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September 30, 2006

14 Tbps over a Single Optical Fiber

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) has successfully demonstrated the ultra-large capacity optical transmission of 14 Tera bits per second (Tera is one trillion) over a single 160 km long optical fiber. The value of 14 Tbps (111 Gbps x 140 ch) exceeds the current record of about 10 Tbps and so claims the record of the world's largest transmission capacity. The present core optical network is an optical transport network with about 1 Tbps capacity. Based on the wavelength-division-multiplexing (WDM) of signals with the channel capacity of 10 Gbps, it uses optical amplifiers with the bandwidth of about 4THz. The data traffic has been doubling every year due to the rapid spread of broadband access.

September 29, 2006

Predictions from PCworld

PC World just came out with 100 technology predictions

Here are some of the ones that I liked:

Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech-recognition program claimed an accuracy of 99 percent, but PC world tests showed an accuracy of 96 percent. Expect higher accuracy to allow use of machines without keyboards.

Adding flash memory to the motherboard could lead to PCs that boot up and load applications more quickly. (expect in 2007).

(2007) 1-terabyte desktop hard drives. 2 terabytes (2009), 8 terabytes (2013).

Current Blu-ray specs allows for a maximum capacity of 50GB (with two layers), TDK has already demonstrated a prototype Blu-ray disc that uses six layers to hold 200GB of data.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have produced a prototype of a light-sensitive protein coating that they believe will eventually store up to 50 terabytes on a DVD-size disc. (2008-2010)

The Helio display can create a TV out of nowhere, projecting an image onto a curtain of compressed air. Right now it is prohibitively expensive (around $20,000), but the price will fall as the technology matures.

Fiber-optic broadband service is currently available in 17 states, providing up to 50-megabits-per-second downloads and 5-mbps uploads to the lucky few subscribers who happen to have access. PC World thinks 200 mbps down/20 mbps is coming.

Analyst Ron Glaz of IDC thinks that shoppers will be able to buy a 10-megapixel camera for less than $300 by the end of 2007, and a 20-megapixel camera for less than $300 by 2015

Nanochip could delivery tens of gigabytes of memory on a chip.

New printhead design dubbed JeTrix, in a couple of years could allow one thousand printed pages per minute.

Strategic technology plan for climate change

The current US dept of Energy plan for climate change at this site The actual 243 page pdf is here

The strategic goals as follows:
1. Reduce emissions from energy end use and infrastructure;
2. Reduce emissions from energy supply;
3. Capture and sequester carbon dioxide;
4. Reduce emissions of non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases;
5. Improve capabilities to measure and monitor GHG emissions; and
6. Bolster basic science contributions to technology development.

The list of actual funded programs for 2006 and 2007 is in the appendix.

They like the advanced burner reactor to control nuclear waste, carbon sequestering, emission control at source and emission reduction for end use.

I also like better solar and wind, carbon sequestering, thorium reactors, 200+mpg hybrid diesel/fuel cell/ultraconductor cars, space based power using magnetically inflated cable, man made volcano effects, space solar shields, more energy efficiency in the power grid, lighting and home heating.

Nanoscale technology is considered to make production cleaner. (age 221)

Existing and future nuclear power plants can be made more efficient which would provide a quick 160GW boost in non-carbon producing power

Thorium reactors also could be part of the solution

Magnetic memory element can be directly connected to silicon transistor

A gadolinium layer of no more than one nanometer in thickness is capable of combining the magnetic world with electronics. In this way, it will be possible to put a magnetic memory element directly to a silicon transistor: the basic building block of information technology. Memory that is directly coupled to processing power, is an attractive and energy efficient option. A magnetic layer, placed on a transistor, yields a powerful new component combining memory and processing power in a very direct way. This is good for cutting energy consumption, of vital importance in mobile devices.
Now that the contact problem has been solved, scientist can start designing new components in which electronic and magnetic technology is combined.

Intel is also working on other ways to connect memory and processors more tightly.
Intel showed off an 80-core processor at its developer forum taking place in San Francisco this week and one of the prominent features of the chip is that each core is connected directly to a 256MB memory chip through a technology called Through Silicon Vias, or TSV.
The memory wedded to the processor cores could constitute the entire memory needed for a computer. The memory chips attached to the 80-core processor are SRAM, a relatively expensive memory that Intel still makes. The next step is to see how well DRAM works with TSV.

