August 29, 2008

TVA may restart construction of Bellefonte 1 and 2, two unfinished nuclear reactors

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is requesting that the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) reinstates the construction permits for two unfinished reactors at its Bellefonte site in Alabama. It continues to pursue regulatory approval for two further units at the site. Bellefonte 1 (1213 MWe, 88% complete) and 2 (1213 MWe, 50% complete) are pressurized water reactors. The TVA has budgeted $10 million this year to evaluate resuming construction of Bellefonte 1 and 2.

TVA restarted construction of Watts Bar 2 on October 15, 2007, with the reactor expected to begin operation in 2013. [1177MW reactor that was 50% complete].

[Welcom Instapundit readers: Instapundit had a link to Knoxville Business news coverage on the potential construction restart The construction restart could save $1-4 billion on the cost of each nuclear reactor versus new construction.

TVA also completed construction and restarted the Browns Ferry reactor in 2007.

North Dakota Bakken oil production over 166,000 barrels per day, up 10,000 over May

North Dakota June 2008 daily production is now over 166,000 barrels of oil per day which is 10,000 barrels per day more than in May 2008

North Dakota is hitting transportation issues getting the oil out of the state. However, oil can still be moved out it just costs more to do it.

North Dakota's Bakken oil production appears headed to over 200,000 barrels of oil per day by the end of 2008

Montana has over 50,000 barrels of oil per day from the Bakken oil field

Saskatechwan's Bakken oil production is also increasing to well over 40,000 barrels of oil per day in 2008

Unlimited blood supply company doubles stock price

Biotime the company that will have use of the unlimited disease free stem cell blood supply patent has had a stock price increase of over 100% since the blood supply news.

Biotime is now worth over 41 million dollars BioTime is at $1.75 as of Aug 29, 2008 10AM PST.

Michael West, BioTime's CEO, said the rise was likely due to delayed reaction to a patent agreement signed last week with Alameda-based Advanced Cell Technology.

"I've been talking to a lot of shareholders and investors since the news asking me, 'Isn't this kind of a big deal'," West said. "And I tell them unabashedly, 'Of course it is.'"

BioTime has just nine full-time employees, no analyst coverage and is traded over-the-counter, but its leader, West, is consider a pioneer in the industry.

He says lately more people are taking notice of the company.

"If you look at the two major players in the stem cell space, they are Geron and ACT (Advanced Cell Technology), and I started them both," West said. "Maybe because of that people are starting to look at what I'm doing here."

BioTime's lead product is called Hextend, which is a synthetic blood plasma volume expander used in surgery for patients with blood loss.

One of BioTimes goals is to keep its stock price consistently traded over $1, which will allow it to be traded on a major trading market such as the Nasdaq. West said that "should be relatively easy to do."

Not voting Obama-Biden means you are racist, so does not voting McCain-Palin mean that you are sexist and Ageist ?

The Associated Press is reporting that John McCain has chosen little-known Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate on Friday.

So if not picking Obama-Biden means you are racist will not picking McCain-Palin mean that you are sexist ?

Jacob Weisberg at Slate made the case that the only reason Obama might lose is racism. So will the only reason McCain-Palin lose is because someone is sexist ?

Before the democratic convention, a USA TODAY survey showed that 30% of Clinton supporters said they would vote McCain or were undecided. On Wednesday, that number dropped to 21%. If the x-Hillary Clinton supporters swings back to 35+% for McCain-Palin then that should give the election to McCain-Palin.

This site had made the call that McCain would probably choose Palin back three months ago. This site had also thought that Obama would pick Hillary Clinton but was wrong.

McCain should get a lot of the unhappy Hillary supporters with this move. Then McCain just has to do enough to keep enough Republicans to win the presidency.

Washington Post on Sarah Palin.

Washington Post blog discusses the pick of Sarah Palin.

LA Times feature on Sarah Palin

CNN's John Roberts has said that Palin is too young and inexperienced but she has more executive experience than Obama (or McCain for that matter.)

Sarah Palin is pro-life and a strong fiscal conservative.
Sarah Louise Heath Palin at wikipedia

A comparison of tax effects on different income levels when Obama or McCains tax plans are put in place.

Single Crystal Superconductors and Quantum Traffic Jam analysis of Superconductor electrons

Single Crystal Superconductor - clear scientific study of new Iron Superconductor
Research groups have created versions of a class of widely studied superconducting compounds that are each one continuous crystal, rather than composed of many crystalline grains. These single-crystal materials are important achievements because they display better properties than polycrystalline types and are easier to study.

The major result published in the first paper is a determination of the highest magnetic field the superconducting state can withstand (called the upper critical field) and an evaluation of how anisotropic it is. Some superconductors are extremely anisotropic, and so fully understanding them requires good measurements of this behavior.

