce sheets of new metamaterials of almost any size given the right resources, and what’s more should be able to do so in a reasonably economical manner, as the stamps are reusable. More research will still be needed however, before commercial products begin to appear because methods to create just the right kinds of stamps still need to be developed.

We report a simple printing approach capable of forming large-area, high-quality NIMs with three-dimensional, multilayer formats. Here, a silicon wafer with deep, nanoscale patterns of surface relief serves as a reusable stamp. Blanket deposition of alternating layers of silver and magnesium fluoride onto such a stamp represents a process for ‘inking’ it with thick, multilayer assemblies. Transfer printing this ink material onto rigid or flexible substrates completes the fabrication in a high-throughput manner. Experimental measurements and simulation results show that macroscale, three-dimensional NIMs (over 75 square centimeters) nano-manufactured in this way exhibit a strong, negative index of refraction in the near-infrared spectral range, with excellent figures of merit.

Previously we emphasized how this process can make invisibility practical. However, the metamaterials need not be ones that are suited for invisibility. The metamaterials could have patterns that are useful for other purposes.

IEA Monthly World Oil Market Report - May supply up 270,000 barrels per day

Global oil supply rose by 270 kb/d in May from 87.41 mb/d in April, with OPEC crude underpinning the rise. Non-OPEC supply growth in 2011 is now +560 kb/d, half of 2010 levels. Revisions to refinery processing gains cut 0.2 mb/d from 2008-2011 supply, and outages in the Americas, UK and Yemen shave another 0.2 mb/d off 2011.

Intel Roadmap from June 2011 with 7nm node for 2017 and 10 nm in 2015

Enabling Breakthroughs In Technology, Mike Mayberry, Director of Components Research VP, Technology and Manufacturing Group Intel Corporation (June 2011) 17 pages Mike presented a roadmap to 7 nm node in 2017 and 10 nm in 2015. At Research@Intel Day Intel (2011), Intel’s Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner indicated that the 14 nm node would be in 2013 and the 8 nm node would be in 2015.

* Moore’s Law is not a law of nature, it is an expectation of continued innovation
* Intel expects to continue through focused research, rapid development, investment in production
* Scaling research is increasingly about materials research, solving problems brings opportunities
* New product opportunities will arise from continued advances in integration, connectivity

Intel talks about 8 nanometer nodes for 2015 or 2017

At Research@Intel Day Intel was talking a lot about its upcoming 22nm process technology, but in a meeting with European press Intel’s Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner talked about 14 nm and 8 nm nodes (H/T to readers Daniel and Chrisc62)

The 14nm node is scheduled to debut in about 2 years (2013), but also about 8nm, that he said was on track about 18 months after the 14 nm release (beginning of 2015).

Justin Rattner also discussed future exotic devices using GaAs, something that Intel would not have talked about several years back but according to Rattner the new 3D process technology makes it a lot easier to integrate GaAs into mainstream chip.

A slide from 2010 showed 8 nm in 2017. The new claim is two years sooner.

June 15, 2011

IBM Microprocessors to Power the New Wii U System from Nintendo

BM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that it will provide the microprocessors that will serve as the heart of the new Wii U™ system from Nintendo. Unveiled today at the E3 trade show, Nintendo plans for its new console to hit store shelves in 2012.

The all-new, Power-based microprocessor will pack some of IBM's most advanced technology into an energy-saving silicon package that will power Nintendo's brand new entertainment experience for consumers worldwide. IBM's unique embedded DRAM, for example, is capable of feeding the multi-core processor large chunks of data to make for a smooth entertainment experience.

The Wii U equipped with a customized CPU from IBM and a GPU from AMD is rumored to be 50 percent faster than PS3 and Xbox 360.

The Wii U sports a unique controller. It has a 6.2" touchscreen, dual-analog sticks, D-pad, four face buttons, four triggers, front-facing camera, microphone, and motion controls (gyroscope and accelerometer), it's safe to say we'll see some innovative game mechanics invented to make full use of this thing.

Nanotechnology makes inroads in the construction industry

TEMPLE OF NANOSCIENCE Rome’s Dio Padre Misericordioso Church, also known as the Jubilee Church, retains its bright white color because of nanostructured titanium dioxide.

