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August 04, 2006

Comprehensive info on thorium energy

A comprehensive 1969 report in PDF format on thorium for nuclear reactors thanks to Kirk Sorenson at Thorium energy blog

thorium reactors again

Another summary of the benefits of Thorium nuclear reactors. This from the Uranium information center in Australia

Some of the listed benefits:
- Thorium is much more abundant in nature than uranium.

- Thorium can also be used as a nuclear fuel through breeding to uranium-233 (U-233).

- When this thorium fuel cycle is used, much less plutonium and other transuranic elements are produced, compared with uranium fuel cycles.

- Several reactor concepts based on thorium fuel cycles are under consideration.

- 100% of mined Thorium can be used without enrichment

The australian site has a lot of other useful articles on nuclear power

New estimate: universe is 15.8 billion years old

Universe is 15% older than previously thought. The distance to a galaxy was measured by observing a binary star. The new measurement implies that the value used for the Hubble constant is off by 15%. More measurements need to be made to confirm and narrow the age estimate and to analyze the Hubble constant.

other tech: Superconducting boat engines update

An update and analysis of the new superconducting motors for ships and military and commercial boats. The new superconducting ship motors should be starting early adoption over the next 5 years. This is happening at the same time that 2nd generation superconducting wire has reached a level where it can be integrated into the existing power grid.

Millipede status: precursor and enabling technology for molecular nanotechnology

Millipede is a data storage device based upon an array of atomic force microscopes.

From wikipedia: The progress of millipede storage to a commercially useful product has been slower than expected. Huge advances in other competing storage systems, notably Flash and hard drives, has made the existing demonstrators unattractive for commercial production. Millipede appears to be in a race, attempting to mature quickly enough at a given technology level that it has not been surpassed by newer generations of the existing technologies by the time it is ready for production.

The earliest generation millipede devices used probes 10 nanometers in diameter and 70 nanometers in length, producing pits about 40 nm in diameter on fields 92 μm x 92 μm. Arranged in a 32 x 32 grid, the resulting 3 mm x 3 mm chip stores 500 Mbits of data, resulting in an areal density, the number of bits per square inch, on the order of 200 Gb/in². IBM initially demonstrated this device in 2003, planning to introduce it commercially in 2005. By that point hard drives were approaching 150 Gb/in², and have since surpassed it.

More recent devices demonstrated at CeBIT in 2005 have improved on the basic design, using a 64 x 64 cantilever chips with a 7 mm x 7 mm data sled, boosting the data storage capacity to 800 Gb/in² per square inch using smaller pits. It appears the pit size can scale to about 10 nm, providing an areal density just over 1Tb/in². IBM now plans to introduce devices based on this sort of density in 2007. For comparison, the very latest perpendicular recording hard drives feature areal densities on the order of 230 Gb/in², and appear to top out at about 1 Tb/in². Semiconductor-based memories offer much lower density, 10 Gb/in² for DRAM and about 250 Mb/in² for Flash RAM.

Recently others have found how to reduce friction by 100 times in MEMS devices like Millipede. That can help to improve the reliability and operating life for Millipede devices. If Millipede can be commercialized next year, the cost of AFM and other microscope arrays could come down. The cost reduction would boost the development of more massively parallel arrays of microscopes. That development would boost early molecular nanotechnology capabilities. This is getting more powerful with improvement s to the tips of the microscopes. They have tips that end with one atom, which increases the accuracy and resolution.

Other peoples Timelines for Manipulating and Greatly Enhancing Human Regeneration

from fighting aging: The convergence of funding and estimated timelines in science is a fascinating process to watch; as a general rule, timelines only start to appear once funding is assured. Once they find out what allows salamanders to regenerate and what keeps us from being able to, they hope to create a pill or bandage that would spur regeneration in humans. Some experts are predicting this to occur in 10-15 years.

Stem cell medicine will mature over 10-20 years.

