November 24, 2012

China first domestic aircraft carrier will launch in 2013

China's first domestically made aircraft carrier will be launched next year and will be commissioned between 2015 and 2016, according to a Hong Kong magazine. After the launch of the first carrier, China will bring a second one on stream two years later, the Mirror said in its December edition.

China plans to build a superb first-class Navy over 20 or 30 years.

In the first decade, China will build three aircraft carrier fleets while in the second decade, it will build two nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.

Defence Tech - A prior announced plan was for China to build aircraft carriers in two stages.

By 2015 there should be two domestic 48,000-64,000 ton Medium-sized conventionally powered aircraft carriers(type 089 aircraft carrier) into the water. while between 2015 and 2020, China will build two 93,000 ton nuclear-powered aircraft carriers( type 085 aircraft carrier )

Domestic carrier in the implementation of the construction plan, China will also develop domestic ship-based fighters; in the second phase, plans to build two medium-sized displacement of 65,000 tons each aircraft carrier, the use of nuclear power plant. The future, China plans to build four Navy aircraft carrier battle groups deployed to the South China Sea and East China Sea, the main purpose is to ensure that China completed military superiority in the ocean and offshore tasks, and the Navy Corps to provide air cover for landing troops air support.

European Space Agency gets 10 billion euro in funding and one of the funded projects is Skylon Spaceplane

Ministers from ESA’s 20 member states and Canada today allocated €10 billion for ESA’s space activities and programmes for the years to come. Ministers secured investments for the detailed definition studies of the new launcher Ariane 6 and the continuation of the development of Ariane 5 ME adapted, with the goal to develop as many commonalities as possible between the two launchers. These activities are funded for two years with a decision on the continuation of both launchers to be taken in 2014.

Here is a 36 page document with detailed program proposals

Britain's contribution to the ESA will increase by around 30 percent to £240m a year over the next five years, as the government seeks to spur growth in the space sector.

Flexible Samsung smartphones to launch in 2013

Trusted Reviews -Samsung is reportedly set to launch its first bendable screened smartphones in 2013. Tipped to launch in the first half of 2013, given the expected release date, it has been rumoured that the first handset to boast a flexible screen will be the high-profile and eagerly awaited Samsung Galaxy S4, a device which has previously been rumoured to be heading for release with a 1080p Full HD display. Giving handsets more than a bendable gimmick, Samsung’s flexible displays would cut down on weight and help make devices almost unbreakable.

Wall Street Journal - Samsung is pushing ahead with plans to start mass production of displays using plastic rather than glass, a move that will make mobile devices unbreakable, lighter and bendable.

Samsung's display unit, Samsung Display Co., is in the last phase of development of so-called flexible displays for mobile devices, which are expected to be released in the first half of next year, a person familiar with the situation said.

It is still unclear when devices using the technology will be available commercially, and Samsung declined to comment on how much it is investing in the displays. Samsung is already sampling the displays with “a few customers.”

Samsung is planning to start mass production of smartphone screens using bendable plastic rather than glass. The WSJ's Yun-Hee Kim talks about Samsung's experiment with flexible technology and why this can lower costs.

Google Maps has indoor floor plans of airports and malls available on Android and Desktops

The indoor floor plans that you’ve been using on Google Maps for Android ( to figure out where you are and what’s around you within many popular indoor locations are now available on Google Maps for your desktop!

Accurate and easy-to-use indoor maps are currently available for select venues -- including airports, malls, transit stations, libraries, museums -- in certain countries. A list of some participating locations across the globe can be found here: Indoor maps are currently available in selected locations in Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Japan, the United Kingdom, the U.S., Sweden, and Switzerland.

Gangnam style is most watched Youtube video and on track to 1 billion

Global sensation PSY and his wildly popular "Gangnam Style" music video surpassed Justin Bieber's "Baby" as the most viewed music video (and overall video) of all time on YouTube. As of noon on Saturday, the viewcounts stood at 805 million to 803 million.

Gangnam Style should reach 1 billion by the middle of December. Nextbigfuture had indicated that it would take 1 billion views to be the most watched video by the end of 2012.

Though it was posted in February of 2010, "Baby" remains popular, continuing to garner between 350k and 500k views per day. PSY's video first spread from South Korea to the rest of the world in early August. It's been a massive hit at a global level unlike anything we've ever seen before. Each day, "Gangnam Style" is still being watched between 7 and 10 million times.

To give you a sense of how quickly "Gangnam Style" has reached this milestone, here's a chart that shows the viewership path each video took as they each approach 1 billion views. The velocity of popularity for PSY's outlandish video is unprecedented:

Japanese robotic system can digitize books at over 250 pages per minute

BFS-Auto can achieve high-speed and high-definition book digitization at over 250 pages/min using the original media format. This performance is realized by three key points: high-speed fully-automated page flipping, real-time 3D recognition of the flipped pages, and high-accuracy restoration to a flat document image.

1. High-speed page flipping machine at 250 pages/min
The automated flipping machine can provide high-speed and labor-saving style of book digitization. The key point is to design the mechanism not to cause obstruction for the scanner while maintaining full speed. The developed system can flip and scan the book at over 250 pages/min without modifying the book by cutting. Therefore, we can finish a book (250 page) within a minute.

Using conservation of momentum to detect the Planck scale quantum foam

Arxiv - Is a tabletop search for Planck scale signals feasible? (8 pages)

Quantum gravity theory is untested experimentally. Could it be tested with tabletop experiments? While the common feeling is pessimistic, a detailed inquiry shows it possible to sidestep the onerous requirement of localization of a probe on Planck length scale. I suggest a tabletop experiment which, given state of the art ultrahigh vacuum and cryogenic technology, could already be sensitive enough to detect Planck scale signals. The experiment combines a single photon's degree of freedom with one of a macroscopic probe to test Wheeler's conception of spacetime foam", the assertion that on length scales of the order Planck's, spacetime is no longer a smooth manifold. The scheme makes few assumptions beyond energy and momentum conservations, and is not based on a speci c quantum gravity scheme

A particle accelerator would require 10**19 GeV to detect the Planck scale.

We propose the idea for a table-top experiment which, depending on the outcome, may confi rm the radical texture of sub-Planckian spacetime, and decide whether the Planck scale is very small or merely microscopic. The idea, in brief, is to use a single optical photon which traverses a dielectric block to engender a translation of the block which can be arranged to be of order the Planck scale. The translation does not hinge on giving a permanent impulse to the block. Certifi cation that the tiny translation actually occurred is to be had from detecting the photon after transit through the block and relying on momentum conservation. But, as discussed below, translation by a distance of order `P is expected to be disfavored. Thus if in a series of like experimental runs the frequency with which the photon is found to get through the block falls short of expectations (from the block's classical transmission coeffi cient), this may signal that spacetime is \rough" at the relevant scale. The scale at which spacetime ceases to be smooth could thus be experimentally determined.

Set up of suspended blocks showing (dotted) the alternative paths for the photon. E is the single-photon emitter, D and D' are the single-photon detectors. BS denotes the beamsplitter and M the mirror. DL is the fiber optics delay line, and EB are the electronics that trigger D and D' through cable C. The optical elements to widen the beam before and focus it after each block are left out for clarity. In the real experiment the blocks would hang side by side.

Technology Review has coverage

M2 measure might indicate and underestimation of China's GDP

If calculated under the central bank’s target of 14 percent year-on-year growth rate of money supply, China’s M2 balance will break 97 trillion yuan by the end of this year. And the number is very much likely to approach or even exceed 100 trillion yuan by the end of the first quarter next year. This number was merely 47.52 trillion yuan by the end of 2008, realizing a “doubling” spending only four years.