Chemical and Engineering News - Nanotechnology makes inroads in the construction industry Completed in 2003, the Jubilee Church, is a flagship when it comes to the use of nanotechnology in construction . Nanostructured TiO2 particles theoretically will keep the concrete white forever, even in smoggy Rome. But there are more humble examples, too. Whether it’s in steel, concrete, or windows, nanotechnology is finding a growing number of applications in the construction industry, where it promises to make structures that last for centuries and look as clean as the day they were built.

Nanoelectronic Programmable Synapses Based on Phase Change Materials for Brain-Inspired Computing

Nanoletters - Nanoelectronic Programmable Synapses Based on Phase Change Materials for Brain-Inspired Computing

Brain-inspired computing is an emerging field, which aims to extend the capabilities of information technology beyond digital logic. A compact nanoscale device, emulating biological synapses, is needed as the building block for brain-like computational systems. Here, we report a new nanoscale electronic synapse based on technologically mature phase change materials employed in optical data storage and nonvolatile memory applications. We utilize continuous resistance transitions in phase change materials to mimic the analog nature of biological synapses, enabling the implementation of a synaptic learning rule. We demonstrate different forms of spike-timing-dependent plasticity using the same nanoscale synapse with picojoule level energy consumption.

A Carpet Cloak for Visible Light

Nanoletters - A Carpet Cloak for Visible Light

We report an invisibility carpet cloak device, which is capable of making an object undetectable by visible light. The cloak is designed using quasi conformal mapping and is fabricated in a silicon nitride waveguide on a specially developed nanoporous silicon oxide substrate with a very low refractive index (n less than 1.25). The spatial index variation is realized by etching holes of various sizes in the nitride layer at deep subwavelength scale creating a local effective medium index. The fabricated device demonstrates wideband invisibility throughout the visible spectrum with low loss. This silicon nitride on low index substrate can also be a general scheme for implementation of transformation optical devices at visible frequencies.

EIU predicts continued growth in nuclear power

1. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) sees a decade of growth for nuclear power with only a marginal impact from the Fukushima accident. They reduced their expectations for global nuclear capacity in 2020, but the figure still grows by 27% compared to 2010.

Net nuclear capacity, GWe
                 2010       2015       2020
USA             101.1      103.4      109.0 
France           63.3       64.8       66.4 
Japan            46.8       45.0       44.7 
Russia           22.7       29.7       41.0 
Germany          20.5       11.7        9.0 
South Korea      18.7       24.2       28.1 
Ukraine          13.1       13.1       16.2 
Canada           12.6       12.6       15.0 
UK               11.0        9.6       12.7 
China            10.1       37.1       63.1 
Top ten users   319.8      351.2      405.2 

Source: Economist Intelligence Unit

I think there will be more generation in China. India should have about 20 GWe of nuclear power by 2020 which would put them about 6th on the list of nuclear generating countries.

2010 World Nuclear Generation was 2630 TWH - I officially won my three uranium and nuclear 2010 bets

Global production of uranium increased 6% in 2010, compared with the previous year, according to the World Nuclear Association (WNA). Kazakhstan maintained its position as the leading uranium producing country.

Figures compiled by WNA show that worldwide uranium production grew from 50,772 tonnes in 2009 to 53,663 tonnes in 2010, the highest level since the early 1990s.

Kazakhstan was the largest producing country, with output of 17,803 tonnes in 2010, a 27% increase from the 14,020 tonnes it produced in 2009.

