January 12, 2007

Quantum encryption at high speed

High speed 1 gbps communication uses quantum encryption to detect eavesdropping

Now quantum cyptography company id Quantique SA (Geneva) has teamed with Australian cyptography company Senetas Corp. Ltd. (Melbourne) to create what the partners claim in the world's first 1- to 10-Gbit/s secure network that combines uncrackable quantum keys with classical encryption.

"Typical bit rates used in today's high-speed networks forming corporate backbones are in the range of 1 to 10 gigabits'per second, but until today id Quantique was not in a position to offer quantum cryptography solutions working at such high bit rates," said Grgoire Ribordy, CEO of id Quantique. "With this new development, quantum cryptography is now compatible with these high-speed data networks."

Quantum key distribution makes communications hack-proof by eliminating the possibility of eavesdropping—rather than depending on the length of an encryption key to scramble transmitted data. Quantum cryptography instead employs individual photon polarization to represent 1s and 0s in such a way that intrusions can be detected. The uncrackable codes rely on single-photon emitters and receivers that detect whether a hacker has viewed a polarized photon—flagging the intrusion by switching any bit that has been observed, thereby alerting the recipient to an eavesdropping attempt.

January 11, 2007

Personal cost of coal to people in the USA

Coals impact on you

$200-1000/year in higher health insurance premiums
higher prices on goods and products. Companies are passing on the higher health premiums that they pay for their workers, plus the lost productivity for workers that are out sick because of pollution.
Higher costs for acid resistant paint for cars, houses
Extra costs for public buildings that need more repair to the outside because of pollution damage
Toxic waste, superfund cleanups
Less fish, higher prices for fish
Less resale value on cars in places with acid rain (more rust and corrosion). New Jersey, Detroit etc...
Any flight delays in or out of Los Angeles and other places because of visibility.

Maybe you knew one of the 27,000 people who die each year in the USA.
Grandma, granddad, mom, dad, uncle or aunt, friend dieing a few years earlier from lung disease

How about all the people who you know who have asthma? Don't you notice that there are more and more each year ? No link?
Are you in a city that has "clear the air" days? Why do you think that we have those things. Don't you consider that to be a pathetic bandaid over the underlying problems.

More against coal

I made several comments at this futurepundit post that again lay out more of the case against coal energy

There is some aspects of global warming and fossil fuel energy that are controversial. The uncontroversial and certain damage should be enough for us to motivate us to stop using coal. Stop using coal means trying anything else cleaner, which includes nuclear energy.

What I think should not be controversial
1. Coal and fossil fuel pollution kills hundreds of thousands if not a million people per year
from premature lung disease etc... 27000 in the USA according to the American lung assoc.
Sick and dieing people have a cost burden on medical systems.
2. When you mountain top removal mine, you often remove old growth forest and then replace decades later
with younger trees.
3. Coal mining moves material and is more dangerous. Moving the billions of tons. More miners die.
Statistically more accidents moving millions of freight cars and trucks of coal.
4. Mercury from coal is building up in fish.
5. Arsenic from coal also causes health problems
6. 20,000 tons of uranium and thorium are put into the air every year from coal energy use

Somewhat controversial for political but not factual reasons
7. Wars are fought over oil

Letting the "free market" replace coal is not good enough.
The coal companies are not paying for a lot of the costs that they create.
Why are we deciding to let this continue?
Is it just because we have been using coal for over a hundred years?
Suppose we equate what coal industry is doing to a foreign power. Say WW2 Germany had started in 1860. If they slowed down or moved their killing would that have been good enough?
OK, WW2 Germany if you only kill 27,000 americans in 2006 instead of 100,000-200,000 in 1950 and instead kill 400,000-1,000,000 in China you can keep doing it. (Not doing the calculation for other countries but thousands also die in Canada, UK, Germany and elsewhere) People no longer really think we can stop or mitigate what you are doing and we no longer really think about the deaths because you are using a slower acting gassing and poisoning. Plus gee you are supplying more inexpensive power. Our economies really needs that cheap power. Your costs are low cause you only pay for extraction and building the plants plus your margin. We will get everyone to pay for the gassing and poisoning. So we really are paying you to kill us, but let us continue that because if we made you pay then we would be destroying the free market you are operating under. Plus we let you destroy 7% of our forests in Appalachia and other places in the US and the world. But we do make you pay to replant them in a few decades. You do so many things it is sometimes difficult for people to believe it. Poisoning and killing animals, fish, trees etc... But maybe we should try to stop you because we have not convinced everyone that you are also making or contributing to making the earth warmer. Until we know whether life as we know it on the earth is doomed, we better not mess with the free market