In their second paper,they showed that their single-crystal growth method can be applied to another iron arsenide compound, SrFe2As2 (where "Sr" is strontium).

In the third paper, the researchers discuss a new member of the iron arsenides. The compound is CaFe2As2 ("Ca" is calcium) and it had never before been identified as a member of that particular crystallographic family. CaFe2As2 undergoes exceptionally clear changes to its structure and magnetic behavior at 170K (-150F).

The fourth paper in the series further documents their study of CaFe2As2, detailing exactly why the material can be classified as a superconducting iron arsenide. The researchers found that at modest pressures the structural and magnetic changes that occur at 170 K are suppressed and the material becomes a superconductor.

"This means that, from a basic science point of view, CaFe2As2 offers a clean model system that seems to encompass all of the salient features of these compounds (structural, magnetic and superconducting phase transitions) and that its behavior can be tuned with pressure," Canfield said. "This is a very exciting discovery that may help guide the way to understanding this new family of superconductors."

Quantum Traffic Jam in Superconductors
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, in collaboration with colleagues at Cornell University, Tokyo University, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Colorado, have uncovered the first experimental evidence for why the transition temperature of high-temperature superconductors — the temperature at which these materials carry electrical current with no resistance — cannot simply be elevated by increasing the electrons' binding energy.

Doping superconductors creates holes and it is like taking some cars off the highway during rush hour. All of a sudden, the traffic starts to move.

The research shows that what is believed to be required to increase the superconductivity in these systems — stronger magnetic interactions — also pushes the system closer to the 'quantum traffic-jam' status, where lack of holes locks the electrons into positions from which they cannot move

Better theory for Superconductor Electrical Grid designs
John R. Clem, a physicist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, has developed a theory that will help build future superconducting alternating-current fault-current limiters for electricity transmission and distribution systems. Clem’s work identifies design strategies that can reduce costs and improve efficiency in a bifilar fault-current limiter, a new and promising type of superconducting fault-current limiter. “I was able to theoretically confirm that planned design changes to the current bifilar fault-current limiter being developed by Siemens and American Superconductor would decrease AC losses in the system,” said Clem. “My calculations are good news for the future of the device.”

August 28, 2008

Inertial electrostatic confinement completes WB7 test, results are under review

The Bussard fusion design, also known as inertial electrostatic confinement or Polywell fusion, has completed the WB7 test which was a replication of the promising WB6 test which was showing a breakthrough in low-cost fusion power.

The results of the first-phase test are now being reviewed by the funders and experts in the fusion energy field. The lead researcher Dr Nebel said “we have had some success" in the effort to reproduce the promising results reported by the late physicist Robert Bussard. "It's kind of a mix," he said.

A couple of months ago, Nebel told Alan Boyle that he'd love to ramp up the size of the machine to generate 100 megawatts of electric power. If the technology could actually produce power on that scale, it could offer a quicker route to commercially viable fusion reactors, as well as new propulsion systems for space travel.

When Alan Boyle talked with Nebel last week, Nebel would say only that his team has "a plan to go forward." It's up to the review panel and the funders to give the go-ahead, however. "We don't know whether that's going to happen or not," he told me.

Whether or not the Navy funds the next phase, the past year's effort has been worth it, Nebel said. "We're generally happy with what we've been getting out of it, and we've learned a tremendous amount," he said.

All that learning won't go away. "Regardless of what happens to it, we're going to get this thing well written up and documented," Nebel said.

Getting the experiment's findings down on paper will help the EMC2 team - or future teams of fusion researchers - advance the legacy left behind by Bussard.

Life extension project is in the running for American Express grant/prize

As of Aug 28, 2008 at 4:52pm PST, the life extension project is 21st on the list of projects with 1500 nominations. The current top projects have 3000 to 3900 nominations. There are four more days of voting. More of votes are needed to ensure that the life extension project makes the top 25. The next round of voting will need to see at least three times the current rate of votes to ensure a victory.

American Express is going to fund the winning projects with $2.5 million:

* $1,500,000 for the winning project
* $500,000 for the 2nd place project
* $300,000 for the 3rd place project
* $100,000 each for the two remaining finalist projects

The 12 member Advisory Panel will evaluate the projects in conjunction with American Express to determine which projects progress to the Top 25 voting round. A winning project must first make it into the Top 25 and into the Top 5. Then, it must receive the most votes of all the projects.

If you are an american express cardmember or just a US resident you can vote to support an Aubrey de Grey life extension project which is in the running for $1.5 million from American Express.

The advisory panel is here
Voting ends September 1st, take a second to vote now.

Here is the page where you can vote "nominate".

Log in either as an Amex Card Member or as a Guest Member on the top right side (any US resident can vote.

This is the Methuselah Foundation Page with some more details if you are interested.

