February 10, 2006

other tech: Evanescent wave lithography enables optical imaging to smallest-ever level

Yongfa Fan, a doctoral student in RIT's microsystems engineering Ph.D. program, accomplished imaging rendered to 26 nanometers a size previously possible only via extreme ultraviolet wavelength, Smith says. By capturing images that are beyond the limits of classical physics, the breakthrough has allowed resolution to smaller than one-twentieth the wavelength of visible light, he adds.

The development comes at least five years sooner than anticipated, using the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors ( as a guide, Smith says. The roadmap, created by a consortium of industry groups, government organizations, universities, manufacturers and suppliers, assesses semiconductor technology requirements to ensure advancements in the performance of integrated circuits to meet future needs.

Georgia Institute of Tech has ATM that is 100 times faster

Georgia Tech researchers have created a highly sensitive atomic force
microscopy (AFM) technology capable of high-speed imaging 100 times
faster than current AFM.
This technology could prove invaluable for
many types of nano-research, in particular for measuring
microelectronic devices and observing fast biological interactions on
the molecular scale, even translating into movies of molecular
interactions in real time. It can scan at 60 Hertz.

February 09, 2006

Space objects, speed, deterrence

Advanced Nanotechnology and conventional future space technologies will be providing vast new capabilities in space over the coming decades.

I think a not too high threshhold of space capability is needed to maintain MAD (mutually assured destruction) level deterrence.

You send out some 100-1000 ton launcher vehicles.

They go and hide on the non-earth facing side of an asteroid of which there are billions. They place solar energy collector around and then load up on energy. Telescopes are used to look for steerable comets / right composition / right size etc...

Launcher can either take material in space and accelerate it around Jupiter / Sun and then into the earth. 100km/s-1000km/s should be doable OR find the biggest steerable comet that can be nudged onto earth collision course.

Even strong nanotech enabled power would have a tough time finding the vehicles of that size that are actively hiding and built for stealth. Our current capability is that at large distances (30-50 astronomical units) we have just discovered a planet larger than Pluto.
Once the kinetic objects are on the way... a nanotech power would not be able to do much about the objects as they rounded the Sun. Objects can also not use that solar gravity boost. Tough to spot. tough to stop after spotting. Some active dodging of counter measures and active steering to course correct for attempts to nudge off course. It would take about 1 day to get from the sun to earth at 1000km/s

For the thinking on maximum destruction for deterrence, bigger objects (more tonnage) and fast (100km/s) but not super fast speeds probably works out best. At superfast speeds the object would become gamma radiation or cosmic rays at it hit the atmosphere.
For MAD, steering the dinosaur killers or near dinosaur killers would be tough to stop. If you take the long view and truck out years out to the Oort comet cloud and then start nudging the right object ... it would be tough to detect until it got far closer by which time it is orders of magnitude tougher to stop or deflect. The attacker has a big (many orders of magnitude) advantage. Picking the objects and direction and type of attack. Having first mover advantage to get things moving which takes less energy over longer time. The defender has less time and needs to be able to put more energy at stopping and deflecting. Physics works against the defender big-time.

the good news is that although this is first strike capability...if more than one side has advanced space flight...then it is relatively easy to maintain second strike capability. This means one does not have to race to attack first, knowing that if you are wiped out in a first strike you have deep space capability to destroy the attacker.

February 08, 2006

Space, speed and non-nuclear bunker busters

Using near future space based systems like magbeam and eventually nanotechnology (2G acceleration ion solar electric.

3,000t of current batteries or 150t of fuel could accelerate 10t payload to 20 km/s
(72000 km/hr). This is the kinetic energy of 10tons at 20km/s is 4 terajoules.
(1000tons of TNT equivalent)

One megaton is equivalent to 4.18 x 10**15 joules

You could create deep penetrating bunker busters based on kinetic energy.

If more of a runway was needed to accelerate, then the magbeam could accelerate the missile and have the missile slingshot around the moon or the sun. By going around the sun it would further accelerate. A shorter runway could be obtained by positioning it at a lagrange point.

By having the accelerated thing be a carbon protected object with a deployable carbon solar sail. It would further accelerate as it slingshot around the sun. the pluto probe is getting a 21km/s boost from Jupiter slingshot

Getting 10 times faster 100X the energy.
50 km/s 25 TJ 6250 tons of TNT
200km/s 400 TJ 100,000tons of TNT
2000km/s 40,000TJ 10 megatons
20000km/s 4,000,000TJ 1000 megatons

Ultralight solar sails can accelerate a spaceship to 13% of lightspeed on page 16. Nanotech could make such high performance solar sails.
Another conservative near term interstellar space vehicle concept study suggests a way to get to 950km/s.

Some Highlights of a recent Ray Kurzweil interview

Ray Kurzweil is famous predictor of technology and a millionaire inventor of the music synthesizer and other investions.

In the interview he gives some of his rules of thumb on predicting the future of technology. We will increase the price-performance of computing, which is already
formidable and deeply influential, by a factor of a billion in 25 years, and we will also shrink the technology at a predictable pace of over one hundred in 3D volume per decade.

Some other predictions: By 2020, a single chip will provide 10**16 instructions per second, sufficient to emulate a single human brain. We will go to the third dimension, effectively superseding the limits of Moore's law, which deals only in 2-d integrated circuits

Fields such as energy are still not information technologies, but that is going to change as well. For instance, in Singularity I describe how we could meet 100% of our energy needs through renewable energy with nanoengineered solar panels and fuel cells within twenty years, by capturing only 3% of 1% of the sunlight that hits the Earth. Note: a related developmentPenn State researchers are creating titania nanotubes that they believe can achieve 15% efficiency soon. They believe they can create their titania nanotbue solar cells without spending 5 gigajoules per square meter, which is what takes to make silicon solar cells.

By 2015, we will have images input directly onto our retinas. This allows for a very high-resolution display that encompasses the entire visual field of view yet is physically tiny. These devices exist in 2005, and are used in high-performance applications, such as putting a soldier or a surgeon into a virtual reality environment. We will have augmented reality, including pop-up displays explaining what is happening in the real world. We will be able to go into full-immersion, visual auditory virtual reality environments.

We will have useable language technologies. These are beginning to emerge, and by 2015 they will be quite effective. In this visual field
of view, we will have virtual personalities with which you can
interact. Computers will have virtual assistants with sufficient
command of speech recognition that you can discuss subjects with them