October 06, 2015

China's One Child Policy continues Multi-year erosion as slowly and millions of ghost people will be legalized

Parents of newborn babies in southern China's Guangdong Province will no longer have to prove they obediently limited, through any means including forced abortion, the size of their nuclear families.

In the latest example of a gradual easing of the controversial one-child policy, police officers at the province's Public Security Bureau recently stopped demanding to see family-planning compliance certificates before registering "hukou," or household registration, for babies.

After the policy change was publicly announced in July, non-certified parents who had disobeyed the old rule but failed to register their babies flocked to apply for hukous. Some even waited in hours-long lines.

Some parents said they hurried to register out of fear that the policy easing might be temporary, even though authorities had insisted it was permanent. Many recalled that Guangdong birth control rules were temporarily waived during nationwide census counts in 2000 and 2010. Parents who had babies in those years could apply for hukous without impunity.

A father in the province's largest city, Guangzhou surnamed, said he was so worried that the latest easing might be temporary that he quickly applied for a hukou for his second son, who is now more than 3 years old.

Other non-certified parents, though, said they would wait to register for a hukou in hopes authorities would further relax the rules. Many feared registering a child without a certificate, even under the latest adjustment, could eventually lead to fines equal to as much as six times a family's annual income

About half of the 13 million people without a hukou in 2010 – the year of the most recent nationwide census – were born in violation of the one-child policy, census officials said. As a result, they were ineligible for schooling and not covered by the social welfare system. A person without a hukou cannot even board a train. A hukou is a requirement for anyone in China who wants vital government services, including health care and education.

LPP Fusion will Line Vacuum Chamber With Titanium Compound to Suppress Oxidation as Contamination is still too high

Based on the results of test shots fired in September, LPPFusion’s research team has decided to line the vacuum chamber of the device with titanium or a titanium compound. While we cleaned oxides off the tungsten, these compounds have reappeared due to oxygen in the stainless steel chamber. After some research, we concluded that the oxygen was coming from the break-up of chromium oxide in the stainless steel when it is exposed to the hot plasma. The basic solution to this is to cover up the steel with a material that tightly binds oxygen and that won’t give it up even with high heat. Titanium and its compounds are the accepted best material for this purpose.

LPPFusion’s team first fired the newly cleaned tungsten electrodes on Sept. 9. This initial shot provides the coating of the insulator that produces a thin current sheath. Such a thin sheath is needed for the pinch that in turn produces fusion reactions. Since this first shot does not have the insulator coating, it never produces fusion. What was not expected was the large amount of oxygen released, as evidenced by an increase in the chamber pressure. In addition, the characteristic yellow-gold color of tungsten bronze (a compound of tungsten, oxygen and hydrogen) also reappeared. It was spread widely on the steel chamber walls and more lightly back on the tungsten electrodes.

A second cleaning with abrasives of both electrodes and the chamber was not successful. Two more shots fired on Sept. 22 also showed clear evidence of the presence of large amounts of oxygen. We estimated from the extent of the colored oxides that at least 30 mg of oxides were generated for each shot. This is far more than the 30 micrograms we see as an acceptable level of impurities in the plasma.

Oxide deposits (colored material) were still heavy after first shot on Sept. 9

Oxide deposits were much lighter, but still present after cleaning and two more shots on Sept. 22

Deposits on the steel chamber were still heavy, providing a reservoir for oxidation. Darker markings are from surface changes due to adhesives in tape applied during an earlier cleaning

Facebook to [provide free internet to Africa with satellites starting in second half of 2016

Facebook is teaming up with the French satellite company Eutelsat (ETCMY) to launch a satellite that will provide internet access to people in sub-Saharan Africa. The satellite will launch next year and service will start in the second half of 2016. It will reach 14 countries in West, East and Southern Africa.

Facebook will use the satellite to bring free Internet access to rural areas. The company is using satellites, lasers and drones to get the "next billion" people around the world online as part of its Internet.org initiative. It has already connected people in nearly 20 countries.

"Facebook's mission is to connect the world and we believe that satellites will play an important role in addressing the significant barriers that exist in connecting the people of Africa," said Chris Daniels, VP of Internet.org, in a statement.

Facebook and Eutelsat are leasing the AMOS-6 satellite from Israeli company Spacecom. The two companies will share the satellite and use it for their own individual services. Eutelsat will expand its paid broadband connections in the region for businesses and well-off individuals.