Experts say that the major guideline when central bank determines annual money supply is: M2=GDP+CPI+X, thus adding a variable “X” upon nominal economic growth. The existence of variable “X” is mainly due to the monetization of properties (mainly lands).

Wu Xiaoling, former vice president pointed out that with the basic completion of monetization and development of direct financing in China, and along with the implementation of prudent monetary policies, the gap between M2 and the sum of GDP and CPI growth should decrease gradually.

The accumulation of “X” and CPI for over 20 years made the ratio M2/GDP reached 181 percent, compared to that of 86 percent of America.

A number of economic practitioners hold that China's GDP and CPI are underestimated. “China’s M2/GDP ratio being higher than that of America reflects more of the undeveloped capital market of China, not excessive money issuance,” said Wang Qing, general manager of investment banking department of China International Capital Co. Ltd. ,“China’s M2 mainly reflects demand on deposits and financial wealth. If you add America’s stock market, bond market and money market together, the asset scale of those markets is much larger than that of China. China’s M2 is fundamentally all its financial assets.”

Experts also say that grey income should be taken into consideration. That part of funds exists in forms of cash and equivalents in most of the time.

The World Bank provides data on the % of national GDP for each countries M2 money supply Austria, Germany, Netherlands and several other european countries have high M2 levels.

Big eCommerce Days in 2012 in China and the USA compared

Venturebeat-Last week Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba shocked the web with news that its subsidiaries Taobao (like a Chinese eBay) and T-mall (like Amazon) sold a massive $3.06 billion in product in a single 24-hour period. Three billion dollars is almost triple the entire 2011 Black Friday sales of e-commerce sites in the United States, and this is a testament to both the growing maturity of the Chinese online market and the central position Alibaba holds in China.

The two sites, and, share a combined user base of half a billion registered users. That’s only about 30 percent of the total Chinese population, which means that Alibaba has a long runway for continued growth as the Chinese middle class continues to grow — and suggesting that a $10 billion day is not out of the realm of possibility in years to come.

There has been a change in Chinese consumer behavior toward e-commerce “increasingly becoming a primary shopping channel,” according to Alibaba. The entire industry has had double-digit growth year-over-year — since 2010 e-commerce in China has enjoyed an average 10 percent quarter to quarter growth rate — and Alibaba is outpacing the industry.

In addition to a general acceptance of e-commerce as perhaps the first option for shopping, Chinese consumers have been increasingly prone to spend big on “double sticks day,” 11/11. Also referred to as “singles’ day,” Nov. 11 has taken on a rough similarity to our Valentine’s Day. Singles try hard to not be single, couples celebrate that they are couples, and probably many more people are simply happy to dogpile any opportunity to shop big and save big, much like Black Friday in the U.S.

2 billion for Cyber Monday in North America and Europe in 2012

Adobe Systems released its Adobe® Digital Index 2012 Online Shopping Forecast focused on the 2012 holiday shopping season in the U.S. and Europe. Adobe expects Cyber Monday 2012 online revenue for the retail sector to reach $2 billion, growing by 18 percent year-over-year. The company’s data analysis also predicts strong purchasing activity from mobile devices, with mobile representing 21 percent of total online sales this holiday, an increase of 110 percent over last year.

November 23, 2012

Elon Musk talks about an 80,000 person Mars colony - Elon Musk, the billionaire founder and CEO of the private spaceflight company SpaceX, wants to help establish a Mars colony of up to 80,000 people by ferrying explorers to the Red Planet for perhaps $500,000 a trip.

In Musk's vision, the ambitious Mars settlement program would start with a pioneering group of fewer than 10 people, who would journey to the Red Planet aboard a huge reusable rocket powered by liquid oxygen and methane.

"At Mars, you can start a self-sustaining civilization and grow it into something really big," Musk told an audience at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London on Friday (Nov. 16)

Elon Musk lecture at the Royal Aeronautical Society

Futuristic possibilities that were purposely phrased to make them more unlikely

Tom Murphy is a physicist at UCSD who is pessimistic about technology and in particular radical future technology for space and energy

He phrases a survey to make bias a survey of future technologies to skew towards longer times to fulfill them.

For each question, choices are (and the numbers will play a role):

No Opinion
likely within 50 years
likely within 500 years
likely within 5000 years
likely to happen for humans eventually
unlikely to happen for humans
less 1% likely to ever happen, or impossible

1. Have widespread personal transport that can replace the task of driving with a fully-automated piloting system (auto-pilot)?

Within six months it seems likely that the first Sky City skyscraper will be built in Changsha. It will be 220 stories tall and have 104 elevators and have 17400 people in apartments but also have retail stores and offices, so that people could frequently commute inside the building.

China Times - On October 30, 2012, at the National Urban Public Transport Working Conference, 14 cities were rated as the first batch of test sites for “Bus City” construction in China, among which were Changsha, Chongqing, Jinan, Wuhan, Kunming and Dalian. This means that the public transportation industry of Changsha City will enter a fast track of development.

As a “Bus City”, it will be constructed to support a comprehensive passenger transport hub, intelligent transportation system, and a public service information system, as well as to encourage, update, and put to use new energy buses and develop supporting service facilities. The goal is, after 5 years of hard work, for urban busline speed to see significant improvement, and for townspeople to be able get to any bus stop by walking less than 500m and transfer from one bus to another in no more than 5 minutes. Buses will then carry 50% of all road users.

It is conceivable that within 5 years that there could be ten or more Sky Cities in Changsha's downtown and an enhanced intelligent transportation system. The need for cars would be eliminated for 500,000 people in one Chinese city and in perhaps 13 others.

Would it be fully automated. The elevators would be automated. Some of the transporation could be. People mover walkways. Automated systems on rails but with a driver in the system just in case. The systems could be enhanced with google driving systems.

There are robotic driving cars coming from Google.
There is platooning of cars coming from the Europe SARTRE program.

Nuclear Power in India, China and Japan

Japan Times - Kansai Electric Power Co. has presented to potential lenders a business plan that includes reactivating two reactors, in addition to the pair that were brought back online this summer. Targeted for reactivation are units 3 and 4 at the Takahama power plant in Fukui Prefecture. In July, immediately after Kepco rebooted the two Oi reactors, President Makoto Yagi said, "we are thinking Takahama reactors 3 and 4 are most promising" for a next round of reactivation.

"We would like to hold discussions with the government with the view to giving top priority to reactivating them," he added.

The remark drew anger from Yukio Edano, head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and others in the government because it was made before the September inauguration of the NRA, which is aiming to draw up a new set of safety criteria by next July.

China may start building inland nuclear power plants during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) at the earliest," Sun Qin, chairman of China National Nuclear Corp said. He said the country is conducting research and risk evaluation on the construction of inland nuclear power plants, which will take time.

"It is not about the technology. In fact, China's inland nuclear power plant technology is mature," he said. "However, we lack experience with inland projects, and the public needs time to warm up to the idea."

Improved Understanding of Rydberg atoms could lead to scalable quantum information systems

Physicists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Garching near Munich, have now gained fundamental insights into a particular kind of atomic ensemble – a so-called Rydberg gas – that might play a role in the future design of a quantum computer. They observed how "super atoms" formed in the gas and ordered themselves in geometric shapes such as triangles and squares. In future, the researchers intend to control the number and geometric configuration of these super atoms. That would be an important step towards a scalable system for quantum information processing.

A pentagon of super atoms: The illustration depicts the densest possible ordering of five Rydberg excitations in an ensemble of rubidium atoms that are pinned in an optical lattice. © MPI of Quantum Optics

Max Planck Institute develops neural event-triggered functional magnetic resonance imaging

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics have now developed a novel multimodal methodology called "neural event-triggered functional magnetic resonance imaging" (NET-fMRI) and presented the very first results obtained using it in experiments with both anesthetized and awake, behaving monkeys. The new methodology uses multiple-contact electrodes in combination with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the entire brain to map widespread networks of neurons that are activated by local, structure-specific neural events.