Progress to exaflop computers and specialized supercomputers

Wehner, Oliker, and Shalf estimate that a general-purpose exaflop machine using today's technology would cost $1 billion to build and 200 megawatts to power—enough for a small city. By comparison, they estimate, a specialized exaflop machine would cost just $75 million and consume just 4 MW.

Berkeley Labs and Tensilica are working together on a hardware mock-up as this site has covered before. IEEE Spectrum reports that the plan is to bench-test a single processor by November and a parallel array of processors by the middle of 2009.

According to Horst Simon, who heads the Lawrence Berkeley lab's research computing center, the proposed machine would not be so specialized that a new algorithm would render it instantly obsolete. “We are building hardware that runs not just one algorithm but a large class of related algorithms,” he says.

D.E.Shaw Research of New York City said that by the end of the year it will have a specialized machine, called Anton, that can simulate molecular interactions hundreds of times as fast as anything now available.

Melanie Swan : Human augmentation via bacterial biome

An excellent idea featured at Melanie Swan's blog: there are 1,000 trillion bacteria that are part of each human (10x the number of human cells) could be an ideal augmentation substrate.

There are at least three ways for achieving human-electronic interfaces; physical implants, wearables and a third as yet unconsidered possibility, exploiting the human bacterial biome.

There are 500 to 1000 classes of bacteria.

Bacteria can be upgraded and functionalized for various augmentation purposes.
1. Add computer memory to bacteria or nanobot bacteria equivalents.
2. Add computer processing to bacteria.
3. Create respirocyte like capabilities [supply extra oxygen to the body]
4. Provide energy generation or energy storage [chemical for the body or electrical for cyborg systems]
5. Provide sensor functions or carry other electronics

From Melanie Swan:
Easy upgrade and maintenance
The continual turnover, ingress and egress of bacteria in humans means that upgrade cycles and retirement of dead or non-functioning elements could occur seamlessly. Bacterial updates could be printed regularly from a 3d printer or automatically dispensed in smarthome air or water. Mechanically, the updates might be delivered through the air, in the shower, or by a nutrient blanket during sleep.

Nanobot intermediaries
Enhancing the human bacterial biome would really just be extending the life support functionality it already provides and could be a nice intermediary step to the more robust bionanodevices and nanobots envisioned in molecular manufacturing. Existing bacteria could be enhanced, much of the human microflora does not appear to be doing anything anyway, or additional bacteria could be engineered and brought on board.

Caterpillar Inc. Funds Viterbi 'Print-a-House' Contour Crafting Technology

Caterpillar, the world's largest manufacturer of construction equipment, is starting to support research on the "Contour Crafting" automated construction system that its creator believes will one day be able to build full-scale houses in hours. This is concrete-jet instead of inkjet printing technology.

Printing buildings to speed up the economy is one of the key technologies for this sites concept of a mundane technological singularity

The current state of the art is printing concrete walls.

Printing buildings is a key part of new manufacturing and construction revolution.

Contour Crafting is an effort to scale up rapid prototyping/manufacturing (a billion dollar industry to make 3 dimensional parts) and inkjet printing techniques to the scale of building multi-story buildings and vehicles. The process could accelerate the trillion dollar (US only) construction industry by 200 times. Projections indicate costs will be around one fifth as much as conventional construction. (Land prices are unchanged, so the actual prices of homes would not change as much in say Hawaii, Tokyo, Manhattan or San Francisco). Using this process, a single house or a colony of houses, each with possibly a different design, may be automatically constructed in a single run, embedded in each house all the conduits for electrical, plumbing and air-conditioning.

Layers of a wall are printed

The machine will cost between $500K to $700K for average size (2000 sq ft -- 200 m2) detached houses. This is not much given that a concrete pump truck is now $300k-$400K. Note that with one machine numerous homes can be built. The first commercial machines to be available this year, 2008. [If this date is met it will be very short run production. It seems that this is still a couple of years from any serious level of trial usage. It will take longer for wide scale adoption and build up of factories.] The machine will be collapsible to form into an easy truck load. The unloading and setup will take between 1-2 hours.

Goals for this phase of the project are process and material engineering research to relate various process parameters and material characteristics to the performance of the specimens to be produced. Various experimental and analytical methods will be employed in the course of the research.

Future phases of the project are expected to include geometric design issues, research in deployable robotics and material delivery methods, automated plumbing and electrical network installation, and automated inspection and quality control.

Advanced computer modeling is a key aspect of removing other bottlenecks to a radically faster construction and manufacturing revolution

August 27, 2008

Quantum Computer Algorithm Review

Michele Mosca of the Institute for Quantum Computing and Dept. of Combinatorics & Optimization, University of Waterloo and St. Jerome’s University, and Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics reviews Quantum Algorithms. Aug, 2008 [71 pages]

Some of the categories of algorithms:

Factoring, Discrete Logarithms and the Abelian Hidden Subgroup Problem : like Shor's algorithm.