Within 20 years regenerative medicine will be the standard of care for replacing all tissue/organ systems in the body in addition to extensive industrial use for pharmaceutical testing. The ultimate goal at the end of 20 years is to have real time mass customization of tissues on demand, in vivo. During those 20 years, as our knowledge of tissues grows, it is reasonable to expect to see treatments discovered along the way, roughly at the 5, 10 and 20 year marks. In 5 years the following milestones are hoped for:

- Develop multiple applications for skin, cartilage, bone, blood vessel, and some urological products
- Solve cell sourcing issues, giving researchers access to the materials they need to design new therapies
...
- Establish cost-effective means of production, paving the way for future products
- Establish specialized cell banks for tissue storage, allowing storage of viable "off the shelf" products

In 10 years, effective regenerative medicine therapies will be available for patient care and industrial research and development purposes. At this time, the following may be achieved:

- Further understand stem cell and progenitor cell biology
- Engineer smart degradable biocompatible scaffolding
- Develop microfabrication and nanofabrication technologies to produce tissues with their own complete vascular circulation
- Develop complex organ patches, that could repair damaged pieces of the heart or other organs

Ultimately, within 20 years the full benefits of regenerative medicine therapies will be reached. Some of the applications of regenerative medicine could be:

- Harness regenerative medicine materials to produce in situ regeneration of diseased and damaged structures in many areas of the body
- Regenerate most damaged tissues and organs either in vivo or through implanted regeneration therapies
- Produce in vitro sophisticated 3-D tissues and organs that cannot be regenerated through in vivo techniques, such as an entire heart or lung


Aggressive researchers are predicting significant stem cell success in 2 years

From 2006 to 2008, some pre-announced molecular nanotech work

Robert Freitas has been involved in a lot of important work towards achieving molecular nanotechnology from a recent important computational chemistry study and paper to the Nanofactory collaboration

From the nanofactory collaboration site they have announced books, experiments and papers that are being worked upon.

Berhane Temelso, C. David Sherrill, Ralph C. Merkle, Robert A. Freitas Jr., “High-level Ab Initio Studies of Hydrogen Abstraction from Prototype Hydrocarbon Systems,” J. Phys. Chem. A (2006). In press.

I believe this paper will be providing more computational study of the 1991 hydrogen abstraction tool and other follow on tools.

More on ab initio quantum chemistry methods at another wikipedia article.

Robert A. Freitas Jr., Damian G. Allis, Ralph C. Merkle, “Horizontal Ge-Substituted Polymantane-Based C2 Dimer Placement Tooltip Motifs for Diamond Mechanosynthesis,” J. Comput. Theor. Nanosci. 3(2006). In final preparation.

Follow on to the important computational chemistry study mentioned at the start of this article.


Berhane Temelso, C. David Sherrill, Ralph C. Merkle, Robert A. Freitas Jr., “High-level Ab Initio Studies of Prototype Hydrogen Donation Tools,” J. Phys. Chem. A (2007). In preparation.

More detailed computational analysis of important tools.

Robert A. Freitas Jr., Ralph C. Merkle, “A Minimal Toolset for Positional Diamond Mechanosynthesis,” J. Comput. Theor. Nanosci. 3(2007). In preparation.

An important theoretical paper that will overview the lower threshhold of what is needed for diamond mechnosynthesis.

Robert A. Freitas Jr., Ralph C. Merkle, Diamond Surfaces and Diamond Mechanosynthesis, Landes Bioscience, 2007, in preparation; http://www.MolecularAssembler.com/DSDM.htm

This will be an important book that will gather a lot of the recent theoretical, computational and experimental work together. Probably good for advanced university classes.

Robert A. Freitas Jr., J. Storrs Hall, Fundamentals of Nanomechanical Engineering, 2007-2008, in preparation; http://nanomech.org/ is currently sparse and points mainly to the molecularassembler.com

A book that will provide an updated overview of nanomechanics. I believe it will probably become the new main book for university level classes.

