September 03, 2011

Stratosolar economic analysis

The StratoSolar PV solution represents an opportunity to make today’s PV technology cost effective without the massive subsidy needed to drive the technology to commercial viability in the 15 to 20 years historical trends would indicate will be necessary. It also makes PV an affordable alternative for locations like Germany and Japan where PV is unlikely to ever be viable without subsidy.

What the StratoSolar PV system does:
* Weather independent, photovoltaic solar power (PV)
* Locations up to latitude 60 produce market competitive electricity
* Electricity in utility scale systems from 10 MW to 1 GW in modular increments
* Cost competitive electricity without subsidy

Varying degrees of tracking are possible, and real systems will have results intermediate between flat plate and 2-axis tracking. At 20km sunlight can exceed 1.3kW/m2, which explains utilizations that exceed the theoretical 50% maximum achievable on the ground.

Stratosolar has a 23 page economic analysis of their system.

Nextbigfuture previously had an exclusive Sander Olson interview with Stratosolar president Edmund Kelly.

The OilDrum has an interview with Keith Henson (volunteer engineer with Stratosolar) about Stratosolar

A permanent high altitude platform could serve many additional purposes. Listed below are some examples of possible uses.
* Communications and observation platform
o Cell phone tower, data networks
o Radar for weather, commercial, military
o Science: astronomy, meteorology, earth science
o Laser communications network
o Tourism

Spacex mission could be delayed but Cautious Optimism that Russia can get a mission to keep Crew in Space Station - If Russia doesn't return its rockets to flight by mid-November, the space station could be left unmanned for the first time since 2000. That's because the six astronauts currently residing on the orbiting lab are due to come home relatively soon. Three are slated to return next month, and the rest will likely depart by Nov. 19 at the latest, NASA officials announced Monday (Aug. 29).

Space Exploration Technologies — better known as SpaceX — is planning to launch its Dragon capsule toward the orbiting lab on Nov. 30, with a historic docking slated for nine days later. But as a result of the Aug. 24 crash of the unmanned Russian Progress 44 supply ship, there might not be any astronauts aboard the station to receive Dragon in early December.

If that's the case, Dragon's launch would have to be postponed.

An artist's interpretation of a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship docked at the International Space Station CREDIT: SpaceX/NASA

Blue Origin test rocket crashed and photos of the actual secret rocket

Jeff Bezos is CEO of Amazon and investor in Blue Origin Rocket and General Fusion. Blue Origin had a crash of a test rocket

Three months ago, we successfully flew our second test vehicle in a short hop mission, and then last week we lost the vehicle during a developmental test at Mach 1.2 and an altitude of 45,000 feet," Bezos wrote in a statement posted to the Blue Origin website Sept. 2. They shared pictures of the secret rocket. They are already working on our next development vehicle.

September 02, 2011

Single-qubit gate error below one in ten thousand in a trapped ion

Arxiv - Single-qubit gate error below one in ten thousand in a trapped ion It is about one in twenty thousand and is about 40 times better than trapped ion before.

In theory, quantum computers can solve certain problems much more efficiently than classical computers. This has motivated experimental efforts to construct and verify devices that manipulate quantum bits (qubits) in a variety of physical systems. The power of quantum computers depends on the ability to accurately control sensitive superposition amplitudes by means of quantum gates, and errors in these gates are one of the chief obstacles to building quantum computers. Here we establish an error probability per randomized one-qubit gate of 2.0(2)x10^-5, well below the threshold estimate of one in ten thousand commonly considered sufficient for fault-tolerant quantum computing. The qubit is realized with two hyperfine ground states of a 9Be+ ion trapped above a microfabricated surface-electrode ion trap and manipulated with microwaves applied to a trap electrode. This demonstration of errors significantly below the fault-tolerant threshold is an essential step toward construction of a scalable quantum computer.

Manufacturing method paves way for commercially viable quantum dot-based LEDs

Researchers have created a high-performance hybrid LED (light emitting diode), comprised of both organic and QD-based (Quantum dot) layers. Until recently, however, engineers have been vexed by a manufacturing problem that hindered commercial development. An industrial process known as vacuum deposition is the common way to put the necessary organic molecules in place to carry electricity into the QDs. However, a different manufacturing process called spin-coating, is used to create a very thin layer of QDs. Having to use two separate processes slows down production and drives up manufacturing costs.

Nature Photonics - Stable and efficient quantum-dot light-emitting diodes based on solution-processed multilayer structures

Multilayer, colloidal quantum-dot based light-emitting diodes that exhibit high brightness, solution processability, colour tunability and narrow emission bandwidth are reported. These devices consist of a quantum-dot emissive layer sandwiched between an organic hole transport layer and an electron transport layer of ZnO nanoparticles, all of which are deposited using a solution process. The devices have maximum luminance and power efficiency values of 4,200 cd m^−2 and 0.17 lm W^−1 for blue emission, 68,000 cd m^−2 and 8.2 lm W^−1 for green, and 31,000 cd m^−2 and 3.8 lm W^−1 for orange-red. Moreover, with the incorporation of the ZnO nanoparticles, these devices exhibit high environmental stability, and the unencapsulated devices have operating lifetimes exceeding 250 h in low vacuum with an initial brightness of 600 cd m^−2.

BMW Turbosteamer and Thermoelectric Generator are close to commercialization

BMW (Car maker) has a Turbosteamer and Thermoelectric Generator (TEG) projects. They are focused on generating electric current from waste heat to improve overall engine efficiency, but each project follows a different approach and time frame. There is great potential for considerable fuel savings if the electrical energy required by all of the systems in an automobile can be produced using waste heat rather than relying solely on the vehicle's generator.

In 2005, BMW labs tested the turbosteamer on four-cylinder petrol engines and the dual system boosted the performance of these engines by 15 percent.

The turbosteamer today: smaller and simpler

Research project Turbosteamer: comparison of the heat exchanger generation 1 (top) and generation 2 (bottom).

In order to further develop the system for use in series production, attention was given to reducing the size of the components and making the system simpler to improve its dynamics and achieve an optimized cost-benefit ratio. Thus researchers focused on designing a component having only one high-temperature circuit.

“We have made great progress toward achieving our original goal, which was to develop a system ready for series production within about ten years. When completed, this system will weigh only 10 kg to 15 kg and will be capable of supplying all of the electrical energy required by an automobile while cruising along the motorway or on country roads,” says Ringler. Under these conditions the developers are sure that the average driver will be able to reduce fuel consumption by up to 10 percent on long-distance journeys.

Nanomaterials: Copying geckos’ toes

AStar - Simple templating technology allows researchers to stamp out materials that mimic the adhesive properties of gecko toes.

Isabel Rodríguez at the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering and co-workers at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore have now made one of the closest mimics to gecko toes yet, and shown that it has the properties to match.

The geckos’ ability to cling to surfaces is not due to glue but to the millions of microscopic hairs that coat the surface of their toes. Each hair has a branched, hierarchical structure—toward its tip, each fiber breaks into multiple sub-fibers, which in turn break into hundreds of fibrils 100–200 nanometers in diameter. This structure ensures a high surface area, which helps the gecko to cling to the wall. In addition, the hairs become more flexible as they become thinner, which helps to maximize the number of fibrils in contact with the wall.

