October 27, 2012

CalBattery Anode Material Triples Capacity While Lowering Battery Cost up to 70%

California Lithium Battery, a finalist in DOE’s 2012 Start Up America’s Next Top Energy Innovator challenge, has announced the record-setting performance of its new “GEN3” silicon graphene composite anode material for lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). Independent test results in full cell LIBs indicate the new GEN3 anode material, used with advanced cathode and electrolyte materials, increases energy density by 3 times and specific anode capacity by 4 times over existing LIBs.

For eight months CalBattery has been working with Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) to commercialize a novel lithium battery anode material for use with advanced cathode and electrolyte materials to achieve new levels of LIB performance. The work is showing extraordinary results. Independent full cell tests reveal unrivaled performance characteristics, with an energy density of 525WH/Kg and specific anode capacity 1,250mAh/g. In contrast, most commercial LIBs have an energy density of between 100-180WH/kg and a specific anode capacity of 325mAh/g. “This equates to more than a 300% improvement in LIB capacity and an estimated 70% reduction in lifetime cost for batteries used in consumer electronics, EVs, and grid-scale energy storage,” said CalBattery CEO Phil Roberts.

India aspires to be a Superpower but must overcome incompetence, bureaucracy and corruption

Der Spiegel - Poverty is still rampant in India and chaos remains a defining characteristic. But the country is also a global leader in high tech, has become the world's leading weapons importer and is planning a mission to Mars. On the way to superpower status, India must first overcome deep-seated corruption and internal division.

So long as India has massive illiteracy, India will not be able to develop that portion of the population in any meaningful way. An India that is 60% undeveloped will not be a superpower. This seems unlikely to be overcome in one generation. India will then have at best an active and significantly developed population of about 500 million and 1 billion still undeveloped in say 25 years. India also has to demonstrate that they will develop the needed infrastructure (energy and roads and cities) that will enable a fully developed economy. Until this happens India will not develop as fast or as far as China.

There is no doubt that India feels that it has arrived. Some of its politicians and business leaders believe it has reached a status as a third superpower, alongside the United States and China. On August 15, the country celebrated the 65th anniversary of its independence from British rule with elaborate parades. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, 79, promised: "No power in the world can stop our country from achieving new heights of progress and development."

There is one India, the high-tech powerhouse of a rising global power, backed up by numbers and proof of its prowess. But then there is the other India: where one in three of the world's malnourished children lives; where two-thirds of the population lives on less than $2 a day; where half the population has no access to toilets and 25 percent still cannot read and write. It's also a country where the power supply is so scandalously unreliable that, in late July, almost 700 million people were without lights and electricity for two days, the railroads stopped running, factories stood idle and some hospitals were crippled.

Is India on the road to becoming a superpower? Or is it condemned to forever remain a developing-world power, on the outside looking in?

India aspires to be the next university superpower but only 40% attend secondary school now

BBC News - India has ambitious plans to increase graduate numbers in a way which would give it the size and status of an education superpower.

The figures are staggering. India's government speaks of increasing the proportion of young people going to university from 12% at present to 30% by 2025 - approaching the levels of many Western countries.

It wants to expand its university system to meet the aspirations of a growing middle class, to widen access, and become a "knowledge powerhouse".

It will mean increasing the country's student population from 12 million to over 30 million, and will put it on course to becoming one of the world's largest education systems.

While more than 95% of children now attend primary school, just 40% attend secondary school, according to the World Bank. That in itself will limit growth in university enrolment.

"What is achievable is adding perhaps 10 million students to existing capacity in the next five to seven years," he says.

That would still be a major achievement, but some way from making India an education superpower.

With 20 years’ notice, white paint pellets could deflect an asteroid

MIT.edu - in the event that a giant asteroid is headed toward Earth, you’d better hope that it’s blindingly white. A pale asteroid would reflect sunlight — and over time, this bouncing of photons off its surface could create enough of a force to push the asteroid off its course.

How might one encourage such a deflection? The answer, according to an MIT graduate student: with a volley or two of space-launched paintballs.

Sung Wook Paek, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, says if timed just right, pellets full of paint powder, launched in two rounds from a spacecraft at relatively close distance, would cover the front and back of an asteroid, more than doubling its reflectivity, or albedo. The initial force from the pellets would bump an asteroid off course; over time, the sun’s photons would deflect the asteroid even more.

October 26, 2012

Could neuro-feedback and brain implants cause a technological singularity?