Balloon based wifi broadband cashstream for space elevator company

Liftport, the space elevator developers, is being paid to provide balloon based wifi towers for Lightspeed Broadband



A three-balloon cluster rises above a rural area near Poulsbo, Wash., as part of LiftPort Group's test of a system that could provide wireless data services to remote or disaster-struck areas.


This technology will provide broadband for rural locations and for early response communication at disaster areas and for military situations.

Many other companies are working on balloon and blimp based communication and communication relays

August 03, 2006

50 nm flash chips for 4 gigabit memory, Nanosys involved to boost memory

The Intel-Micron Technology joint venture, based in Lehi, Utah, announced July 25 that it has begun sampling 4-gigabit NAND flash memory chips manufactured using a new, 50-nanometer process. The memory capacity is increasing rapidly. It is double the 2005 capacity.

IMFT is already working on some new technology. On June 29, it expanded its collaboration with Nanosys, a Palo Alto, Calif., nanotechnology startup that's designing microscopic nanowires that could be used to boost the capacities of NAND flash memory chips.

NJIT Researchers Seed, Heat and Grow Carbon Nanotubes in Long Tubing

n less than 20 minutes, researchers at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) can now seed, heat and grow carbon nanotubes in 10-foot-long, hollow thin steel tubing. Thanks to nanotech-now.com for finding this article.

Until recently researchers have relied on the nanotubes which researchers purchase as a powder. The nanotubes are said to have remarkable, if not almost magical, properties. For example, by simply mixing the powder with polymers or chemicals, films and composites can be made.

However, the method has drawbacks. “We have never been able to anchor the powder to a large surface, nor can we grow the nanotubes in a large device. Typically we could only produce them in minute amounts, if we used the powder substance,” said Mitra. Now everything has changed.

Using a catalyst either prepared on the steel surface or enabled by a chemical deposition process, the NJIT inventors have created nanotubes which can stick to the walls of narrow or wide tubes. And, they can grow considerably larger amounts of them, making the process more attractive and viable for industrial usages.

August 02, 2006

STM advance reveals high temp superconductor surprises

New atomic scale imaging reveals surprises about high temperature superconductors



Scanning tunneling microscope "topographic map" of a sample of cuprate semiconductor shows the locations of atoms in the crystal lattice. The inset shows how the current flow at a single point of the scan varies with voltage, with "kinks" (arrows) that indicate the presence of lattice vibrations and electron pairs.

Researchers found that the distribution of paired electrons in a common high-temperature superconductor was "disorderly," but that the distribution of phonons -- vibrating atoms in the crystal lattice -- was disorderly in just the same way. The theory of low-temperature superconductivity says that electrons interacting with phonons join into pairs that are able to travel through the conductor without being scattered by atoms. These results suggest that a similar mechanism may be at least partly responsible for high-temperature superconductivity.

They have shown that you can't ignore the electron-phonon interaction. They have not proved that it's involved in the pairing, but they have proven that you can't ignore it.

They advanced the use of scanning tunneling microscopes. Drawing on a technique developed at Cornell a decade ago to measure the vibrations of a single atom, Davis extended the measurements across an entire sample, using an improved scanning tunneling microscope (STM). The STM uses a probe so small that its tip is a single atom; positioned a few nanometers above the surface of a sample and moved in increments smaller than the diameter of an atom, it can scan a surface while current flowing between the tip and the surface is measured.

Hypersonic aircraft

Here is a pdf with a detailed hypersonic aircraft proposal. It also has a lot of background information on scramjets and hypersonic aircraft

August 01, 2006

Another Solar power startup: interesting tech

The competition in solar power is intense and major advances are being made. Getting an installed cost well below $1 per watt would be revolutionary and highly competitive. Mass produced concentrator based solar looks like it has many advantages and should be highly successful for one or two of the dozens of companies trying to make it work. Solar power looks like it will greatly increase its share of the energy portfolio for many nations.