Artificial hairs just a few hundred nanometers in diameter mimic the adhesive surface of a gecko’s toe-pads

Nanoparticle infused film for moisture-resistant coating can enable cheap flexible plastic electronic devices

A nanoparticle-infused film brings innovative lighting and display technologies closer to reality. A moisture-resistant coating that extends the lifetime and reliability of plastic electronic devices, such as organic solar cells or flexible displays, has garnered the intense interest of developers of next-generation lighting materials. By cranking out large sheets of polymers bearing electronic circuitry using roll-to-roll technology, electronics manufacturers can substantially reduce their capital and processing costs. This increases the possibilities for low-cost flexible panel lighting.

Integrated Electrochromic Nanoplasmonic Optical Switch

Nanoletters - Integrated Electrochromic Nanoplasmonic Optical Switch

We demonstrate an electrochemically driven optical switch based on absorption modulation of surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs) propagating in a metallic nanoslit waveguide containing nanocrystals of electrochromic Prussian Blue dye. Optical transmission modulation of 96% is achieved by electrochemically switching the dye between its oxidized and reduced states using voltages below 1 V. High spatial overlap and long interaction length between the SPP and the active material are achieved by preferential growth of PB nanocrystals on the nanoslit sidewalls. The resulting orthogonalization between the directions of light propagation and that of charge transport from the electrolyte to ultrathin active material inside the nanoslit waveguide offers significant promise for the realization of electrochromic devices with record switching speeds.

100 percent efficient energy transfer in artificial light harvesting

Journal of the American Chemical Society - Efficient Excited Energy Transfer Reaction in Clay/Porphyrin Complex toward an Artificial Light-Harvesting System

The quantitative excited energy transfer reaction between cationic porphyrins on an anionic clay surface was successfully achieved. The efficiency reached up to ca. 100% owing to the “Size-Matching Rule” as described in the text. It was revealed that the important factors for the efficient energy transfer reaction are (i) suppression of the self-quenching between adjacent dyes, and (ii) suppression of the segregated adsorption structure of two kinds of dyes on the clay surface. By examining many different kinds of porphyrins, we found that tetrakis(1-methylpyridinium-3-yl) porphyrin (m-TMPyP) and tetrakis(1-methylpyridinium-4-yl) porphyrin (p-TMPyP) are the suitable porphyrins to accomplish a quantitative energy transfer reaction. These findings indicate that the clay/porphyrin complexes are promising and prospective candidates to be used for construction of an efficient artificial light-harvesting system.

Nuclear still cost competitive in Japan even with Fukushima and World Uranium Projects move forward

1. The Institute of Energy Economic of Japan (IEEJ) says that for the past five years the cost of nuclear generation remained stable at around ¥7.00 ($0.09) per kilowatt-hour (kWh). However, even if compensation of up to ¥10 trillion ($130 billion) for loss or damage from a nuclear accident is taken into account, the cost of electricity generation with nuclear reactors increases to some ¥8.50 ($0.11) per kWh.

According to the IEEJ, the cost of generating electricity from fossil fuels over the past five years averaged ¥10.20 ($0.13) per kWh, while the costs from renewable energy sources (mostly geothermal) averaged ¥8.90 ($0.12). However, the study says that the cost of fossil fuel generation, unlike that for nuclear generation, varied widely over the period -from ¥9 to ¥12 ($0.12 to $0.16) - due to fluctuations in the costs of importing the fuel.

IEEJ based its calculations of financial reports published by 12 Japanese power utilities over the past five years, but prior to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Graphene Flash Memory

Technology Review - Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, and one of the largest manufacturers of computer memory, Samsung, have created a new kind of flash memory that uses graphene—atom-thick sheets of pure carbon—along with silicon to store information. Incorporating graphene could help extend the viability of flash memory technology for years to come, and allow future portable electronics to store far more data.

"We're not totally replacing silicon but using graphene as the storage layer," says Augustin Hong, who worked on the devices at UCLA and is now a research staff member at IBM's Watson Research Center. "We're using graphene to help extend the capabilities of the conventional technology."

ACS Nano - Graphene Flash Memory

Yale Scientists Find Stem Cells That Tell Hair It’s Time to Grow

Yale researchers have discovered the source of signals that trigger hair growth, an insight that may lead to new treatments for baldness.

The researchers identified stem cells within the skin's fatty layer and showed that molecular signals from these cells were necessary to spur hair growth in mice, according to research published in the Sept. 2 issue of the journal Cell.

"If we can get these fat cells in the skin to talk to the dormant stem cells at the base of hair follicles, we might be able to get hair to grow again," said Valerie Horsley, assistant professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology and senior author of the paper.

Journal Cell - Adipocyte Lineage Cells Contribute to the Skin Stem Cell Niche to Drive Hair Cycling

September 01, 2011

Legal motivations for Superman to wear Pants and have costume changes

Previously we had covered DC comics changing the look of superman and giving him pants. DC is also rebooting their comic book universe.

Lawyer Jeff Trexler at Comicbeat explains how the the last few years at DC Comics changes to Superboy and Superman have been driven by the courtroom ebb and flow of lawsuits by the heirs of Siegel and Shuster to reclaim copyright to Superman.

In 2006, DC killed Superboy and the Earth-2 Superman and Lois Lane–the DCU versions of the Golden Age Siegel and Shuster originals. Not coincidentally, this story appeared as the Siegel heirs were prevailing in the first round of their effort to claim the Superboy copyright. After another judge vacated this ruling in 2007 and strongly suggested that the Siegels were not likely to become sole owners of the Superboy copyright, Superboy miraculously came back to life.

Cosmic book news reports on Variety coverage of the Superman copyright lawsuit.

The heirs of Superman creators Siegel and Shuster should have and/or will soon have "Successfully recaptured" rights to additional works, including the first two weeks of the daily Superman newspaper comic-strips, as well as portions of early Action Comics and Superman comic-books.

[The families] now control depictions of Superman's origins from the planet Krypton, his parents Jor-El and Lora, Superman as the infant Kal-El, the launching of the infant Superman into space by his parents as Krypton explodes and his landing on Earth in a fiery crash.

According to Variety, the family also owns, due to a ruling in 2008 about Action Comics #1:

The Superman character, including his costume, his alter-ego as reporter Clark Kent, the feisty reporter Lois Lane, their jobs at the Daily Planet newspaper working for a gruff editor, and the love triangle among Clark/Superman and Lois.

So what is DC/Warner Bros left with?

Superman's ability to fly, the term kryptonite, the Lex Luthor and Jimmy Olsen characters, Superman's powers and expanded origins.

I have heard that DC/Warner Bros must change the costume by at least 20% to avoid the costume copyright. Therefore, Superman gets pants and another version with body armor.

Rossi Energy Catalyzer will be tested at NASA starting September 3, 2011

Quantum Processor Hooks Up with Quantum Memory

Connecting a quantum processor with quantum memory could make it possible to perform complex calculations that are far beyond the power of conventional computers. Researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, have become the first to combine a quantum processor with memory that can be used to store instructions and data.

Qubits can be made in a variety of ways, such as suspending ions or atoms in magnetic fields. The UCSB group used more conventional electrical circuits, albeit ones that must be cooled almost to absolute zero to make them superconducting and activate their quantum behavior. They can be fabricated by chip-making techniques used for conventional computers. Mariantoni says that using superconducting circuits allowed the team to place the qubits and memory elements close together on a single chip, which made possible the new von Neumann-inspired design.
When chilled almost to absolute zero, this chip becomes a quantum computer that includes both a processor (the two black squares) and memory (the snaking lines on either side). Credit: Erik Lucero

Building chips with 10 nanometer features from collapsing nanopillars

By turning a common problem in chip manufacture into an advantage, MIT researchers produce structures only 30 atoms wide.

