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April 22, 2006

Follow up: More on remote control robot vehicles

Commercial remote control cars are being used as the basis for military Bombots BomBots are not built from scratch but are modifications of commercially available remote-controlled monster trucks that are intended for adults to race and sell for $350 to $500. [The four workers] replace the original wheels with larger, tougher versions and swap out the radio for a tamper- and jam-resistant model that responds only to its operator's hand-held controller. They upgrade the truck's transmission and clutch and modify its springs. Then they add an antenna, a dump-truck bed, a flashlight-sized camera that provides a 360-degree view and conduct more tests.

Robotic planes will track pollution

This sites survey on radio controlled planes and cars

April 21, 2006

Important computational chemistry paper, showing dimer placement reliable at room temperature

Zyvex researchers with Robert Freitas and Ralph Merkle have published an important computational chemistry paper, showing dimer placement works reliable at room temperature. (Jing Ping Peng, freitas, merkle, von Ehr, Randall, Skidmore paper on diamond mechnosynthesis) Theoretical analysis of Diamond Mechanosynthesis III : Positional C2 Deposition on Diamond C(110) Surface using Si/Ge/Sn-based dimer placement tools.

The Germanium version of the DBC6 dimer placement tool had detailed computer simulations performed showing that it should work reliably at room temperature. There is no problem placing dimers with a one dimer gap. Placing them directly adjacent can cause some defect formation.

The paper also describes using a first pass of placing every other dimer. Then adding the skipped dimers. This process is a defect-reduced procedure for fully populated dimer rows.

The simulations also showed the maximum placement tolerances. 0.5 angstroms in X (or across dimension) and 1.0 angstroms in the Y (or along trough) for an isolated dimer.

1.0 angstrom in the X and 0.3 angstroms in the Y for a correct gapped dimer placement.

There is a table which shows the tolerances and positional uncertainty at different temperatures using the different materials for tooltips.

Longevity economically good, worth investing in making more longevity

Here is a discussion of a recent journal of science article "the Longevity Dividend" One of the authors, Olshansky, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Illinois argues that it is in society's best interest to work at alleviating the effects of aging. To this end he suggests that US congress invest $3 billion annually to life extension with the hopes of prolonging lives by a factor of 7 years. Olshansky has been more skeptical on longevity in the past. So he and his colleagues should be commended for recognizing that increasing longevity is possible and desireable. The part that they should be criticized for is that they said that nothing that is targeting an increase of more than 7 years should be funded.

This is like saying computers should and can become faster. So X billion should be spent on future computers that maintain Moore's law, but none should be spent on anything that might exceed Moore's law.

Recent statistics on US health show reductions in overall annual deaths and that over 30 years the life expectancy has increased by about 4 years. Life expectancy background information is at wikipedia

If we look at the list of countries by life expectancy, we can see that there are already places that exceed the US life expectancy by 5-6 years Most developed countries continue to add 0.1 to 0.2 years of life expectancy each year.

Life expectancy has increased over human history at the same time that human wealth has increased.

Background on maximum life span

It is clear that living longer is good for people and for the economy.
It is clear that there is lot more that can be done to raise human life expectancy and life span. We should spend a lot more on pushing technological horizons outward in an aggressive way.

As part of a sensible portfolio of national scientific investment (medical, nanotechnology etc...), it makes sense that 1-10% should be on work with disruptive potential. In life extension, disruptive is an increase of 50% or getting annual increases to 1 year annually or more. That is 79 years expectency this year, next year 80 years, then 81 years etc...

European program for study human enhancement

There is European program to survey, document and investigate the impact of possible new technology that could enhance humans They are examining the ethics of human enhancement within: Cognitive Enhancement, Life Extension, Mood Enhancement and Physical Performance.

The main objectives are to

To document current and imminent scientific advances that may enhance human capacities in cognition, mood, physical performance (in sport) and ageing.
To evaluate these advances from a philosophical, ethical and social perspective.
To facilitate policy-making to the emerging dual-use technologies.
To promote public understanding of dual-use technologies and the ethical debate.

Coverage of various human enhancement technologies.

April 19, 2006

Health: US death rate declines by largest amount in 70 years

The preliminary number of U.S. deaths recorded for 2004 was 2,398,343. That represents a decline of 49,945 from the 2,448,288 recorded in 2003. Normally this number goes up because of the increasing population.
Is this an aberration or is it because of improving medical technology? The government also said that U.S. life expectancy has inched up again to 77.9 years, a record high but still behind that of about two dozen other countries.

The government also reported that a baby born in 2004 could expect to live to nearly 78 — an increase of almost half a year from 2003. Women now have a life expectancy of 80.4, up from 80.1. Male life expectancy is 75.2, up from 74.8.