Someone else in that discussion asked
My questions are as follows:
1. What part does the sun and sunspots play in global warming?
2. What part does the ocean play in global warming?
3. What part does Volcanoes play in global warming?
4. How do you stop China from producing more emissions into the air?

Question 4 first - China
Note: China will probably catch up to the USA in 2009 in terms of carbon and pollution created. This does not mean that the USA should not clean up is own pollution. US companies like Walmart have significant influence on Chinese supplier companies, so that is one means of influencing China. I make the case that China does not need to have us stop them from emissions into the air. They know the cost they are paying.

30,000 very ill from arsenic poisoning in China described in this pdf

China is arresting major industrial polluters. Environmental pollution cost China 511.8 billion yuan (64 billion dollars) in economic losses in 2004, amounting to 3.1 percent of total economic output that year, according to a previous report by Xinhua.

World Bank, Asia Development Bank study - connecting Asia
178000 premature deaths in major cities every year from coal (Rural areas would increase this to 400,000) Other estimates as high as 1,000,000 deaths.
China will spend $30B each year on environmental protection and cleanup each year.
include estimates of 6.4 million work years lost annually in China to air pollution

In over 20 major cities, the population in China coughs up black. They know they have a problem.

A PBS show upcoming: China From the Inside: Documentary. Directed by Jonathan Lewis, co-produced by KQED and Granada Television. Parts 1 and 2 at 9 p.m. Wednesday; Parts 3 and 4 at 9 p.m. Jan. 17, KQED.
While there are fleeting glances at the larger cities here and there, most of the filming took place in the provinces, in parts of the country few have ever heard of: the virtual dust bowl in the middle of China, where the Gobi Desert is encroaching rapidly now because the trees along the Yellow River have all been cut down; the little village of Hisai, where townspeople dared to expel a gang of corrupt local officials; various locales along the Huai River, a waterway so thick with pollution it is called "the river of death" and communities along its shores are labeled "cancer villages."

It will make economic and political sense for China to clean up its energy. The Chinese leaders know that this can lead to an uprising, which is what they fear.
Coal is part of the mix because Chinese leaders also must deliver growth to prevent too many people from being unemployed (again a bunch of unhappy unemployed uprising). Problem for Chinese leaders that in past uprising old leaders got killed.

China is at least completing two nuclear reactors every year (as noted by Ned).
China is spending a lot on nuclear and alternative power.

Mass transit and better cars will be introduced for economic efficiency and cost effectiveness.
Big subway expansions in Chinese cities because of gridlock.

Questions 1, 2, 3
Why put 6 billion tons of carbon per year into the air? Again you are saying until this part of the equation can be proved to be a cause of warming then you do not want to stop?
How about the particulates? Is it not contributing to worse health and deaths from lung cancer, asthma, lung disease ?
Why is the equivalent in deaths of over 15 Hiroshima's over the last 60 years to the US's own population not enough to motivate more energy infrastructure change? Oh look China is killing its own people at a rate of 5-10 Hiroshima's per year. Well if they are not going to stop then we should not either.
What about the mercury, arsenic, thorium and uranium ?
The 27,000 people who die each year usually are spending time in the hospital before they go, plus they are taking more medicine during their lifetime.
The annual direct health care cost of asthma is approximately $11.5 billion; indirect costs (e.g. lost productivity) add another $4.6 billion, for a total of $16.1 billion dollars. Prescription drugs represented the largest single indirect cost, at $5 billion. The value of lost productivity due to death represented the largest single indirect cost at $1.7 billion. Air pollution is a significant part of that one aspect of lung disease.

Freight transportation pdf describes that it will cost California $200 billion over the next 15 years from pollution from transportation. Note: Coal is a big part of that. The US is moving about 2 billion tons of coal each year.

40% of the pollution that hits the US comes from other countries but the US still produces the most pollution so the US is returning the favor to those other countries.