Michael Dittmar wrote a series of posts about nuclear energy that was published on The Oil Drum in 2009. In the first post of the series, he said that uranium "civilian uranium stocks are expected to be exhausted during the next few years" and "the current uranium supply situation is unsustainable". Basically lack of uranium production from uranium mines would cause lack of nuclear fuel which would result in steadily dropping nuclear power generation. I made a series of three bets with Dittmar

1. World Uranium production (official win for 2010)
2. World Nuclear power generation bets going to 2018 (official win for 2010)
3. Uranium production in Kazakhstan (official win for 2010)

I reviewed these bets at the end of 2010 when it was clear but unofficial that I had won all three bets for 2010

Ben Goertzel interviewed about Artificial General Intelligence, Virtual Worlds and Transhumanism issues and his perspective

Part 1 of an interview by physorg with Ben Goertzel (AGI researcher)

Dr. Goertzel spoke with Critical Thought’s Stuart Mason Dambrot following his talk at the recent 2011 Transhumanism Meets Design Conference in New York City. His presentation, Designing Minds and Worlds, asked and answered the key questions, How can we design a world (virtual or physical) so that it supports ongoing learning and growth and ethical behavior? How can we design a mind so that it takes advantage of the affordances its world offers? These are fundamental issues that bridge AI, robotics, cyborgics, virtual world and game design, sociology and psychology and other areas. His talk addressed them from a cognitive systems theory perspective and discussed how they’re concretely being confronted in his current work applying the OpenCog Artificial General Intelligence system to control game characters in virtual worlds.

Interview: Dr. Ben Goertzel on Artificial General Intelligence, Transhumanism and Open Source (Part 2/2)

June 14, 2011

Carnival of Space 201

The Carnival of Space 201 is up at Starry Critters

At Centauri Dreams Mark Millis (x-NASA now at the Tau Zero project) gives his response to the 100 Year Starship [Organization] Study

Tau Zero’s practitioners are making progress. In 2010 they produced 2 books, 13 journal articles (or book chapters), 22 conference presentations, 22 media articles, plus 5 articles-per-week from the Centauri Dreams new forum. These numbers include the continuing progress of “Project Icarus” (design study for a fusion-based interstellar probe) and a few other ongoing projects.

By itself, Tau Zero does not answer all the challenges sought by the 100-yr starship organization. It is still missing a concerted revenue generation scheme, does not have all of the needed topic pioneers, and has no plans to actually launch missions. The presumption is that much research remains before mission implementation is ready to be addressed.

DARPA High energy laser update

High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS)

FY 2010 8.989
FY 2011 20.894
FY 2012 29.453

From the DARPA 2012 budget

Description: The goal of the High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) program is to develop a high-energy laser weapon system (150 kW) with an order of magnitude reduction in weight compared to existing laser systems. With a weight goal of less than 5 kg/kW, HELLADS will enable high energy lasers (HELs) to be integrated onto tactical aircraft, and will significantly increase engagement ranges compared to ground-based systems, enabling high precision, low collateral damage, and rapid engagement of fleeting targets for both offensive and defensive missions. The HELLADS program has completed the design and demonstration of a revolutionary prototype unit cell laser module. That unit cell demonstrated power output and is demonstrating optical wavefront performance that supports the goal of a lightweight and compact 150 kW high energy tactical laser weapon system. Two unit cell module designs with integrated power and thermal management systems were fabricated and tested; they demonstrated an output power exceeding 34 kW. Based on the results of the unit cell demonstration, additional laser modules will be replicated and connected to produce a 150 kW laser that will be demonstrated in a laboratory environment. The 150 kW laser will then be integrated with beam control, prime power, thermal management, safety, and command and control subsystems all based upon existing technologies to produce a ground-based laser weapon system field demonstrator. The capability to shoot down tactical targets such as surface-to-air missiles and rockets and the capability to perform ultra-precise offensive engagements will be demonstrated in a realistic ground test environment. Additional funding for this integration effort will be provided for HELLADS testing in Project NET-01, PE 0603766E starting in FY 2011. The HELLADS laser will then be transitioned to the Air Force for modification and aircraft integration and flight testing.

FY 2010 Accomplishments:
- Completed a unit cell laser module with integrated power and thermal management subsystems and demonstrated required performance relative to power, run-time, weight, and volume.
- Completed the detailed design of a ground-based 150kW laser weapons system demonstrator.

DARPA Adaptive Vehicle Make

Synthetic Biology companies Ziopharm and Intrexon

1. Ziopharm Oncology Inc's Chief Executive Jonathan Lewis plans to produce less expensive new cancer drugs using synthetic biology.