SolFocus will manufacture solar systems at $2 per watt when it opens its first concentrator plant next year; and he says gigawatt-scale production will cut the cost per watt to just 50 cents. The second generation should cut costs further, says Conley, to as low as 32 cents per watt.



Solfocus uses quarter-sized mirrors that focus sunlight on photovoltaic "dots" just one millimeter square.

SolFocus' design, for example, uses one-thousandth as much semiconductor material per watt produced as a conventional silicon photovoltaic cell. The technology uses compound photovoltaics such as germanium and gallium arsenide, originally designed for use in satellites, which can capture up to 40 percent of the solar energy hitting them -- more than double the efficiency of high-end silicon cells.

But the bulk of the materials reduction comes from the concentrator, which Conley says resembles the headlight in most modern cars. "Put the cell where the light bulb is and you have our design," says Conley. Mirrors are the key: a primary mirror that focuses sunlight onto a smaller mirror perched above, which, in turn, focuses the light on the solar cell.

SolFocus' current, first-generation design molds an array of 635 one-square-centimeter primary mirrors into a glass plate. Secondary mirrors attached above them reflect light through holes in the plate onto one-centimeter-square high-efficiency cells below.

A second-generation design squeezes the process into a single glass block: light beaming through the top of the block reflects off primary mirrors shaped into the bottom face, up to secondary mirrors shaped into the top face, and back to one-millimeter-square photovoltaic cells popped into the center of the primary mirrors.

other tech: Anti-obesity vaccine developed

Anti-obesity vaccine developed US researchers have developed a vaccine which prevents weight gain in rats, offering clues about human treatments.

The vaccine prompts the body to produce antibodies against ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger and weight gain.

Vaccinated rats put on less weight while eating the same amount as those which did not have the jab.

A UK obesity expert said the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study was interesting, but it might not be safe for people.

Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in California developed three synthetic vaccines that recognise different parts of the ghrelin hormone.

When injected into rats, two of the vaccines were found to bind to the active form of ghrelin, inducing antibodies against the hormone and blocking its action.

This is an important proof of principle, but they need to have more control of the anti-bodies that are produced. Ghrelin is present in the brain, so there is a risk of an immune system response against the brain.

The researcher will need to make it safer before using it on humans.

July 31, 2006

Understanding the nature of quantum algorithms

An introduction to algorithms for quantum computers

A list of the efficient (a lot better than algorithms for regular computers)
Shor's algorithm, an algorithm for factoring numbers, which is key to decryption
Solving pell's equation Pell's equation is useful for approximating things like the square root of 2
Estimating certain Gauss sums
Solving hidden shift problems
solving certain hidden subgroup problems

Every quantum algorithm is fourier transforms and classical computation.

The Toffoli gate and the Hadamard gate are universal for quantum computing

the Toffoli gate, invented by Tommaso Toffoli, is a universal reversible logic gate, which means that any reversible circuit can be constructed from Toffoli gates. It is also known as the "controlled-controlled-not" gate, which also describes its action.

Petaflop computer follow up

More on the MD Grape 3, the worlds first petaflop computer. It only cost $9 million to make, $15 per gigaflop. Found by velcro-city

The USA has 298 machines on the Top 500 supercomputer list.(Six of the top 10 supercomputers are U.S. machines.) Experts believe that the nation with the most machines near the top of the ranking generally has the most competitive economy.

2. Britain with 35 supercomputers
3. Japan (29)
4. China (28)
5. Germany (18)

Japan built a processor that did only the type of calculations they need to do in astrophysics. They built a specialized processor and a specialized network. It shows how cost- and power-efficient you can be if you build for a specific applications. Custom hardware can in general deliver 10-100 times the efficiency of generalized hardware with specialized software.

Lockheed Martin set to make seed-sized spy plane

Lockheed Martin set to make 1.5 inch long spy plane.

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Lockheed Martin a $1.7-million, 10-month contract to design a remotely controlled nano air vehicle (NAV) that is capable of collecting military intelligence both indoors and in urban outdoor environments.