Researchers at MIT’s Research Laboratory of Electronics and Singapore’s Engineering Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) have demonstrated a new technique that could produce chip features only 10 nanometers — or about 30 atoms — across. The researchers use existing methods to deposit narrow pillars of plastic on a chip’s surface; then they cause the pillars to collapse in predetermined directions, covering the chip with intricate patterns.

Journal Small - Controlled Collapse of High-Aspect-Ratio Nanostructures

Schematics of nanogap formation by collapsing curved linear HAR structures, where h is the height of structures, p is the separating distance between two adjacent structures, and d is the nanogap size after the collapse of structures.

Samsung Galaxy Note is the rumored 5.3 inch display smartphone

Samsung showed its new Galaxy Note smartphone today at IFA. It is the rumored 5.3" supersized smartphone.

It has a stylus and 1280×800 high-resolution Super AMOLED screen. It is a thin Android phone additional functionality by way of both sketching and note-taking. It is powered by a 1.4 Ghz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM and more. The Galaxy Note will also have an 8 MP camera with LED flash, a 2 MP front camera for video chat. Being ultra-portable even though we have a large display it will only be 9.65mm (0.37″) thin and weigh 178 grams while boosting the battery to a whopping 2500 mAh

China Energy plan through 2015, 100 GW of wind, 10 GW of solar, 40 GW of Nuclear

China has doubled its target for installed solar power capacity over the next five years to 10 GW by 2015 and 50 GW by 2020.

The world had 23 GW of solar power at the end of 2009 (wikipedia)

The US solar photovoltaic (PV) market will double in 2011 according to research from Solarbuzz. The US solar PV market is projected to grow to reach as high as 6.4 GW by 2015 depending on the scenario, a constant annual growth rate of 47%. Worldwide PV market installations reached a record high of 18.2 GW in 2010
Source: Solarbuzz Marketbuzz 2010

An 8 page report by the Climate Group on China's five year energy plan 2011-2015.

Progress on low-carbon energy will come from a four-fold growth in nuclear power to 40GW (gigawatts), 63GW of new hydroelectric capacity, a growth of 22GW in gas-fired generation18, 48GW19 of new wind capacity to more than double the current capacity and solar capacity expected to reach 5GW of by 2015. The country aims to have 100 gigawatts (GW) of on-grid wind farm generating capacity by the end of 2015 and to generate 190 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of wind energy annually, the China Securities Journal reported, citing a government plan. Of the planned 10 GW of solar power capacity in 2015, photovoltaic power installations will account for 9 GW and concentrated solar thermal power capacity will make up the rest, the report said.

Targets disclosed early 2011           Latest targets for 2015   
 Hydropower                250                              260   
 Wind                       90                              100   
 Solar                       5                               10   
 Bio-energy                 13                               13   
 Geothermal                N/A                                0.1   
 Tidal wave                N/A                           0.01-0.02   

Nuclear is targeted for 40 GW which is the equivalent of 200 GW of solar and 160 GW of wind. Higher capacity factor for nuclear.

Solyndra bankruptcy and solar power costs

A 2010 article looked Solyndras costs for solar panels against average solar panel costs. (ASP Average Sale price for the panels)

Costs for solar panels fell 42% from that time. Solar panel costs are down about 20% in 2011.

A key differentiating factor that Solyndra claimed was its lower BOS (Balance of System) costs given the lack of rooftop penetration and shorter installation times, which it claims can result in an installation cost of only 50 cents per watt. However, it is not clear how much difference this would make in the grand scheme of things: installation (as opposed to BOS component) costs for its main competitors, crystalline silicon PV and First Solar, are likely in the range of 75 cents to a dollar a watt, given their higher efficiencies (despite the company's claims of 11 to 14 percent module efficiencies, module datasheets reveal an efficiency of only 9.7 percent at present).

First Solar has continued to improve module efficiency and costs

ASP is average sale price for 2009. Average sale price is now 40-50% lower in August 2011

Will tablets be sold like video game consoles ? Bundled loss leaders ?

Forbes - After more than a decade of battles with Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft sits atop the console business, where its entertainment and devices unit squeezed out operating income of just $32 million on $1.5 billion in sales for the quarter ending June 30. And that’s a success story.

Now analysts are betting Amazon will take the same approach, predicting the online retailer will sell a tablet computer for hundreds less than Apple’s iPad, making money by stuffing the tablets full of links to its music, video, software, and electronic book stores.

HP announced on one of its blogs that it will be building another run of the profit-sucking machines and selling them for $99. Presumably HP’s has already paid for the parts, so it might as well clear them out?

Rossi 1 megawatt energy catalyzer tests will run for two months and Eight Krivit videos Interviewing Levi and Focardi

On Andrea Rossi’s blog he indicates that the 1 Megawatt eCat tests will be performed over a two month period.

August 30th, 2011 at 3:13 PM
I’m sorry, but the last sentence should read:
Will this test be run for a long enough time (e.g. 18 hours like the one earlier this year) under continuous surveillance by the scientists?
(How long will the scientists be visiting the test facilities?)

Andrea Rossi
August 30th, 2011 at 4:07 PM
Dear Sebastian:
The tests will last 2 months, the scientists will have full access to all but the reactors.
Warm Regards,

Power generating shoes for about 2014

Technology Review - University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have come up with a microfluidics technique that scavenges considerably more energy from human footfalls and converts it into electric power. Previous attempts to make energy-harvesting shoes have yielded less than a watt of power, but the new approach could lead to a shoe-mounted generator that produces up to 10 watts, says Tom Krupenkin, a mechanical engineering professor who led the work.

"A lot of energy is simply wasted as heat while we walk," says Krupenkin. "If one can convert this into electrical energy, numbers come out to be up to 10 watts per foot." Cell phones and smart phones need about 1 to 2 watts, while small laptops need 10 to 12 watts. Power-generating shoes could be an important breakthrough for soldiers, who currently carry heavy batteries to power their radios, GPS units, and night-vision goggles.

Instepnanopower is the company that has been formed to commercialize this technology

Prieto Battery also cames price breakthrough and extraordinary power density claims

Prieto battery has been claiming 3D battery construction utilizing Cu2Sb (Copper Antimonide) nanowires.

Prieto Battery was the first startup spun out of Colorado State University's "Clean Energy Supercluster," a program aimed at speeding research to the marketplace. Amy Prieto, 36-year-old assistant chemistry professor, has developed a nanotechnology approach to making a battery that may be 1,000 times more powerful and last 10 times longer than existing batteries.

I believe the 1000 times claim relates to a highly dense version of the nanowires which has not been made yet.

Prieto Battery Performance

* High power density
* Rapid charge
o 3 minutes vs. 20 minutes
* Long life
* Smaller package
o 1/2 to 2/3 the size for the same energy density

Battery Manufacturing Process

* Lower cost than traditional methods
o $250 per kWh vs. $600+ per kWh
* Environmentally friendly
o Water-based process
* Highly repeatable
o Electrodeposition is extensively used in the semiconductor industry
* Easily scalable

August 31, 2011

Samsung GT i9220, Apple iphone 5 and other smartphones

1. The Samsung GT-I9220 with a 4.3 inch Super-Amoled-HD Display is real. The Super-Amoled-HD Display has 326ppi and a resolution of 1280×720 pixels. Some other features are Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread, dual core CPU with 1,4 GhZ, a camer with 8 megapixel. There are rumors that Samsung want to introduce a Galaxy Tab 7.7 inch with a Super-Amoled Display.