September 28, 2006

New Power Suit Amplifies Human Strength

Engineers in Japan are perfecting a wearable power suit that amplifies human strength to help lift hospital patients or heavy objects.

Driven by portable batteries, micro air pumps and small body sensors that pick up even the slightest muscle twitch, the Stand-Alone Wearable Power Assist Suit is designed to help nursing home workers lift patients of up to 180 pounds while cutting the amount of strength required in half.

Bose-Einstein condensation in the solid state

New experimental research shows that half-matter, half-light quasi-particles called polaritons show compelling evidence of Bose-Einstein condensation at the relatively high temperature of 19 degrees Kelvin. The creation of a polariton Bose-Einstein condensate in the solid state provides scientists with a unique opportunity to better understand and possibly exploit the quantum effects that occur in these very special conditions.


Images of the energy distribution of polaritons as a function of the excitation density. From left to right, below threshold for condensation, at threshold and above threshold. Front row, speed distributions, the speed increases from the center to the edges. Rear row, dispersion of polaritons, with their distribution.Credit: Benoit Devead-Pledran, EPFL

A polariton is a billion times lighter than a Rubidium atom, and 10,000 times lighter than an electron. This means that polaritons can transform into a Bose-Einstein condensate at a much higher temperature than alkali gases. Some of the possibilities that have been suggested for applications of the quantum effects of the Bose-Einstein phase -- quantum computing, quantum clocks or atomic or lasers that use matter instead of light – are only realistically conceivable if these condensates can be achieved at room temperature, or at least temperatures that can be reached using standard cryogenic techniques. According to Professor Benoit Deveaud, leader of the research team, condensates at even higher temperatures could perhaps be achieved using other semiconductor materials.

September 27, 2006

More efficient nuclear power plants

New fuel that is easy to manufacture and is capable of boosting the power output of PWR plants by 50 percent. Researchers at MIT changed the shape of the fuel from solid cylinders to hollow tubes. This added surface area that allows water to flow inside and outside the pellets, increasing heat transfer.

The efficiency of pressurized water reactor (PWRs) and boiling water reactor (BWRs) is limited to around 33 percent, because water can be heated to only a certain temperature and only a certain amount of heat can be taken out of water. If that limit were pushed higher, more heat could be extracted, and the plant would generate more energy at a lower cost.

Nanofluids -- base fluids such as water interspersed with tiny particles of oxides and metals only billionths of a meter in diameter. Buongiorno's nano-spiked water, transparent but somewhat murky, can remove up to two times more heat than ordinary water.

Here is a pdf list of global nuclear reactors. It breaks down the type of reactors. 214 reactors are PWR and generate 206 GW. 53 are PWR-WWER (russian Water-Water Energetic Reactor) and generate 35 GW. 90 are BWR and generate 79 GW. In total they make up about 80% of the global nuclear power. A 50% improvement in power generation would add 160GW of power

The maximum output capacity of installed wind power in 2005 was about 59 GW.

160GW would be more than double all of the current global renewable (not including hydroelectric) energy sources.

Here is the global electricity usage forecast. Currently the world is using about 4000GW.

Nanopore Sequencing: the way to $1000 genome sequencing ?

Following up on information from crnano

The Harvard Nanopore Group is working on the development of solid state nanopores and our studies of DNA translocation through these nanopores suggest how a nanopore could be the core of an instrument capable of inexpensive de novo sequencing. They are investigating and developing the basic science and technology required to build a nanopore based instrument that should be able to sequence a mammalian genome for <$1,000 and that meets the following requirements:
a. High-speed sequential identification of the DNA's nucleotides directly on the basis of their distinct physical or electrical properties;
b. Very long, indefinite length reads. Analysis and assembly is a bottle-neck in de novo sequencing and limits re-sequencing when copy number polymorphism or variable indels are to be identified in heterozygous genomes;
c. The requisite sequence coverage (7.7-fold coverage, 6.5-fold coverage in Q20 bases) using genomic DNA from <106 cells with no amplification and minimal preparative steps. Otherwise, amplification or other preparatory steps become limiting.