The researchers used so-called neural event triggered functional magnetic resonance imaging (NET-fMRI) in both anesthetized and awake, behaving monkeys to characterize the brain areas that consistently increased or decreased their activity in relationship to a certain type of fast hippocampal oscillations known as ripples. Ripples occur primarily during deep sleep and can be measured with electrophysiological methods. Using intracranial recordings of field potentials, the scientists demonstrated that the short periods of aperiodic, recurrent ripples are closely associated with reproducible cortical activations that occur concurrently with extensive activity suppression in other brain structures.

Interestingly, structures were suppressed whose activities could, in principle, interfere with the hippocampal-cortical dialog. The suppression of activity in the thalamus, for instance, reduces signals related to sensory processing, while the suppression of the basal ganglia, the pontine region and the cerebellar cortex may reduce signals related to other memory systems, such as that underlying procedural learning, for example riding a bicycle.

Uranium mine progress in Namibia and Thorium progress in Norway

1. World Nuclear News - the Husab mine project in Namibia is now set to start. It is expected to take 34 months to construct the mine, with uranium production slated to begin sometime in the third quarter of 2015. The operation will be an open pit mine with an acid leach process plant on site. Swakop describes the Husab ore-body as being the third largest uranium-only deopsit in the world. With measured and indicated reserves of about 140,000 tonnes U, it is expected to operate for at least 20 years with an output of approximately 7000 tonnes U3O8 per annum.

2. Smart Planet - A privately held Norwegian company (Thor Energy) will start burning thorium fuel in a conventional test reactor owned by Norway’s government with help from U.S.-based nuclear giant Westinghouse, the company revealed here recently.

The Halden Boiling Water Reactor (HBWR) is a versatile tool for nuclear fuels and materials investigations:

More than 300 positions individually accessible
About 110 positions in central core
About 30 positions for experimental purposes(any of 110/300)
Height of active core 80 cm
Usable length within moderator about 160 cm
Experimental channel Ø:- 70 mm in HBWR moderator- 35-45 mm in pressure flask
Loop systems for simulation of BWR/PWR conditions

Worldwide smartphones and mobile phones shows positive sign during the third quarter

Gartner - Worldwide sales of mobile phones to end users reached almost 428 million units in the third quarter of 2012, a 3.1 percent decline from the third quarter of 2011, according to Gartner, Inc. Smartphone sales accounted for 39.6 percent of total mobile phone sales, as smartphone sales increased 46.9 percent from the third quarter of 2011.

While the mobile phone market declined year-on-year, Gartner analysts said there were positive signs for the industry during the third quarter.

"After two consecutive quarter of decline in mobile phone sales, demand has improved in both mature and emerging markets as sales increased sequentially," said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner. “In China, sales of mobile phones grew driven by sales of smartphones, while demand of feature phones remained weak. In mature markets, we finally saw replacement sales pick up with the launch of new devices in the quarter.”

Dynamically evolving the design of metals in response to stress like aircraft wing that get stronger

Cars that change color at the push of a button; metals that strengthen with use; buildings that harness energy from the wind … research into designing structural materials that are both responsive and functional is shifting such ideas from the realm of fantasy to reality.

Associate Professor Christopher Hutchinson of the Department of Materials Engineering at Monash University foresees a future in which reimagined structural materials would have multi-functional roles.

In practice, such materials would mean that aircraft wings, for example, which currently develop metal fatigue because of constant vibration, would instead grow stronger, remaining safe for much longer.

Spacex will make Methane rocket for Mars

Flightglobal - SpaceX intends to build a methane/liquid oxygen (Lox) engine, said founder Elon Musk, in a shift away from the highly refined kerosene rocket propellant (RP-1) that has powered the company’s previous engines.

Speaking at the Royal Aeronautical Society in London, SpaceX chief executive and lead rocket engineer Musk said Lox and methane would be SpaceX’s propellants of choice on a mission to Mars, which has long been his stated goal.

SpaceX’s initial work will be to build a Lox/methane rocket for a future upper stage, codenamed Raptor. The design of this engine would be a departure from the “open cycle” gas generator system that the current Merlin 1 engine series uses. Instead, the new rocket engine would use a much more efficient “staged combustion” cycle that many Russian rocket engines use.

November 22, 2012

Hybrid printing of mechanically and biologically improved constructs for cartilage tissue engineering applications

A new tissue printer can print cartilage.

Bioprinting is an emerging technique used to fabricate viable, 3D tissue constructs through the precise deposition of cells and hydrogels in a layer-by-layer fashion. Despite the ability to mimic the native properties of tissue, printed 3D constructs that are composed of naturally-derived biomaterials still lack structural integrity and adequate mechanical properties for use in vivo, thus limiting their development for use in load-bearing tissue engineering applications, such as cartilage. Fabrication of viable constructs using a novel multi-head deposition system provides the ability to combine synthetic polymers, which have higher mechanical strength than natural materials, with the favorable environment for cell growth provided by traditional naturally-derived hydrogels. However, the complexity and high cost associated with constructing the required robotic system hamper the widespread application of this approach. Moreover, the scaffolds fabricated by these robotic systems often lack flexibility, which further restrict their applications. To address these limitations, advanced fabrication techniques are necessary to generate complex constructs with controlled architectures and adequate mechanical properties. In this study, we describe the construction of a hybrid inkjet printing/electrospinning system that can be used to fabricate viable tissues for cartilage tissue engineering applications. Electrospinning of polycaprolactone fibers was alternated with inkjet printing of rabbit elastic chondrocytes suspended in a fibrin–collagen hydrogel in order to fabricate a five-layer tissue construct of 1 mm thickness. The chondrocytes survived within the printed hybrid construct with more than 80% viability one week after printing. In addition, the cells proliferated and maintained their basic biological properties within the printed layered constructs. Furthermore, the fabricated constructs formed cartilage-like tissues both in vitro and in vivo as evidenced by the deposition of type II collagen and glycosaminoglycans. Moreover, the printed hybrid scaffolds demonstrated enhanced mechanical properties compared to printed alginate or fibrin–collagen gels alone. This study demonstrates the feasibility of constructing a hybrid inkjet printing system using off-the-shelf components to produce cartilage constructs with improved biological and mechanical properties.

Israeli Drone Cap took out missiles on the ground while Iron Dome took out missiles in the air

Strategy Page - The latest war with between Hamas and Israel was a major test for the Iron Dome anti-missile system. Each battery has radar and control equipment and four missile launchers. Each battery costs about $37 million, which includes over fifty Tamir missiles (costing $40,000 each). In the two years before this month Iron Dome had intercepted over 100 rockets headed for populated areas. In the last week Iron Dome has intercepted at least another 300 rockets.

The Palestinians are believed to have tried to defeat Iron Dome by firing a lot of long range missiles simultaneously at a few cities. In theory this could overwhelm one or two Iron Dome batteries. But Israel was keeping 24/7 UAV watch on Gaza and spotted attempts at large scale simultaneous launchers and bombed many of the launch sites. This resulted in many rockets destroyed on the ground or launching erratically and landing within Gaza or nowhere near where they were aimed. Because Iron Dome can track hundreds of incoming missiles, quickly plot their trajectory and likely landing spot, and ignore the majority that will not land near people, the Palestinians had to try to put hundreds of larger (long range) missiles into the air at the same time to be sure of causing lots of Israeli casualties. The Palestinians were unable to get enough rockets into the air at the same time and at the rate Israeli aircraft were bombing Hamas rocket storage sites (and setting off secondary explosions of the rockets to confirm the hit), the Palestinians would have been out of rockets in another week or so (if there was not a ceasefire).

