March 31, 2012

Liveblogging - John Mauldin talks about Stem cells and other biotech

John Mauldin has a free newsletter on financial information.
Millenium Wave Securities.

He discussed stem cell breakthroughs with ISCO (International Stem Cell Company) and Biotime

ISCO can turn blood into Parthogenic stem cells into Organs

50 stem cell types (like blood cell types) can cover 95% of humanity and matching would prevent rejection.

Eventually there will be stem cell banks.

Low hanging fruit are grown corneas.

In 1 to 2 years there will grown corneas implanted into people in India

Also growing skin for burn victims

Liveblogging - Dr Larry Smarr - Be your own Health Detective

Tracking and reducing inflammation is critical to our health.

Want a lower ratio of AA/EPA to measure good low inflammation levels can provide the analysis of your bacteria and blood in far more detail.

90% of immune system is in your colon

High Lactoferrin biomarker.

The Colon is the Rodney Dangerfield of organs.

He had data that indicated that he had Crohn's disease (a inflamed bowel disease).

He took the 2D MRI files and used his graphics department to make a 3d analysis.

Doctor had two lines from the tech that says seems like he has enlarged colon wall.

He can create 3d virtual fly through to analyse what is happening from the MRI.
Doctor was just asking how he felt.
He felt fine but he had data and MRI cross-sections.

He went back to his 23andme gene SNP gene ifo.

Went to the human microbiome project. 10 times the number of bacteria
cells as human cells in your body.

He found he was twice as likely to get Crohn's disease

Liveblogging - Bulletproof Diet

Leptin resistance occurs before and at the same time as insulin

Vaso active I... Peptide (VIP)
VIP controls brain, sleep, GI function, metabolism

Induce autophagy cleans your cells

Calorie restriction makes you feel cold, cranky and have other problems

More bile turnover is good

Help control inflammation

Avoid food toxins
Avoid leptins, phytate, gluten, mycotoxins, avoid grains, legumes, mold

A science based approach to a modified Paleo-diet

The short thing would be to avoid gluten and eat more good fat

Liveblogging - Diet, Drugs, Supplements and Lifespan

Talk by Stephen Spindler

1. Do supplements extend human lifespan
2. Will calorie restriction and related strategies for extending lifespan
3. Practically how can this info be used to extend lifespan

Healthy humans show that dietary supplements do not show lifespan extension

Simvastatin extends fruit fly lifespan.

Simvastatin plus an ACE inhibitor extended lifespan in mice. Needed to have the statin and the ACE inhibitor worked.

Isoprenoid biosynthesis seemed be the pathway that was causing the increased lifespan.

Decreasing signaling through the EGFR, PDGFVEGF, GPCR and JAK/STAT signalingg pathways can extend fruitfly lifespan.

Reduced signaling through p38, JNK and PKC are associated with increased lifespan.

Liveblogging - DNA Testing How and Why

Sara Gottfried.

How to make the new genetic information actionable

By 2015 the full human genome sequencing will be $100. It should be about $1000 this year.
$100 is about the cost of a blood count test (CDC)

Why DNA testing
* Diagnostic testing
* presymptomatic and predictive testing
* having babies
- carrier testing, preimplantation testing, prenatal testing, newborn screening
* pharmacogenomics, to determine what medication and dosage will be most effective

Genotype appropriate diet more effective.

In one Stanford study. Genotype appropriate diet participants lost 13.2 lbs vs 4 lbs for the regular diets.

Need to get matched with a test to the right diet
* low fat diet (omish diet)
* low carb diet (atkins)

Eating behaviors detected genetically
1. hunger and satiety
2. snacking
3. eating disinhibition and food desire
4. sweet tooth

Liveblogging - Julia Hu of Lark - optimizing sleep

Sleep is good and important for health and longevity

Silent sleep alarm and wireless sleep monitor and personal sleep coach

3000 points a minute to monitor sleep. $99 device.

Need to fix insufficient sleep and disordered sleep.

three pillars of health - sleep, diet and exercise

They have a Lark Pro device for $150.

It has more software for sleep coaching.

It will not be until next year that they have an Android version of their software.

Liveblogging- Terry Grossman on shortcuts to a long life

Terry Grossman is talking about mimicking caloric restriction.

Carbo concentration diet.

Want a BMI of 23-24.
BMI23-24 5 foot 7 inches then weight 146-153 lbs
BMI 30-35 over 190 lbs reduces life by 2-4 years
BMI 40-45 over 255 lbs reduces life by 8-10years (like heavy smoking)

and is
if you load all of your carbs into dinner (or one meal per day) then have insulin low all day and then have higher insulin just for 3 hours.
Eat normal amounts of food but have most of the benefits of low insulin over 80% of the time.
Lower insulin moderate your food intake

Easy diet with some benefits

Prescription drug Metformin.
best drug to treat type 2 diabetes.

Liveblogging - Patrick Cox on revolutionary near term advances in anti aging

Patrick Cox that 2012 will be a big year in anti aging. He is the editor of Breakthrough Technology Alert.

Patrick Cox is actually trained as an economist (austrian economist).

Longevity advances have been a key factor driving improved economies and economic growth.

He talks about bioinformatics as a big breakthrough. Biotime gene chips.

A lot of rambling that has nothing to do with anything but saying science and trade is great.

He has pictures of cats now. Amazing. Insane, deranged talk.

The heart of it.

anatabine has effectiveness an as anti-inflammatory is selling it

he is taking 12-16 pills per day, one every 3 hours

Fred couples reduced 6.5 CRP inflammation down to 0.8

He is talking about emerging work that will impact longevity
DNA plasmid
GHRH gene therapy (Growth hormone releasing hormone)

Personal Longevity conference live blogging - first up fixing telomeres

I am live blogging the personal longevity conference.

There is a live webcast for those who have registered.

Bill Andrews, CEO of Sierra Sciences, is an expert on telomeres. Most diseases have some correlation to short telomeres. Telomeres are the tips or ends of chromosomes.

When we are conceived we have 15000 bases in our telomeres, when we are born we have 10,000 teleomeres when we get down to 5000 bases in our telomeres we seem to get a lot of cell disfunction and disease.

All kinds of things accelerate telomere shortening. As of yet we can lengthen telomeres.

A company lifelength can measure the length of your telomeres from a blood sample. The have offices in Spain and Florida

Vaccines against heart disease could be available within five year that reduces plaque by 60-70%

1. Daily Telegraph - Injections of antibodies could prevent the build up of fat in the arteries which cause narrowings and break off leading to heart attacks, experts said.

Lack of exercise, poor diet, smoking and drinking too much alcohol are the main causes of heart disease but it is also known that there are strong hereditary factors too.

Coronary heart disease occurs when fatty plaques build up in the blood vessels feeding the heart and over time become narrowed. Parts of the plaque, known as atheroma, may break off causing a clot to form which can block the artery causing a heart attack.

Working with Prof Prediman Shah, from Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles, the team were able to formulate a vaccine that reduced plaque build up by 60 to 70 per cent in mice.

The resulting CVX-210 vaccine, currently in development as an injection by CardioVax, is waiting regulatory clearance to start clinical trials.

March 30, 2012

Aubrey de Grey Interviewed about antiaging

An Interview with Aubrey de Gregy and others on antiaging

Aubrey and I spoke for some time. He explained why he thought a war on ageing could be won.

Dr Aubrey de Grey
The human body can be treated like any simple man-made structure, like a car or an aeroplane, or indeed a building, for that matter. So here's King's College Chapel, it is the most famous building in Cambridge. It was built by Henry VI back in the fourteenth century, so that's seven-hundred years ago. And I'm damned certain that Henry VI did not think about making the thing last until the twenty-first century. But it has lasted because it's been well maintained. That means, you know, replacing tiles that fall off the roof, or you know, cleaning it up every so often - getting rid of damage. And it's exactly the same principle for a really complicated machine that we didn't actually design - namely, the human body.