2. Samsung is also rumored to be seriously considering buying WebOS from HP.

3. Rumored - Samsung Galaxy S II Plus will use 5.3-inch screen and 720p resolution. Previously the GT-I9220 was rumored to have a 5.3 inch display. It is rumored to have 1.5 GHz dual-core processor (Qualcomm), a Super AMOLED Plus capacitive touchscreen, and the latest version of Android.

Android, Amazon tablets and Nvidia news and rumors

1. Inquirer - Nvidia has secured a 34.4 per cent share of the non-Ipad tablet market in the first quarter of 2011. Apple's market share at 61 per cent, meaning that Nvidia essentially has a third of the remaining 39 per cent.

2. Nvidias quad-core Tegra mobile processor called the Kal-El will ship with high-end smartphones and tablets. The Kal-El is more powerful and actually consumes less power than the Tegra 2, Huang said. The company is also working on a unified chipset that includes both a modem and an application processor that will go into lower-end smartphones.

China will nearly triple millionaires by 2015 and half of Asia millionaires

Julius Baer, the leading Swiss private banking group, today published its first ‛Julius Baer Wealth Report’, focusing on Asia.

* The estimated 1.16 million HNWIs across Asia with wealth of USD 5.60 trillion in 2010 is forecast to more than double to 2.82 million with wealth to almost triple to USD 15.81 trillion by 2015.

* China alone is forecast to have 1.40 million HNWIs with stock of wealth of USD 8.76 trillion by 2015. (China had 502,000 millionaires in 2010)

GPU Minisupercomputers starting at $99,000 for 13.5 peak teraflops

HP has just launched the GPU Starter Kit, which makes it easier and more affordable than ever to put the power of a supercomputer in the hands of researchers everywhere. The Kit is a fully preconfigured cluster of HP servers accelerated by NVIDIA Tesla GPUs

It’s a pre-configured cluster of eight HP Proliant SL390 servers with 24 NVIDIA Tesla M2070 GPUs. The servers have 32-cores of additional CPU power along with the GPUs. The M2070 GPU is a Fermi-based part, with 6GB of RAM per GPU.

The $99,000 retail price tag is 50 percent below the typical list price. (HPC Wire) The kit also contains unspecified development tools that have been provided at substantial discounts.

The system delivers 13.5 teraflops of peak performance

Adding Hydrogen triples Graphene Transistor Performance

A technique that uses hydrogen to improve transistor performance on real-world graphene devices has been demonstrated on the wafer-scale by researchers in Penn State's Electro-Optics Center (EOC). The researchers demonstrated a 3 times improvement in electron mobility of epitaxial graphene grown on the silicon face of a 100 mm silicon carbide wafer, as well as a similar improvement in radio-frequency transistor performance. Hydrogenation and device scaling gets us much closer to true high frequency performance.

Nanoletters - Epitaxial Graphene Transistors: Enhancing Performance via Hydrogen Intercalation

We directly demonstrate the importance of buffer elimination at the graphene/SiC(0001) interface for high frequency applications. Upon successful buffer elimination, carrier mobility increases from an average of 800 cm2/(V s) to over 2000 cm2/(V s). Additionally, graphene transistor current saturation increases from 750 to over 1300 mA/mm, and transconductance improves from 175 mS/mm to over 400 mS. Finally, we report a 10× improvement in the extrinsic current gain response of graphene transistors with optimal extrinsic current–gain cutoff frequencies of 24 GHz.

Two different projects to use viruses to fight cancer

1. A marker for a tumor cell is also a receptor for the measles virus. this could enable measle viruses to be used to fight cancer.

PLoS - Tumor Cell Marker PVRL4 (Nectin 4) Is an Epithelial Cell Receptor for Measles Virus

Measles virus is a primate-specific virus that causes acute respiratory disease and can also lead to short term immune suppression resulting in secondary infections by bacteria or parasites. Wild type measles virus attaches to and infects lymphocytes using the receptor CD150 (signaling lymphocyte activation molecule, SLAM). Measles virus is also known to infect epithelial cells of the upper respiratory system and lungs. However, the viral receptor on these cells was previously unknown. Adenocarcinomas are derived from glandular epithelial cells of organs including the lung, breast, or colon. We showed that wild type isolates of measles virus can infect human airway epithelial cells and many adenocarcinoma cell lines. A comparative analysis of membrane genes expressed in cells susceptible and non-susceptible for measles virus infections revealed candidate receptor proteins. Only PVRL4 (Nectin 4) converted cells that were resistant to measles viral infections, to cells that could support virus infections. PVRL4 is a tumor cell marker that is highly expressed on embryonic cells such as those of the placenta, but it is also expressed at lower levels in the trachea, oral mucosa, nasopharynx, and lungs. It is highly expressed on many lung, breast, colon, and ovarian tumors suggesting that they could be targeted with oncolytic measles virus.

Japanese researchers make tissue transparent

Nature Neuroscience - Scale: a chemical approach for fluorescence imaging and reconstruction of transparent mouse brain

Scale, a new solution that turns tissue transparent without distorting its shape. Researchers can look into tissues without destructive cutting. After incubating the tissue in a concentrated urea solution for two weeks, the researchers could study the fine structure of the brain in 3D with the help of fluorescent markers.

Full coherent control of nuclear spins in an optically pumped single quantum dot

Arxiv - Full coherent control of nuclear spins in an optically pumped single quantum dot The interaction between electron and nuclear spins in quantum dots is often seen as detrimental for the use of electron spin for quantum information processing. It is now shown, however, that such interaction can be used to coherently control the polarization of tens of thousands of nuclear spins, opening the way to experiments using nuclear rather than electron spin.

Highly polarized nuclear spins within a semiconductor quantum dot (QD) induce effective magnetic (Overhauser) fields of up to several Tesla acting on the electron spin, or up to a few hundred mT for the hole spin. Recently this has been recognized as a resource for intrinsic control of QD-based spin quantum bits. However, only static long-lived Overhauser fields could be used. Here we demonstrate fast redirection on the microsecond time-scale of Overhauser fields of the order of 0.5 T experienced by a single electron spin in an optically pumped GaAs quantum dot. This has been achieved using full coherent control of an ensemble of 1000 − ten thousand optically polarized nuclear spins by sequences of short radio-frequency (rf) pulses. These results open the way to a new class of experiments using rf techniques to achieve highly-correlated nuclear spins in quantum dots, such as adiabatic demagnetization in the rotating frame leading to sub-μK nuclear spin temperatures, rapid adiabatic passage, and spin squeezing

Discovery by U of T researchers could create retinas from Jell-O like Hydrogels

Researchers at the University of Toronto have developed a new method for creating 3D hydrogel scaffolds that will aid in the development of new tissue and organs grown in a lab.

Hydrogels, a “Jell-O”-like substance, are highly flexible and absorbent networks of polymer strings that are frequently used in tissue engineering to act as a scaffold to aid cellular growth and development.

The paper demonstrates for the first time that it is possible to immobilize different proteins simultaneously using a hydrogel. This is critical for controlling the determination of stem cells, which are used to engineer new tissue or organs.

Nature Materials - Spatially controlled simultaneous patterning of multiple growth factors in three-dimensional hydrogels

Sony Announces 3D 720p OLED-Based Head Mounted Display

Sony is launching a head mounted display HMZ-T1, an upcoming display that uses two OLED screens to produce a 720p 3D picture right in front of your eyes.