Russia speeds up nuclear investment to get 50% of power from nuclear by 2050 and 80% by 2100

World Nuclear News - Russian leaders have affirmed the strategic and economic importance of nuclear technology to the country, announcing that spending will rise and a major development program will be accelerated.

Accordingly, as the state nuclear corporation, Rosatom invests in research and development to the tune of RUB23 billion ($737 million) per year, as part of an annual state budget for nuclear programs of RUB60 billion ($1.9 billion). The head of Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko, told the meeting that plans foresee the figure for research and development reaching RUB42 billion ($1.3 billion) in 2020. This is about ten times its value in 2007 when the country began consolidating its nuclear activities within Rosatom.

Laser enrichment for 100,000 tons of Paducah tails

World Nuclear News - The US Department of Energy (DoE) is in preliminary discussions with Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) about establishing a laser enrichment facility at the site of the Paducah gaseous diffusion plant in Kentucky.

GE signed an exclusive commercialization and license agreement with Australia's Silex Systems for the SILEX (Separation of Isotopes by Laser Excitation) uranium enrichment technology in early 2006. GLE was issued with a construction and operation licence in September for a full-scale laser enrichment facility in Wilmington, North Carolina.

According to Silex Systems, the DoE has started talks with GE-Hitachi (GEH) subsidiary GLE to evaluate the possibility of building another laser enrichment plant at the Paducah site to enrich its stockpiles of high-assay depleted uranium tails. The DoE owns some 100,000 tonnes of such tails, which are stored at Paducah as well as at the shut down Portsmouth diffusion enrichment plant in Ohio.

Wise-Uranium - During the enrichment process in uranium enrichment plants, the percentage of the fissile uranium isotope uranium-235 is raised from its natural 0.71% to a reactor grade of 3.2% (for BWRs) or 3.6% (for PWRs). This process not only produces the enriched product, but also a waste stream depleted in uranium-235, typically to 0.3%.
The degree of depletion of uranium-235 in this depleted uranium waste (the "tails assay") is a parameter that can be adjusted to economical needs, depending on the cost of fresh natural uranium and on the enrichment cost. Uranium tails typically have 0.3% uranium or about 40% of the uranium in natural uranium.

Laser enrichment is more efficient and lower cost than other types of enrichment. The laser enrichment could thus economically enrich the uranium tails that would otherwise be waste.

Energy harvesting from noise

Physics World - A single hydrogen molecule has been used to "push" an object much more massive than itself. So say researchers in Germany and Spain who have used a phenomenon called stochastic resonance to extract useful energy from "noise". Their experiments involve using an atomic force microscope tip mounted on a flexible, spring-like cantilever and the processes at play might be exploited to power up nanometre-sized machines – or even much larger devices.

Stochastic – or random – resonance is well known in a range of complex systems, especially in living organisms, and is responsible for processes such as energy pumping. It allows weak periodic signals to be strengthened by surrounding noisy signals that arise from random fluctuations in the system. These ubiquitous fluctuations can come from temperature changes or from the movement of electrons and photons. The resonance occurs when random peaks in the noisy signal coincide with regular peaks in the periodic signal.

Top tip: how a molecule drives a motor

Science - Driving a Macroscopic Oscillator with the Stochastic Motion of a Hydrogen Molecule

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Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 Rumors

1. IBTimes - On the heels of the unveiling of HTC’s new Droid DNA, a 5-inch smartphone with a full HD 1080p display, the tech world is buzzed with rumors indicating that Samsung is also rolling up its sleeves to enter the 5-inch screen bandwagon.

The rumor has it that the South Korean tech giant is preparing a 4.99-inch Full HD Super AMOLED screen to be showcased at the annual Consumer Electronics Convention (CES) in January 2013, a display that is likely to be featured in the company’s upcoming flagship smartphone iteration, presumably called the Samsung Galaxy S4.

SamMobile reported Friday, citing Korean website Asiae, that “engineers over at Samsung display have outdone themselves this time” and have “managed to make a 4.99″ Full HD display with a stunning PPI of 441.”

Apple iPhone 5S and iPhone 6 Rumors

1. - Digitimes cites unnamed market observers in stating that a number of Apple’s component suppliers are looking forward to strong first-quarter performance ahead of two big product launches slated to take place by mid-2013.

2. iPhone6newsblog - we will likely see a refreshed iPhone 5S in 2013 than a full-fledged iPhone 6 in 2014. The iPhone 6 will likely get a complete external makeover.

The Samsung Galaxy S4’s rumored specifications include a quad-core Exynos processor with as much as 3 GB RAM, a 12-megapixel rear camera or better and the latest Android operating system underneath, possibly Android 4.2 Key Lime Pie.

Apple will have to react to make the next iPhones competitive.

November 21, 2012

Rumors of a manned commercial mission to the moon by 2020 has a forum for discussion of space issues.

Information acquired by L2 this week revealed plans for a “game-changing” announcement as early as December that a new commercial space company intends to send commercial astronauts to the moon by 2020.

According to the information, the effort is led by a group of high profile individuals from the aerospace industry and backed by some big money and foreign investors. The company intends to use “existing or soon to be existing launch vehicles, spacecraft, upper stages, and technologies” to start their commercial manned lunar campaign.

The details point to the specific use of US vehicles, with a basic architecture to utilize multiple launches to assemble spacecraft in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The details make direct reference to the potential use of propellant depots and fuel transfer technology.

Additional notes include a plan to park elements in lunar orbit, staging a small lunar lander that would transport two commercial astronauts to the surface for short stays.

The architecture would then grow into the company’s long-term ambitions to establish a man-tended outpost using inflatable modules. It is also understood that the company has already begun the design process for the Lunar Lander.

Per Capita Disposable Income increasing at 13% in China's Cities

1. Urban disposable income in Shanghai topped 28 mainland regions during the first three quarters of this year, with Beijing and Zhejiang trailing behind, according to figures from local statistics bureaus.

Shanghai was the only provincial-level administrative region where per capita urban disposable income exceeded ¥30,000 during the nine-month period, totaling ¥30,205. Beijing's and Zhejiang's were close to ¥27,000.

Eight regions' per capita urban disposable income outperformed the national average, which was ¥18,427, including the top three, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Fujian, Tianjin and Shandong.

Urban disposable income grew 13% between January and September, much faster than the 7.7% pace in gross domestic product over the same period.

Paralysis in dogs has been reversed

BBC News - Scientists have reversed paralysis in dogs after injecting them with cells grown from the lining of their nose.

The pets had all suffered spinal injuries which prevented them from using their back legs.

The Cambridge University team is cautiously optimistic the technique could eventually have a role in the treatment of human patients.

The dogs had olfactory ensheathing cells from the lining of their nose removed.

These were grown and expanded for several weeks in the laboratory.

Of 34 pet dogs on the proof of concept trial, 23 had the cells transplanted into the injury site - the rest were injected with a neutral fluid.

Many of the dogs that received the transplant showed considerable improvement and were able to walk on a treadmill with the support of a harness.

Brain - A Journal of Neurology - Autologous olfactory mucosal cell transplants in clinical spinal cord injury: a randomized double-blinded trial in a canine translational model

Wistar Scientists Further Unravel Telomere Biology

Chromosomes—long, linear DNA molecules—are capped at their ends with special DNA structures called telomeres and an assortment of proteins, which together act as a protective sheath. Telomeres are maintained through the interactions between an enzyme, telomerase, and several accessory proteins. Researchers at The Wistar Institute have defined the structure of one of these critical proteins in yeast.

Understanding how telomeres keep chromosomes–and by extension, genomes–intact is an area of intense scientific focus in the fields of both aging and cancer. In aging, the DNA of telomeres eventually erodes faster than telomerase and its accessory proteins can maintain it, and cells die. In cancer, tumor cells hijack the process, subverting the natural method by which our bodies limit cell growth; cancer cells, then, can grow and multiply unchecked.