An estimate of costs from air pollution
Three quarters of the way down the above linked page
It estimates US air pollution costs at $145 to 530 billion. Extract the $18 to $140 billion estimate for greenhouse gases. Still $127 billion to $390 billion.

Sulfur Dioxide ** 52 to 122 billion

visability/airline delays 12 billion

health/work productivity 30 to 100 billion

lakes/recreation 10 billion

Nitrogen Oxide ** 25 to 55 billion
health/work loss 10 to 40
eutrophication 5
lakes/rivers/rec 5
ozone layer damage/
nitrous oxide(N2O) 5

Materials Damage 10 to 35 billion
Probably reduced life of vehicles etc... from acid rain
Do you buy used cars from New York? Detroit? Toronto?
Did the coal or oil companies reimburse you for the shortened life of
your car if you are in one of places with more acid rain?

Toxic Metals ** 10 to 60 billion

Particulates/Health 5.6 to 48 billion

US coal industry 2005-2006

The coal industry in the USA is only $50+ billion/year industry in sales.
So if they all about as profitable as Peabody (largest US coal energy company) looking at 4-6 billion in earnings/year.
Which is far less than the health care costs per year.
Far less than the damage to property.
Plus they are subsidized even to get that measely amount.

40% of freight rail cargo is coal.
There are about 900 rail fatalities per year Coal statistical share of that is 360. The 2 billion tons of coal also sometime travel in large trucks. There were about 5000 large truck fatalities per year in the united states.
Blogger: advanced nanotechnology - Edit Post "More against coal"
There are about 24 mining workers driving fatalities per year and 621 workers per year died from material moving (1.24 billion tons of coal in 2002
Coal share of that is probably about 100-150 workers.

Breakdown of freight tonnage
1.8 billion tons by rail. (40% of rail tonnage is 720 million tons. So 500 million tons would move by truck.

Moving that much material also uses up a lot of gasoline. So the secondary effects continue to increase the costs in money (40% of railway maintenance related to coal and more oil used) and lives (truck and rail pollution generated by moving all that coal.

Bacteria resistant artificial skin

Skin cells genetically engineered to be resistant to bacteria could reduce infections and improve chances of survival among burn victims. A patient's skin cells, genetically modified and grown in a test tube, could provide the next generation of artificial skin. As a first step in creating such replacement skin, scientists in Cincinnati have engineered bacteria-resistant skin cells in the lab and are now testing them in animals. Ultimately, they hope to produce a type of artificial skin that can sweat, tan, and fight off infection.

Supp cautions that the engineered cells are still a long way from clinical use. The true test of the bacteria-fighting properties will come in the complex environment of a real wound, which is littered with many different types of bacteria. The researchers are now planning experiments in animal models.

Ideally, Supp wants to create even better cultured skin, with cells that can grow the molecular structures required to produce sweat, hair, and pigment. "If we can start with two cell types and add one or two genes at a time and get these structures to develop, that would be very exciting," she says.

Breakthrough Diabetes one injection cures mice for four months

From Biosingularity, and Canada's National post, word of breakthrough near cure for diabetes

In a discovery that has stunned even those behind it, scientists at a Toronto hospital say they have proof the body's nervous system helps trigger diabetes, opening the door to a potential near-cure of the disease that affects millions of Canadians.

The problems stem partly from inflammation -- and eventual death -- of insulin-producing islet cells in the pancreas.

Dr. Dosch had concluded in a 1999 paper that there were surprising similarities between diabetes and multiple sclerosis, a central nervous system disease. His interest was also piqued by the presence around the insulin-producing islets of an "enormous" number of nerves, pain neurons primarily used to signal the brain that tissue has been damaged.

Suspecting a link between the nerves and diabetes, he and Dr. Salter used an old experimental trick -- injecting capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot chili peppers, to kill the pancreatic sensory nerves in mice that had an equivalent of Type 1 diabetes.

It turns out the nerves secrete neuropeptides that are instrumental in the proper functioning of the islets. Further study by the team, which also involved the University of Calgary and the Jackson Laboratory in Maine, found that the nerves in diabetic mice were releasing too little of the neuropeptides, resulting in a "vicious cycle" of stress on the islets.