There are multiple potential paths to a technological singularity. Although many people think a singularity would result if computers acquired sentience and general intelligence, a singularity might also happen if methods were found to increase the IQ of individuals and populations. In Singularity Rising: Surviving and Thriving in a Smarter, Richer, and More Dangerous World , the economist James Miller argues that a technological singularity is highly probable in the 21st century. The cognitive performance of humans can be enhanced by drugs, environmental changes, neuro-feedback, and even implanting electronic devices in or near the brain. In an interview with Sander Olson for Next Big Future, Dr. Miller describes a future world in which parents use genetic enhancing technologies to increase the capabilities of their offspring, the best ways to bring about a friendly AI, and the signs that could appear indicating that a singularity is imminent.

James Miller

Question: You recently attended at the Singularity Summit 2012 conference. What did you take away from that conference?

The participants were a high-powered group. I've been attending since 2007, and I've noticed that there is quite a bit more acceptance of these concepts than even five years ago. I also noticed that there were more potential investors there than in previous years. We are making steady AGI progress, and interest in this field is clearly increasing.

Nuclear Reactor Startups Expected for 2013 through 2017

Here is the updated list of new Nuclear reactor that are expected to start operation from 2013 through 2017

2013    India, NPCIL    Kudankulam 2    PWR     950
2013    Korea, KHNP     Shin Wolsong 2  PWR     1000
2013    Korea, KHNP     Shin-Kori 3     PWR     1350
2013    Russia          Leningrad II-1  PWR     1070
2013    Argentina, CNEA Atucha 2        PHWR    692
2013    China, CNNC  Sanmen 1        PWR     1250
2013    China, CGNPC  Ningde 2        PWR     1080
2013    China, CGNPC  Yangjiang 1     PWR     1080
2013    China, CGNPC  Taishan 1       PWR     1700
2013    China, CNNC  Fangjiashan 1   PWR     1080
2013    China, CNNC  Fuqing 1        PWR     1080
2013    China, CGNPC  Hongyanhe 2     PWR     1080
2013  India, Bhavini  Kalpakkam       FBR      470
2014    Finland, TVO    Olkilouto 3     PWR     1600
2014    Russia          Vilyuchinsk     PWR x 2   70
2014    Russia, Rosener Novovoronezh II-1 PWR   1070
2014    Slovakia, SE  Mochovce 3      PWR      440
2014    Slovakia, SE  Mochovce 4      PWR      440
2014    Taiwan Power  Lungmen 1  ABWR    1300
2014    China, CNNC  Sanmen 2  PWR     1250
2014    China, CPI  Haiyang 1  PWR     1250
2014    China, CGNPC  Ningde 3  PWR     1080
2014    China, CGNPC  Hongyanhe 3  PWR     1080
2014    China, CGNPC  Hongyanhe 4  PWR     1080
2014    China, CGNPC  Yangjiang 2  PWR     1080
2014    China, CGNPC  Taishan 2  PWR     1700
2014    China, CNNC  Fangjiashan 2  PWR     1080
2014    China, CNNC  Fuqing 2  PWR     1080
2014    China, CNNC  Changjiang 1  PWR      650
2014    Korea, KHNP  Shin-Kori 4  PWR     1350
2014    Japan, Chugoku  Shimane 3  ABWR    1375
2014    Japan, EPDC/J Power  Ohma 1  ABWR    1350
2014    Russia          Beloyarsk 4     FNR      750

October 25, 2012

Israel may have bombed a Munitions Factory in Sudan

The Atlantic - Yesterday, Sudanese culture and information minister Ahmed Bilal Osman alleged that the previous evening, four Israeli fighter jets flew over Khartoum from the east and partially destroyed the Yarmouk munitions factory, in the city's south.

Israel may have done it for a few reasons:
1. To slow and reduce the amount of arms destined for the Gaza Strip
2. To practice a long range 1900 kilometer mission that would have some parallels to the effort to strike Iran's nuclear facility
3. To give credibility to the military option to strike Iran.

There's really only one country that has the capabilities or the motive to wage a pinpointed aerial assault on a single wing of a single weapons facility in the southern reaches of city of a 5 million people: Israel. The defense ministers of Sudan and Iran signed a "military cooperation agreement" in 2008. Sudan has hosted Iranian Revolutionary Guard personnel, and allegedly served as a transit point for weapons bound for Hamas, in the Gaza Strip.

Israel might have struck inside the Sudan before: once, in early 2009, when it allegedly destroyed a 23-truck weapons smuggling convoy in the country's east, and again in April of 2011, when Israel might have been responsible for the bombing of a Hamas arms trafficker in Port Sudan. Assuming it was also Israel's doing, the destruction of the weapons facility would represent another level of audacity. "I would say that if the Sudanese government's claims are correct, then this is longest strike -- the farthest strike -- ever executed by the Israeli air force," says Ehud Yaari, the Israel-based Lafer International Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "We are talking about something that is 1,800 or 1,900 kilometers [from Israel], depending on the route. That's farther away than the range from Israel to the main Iranian nuclear installations in Natanz and Qom."