Better understanding of how memories form could help to develop artificial cognitive computers

Exactly how memories are stored and accessed in the brain is unclear. Neuroscientists, however, do know that a primitive structure buried in the center of the brain, called the hippocampus, is a pivotal region of memory formation. Here, changes in the strengths of connections between neurons, which are called synapses, are the basis for memory formation. Networks of neurons linking up in the hippocampus are likely to encode specific memories.

Since direct tests cannot be performed in the brain, experimental evidence for this process of memory formation is difficult to obtain but mathematical and computational models can provide insight. To this end, Eng Yeow Cheu and co-workers at the A*STAR Institute for Infocomm Research, Singapore, have developed a model that sheds light on the exact synaptic conditions required in memory formation.

A schematic diagram depicting the recall of a sequence of memory items when the network containing the pool of memory items is triggered by a stimulus.© 2012 A*STAR Institute for Infocomm Research

Low-cost MEMS Fabrication Technology Using a Replica Molding Technique

Kazuma Kurihara (Senior Researcher) and Hideki Takagi (Leader), Large Scale Integration Team, the Research Center for Ubiquitous MEMS and Micro Engineering have developed a microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) device fabrication technology that uses only printing and injection molding. This has been achieved by integrating the microfabrication technology and the MEMS design evaluation technology of AIST. A lighting device has been fabricated by combining the signal processing technology of Design Tech Co., Ltd. (President: Hatsuo Suzuki) with the developed technology.

* A microelectromechanical systems fabrication technology based only on printing and injection molding has been developed.
* Small capital investment and low production costs make it easier to enter MEMS device fabrication business.
* Use of the technology may help develop new applications of MEMS devices, including in the lighting industry.

The developed technology makes it possible to fabricate MEMS devices by using the printing technology that enables the fabrication of large-area devices without a vacuum process and the injection-molding technology that requires small capital investment and enables low production costs. MEMS devices currently produced by using semiconductor manufacturing processes can now be fabricated inexpensively and with a small capital investment. This allows the applications of MEMS devices in fields where MEMS cannot currently be used owing to high production costs and low production volumes. For example, new applications in the lighting industry can be developed by combining active variable light distribution by a MEMS mirror and LED lighting.

MEMS mirrors for active light distribution fabricated by using only printing and injection molding (left), and examples of the resulting light distribution patterns (right)

North Dakota Oil Economics and Forecast

Here is a 39 page presentation on North Dakota oil from Sept, 2012

A typical 2012 North Dakota Bakken well will produce for 45 years

If economic, enhanced oil recovery efforts can extend the life of the well
In those 45 years the average Bakken well:
Produces approximately 615,000 barrels of oil
Generates about $20 million net profit
Pays approximately $4,325,000 in taxes
$2,100,000 gross production taxes
$1,800,000 extraction tax
$425,000 sales tax
Pays royalties of $7,300,000 to mineral owners
Pays salaries and wages of $2,125,000
Pays operating expenses of $2,300,000
Cost $9,000,000 to drill and complete

The Oil projections have increased by 100,000 barrels per day for all scenarios from 3 months prior.

NASA hints at historic discovery on Mars from device that can detect carbon-laden organic molecules

In an interview with NPR, John Grotzinger, the principal investigator for the Mars Curiosity rover mission, indicated that the data [that they are getting from Mars Science Laboratory Sample Analysis at Mars Instruments] is gonna be one for the history books. It's looking really good. The announcement will be in a few weeks after more tests and confirmations are run.

Discovery News -One of the prime mission objectives is for Curiosity is to understand the past and current habitability for life on the Red Planet. Curiosity can not directly detect the presence of Mars life, but it has been kitted-out with miniature laboratories capable of not only establishing what materials soil samples contain, but also whether the Mars soil contains carbon-laden organic molecules.

Should Curiosity detect these organics, the mission will have confirmed the presence of the building blocks of life on the surface of Mars. This does not, however, infer the genesis of life on Mars, it just means that some of the ingredients are there.

According to this NPR article, Grotzinger refers to the SAM data as being the source of the excitement. Indeed, one of the instrument's objectives is to address "carbon chemistry through a search for organic compounds, the chemical state of light elements other than carbon, and isotopic tracers of planetary change," according to the JPL mission site.

Publicly known UAVs per country

The Guardian UK had a summary of the amount of unmanned drone stocks by country that have been declared.

Data from the International Institute for Strategic Studies, which it has allowed us to re-publish here on the Datablog, identifies 56 different types of UAVs used in 11 different countries. Where it can calculate actual stocks, this covers 807 drones in active service around the world - and this is a huge underestimate: number data is not available for China, Turkey and Russia.

The US is the most open about its drone stocks. The IISS data shows that is has at least 678 drones in service, of 18 different types. Some 14 of them are identified as 'heavy', and includes UAVs such as the MQ-1B Predator, of which it has over 100.

Memcomputing: a computing paradigm to store and process information on the same physical platform

Technology Review - The properties of memelements that make them so good at biological computing has been hard to pin down. Which is where Di Ventra and Pershin come in. They have distilled the essential properties that ought to allow memelements to match the brain's performance.

They say these properties include the ability to store information over long periods; the ability to act collectively so that the state of a memdevice as a whole depends on the states of all its memelements; a robustness against noise and small imperfections; and so on.

Perhaps the most important, however, is the ability to store and process information at the same time, a property that is entirely alien in the conventional computing world

This is an interesting approach that attempts to crystallise the best way to approach memcomputing. And it has huge potential. Memcapacitors and meminductors essentially consume no energy and so ought to allow very low energy applications. That should make it possible for them to approach the energy efficiency of natural systems for the first time.

“An important milestone in this field would be the demonstration of a memcomputing device with computing capabilities and power consumption comparable to (or better than) those of the human brain,” say Di Ventra and Pershin.

Arxiv - Memcomputing: a computing paradigm to store and process information on the same physical platform

In present day technology, storing and processing of information occur on physically distinct regions of space. Not only does this result in space limitations; it also translates into unwanted delays in retrieving and processing of relevant information. There is, however, a class of two-terminal passive circuit elements with memory, memristive, memcapacitive and meminductive systems – collectively called memelements – that perform both information processing and storing of the initial, intermediate and final computational data on the same physical platform. Importantly, the states of these memelements adjust to input signals and provide analog capabilities unavailable in standard circuit elements, resulting in adaptive circuitry, and providing analog massively-parallel computation. All these features are tantalizingly similar to those encountered in the biological realm, thus offering new opportunities for biologically-inspired computation. Of particular importance is the fact that these memelements emerge naturally in nanoscale systems, and are therefore a consequence and a natural by-product of the continued miniaturization of electronic devices. We will discuss the various possibilities offered by memcomputing, discuss the criteria that need to be satisfied to realize this paradigm, and provide an example showing the solution of the shortest-path problem and demonstrate the healing property of the solution path.

Memcomputing Criteria

While quantum computing relies on the superposition of states, memcomputing utilizes the collective dynamics of a large number of (essentially classical) systems. Its specific criteria are then as follows.

1. Scalable massively-parallel architecture with combined information processing and storage

2. Sufficiently long information storage times

Negotiations for a trade bloc with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea and ASEAN

1. NY Times - Ten Southeast Asian nations said Tuesday that they would begin negotiating a sweeping trade pact that would include China and five of the region’s other major trading partners, but not the United States.

The proposal for the new trade bloc, to be known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, is enthusiastically embraced by China. The founding members, who belong to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, said at the close of the association’s summit meeting here that the bloc would cover nearly half of the world’s population, starting in 2015.