Lewis says Ziopharm's most advanced drug in development, palifosfamide for sarcoma and lung cancer, can be a $1 billion a year seller even if reasonably priced. But the linchpin to Ziopharm producing less expensive biotech drugs is an experimental new technology known as synthetic biology developed by its partner Intrexon Corp.

Lewis sees synthetic biology transforming biotech drug manufacture the way Henry Ford's assembly line changed automobile production.

Airbus concept for 2050 has transparent ceilings and morphing chairs

The latest insltalment of The Future by Airbus – a vision of aviation in 2050 – follows last year’s unveiling of the revolutionary Airbus Concept Plane, packed with technologies to reduce fuel burn, emissions, waste and noise. The Airbus Concept Cabin now gives further insight into some of the innovations and technologies that will shape future passenger experiences on board.

The Future by Airbus website is here

DARPA 2012 budget details - medical project

DARPA has proposed 2012 budget which includes a review of projects and what was achieved in 2010 and what is being done in 2011 and what is planned for 2012 (380 pages). Budget is about $3 billion per year
. Here I look at a selection of projects that are medical related.

Human Assisted Neural Devices – The aim of this project is to develop devices to restore memory by bridging gaps in injured brains, so that wounded soldiers can be returned to active duty quickly with improved performance on the battlefield. DARPA says this research will significantly advance models of how the human brain works in terms of short-term memory encoding, neural computation and reorganization. The 2012 estimate is $14.9 million and $34.2 million was allocated for the two years prior.

June 13, 2011

DARPA 2012 budget details project accomplishments and plans - a selection of nanotech and quantum related projects

DARPA has proposed 2012 budget which includes a review of projects and what was achieved in 2010 and what is being done in 2011 and what is planned for 2012 (380 pages). Budget is about $3 billion per year. Here I look at a selection of projects that are nanotech and quantum related projects.

Tip-Based Nanofabrication (TBN)

FY 2010 5.895 million
FY 2011 11.618 million
FY 2012 4.606 million

Description: The Tip-Based Nanofabrication (TBN) program will develop the capability to use Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) cantilevers and tips to controllably manufacture nano-scale structures such as nanowires, nanotubes, and quantum dots for selected defense applications. These applications include optical and biological sensors, diode lasers, light emitting diodes, infrared sensors, high density interconnects, and quantum computing.

FY 2010 Accomplishments:
- Fabricated multi-tip arrays (5 tips) for parallel manufacturing of locally-controlled nanostructures.
- Demonstrated repeatable processes for fabrication of nanowires, quantum dots and other nanostructures with the ability to
intentionally fabricate structures with different dimensions or other characteristics side-by-side.
- Identified a specific nano-device, a Kane Q-bit, to use as the objective for all future TBN metrics and activities.

FY 2011 Plans:
- Fabricate a 30-tip array and an associated tool and manufacturing process.
- Demonstrate operation of multi-tip arrays over extended periods of time for use in manufacturing complex components.
- Demonstrate precision and control of the process and functionality of the resulting devices.
- Develop semiconducting nanowires, graphene ribbons, quantum dots, q-bits, carbon nanotubes and other structures for specific device applications.

FY 2012 Plans:
- Use TBN-developed semiconducting nanowires, graphene ribbons, quantum dots, carbon nanotubes and other structures to build devices such as a single-electron transistor or Kane qu-bit.

Kane Quantum computer at wikipedia

The Kane quantum computer is a proposal for a scalable quantum computer proposed by Bruce Kane in 1998, then at the University of New South Wales. Often thought of as a hybrid between quantum dot and NMR quantum computers, the Kane computer is based on an array of individual phosphorus donor atoms embedded in a pure silicon lattice. Both the nuclear spins of the donors and the spins of the donor electrons participate in the computation.

The original proposal calls for phosphorus donors to be placed in an array with a spacing of 20 nm, approximately 20 nm below the surface. An insulating oxide layer is grown on top of the silicon. Metal A gates are deposited on the oxide above each donor, and J gates between adjacent donors.

Brian Ahern getting 8 Watts for over four days of operation in a Low Energy Nuclear Process

Brian Ahern replicated the work of Arata where Arata got small amounts of power without adding any power into his cold fusion set up.