Windows 8 Marks the end of the PC

EETimes - a veteran PC executive (Shapiro) claims the new operating system marks the beginning of the end for PCs and the OEMs who make them.

Shapiro claims over time Microsoft will deemphasize traditional desktops and their compiled x86 apps in favor of iPad-like tablets like Microsoft Surface and their interpreted apps. The move parallels how Windows initially included then later discarded DOS.

“Everyone invested in [traditional PCs] is screwed,” said Shapiro, who spent 14 years at IBM before becoming a consultant and entrepreneur. “With Metro and Windows 8, Microsoft is essentially walking away from the PC and leaving it to die,” he said.

Popular Science has an overall negative feature of Andrea Rossi but Hopeful on LENR

Popular Science has a length feature on Andrea Rossi and his energy catalyzer.

After a lot of Rossi background with some new reportage, conclusion is not favorable

I removed all identifying information and sent the report to an expert at NASA experienced in conducting third-party validation tests. While the NASA expert didn’t entirely refute the report’s findings, the test protocols and conclusions didn’t meet the standards of a credible third-party evaluation. The outcome wasn’t surprising, but I was disappointed nonetheless. Some small part of me wanted Rossi to prove my suspicions wrong.

The director of the Hot Cat test, a retired colonel and friend of Rossi’s, leaked the test results on the Web a week after Rossi sent them to me. The enthusiastic colonel “could not help to talk about this event and the remarkable results,” Rossi said on his blog. Rossi used the occasion to make another big announcement: The University of Bologna would conduct a new independent test of the Hot Cat and publish the results in October. When I contacted Dario Braga, vice rector for research at the University of Bologna, he unequivocally denied any official relationship between the university and Rossi. “I’m not aware of any work being done by our scientists with Mr. Rossi in a formally correct way,” Braga said. “I don’t know how Mr. Rossi can say this.”

If history is any guide, no such report would be issued. Rossi will reset the goalposts—the only thing he does with any consistency—and forestall his day of reckoning for another few months, and then another few months after that, until finally he disappears from the stage in a puff of smoke, taking his black box with him.

All twenty Canadian Nuclear Reactors are Operating

World Nuclear News - All twenty of Canada's nuclear power reactors are on line now that Point Lepreau has been reconnected to the grid after refurbishment.

The reactor unit in the province of New Brunswick is in the final stages of commissioning after a troubled overhaul. It was grid-synchonised on 23 October, said owner NB Power, to supply power for the first time since refurbishment began four years ago. The company noted that remaining commissioning tasks include increasing and decreasing power, disconnecting from the grid and reconnecting. After this the reactor will return to routine operation and supply power continuously.

What is Microsoft's worst case scenario for the next five years ?

Here are Microsoft's third quarter revenue and income.

Quarterly Operating income (loss) 2012        2011 (comparing 3rd quarters) 

Windows & Windows Live Division  $   1,646   $3,270
Server and Tools                     1,748    1,565
Online Services Division             (364)     (514)
Microsoft Business Division          3,646    3,717
Entertainment and Devices Division      19      340
Corporate-level activity            (1,387)  (1,175)
Consolidated                        $ 5,308  $7,203


Windows & Windows Live Division  $   3,244  $ 4,874
Server and Tools                     4,552    4,216
Online Services Division               697      641
Microsoft Business Division          5,502    5,635
Entertainment and Devices Division   1,946    1,961
Unallocated and other                  67       45
Consolidated                       $16,008  $17,372

Windows 8 is launching now and could likely be a relative flop for consumers.

$2 million DARPA rescue robot competition

NY Times - The Pentagon’s advanced research agency said on Wednesday that it will offer a prize of $2 million to the winners of a contest testing the performance of robots that could be used in emergencies like the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan.

In one competition the contestants will build their own robots, while in a second they will design software to control a humanoid-style robot supplied by the government and developed by Boston Dynamics, a developer of advanced mobile robots. Boston Dynamics is known for the Big Dog robot it developed for Darpa, which walks on four legs and is able to carry heavy loads on uneven ground.

October 24, 2012

Magnets steer medical 50 micron microbots through blood vessels

IEEE Spectrum - October 2006 was the first time anyone had steered an object wirelessly through the blood vessel of a living creature. Microrobots would be able to travel deep inside the body, cruising our tiniest blood vessels to places that catheters can’t go and performing tasks that would be impossible without invasive procedures.

A team at École Polytechnique de Montréal has made enormous progress on the problem. They have designed magnetic drug carriers as small as 50 micrometers that they can steer, like the metal bead inside the pig, through large arteries and arterioles using an MRI machine. To reach tumors deeper in the body, they need robots too small to be powered by technology. And so they have turned to nature, harnessing swarms of swimming bacteria to serve as drug mules.