Quantum Walk Algorithms

Quantum walks, sometimes called quantum random walks, are quantum analogues of (classical) random walks, which have proved to be a very powerful algorithmic tool in classical computer science. The quantum walk paradigm is still being developed. For example, the relationship between the continuous time and discrete time models of quantum walks is still not fully understood. In any case, the best known algorithms for several problems are some type of quantum walk.

Amplitude amplification: An example of this is Grover quantum search algorithm that gives a quadratic speed-up over the best possible classical algorithm.

Most of the known quantum algorithms can be phrased as black-box algorithms solving black-box problems. A black-box, or oracle, is subroutine or subcircuit that implements some operation or function. It does so in a way that provides no other information other than simply taking an input and giving the prescribed output. One cannot, for example, look at the inner workings of the circuit or device implementing the black-box to extract additional information. For example, Shor’s factoring algorithm can be viewed as an algorithm that finds the order of an element in a black-box group.

Some directions in which future progress might be made are listed below.
• The complexity of the non-Abelian hidden subgroup problem will hopefully be better understood. This includes addressing the question: Does there exist a quantum polynomial time algorithm for solving the graph isomorphism problem? Of course, a proof that no such quantum algorithm exists would imply that P <> PSPACE. So, more likely, we might develop a strong confidence that no such algorithm exists, in which case this can form the basis of quantum computationally secure cryptography .
• There are many examples where amplitude amplification was used to speedup a classical algorithm in a non-trivial way. That is, in a way that was more than just treating a classical algorithm as a guessing algorithm A and applying amplitude amplification to it. There are likely countless other algorithms which can be improved in non-trivial ways using amplitude amplification.

• The quantum walk paradigm for quantum algorithms emerged roughly 10 years ago, and has recently been applied to find the optimal black-box algorithm for several problems, and has become a standard approach for developing quantum algorithms. Some of these black-box problems are fairly natural, and the black-boxes can be substituted with circuits for actual functions of interest. For example, collision finding can be applied to find collisions in actual hash functions used in cryptography. We will hopefully see more instances where black-box algorithm can be applied to solve an problem without a black-box, or where there is no black-box in the first place.

• In addition to the development of new quantum walk algorithms, we will
hopefully have a more elegant and unified general theory of quantum walks
that unites continuous and discrete walks, coined and non-coined walks, and
quantum and classical walks.

• The adiabatic algorithm paradigm has not reached the level of success of
quantum walks, partly because it is hard to analyze the worst case complexity
of the algorithms. To date there is no adiabatic algorithm with a proof that it
works more than quadratically faster than the best known classical algorithm.
Can we do better with an adiabatic algorithm? If and when we have large-scale quantum computers, we will be able to just test these algorithms to see if indeed they do have the conjectured running times on instances of interesting size.

• The topological algorithms have received limited attention to date. This is
partly because the initial work in this field was largely inaccessible to researchers
without substantial familiarity with topological quantum field theory and related areas of mathematics. The more recent work summarized in this paper and other recent papers is a sign that this approach could mature into a fruitful paradigm for developing new important quantum algorithms.

• The paradigm of measurement based computation has been to date mostly focussed on its utility as a paradigm for possibly implementing a scalable fault-tolerant quantum computer. We might see the development of algorithms directly in this paradigm. Similarly for globally controlled architectures.

• There is also a growing group of researchers looking at the computational complexity of various computational problems in physics, in particular of simulating certain Hamiltonian systems, often coming from condensed matter physics. Much of the work has been complexity theoretic, such as proving the QMA-hardness of computing ground states of certain Hamiltonians. Other work has focussed on understanding which quantum systems can be simulated efficiently on a classical computer. This work should lead to the definition of some simulation problems that are not known to be in BPP, nor believed to be NP-hard or QMA-hard, and thus might be good candidates for a quantum algorithm. There has been a language and culture barrier between physicists and theoretical computer scientists when it comes to discussing such problems. However, it is slowly breaking down, as more physicists are becoming familiar with algorithms and complexity, and more quantum computer scientists are becoming familiar with language and notions from physics. This will hopefully lead to more quantum algorithms for computational problems in physics, and new algorithmic primitives that can be applied to a wider range of problems.

Dwave System's published papers and references to quantum computing papers

Gene therapy for ultimate human running speed and strength

Professor Peter Weyand, Southern Methodist University (Texas), known for his expertise in terrestrial locomotion and human and animal performance says that humans would soon have the ability to modify and greatly enhance muscle fibre strength. This would enable speeds of 45 miles per hour and 5 seconds times for 100 meters.