* two 0.7-inch OLED displays show twin 1280-by-720 images, producing a high definition 3D picture with no crosstalk

* This simulates a 150-inch 3D HDTV seen from 12 feet away

* Expected to be in stores by Christmas with a price of about US$780.

Several Solar Power Companies are going bankrupt

It was considered the great hope of the solar industry and a poster child for the government’s efforts to remake the U.S. economy with clean-tech as a linchpin. Now, after about $1 billion invested by venture capitalists, Solyndra Inc. has gone bust. The Fremont, Calif., company, which received a $535 million federal loan guarantee in 2009 in addition to its massive venture capital support. They will lay off 1,100 full-time and temporary employees.

“Solyndra was a victim of the aggressive Chinese solar manufacturing pricing policies, which have hurt it, Evergreen, SpectraWatt and a number of other solar manufacturers,” wrote the DOE spokesman in an email to VentureWire.

Many people who are against nuclear power often cite the need for loan guarantees for nuclear plant construction as a risk and problem. Anti-nuclear people also brag about green jobs.

Global biofuels production increased 17% in 2010

Mechanical Energy Scavenging from Flying Insects

piezoelectric devices have been used to generate power from a live insect (Cotinis nitida - Green June Beetle) during its tethered flight.

They measured available deflection, force and power output from oscillatory movements at different locations on a beetle with an unmounted piezoelectric beam and showed that up to ~115 microwatts power generation is possible. Two initial generator prototypes were fabricated, mounted on a beetle, and harvested 11.5 microwatts and 7.5 microwatts in device volumes of 11.0 mm3 and 5.6 mm3 respectively, from 85 Hz-100 Hz wing strokes. A final prototype was designed to enable minimum disturbance of free-flight while maximizing power output. ANSYS simulations predict an output of 101.6 microwatts.

Tiny oxygen generators boost effectiveness of anticancer treatment

Researchers have created and tested miniature devices that are implanted in tumors to generate oxygen, boosting the killing power of radiation and chemotherapy.

The technology is designed to treat solid tumors that are hypoxic at the center, meaning the core contains low oxygen levels.

"This is not good because radiation therapy needs oxygen to be effective," said Babak Ziaie, a Purdue University professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering. "So the hypoxic areas are hard to kill. Pancreatic and cervical cancers are notoriously hypoxic. If you generate oxygen you can increase the effectiveness of radiation therapy and also chemotherapy."

The new "implantable micro oxygen generator" is an electronic device that receives ultrasound signals and uses the energy to generate a small voltage to separate oxygen and hydrogen from water – a chemical operation called water electrolysis.

Researchers have created and tested a miniature device, seen here, that can be implanted in tumors to generate oxygen, boosting the killing power of radiation and chemotherapy. The technology is designed to treat solid tumors that are hypoxic at the center, meaning the core contains low oxygen levels. The device (right) fits inside a tube (left) that can then be inserted into a tumor with a biopsy needle. (Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University)

Different views of the tablet future for Android and Apple

Sasha Pallenberg from the specialist Internet site Netbooknews has repeated his prediction that sales of tablet computers using Android would surpass those of the iPad by the end of next year. This prediction seems to be for unit sales volume and depends upon the success of $100 and cheaper tablets and $200 tablets. Dollar volume market share would then still see Apple iPad tablet dominance lasting longer.

Solar industry responsible for lead emissions in developing countries

A study by Chris Cherry, assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering (University of Tennessee), found that solar power heavily reliant on lead batteries has the potential to release more than 2.4 million tons of lead pollution in China and India.

Lead poisoning causes numerous adverse health effects, including damage to the central nervous system, the kidneys, the cardiovascular system, and the reproductive system. In children, blood lead concentration is associated with learning impairments, as well as hyperactive and violent behavior.

World production of new lead is 6 million tonnes a year, and workable reserves total are estimated 85 million tonnes, which is less than 15 year's supply.

Car pollution facts

- About 2.3 million tons of lead in lead acid (PbA) batteries is on the road now
- Over 97% of PbA batteries are recycled
- Over 1 million tons of lead are used in making new batteries each year
- Over 100,000 tons of lead are lost in making and disposing of batteries

One typical coal plant (tennessee) produces in one year
45,000 pounds of arsenic,
49,000 pounds of lead,
1.4 million pounds of barium,
91,000 pounds of chromium and
140,000 pounds of manganese.

About ten thousand coal plants in the world would produce about 250,000 tons of lead each year.

Berkeley Lab Researchers Develop Inexpensive Technique for Making High Quality Nanowire Solar Cells

Peidong Yang, a chemist with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division, led the development of a solution-based technique for fabricating core/shell nanowire solar cells using the semiconductors cadmium sulfide for the core and copper sulfide for the shell. These inexpensive and easy-to-make nanowire solar cells boasted open-circuit voltage and fill factor values superior to conventional planar solar cells. Together, the open-circuit voltage and fill factor determine the maximum energy that a solar cell can produce. In addition, the new nanowires also demonstrated an energy conversion efficiency of 5.4-percent, which is comparable to planar solar cells.

“The solution-based cation exchange reaction provides us with an easy, low-cost method to prepare high-quality hetero-epitaxial nanomaterials,” Yang says. “Furthermore, it circumvents the difficulties of high-temperature doping and deposition for typical vapor phase production methods, which suggests much lower fabrication costs and better reproducibility. All we really need are beakers and flasks for this solution-based process. There’s none of the high fabrication costs associated with gas-phase epitaxial chemical vapor deposition and molecular beam epitaxy, the techniques most used today to fabricate semiconductor nanowires.”

Yang and his colleagues believe they can improve the energy conversion efficiency of their solar cell nanowires by increasing the amount of copper sulfide shell material. For their technology to be commercially viable, they need to reach an energy conversion efficiency of at least ten-percent

Schematic shows how to make core/shell nanowire solar cell starting from left with a CdS nanowire (green) that is dipped in CuCl where cation exchange reaction creates a Cu2S shell coating (brown). Metal contacts are then deposited on the CdS core and Cu2S shell. (Image courtesy of Yang, et. al

Japan's 13 month maintenance schedule shutting down most of the remaining reactors and Germany could face blackouts with nuclear exit

1. Only 11 nuclear reactors will be operating in Japan with a combined power generation capacity of 9.864 GW in early September, which represents 20% of the country's total installed capacity of 48.96 GW spread over 54 reactors according to Platts calculations Tuesday.

Platts calculations were made as Japan's Kyushu Electric and Shikoku Electric are scheduled to shut two nuclear reactors in western Japan in early September.

Japan's Kyushu Electric said Tuesday it plans to start three-month-long scheduled maintenance at its 890 MW No.2 Sendai nuclear power plant in the country's southwest on September 1.

Juniper claims Mobile Payments Market to Hit $670 Billion by 2015

A new study (Mobile Payments Strategies: Opportunities & Markets 2011-2015) was performed by Juniper Research and they predicts that the total value of mobile payments for physical an digital items along with Near Field Communication (NFC) transactions and money transfers will hit a staggering $670 billion by the year 2015 which is up from $240 billion this year.