Spinal cord damage repaired

New Scientist - Paralysis may no longer mean life in a wheelchair. A man who is paralysed from the trunk down has recovered the ability to stand and move his legs unaided thanks to training with an electrical implant.

A 16-electrode array implanted into the lower region of his spinal cord, which stimulated spinal nerves with continuous electrical activity and training helped to restore function.

Andrew Meas of Louisville, Kentucky, says it has changed his life (see "I suddenly noticed I can move my pinkie", below). The stimulus provided by the implant is thought to have either strengthened persistent "silent" connections across his damaged spinal cord or even created new ones, allowing him to move even when the implant is switched off.

The results are potentially revolutionary, as they indicate that the spinal cord is able to recover its function years after becoming damaged.

Previous studies in animals with lower limb paralysis have shown that continuous electrical stimulation of the spinal cord below the area of damage allows an animal to stand and perform locomotion-like movements. That's because the stimulation allows information about proprioception – the perception of body position and muscle effort – to be received from the lower limbs by the spinal cord. The spinal cord, in turn, allows lower limb muscles to react and support the body without any information being received from the brain

The Journal of Neuroscience - Novel and Direct Access to the Human Locomotor Spinal Circuitry (2010)

Lancet (2011) - Effect of epidural stimulation of the lumbosacral spinal cord on voluntary movement, standing, and assisted stepping after motor complete paraplegia: a case study

Nextbigfuture overview of emerging energy technology

The biggest potential wildcards are LENR (aka cold fusion) commercial maybe in 3 years, small hot fusion projects could do something (commercial maybe in 8 years).

Relatively straightforward and certain are small modular fission and new annular fission fuel cylinders (not rods). The annular fuel is quite certain to head to commercialization in South Korea and Lightbridge a small US company. Those should boostv (uprate) existing reactors in the 2020-2030 deployment timeframe by 20% and then again by another 20% in the decade after.

Small modular reactors - China is building a 200 MWe pebble bed reactor. Conservative design. Should be able to factory mass produce in 2 years. Modular large reactors are building in 4-5 years in China and South Korea. Other places have slower construction processes. There are other small modular reactor projects. Commercial successes will be China, South Korea, Russia and then India. The US projects are interesting but the emerging countries are growing power needs by 5-10% per year. They will favor their own national projects. US and Europe are virtually stagnant building power generation. Cheap natural gas in the United States will blunt any emerging energy generation construction for 15 years.

There are thorium projects but tough to see rapid commercial success. China and India will push it some, but there will only be a few reactors in the 2018-2025 timeframe.

Kite wind power could get going. Would be big improvement over turbines.

Space based solar could have things come together for it. Spacex getting a reusable rocket that lowers space costs by 100 times. Using space based mirrors at relatively low orbits and reflecting light onto large ground based solar farms at night. It would even out generation on the ground facilities.

A constellation of 12 or more mirror satellites is proposed in a polar sun synchronous orbit at an altitude of approximately 1000 km above the earth.

Each mirror satellite in the constellation has a diameter of approximately 10 km and each terrestrial solar electric field site has a similar diameter and can produce approximately 5 GW per terrestrial site. Assuming that approximately 50 terrestrial solar electric field sites are evening distributed in sunny locations near cities around the world, this system can produce more affordable solar electric power during the day and further into the morning and evening hours. The typical operating hours for a terrestrial solar electric field site can thus be extended from approximately 8 hours per day by 50% to approximately 12 hours per day. Assuming a cost of electricity of 10 cents per kWh and a projected launch cost to orbit of $1500 per kg for the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle, the cost of this mirror constellation system should be recovered in approximately 2.7 years from the additional solar electricity sales. The proposed system is cheaper because it does not convert to electricity. It is only mirrors that shown on ground based solar farms at night

10 km diameter satellite mirror array shown with 1 km mirror elements to simplify the drawing. Smaller mirror elements can be used such as the 0.5 km mirror elements proposed for the ISC Space Power Satellite. Even smaller mirrors can be used with more mirror elements then required. The optimum mirror size would require more detailed design study.

Ultra-High Temperature Ceramics could enable hypersonic planes

HYPERSONIC aircraft that could fly from Sydney to Madrid in less than two hours could be closer to reality following Australian scientific work with clay.

Ultra-High Temperature Ceramics are promising materials for hypersonic aircraft parts because they offer good thermomechanical properties under extreme conditions and they do it without compromising the integrity of the overall structure, Dr Tallon says.

The UHTCs can also be formed into complex shapes.

Using chemistry to modify a standard method of casting ceramics in a mould, the researchers have developed an alternative to the traditional technique of forming these ceramics as blocks at high temperatures and pressures.