Progress to enabling the life extension of Rapamycin without the downside

Eurekalert - A Penn- and MIT-led team explained how rapamycin, a drug that extends mouse lifespan, also causes insulin resistance. The researchers showed in an animal model that they could, in principle, separate the effects, which depend on inhibiting two protein complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2, respectively.

The study suggests that molecules that specifically inhibit mTORC1 may combat age-related diseases without the insulin-resistance side effect, which can predispose people to diabetes.

"The hope is that in the future, we will be able to develop molecules that target mTORC1 specifically, separating out the beneficial effects of rapamycin on aging and disease, and leaving behind the insulin-resistance side effect," says Baur.

"Our results demonstrate that reduced mTORC1 signaling is sufficient to extend lifespan and mTORC2 signaling has profound effects on metabolism," says co-first author Lan Ye, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the Baur lab. "Our findings indicate that mTORC2 may be an important player in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome."

Nuclear News - V.C. Summer Reactors Licensed and more

1. NRC - South Carolina Electric and Gas Company has received approval for combined construction and operating licenses (COLs) from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for two new nuclear units at V. C. Summer Station in Jenkinsville, S.C. In a 4-1 vote the Commission found the NRC staff’s review adequate to make the necessary regulatory safety and environmental findings, clearing the way for the NRC’s Office of New Reactors (NRO) to issue the COLs. The NRC staff is expected to issue the COLs within 10 business days. The COLs will authorize SCE&G and Santee Cooper to build and operate two AP1000 reactors at the Summer site, adjacent to the company’s existing reactor approximately 26 miles northwest of Columbia, S.C. NRC Chairman Jackzo was again the dissenting vote The reactors are among five units that may be built in the U.S. before 2020. The estimated cost of the project is $10.2 billion.

Southern Co. (SO) on Feb. 9 won U.S. approval to build two reactors at its Vogtle plant near Augusta, Georgia, becoming the first company to receive an NRC construction permit since 1978. The Atlanta-based company expects the first unit to be in service by 2016, with the second a year later.

Scana’s first unit won’t be operational until 2017, about a year behind schedule, because of delays in the NRC’s licensing process and the second will be operational in 2018.

2. Japan is likely to decide to restart the country's idled nuclear reactors by the time all 54 commercial reactors have suspended their operations in early May, the ruling Democratic Party of Japan's policy chief Seiji Maehara suggested Wednesday.

''I think the restart of reactors may be decided by May 5,'' Maehara said in a speech in Tokyo, referring to the date when the current sole operating reactor, the No. 3 unit of the Tomari plant in Hokkaido, will be suspended for a routine checkup. Two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi power plant in Fukui Prefecture have cleared the screening process of the government's nuclear safety agency and another oversight body, leading them to await a political decision by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and related ministers over their restart.

Single molecular thick silicon - silicene claims and research

Inside Science - Several research groups claim to have thin one molecule thick sheets of silicon called silicene (analogous to graphene for carbon), igniting a controversy over who won the race to synthesize this promising new material. According to Lew Yan Voon, electronic devices based on silicene could reliably exhibit the critical on-off function required for transistors, the building blocks of computers. Graphene, however, has struggled to achieve this function, stymieing its practical use as a transistor.

Despite the uncertainty over who created silicene first, researchers agree what needs to be done next. To take full advantage of silicene's properties, physicists need to grow it on an insulating material that won't conduct electricity like silver. Once silicene can be grown on an insulator, it will be much easier to develop silicene transistors and other devices.

Scientists may develop silicene devices that dramatically increase processing speed relatively soon, but large challenges remain, according to Le Lay.

"From this to applications is another big step. It's not trivial," said Le Lay.

Some Interesting Silicene Research

Physical review letters - Silicene: Compelling experimental evidence for graphenelike two-dimensional silicon (2012)

Due to its unique physical properties graphene, a 2D honeycomb arrangement of carbon atoms, has attracted tremendous attention. Silicene, the graphene equivalent for silicon, could follow this trend, opening new perspectives for applications, especially due to its compatibility with Si-based electronics. Silicene has been theoretically predicted as a buckled honeycomb arrangement of Si-atoms and an electronic dispersion resembling that of relativistic Dirac fermions. Here we provide compelling evidences, from both structural and electronic properties, for the synthesis of epitaxial silicene sheets on a silver (111) substrate, through the combination of scanning tunneling microscopy and angular-resolved photoemission spectroscopy in conjunction with calculations based on density functional theory.

Applied Physics Letters - Epitaxial growth of a silicene sheet (2010)

Threefold increase in the microbial production of biodiesel from glucose

A new technique – dubbed a dynamic sensor-regulator system (DSRS) – can detect metabolic changes in microbes during the production of fatty acid-based fuels or chemicals and control the expression of genes affecting that production. The result in one demonstration was a threefold increase in the microbial production of biodiesel from glucose.

The DSRS is an amazing and powerful new tool, the first example of a synthetic system that can dynamically regulate a metabolic pathway for improving production of fatty acid-based fuels and chemicals while the microbes are in the bioreactor,” says Jay Keasling, CEO of JBEI and one of the world’s foremost practitioners of synthetic biology, who led this research.

Keasling, who also serves as the Associate Laboratory Director for Biosciences at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) is the corresponding author of a paper describing this research in Nature Biotechnology. The paper is titled “Design of a dynamic sensor-regulator system for production of FAbased chemicals and fuels.” Co-authors are Fuzhong Zhang and James Carothers of JBEI’s Fuels Synthesis Division, which is directed by Keasling.

New iron-based metal organic framework will improve the energy efficiency of gas separation in refineries

Science - Hydrocarbon Separations in a Metal-Organic Framework with Open Iron(II) Coordination Sites

The energy costs associated with large-scale industrial separation of light hydrocarbons by cryogenic distillation could potentially be lowered through development of selective solid adsorbents that operate at higher temperatures. Here, the metal-organic framework Fe2(dobdc) (dobdc4– : 2,5-dioxido-1,4-benzenedicarboxylate) is demonstrated to exhibit excellent performance characteristics for separation of ethylene/ethane and propylene/propane mixtures at 318 kelvin. Breakthrough data obtained for these mixtures provide experimental validation of simulations, which in turn predict high selectivities and capacities of this material for the fractionation of methane/ethane/ethylene/acetylene mixtures, removal of acetylene impurities from ethylene, and membrane-based olefin/paraffin separations. Neutron powder diffraction data confirm a side-on coordination of acetylene, ethylene, and propylene at the iron(II) centers, while also providing solid-state structural characterization of the much weaker interactions of ethane and propane with the metal.

Citibank Wealth Report Forecasts World economy to 2050

The Wealth Report 2012 (68 pages) forecasts the wealthy and the world economy on a purchasing power basis to 2050

They are using the World Bank purchasing power parity statistics as a starting point.

The Penn (university of Pennsylvania) World tables of purchasing power parity 7.0 has adjusted PPP as follows.

China is estimated at 11.3 to 11.6 trillion.
India is estimated at 4.15 trillion.

China has grown by about 10% in 2010 and would be 12.5 to 12.7 trillion.
India has grown by about 8% in 2010 and would be nearly 4.5 trillion.

Apple and Foxconn maximum 76 hour work weeks and one billion mobile phones

1. WSJ - Apple and Foxconn have agreed to reducing work hours to a maximum of 40 hours a week and limiting overtime to a maximum of 36 hours a week—the legal maximum in China—by July 2013. Currently works hours aren't strictly enforced at the local level, and up to 100 hours a week is often tolerated by authorities. Chinese workers put in the time willingly, in order to earn more money.

The companies also will explore benefits such as unemployment insurance with private providers and government agencies. The move could further encourage changes throughout the rest of the manufacturing sector, starting with other high-tech companies.

Nationally, average 2010 private sector manufacturing wages totaled 20,090 yuan (or $3,190 at current rates), up 16.4% from the year before.