Brian Ahern received his PhD in material science from MIT, holds 26 patents and was a senior scientist for 17 years in research and development at USAF Rome Lab at Hanscom Air Force Base.

Brian Ahern is attempting replications of Rossi and Forcardi and he is getting 8 watts of continuous power output (for over four days of operation) from 10 grams of metal nanopowder. The good news is there is no radiation detectable above background levels . It is also worthy to note that there were no precious metals involved the alloy was Zr66%-Ni21%-Cu13%. The Zirconium becomes Zirconium dioxide when it is baked.

An email at vortex where Ahern provides some description of the processes he used that generated 5 watts for a few days

There is an as yet undisclosed spillover catalysts that amplifies the process. The LENR community is directing its attention to this nanoscale opportunity.

So Brian Ahern is getting some success replicating Rossi and Focardi. Brian Ahern plans to make some adjustments to what he is doing to attempt to get the higher power levels that Rossi and Forcardi have claimed to achieved over the last year or so.

2011 Lattice Assisted Nuclear Reaction/Cold Fusion Colloquium at MIT

Science and engineering of cold fusion, also known as LANR, LENR, and CMNS.
Where: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
It was this past weekend. Saturday and Sunday, June 11 and 12, 2011

Speakers: Peter Hagelstein, Mitchell Swartz, Brian Ahern, Larry Forsley, George Miley, Robert Smith, Fran Tanzella, Xing Zhong Li, and contributions by other colleagues.

I think that the partial replication removes the scenario of complete fraud for the Rossi claims. I suppose there could still be fraud for the kilowatt level of work where the lower power levels replicate. However, Brian Ahern seems to think that he will be able to get to far higher power levels as well based upon his decades of related work and the results that he is getting.

Skylon challenges analyzed at the Space Review

Work by Reaction Engines on the Skylon concept stretches back more than two decades. Skylon had its origins in another SSTO RLV project called HOTOL by British Aerospace and Rolls Royce in the 1980s. When the British government declined to further invest in HOTOL in the late 1980s, a group of engineers led by Alan Bond created Reaction Engines to further the technology that had been planned for HOTOL.

The heart of Skylon is its engine, called the Synergistic Air-Breathing Rocket Engine, or SABRE. Housed in curved nacelles on the tips of stubby wings, the twin SABRE engines have air intakes that allow the vehicle to use atmospheric oxygen as oxidizer, with liquid hydrogen fuel, from takeoff to an altitude of 25 kilometers, at which point the vehicle is traveling to Mach 5.5. At higher altitudes SABRE becomes a more conventional rocket engine, using onboard liquid oxygen to accelerate the rest of the way to orbit. This approach greatly reduces the amount of liquid oxygen the vehicle has to carry, decreasing its takeoff weight, which in turn has other effects on the vehicle’s design.

Writing at the National Review - Robert Zubrin calls for the firing of NRC Chairman Gregory Jackzo

Jaczko — who, since finishing college in 1999, had worked as an anti-nuclear political operative, first for Rep. Ed Markey (D., Mass.) and then for Sen. Harry Reid (D., Nev.), was forced upon the Bush administration by Reid as a condition for approving any other NRC appointments.

In 2009, President Obama (who, as senator from Illinois, had attended the 2005 hearing and voted for Jaczko’s confirmation) promoted Jaczko to NRC chairman.

In that capacity, Jaczko has violated his promises to the Senate (made in 2005) on every point. Far from being “fair and objective” in dealing with Yucca Mountain, in 2010 he issued a directive stopping an NRC staff evaluation of the project, precisely because the study would have shown that the project was sound. He then used the resulting lack of safety data as an excuse to order work on the Yucca Mountain project to be stopped altogether. Breaking his promise to consult other members of the commission on Yucca Mountain matters, according to a report made public by NRC inspector general Hubert Bell last week, Jaczko “strategically withheld” information from the other commissioners and “was not forthcoming” about his intention to use his arbitrary directive to stop the project.

Outlook for Nuclear Energy in the USA

The U.S. nuclear fleet in 2010 recorded its highest year for production, 807 bkWh, up from electricity generation of 798.7 bkWh in 2009.