The new grouping is seen as a rival to a trade initiative of the Obama administration, the 11-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes many of the same countries but excludes China.

China, on the other hand, has gone out of its way to express its support for the new proposed bloc. Its members would be the 10 countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, plus 6 nations that have free-trade agreements with the association: Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

2. Reuters - China has been throwing its weight around and buying the loyalties of some Asian states.

Metamaterial invisibility cloak that can adapt to hide different sized objects

Nature Communications - Broadband electromagnetic cloaking with smart metamaterials

The ability to render objects invisible with a cloak that fits all objects and sizes is a long-standing goal for optical devices. Invisibility devices demonstrated so far typically comprise a rigid structure wrapped around an object to which it is fitted. Here we demonstrate smart metamaterial cloaking, wherein the metamaterial device not only transforms electromagnetic fields to make an object invisible, but also acquires its properties automatically from its own elastic deformation. The demonstrated device is a ground-plane microwave cloak composed of an elastic metamaterial with a broad operational band (10–12 GHz) and nearly lossless electromagnetic properties. The metamaterial is uniform, or perfectly periodic, in its undeformed state and acquires the necessary gradient-index profile, mimicking a quasi-conformal transformation, naturally from a boundary load. This easy-to-fabricate hybrid elasto-electromagnetic metamaterial opens the door to implementations of a variety of transformation optics devices based on quasi-conformal maps.

Experimental sample of non-auxetic smart metamaterial cloak. Photographs of the sample used in our experiment with an additional triangle patch of 125-mm base and 65-mm heigh

MIT boosting nanospinner yields by ten times, lower costs and increasing energy efficiency

Nanofibers — strands of material only a couple hundred nanometers in diameter — have a huge range of possible applications: scaffolds for bioengineered organs, ultrafine air and water filters, and lightweight Kevlar body armor, to name just a few. But so far, the expense of producing them has consigned them to a few high-end, niche applications.

MIT has a new system for spinning nanofibers that should offer significant productivity increases while drastically reducing power consumption.

Using manufacturing techniques common in the microchip industry, the MTL researchers built a one-square-centimeter array of conical tips, which they immersed in a fluid containing a dissolved plastic. They then applied a voltage to the array, producing an electrostatic field that is strongest at the tips of the cones. In a technique known as electrospinning, the cones eject the dissolved plastic as a stream that solidifies into a fiber only 220 nanometers across.

In their experiments, the researchers used a five-by-five array of cones, which already yields a sevenfold increase in productivity per square centimeter over even the best existing methods. But, Velásquez-García says, it should be relatively simple to pack more cones onto a chip, boosting productivity even more. Indeed, he says, in prior work on a similar technique called electrospray, his lab was able to cram almost a thousand emitters into a single square centimeter. And multiple arrays could be combined in a panel to further increase yields.

They believe that they can increase yields by ten times over what is available now.

Samsung and others should have 8 cores for smartphones later in 2013

EETimes - Samsung will detail a 28-nm SoC with two quad-core clusters. One cluster runs at 1. 8 GHz, has a 2 MByte L2 cache and is geared for high performance apps; the other runs at 1.2 GHz and is tuned for energy efficiency.

The combination of two quad-core clusters would be an Octo-core device. One quad-core for high performance and one quad core for energy efficiency.

The chip clearly parallel’s ARM’s description of a big.little architecture using its 32-bit A15 and A7 cores. In October, ARM said the approach is delivering greater than expected benefits and expects it will become widely used in smartphones.

“We expect the Samsung part is the first big.little processor,” said Kevin Krewell, senior analyst with market watcher Linley Group (Mountain View, Calif.). “The A7 cores should be capable of handling most [smartphone] tasks, with the A15 cores only required for maximum performance needs, like video games,” he said.

The chip and ones like it from Qualcomm, Nvidia and others will roll out in 2013, competing for sockets in tablets with Intel’s 22-nm Haswell, which will not be described at ISSCC. In a departure from past years, Intel will present no processor papers at the event.

However, the x86 giant will describe a scalable 64-lane chip-to-chip interconnect with 1 Tbit/s aggregate bandwidth. The link uses multiple 2-16 Gbit/s channels running at power efficiencies of 0.8 to 2.6 pJ/bit in 32nm CMOS with a total bus-level power consumption of 2.6 W.

GSMArena - it is unlikely for the 8 core chipset to make it into the Samsung Galaxy S4, but it will probaby get into a tablet first and perhaps the Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

November 20, 2012

Beyond Iron Dome - David's Sling Two stage interceptor missile

David's Sling, also sometimes called Magic Wand, is an Israel Defense Forces military system being jointly developed by the Israeli defense contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the American defense contractor Raytheon, designed to intercept medium- to long-range rockets and cruise missiles, such as those possessed by Hezbollah, fired at ranges from 40 km to 300 km.

The interceptor is a two-stage missile, with two targeting and guidance systems installed in its nose-tip (a radar and an electro-optical sensor).

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems is getting ready to field test its newest anti-missile weapon, David's Sling and its Stunner interceptor.

If the world were serious about addressing Climate Change

A new World Bank-commissioned report warns the world is on track to a “4°C world” marked by extreme heat-waves and life-threatening sea level rise.

The report is over 70 pages long.

The global community has committed itself to holding warming below 2°C to prevent “dangerous” climate change, the sum total of current policies—in place and pledged—will very likely lead to warming far in excess of this level. Indeed, present emission trends put the world plausibly on a path toward 4°C warming within this century.

Levels greater than 4°C warming could be possible within this century should climate sensitivity be higher, or the carbon cycle and other climate system feedbacks more positive, than anticipated. Current scientific evidence suggests that even with the current commitments and pledges fully implemented, there is roughly a 20 percent likelihood of exceeding 4°C by 2100, and a 10 percent chance of 4°C being exceeded as early as the 2070s.

Warming would not stop there. Because of the slow response of the climate system, the greenhouse gas emissions and concentrations that would lead to warming of 4°C by 2100 would actually commit the world to much higher warming, exceeding 6°C or more, in the long term, with several meters of sea-level rise ultimately associated with this warming.

I will focus on the most cost effective solutions to mitigating potential temperature changes.

Side stepping the politics and non-existent connection to nuclear war risk.

Fixing soot would be the fastest way to save lives currently lost to air pollution.

Fixing soot would be as good as fixing half of the CO2 problem and could be done for 10 to 20 times lower cost, it would save about 3 million lives that are already known to be lost each year and it would impact climate about 30 to 50 years faster than CO2 fixes.

India is one of the main places to get this fix in place but they have a corruption problem which can be seen in their ineffective food for the poor programs.

Five IT Predictions for China in 2013 and Beyond from Gartner

Enterprise spending on IT in China is forecast to grow from US$117.8 billion in 2013 to reach $172.4 billion in 2016, representing a compound annual growth rate of 8 percent, compared to a global growth rate of 3 percent over the same period, according to Gartner.

“In common with many emerging markets, cloud and mobile initiatives are hot and enterprises are also making progress in adopting virtualization technologies, a key stepping stone in the journey to cloud,” said Matthew Cheung, principal research analyst at Gartner. “Without the legacy systems that hamper many western enterprises, Chinese organizations have an opportunity to leapfrog in the adoption of new technologies.

1. By 2013, Lenovo will become the top smartphone vendor in China.

Lenovo is the world’s top PC manufacturer, and the company’s mobile phone business has gained real momentum in China.. Its smartphone market share rose from 1.7 percent in 3Q11 to 14.8% in 3Q12, making it now the No. 2 smartphone brand, ahead of Apple (6.9 percent) and behind Samsung (16.7 percent). The brand is positioned at the mid-to-lower end which will drive much of its future growth, and this is where global brands are less competitive.