The fast four-legged runners or quadrupeds do seem to be advantaged versus bipeds in terms of the mechanics allowed by their anatomy. So to go even faster would require people to successfully adopt the running mechanics of four legged animals (running on hands and feet).

Coverage of the billion and soon to be multi-billion dollar transgenic medical, agriculture, industrial industry. [Mixing genes between animals to make cheaper drugs or for more productive agriculture]

DARPA is also spending 3 billion to enhance strength and endurance. So endurance enhancements combined with the muscle speed enhancements could allow sprinting for an entire mile run. This would mean 80 seconds to run one mile. 1 minute and 20 seconds. It could also mean about 40 minutes to run a marathon.

Chimpanzees have been estimated to possess five times human strength and gorillas supposedly have 10 times human strength.

Some gorilla's are believed to be able to lift 2 tons and can tear up trees.

Most human strength activities, such as weight lifting, involve a degree of skill as well as strength. It is possible that a human could bench press more weight than a gorilla, but that a could tear the arms off the human. Gorillas and humans have variable strengths. The gorilla has very strong arms, compared to a person. The speculation is that silverback gorilla are 5-20 times as strong as a human.

Maximizing human muscles with myostatin inhibition would be able to double the strength of most people.

There is also work on gene therapy to help tendon healing and there could also be gene therapy to strengthen tendons. Tendon healing improvement.

There is also the exercise pill that tricks the body into thinking it has exercised which improves muscles and tendons

The biggest societal gains would come if we can understand the brain and genetics enough to make safe and effective genetic and biological interventions to greatly boost cognitive performance. If an IQ point increase given to all people results in a 2% increase in GDP, then a 500 IQ point increase for everyone would provide an almost 20,000 times boost to GDP and a 1000 point increase would be almost 400 million times increase in GDP (if the one IQ point for 2% increase rule held all the way)

Nick Bostrom's Converging Cognitive Enhancement article refers to Herrnstein and Murray 1994 paper "The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life" Note: There is controversy surrounding the bell curve conclusions, because intelligence is controversial/political and social conclusions are controversial/political. Therefore, it is sometimes better to focus on whether economic or individual or group productivity is increased by some actions or not.

A lot of other major technology breakthroughs could occur over the next few years including breakthroughs in cognitive enhancement.

IQs have appeared to be rising at 3 points per decade through the 20th century. The causes were believed to be better health, nutrition and education.

Breakthroughs in education/training and cognitive enhancement could enable a magnification of the effect by ten times even without invasive procedures.

Craig Venter has discussed the possibility of increasing cognitive faculties by ten times using genetic engineering. Genetic engineering, stem cells, mind machine interfaces, virtual reality training and other high potential cognitive enhancement might enable such radical leaps in capability.

Vernor Vinge's ideas around intelligence amplification are discussed at the New York Times They are find more productive ways for humans to collaborate and for humans to be helped by computers.

Rapid progress with genome sequencing and dna synthesis and synthetic biology are setting the stage for radical genetic engineering advances

Genetic engineering at wikipedia.

Gene therapy progress and prospects on mitochondria disease from gene therapy journal

A view into the state of clinical gene therapy research.

China may stimulate its economy to keep 9-10% GDP growth

China could apply a 370 billion yuan (US$54 billion) stimulus package to its domestic economy.

China appears to want to keep GDP growth at 9-10% per year.

Westinghouse AP1000 Nuclear power plant module factories in the USA and around the world

China has recently completed a factory to build modules for AP1000 nuclear reactors. The 71000 square meter factory was completed in 11 months and can build the parts for two AP1000 reactors each year. China is wanting 100 Westinghouse AP1000 reactors to be built or being built by 2020. Now a similar factory will be built in Louisiana and operating by the third quarter of 2009. Westinghouse and partner Shaw Group are providing four new plants in China, and they have been identified for no less than 14 plants in the United States. Other markets are fast emerging. A global system of dedicated factories producing identical models should enable far greater standardisation of nuclear power plants - as well as speedier construction.

Toshiba of Japan - majority owner of Westinghouse - is preparing for future nuclear power plant contracts by forming business partnerships with component suppliers, including Ishikawajima-Harima Industries (IHI) of Japan and Doosan Heavy Industries of South Korea.

Russia is speeding up and expanding its nuclear power plant construction. Two reactors planned for 2016 have been moved up to 2015 and changed to a larger design.

Life extension project could get $1.5 million prize with enough online votes

If you are an american express cardmember or just a US resident you can vote to support an Aubrey de Grey life extension project which is in the running for $1.5 million from American Express.

Voting ends September 1st, take a second to vote now.

Here is the page where you can vote "nominate".

Log in either as an Amex Card Member or as a Guest Member on the top right side (any US resident can vote.

This is the Methuselah Foundation Page with some more details if you are interested.