2. China said Friday it had broken the barrier of one billion mobile phone accounts at the end of February, as more people in the world's most populous country ditch fixed phone.

* The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said this was up from 900.4 million in April last year.
* fixed line subscriptions fell by 828,000 during that period to reach 284.3 million
* 144 million used 3G (double April 2011)

Economist and Pettis have two bets on China's future economic growth

The Free Exchange blog at The Economist has accepted the Michael Pettis bet, and very cleverly (the bastards!) they have added a second one. Michael Pettis rejected making basically the same bet with me.

The two bets.

1. The Economist says that at the then current dollar/RMB exchange rate China will be the world’s largest economy in 2018. Pettis predicts that China will not be the largest economy.

2. Pettis says that in real RMB China’s average annual growth rate for the rest of the decade will average 3.5% or less. The Economist disagrees. There is some question as to how to define “real”. They will have to agree on an acceptable GDP deflator.

I believe it is a 60% chance that the combined China/HK/Macau GDP of 2018 will exceed the US GDP in 2018. I think it is 95% chance by 2020.

My latest forecast of China and the US GDP. So I believe the 2012-2020 GDP growth average will be just over 8%.

Year GDP(yuan) GDP growth USD/CNY China GDP China+HK US GDP   

2011     47.2   9.2        6.3     7.5        7.8       15.2
2012     53     8.1        6.2     8.7        9.0       15.9
2013     59     8.5        5.8    10.2       10.5       16.5
2014     66     8.5        5.5    11.9       12.2       17.2
2015     73     8.5        5.2    14         14.3       18
2016     80     8          4.9    16.3       16.7       18.8
2017     88     8          4.6    19.1       19.5       19.6
2018     97     8          4.3    22.6       23         20.5
2019    107     8          4.1    26         26.5       21.5
2020    115     7.5        3.9    29.6       30         22.4
2021    125     7.5        3.7    33.7       34.2       23.4
2022    135     7.5        3.5    38.5       39         24.5
2023    145     7          3.3    44         44.5       25.6
2024    157     7          3.1    50.6       51         26.7
2025    170     7          3      56.5       57         27.9
2026    183     7          3      61         61.5       29.2
2027    198     7          3      66         66.4       30.5
2028    214     7          3      71.2       72         31.9
2029    235     7          3      78.4       79         33.3
2030    259     7          3      86.4       87         34.8

Could 3d chip technology extend Moore's law to 2030?

Most experts believe that silicon scaling will end by 2020 at the 10 nanometer node. Although several promising post-CMOS technologies, such as graphene or III-V compound semiconductors or even spintronics might take its place, these technologies will not be deployed before 2025 at the earliest. But if the industry were to adopt and perfect 3d technology, the industry might eventually create chips with hundreds of layers. The most common form of 3d technology involves through silicon vias, but a startup company called Monolithic 3d has an alternate approach. In an interview with Sander Olson for Next Big Future, Monolithic CEO Zvi Or-Bach argues that monolithic 3d is a viable, cost-effective technology that could keep Moore's law going until 2030.

Zvi Or-Bach

Question: You founded Monolithic 3D logic in 2009 as NuPGA, with a focus on Field-Programmable-Gate-Arrays (FPGAs). What made you change the focus to monolithic 3D IC?

We originally were going to make a better FPGA technology, but in the development effort we discovered a path for monolithic 3D ICs. As soon as I realized the enormous potential of monolithic 3D, I told my staff to forget about FPGAs and concentrate exclusively on monolithic 3D IC. Monolithic 3D integration was investigated back in the 1980s, but no practical path was found due to limitation of maximum processing temperature of 400 ºC after interconnection layers had been processed in. MonolithIC 3D Inc. discovered and invented multiple process flow for monolithic 3D IC, and now that 2D scaling is reaching some fundamental limits, the semiconductor industry is rediscovering the compelling benefits of 3D.

Sharpening Occam's Razor with Quantum Mechanics

Arxiv - Sharpening Occam's Razor with Quantum Mechanics

Researchers have discovered a new way in which computers based on quantum physics could beat the performance of classical computers. The work, by researchers based in Singapore and the UK, implies that a Matrix-like simulation of reality would require less memory on a quantum computer than on a classical computer. Researchers know how to calculate the amount of information transferred inherently in any stochastic process. Theoretically, this sets the lowest amount of information needed to simulate the process. In reality, however, classical simulations of stochastic processes require more storage than this.

Gu, Wiesner, Rieper and Vedral, who is also affiliated with the University of Oxford, UK, showed that quantum simulators need to store less information than the optimal classical simulators. That is because quantum simulations can encode information about the probabilities in a "superposition", where one quantum bit of information can represent more than one classical bit.

What surprised the researchers is that the quantum simulations are still not as efficient as they could be: they still have to store more information than the process would seem to need.

That suggests quantum theory might not yet be optimized. "What's fascinating to us is that there is still a gap. It makes you think, maybe here's a way of thinking about a theory beyond quantum physics," says Vedral.

Mathematical models are an essential component of quantitative science. They generate predictions about the future, based on information available in the present. In the spirit of Occam's razor, simpler is better; should two models make identical predictions, the one that requires less input is preferred. Yet, for almost all stochastic processes, even the provably optimal classical models waste information. For each bit of predictive output, they generally require more than a single bit of input. We systematically construct quantum models that break this classical bound. This indicates that the system of minimal entropy that simulates such processes must necessarily feature quantum dynamics, and that many observed phenomena could be signifi cantly simpler than classically possible should quantum effects be involved.

In this article, we have demonstrated that any stochastic process with no reversible classical model can be further simpli fied by quantum processing. Such stochastic processes are almost ubiquitous. Even the statistics of perturbed coins can be simulated by a quantum system of reduced entropy. In addition, the quantum reconstruction can be remarkably simple. The capacity to make single photon measurements, for example, allows construction of a quantum epsilon machine that simulates a perturbed coin with reduced energy expenditure. This allows potential for experimental validation with present day technology.

This result has signi ficant implications. Stochastic processes play an ubiquitous role in the modeling of dynamical systems that permeate quantitative science, from climate fluctuations to chemical reaction processes.
Any computation is physical. To implement the mathematical model of a particular observable phenomena, we (a) encode the inputs of the model within a suitable physical system, (b) evolve the system according to some physical laws and (c) retrieve the predictions of model by appropriate measurement. Thus, if a model demands a particular piece
of data is input, the physical implementation of that model must have the capacity to store that data.

March 29, 2012

No quick fixes on energy generation and temperature

1. WSJ - Vinod Khosla is a major investor in renewable and alternative energy and Daniel Yergin is an expert on fossil fuels. They were asked - How many years do you think it will be before half of our global energy production comes from non-fossil fuels?

MR. YERGIN: World energy probably is going to grow by 25% or as much as 35% over the next 20 years. I think the shift in the composition won't be too significant until after 2030, so maybe by 2050.

MR. KHOSLA: I guess 25 years. I'm definitely more optimistic.

MS. STRASSEL: Can you scale up to the levels necessary to make a big dent in fossil-fuel use?

MR. KHOSLA: You can absolutely scale up technologies off feedstocks—things like wood chips. The simplest way to think about is if there are a thousand paper mills in the country that have gone out of business, you can replace each of those and their feed basins for the wood chips with a fuel facility that would produce competitive fuels.

Artificial synapses could lead to advanced computer memory and machines that mimic biological brains

RL Laboratories, LLC, and the University of Michigan have built a type of artificial synapse using memristors

The researchers developed a vertically integrated hybrid electronic circuit by combining the novel memristor developed at the University of Michigan with wafer scale heterogeneous process integration methodology and CMOS read/write circuitry developed at HRL. “This hybrid circuit is a critical advance in developing intelligent machines,” said HRL SyNAPSE program manager and principal investigator Narayan Srinivasa. “We have created a multi-bit fully addressable memory storage capability with a density of up to 30 Gbits/cm2, which is unprecedented in microelectronics.”