Tesla Model S with two rear facing seats and the Model X SUV

Tesla is working on a third-generation car, which is a mass-market electric car. Tesla has an idea for an electric truck that could really be a big improvement in truck technology. Elon is looking at a whole series of cars that address a wide range of consumer interests and needs and self driving cars.

Smartphones of 2013 - IPhone 5S, Samsung Galaxy S4

Gottabemobile - 2013 should be chock full of fantastic smartphone releases as well. We’ve already heard murmuring about some high-end devices that will be coming to shelves, including an iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy S4, and we can also make some educated guesses about other potential devices that should be due in 2013

The IPhone 5S should be released in mid-2013 and will have the iOS 7.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 will likely feature a powerful rear camera and a 1080p display, possibly 4.99-inches in size, that Samsung may show off at CES 2013 in January. It should be available mid-Q2 of 2013.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 should be released late in 2013.

Motorola Droid RAZR 2 will be among several new Motorola phones for 2013.

Israel's Iron Dome missile interceptor has 90% effectiveness and 75 kilometer range versus 80% and 15 kilometers last time

New Scientist - Until 17 November the system had a range of only 15 kilometres but a software upgrade fast-tracked over the weekend extended the range to 75 km, says Ben Goodlad, a defence analyst with IHS Jane's, the military data publisher based in Coulsdon, UK.

"It's very difficult to gauge its success rate as it depends how that is measured. How many interceptors are being fired to knock out one missile for instance?" says Goodlad. "But some say rates of between 87 and 90 per cent are being achieved in this Gaza conflict."

That's beats the expected 80 per cent success rate the US Congressional Research Service cites for the system during its test phase in a 7 November report to Congress.

"It's very difficult to gauge its success rate as it depends how that is measured. How many interceptors are being fired to knock out one missile for instance?" says Goodlad. "But some say rates of between 87 and 90 per cent are being achieved in this Gaza conflict."

That's beats the expected 80 per cent success rate the US Congressional Research Service cites for the system during its test phase in a 7 November report to Congress.

China resumes construction of nuclear reactors where construction was halted and new reactor approvals will restart soon

The restarting of China's nuclear power sector has made substantial progress as construction of two reactors — in Fuqing, in Fujian province, and Yangjiang, in Guangdong province — resumed over the weekend.

The reactors, which belong to China National Nuclear Corp and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Co, were approved for construction to commence in the second half of 2011 but were halted after the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan.

Another reactor in Rongcheng, in Shandongprovince, that had also received approval, may also resume construction within this year.

Analysts say a key stage of the reinstatement depends on the approval of new reactors. The first of these to be decided will be reactor number three in Tianwan, Jiangsu province, which was originally scheduled for construction starting in Dec 2012.

Nanogenerator can convert 15% of mechanical motion with potential for 40%

A Georgia Tech nanogenerator can convert 10 to 15 percent of the energy in mechanical motions into electricity, and thinner materials should be able to convert as much as 40 percent, Wang says. A fingernail-sized square of the triboelectric nanomaterial can produce eight milliwatts when flexed, enough power to run a pacemaker. A patch that’s five by five centimeters can light up 600 LEDs at once, or charge a lithium-ion battery that can charge a commercial cellphone.

It can be made from inexpensive materials.

Nanoletters - Nanoscale Triboelectric-Effect-Enabled Energy Conversion for Sustainably Powering Portable Electronics

An immersive display room driven by a graphic supercomputer with 1.5 billion pixels from 416 screens

Stony Brook University unveiled its latest engineering feat, a 1.5 billion pixel Reality Deck. The Reality Deck, a 416 screen super-high resolution virtual reality four-walled surround-view theater, is the largest resolution immersive display ever built driven by a graphic supercomputer. Its purpose and primary design principle is to enable scientists, engineers and physicians to tackle modern-age problems that require the visualization of vast amounts of data.

Reality Deck by the numbers
• 416 high-resolution displays
• 1.5 Billion pixels total (first display to break the one billion pixel mark)
• Five times larger than the second largest display in the world
• Immersive 4-wall layout in a 33’x19’x10’ room with a tiled-display door
• 20-node visualization cluster
• 240 CPU cores - 2.3 TFLOPs performance, 1.2 TB distributed memory
• 80 GPUs - 220 TFLOPs performance, 320 GB distributed memory visualization applications.
Large gigapixel panoramic images – e.g. 45 gigapixel photograph of Dubai, United Arab Emirates;
6 gigapixel Infrared telescope view of the Milky Way
• Large architectural models – e.g. 40 million polygon model visualized at interactive frame rates
• High-performance sound system with 22 speakers and four subwoofers

November 19, 2012

Thermogenerator from the Printer

Fraunhofer researchers have developed a printed thermogenerator, which in the future will be able to generate energy supply for sensors through temperature differences. More and more frequently wireless sensors are used which consume very low levels of energy and the power required by the sensor, the processing unit and wireless module derives its power directly from the environment instead of “harvesting” energy from batteries Electrical energy can be generated, for instance, from heat or movement.

Thermoelectric and metallic materials are printed to harvest energy.

Carnival of Space 276

Lava dots: Rice makes hollow, soft-shelled quantum dots

New “lava dot” particles were discovered accidentally when researchers stumbled upon a way of using molten droplets of metal salt to make hollow, coated versions of a nanotech staple called quantum dots. The researchers also found that lava dots arrange themselves in evenly spaced patterns on flat surfaces, thanks in part to a soft outer coating that can alter its shape when the particles are tightly packed.

“We’re exploring potential of using these particles as catalysts for hydrogen production, as chemical sensors and as components in solar cells, but the main point of this paper is how we make these materials,” said co-author Michael Wong, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Rice. “We came up with this ‘molten-droplet synthesis’ technique and found we can use the same process to make hollow nano-size particles out of several kinds of elements. The upshot is that this discovery is about a whole family of particles rather than one specific composition.”

Like their quantum dot cousins, Rice’s lava dots can be made of semiconductors like cadmium selenide and zinc sulfide.

A nine-pack of lava dots created at Rice. Photo by Sravani Gullapalli

Nanotechnology Journal - Molten-droplet synthesis of composite CdSe hollow nanoparticles

Large Mortality Reductions are needed to add years to Longevity

Josh Mitteldorf Science blog - a recent study of vitamin D supplementation reduced all-cause mortality rates by 6%. How many years would that add to life expectancy? A 6% increase of a 75-year life span would mean 4½ extra years. However, mortality increases with age. A 6% drop in mortality only increases life expectancy by 7 months.

To add just 5 years to life expectancy, we would need to slash the mortality rate by more than 40%. This is a counter-intuitive statistic – and a discouraging one. By optimistic accounts, taking a daily aspirin or ibuprofen lowers mortality by 13%. But even this major drop translates to only 2 years. From another perspective, 2 years is a windfall. Aspirin costs practically nothing and imposes minimal risk and less inconvenience.

Foxconn installs first 10,000 robots of planned million

Singularity Hub - a first batch of 10,000 robots — aptly named Foxbots — appear to have made its way into at least one Foxconn factory, and by the end of 2012, another 20,000 more will be installed. Foxconn is aiming to replace 1 million Foxconn workers with robots within 3 years.

According to a translated page from the Chinese site Techweb, each robot costs between $20,000 to $25,000, which is over three times the average salary of one worker. However, amid international pressure, Foxconn continues to increase worker salaries with a 25 percent bump occurring earlier this year.

Chinese tech site TechWeb says the robots cost up to $25,000 a piece to manufacture. (Credit: TechWeb)

Rice unveils super-efficient solar-energy technology

Rice University scientists have unveiled a revolutionary new technology that uses nanoparticles to convert solar energy directly into steam. The new “solar steam” method from Rice’s Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP) is so effective it can even produce steam from icy cold water.