A biased nanopore in an insulating membrane that separates two ionic solution-filled compartments translocates DNA molecules in sequencial nucleotide order between probes that serve as emitter and collector of a tunneling “microscope.” In response to a voltage bias (labeled “ - ” and “+”) across the membrane, ssDNA molecules (yellow) in the “-” compartment are driven, one at a time, into and through the nanopore. Elevated temperatures and denaturants maintain the DNA in an unstructured, single-stranded form.


Nucleotide bases could be sensed by the currents of a tunneling microscope would be ~ 100,000 – 1,000,000/bases per second if the microscope could follow the molecule's length at that rate and over a sufficient range.

If they are able to resolve each base as it passes through a nanopore at the rate of 10,000 bases/sec, an instrument with an array of 100 such nanopores could produce high-quality draft sequence of one mammalian genome in ~20 hours.

New Ultra-capacitor technology

Via Accelerating Futures and Slashdot
This new ultra-capacitor technology could be in cars by 2008. It could also be useful for space systems and other applications.

Digital Crusader analyzes the numbers that are claimed Texas-based company EEStor has finally revealed some details of it's ultra-capacitor technology. They claim that an automobile using their energy storage system (and some electric motors) could drive 500 miles on $9 worth of electricity, and require only a 5 minute recharging time. Furthermore, this storage system plus the motors is claimed to cost only $5200. They need to be 30x the voltage at 1/10th of the weight of a leading competing system (Tesla roadster using lithium ion batteries).

About 300kg for 88.5kWh. 300 Wh/kg. Energy density up with some fuel cells and the best batteries. Power density up with the other ultracapacitors.

RingCube copies your PC settings, software and data to USB drives

RingCube Technologies Inc. unveiled software that can virtually squeeze a PC onto an iPod, USB keychain drive, cell phone or any gizmo with digital storage space. RingCube's MojoPac software mirrors a computer's personal settings, programs and data on a storage device. Then, when it's connected to any computer running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP operating system, the virtual desktop will run in a window of the underlying PC.

The software works by creating a virtual operating system that runs the programs users load onto the storage device. RingCube says MojoPac supports any off-the-shelf applications, including PC video games and applications such as Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Office.

The idea is to transform any computer found at Internet cafes, dorm rooms, libraries or business offices into your personal computer, said Appajodu, who started developing the product more than two years ago.

Mojopac is here for $49 and a free trial

My Quantum computing Long Bet Prediction

I have made a long bet prediction. This costs $50. Anyone is free to challenge this prediction and a long bet can be negotiated.

There will be a quantum computer with over 100 qubits of processing capability sold either as a hardware system or whose use is made available as a commercial service by Dec 31, 2010

Since some money is on the line and potentially more money, I have decided to give my prediction some cushion. I am pretty sure that Dwave Systems will come through but just in case they have problems... I have left some time for ion traps and electron bubbles to make it as well.

I think Dwave Systems should come through with at least 64 qubits in 2007 and 128 qubits or better in 2008.

At least, 155 Computer Science IEEE fellows apparently have said that this prediction will be wrong

Will a quantum computer reach the market? (199 computer science respondents)
Seventy-eight percent of respondents doubt that a commercial quantum computer will reach the market in the next 50 years.
Unlikely 42.7%
Equal chances 25.1%
Likely 22.1%

Silicon valley plans to be solar cell valley

Engineers and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are taking advantage of their expertise in computer chips to design and manufacture electricity-generating solar cells that they hope will be increasingly competitive with traditional energy sources such as coal and natural gas. Most solar cells and chips are made from the same raw material from which the valley gets its name Improving technology, falling costs, rising prices for fossil fuels, concerns about the electric grid's stability and worries about global warming are all raising interest in solar energy. The industry is expected to grow from $11 billion (euro8.6 billion) in 2005 to $51 billion (euro39.9 billion) in 2015, according to a projection by Clean Edge Inc., a market research firm focused on clean technology. About $1.4 billion (euro1.1 billion) in venture capital was invested in cleantech ventures during the first six months of this year, and $1.6 billion (euro1.25 billion) was invested last year, according to the Cleantech Venture Network. About one-third of that money was invested in Silicon Valley, said Carl Guardino, who heads the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

California hopes to overtake Germany and Japan as the world's largest solar market with its ''Million Solar Roofs'' program, which provides $3 billion (euro2.35 billion) in rebates to consumers who install rooftop panels.