Their conclusions upset conventional wisdom that Type 1 diabetes, the most serious form of the illness that typically first appears in childhood, was solely caused by auto-immune responses -- the body's immune system turning on itself.

They also conclude that there are far more similarities than previously thought between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and that nerves likely play a role in other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as asthma and Crohn's disease.

So next they injected the neuropeptide "substance P" in the pancreases of diabetic mice, a demanding task given the tiny size of the rodent organs. The results were dramatic.

The islet inflammation cleared up and the diabetes was gone. Some have remained in that state for as long as four months, with just one injection.

The researchers are now setting out to confirm that the connection between sensory nerves and diabetes holds true in humans. If it does, they will see if their treatments have the same effects on people as they did on mice.

About two million Canadians suffer from diabetes, 10% of them with Type 1, contributing to 41,000 deaths a year.
Diabetes effects 230 million people worldwide Diabetes accounts for 5% to 10% of most nations' health budgets. There are 6 million new diabetes sufferers in the world each year. Every ten seconds someone in the world dies as a result of having diabetes - 3 million deaths a year. Diabetes causes more cases of blindness and visual impairments in adults than any other illness in the developed world. One million amputations each year are caused by diabetes. A diabetes sufferer is up to 40 times more likely to need a lower-limb amputation when compared to a person who does not have diabetes.

NSF looking for Grand Challenges for Engineering

We can submit our challenges for friendly AI, molecular nanotechnology, large scale quantum computers, and mass producible thorium liquid fluoride reactors to the NSF.

The NSF is looking for the greatest technological challenges of the next century — a nine-month process that could give birth to new research initiatives.

The project, called the "Grand Challenges for Engineering" program, is aimed at gathering up all those ideas and distilling them into a list of 20 puzzles for engineers to solve — in fields ranging from energy to communications to aerospace to advanced materials.

The National Academy of Engineering, an arm of the Washington-based National Academies, is supervising the project, armed with a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation. The academy is a congressionally chartered, nonprofit organization that provides the U.S. government with expert advice on engineering issues.

Go to to submit challenges.

the current submission list is here

Hong kong 1 Gbps symmetric to the home

Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) has provided a 1 Gbps symmetric service for the residential market since April 2005. Approximately 800,000 households, out of a total of 2.2 million households in Hong Kong, are wired to receive the service. The 1 Gbps symmetric service is priced at US$215 per month.

HKBN Premium bb1000 service is being offered on the same metro Ethernet infrastructure that delivers the company's Mass Market bb100 (symmetric 100 Mbps for US$34/month) and Entry Point bb10 (symmetric 10 Mbps for US$16/month) services.

India’s Center for Development of Telematics (C-DoT) and Canada’s Communication Research Center have signed an agreement in 2005 to look at the possibility of using MILTON, or Microwave Light Organized Network, a wireless technology developed in Canada, as a cheap, last-mile access solution.

Article from 2005 on how Asia is kicking American ass on getting real broadband and why this will hurt the american economy

January 10, 2007

Software defined radio milestone

Software defined radio Vanu, a small Cambridge, Mass., company, says that this year it will begin selling the first cellular base station that can simultaneously process two waveforms—CDMA (short for code division multiple access) and GSM (global system for mobile communications)—all in software running on off-the-shelf computer servers.

A cellphone based on software-defined radio would be lighter, smaller, cheaper, and more power efficient. What’s more, it would be better at making calls: instead of being stuck with one frequency or even one cellular carrier, it would automatically search out the best and least expensive way of connecting. Ideally it would ease the upgrade problems for the infrastructure and for cellphones. The industry and people could migrate to the next generation of service with less cost. However, each generation takes 5-10 times the computing power. If we got ahead of the computer processing power needs with say the AMD fusion chip with 1 teraflop or Intels 80 core chip (both planned for about 2010), then 2-3 generations changes would not require new infrastructure.

This article talks about cognitive radio and the concept of a smart radio that can dynamically adapt to the environment and reuse licensed spectrum on an opportunistic basis. Most radio spectrum is unused most of the time at any particular spot. The broadcast TV channels are not broadcasting into your spot. The theory is that if your radio monitored where there was unused spectrum then if it as a smart software configurable radio, it could transmit on the unused spectrum even if it was licensed. It could then have far faster communication.