Internet.org has been criticized for limiting what services people can access through the free smartphone app. It currently includes free access to 60 services, including health and finance tools and, of course, Facebook. The app was recently renamed "Free Basics by Facebook" in an attempt to distance it from other Internet.org projects

Lockheed beginning production of 60 kw combat laser modules for the US Army and Air Force

Lockheed Marting begins production of a new generation of modular high power lasers this month. The first laser built using the modular technique will be a 60-kilowatt system for a U.S. Army vehicle.

Production of the fiber modules laser will take place at Lockheed Martin's Bothell, Washington facility. The modular laser design allows the laser power to be varied across an extremely wide range according to the needs of a specific mission and threat. Its incorporation of commercial fiber laser components into easily reproduced modules makes production of Lockheed Martin's laser highly affordable. The Army has the option to add more modules and increase power from 60kW to 120kW as a result of the laser's modularity.

Lockheed's Rob Afzal indicates that systems could made with 10, 20, 50, 100 of the 60 kw laser modules.

100 laser modeles would enable 6 Megawatt laser weapon systems.

DARPA funds seven teams to modulate nerves to treat disease

DARPA's Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx) program, which has as its goal the development of a closed-loop system that treats diseases by modulating the activity of peripheral nerves. The teams will initially pursue a diverse array of research and technological breakthroughs in support of the program’s technical goals. Ultimately, the program envisions a complete system that can be tested in human clinical trials aimed at conditions such as chronic pain, inflammatory disease, post-traumatic stress and other illnesses that may not be responsive to traditional treatments.

“The peripheral nervous system is the body’s information superhighway, communicating a vast array of sensory and motor signals that monitor our health status and effect changes in brain and organ functions to keep us healthy,“ said Doug Weber, the ElectRx program manager and a biomedical engineer who previously worked as a researcher for the Department of Veterans Affairs. “We envision technology that can detect the onset of disease and react automatically to restore health by stimulating peripheral nerves to modulate functions in the brain, spinal cord and internal organs.”

DARPA parafoil system provides the equivalent of a mast as tall as a skyscraper

DARPA’s Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) research effort recently demonstrated a prototype of a low-cost, fully automated parafoil system designed to extend maritime vessels’ long-distance communications and improve their domain awareness. Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could carry intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude—many times higher than current ships’ masts—and greatly extend the equipment’s range and effectiveness.

DARPA has successfully tested a TALONS prototype that can be deployed by hand from smaller boats, or by mast from larger ships. Before open-water testing, TALONS’ rapid development began with land-based testing near Tucson, Arizona, in June 2014, followed by mock-up testing and measurement near Assateague Island National Seashore in Virginia in December of that year.

In the Chesapeake Bay near Baltimore, the TALONS team improved hand-deployment techniques for smaller boats and sent the system up to 500 feet in altitude, tuning and programming automatic launch-and-recovery and autopilot systems. The Virginia Beach demonstration occurred several miles offshore and used a mast-deployment technique that extended TALONS’ reach to 1,000 feet in altitude to display the system’s utility for larger ships.

October 05, 2015

Towards pills that can mimick many of the benefits of exercise

Everyone knows that exercise improves health, and ongoing research continues to uncover increasingly detailed information on its benefits for metabolism, circulation, and improved functioning of organs such as the heart, brain, and liver. With this knowledge in hand, scientists may be better equipped to develop "exercise pills" that could mimic at least some of the beneficial effects of physical exercise on the body. But a review of current development efforts, publishing October 2 in Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, ponders whether such pills will achieve their potential therapeutic impact, at least in the near future.

Several laboratories are developing exercise pills, which at this early stage are being tested in animals to primarily target skeletal muscle performance and improve strength and energy use--essentially producing stronger and faster muscles. But of course the benefits of exercise are far greater than its effects on only muscles.

"Clearly people derive many other rewarding experiences from exercise--such as increased cognitive function, bone strength, and improved cardiovascular function," says Laher. "It is unrealistic to expect that exercise pills will fully be able to substitute for physical exercise--at least not in the immediate future."

Figure from an earlier 2013 look at exercise polypill

Physiology online - Exercise is the Real Polypill (2013)

Trends in Pharmacological Sciences - Exercise Pills: At the Starting Line (2015)

Australia develops two qubit silicon quantum computer

A team of Australian engineers has built a quantum logic gate in silicon for the first time, making calculations between two qubits of information possible – and thereby clearing the final hurdle to making silicon quantum computers a reality.