Industry is seeking hybrid systems such as this one, the researchers say. Dubbed “R-RAM,” they could shatter the looming limits of Moore’s Law, which predicts a doubling of transistor density and therefore chip speed every two years.

Ultimately the team plans to scale the neuromorphic chip to support millions of neurons and billions of synapses, thereby enabling the development of intelligent machines that can learn from their environments and exhibit complex behaviors. The technology has numerous real-world applications in complex computing including visual perception, planning, decision making and navigation.

Nanoletters - A Functional Hybrid Memristor Crossbar-Array/CMOS System for Data Storage and Neuromorphic Applications

Ionic propulsion for small satellites

The first prototype of a new, ultra-compact motor that will allow small satellites to journey beyond Earth's orbit is just making its way out of the EPFL laboratories where it was built. The goal of the micro motor: to drastically reduce the cost of space exploration.

Imagine reaching the Moon using just a tenth of a liter of fuel. With their ionic motor, MicroThrust, EPFL scientists and their European partners are making this a reality and ushering in a new era of low-cost space exploration. The complete thruster weighs just a few hundred grams and is specifically designed to propel small (1-100 kg) satellites, which it enables to change orbit around the Earth and even voyage to more distant destinations – functions typically possible only for large, expensive spacecraft. The just-released prototype is expected to employed on CleanSpace One, a satellite under development at EPFL that is designed to clean up space debris, and on OLFAR, a swarm of Dutch nanosatellites that will record ultra-low radio-frequency signals on the far side of the Moon.

The motor, designed to be mounted on satellites as small as 10x10x10 cm3 (cubesat size) is extremely compact but highly efficient. The prototype weighs only about 200 grams, including the fuel and control electronics.

Caption: Imagine reaching the moon using just a tenth of a liter of fuel. With their ionic motor, MicroThrust, EPFL scientists and their European partners are making this a reality, ushering in a new era of low-cost space exploration. Credit: Courtesy of EPFL News

The Microthrust project site is here

The MicroThrust consortium is a European project to develop miniaturized electrospray thruster for very small spacecraft: the thruster will fit inside a cubesat, and the base module with fuel and all electronics has a mass of under 200 g for a thrust of 100 µN (micronewtons) and an ISP of 3000 seconds.

Efforts to Commercialize Microfluidics to make millions of labs on a chip for pennies a piece

MIT's David Hardt is working to move microfluidics from the lab to the factory. Hardt heads the Center for Polymer Microfabrication — a multidisciplinary research group funded by the Singapore-MIT Alliance — which is designing manufacturing processes for microfluidics from the ground up. The group is analyzing the behavior of polymers under factory conditions, building new tools and machines to make polymer-based chips at production levels, and designing quality-control processes to check a chip’s integrity at submicron scales — all while minimizing the cost of manufacturing.

“These are devices that people want to make by the millions, for a few pennies each,” says Hardt, the Ralph E. and Eloise F. Cross Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. “The material cost is close to zero, there’s not enough plastic here to send a bill for. So you have to get the manufacturing cost down.

* They are looking at microembossing to scale up manufacturing of labs on a chip
* they are look at automated systems for self correcting factories

The Center for Polymer Microfabrication is designing processes for manufacturing microfluidic chips. Pictured here is a chip fabricated by the center's tailor-made production machines.
Photo: Melinda Hale

Blackhole Quasar galaxies that act as gravititional lenses reveal their mass

Using NASA and ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope, EPFL scientists have identified several rare cases of galaxies that contain supermassive black holes acting as gravitational lenses. Two years ago, scientists in EPFL’s Laboratory of Astrophysics (LASTRO) discovered a quasar, a galaxy with a black hole at its center, that functioned as a gravitational lens, a kind of cosmic magnifying glass. They have since found several more situations like this and are able to measure the mass of quasar based on the amount the light is bent in the gravitational lensing of the background galaxy.

Israel's plan to attack Iran Postponed until at least Spring 2013

Haaretz - According to a war simulation conducted by the U.S. Central Command, the Iranians could kill 200 Americans with a single missile response to an Israeli attack. The meaning of this U.S. scenario is that the blood of these 200 would be on Israel's hands.

Pentagon spokesman George Little announced that the Defense Department would be seeking more money to help Israel fund the Iron Dome antimissile defense system.

The Iron Dome system successfully intercepted 80 percent of the rockets fired from Gaza this month, the Defense Department "intends to request an appropriate level of funding to support such acquisitions, based on Israeli requirements and production capacity."

For all intents and purposes, it was an announcement that this war was being postponed until at least the spring of 2013.

Previously it was mentioned that Israel would like get the latest US bunker buster bombs in exchange for delaying the attack until after the US election.

Information on the Mariana Trench

Here is an infographic of the Mariana Trench.

James Cameron recently made a solo dive to the bottom of the Mariana trench in a sub that he had funded for $8 million. The bottom looked like a lunar landscape except for some one inch long shrimp like creatures.

The expedition has headed away to land and will return at some later date for more dives.

Photograph by Mark Thiessen/National Geographic. The DEEPSEA CHALLENGER submersible carrying filmmaker and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence James Cameron is hoisted into the Pacific Ocean on its way to the “Challenger Deep,” the deepest part of the Mariana Trench.

One Gigabyte per month of Free Wireless Broadband from a Skype Cofounder by Fall of 2012

Technology Review - Called FreedomPop, the service will give users roughly a gigabyte of free high-speed mobile Internet access per month on Clearwire's WiMAX network and forthcoming LTE network. It will offer other low-cost prepaid plans that provide access to more data.

Pre-register for Freedompop access at their site.

Clearwire coverage is listed at the Clearwire site. Enter your zip code to see if Clearwire covers your address.

The service is expected to roll out in the U.S. sometime between July and September and to eventually branch out to other countries as well.

FreedomPop's arrival coincides with the rapid rise in smart-phone users and rollout of 4G networks as wireless carriers try to keep up with the growing demand for mobile data. The company is not the only one that sees an opportunity to launch a free 4G service: NetZero recently rolled out its own free and low-cost plans. But while NetZero offers 200 megabytes of free wireless data per month, FreedomPop will offer about five times that amount—more than most data users currently consume in a month.

FreedomPop will follow a "freemium" model where users receive some aspects of the service for free and must pay for more. After users surpass their monthly allotment, they will be charged a fee for going over that allotment (Miller says the overage charges will be "cheap"—probably about a penny per megabyte, though maybe a bit lower for prepaid customers—since FreedomPop wants to encourage use).

Comparing China Versus the United States on Misallocated Investment

Michael Pettis describes the issue of misallocation of resources. This is a charge that has been made frequently that China is misallocating resources. The example is then brought up about ghost cities as overbuilding in real estate.

Michael describes what matters as far as economic misallocation is concerned is

1) Whether the total economic costs of investment are less than the total economic benefits, and

2) Whether there is a mismatch in the timing of costs and benefits.

The first point determines whether the investment is ever wealth enhancing, and the second determines whether or not in the medium term there is a worsening of the underlying imbalance.

Kurt Shrout provides some data which shows that China's construction industry makes up 18% of its economy in 2010 versus a world average of 12%. China is still developing and urbanizing so having a somewhat larger construction industry is not out of line.

Total Factor Productivity is increasing at a fast rate in China

These figures undermine a common claim—that China’s rapid growth has been based solely on overinvestment. Sceptics like to compare China with the Soviet Union, where heavy investment also produced rapid rates of growth for many years before it collapsed. But the big difference is that TFP in the Soviet Union actually fell by an annual average of 1% over 30 years to 1988. In contrast China’s productivity has been lifted by a massive expansion of private enterprise, and a shift of labor out of agricultural work and into more productive jobs in industry. China’s average return on physical capital is now well above the global average, according to Goldman Sachs. A decade ago it was less than half the world average.