There is a smart radio prize challenge where one of the challenges is to be able to reconfigure a smart radio within 8 hours.

Less spectrum is available for unlicensed use since 2002

Tracking the effort and economic benefits to allowing the unused TV channels to be allocated for unlicensed use

Starting Feb, 2009 low-power devices can start using the some of spectrum freed up when old broadcast TV stations must finish switching to digital and give back the old analog broadcast bands. The way they fed TV to the rabbit ear antennas

A pdf of a slide presentation of spectrum management reform which includes using smart radios

The vision and progress towards cognitive radio from MIT technology review It might take 10 years to finally sort out. Some progress is being made in policy and in technology.

EU's energy plan

EU's energy and climate plan has a 20% carbon reduction target by 2020. The plan has three main areas a truly free internal energy market, where users have their choice of suppliers among all European suppliers; an accelerated shift to low-carbon energy, by increasing the share of renewable sources in the energy mix to 20% by 2020; and increased energy efficiency. The commission said it would increase its annual spending on energy research by at least 50% for the next seven years.

For nuclear energy, the EU Commission acknowledged that nuclear energy is currently the most important source of low-carbon energy. It is up to individual states to decide whether to adopt it in the long-term. If states did decide to adopt nuclear energy, they could rely on the EC for assistance with security matters.

Plasmoid thruster could lead to fusion

Researchers at the University of Alabama in Huntsville's (UAH) Propulsion Research Center are working on the Plasmoid Thruster Experiment (PTX). It is a stepping stone to a highly efficient propulsion concept which could ultimately change how we travel in space. Larger, more powerful versions can produce fusion for both power and space propulsion.

The purpose of the PTX is to investigate the fundamental plasma and acceleration properties of a small-scale, pulsed plasma thruster.

PTX works by ringing a single turn conical theta pinch coil at about 500 kHz, ionizing and accelerating a small quantity of gas. The magnetic field inside the coil creates a plasmoid, a plasma that has a closed magnetic field structure. The plasmoid thruster potentially has a much longer lifetime, because the plasma is formed inductively, which means that the plasma is not in contact with the thruster components.

The plasmoid thruster potentially has a much longer lifetime, because the plasma is formed inductively, which means that the plasma is not in contact with the thruster components.

Nanoscopic 'coaxial cable' transmits light

From the New Scientist, a way to make nanoscopic metal cables transmit light could lead to innovations in solar cells, artificial retinas and quantum computing components. The cable is 300 nanometres in diameter. A carbon nanotube is in the center and a film of aluminium oxide is the middle layer and a coating of chromium or aluminium is the outer sheath.

Normally light waves cannot penetrate structures smaller than their length. But a length of nanotube protrudes from the end of the cable and acts as an optical antenna to guide the light into the structure. The longest of these nanocables is only 20 micrometers, and longer cables will only carry light a maximum of about 50 micrometers – roughly 100 wavelengths.

The first target application is to increase the efficiency of energy conversion in solar cells by tightly packing together arrays of nano-coax filled with photovoltaic material rather than aluminium oxide.

Another possibility is to assemble arrays with optical antennas on one end and electrical output at the other to serve as artificial retinas for people with impaired vision.

Flexible circuits 50 times faster

Fast flexible electronics created that can operate at 7.8Ghz and could reach 20Ghz. This is fast enough for large flexible wireless antennas for wifi or radar that could wrap a plane or blimp. It would ideally be double for flexible microprocessors as good as our current CPUs.

It could help make the city wide surveillance blimp

Better TV blimps

DNA vaccine progress

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently began a clinical trial of a DNA vaccine to treat bird-flu vaccine that can be designed and manufactured three times faster than traditional vaccines. These new DNA vaccines, which have shown promise in animals, could help researchers respond rapidly to an emerging flu pandemic.

It takes at least six months to design and manufacture a conventional vaccine. DNA vaccines, which simply consist of a gene from a virus or other infectious agent, might help researchers catch up. DNA vaccine prototypes can be made within days. Production may take another couple months for quality control.