Railgun test firing at 5600 mph and 100 mile range

Smartplanet - the first Navy railgun prototype was developed by military contractor BAE systems and a second railgun was developed by General Atomics. General Atomics recently announced a successful test firing shortly after the delivery of their “Advanced Containment Launcher” to the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, Virgina. Both railguns have proved capable of sending projectiles a distance of 100+ nautical miles at speeds of up to 5,600 mph. That’s almost eight times farther and two times faster than conventional guns.

October 23, 2012

Ambri Liquid Metal Battery Company

Gigaom - Bill Gates, Khosla Ventures and oil giant Total back a liquid metal battery company called Ambri

Ambri is developing a battery for the power grid using molten salt sandwiched between two layers of liquid metal. The battery is still about two years from commercialization, and the team has built a 16-inch prototype, though they might scale that up to 36 inches. The team is still figuring out if they want the battery to be squarish or circular.

The base unit for Ambri’s solution is the liquid metal battery cell. Each cell is a 16-inch square unit containing about 1200 Wh. Cells are placed into refrigerator-sized modules, and the modules are placed in to a 40-ft shipping container rated at 500 kW and 2 MWh storage capacity.

Carnival of space 272

Apple unveils the IPad Mini starting at $329 for 16GB with WIFI and $559 for 32GB with Cellular and new IPad

NBC News - The IPad Mini has an Apple A5 chip, FaceTime HD front-facing camera, a 5MP iSight camera on back, LTE cellular wireless, faster 802.11 A/B/G/N Wi-Fi and of course a Lightning connector.

It's got 10 hours of battery life, just like fourth-gen iPad. The iPad Mini will start shipping Nov. 2 (for the Wi-Fi only version), and will cost $329 and up. You can pre-order starting Friday, along with the fourth-generation iPad.

The fourth-generation iPad is an update to this spring's iPad with Retina display, featuring a faster chip, the A6X. A6X chip - delivering faster performance. "

China's Urbanization Dividend will be key to rebalancing the economy

Barrons - Minggao Shen, head of Citi’s China research, says urbanization will likely be key to rebalancing China’s economy and for the next leg of growth –and that’s good news for a host of firms.

The scale of that urbanization has no precedent, with as many as about 600 million people moving to the cities in the next 20 years, Shen says. While authorities are encouraging farmers to migrate to local small towns rather than overcrowding large cities, migrant workers will likely follow job opportunities. As a result, Shen thinks the urbanization will occur in megaregions or urban zones, in part because of the development of high speed rail systems and also because of where college student enrollment is high.

“Five mega-regions may gradually emerge as the key centers of urbanization, led by what we term the “XYZ” urban zones in the Pan Bohai Bay Area (X), Pearl River Delta (Y, including Hong Kong and Macau) and Yangtze River Delta (Z). These three regions accounted for 28% of China’s population and 41% its GDP in 2011, and will likely gain further in the next two decades given their locational advantages,” he writes.

Nextbigfuture has covered the Bohai and other emerging megaregions of China.

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

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

State-of-the-Art Electron Beams From Table-Top Accelerators

The rapidly evolving technology of laser plasma accelerators (LPAs) – called “table-top accelerators” because their length can be measured in centimeters instead of kilometers – promises a new breed of machines, far less expensive and with far less impact on the land and the environment than today’s conventional accelerators.

Future LPAs offer not only compact high-energy colliders for fundamental physics but diminutive light sources as well. These will probe chemical reactions, from artificial photosynthesis to “green catalysis”; unique biological structures, inaccessible to other forms of microscopy yet essential to understanding life and health; and new materials, including low-temperature superconductors, topological insulators, spintronics devices, and graphene nanostructures, which will revolutionize the electronics industry. With intensely bright beams spanning the spectrum from microwaves to gamma rays, table-top accelerators will open new vistas of science.

LOASIS has produced well-formed electron beams of up to a billion electron volts in laser plasma accelerators just 3.3 centimeters long. A typical laser set-up is shown above, with the billion-electron-volt accelerating module in the inset. Below, a laser wakefield accelerates a pulse of electrons (bright yellow and green) in this simulation by Cameron Geddes. (Photos Roy Kaltschmidt, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

Physical Review Letters - Low-Emittance Electron Bunches from a Laser-Plasma Accelerator Measured using Single-Shot X-Ray Spectroscopy

China considering major economic reforms

Reuters - China's top leaders have asked policy think-tanks to draw up their most ambitious economic reform proposals in decades that could curb the power of state firms and give more freedom to the setting of interest rates and the yuan currency.

But after almost 10 years of delay to painful structural reforms by the outgoing leadership, some of the authors of the proposals told Reuters they fear a nascent rebound in economic growth could derail the recommended agenda.