New Superhard H-Carbon and S-carbon which are intermediate between Graphite and Diamond

Arxiv - New Superhard Carbon Phases Between Graphite and Diamond

Technology Review - This work, like the other structural predictions, is entirely theoretical, relying on computer simulations based on first principle calculations. And until somebody actually measures the structure of this new form of carbon, we won't know which proposal is correct. The process of predicting new carbon allotropes and calculating their properties is itself providing a clear impetus for new research in this field.

Two new carbon allotropes (H-carbon and S-carbon) are proposed, as possible candidates for the intermediate superhard phases between graphite and diamond obtained in the process of cold compressing graphite, based on the results of first-principles calculations. Both H-carbon and S-carbon are more stable than previously proposed M-carbon and W-carbon and their bulk modulus are comparable to that of diamond. H-carbon is an indirect-band-gap semiconductor with a gap of 4.459 eV and S-carbon is a direct-band-gap semiconductor with a gap of 4.343 eV. S-carbon is even more stable than the Z-carbon which is the most table carbon phase proposed recently. The transition pressure from cold compressing graphite is 10.08 GPa and 5.93 Gpa for H-carbon and S-carbon, respectively, which is in consistent with the recent experimental report.

Crystal structure of H-carbon(a), initial AB stacking graphite supercell for H-carbon (b) and side view containing five and seven carbon rings of H-carbon (c). Crystal structure of S-carbon (d), initial AB stacking graphite supercell for Scarbon (e) and side view containing five and seven carbon rings of S-carbon (f).

Brillouin Energy Closing to Commercialization

Cash Flow Radio has an interview with Brillouin Energy‘s CEO Robert George and President/CTO Robert E. Godes.

Brillouin Energy has been able to develop a control system that allows a reaction to start and stop, and run in a steady state mode. In April, they will be working with Mike McKubre of SRI International to run a reactor at a higher temperature.

Godes states that the Brillouin’s reaction starts with an endothermic reaction (reaction that absorbs heat) and ends with a more powerful exothermic reaction (reaction releases heat). Brillouin is working on two systems, the first one provides heat at 140 degrees C, (called the “wet boiler”) the second one reaches 400 – 450 degrees C. George says that they have applied for patents, but have been told by a patent examiner at the US Patent Office that the office is still not permitted to grant patents in the cold fusion field.

“The high-end system that will easily generate electricity, we’re looking at potentially, from our cost analysis, about 1 cent per kilowatt hour, but that’s on a commercial system. For a residential application, to get a higher R-value, or COP on it, we’re talking about a turbine, not something you don’t currently have right now. We’re talking about just having the boiler.”

They have a million dollar investment and are working to get the second half of a two million dollar investment.

They plan to license technology to third party producers. George says that Brillouin has been visited by the Naval Research Lab and major corporations.

We’re looking at 12 to 18 months to bring it to strategic partners.

MP3 of the interview

Cold Fusion Now also says there will be some other big cold fusion announcement in one month from some kind of celebrity.

Ultralight Structures for Space Telescopes that are 100 times cheaper and Printable Spacecraft

1. How to build a space telescope for 1% of the cost: Fabrication of large space optics that are accurately shaped to better than a 1000th of the width of a human hair is an enormous challenge. Traditional space telescope fabrication methods require rigid and therefore heavy mirrors, expensive spacecraft and massive rocket launch vehicles. This breakthrough technology allows every molecule of a polymer substrate to also serve as a laser powered nano-actuator. These molecules are used to control the shape of a super thin inexpensive large curved mirror, reducing cost and mass by a factor of 100. Dr. Ritter’s NIAC telescope OCCAM mirror will be less dense than a feather.

2. Imagine editing a design file on your laptop, uploading it to a specialty printer and collecting your spacecraft in the output tray later in the day. Flexible printed electronics have revolutionized consumer products such as cellular phones and PDAs, allowing greater functionality with decreasing size and weight. Perhaps the same can be done for NASA spacecraft. This study will explore the concept of designing and fabricating a spacecraft based entirely on flexible substrate printed electronics. The study will consider mission requirements, manufacturing compatibility and advanced technology from both industry and academia.

March 28, 2012

Early exoskeletons and biological soldier enhancements will not change the battlefield more than other weapon systems

Patrick Lin discusses the ethical impact of new biological and exoskeleton enhancements to soldiers.

Soldiers will soon be able to crawl up and down walls like a real life Gecko or the fictional Spider;postID=9032631527705685216man. They will have the technology to stick and unstick with hands and feet to walls. This was also shown in the most recent Mission Impossible movie. However, to utilize this capability still requires extreme physical fitness.

Now a soldier would have to use ropes and ladders. There are lightweight and portable systems.

There are also powered climbing systems like the Atlas Ascender. This capability has been exagerrated in the fictional Batman movie "Batman Begins".

Electrostatic Active Space Radiation Shielding for Deep Space Missions and Superconducting magnet radiation shields

1. Electrostatic Active Space Radiation Shielding for Deep Space Missions

This study will seek to test and validate an electrostatic gossamer structure to provide radiation shielding. It will provide guidelines for energy requirements, dose reduction and deflection efficiencies, and effective enhancements of dual electrostatic-passive (material) shielding technologies, and 'engineering-feasible' architectures.

Ram Tripathi, has been funded through NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program to develop an electrostatic shielding system that bends radiation particles away from spacecraft.
The system concept utilizes structures that employ either a positive and negative charge. Because like charges repel, the negatively charged structures will repel negative radiation (plasma) and positively charged structures will repel positive radiation (ions). By organizing the structures in certain configurations, they can ward off radiation by creating a safe zone for a spacecraft and its crew.

“At a minimum, it’s 75% more effective than the ideal material shielding, which is an enormous advantage” said Tripathi.

Physicists Mix Two Lasers to Create Light at Many Frequencies

A team of physicists at UC Santa Barbara has used two lasers beams to generate multiple frequency lasers.

1. aimed high- and low-frequency laser beams at a semiconductor
2. electrons were caused to be ripped from their cores, accelerated, and then smashed back into the cores they left behind.
3. This recollision produced multiple frequencies of light simultaneously.

"It's fairly routine to mix the lasers and get one or two new frequencies, Sherwin continued. "But to see all these different new frequencies, up to 11 in our experiment, is the exciting phenomenon. Each frequency corresponds to a different color."
Bottom image: Artist's rendition of electron-hole recollision. Near infrared (amber rods) and terahertz (yellow cones) radiation interact with a semiconductor quantum well (tiles). The near-ir radiation creates excitons (green tiles) consisting of a negative electron and a positive hole (dark blue tile at center of green tiles) bound in an atom-like state. Intense terahertz fields pull the electrons (white tiles) first away from the hole and then back towards it (electron paths represented by blue ellipses). Electrons periodically recollide with holes, creating periodic flashes of light (white disks between amber rods) that are emitted and detected as sidebands.
Credit: Peter Allen, UCSB

Nature - Experimental observation of electron–hole recollisions

Automation improves tissue engineering

Artificial skin is being produced automatically in a lab in Germany, with the production enabled by tissue engineering. Previously, production was only possible only using expensive manual methods in specialized laboratories.

Artificial skin for use in transplants or to verify the safety of the active ingredients of drugs, cosmetics and chemicals is a rare commodity. It is currently produced manually on a laboratory scale, and cultivation takes six weeks. The production volume is therefore limited to 2,000 pieces of skin per month, each one only a square centimetre in size.

The new BioPoLiS organic production laboratory at the Fraunhofer IPA is home to what it says is the only facility in the world for the fully automatic in vitro production of up to 5,000 human skin models a month. The plant reflects the importance of bio-production, a combination of biology and automation technology. The knowledge of biologists and engineers has come together in the fields of laboratory automation, process automation and liquid handling.

The factory is designed to produce approximately 5,000 postage-stamp-sized skin models each month. It is very important for biological requirements to be met with regard to the sterility of all processes and the handling of cells. In the multi-step process, the skin samples are first sterilized, transported by robots into the machine, crushed, isolated and induced to grow. The artificial skin is ready after three weeks.