World's Fastest Optical Chip

Infinera packs dozens of optical components onto photonic integrated circuits for ultrafast optical networks.

fourteen 100-gigabit photonic integrated circuits sitting in a plastic carrier for performance testing

The company has demonstrated a 400-gigabit chip and is well along in the development of what it describes as the fastest optical chip in the world--a 1.6-terabit version that it expects to commercialize within several years. The four gold patches on the chip an astonishing total of 240 patterned optical components.

Optical devices are three-­dimensional structures, far more challenging to manufacture than two-dimensional silicon transistors. Making the lasers, detectors, modulators, and other components of the finished chip requires repeatedly depositing and etching away many thin layers of different materials, such as indium gallium arsenide and indium phosphide.

The 1.6-terabit chip differs from the 100-gigabit version largely in the number of devices patterned onto it. Each 100-gigabit chips contains, among other components, 10 lasers, 10 detectors, 10 modulators (which encode data by switching light on and off), and 10 waveguides that direct photons into a multiplexer. The 1.6-terabit chip's 240 components include 40 lasers, 40 detectors, 40 modulators, and 40 channels. And each modulator encodes data four times as fast.

After the wafers come off the line, they are sliced into chips--several hundred of them.

The Infinera package--chips and circuit boards--take up one-fifth the space of conventional technology.

Net Neutrality law looks likely

Net Neutrality bill looks likely to pass Democrats support it and financial companies are getting Republicans to support it. I think this is a good thing.


New Scientist has an article about a new fab@Home system for $2400

The fab@home

This system is in the fabber category which has different systems of different capabilities. The MIT Fab lab is described in many places

The MIT fablab is more expensive at $20,000-40000

There is also the inexpensive Reprap system which is about $500

Version 2.0 (Mendel) of the reprap will improve on the Darwin version 1

Mendel's provisional list of planned improvements
Use of PLA as main plastic feedstock.
Metal deposition head.
Capable of manufacturing own electronics.
Automated exchangeable head mechanism.
USB Interface.
DC Servos instead of stepper motors.

There is the rapid prototyping industry

January 08, 2007

Making some contributions to the ideas factory

I have made some contributions to the public blog for the EPSRC Ideas Factory “Software Control of Matter”, directed by Richard Jones.

My ideas on trying to creatively create new breakthroughs in capability Looking at gatling gun architectures and breaking up a working surface like ice cubes from an ice cube tray. This is and the survey of capabilities are what I think are the best comments and contributions that I made so far.

A comment indicating the need to perform a survey of existing relavent capabilities and reasonable expectation of improvement

more on ranking and evaluating and scoring current capabilities

Things to make with a matter compiler I suggest room temperature superconductor material as a stretch goal, better quantum computers, better regular computers and better matter compilers to iteratively improve the tools and systems to drive them to the next level of productivity. Metamaterials and components of the Z-pinch, that Los Alamos national lab device is within reach of nuclear fusion. It looks like something that has room for a matter compiler to make improvements.

A discussion of potential products and markets for a software control of matter capability I indicate that the potential markets and products are dependent upon the specifics of the capabilities developed. There are already major markets and progress being made with nanoparticles, MEMS and other pre-molecular nanotechnology capabilities. Particularly fertile areas are better sensors and computer applications.

A posting about the progress and areas that would be considered more mainstream technology progress. The work done in mainstream research is very good, so a breakthrough capabilities target needs to be very aggressive

A rack-and-pinion device at the molecular scale

Christian Joachim, has lead a research team that has made a molecular rack-and-pinion device for which an STM tip drives a single pinion molecule at low temperature. The pinion is a 1.8-nm-diameter molecule functioning as a six-toothed wheel interlocked at the edge of a self-assembled molecular island acting as a rack. They monitor the rotation of the pinion molecule tooth by tooth along the rack by a chemical tag attached to one of its cogs.

Foresight has some more details They have observed a molecular ‘rack-and-pinion’ mechanism at work with an atomic-scale precision. They obtained this by a full sequence of steps comprising the careful design and synthesis of the molecule, the surface preparation and the assembly of the molecular pinion on its molecular rack. Combined with the atomic-scale understanding of the physics of its movement, the piece-by-piece assembly of such a device opens a new way of exploring the functioning of a molecular machine.

The work was funded by the Volkswagen Foundation Project ‘Single molecule synthesis’ and the European Projects NANOMAN and AMMIST.