Adjustable 'ion trap' helps find best trap size and temperature for quantum computing

The first adjustable "ion trap" help to understand how the size of the ion trap and temperature effect quantum computing effects.

Conventional ion traps confine atomic particles within a vacuum and an electric field generated by two fixed-position electrodes. The electronic states of these particles can be used to represent quantum bits of information. Unlike normal "bits" of information, which are represented by distinguishable states, such as a binary "1" or a "0", quantum information can exist in different states simultaneously
The new trap allows the distance between each electrode to be adjusted without losing the ion trapped in-between.

For the first time, this allowed them to measure precisely how down-scaling the trap affected the quantum state of the trapped ion. They found that reducing the size of the trap increased its temperature, thus boosting "decoherence", which could ultimately destroy quantum information.

It was still possible to shrink the trap down to 23 microns in diameter – the smallest ion trap ever made – without impairing its function. And, by cooling it to -120°C, they were able to reduce the heating that threatened to destroy to the ion's quantum properties.

Hensinger estimates that it should be possible to scale down an ion trap even further, to around 1 micron, providing it is cooled sufficiently. This could prove crucial as a practical quantum computer would require hundreds of thousands of such devices in order to perform useful calculations.



Other reading:
Ion traps could scale to thousands of qubits

Quantum computer summary

September 26, 2006

Singularity related: Mouse brain atlas with individual cells detailed

A map of the mouse brain down to details of individual cells has been completed, the first project of an institute funded by Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul G. Allen Because more than 90 percent of the same genes are found in mice and humans, the mouse brain map can be compared with genetic findings related to human neurological disorders. The mapping project has shown that 80 percent of the body's genes are switched on in the brain, compared with 60 percent to 70 percent in previous scientific estimates, Jones said.

Allen donated $100 million to start the lab in 2003 and the mouse brain atlas cost $41 million, well under the $50 million that had been budgeted, Jones said.

The next project, Jones said, will be to develop a digital, three-dimensional, interactive map of the genes at work in a human brain's neocortex, the outer layer that is the seat of higher thought and emotion, using brains from cadavers as well as tissue removed during brain surgeries.

Scientists hope the brain-mapping research eventually will lead to new discoveries on brain function and disorders such as MS, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, epilepsy, schizophrenia and addiction, to cite just a few. Next is figuring out the circuitry and how the brain actually works."

Intel experimental prototype and plans for teraflop programmable processors

Intel Corp. Tuesday (Sept. 26) revealed the first details of its terascale research silicon program, including the development of the world's first programmable processor said to deliver 1 trillion floating point operations per second (Tflops/s).

Intel (Santa Clara, Calif.) also tipped an SRAM and a silicon laser chip, as part of its ongoing research into terascale technology. One of the first prototypes chips in Intel's program is the Tflops/s processor. Containing 80 simple cores and operating at 3.1 GHz, the goal of this experimental chip is to test interconnect strategies for moving terabytes of data from core to core and between cores and memory, according to Intel.

Unlike existing chip designs where hundreds of millions of transistors are arranged, this chip's design consists of 80 tiles laid out in an 8- by 10-block array, according to Intel.


"When combined with our recent breakthroughs in silicon photonics, these experimental chips address the three major requirements for terascale computing — Tflops/s of performance, terabytes-per-second of memory bandwidth, and terabits-per-second of I/O capacity," Rattner said in a statement. "While any commercial application of these technologies is years away, it is an exciting first step in bringing tera-scale performance to PCs and servers."