High on the list drawn up by the advisers is how to contain the government's meddling in the economy and clip the wings of more than 100,000 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) which enjoy enormous privileges, including preferential access to bank lending and government contracts.

Other reforms include allowing the market to set the cost of bank credit, land and various natural resources.

October 22, 2012

China Huawei smartphone larger than Samsung Galaxy Note 2

Coded TCP enables ten to twenty times more bandwidth

Technology Review - Academic researchers have improved wireless bandwidth by an order of magnitude—not by adding base stations, tapping more spectrum, or cranking up transmitter wattage, but by using algebra to banish the network-clogging task of resending dropped packets. The practical benefits of the technology, known as coded TCP, were seen on a recent test run on a New York-to-Boston Acela train, notorious for poor connectivity. Medard and students were able to watch blip-free YouTube videos while some other passengers struggled to get online.

By providing new ways for mobile devices to solve for missing data, the technology not only eliminates this wasteful process but also can seamlessly weave data streams from Wi-Fi and LTE.

Testing the system on Wi-Fi networks at MIT, where 2 percent of packets are typically lost, Medard's group found that a normal bandwidth of one megabit per second was boosted to 16 megabits per second. In a circumstance where losses were 5 percent—common on a fast-moving train—the method boosted bandwidth from 0.5 megabits per second to 13.5 megabits per second. In a situation with zero losses, there was little if any benefit, but loss-free wireless scenarios are rare.

US Navy now expects laser cannons on ships in Just Two Years Away

Wired Danger Room - ” Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, the chief of the Office of Naval Research, the Navy’s chief futurist is pushing up the anticipated date for when sailors can expect to use laser weapons on the decks of their ships, and raising expectations for robotic submarines. The US Navy should have laser cannons on ships in two years instead of March, 2012 estimates of four years.

Klunder isn’t worried about the ships generating sufficient energy to fill the laser gun’s magazine, which has been an engineering concern of the Navy’s for years. “I’ve got the power,” said Klunder, who spoke during the Office of Naval Research’s biennial science and technology conference. “I just need to know on this ship, this particular naval vessel, what are the power requirements, and how do I integrate that directed energy system or railgun system.”

Shipboard testing is underway. Klunder wouldn’t elaborate, but he said that there have been “very successful” tests placing laser weapons on board a ship.

There was a study in 2011 of laser weapons for the Navy

It is likely that this is still looking at the 100 kilowatt class weapons for shooting down drones and small boats.

They will later get the upgrades to get to the megawatt class weapons for shooting down missiles and handling other targets.

Adam Crowl Examines Space Travel to Alpha Centauri

1. Nuclear fusion, assisted by magnetic sails, gets us to Alpha Centauri in ~50 years.

How do we get there faster? Absent annihilation drives, powered by gamma-ray lasing matter-antimatter reactions or Hawking decaying force-fed mini-black holes, then we need to get the power-supply off the space vehicle and send fuel, momentum and energy to the vehicle as it accelerates. “Centauri Dreams” has covered a number of notable options just recently – the laser-powered ramjet, the laser-powered rocket and, of course, the Bussard ramjet itself.

Then there’s the various light, laser, microwave and momentum sails that have been proposed over time.

Laser pushed sail using space based solar power

We’ll assume a 1,000 tonne payload, 1,000 tonne mag-sail and 400 tonnes of laser-sail. A 5,000 terawatt laser accelerates the sail to 0.5c in about 0.8 years – a total energy expenditure of 1.26E+23 joules. How much power is 5,000 terawatts? Earth receives 174,400 terawatts from the Sun, absorbing 122,200 terawatts of that. Balancing out the heat-flows in Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, equator-wards of the Tropics is a region that gains energy, while pole-wards of the Tropics are regions which lose net energy back into space. Energy flows northwards and southwards via the winds and oceans – the winds carrying about 5,000 terawatts in both directions. Thus our laser-sail needs about 50% of the Earth’s wind-power available.

In the late 1970s NASA and the US DoE studied Solar Power Satellites (SPS) – one estimate was that a 5 gigawatt SPS would mass ~50,000 tonnes. Thus 5,000 terawatts would require 1 million SPS with a total mass of ~50 billion tonnes. Of course techniques have improved considerably since the 1970s – some ultra-light SPS designs approach ~1,000 tonnes per gigawatt. To go much lighter we need to move them closer to the Sun – if we can operate them at 1,000 K then we can park them just 0.1 AU from the Sun. There our “1 gigawatt” SPS can generate 100 gigawatts. Thus ~5 million tonnes of near-Solar SPS will power the lasers for our starships.

NASA Exoskeleton Could Give Astronauts, Paraplegics Improved Mobility and Strength

NASA and The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) of Pensacola, Fla., with the help of engineers from Oceaneering Space Systems of Houston, have jointly developed a robotic exoskeleton called X1. The 57-pound device is a robot that a human could wear over his or her body either to assist or inhibit movement in leg joints.