The first single automated skin tissue production line will make larger pieces of skin and over twice as many of them in half the time.

Automated tissue engineering: a single production line handles the entire process. Image courtesy of Fraunhofer.

Transparent memory chips are coming

The lab of Rice University chemist James Tour has developed transparent, flexible memories using silicon oxide as the active component. Tour revealed today in a talk at the national meeting and exposition of the American Chemical Society in San Diego that the new type of memory could combine with the likes of transparent electrodes developed at Rice for flexible touchscreens and transparent integrated circuits and batteries developed at other labs in recent years.

Rice’s transparent memory is based upon the 2010 discovery that pushing a strong charge through standard silicon oxide, an insulator widely used in electronics, forms channels of pure silicon crystals less than 5 nanometers wide. The initial voltage appears to strip oxygen atoms from the silicon oxide; lesser charges then repeatedly break and reconnect the circuit and turn it into nonvolatile memory. A smaller signal can be used to poll the memory state without altering it. That discovery was reported on the front page of the New York Times. The Rice lab has since developed a working two-terminal memory device that can be stacked in a three-dimensional configuration and attached to a flexible substrate.

Many Billions of Rocky Planets in the Habitable Zones around Red Dwarfs in the Milky Way

A new result from ESO’s HARPS planet finder shows that rocky planets not much bigger than Earth are very common in the habitable zones around faint red stars. The international team estimates that there are tens of billions of such planets in the Milky Way galaxy alone, and probably about one hundred in the Sun’s immediate neighborhood. This is the first direct measurement of the frequency of super-Earths around red dwarfs, which account for 80% of the stars in the Milky Way.

This first direct estimate of the number of light planets around red dwarf stars has just been announced by an international team using observations with the HARPS spectrograph on the 3.6-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. A recent announcement (eso1204), showing that planets are ubiquitous in our galaxy used a different method that was not sensitive to this important class of exoplanets.

* about 40% of all red dwarf stars have a super-Earth orbiting in the habitable zone where liquid water can exist on the surface
* 80% of all the stars in the Milky Way are Red Dwarfs
* The HARPS team surveyed a carefully chosen sample of 102 red dwarf stars in the southern skies over a six-year period. A total of nine super-Earths (planets with masses between one and ten times that of Earth) were found, including two inside the habitable zones of Gliese 581 and Gliese 667 C respectively.
* the frequency of occurrence of super-Earths in the habitable zone is 41% with a range from 28% to 95%.

Illustration of a habitable world under a red dwarf star

Metallic Hydrogen: A Game Changing Rocket Propellant

Atomic metallic hydrogen, if metastable at ambient pressure and temperature could be used as the most powerful chemical rocket fuel, as the atoms recombine to form molecular hydrogen. This light-weight high-energy density material would revolutionize rocketry, allowing single-stage rockets to enter orbit and chemically fueled rockets to explore our solar system. To transform solid molecular hydrogen to metallic hydrogen requires extreme high pressures, but has not yet been accomplished in the laboratory. In the proposed new approach electrons will be injected into solid hydrogen with the objective of lowering the critical pressure for transformation. If successful the metastability properties of hydrogen will be studied. This new approach may scale down the pressures needed to produce this potentially revolutionary rocket propellant.

Isaac Silvera is heading up the NIAC project and also co-wrote a 2010 paper on metallic hydrogen rockets.

Metallic Hydrogen: The Most Powerful Rocket Fuel Yet to Exist Isaac F. Silvera and John W. Cole

Atmospheric Breathing Electric Thruster for Planetary Exploration and Economical Radioisotope Power

1. This study will investigate the development of an atmosphere-breathing electric propulsion solar-powered vehicle to explore planets such as Mars. The vehicle would use atmospheric gas for propellant, eliminating the need to launch and carry the propellant from earth. The propulsion thruster would be electric where the gas is ionized in a plasma and accelerated by electromagnetic fields. The combination of high efficiency and high specific impulse of the electric propulsion thruster and free propellant in-situ will result in an exciting and enabling technology. At the completion of this development, NASA will be able to perform missions of extended lifetime and capabilities beyond those available by typical chemical rockets. Phase I will formulate feasibility of the concept through modeling, calculations and preliminary laboratory experiments and push validity into Phase II research.

2. Almost all robotic space exploration missions and all Apollo missions to the moon used Radioisotopic Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs to provide electrical power to instruments. The RTGs rely on the conversion of the heat produced by the radioactive decay of an isotope of plutonium (Pu-238) to electricity. Unfortunately, the supply of Pu-238 is about to run out. Developing a reliable supply of Pu-238 is crucial to almost all future space missions. We propose to investigate an economical production method for Pu-238 that will allow NASA or a private venture to produce several kilograms per year without the need for large government investment. The Center for Space Nuclear Research will evaluate the production rate in a commercial nuclear reactor, optimize the transit times of the target material in the reactor, assess costs of facilities to produce the isotopes, and estimate any costs to handle the waste stream form the process.

The Potential for Ambient Plasma Wave Propulsion

This concept addresses the fact that space exploration is costly, primarily due to our current need to bring everything with us from the Earth’s surface. Truly robust and affordable space exploration will require that we use all the available resources we can find in space.

The plasma wave concept deals with two facts:

1. Many planets, and the Sun, possess an ambient environment of magnetic fields and plasmas
2. Plasmas with magnetic fields can support a variety of waves, which transmit energy and or pressure, like light or sound waves. Many of these waves are at radio frequencies (kHz to MHz), and can be generated using the appropriate antenna. "Appropriate" means the right size and shape.

Plasma waves are considered in fusion power systems, semiconductor manufacturing, and in some very theoretical electric propulsion thrusters, such as VASIMR, which still must carry its own propellant. In contrast, this concept simply uses an on-board power supply and antenna on a vehicle that operates in the existing plasma. The spacecraft beams plasma waves in one direction with the antenna, which would generate momentum that could propel the vehicle in the other direction without using any propellant on the space ship. Such a system could maneuver in the plasma environment for as long as its power supply lasted, without needing to be refueled. One particular wave to consider is the Alfven wave, which propagates in magnetized plasmas and has been observed occurring naturally in space.

(The PI used to call this idea "The Alfven Wave Surfer", but it's really an "Alfven Wave Swimmer", in that the spacecraft keeps wiggling the plasma behind it to get around, sort of like how a person might kick themselves through the water)

Proposal for a Concept Assessment of a Fission Fragment Rocket Engine (FFRE) Propelled Spacecraft

A new technology, the Fission Fragment Rocket Engine (FFRE), requires small amounts of readily available, energy dense, long lasting fuel, significant thrust at specific impulse of a million seconds, and increases safety by charging the reactor after arrival in LEO. If this study shows the FFRE potential, the return could be immense through savings in travel time, payload fraction, launch vehicle support and safety for deep space exploration.

Wikipedia - The fission-fragment rocket is a rocket engine design that directly harnesses hot nuclear fission products for thrust, as opposed to using a separate fluid as working mass. The design can, in theory, produce very high specific impulses while still being well within the abilities of current technologies.

One fission fragment design was worked on to some degree by the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. In their design the fuel was placed into a number of very thin carbon bundles, each one normally sub-critical. Bundles were collected and arranged like spokes on a wheel, and several such wheels were stacked on a common shaft to produce a single large cylinder. The entire cylinder was rotated so that some bundles were always in a reactor core where additional surrounding fuel made the bundles go critical. The fission fragments at the surface of the bundles would break free and be channeled for thrust, while the lower-temperature un-reacted fuel would eventually rotate out of the core to cool. The system thus automatically "selected" only the most energetic fuel to become the working mass.

The efficiency of the system is surprising; specific impulses of greater than 100,000 are possible using existing materials

March 27, 2012

Interplanetary CubeSats: Opening the Solar System to a Broad Community at Lower Cost

Today, Solar System exploration missions are the exclusive domain of space agencies and their scientists and engineers who can muster multi-hundred-million dollar budgets. While their accomplishments are broad, highly sophisticated and literally out of this world, the high cost limits our pace of important discoveries.