August 26, 2008

Breakthrough digital video camera to replace 35mm film

Hi-res digital camera can match 35 mm film at a fraction of the price.

See the Red digital cinema camera company site for the Red One and other cameras.

The new camera has 4,096(h) x 2,304(v) of resolution and will only cost $17,500. A Panavision Millennium XL-2 35 mm video camera costs $25,000 per month to rent. A Sony F23 digital video camera with 2000 X 1080 resolution costs $150,000.

The camera can output in realtime like other DV cameras.(wikipedia has a very informative entry

They have a 3K digital camera Scarlet with an under $3,000 price point that should be available in 2009. This is the price of current 1000X1000 pixel video cameras. It is 50 times cheaper than 2,000 X 1080 pixel digital video cameras now. The 3,000 line camera will bust open high quality movie production to legions of amateurs.

The Red One is being used on at least 40 features. Steven Soderbergh, the Oscar-winning director, borrowed two prototypes to shoot his Che Guevara biopics, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and later purchased three for his film The Informant. Peter Jackson, the Lord of the Rings himself, bought four. Director Doug Liman used a Red on Jumper. Peter Hyams used one on his upcoming Beyond a Reasonable Doubt. Digital cinema that's all but indistinguishable from film is finally coming to a theater near you.

Jim Jannard, 59, is the billionaire founder of Red. In 1975 he spent $300 to make a batch of custom motocross handlebar grips, which he sold from the back of a van. He named his company Oakley, after his English setter, and eventually expanded into sci-fi-style sunglasses, bags, and shoes. In November of last year he sold the business to Luxottica, the owner of Ray-Ban, for a reported $2.1 billion.

Analog projection seems to be on the way out. In March, four big Hollywood studios announced plans to retrofit 10,000 screens—about a quarter of the US total—for digital projection at 2K. Movies shot with Red's 4K camera will look every bit as good as those shot on film, and they'll all be ads for the company's next camera, the Epic, with more than 5,000 lines of resolution.

Ziggurat Dubai a Buildable City Pyramid

There was a 4000 meter tall pyramid city called X-Seed 4000 which was designed but was never meant to be built. [first picture on the left]

Now there is a 1200 meter tall, 2.3 square kilometer environmentally friendly building being proposed in Dubai.

- Transport throughout the complex would be connected by an integrated 360 degree network (horizontally and vertically). Elevator cars that go up down and sideways.

- It could house one million people and be provide for all their food, water and energy needs inside the structure

- It would use 10% of land surface that a normal one million person city would need

Mile high buildings are being seriously proposed in the middle east.

Many new skyscrapers and megaprojects (man made islands and more) are being developed in Dubai. Dubai is the place where this project has the best chance of being funded and developed.

Large pyramid buildings are seen in science fiction like Blade Runner.

and Logan's Run

Another rendered view of the Dubai Ziggurat

100% Efficient Fullerene Production and Anticipated Breakthroughs

Researchers have now discovered a method that produces the bucky ball configuration of carbon with nearly 100% conversion efficiency from precursor materials.

Getting high efficiencies means that you don't have to sift through the reaction product and separate what you wanted—not a small challenge when you're sorting billions of particles with nanometer dimensions. The relatively low temperatures—750K in this case—also make for cheaper production and, even though platinum is expensive.

What are the best breakthroughs that could be here soon ?

Cheap, full strength, industrial quantities of carbon nanotubes.

Full strength carbon nanotubes have been made and irradiation has been found to repair some defects.

MIT and Darpa appear close to making carbon nanotubes that are one meter long.

Currently only a few hundred tons of carbon nanotubes are produced in factories. Current plans are to get to a few thousands of tons in the 2012-2015 timeframe. Some breakthroughs could allow the expected volume of carbon fiber 100,000/year tons in 2015 to be producing carbon nanotubes. The world produces over one billion tons per year of steel and 2.5 billion tons of concrete. For carbon nanotubes to be used as a major part of all cars, planes and space vehicles, the production level needs to get up to 10 to 100 million tons/year. The production level can be less than steel and concrete because carbon nanotubes are stronger and lighter so less would be needed. Also for many applications the carbon nanotubes can just add strength or improve characteristics of plastic.

Cheap and plentiful Graphene
Graphene is another material that could contribute to revolutionizing the properties of what is built.

Graphene and carbon nanotube electronics

Carbon nanotubes could enable optical computing.

Hybrid optical and electronic computing is also making breakthroughs

Onchip photonic communications is one of the keys to enabling energy efficient exaflop and zettaflop computers that are one million times faster than the best existing supercomputers.

6 zettaflops is the limit of a 5 MW supercomputer based on a planned beyond CMOS architecture. 6 petaflops if the limit of an advanced 5W mobile system.