From CNET, Intel pledges 80 cores in five years for commercial chips

LANL/NIST team sends quantum encryption 'keys' over record distances

The team generated and transmitted secret quantum keys over 184.6 kilometers (km) of fiber-optic cable, the longest distance ever recorded for quantum key distribution (QKD). The previous record was 122 km. Secret quantum key is a code for encrypting data that not only have been transmitted and detected successfully, but also processed to correct for errors and enhance privacy, steps considered essential for practical applications. The keys are then used to encrypt ordinary digital data for transmission over conventional communications channels.

A weakness in typical QKD systems is the current lack of reliable commercial single-photon sources. Very weak laser pulses are used instead, and they often produce more than one photon per pulse, all with the same orientation and bit value (0 or 1). This introduces vulnerability: An eavesdropper could intercept a photon and "read" it accurately without its loss being detected by the intended receiver, because the same laser pulse may still contain another photon.

The LANL/NIST absolute distance record of 184.6 km is secure against reasonable attacks, that is, the laser adjustments used in this case have only a moderate probability of generating more than one photon per pulse. The team also used slightly different adjustments to set other QKD distance records, including absolutely secure transmission of secret keys over 67.5 km, surpassing the previous record of 50.6 km. This method generated so few multi-photon pulses that some of the photons detected at the receiver must have originated in single-photon pulses, enabling the creation of secret key.

Suitaines: Mechanically interlocked molecules

New molecules, called suitaines, are mechanically wedging together molecules

An enormous challenge to science is the generation of two individual molecules that are not chemically bound to each other but are mechanically wedged together to form a tight link. A team of British and American researchers have now developed a whole new family of such mutually interlocked molecules and generated a first example. The researchers have named these novel compounds "suitanes", based on their resemblance to a torso with two or more limbs that is completely enveloped in a one-piece "suit". The number of limbs is indicated by a number inserted into the name of the compound: A suit[2]ane has two limbs, a suit[3]ane has three limbs, and a suit[4]ane has four limbs. "A suit[5]ane looks like a doll wearing a one-piece romper enclosing all five limbs: two legs, two arms, and the head," explains J. Fraser Stoddart, a pioneer of supramolecular chemistry.

The team headed by Stoddart (University of California, Los Angeles) and David J. Williams (Imperial College, London) have successfully synthesized the simplest representative of this class of compounds: a suit[2]ane. They first used computer simulations to develop a plan of attack. The inner molecule--the "body"--should be relatively stiff and oblong; the suit must be a flexible molecule that can be assembled around the body from a few individual components. Like a well-tailored suit, all of the individual components must be perfectly coordinated with each other regarding their shape, size, and functional groups.

The researchers first produced a stiff, linear molecular framework: a slim center (a central aromatic ring) is hooked to two bulging "shoulders" (anthracene ring systems), each in turn attached to an "arm". Next, the molecule was dressed in its suit. The suit was put on piece by piece and "sewed" together in a final step: in a self-organization process, two large ring-shaped molecules (crown ethers) slipped like sleeves onto the molecular "arms". The torso, arms, and sleeves were chemically outfitted to provide strong interactions to hold the sleeves tightly in place. In the next step, another smaller type of molecule (aromatic ring) was added. These molecules each contained two groups of atoms (amino groups), located across from each other, designed to each enter into attractive interactions with one spot on each sleeve. In the final step, chemical bonds were formed at these four points of contact; the aromatic rings thus linked the two sleeves into a single large molecule that completely encloses the torso molecule without binding to it chemically.

New Triannual review of NNI is more open to molecular manufacturing

From Foresight, the full NNI study is online. The main relavent part for molecular manufacturing is what they call, "the technical feasibility of site specific chemistry which is on pages 72 and 73 of the report. They say there is experimental evidence that is lacking , but that the technical arguments make use of accepted scientific knowledge but constitute "theoretical analysis demonstrating the possibility of a class of as yet unrealized devices". The report calls for the funding of more proof of principle studies and delineating new research that is not being pursued by the biochemistry community.

September 25, 2006

Lucent claims 100-Gbit Ethernet over 2,000 km

Lucent Technologies Inc.'s Bell Labs said it transmitted ten channels of 107-Gbit/s Ethernet traffic over 2,000 km of fiber using components commonly applied in long-haul 40-Gbit/s transmission.