Interplanetary CubeSats offer an opportunity to conduct focused science investigations around the inner Solar System at a cost ten times lower than missions mounted today. In much the same way that CubeSats weighing a few pounds have dramatically increased low cost access to space experimentation in low Earth orbit, this study intends to focus development of six technologies in unison so as to enable dramatically lower-cost exploration of the Solar System and our Earth’s more distant environs. Using the pressure of sunlight, a gravitationally defined Interplanetary Superhighway, advanced electronics and instrumentation, and laser communications, may extend the turn-of-the-millennium CubeSat standard for nanosatellites to distances far beyond Earth’s magnetic cocoon. CubeSats in low Earth orbit have enabled dozens of universities to develop and place in orbit student-led, student-designed, student-built, and student-operated satellites investigating all manner of scientifically exciting phenomena, while giving graduates of these programs a competitive edge they bring to American technology and industry. Additionally, CubeSats have enabled Government-sponsored space experimentation and technology development on an accelerated schedule for unprecedented low cost. If successful, this system study of the technologies to enable Interplanetary CubeSats will open the door to a similar revolution in access to space and new discoveries beyond Earth.

Interplanetary CubeSats:Opening the Solar System to a Broad Community at Lower Cost (22 pages, 2011)

Aneutronic Fusion Spacecraft Architecture

he object of this proposal is to conduct a feasibility study for a novel, fusion-powered, space propulsion architecture that can ultimately change drastically the potential for human and robotic space exploration. The proposed design is based on neutron-free nuclear fusion as the primary energy source. An innovative beam conditioning/nozzle concept enables useful propulsive thrust directly from the fusion products, while some fraction of the energy is extracted via direct conversion into electricity for use in the reactor and spacecraft systems.

This study focuses on providing the framework required to make fusion propulsion an appealing proposition for long-range space travel (by integrating the power generation and propulsion systems) rather than on the development of a specific fusion reactor concept. However, the scope of this study is not constrained by the immediate availability of fusion energy since it also analyzes “hybrid” schemes with a solar or fission primary energy source along with a sub-critical fusion reactor used as a plasma space propulsion system.

Nuclear Propulsion Through Direct Conversion of Fusion Energy

Nuclear Propulsion Through Direct Conversion of Fusion Energy by John Slough (of Helion Energy and MSNW LLC)

The future of manned space exploration and development of space depends critically on the creation of a vastly more efficient propulsion architecture for in-space transportation. Nuclear-powered rockets can provide the large energy density gain required. A small scale, low cost path to fusion-based propulsion is to be investigated. It is accomplished by employing the propellant to compress and heat a magnetized plasma to fusion conditions, and thereby channel the fusion energy released into heating only the propellant. Passage of the hot propellant through a magnetic nozzle rapidly converts this thermal energy into both directed (propulsive) energy and electrical energy

MSNW LLC site on space propulsion

The Electrodeless Lorentz Force (ELF) thruster family has demonstrated operational power levels ranging from 100 Watts to 10 MW. The ELF design is the first steady-state pulsed inductive thruster, and has run continuously for more than 1E8 plasmoids. This design has operated using traditional Electric Propulsion (EP) propellants such as Xenon as well as complex molecular propellants including monopropellants and in-situ resources. MSNW is currently teaming with NASA and the DOD.

We have previously covered John Sloughs work on ElectroMagnetic Plasmoid Thruster (EMPT)

The EMPT thruster, funded by NASA, is a 1 kW-class RMF thruster, operates on the same physics principles as the ELF thruster. This device, less than 4 inches in diameter, has proven that pulsed inductive technolgoies can be succesfully miniaturized. Indeed, this thruster has demonstrated operation from 0.5 to 5 Joules, as well as the first pulsed inductive steady state operation. The EMPT has demonstrated greater than 1E8 continuous plasma discharges.

SPS-ALPHA: The First Practical Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large PHased Array and Steering Solar Sails with Optical Lift Force

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) is having its Spring Symposium this week (March 27-29, 2012)

1. John Mankins is presenting SPS-ALPHA: The First Practical Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large PHased Array

SPS-ALPHA (Solar Power Satellite via Arbitrarily Large Phased Array) is a novel, bio-mimetic approach to the challenge of space solar power. If successful, this project will make possible the construction of huge platforms from tens of thousands of small elements that can deliver remotely and affordably 10s to 1000s of megawatts using wireless power transmission to markets on Earth and missions in space. The selected NIAC project will enlist the support of a world-class international team to determine the conceptual feasiblity of the SPS-ALPHA by means of integrated systems analyses, supported by selected "proof-of-concept" technology experiments.

Reversible electrical switching of spin polarization in multiferroic tunnel junctions

Nature - Reversible electrical switching of spin polarization in multiferroic tunnel junctions

Spin-polarized transport in ferromagnetic tunnel junctions, characterized by tunnel magnetoresistance, has already been proven to have great potential for application in the field of spintronics and in magnetic random access memories. Until recently, in such a junction the insulating barrier played only a passive role, namely to facilitate electron tunnelling between the ferromagnetic electrodes. However, new possibilities emerged when ferroelectric materials were used for the insulating barrier, as these possess a permanent dielectric polarization switchable between two stable states. Adding to the two different magnetization alignments of the electrode, four non-volatile states are therefore possible in such multiferroic tunnel junctions. Here, we show that owing to the coupling between magnetization and ferroelectric polarization at the interface between the electrode and barrier of a multiferroic tunnel junction, the spin polarization of the tunnelling electrons can be reversibly and remanently inverted by switching the ferroelectric polarization of the barrier. Selecting the spin direction of the tunnelling electrons by short electric pulses in the nanosecond range rather than by an applied magnetic field enables new possibilities for spin control in spintronic device

Structure and basic properties of the multiferroic tunnel junctions

A Reversibly Collapsible structure with no moving parts

Inspired by a toy, the ‘buckliball’ — a collapsible structure fabricated from a single piece of material — represents a new class of 3-D, origami-like structures. Motivated by the desire to determine the simplest 3-D structure that could take advantage of mechanical instability to collapse reversibly, a group of engineers at MIT and Harvard University were stymied — until one of them happened across a collapsible, spherical toy that resembled the structures they’d been exploring, but with a complex layout of 26 solid moving elements and 48 rotating hinges.

The toy inspired the engineers to create the “buckliball,” a hollow, spherical object made of soft rubber containing no moving parts, but fashioned with 24 carefully spaced dimples. When the air is sucked out of a buckliball with a syringe, the thin ligaments forming columns between lateral dimples collapse.

New Energy Times claims to prove Rossi Fraud via adjustment of power controls during demonstration

More Energy Efficient Transistors through Quantum Tunneling

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame and Pennsylvania State University have announced breakthroughs in the development of tunneling field effect transistors (TFETs), a semiconductor technology that takes advantage of the quirky behavior of electrons at the quantum level.

TFETs are on track to solve power leakage and heat problems of regular transistors and delivering comparable performance to today’s transistors, but with much greater energy efficiency.

They do this by taking advantage of the ability of electrons to “tunnel” through solids, an effect that would seem like magic at the human scale but is normal behavior at the quantum level.

Joint Initiative To Develop Advanced Atomic Layer Deposition Technology For Next Generation Memories And Solar Cells

A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics (IME) and Picosun Oy, a Finland-based global manufacturer of Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) equipment, have announced a partnership to develop advanced ALD techniques to enable continuing growth in the areas of next generation memories and solar cells.

With this collaboration, IME and Picosun will jointly develop innovative ALD and plasma-enhanced ALD (PEALD) processes for novel dielectrics and metals for applications in resistive switching non-volatile memories (NVM), multilayer metal-insulator-metal (MIM) capacitors, solar cells, and advanced complementary-metal-oxide-semiconductors (CMOS). Enabling integration of the processes with the devices for industrial applications will be the core objective of the joint research project.