The team includes Lockheed Martin Advanced Development Programs, Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center, Sandia National Laboratories, AeroCraft, ATK Thiokol and the University of Pennsylvania.

Plans call for a chemical rocket enclosed in the NAV's single wing to be able to deliver a sensor payload module more than 1000 yards from the point of release. Besides controlling lift and pitch, the wing will also house telemetry, communications, navigation, imaging sensors, and battery power. The NAV will be about 1.5 inches long and have a maximum takeoff weight of about 0.35 ounces, Lockheed Martin (Bethesda, Md.) said in a press release.

Lockheed Martin said a remote pilot would be able to fly the NAV towards its target by viewing its flight path through a camera embedded in the wing with images transmitted wireless back to the operative. As the system is developed Lockheed Martin expects an autopilot to be included aboard the NAV to provide limited autonomous operations. Once the NAV delivers its payload, it will return to base for collection and refurbishment.

The $1.7 million contract is intended to fund design of prototypes for the engine, the airframe, the flight control system, and the communications system as well as computer models of the guidance system and sensors.

A preliminary design review is planned for summer 2007. After a sequence of go/no-go tests, DARPA may fund an additional 18-month period during which Lockheed Martin would design and test a flying prototype.

vernor Vinge has new book Rainbows End

A discussion and review of Vernor Vinge's new book Rainbows End. Vernor Vinge wrote the and spoke in the 1980s when he popularized the concept of the Technological singularity

UK Article about becoming rich

Felix Dennis is a roughly 59 year old british magazine publisher who is rich. By his own estimate he has between $400 and 900 million.In the times online he has written an article about getting rich.

He lists the key characteristics needed to become rich:
- Confidence and an unshakeable belief it can be done and that you are the one to do it.
- Stamina is essential
- Tunnel vision helps.
- Being a bit of a shit helps.
- A thick skin helps.
- Be willing to fail
- Be willing to work very hard to achieve it

DENNIS'S WEALTH GUIDE

Total assets

£1m-£2m ($1.86m-3.72m) The comfortable poor

£2m-£5m ($3.72m-9.3m) The comfortably off

£5m-£15m ($9.3m-27.9m) The comfortably wealthy

£15m-£40m ($27.9m-74.4m) The lesser rich

£40m-£75m ($74.4m-139.5m) The comfortably rich

£75m-£100m (139.5m-186m) The rich

£100m-£200m ($186m-372m) The seriously rich

£200m-£400m ($372m-744m) The truly rich

£400m-£999m ($744-1.85b)The filthy rich

More than £999m ($1.85b+) The super rich

Here is a related article about how many people have different levels of wealth Dennis's wealth guide is interesting in that it places himself in the truly/filthy rich category and those richer than him as super rich.

There are about 90,000 people in the world who would qualify as the lesser rich or wealthier. About 11,000 people who would qualify as seriously rich or wealthier. About 793 are the billionaires who would be mostly the filthy rich and super rich.

July 30, 2006

Motion capture animation with 1000 times more detail

Mr. Perlman is now putting the finishing touches on Contour, a futuristic camera system that will add photorealistic three-dimensional effects to digital entertainment. Standard motion-capture systems are generally limited in resolution to several hundred points on a human face, while the Contour system can recreate facial images at a resolution of 200,000 pixels. The digital video images produced by the system are startlingly realistic.

an important hurdle to commercial success for the Contour system is whether it will be the first low-cost technology to cross what film and robot specialists refer to as the “uncanny valley.”

That phrase was coined in the 1970’s by Masahiro Mori, the Japanese robotics specialist, as he sought to describe the emotional response of humans to robots and other nonhuman entities. He theorized that as a robot became more lifelike, the emotional response of humans became increasingly positive and empathetic — until a certain point at which the robot took on a zombie-like quality, and the human response turned to repulsion. Then, as the robot becomes indistinguishable from a human, the response turns positive again. Critics were quick to point out the eerie look of the characters in “Polar Express.”