The technology has an overall energy efficiency of 24 percent. Photovoltaic solar panels, by comparison, typically have an overall energy efficiency around 15 percent. However, the inventors of solar steam said they expect the first uses of the new technology will not be for electricity generation but rather for sanitation and water purification in developing countries.

Rice University graduate student Oara Neumann, left, and scientist Naomi Halas are co-authors of new research on a highly efficient method of turning sunlight into heat. They expect their technology to have an initial impact as an ultra-small-scale system to treat human waste in developing nations without sewer systems or electricity. Photo by Jeff Fitlow

ACS Nano - Solar Vapor Generation Enabled by Nanoparticles

Broad Group of China is maintaining a 90-day schedule to build a world's tallest 220 story skyscraper

Construction Week Online - Broad Sustainable Building (BSB), a subsidiary of the Broad Group based in Changsha in Hunan province, China, insists that it will deliver its 220-storey Sky City within the targeted 90 days, rather than in 210 days as rumored by the media. The 90 day assembly schedule does not include time to complete the foundation, but the time to assemble all of the floors.

The new Sky City skyscraper will be built at one tenth of the cost per square foot as the current tallest building (the Burj Khalifa).

Designed by engineers that worked on the Burj Khalifa, Sky City will achieve the target by using BSB’s 95%-prefabricated modular technology at the astonishing construction pace of five storeys a day.

Juliet Jiang, senior VP of Broad Group, has said that the company’s plan to construct its 838m skyscraper by the Xiangjiang River in Changsha city “will go on as planned with the completion of five storeys a day.”

Work on the foundations is expected to go ahead by the end of the month, while the planned three month construction period runs from the end of the year to the end of March 2013.

150 Franchise Partners

Malay Mail - Describing the BSB technology as “far superior to traditional building methods”, Jiang said the company has constructed 20 buildings in China using the method and has established six franchise partners in Ningxia, Shangdong, Hubei and Fujian provinces.

The company is currently increasing its franchise partners to 150 with more Chinese and international partnerships, including from Malaysia.

With the licence, said BSB, the system’s proprietor, a franchisee will be able to “recoup its capital within two years”.

“Our franchisees in China managed to recoup their capital within two years … the Malaysian franchisee can expect a similar return but it’ll depend on its annual output. The more that it produces, the quicker the payback,” Jiang said.

Nanoparticles Stop Multiple Sclerosis In Mice and could treat food allergies, asthma and other autoimmune diseases

NBC News - Researchers trying to find a way to treat multiple sclerosis think they’ve come up with an approach that could not only help patients with MS, but those with a range of so-called autoimmune diseases, from type-1 diabetes to psoriasis, and perhaps even food allergies.

So far it’s only worked in mice, but it has worked especially well. And while mice are different from humans in many ways, their immune systems are quite similar.

“If this works, it is going to be absolutely fantastic,” said Bill Heetderks, who directs outside research at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, part of the National Institutes of Health, which helped pay for the research. “Even if it doesn’t work, it’s going to be another step down the road.”

Web MD - In multiple sclerosis, the body attacks its own myelin. Like the insulation around electric wires, myelin is a material that coats nerve fibers, allowing them to effectively carry signals that power the body.

Nature Biotechnology - Microparticles bearing encephalitogenic peptides induce T-cell tolerance and ameliorate experimental autoimmune encephalomyeliti

China expected to reach 100 Gw in nuclear early in 2020s and 400+Gw by 2050

Stampede 10 petaflop supercomputer

A 10 petaflop supercomputer with Intel Xeon phi processors will be completed in 2 months.

Stampede, scheduled to be fully operational on Jan. 7, 2013, will feature 6,400 Dell C8220X nodes comprising 12,800 Intel Xeon E5 processors plus more than 6,000 Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors. According to TACC, the Xeon processors provide more than 2 petaflops of peak performance, while the Xeon Phi coprocessors will add more than 7 petaflops of additional performance.

November 18, 2012

Smartphones of 2013 and 2014

CNet - 2013 will have smartphones with higher resolution 5 inch screens as the dominant phone

Japan Display revealed yesterday that the mega joint venture -- consisting of Sony, Toshiba, and Hitachi's manufacturing prowess -- started mass production of a 5-inch 1,080-pixel LCD screenbound for future smartphones.As for specifics, the upcoming IPS LCD display by JDI contains a 1,080x1,920-pixel resolution and an incredibly sharp 443ppi view. That level of pixels per inch simply blows away anything on the market at this time, including the iPhone 5's 326ppi display and the Samsung Galaxy S3's 306ppi resolution.

2014 will see new 64 but ARM chips with 3 times the performance of todays chips.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 131

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 131 is up at Hiroshima Syndrome

ANS Nuclear Cafe - Small Modular Reactors, or SMRs, have been under consideration in many quarters of late as a new focus for nuclear power generation. While the recent deadline for Department of Energy grant money came and went without so much as a whisper from the DOE, the concept continues to be developed. Quite a few presentations have been made, as a result, on reactors of this class here at the ANS 2012 Winter Meeting.

New bio-ink formulated to print living human tissue

Australian researchers have developed a new bio-ink that improves the viability of living cells and allows better control of cell positioning through the printing process.

“To date, none of the available inks has been optimised in terms of both printability and cell suspending ability,” according to ACES Associate Researcher Cameron Ferris.

Our new bio-ink is printable and cell-friendly, preventing cell settling and allowing controlled deposition of cells.”

The 2D structures being printed with the bio-ink enables exquisite control over cell distribution and this already presents exciting opportunities to improve drug screening and toxicology testing processes. Building on this, 3D bio-printing, with which patient-specific tissue replacements could be fabricated, is within the grasp of researchers.

“The development of chemistries that enable fabrication protocols not only takes us closer to practical devices but gives us experimental protocols that allows previously unexplored areas of fundamental science to be explored,” ACES Director Professor Gordon Wallace said.

Biomaterials Science - Bio-ink for on-demand printing of living cells

College credit for online courses and eliminating and changing weak universities

USA Today - The American Council on Education, a non-profit organization that represents most of the nation's college and university presidents, is preparing to weigh in on massive open online courses — MOOCs, for short — a new way of teaching and learning that has taken higher education by storm in recent months.

A stamp of approval from the organization could enhance the value of MOOCs to universities and lead to lower tuition costs for students, who could earn credit toward a college degree for passing a particular course. At issue is whether the quality of the courses offered through MOOCs are equivalent to similar courses offered in traditional classrooms.

Part of the council's plan, announced Tuesday and beginning next year, involves teams of faculty that will examine the content and rigor of particular courses to evaluate whether they should be recommended for college credit. Central to that activity is a division of the council, called ACE CREDIT, that was created in 1974 to help adults gain credit for courses and exams taken outside traditional degree programs. The team makes recommendations and provides transcripts for documentation, but it would be up to individual schools whether to accept the course for credit.

The initiative, to be funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, also will involve research on the impact of MOOCs. A task force of top administrators will convene to discuss the potential for MOOCs to improve student learning and boost college attainment levels. A pilot project involving a small number of colleges and universities aims to explore whether MOOCs are successful in engaging adult learners.

Technology Review - the arrival of MOOCs is adding to an already “huge pressure” to improve [third world universities]. And early data on the new Web classes suggest they may have similar impacts elsewhere. Coursera, the largest MOOC company, reported in August that of its first million users, 62 percent were from outside the U.S., led by students in Brazil, India, China, and Canada.

It seems likely that weak universities would either be closed or would have classes around EDx, Coursera and Udacity lectures with teaching assistants and facilities to provide hands on lab work and other extra discussion to facilitate the online courses.

This will raise the lower end of university education. There will be a minimum level of quality for education lectures.

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