Our analysis shows that emerging segments such as physical goods payments, NFC and money transfers will fuel market growth by a factor of 2.7 times by 2015. Digital goods is the largest segment and, although forecast to more than double, it is not growing as quickly as some of the newer segments

Emergence of immediate funds transfer as a general-purpose means of payment needs national program and support

Emergence of immediate funds transfer as a general-purpose means of payment (16 pages) It is a Chicago Fed paper from Bruce Summers and Kirstin Wells. The main point is that immediate funds transfer needs national programs with support from a central body to succeed in a timely fashion.

The most advanced means of transferring money between bank accounts is immediate funds transfer (IFT), which allows senders to pay receivers electronically in a highly convenient, certain, and secure manner, at low cost with no or minimal delay in the receivers’ receipt and use of funds.

Today in the United States, IFT payments made through the banking system are mostly limited to large business transactions, interbank transfers, and specialized financial market transactions involving purchases of securities and the like. In total, these larger payments account for a small proportion of the total number of payments made throughout the economy. There is increasing evidence that the popularity of IFT is growing for everyday use, such as consumer purchases, payments between individuals, and small business accounts payable (Hough et al., 2010). To date, however, most general-purpose IFT payments are made on systems operated by nonbanks, the most familiar being PayPal. The coverage of IFT systems supported by nonbank companies is limited to their closed customer groups, and transfers are made not in bank money but rather in special units of account defined by the nonbanks.

This article examines the emergence of IFT as a general-purpose means of payment in the U.S. and in four other countries. We identify the public policy and business issues that arise when a new means of payment is introduced. We describe the attributes of payment instruments that users find attractive and compare the attribute profiles of different kinds of instruments, including IFT. We examine demand for IFT in the U.S. and present four international case studies of IFT. Finally, we discuss barriers to adoption of IFT in the U.S.

August 30, 2011

MXene – A New Family of 2-D Nanosheets of Transition Metal Carbides and Nitrides

While searching for new materials for electrical energy storage, a team of Drexel University materials scientists has discovered a new family of two-dimensional compounds proposed to have unique properties that may lead to groundbreaking advances in energy storage technology.

The research team recounts transformed three dimensional titanium-aluminum carbide, a typical representative of a family of layered ternary carbides called MAX phases, into a two dimensional structure with greatly different properties. MAX phases, known as ductile and machineable ceramics, have been researched by Prof. Barsoum’s lab for more than a decade and dozens of layered carbides, nitrides and carbonitrides with a variety of properties have been synthesized. However, these ceramics have always been produced as 3-dimensional materials

Scanning electron micrograph of an exfoliated particle with the size of about 10 micrometers. MXene sheets can be separated by sonication. (Image: SEM – B. Anasori, color – P. Gogotsi)

Advanced materials journal - Two-Dimensional Nanocrystals Produced by Exfoliation of Ti3AlC2 (titanium aluminum carbide)

2D Ti3C2 nanosheets, multilayer structures, and conical scrolls produced by room temperature exfoliation of Ti3AlC2 in HF are reported. Since Ti3AlC2 is a member of a 60+ group of layered ternary carbides and nitrides, this discovery opens a door to the synthesis of a large number of other 2D crystals.

Japan has wind lens turbine design that generates triple the power of regular wind turbines

Japanese researchers say that they've discovered a simple way to make wind turbines up to three times as efficient. By placing a 'wind lens' around the turbine blades, they claim that wind power could become cheaper than nuclear.

Kyushu University professor Yuji Ohya spoke of the merits of the 112-meter diameter structures being able to increase energy output "two or three fold", as well as being about to reduce the dreaded noise pollution so often associated with wind turbines, and improve safety too.

The futuristic design was unveiled at Yokohama Renewable Energy International Exhibition 2010.

Death rates in newborns remains high in Africa and India

Neonatal mortality -- deaths in newborns, aged 3 weeks and under -- has declined in all regions of the world over the past two decades but in 2009, more than half of all neonatal deaths occurred in five countries—India, Nigeria, Pakistan, China, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Furthermore, over the past 20 years, more than 4% of all babies born live in India died during the first month of life. Historically, the main focus of studies of childhood mortality has been the infant and under-five mortality rates. Neonatal mortality (deaths under 28 days of age) has received limited attention, although such deaths account for about 41% of all child deaths.

As the risk of children dying before the age of five has fallen, the proportion of child deaths that occur in the neonatal period has increased. This increase is primarily a consequence of decreasing non-neonatal mortality in children under five from infectious diseases such as measles, pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, and AIDS. Globally, 41% of under-five deaths now occur in the neonatal period.

In 2009, an estimated 3.3 million babies died in the first month of life—compared with 4.6 million neonatal deaths in 1990—and more than half of all neonatal deaths occurred in five countries of the world (44% of global livebirths): India 27.8% (19.6% of global livebirths), Nigeria 7.2% (4.5%), Pakistan 6.9% (4.0%), China 6.4% (13.4%), and Democratic Republic of the Congo 4.6% (2.1%). Between 1990 and 2009, the global NMR declined by 28% from 33.2 deaths per 1,000 livebirths to 23.9.

DBM Energy Lithium metal polymer reported by cost 9 times less

United States nuclear generation up in July and Japan will begin reactor restarts just before the year ends

1. For the first time in four months, U.S. nuclear generation in 2011 exceeded the monthly generation in 2010. Nuclear generation in July 2011 was 0.6 percent higher than the same month in 2010. For the first seven months in 2011, U.S. nuclear stations generated 452.3 billion kWh, 3.1 percent lower than 2010. The July capacity factor was 96.2 percent compared to 95.7 percent in 2010 and 97.3 percent in 2009.

2. Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda said he expects the reactivation of nuclear reactors whose operations were suspended for scheduled checkups to begin this year.

NASA assessing procedures to leave space station vacant which brings increased risk of space station loss

Space flight now - Engineers are evaluating what steps are necessary to safeguard the International Space Station should the orbiting lab be temporarily evacuated in the wake of last week's Soyuz rocket failure.

NASA officials are hopeful Russia will return the venerable Soyuz booster to service in time to avert such a circumstance, which would put the space station at increased risk in the event of serious equipment malfunctions.

Engineers are analyzing what's needed to keep the station alive in case astronauts have to pull out of the international laboratory, according to Michael Suffredini, NASA's space station program manager.

"There is a greater risk of losing ISS if it were unmanned than if it were manned," Suffredini said Monday. "The risk increase is not insignificant."

I think the space station crew evacuates by hopping into the soyuz capsule to return to earth

Novel alloy could produce hydrogen fuel from sunlight

Scientists from the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville have determined that an inexpensive semiconductor material can be "tweaked" to generate hydrogen from water using sunlight.

Using state-of-the-art theoretical computations, the UK-UofL team demonstrated that an alloy formed by a 2 percent substitution of antimony (Sb) in gallium nitride (GaN) has the right electrical properties to enable solar light energy to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, a process known as photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting. When the alloy is immersed in water and exposed to sunlight, the chemical bond between the hydrogen and oxygen molecules in water is broken. The hydrogen can then be collected.

Physical Review Letters B - Visible-light absorption and large band-gap bowing of GaN1−xSbx from first principles

World's first polyurethane blade reinforced with carbon nanotubes is lighter and stronger and eight times tougher

Blades installed in a 400W wind turbine generator.

A post-doctoral researcher at Case Western Reserve University has spearheaded an effort to build the world’s first polyurethane wind turbine blade reinforced with carbon nanotubes. Advanced materials with higher strength to mass ratios could enable larger area rotors to be cost-effective. Carbon nanotube based composites could enable larger rotor blades.