Specialized computers can bring 100 to 1000 times better performance years sooner.

New architectures and approaches could lead to a breakthrough in three dimensional molecular computing.

Adiabatic quantum computers could see commercialization and performance breakthroughs this year and in 2009 from Dwave Systems.

The Dwave systems quantum computer design currently cannot run Grover's search algorithm better than classical computers. Breakthroughs with improved versions of quantum computers (refinement of Dwave systems or trapped ion quantum computers or other versions) or improved algorithms could enable superior quantum computer performance.

A Quantum computer system with vastly superior performance could be leveraged to created automatic programming systems. Such a system would use a declarative language that allows us to program by specifying only what a solution looks like, with automatic conversion to some canonical solver language that uses the superior quantum computer speed to generate solutions.

Nuclear Fusion

Time to Small Cost to Achieve Large scale chance
Concept Description Scale net energy Net Energy after small success Funded?

Bussard IEC Fusion 3-5 years $200 million 90% Y, $2m
My intro to Bussard fusion and update on prototype work

Recent test results could be announced in one to two months and seem likely to be positive and could

lead to a 100 MW positive energy system as a next step.
As noted above the ideal situation is to scale the system to a commercializable prototype in 3 years.

Success would mean radically improved space propulsion.

This one of ten other radical improvements in space travel and access which are possible in the near term.


Plasma Focus 6 years $1M+ Sales X-scan 80% Y, $1.9m
Focus fusion website
Focus fusion US patent application
Working on a funded experiment with Chile 2006-2010

Tri-alpha Energy aka 8 years $75 million 60% Y, $50m
Colliding Beam fusion aka
Field Reversed Configuration
My review of the academic research before the funded stealth project

General Fusion aka 3-6 years $10-30 million 60% Y, $2m
Magnetized target fusion
Steam generated shock wave into spinning liquid metal

Potential Great [Peak oil crushing] but Less than Fusion Energy Breakthroughs
Factory mass produced uranium hydride reactors that burn uranium at 10-12 time higher efficiency.

China could also factory mass produce high temperature reactors

MIT and Westinghouse should commercialize a 50% power uprate of existing nuclear reactors.

Biofuel breakthroughs
Various types of algae and microbe biofuel production

Genetically engineered seaweed for biofuels and extraction of uranium from seawater.

Stem Cell Breakthroughs
Stem cells seem likely to enable unlimited disease free blood supply and could enable radical life extension and regeneration.

Radical Life Extension
Various aspects of the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) and related work for life extension are making progress such rejuvenation of organs and cells, vaccines against Alzheimers, cancer cures and caloric restriction mimicking medicine.

Human cognitive, performance enhancement and intelligence amplification
Genetic engineering breakthroughs could radically increase cognition, health, longevity and physical performance.

If the whole population's IQ by just 3 points, you would reduce poverty by 25%, you would reduce welfare recipiency by 18%, the number of males in jail by 25%, the number of parentless children by 20%. If that trend held, then an increase of 9 points, would be 95% reduction of poverty, 64% reduction in welfare, 95% reduction in males in jail and 73% reduction in parentless children. Source: Nick Bostrom's Converging Cognitive Enhancement article refers to Herrnstein and Murray 1994 paper "The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life" Note: There is controversy surrounding the bell curve conclusions, because intelligence is controversial/political and social conclusions are controversial/political. Therefore, it is sometimes better to focus on whether economic or individual or group productivity is increased by some actions or not.

People have estimated that an increase of 1 IQ point leads to a nearly 2% increase in income, and for the US economy, an increase per IQ point across the population, results in a $250 billion increase in GDP. A 10 point increase would be 21% increase in income or 2.8 trillion increase based on current GDP. Worldwide this would be a 12 trillion dollar increase. A 40 point across the board IQ increase would be 48% higher GDP and an 80 point increase would be a 120% increase.

IQs have appeared to be rising at 3 points per decade through the 20th century. The causes were believed to be better health, nutrition and education.

Breakthroughs in education/training and cognitive enhancement could enable a magnification of the effect by ten times even without invasive procedures.

Craig Venter has discussed the possibility of increasing cognitive faculties by ten times using genetic engineering. Genetic engineering, stem cells, mind machine interfaces, virtual reality training and other high potential cognitive enhancement might enable such radical leaps in capability.

Vernor Vinge's ideas around intelligence amplification are discussed at the New York Times They are find more productive ways for humans to collaborate and for humans to be helped by computers.

Rapid progress with genome sequencing and dna synthesis and synthetic biology are setting the stage for radical genetic engineering advances

A breakthrough in artificial general intelligence would also enable such an intelligence explosion.

DARPA 3 billion program of human enhancement also could cure obesity and provide the elderly with youthful vigor.