Project Engineer Roger Rovekamp demonstrates the X1 Robotic Exoskeleton for resistive exercise, rehabilitation and mobility augmentation in the Advanced Robotics Development Lab. Image courtesy of Robert Markowitz

Australia's Queensland will permit uranium mining and Japanese nuclear reactors will have systems to prevent hydroegen explosions

1. After years of staunchly opposing uranium mining, Queensland state (austrialia's northeast) has had a sudden change of heart. The state government says it plans to restart an industry that’s been dormant since 1982 so it can unlock deposits of the nuclear fuel worth 10 billion Australian dollars (US$10.3 billion).

That’s good news for listed miners like Paladin Energy, Canada’s Mega Uranium and Laramide Resources that kept hold of uranium assets in Queensland when rivals including Rio Tinto were losing patience and selling out.

Laramide says its Westmoreland project, formerly owned by Rio Tinto, has reserves of 51.9 million pounds of uranium.

World Nuclear Outlook to 2030

The World Nuclear Supply Chain: Outlook 2030 has been produced by the World Nuclear Association

Revised scenarios for nuclear generating capacity in individual countries and areas have been incorporated into the report, feeding into three scenarios for world nuclear capacity up to 2030. The scenarios are based on differing underlying economic and political trends but are all described as 'plausible'," informs the report.

The reference scenario, which includes an assumption that most countries will continue with their pre-Fukushima nuclear plans, sees nuclear capacity growing at an average 2.3% per year from its current 364 GWe (gigawatt electrical) to 411 GWe by 2015, reaching 471 GWe by 2020 and 614 GWe by 2030.

The upper scenario sees 416 GWe by 2015, 518 GWe by 2020 and 790 GWe by 2030. Under both scenarios, the figures are slightly lower than in the previous edition of the report published in 2009.

IEA Iraq Oil Outlook

The International Energy Agency has an Iraq Energy Outlook, that projects Iraq oil production out to 2035. (142 pages)

Iraq could double its production by the end of the decade, reaching 6.1 million barrels a day by 2020 from the 3 million barrels it currently turns out.

The country, currently the third-largest oil exporter, could top 8.3 million barrels by 2035, making it “by far the largest contributor to global supply growth,” according to the report.

The country will need more than $530 billion in investments to meet the forecast levels for oil, gas and power supply through 2035. That’s $25 billion a year in this decade alone, according to the report. Iraq received $9 billion in energy funding last year

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 127

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 127 is up at the ANS Nuclear Cafe.

Canadian Energy Issues - The Bruce nuclear station near Tiverton Ontario will soon have an eighth operating reactor unit, and a total operating capacity of 6,300 megawatts. The refurbished CANDU unit 2, laid up since the late 1990s, began putting power into the Ontario grid at ten-thirty on Monday night. Bruce Power, the private company that runs the plant (the reactors are owned by Ontario Power Generation and leased to Bruce) has begun final commissioning of the unit. This gives the Bruce station an even bigger margin as by far the biggest nuclear plant in North America..

Unit 2 had an original nameplate capacity of 750 megawatts, though I think it will be able to generate more than that (around 787 MW, if you divide 6,300 by 8)

Nextbigfuture reviews the list of 14 new nuclear reactors (or reactors like the Bruce reactors that went through a long refurb and have not generated for many years) that were expected in 2012. So 9 of 14 have started and are generating some power. It is expected that 12 of 14 should be operating by the of 2012. Several of the 2011 grid connections did not generate full power until 2012.

Highlights of Wired Interview of Elon Musk

Wired interviewed Elon Musk Elon talks about some improvements that have been and will be made by Spacex with its rocket technology.

[Elon] We needed to set rocket technology on a path of rapid improvement. In the course of trying to put together Mars Oasis, I had talked to a number of people in the space industry and got a sense of who was technically astute and who wasn’t. So I put together a team, and over a series of Saturdays I had them do a feasibility study about building rockets more efficiently. It became clear that there wasn’t anything to prevent us from doing it. Rocket technology had not materially improved since the ’60s—arguably it had gone backward! We decided to reverse that trend.

October 21, 2012

Defkalion releases third party test results

Forbes - Defkalion has released information about some third party testing.

Here is the 19 page report at Defkalion Energy.

On October 18, Defkalion published two documents: An executive summary and an extensive report of tests of their system in which the names of third parties who witnessed the tests, which were conducted in September in Greece, were redacted.

The reports are very interesting. Here are the conclusions from the summary report (the emphasis is mine):

1. Defkalion was able to demonstrate an excess of energy.

2. They were able to demonstrate that they can fully control the reaction: starting it, stopping it, increasing and decreasing it.