“The idea behind all this is the need to develop stronger and lighter materials which will enable manufacturing of blades for larger rotors,” Loos said in a news release. Loos built the blade on weekends.

Lighter blades help to maximize energy output from wind turbines. In a comparison of reinforcing materials, the researchers found carbon nanotubes are lighter per unit of volume than carbon fiber and aluminum and had more than 5 times the tensile strength of carbon fiber and more than 60 times that of aluminum.

Fatigue testing showed the reinforced PU lasts about eight times longer than epoxy-reinforced fiberglass. The new material was also about eight times tougher in delamination fracture tests. Performance was even better compared to vinyl ester-reinforced fiberglass.

Eurekalert - Using a small commercial blade as a template, he manufactured a 29-inch blade that is substantially lighter, more rigid and tougher. The functional prototype blades built by Loos were used to turn a 400-watt turbine.

Cycling fast: vigorous daily exercise recommended for a longer life

A study conducted among cyclists in Copenhagen, Denmark1 showed that it is the relative intensity and not the duration of cycling which is of most importance in relation to all-cause mortality and even more pronounced for coronary heart disease mortality. The study presented today at the ESC Congress 2011, concluded that men with fast intensity cycling survived 5.3 years longer, and men with average intensity 2.9 years longer than men with slow cycling intensity. For women the figures were 3.9 and 2.2 years longer, respectively. The groups were adjusted for differences in age and conventional risk factor levels.

Vitamin C could be helpful for asthmatic children

Depending on the age of asthmatic children, on their exposure to molds or dampness in their bedroom, and on the severity of their asthma, vitamin C has greater or smaller beneficial effect against asthma, according to a study published in the Clinical and Translational Allergy.

0.2 grams of vitamin C asthmatic children aged 7 to 10 years by 20-40%.

Graphene goes plasmonic and could increase internet communication speeds by ten times to 10 gigabits per second

Scanning electron microscopy micrographs of the graphene devices with plasmonic nanostructures.

Researchers have discovered a crucial recipe for improving the characteristics of graphene devices for use as photodetectors in the next generation of pholtovoltaic devices for telecommunications and energy harvesting.

In the new research, the team combined graphene with metallic nanostructures, leading to a twenty-fold enhancement in the harvesting of light to create energy. This paves the way for future advances in high-speed internet development and other communications.

Nature Communications - Strong plasmonic enhancement of photovoltage in graphene

Higgs Boson has less than 5% probability now across energy range - the leading alternate theories are Technicolor

CERN scientists declared that over the entire range of energy the Collider had explored—from 145 to 466 billion electron volts—the Higgs boson is excluded as a possibility with a 95% probability.

The probability of nonexistence is not overwhelming—there is still a 5% chance that the Higgs is hiding somewhere within this energy range. And, more importantly, the lower energy range from 114 to just under 145 billion electron volts, a region of energy that Fermilab has determined, through earlier experiments, may harbor the Higgs, has not been ruled out. But the Higgs is quickly running out of places to hide. Lower energy levels have been accessible to smaller accelerators, such as the Tevatron at Fermilab and the LEP—the LHC’s predecessor at CERN—and neither collider had found it. Perhaps the Higgs does not exist at all.

A theory called Technicolor, within which the primeval symmetry of our universe can be broken through a different mechanism than the action of the elusive Higgs. But to prove the validity of the Technicolor theory may require an energy level that would dwarf that available to the LHC—at an equally astronomical cost.

August 29, 2011

iPad 3 and other future tablet news

1. iPad 3 is rumored to be launched in early 2012. The Apple iPad 3 is expected to feature a high resolution display - 2048 by 1536 compared with 1024 by 768 in the iPad 2 - and Apple's suppliers have already shipped small quantities of components for the sampling of the iPad 3. Suppliers said Apple has placed orders for a 9.7-inch screen device.

2. IHS predicts that 275.3 million tablets will be sold in 2015, up from about 60 million this year. This is substantially up from the 242 million unit estimate IHS issued in February of this year. Apple is expected to account for 74 percent of tablet sales this year (44.2 million iPads)and keep most of the market share through 2013. In 2015, Apple is forecasted to sell more than 120 million tablets and hold a share of 44 percent. If future iPad sales price averaged $600, 120 million tablets could turn into a $72 billion market for Apple. The most recent quarter for Apple had $28 billion in revenue.

Al Gore likens climate change sceptics to racists

Al Gore, the former US vice president, has predicted that in years to come people who are sceptical about climate change will be seen in the same way as racists.

In an interview on UStream, Mr Gore likened the debate over climate change to the Civil Rights movement in the US in the 1960s.

He said that in order for climate change advocates to secure action over global warming they must "win the conversation" against deniers.

"I remember again going back to my early years in the South, when the Civil Rights revolution was unfolding, there were two things that really made an impression on me," he told Climate Reality Project collaboator Alex Bogusky.

"My generation watched Bull Connor turning the hose on civil rights demonstrators and we went 'Woah! How gross and evil is that?'."

He remembered how society marginalised racists and said climate change sceptics must be defeated in the same way.

World Problem Solutions do not need Superintelligence just a little less stupidity and corruption

A successful Technological singularity has been cited as being able to provide cures for diseases, accelerated economic growth and solve human challenges in fields like medicine, physics, chemistry, engineering, politics, diplomacy, biology, sociology, and economics. The more optimistic forecasts are that a technological singularity is 30-60 years away. There is plenty of time to get things right before something that might not happen or which could happen far later than expected or which could be different.

The developed countries of the United States and Europe are usually viewed as having pretty good systems and are very successful when compared to places like Africa. Many countries in Africa know that they have 100 times lower GDP per capita than the developed countries. However, the developed countries could have and should be doing a lot better but do not have many good examples of better places to show how much better things could be.

Countries are collection of cities and each city should be as good as the best cities

There are small success stories like Liechtenstein.($141,000 per capita for 32,000 people)

Luxembourg has about $100,000 per person for 500,000 people

Singapore is at about $60,000 per person for 5 million people.

Most developed countries are 75-100% urban. Each city should be shooting for the standards of the top city states. The cities make up 75-100% of what the country should be achieving. Their should be more training and research and systems developed to make it easier to have successful cities.

Bureaucracy, Corruption and incompetence

Massive amounts of bureaucracy, corruption and incompetence have a large impact on making current problems persist and making problems worse. Bureaucracy and incompetence increased costs by 700% (from $780 million to over $6.3 billion) on the San Francisco Bay Bridge repair. If China levels of corruption increases costs by 30%, then the US should considering trading bureaucracy and incompetence for corruption. The Bay Bridge had a 10+ year delay in getting started had resulted in the project running into commodity inflation in steel and concrete which would not have been a problem 10 years earlier. There were ongoing delays and cost increases. There were continuing delays from bureaucratic flip-flopping on what was to built.

Many solutions are available that do not need great intelligence to discover or implement

There are many solutions that should be easily implemented to address many problems listed as major problems for the world.

The US budget and long term deficits would be less of a problem if there was faster economic growth.

There are several technologies and solutions for Greenhouse gas mitigation.

Building a more efficient nuclear fission reactor

Current nuclear plants are very inefficient, and burn only a fraction of the available fuel. The startup corporation Terrapower , funded in part by Bill Gates has an innovative plan for a reactor that can burn depleted uranium. Depleted uranium is currently a dangerous waste product produced by conventional lightwater reactors. Enough uranium-238 exists in depleted uranium, uranium deposits, and seawater to meet the earth's energy requirements for centuries. In an interview with Sander Olson (For Nextbigfuture), Terrapower nuclear Engineer Robert Petroski describes how reactors using depleted uranium could potentially play a major role in ameliorating the world's energy problems.