Nanoethics Researchers Awarded $250,000 from U.S. National Science Foundation

The Nanoethics Group today announced that its core members have been awarded two grants, totaling approximately $250,000, by the U.S. National Science Foundation to study ethical issues related to human enhancement and nanotechnology. The grants will fund collaborative research between Dartmouth College and Western Michigan University for the next three years. The principal investigators of the award are James Moor, Ph.D., at Dartmouth and Fritz Allhoff, Ph.D., at Western Michigan University. Patrick Lin, Ph.D., director of The Nanoethics Group, will join the research team as a post-doctoral associate at Dartmouth. Congratulations to James, Fritz and Patrick.

Note: I am on the Board of Advisors of the Nanoethics Group.

Honda unveils clean diesel system and latest fuel cell system

Honda, the car maker that floored the world in the 1970s with the first gasoline engine to meet U.S. clean air guidelines without a catalytic converter, said it has developed a new and simple diesel power train that is as clean as gasoline-fueled cars. The technology marks a big step towards meeting the world's strictest emissions regulations, called Tier II Bin 5, that the United States will usher in next year. Honda said on Monday its new diesel drive train features a unique method that generates and stores ammonia within a two-layer catalytic converter to turn nitrogen oxide into harmless nitrogen.

The system would need fine-tuning for the wide-ranging cetane indices of diesel fuel found in the United States. Honda also needs to develop technology to measure emissions levels according to U.S. On-Board Diagnostic System requirements. But Japan's third-biggest automaker said it planned to roll out the advanced diesel engine in the United States within three years.

In a demonstration of other new power plant technologies, Honda also showed off a prototype of its next-generation fuel cell vehicle that runs on a newly developed compact and more powerful fuel cell stack. The new stack is designed to allow the hydrogen and water formed during electricity generation to flow vertically instead of horizontally, making the component 20 percent smaller and 30 percent lighter than the previous version. Honda's new FCX fuel-cell car now has a driving range of 354 miles--a 30 percent improvement from the 2005 model--a maximum speed of 100 miles per hour and can be driven in temperatures as low as minus 22 degrees.

Physics milestone: Key behavior of B-sub-s meson particle detemined

Fermilab has met the exacting standard to claim discovery of astonishingly rapid transitions between matter and antimatter: 3 trillion oscillations per second for the B-sub-s meson particle This is immediately significant for two major reasons: reinforcing the validity of the Standard Model, which governs physicists' understanding of the fundamental particles and forces; and narrowing down the possible forms of supersymmetry, a theory proposing that each known particle has its own more massive "super" partner particle.

Nanowire Computing Made Practical

From the MIT Technology Review: Researchers have made efficient nanowire logic circuits that could be mass produced, slashing the size of transistors. One of the leading candidates for a technology that could make computers smaller and more powerful is based on transistors made from semiconducting nanowires. But until now, circuits made with such transistors have been impractical, because they were too power hungry and too difficult to manufacture. Now researchers at Caltech have built efficient nanowire-based circuits using a process they believe could be reliable enough for mass production. The first applications, which could be available commercially in five years, will probably be in ultrasensitive, inexpensive sensors that could detect and measure hundreds of different cancer markers or pathogens in a small sample, such as a single drop of blood. Eventually, the nanowire-based electronics could be used in processors for computing.


This nanowire-based CMOS circuit (the nanowires are too small to see) could help lead to ultrasmall computers.

September 24, 2006

From Dwave Gordie Rose via reader Jonathan Pugh

From the comments of the dwave blog

Jonathan - September 21, 2006
-----------------------------
Can you give an estimate of:
1) release date
2) qubits utilized on release date

Geordie - September 23, 2006
----------------------------
Jonathan:

1) first public demo of the technology some time in Q4/2006

2) the demo will either use a 16- or a 64-qubit chip - which we use will be determined after completing some tests in October.

The first demo has as its objective a demonstration of what the machine is designed to do; we’re going to run a couple of applications on it. It’s not supposed to be faster than conventional methods, but the approach is eminently scalable; in a relatively short period of time (at least on the problem type it’s designed for) nothing else will be able to compete with it.