There are 12 combined license applications are under active review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for up to 20 new reactors. Project development efforts are underway including over $1 billion in pre-construction activity at both the Vogtle 3 and 4 and Summer 2 and 3 sites.

According to government forecasts, the United States will need about 220,000 megawatts of new generating capacity by 2035.

Consensus estimates suggest that the U.S. electric power industry must invest at least $1.5-2.0 trillion by 2030 in new generating capacity, new transmission and distribution infrastructure, and environmental controls.

U.S. Navy Needs Diesel Submarines

German 212 diesel submarine

The American Enterprise Institute makes the case for Diesel Submarines.
The US Navy should procure a fleet of diesel-powered subs. Not only are diesels cheaper than nuclear-powered subs, but they have the advantage of being better platforms for many of the tasks the Navy faces today. The list of actual and potential submarine missions, including close-in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, special operations, and blockade and mining, continues to grow.

These growing operational demands are coupled with the exigencies of new undersea requirements. In addition to the deep-sea dives and prolonged blue-water missions that became the staple of submarine operations during the Cold War, there are a number of scenarios today that are focused on the littoral areas, the green water within 100 miles of land, be they in the strait of Hormuz or Malacca, off the shores of Taiwan or in the South China Sea.

It is these missions that often favor diesel submarines. Diesel subs are smaller, stealthier and more maneuverable in tight spaces than nuclear submarines. For example, unlike a nuclear submarine's power plant, a diesel's primary engine can be turned off when submerged, reducing noise emission. Indeed, unlike a nuclear-powered submarine, a modern diesel can hide on the ocean's floor, deadly silent, while monitoring whatever passes over and around it.

China's Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) Project

Arxiv - The Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) Project Arecebo is the current largest single dish radio telescope at 305 meters diameter (73,000 square meters). The 500 meter telescope will have 196,000 square meters of area.

Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) is a Chinese mega-science project to build the largest single dish radio telescope in the world. Its innovative engineering concept and design pave a new road to realize a huge single dish in the most effective way. FAST also represents Chinese contribution in the international efforts to build the square kilometer array (SKA). Being the most sensitive single dish radio telescope, FAST will enable astronomers to jump-start many science goals, for example, surveying the neutral hydrogen in the Milky Way and other galaxies, detecting faint pulsars, looking for the first shining stars, hearing the possible signals from other civilizations, etc.

The idea of sitting a large spherical dish in a karst depression is rooted in Arecibo telescope. FAST is an Arecibo-type antenna with three outstanding aspects: the karst depression used as the site, which is large to host the 500-meter telescope and deep to allow a zenith angle of 40 degrees; the active main reflector correcting for spherical aberration on the ground to achieve a full polarization and a wide band without involving complex feed systems; and the light-weight feed cabin driven by cables and servomechanism plus a parallel robot as a secondary adjustable system to move with high precision. The feasibility studies for FAST have been carried out for 14 years, supported by Chinese and world astronomical communities. The project time is 5.5 years from the commencement of work in March of 2011 and the first light is expected to be in 2016.

36 page paper

Extra $4.3 Billion to help vaccinate children and save 4 million lives from now to 2015

Countries have pledged an unprecedented $4.3 billion to help vaccinate children against preventable diseases like pneumonia. This funding milestone will save more than four million lives in the next four years. It is estimated that three times as many children aged under five die from pneumonia and diarrhoea than from malaria and HIV/Aids combined, despite new vaccines being available to help prevent such deaths. However, many developing countries cannot afford them. Drugs company GlaxoSmithKline last week agreed to sell a vaccine for diarrhoeal disease at cost price to poorer nations, and some other firms have since made similar moves

June 12, 2011

High Speed rail and airlines compete for Beijng to Shanghai travellers

1. Beijing-Shanghai travelers will be able to buy coach-class tickets on a bullet-train line opening later this month for a less-than-expected 555 yuan ($86), boosting the threat to local airlines on their busiest route. One-way trips in the two different premium classes will cost from 935 yuan and 1,750 yuan on 300 kilometers per hour (186 miles per hour) services.