3. They were able to demonstrate that the reaction is dependent on hydrogen gas.

4. The contents of the reactor were removed and weighed to be 59 grams of mass, most of which was a ceramic encasement. Therefore, the reaction appears to produce more energy than a chemical reaction from a known amount with an equivalent mass; implying a nuclear reaction is involved.

5. There were error bands associated with all data obtained which have not yet been completely established. These will need to be addressed in a detailed analysis of this data.

6. It is my opinion that Defkalion is sincerely attempting to accurately measure and demonstrate the performance of their technology with confidence that they can achieve a COP over 1 for a long enough period to exclude any possibility of a chemical reaction.

Upon a preliminary look at the data, the reactor was operating well in excess of a COP of 3.

The executive summary was written by Michael A. Nelson, a NASA employee of some thirty years standing.

I contacted Mr. Nelson and found out that he was not attending the tests as a representative of NASA but rather on behalf of The Free Energy Foundation

European Space Agency has 2018 mission to probe ice on the moon

By 2018 a mission which includes British technology hopes to have landed a robot probe on the surface of the Moon to find out if it has ice present under the surface.

Finding ice would upend scientific orthodoxy and the results of previous lunar missions, which suggested that the Moon was dry.

The £500 million voyage, scheduled for 2018, is being planned by the European Space Agency, of which Britain is a leading member.

It will also be man’s first attempt at landing an object on the south pole of the Moon.

Nexus 7 with 3G and Nexus 7 with LTE

Nexus 7 with 3G Rumors

TheNextWeb has sources indicating that on October 29, Google will release a 32GB variant of the Nexus 7. They also indicate that there will be a second 32GB variant that will offer HSPA+ (3G) support, allowing users to take the tablet on their travels.

They also report that Google will launch the LG Nexus 4, featuring a quad-core 1.5 GHz Qualcomm APQ8064 Snapdragon processor, 4.7-inch 1280 x 768 display, 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera (and 1.3-megapixel front-facing snapper) and a 2100mAh battery. The LG Nexus 4 will also be powered by Google’s new Android 4.2 software.

There are various reports of Nexus 7 with 3G being offered for sale for about 299 euro.

Nexus 7 with LTE Rumors

Android Authority - rumors continue to suggest that other OEMs, namely Samsung, Sony and LG, could work on their own Nexus-branded devices. It is believed that Verizon will have a Nexus 7 with LTE

iPad Mini Specs and Estimated build cost of $195 suggests $299 retail price

Apple Insider - Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said in a research note to investors that the estimated bill of materials (BOM) plus manufacturing costs for Apple's iPad mini will range from $195 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, to $254.50 for the top-of-the-line 64GB 4G LTE version. Comparing these numbers with allegedly leaked retail prices from the UK, Apple will be seeing gross profit margins of 35 percent to 58 percent.

The third-generation iPad, which is also considered a low profit margin product for Apple, grabs a 37 percent to 51 percent margin rate. In contrast, the iPhone 5 is estimated to bring in huge margins of 68 percent to 72 percent.

Robots create more jobs than they displace

Industrial Federation of Robotics - Positive Impact of Industrial Robots on Employment (70 pages)

The statistics mainly point to reduction in employment in manufacturing in the developed countries, but this is often a small reduction. It coincides with an increase in output and an increase in robotics use except in the case of Japan.

The extra number that have gained employment in the years 2000 to 2008 is far greater than the small numbers losing their jobs in manufacturing.

The new jobs have been in:
1) distribution and services, Some of the distribution jobs are the result of manufacturers outsourcing their distribution. In the past these jobs would have been classified as part of manufacturing.
2) and also in new manufacturing applications, particularly using technology advances to create new consumer products [mobile phones, computers, games etc].

In the industrialising countries, as could be expected, there has been a sharp rise in employment in manufacturing, as well as increase in output.

Productivity increases are not just caused by automation and robotics, but it is one of three main factors, along with increased size of manufacturing plants and the globalisation of sourcing. Note: while the IFR numbers provide a clear basis from which to work, it has not always been possible to separate robotics from automation in our analyses.

Rogue Geoengineering to create algae bloom ten times larger than past tests

Guardian UK - An American businessman conducted a massive ocean fertilisation test, dumping around 100 tonnes of iron sulphate off Canada's coast, it has emerged the Canadian government may have known about the geoengineering scheme and not stopped it.

Satellite images appear to confirm the claim by Californian Russ George that the iron has spawned an artificial plankton bloom as large as 10,000 square kilometres. The intention is for the plankton to absorb carbon dioxide and then sink to the ocean bed – a geoengineering technique known as ocean fertilisation that he hopes will net lucrative carbon credits.
The algae bloom was apparently ten times larger than any previous test.

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