From zero to a billion electron volts in 3.3 centimeters

Super powerful and compact accelerators are coming.

In a precedent-shattering demonstration of the potential of laser-wakefield acceleration, scientists at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, working with colleagues at the University of Oxford, have accelerated electron beams to energies exceeding a billion electron volts (1 GeV) in a distance of just 3.3 centimeters.

SLAC, the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, boosts electrons to 50 GeV over a distance of two miles (3.2 kilometers) with radiofrequency cavities whose accelerating electric fields are limited to about 20 million volts per meter.

The electric field of a plasma wave driven by a laser pulse can reach 100 billion volts per meter, however, which has made it possible for the Berkeley Lab group and their Oxford collaborators to achieve a 50th of SLAC's beam energy in just one-100,000th of SLAC's length.

Impressive as this is, "It's the tip of the iceberg," says Leemans. "We are already working on injection" -- inserting an already energetic beam into an accelerating cavity -- "and staging," the handoff of an energetic beam from one capillary to the next and subsequently to others, until very high energy beams are achieved. "Brookhaven physicist Bill Weng has remarked that achieving staging in a laser wakefield accelerator would validate 25 years of DOE investment in this field."

Leemans's group and their collaborators look forward to the challenge with confidence. "In DOE's Office of Science, the High Energy Physics office has asked us to look into what it would take to go to 10GeV. We believe we can do that with an accelerator less than a meter long -- although we'll probably need 30 meters' worth of laser path."

While it's been said that laser wakefield acceleration promises high-energy accelerators on a tabletop, the real thing may not be quite that small. But laser wakefield acceleration does indeed promise electron accelerators potentially far more powerful than any existing machine -- neatly tucked inside a small building.

Crnano has several important articles

Chris Phoenix, who proposed the desktop nanofactory concept, has wrote several important articles on crnano.

Charting various dimensions of improving capabilities to determine pathways to diamondoid molecular nanotechnology.

Partial list of dimensions:
Precision: Today, a number of lithography tools have a precision of about a nanometer--several atoms wide. The goal is single-atom precision.

Flexibility of molecular construction, Manufactured building block size, Feedstock (molecular) inputs, Product material, Working environment, Sub-part assembly, Actuator performance, Molecular machine capability and Manufacturing machine size.

Cubic micron DNA construction proposal form Chris Phoenix He proposes building multi-billion-atom (cubic micron) solid molecular constructions, using DNA as a backbone, plus other arbitrary molecules precisely positioned within the volume. DNA cubes would be put together using DNA stapling.

Part 2 of the DNA brick discussion. If all these plans work out, then it appears possible with today's technology to build a full exponential molecular manufacturing system out of molecular components that are almost easy to design and construct. The only thing that's missing is good actuators. Diffusive DNA actuators are pretty slow. But remember, these bricks can include other molecules in engineered locations and orientations.

UPDATE: Further refinements of this still evolving idea after some initial feedback.

Hope For Significant New Diabetes Treatment In Stanford Discovery

A surprising finding is how central calcineurin turns out to be in the health and happiness of the insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells. Drugs based on this research could potentially expand the numbers of the few beta cells that remain in diabetics and make those cells perform better. "That would have a major impact on the lives of people with diabetes."

The implications of these findings are many:

* Drugs that enhance the activity of calcineurin or NFAT could become a new treatment for type-2, or adult-onset diabetes, in which the beta cells don't produce enough insulin.
* Drugs that inhibit calcineurin or NFAT could treat diseases in which the beta cells produce too much insulin, such as hypoglycemia or some pancreatic tumors.
* Treating isolated beta cells with drugs that enhance calcineurin could make those cells divide, producing more cells for transplantation.
* Activating calcineurin could help Kim in his efforts to direct embryonic stem cells to become insulin-producing cells.


Kim, whose work in diabetes includes the development of islet cells, identifying new drug targets and potential stem cell treatments, said the calcineurin findings have wide-ranging implications. "The finding that the calcineurin pathway regulates other pathways in the beta cell makes it highly relevant to many areas of diabetes research," he said.

Campbell said the next step is to verify that the findings in mice also hold true in humans.