Ticket prices on three existing bullet-train lines will also be reduced by 5 percent as the ministry slows trains to 300 kph to pare operating costs and boost passenger numbers.

Air China is advertising June 19 flights to Shanghai from 410 yuan.

One-way high speed rail ticket prices will range between 410 yuan and 1750 yuan ($63 and $270) subject to further adjustments compared to about 1,300 yuan for old air ticket prices between the two cities. The trains would run between 250 and 300 kilometres (155 and 188 miles) per hour on the $33 billion new link, although the line is designed for a maximum speed of 380 kph.

Beijing-Shanghai flights take about two hours, but getting in and out of the airports is time-consuming, and the busy air route is often subject to delays and cancellations. China has invested heavily in its high-speed rail network, which reached 8,358 kilometers at the end of 2010 and is expected to exceed 13,000 kilometers by 2012 and 16,000 kilometers by 2020.

The previous railway minister Liu Zhijun was accused of taking 800 million yuan in bribes and other companies and individuals took 187 million yuan.

DARPA Z-man program to enable wall climbing soldiers

DARPA Z-man program will develop biologically inspired climbing aids to enable soldiers to scale vertical walls constructed from typical building materials, without using ropes or ladders. Geckos, spiders and small animals are the inspiration behind these climbing aids.

Nanopatents and innovations - In 2010, DARPA demonstrated a fully loaded soldier (300 lb) wearing reattachable pads (magnets and microspines) scaling a series of 25-foot walls built from mission-relevant materials using Z-Man technology.

In 2011, DARPA began the transition of Z-Man prototype technologies (magnets and microspines) to the Armed Services.

Draper is a not-for-profit research and development laboratory focused on the design, development, and deployment of advanced technological solutions for our nation’s most challenging and important problems in security, space exploration, healthcare, and energy. They have a staff of about 1400 and have been developing the Z-man project.

Draper technology digest 2010 (page 95) - Development and Demonstration of ZMAN Microspine and Magnetic Climbing Hardware

The microspines and magnetic switching concepts that enable strong reversible adhesion using van der Waals forces or by hooking into surface asperities. The materials and concepts were scaled up into a novel climbing aid optimized for efficient human climbing without the need for ropes or ladders. The demonstration proved the technical feasibility of an unloaded soldier to climb vertical walls of multiple surfaces constructed of typical building materials. This has never been done before and significantly outperformed the current state-of-the-art.

I made a prediction in 2006 - Gecko mimicing wallcrawling suits for military and enthusiasts 2008-2012

2010 achievements were-
- Demonstrated a fully loaded soldier (300 lb) wearing reattachable pads (magnets and microspines) scaling a series of 25-foot walls built from mission-relevant materials using Z-MAN technology.
- Demonstrated an unloaded soldier (150 lb) using reattachable pads (gecko nanoadhesives) to scale a series of 25-foot walls built from mission-relevant materials.
- 2011 transition the nanoadhesives, magnetics and microspines prototypes to the services.

Seems to fulfill the Gecko mimicing wallcrawling suits for military by 2010-2011.
See how far it gets to enthusiasts in by Dec 2012.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 56: Nuclear Politics, Future Plans and Germany, Germany, Germany

The Carnival of nuclear energy 56 is up at NEI Nuclear notes

Rod Adams at Atomic Insights indicates the NRC appears to be wavering in its commitment to its own established process because some believe that receiving 14,000 emails on the AP1000 design certification indicates a high level of general public opposition. Rod notes that the emails are mainly from a single group, the FOE (Friends of the Earth), who have professionally opposed nuclear energy for 40 years. The group claims credit for orchestrating nearly every one of those emails as part of a campaign against nuclear energy in general, not against the AP1000 in particular. The FOE sources who have identified the cited "technical issues" have questionable professional backgrounds, long histories of antinuclear activity, and little credibility.

Cool Hand Nuke - the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is getting ready to formally ask its board of directors this August to approve completion of the 1,260 MW PWR plant which halted in the late 1980s. TVA CEO Tom Kilgore told the news media June 3 Bellefonte Unit 1 could be delivering power to the grid by 2018-2020.

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