The life expectancy for whites — 78.3 — was up only slightly from the previous year. The increase for blacks was larger, with a rise from 72.7 to 73.3.

The government also reported that the infant mortality rate has dropped to 6.76 deaths per 1,000 births, down from 6.85 the year before. But a huge racial disparity persists. The rate for whites was 5.65 per 1,000 births, for blacks, 13.65.

The World Health Organization has its 2006 world health report which shows the basic health statistics for every country.

April 18, 2006

Other tech: radio controlled planes, building your own UAV

Here is some info on how hobbiest and businesses with some technical skill, some budget and the desire could make their own UAVs. There are currently few regulations for radio controlled planes and flyers that have a total weight less than 2 pounds. If this did not change then the improvements in MEMS and other technology would make for quite capable devices under that weight limit. Radio controlled planes flying up to 2000 feet are relatively standard and are currently easily outfitted with cameras.

A light radio controlled plane that can be damaged in a crash and within minutes be re-assembled and flying again A list of radio control plane makers and gear for radio controlled planes

There is an open source project to build the control software for autopiloting UAVs

Cloud cap technologies makes autopilot systems for converting RC planes into unmanned aerial vehicles

PiccoloPlus Autopilot $6000
Piccolo II Autopilot - fixed wing version $7500
Piccolo Ground Station $7500

Micropilot also makes
autopiloting gear
as does procer us UAV with pricing

Another source of UAV gear

US troops build their own UAVs and using remote control cars

Kite aerial photography

Aerial surveillance gear

A list of remote control plane sites

A fairly high performance ready to fly plane


40mph+ model car




Gumstix makes gumstick size 400MHz computers with 64 MB of memory that can be added to planes for various control purposes.

Solar powered flyers lasting over 48 hours have been made by hobbyists and some are incorporating small jet engines with speeds over 115 miles per hour.

A balloon that could act as a poor man's satellite

Robotic helicopter

Other tech: quantum encryption over fiber at 4 Mbps

The laboratory system produced this “raw” key at a rate of more than 4 million bits per second (4 million bps) over 1 kilometer (km) of optical fiber, twice the speed of NIST’s previous record, reported just last month.** The system also worked successfully, although more slowly, over 4 km of fiber.

The record speed was achieved with an error rate of only 3.6 percent, considered very low. The next step will be to process the raw key, using NIST-developed methods for correcting errors and increasing privacy, to generate "secret" key at about half the original speed, or about 2 million bps. The NIST quantum key distribution (QKD) system uses single photons, the smallest particles of light, in different orientations to produce a continuous binary code, or "key," for encrypting information. The rules of quantum mechanics ensure that anyone intercepting the key is detected, thus providing highly secure key exchange.

April 17, 2006

Advances make Faster and cheaper sequencing of human genome possible

An instrument capable of reading thousands of DNA fragments per second is being developed by researchers led by Tony Bland of the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. The concept behind it was unveiled last week at a briefing in London. It took a decade and an army of researchers working together to produce the first reading of the human genome, but researchers think they will soon be able to do the job in a day.
Another application of the research groupsmagnetoelectronics work has arisen through a partnership between Prof Bland’s group at Cambridge University and the 4G gene sequencing team at the University of Southampton. This partnership aims to use magnetic information storage technology to create a new method of sequencing DNA. The idea is to use miniature magnetic sensors similar to those used in a hard drive read head to detect magnetically encoded beads functionalized with sequences of DNA. This could ultimately enable the sequencing of 4 billion bases a day - the entire human genome.

The site for the research group is here There list of projects is here

In 2005, the cost of sequencing a genome had dropped to about two million dollars The goal of the Personal Genome Project (PGP) is to get the cost of sequencing an entire human genome down to $10,000 by 2009 and $1,000 by 2014 There is also the genome x-prize to encourage and reward success in this area.

General background on gene sequencing is here

Paint on quantum dot lasers

Researchers at the University of Toronto have created a laser that could help save the $200-billion dollar computer chip industry from a crisis expected in 2010 dubbed the "interconnect bottleneck." To tackle this problem, Ted Sargent, a Canada Research Chair in Nanotechnology, created the new laser using colloidal quantum dots -- nanometre-sized particles of semiconductor that are suspended in a solvent like the particles in paint. "We've made a laser that can be smeared onto another material," says Ted Sargent. Ted Sargent was named one of the world's top young innovators" by MIT's Technology Review Magazine and has been called the boy wonder of nanotechnology The process of applying the quantum dots is simple and quick. Dip in the chip and dry in 5 minutes.

This and other research are at his research groups site

Ted Sargent has written a book on nanotechnology, which you can buy at the link below.