“What we have is a game changer,” said team leader Andrew Dzurak, Scientia Professor and Director of the Australian National Fabrication Facility at UNSW.

“We’ve demonstrated a two-qubit logic gate – the central building block of a quantum computer – and, significantly, done it in silicon. Because we use essentially the same device technology as existing computer chips, we believe it will be much easier to manufacture a full-scale processor chip than for any of the leading designs, which rely on more exotic technologies.

“This makes the building of a quantum computer much more feasible, since it is based on the same manufacturing technology as today’s computer industry,” he added.

Lead author Menno Veldhorst (left) and project leader Andrew Dzurak (right) in the UNSW laboratory where the experiments were performed.

Silicon two-qubit logic device, incorporating SET read-out and selective qubit control.

Exchange spin funnel

Nature - A two-qubit logic gate in silicon

Current Review of Low Energy Energy Reactions aka Cold Fusion by the US Naval Sea Systems Command

The US Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) of the U.S. Navy has released a report regarding LENR (aka Cold Fusion) and its potential applications

Rossi 1 Megawatt LENR Plant

* Original version ~100 10 kW. Ecats in std. 20 ft. ship container.
* More recent version uses four 250 kW reactors.
* Completed over 200 days of 400 day test @ US customer factory.
* Heat is now being used by customer for mfg. operations.
* Performance report expected around Feb-Mar., 2016.
* C.O.P. (Pout /Pin) typically varies between 20 and 80

BGI creates micropigs the size of a medium sized dog to be sold as pets

On 23 September, at the Shenzhen International Biotech Leaders Summit in China, BGI revealed that it would start selling the pigs as pets. The animals weigh about 15 kilograms when mature, or about the same as a medium-sized dog.

The institute quoted a price tag of 10,000 yuan (US$1,600) for the micropigs, but that was just to "help us better evaluate the market”, says Yong Li, technical director of BGI’s animal-science platform. In future, customers will be offered pigs with different coat colors and patterns, which BGI says it can also set through gene editing.

Animal models

Compared to rats or mice, pigs are closer to humans physiologically and genetically, making them potentially more useful as a model organism for human disease. However, their larger size means that they cost more to keep and require bigger drug doses when they are used to test a pricey experimental medicine.

Bama pigs, which weigh 35–50 kilograms (by contrast, many farm pigs weigh more than 100 kilograms), have previously been used in research.

To make the smaller, gene-edited micropigs, BGI made cloned pigs from cells taken from a Bama fetus. But before they started the cloning process, they used TALENs to disable one of two copies of the growth hormone receptor gene (GHR) in the fetal cells. Without the receptor, cells do not receive the ‘grow’ signal during development, resulting in stunted pigs.

Japan will restart second nuclear reactor

Kyushu Electric Power Co. will restart one of its nuclear reactors on Oct. 15, making it the second to return to operation after the government introduced stricter safety regulations following the 2011 meltdowns in Fukushima Prefecture, a source familiar with the restart plan said.

Kyushu Electric reported its plan to reactivate the No. 2 reactor at its Sendai complex to the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Friday.

The No. 1 unit at the two-reactor plant resumed operation in August, becoming the first reactor to do so under what the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calls “the world’s toughest” safety rules, implemented in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The restart ended a near two-year hiatus in the country’s nuclear power generation.

The government plans to have nuclear power account for 20 percent to 22 percent of Japan’s total electricity supply in 2030, compared with roughly 30 percent before the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 complex, despite the majority of the public opposing nuclear plant restarts.

October 04, 2015

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 281

The Carnival of Nuclear Enery 281 is up at Neutron Bytes

Forbes – Jim Conca - Bill Gates Forges Nuclear Deal With China

Bill Gates and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Seattle to sign an agreement between his nuclear power company, TerraPower, and the China National Nuclear Corporation that will allow the two countries to collaborate on advanced nuclear technologies that address safety, environmental and cost issues, and even burns spent nuclear fuel from old reactors. Hovering over the meeting was climate change, cyber-theft, trade-sanctions and Chinese military aggression in South East Asia.

Nuclear Economics - Some of the ideas discussed in the NEI brainstorming session are covered in this Commentary.

Short-term nuclear operating flexibility may be able to enhance the returns for existing nuclear power plants. Long-term flexibility to mothball nuclear power plants may allow uneconomic units to return to service years later when electricity market prices are higher.

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