Tufts University describes plasma-enhanced Atomic Layer Deposition

The key to Plasma Enhanced Atomic Layer Deposition (PEALD) is to remove passivating hydrogen atoms without the use of a thermal spike. Our approach is to break the remaining Si-H bonds using energy from Ar plasma, while decreasing the substrate temperature to within the thermal budget of front-end chip processing.
Schematic representation of one cycle of an atomic layer deposition (ALD) process. The cycle can be repeated until the film thickness projected is achieved.

Introduction to (plasma-enhanced) atomic layer deposition. Film growth by the atomic layer deposition (ALD) method relies on alternate pulsing of the precursor gases and vapors into a vacuum chamber and their subsequent chemisorption on the substrate surface. The different steps in the process are saturative such that ALD film growth is self-limiting yielding one submonolayer of film per deposition cycle. ALD has some unique characteristics making the method technologically very relevant:
(1) ultimate control of film thickness;
(2) excellent conformality on very high aspect ratio structures;
(3) good uniformity on large substrates; and
(4) straightforward to apply to produce multilayer structures.

One Drug shrink or cure human breast, ovary, colon, bladder, brain, liver, and prostate tumors in mice

Science Now - A single drug can shrink or cure human breast, ovary, colon, bladder, brain, liver, and prostate tumors that have been transplanted into mice, researchers have found. The treatment, an antibody that blocks a "do not eat" signal normally displayed on tumor cells, coaxes the immune system to destroy the cancer cells.

PNAS - The CD47-signal regulatory protein alpha (SIRPa) interaction is a therapeutic target for human solid tumor

CD47, a “don't eat me” signal for phagocytic cells, is expressed on the surface of all human solid tumor cells. Analysis of patient tumor and matched adjacent normal (nontumor) tissue revealed that CD47 is overexpressed on cancer cells. CD47 mRNA expression levels correlated with a decreased probability of survival for multiple types of cancer. CD47 is a ligand for SIRPα, a protein expressed on macrophages and dendritic cells. In vitro, blockade of CD47 signaling using targeted monoclonal antibodies enabled macrophage phagocytosis of tumor cells that were otherwise protected. Administration of anti-CD47 antibodies inhibited tumor growth in orthotopic immunodeficient mouse xenotransplantation models established with patient tumor cells and increased the survival of the mice over time. Anti-CD47 antibody therapy initiated on larger tumors inhibited tumor growth and prevented or treated metastasis, but initiation of the therapy on smaller tumors was potentially curative. The safety and efficacy of targeting CD47 was further tested and validated in immune competent hosts using an orthotopic mouse breast cancer model. These results suggest all human solid tumor cells require CD47 expression to suppress phagocytic innate immune surveillance and elimination. These data, taken together with similar findings with other human neoplasms, show that CD47 is a commonly expressed molecule on all cancers, its function to block phagocytosis is known, and blockade of its function leads to tumor cell phagocytosis and elimination. CD47 is therefore a validated target for cancer therapies.

Pike Research Forecasts Electric Bikes to Sell at 47 to 51 million units per year in 2018

Pike Research - With sales expected to reach over 30 million units in 2012, electric bicycles are the world’s best-selling electric vehicles. Rapidly accelerating urbanization, the increasing need for low-cost transportation in developing markets, and expanding opportunities for new market entrants are all helping to drive e-bicycle sales.

The worldwide market for e-bicycles is projected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5% between 2012 and 2018, resulting in global sales of more than 47 million vehicles in 2018. China is anticipated to account for 42 million of these e-bicycles that year, giving it 89% of the total world market. The e-bicycle market is anticipated to generate $6.9 billion in worldwide revenue in 2012, growing to $11.9 billion in 2018.

Under a more aggressive forecast scenario, worldwide e-bicycle sales could reach 51 million units and $13.2 billion revenue in 2018, the cleantech market intelligence firm forecasts.

The vast majority of the e-bicycles sold in China, the world’s largest market, utilize sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries. While this has resulted in extremely low-cost e-bicycles in China, it has also led to a number of challenges including e-bicycle traffic congestion, lead contamination, and manufacturers effectively ignoring laws relating to e-bicycles speed and weight limits. Pike Research anticipates that the global penetration of lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries will grow from 6% in 2012 to 12% in 2018. Cost pressures from Asia Pacific will keep manufacturers interested in SLA batteries through this decade, but once manufacturing efficiencies have driven down the costs of Li-ion, we will start to see the decline of SLA as the battery of choice in e-bicycles.

Lux Research believes larger-scale production of Lithium ion batteries will help reduce costs. The effect of scale-up and likely technology improvements bring nominal battery pack cost only to $397/kWh in 2020 – far short of the $150/kWh target from the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) and not enough to reach the mass market.

Liquid-like Materials May Pave Way for New Thermoelectric Devices

CalTech researchers have identified a liquid-like compound whose properties give it the potential to be even more efficient than traditional thermoelectrics. The researchers studied a material made from copper and selenium. Although it is physically a solid, it exhibits liquid-like behaviors due to the way its copper atoms flow through the selenium's crystal lattice.

"It's like a wet sponge," explains Jeff Snyder, a faculty associate in applied physics and materials science in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and a member of the research team. "If you have a sponge with very fine pores in it, it looks and acts like a solid. But inside, the water molecules are diffusing just as fast as they would if they were a regular liquid. That's how I imagine this material works. It has a solid framework of selenium atoms, but the copper atoms are diffusing around as fast as they would in a liquid."

The research, led by scientists from the Chinese Academy of Science's Shanghai Institute of Ceramics in collaboration with researchers from Brookhaven National Laboratory and the University of Michigan, as well as from Caltech.

The copper-selenium material has a thermoelectric figure of merit of 1.5 at 1000 degrees Kelvin, one of the highest values in any bulk material.

In this diagram, the blue spheres represent selenium atoms forming a crystal lattice. The orange regions in between the atoms represent the copper atoms that flow through the crystal structure like a liquid. This liquid-like behavior is what gives the selenium-copper material its unique thermoelectric properties.
[Credit: Caltech/Jeff Snyder/Lance Hayashida]

Nature Materials - Copper ion liquid-like thermoelectrics

Sanmen Westinghouse AP1000 reactor connected to offsite power for testing

Germany taking another step towards to the Full bailout of troubled European countries

Washington Post - Germany has backed down from its resistance to boosting Europe’s financial firewalls, after Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was open to temporarily boosting the eurozone’s bailout funds to €700 billion ($930 billion). But the move still falls short of what may be needed to protect Italy and Spain from collapse. The European political leaders have kept trying to do the minimum but as the minimum needed increases they have reluctantly stepped up and increased the minimum. This indicates that the muddle through financial scenario is playing out. Why would the leaders stop at $700 billion euros in bailout and over 1 trillion euros in other loans and however many trillions of US dollars ? If they have to dump in a few more hundred billion euros or a trillion it will happen.

The 17 euro countries are currently debating how to move from their old bailout fund — the €440 billion European Financial Stability Facility, which is already providing €192 billion in loans to Greece, Ireland and Portugal — to a new, permanent rescue fund — the €500 billion European Stability Mechanism.

The ESM is set to come into force in July, but under current policy, old bailouts would have to be subtracted from its overall capacity, meaning that it could give only a little over €300 billion in new loans. That is seen as way too little to effectively help large economies like Italy and Spain, which together have more than €2.5 trillion in debts.

On Monday, Merkel said her government was open to let the €200 billion in existing commitments run in parallel to the ESM, which would raise the overall capacity to some €700 billion until the old loans have been paid back.

An increase to just €700 billion falls short of demands from the European Commission, the European Union’s executive, and other euro countries, which would prefer seeing the bailout capacity rise to €940 billion.

The UK Independent has more coverage of how increasing the bailout to €940 billion would word

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