Robert Petroski

Question: Tell us about TerraPower:

TerraPower became an independent company in 2008 to advance the goal of building a traveling wave reactor. All future energy projections clearly indicate that energy use will increase substantially during the next half century. We believe that a new type of nuclear reactor, called the traveling wave reactor (TWR), has the potential to meet this growing need for electricity and to largely solve the world's energy problem.

Perfect and optimized hindsight as a model for Post Singularity or any Enhanced Intelligence Model

I have previously provided my opinion on the three major views on what a possible Technological Singularity will be like.

1. Event Horizon - The claim is that future becomes weirder than we can imagine now and changes faster than we can handle. I believe that we will still be able to understand the changes but will be less clear on the details.

2. Intelligence Explosion - Core claim: Intelligence has always been the source of technology. If technology can significantly improve on human intelligence - create minds smarter than the smartest existing humans - then this closes the loop and creates a positive feedback cycle. What would humans with brain-computer interfaces do with their augmented intelligence? One good bet is that they’d design the next generation of brain-computer interfaces. Intelligence enhancement is a classic tipping point; the smarter you get, the more intelligence you can apply to making yourself even smarter.

3. Accelerating Change - Core claim: Our intuitions about change are linear; we expect roughly as much change as has occurred in the past over our own lifetimes. But technological change feeds on itself, and therefore accelerates. Change today is faster than it was 500 years ago, which in turn is faster than it was 5000 years ago. Our recent past is not a reliable guide to how much change we should expect in the future.

Intelligence explosion and Accelerating Change Approximation with Perfect Hindsight

Back in 2008, I wrote - Singularity perspectives using hindsight and optimal algorithms: AGI raised by wolves

We can use a thought experiment of placing a hypothetical superior intelligence back 20, 30 or 40 years or 2000 years, we could use our hindsight knowledge of superior algorithms/processes/methods (developed between then and now) and new technologies to approximate possible improvements a AGI could use. The level of advantage could be used to approximate advantages of a current or future AGI. It would give some indication of how advances could be accelerated to move from older technology to newer technology.

An optimal leapfrogging path of technology adoption could be determined. What would be the fastest path to go from some past state to what we know is possible now ? How fast could it have been done ? What would have to be built ? A fictional analogy is Spock in the classic Star Trek Episode City on the Edge of Forever. How fast can you progress ?

Spock - "I am endeavoring to construct a mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bear skins."

We will also have to update the timeframes and the capabilities based on the expected science and technology at the time that any Singularity occurs. For example if it were to happen in 30 years and in 5-15 years there is a massive adoption in robotics for personal assistance and manufacturing then that will be easier to accelerate.

Steps to reduce overall carbon emissions associated with concrete pavements by about 50 percent

MIT - Concrete is one of the most extensively used materials worldwide — on average, more than two tons per year of the rock-like stuff is produced for every man, woman and child on Earth, making its use second only to water. And that vast amount of new concrete is responsible for somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, making it a significant target for improvements.

MIT in 2009 established a research group called the Concrete Sustainability Hub, with support from the cement industry. This month the CSH issued two major reports — one on concrete pavements (103 page pdf), the second on concrete buildings (115 page pdf) — that examine in detail those products’ life-cycle costs, in both money and greenhouse gas emissions.

People are biased against creative ideas

Fresh research indicates people don't even know what a creative idea looks like and that creativity, hailed as a positive change agent, actually makes people squirm.

In the journal Psychological Science there is a report on two 2010 experiments at the University of Pennsylvania involving more than 200 people.

The studies' findings include:

* Creative ideas are by definition novel, and novelty can trigger feelings of uncertainty that make most people uncomfortable.
* People dismiss creative ideas in favor of ideas that are purely practical -- tried and true.
* Objective evidence shoring up the validity of a creative proposal does not motivate people to accept it.
* Anti-creativity bias is so subtle that people are unaware of it, which can interfere with their ability to recognize a creative idea.

August 28, 2011

Capturing Near Earth Objects

Arxiv -Capturing Near Earth Objects (22 pages)

Technology Review -
A particularly good candidate is a 10-meter object called 2008EA9 which will pass within a million kilometres or so of Earth in 2049. 2008EA9 has a very similar orbital velocity as Earth's. Baoyin and co calculate that it could be fired into Earth orbit by changing its velocity by 410 metres per second. That's tiny.

This nudge should place the asteroid in an orbit at about twice the distance of the Moon. From there it can be studied and mined

Recently, Near Earth Objects (NEOs) have been attracting great attention, and thousands of NEOs have been found to date. This paper examines the NEOs' orbital dynamics using the framework of an accurate solar system model and a Sun-Earth-NEO three-body system when the NEOs are close to Earth to search for NEOs with low-energy orbits. It is possible for such an NEO to be temporarily captured by Earth; its orbit would thereby be changed and it would become an Earth-orbiting object after a small increase in its velocity. From the point of view of the Sun-Earth-NEO restricted three-body system, it is possible for an NEO whose Jacobian constant is slightly lower than C1 and higher than C3 to be temporarily captured by Earth. When such an NEO approaches Earth, it is possible to change its orbit energy to close up the zero velocity surface of the three-body system at point L1 and make the NEO become a small satellite of the Earth. Some such NEOs were found; the best example only required a 410 meter per second increase in velocity.

Professor Michael Pettis Makes Predictions from now to 2020 including predicting a slowdown to 3% GDP growth for China

Michael Pettis is a professor at Peking University's Guanghua School of Management, where he specializes in Chinese financial markets. He has also taught, from 2002 to 2004, at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management and, from 1992 to 2001, at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.

One of the core arguments that Michael Pettis is using for his predictions is outlined in his case 'The Contentious Debate Over China's Economic Transition' (8 pages)

BTW - Nextbigfuture disagrees with these Michael Pettis predictions, but finds them interesting and from a fairly competent source. I think China's underground economy makes the actual household consumption amounts higher than the official levels.

Michael Pettis predictions are:

* BRICS and other developing countries have not decoupled in any meaningful sense, and once the current liquidity-driven investment boom subsides the developing world will be hit hard by the global crisis.
* Over the next two years Chinese household consumption will continue declining as a share of GDP.
* Chinese debt levels will continue to rise quickly over the rest of this year and next.
* Chinese growth will begin to slow sharply by 2013-14 and will hit an average of 3% well before the end of the decade.
* Any decline in GDP growth will disproportionately affect investment and so the demand for non-food commodities.
* If the PBoC resists interest rate cuts as inflation declines, China may even begin slowing in 2012.
* Much slower growth in China will not lead to social unrest if China meaningfully rebalances.
* Within three years Beijing will be seriously examining large-scale privatization as part of its adjustment policy.
* European politics will continue to deteriorate rapidly and the major political parties will either become increasingly radicalized or marginalized.
* Spain and several countries, perhaps even Italy (but probably not France) will be forced to leave the euro and restructure their debt with significant debt forgiveness.
* Germany will stubbornly (and foolishly) refuse to bear its share of the burden of the European adjustment, and the subsequent retaliation by the deficit countries will cause German growth to drop to zero or negative for many years.
* Trade protection sentiment in the US will rise inexorably and unemployment stays high for a few more years.

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