Getting Technological Development Organized
There are technologies that are underdeveloped but feasible which be brought together to create radical transformation of technological capabilities as discussed in a concept called a "mundane singularity".

Molecular nanotechnology, diamondoid nanotech, nanofactories and nanomedicine
The long awaited funding of diamondoid mechanosynthesis could finally lead to breakthroughs in molecular nanotechnology

Molecular nanotechnology is already progressing with fastly improving self assembly capabilities and various types of DNA nanotechnology

Controversial 2009 Possibility is Blacklight Power

Based on the claimed performance, a 100 MW Blacklight Power system would fit in 5 cubic meters and could be powered for a year with 130 tons of fuel (hydrino water).

IBM Develops Electric Control of Light from Carbon Nanotubes

By fabricating an optical cavity around light-emitting nanotube mirrors at the bottom and top, wavelengths were confined to the desired 1.55-micron communications frequency. IBM researchers see a development path to light emitting nanotubes with no waste heat and a way to create a superlattice array of tubes for silicon photonic chips for optical computers.

EETimes reports, electric control of the spectrum, direction and efficiency of light-emitting nanotubes (LENs) has been demonstrated by researchers at IBM Corp.'s Thomas J. Watson Research Center They have put a LEN inside an optical waveguide to achieve directional surface emission, wavelength selectivity and the potential for ultrahigh efficiency.

IBM achieved surface emission by combining a single nanotube-based field-effect-transistor with a pair of metallic mirrors, one above and below the nanotube which lies flat on the silicon chip. The bottom mirror was made from silver, with a top half-mirror made from gold. Light was emitted from the nanotube in the cavity, which was filled with transparent dielectric.

The distance between the top and bottom mirrors was calculated to be half of the desired emission wavelength, which was set to be near a communications wavelength of 1.55 microns. Light was reflected upward off the bottom of the cavity, where half was passed as a surface emission from the LEN while the other half was reflected back down to the bottom mirror to reinforce the desired emission wavelength.

"We confined the emission in an optical cavity with two mirrors, so that light forms a standing wave between the mirrors which enhanced the frequencies, whose wavelength were equal to half the size of the cavity," said Avouris. "We used lithography to form the cavities, which achieved a dramatic enhancement--confining the spectrum to about 10 percent of what it was without the cavity, and giving us an overall enhancement [in the efficiency] of the emission of 400 percent."

IBM claims it is now only a matter of time until virtually all wasted energy that formerly generated heat can be eliminated by changing the electronic structure of a device.

"There are two types of emission from an object, radiative and nonradiative, with the latter being the energies lost by heat," said Avouris. Radiative emission "was always thought to be a fixed property of the material, but what we realized was that it is not only the material that is quantized--that has discrete states--but the photons also are part of a field that has quantized states.

"Emission comes by coupling these two fields. We now feel that by using an electric field we can change the electronic structure of nanotubes so that heat cannot be generated," he added.

Besides improving the efficiency of future devices by eliminating heat generation, IBM researchers also plan to experiment with methods of aligning nanotubes to a superlattice. This would allow an array of LENs to be fabricated on future silicon photonic chips.

August 25, 2008

Justin Rattner, CTO of Intel, indicates Singularity by 2050 and advanced Claytronics

Justin Rattner, CTO of Intel, agrees with Ray Kurzweil that the Singularity (the time when computer intelligence exceeds human intelligence) is near. Rattner thinks the Singularity will happen before 2050. In the bottom of this article, there is a large update on the Carnegie Mellon University/Intel work on claytronics.

Justin and his colleagues then showed a lot of technology at the Intel Developers Conference. Several of the technologies have been presented on this site before.
- Emotiv Systems demonstrated their brain reading interfaces.
Covered here in 2007 under cheap brain wave activity sensors

- Claytronic catoms were demonstrated (covered here in 2007).

These large catoms will eventually be miniturized to the size of bits of sand and will be able to create shapes the liquid metal terminator or the Sandman.

- a robot arm with "pretouch" ability to sense the location of an apple and seize hold.

- A silicon photonics demo transmitted data at 3.2 gigabits per second from and to a microprocessor using optical signals.

- wireless transmission of 60 watts of power to illuminate a light bulb; it has 75 percent efficiency.

Jan Rabaey, a professor at the University of California-Berkeley, describes his vision for the future of radio communications. Rabaey said he believes each person will have about 1,000 radios soon, most of them vanishingly small. Radio devices, he said, will become "cognitive," so they can automatically sense where there's uncluttered radio spectrum available and which communication protocols should be used at a given moment. He also believes they'll become more collaborative--able to link together in a mesh network that collectively can transmit data faster, in greater quantity, more efficiently, and more reliably.

Rattner holds a Wisp (Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform), a device with a processor, memory, and radio that passively collects energy until it has enough to send a transmission.

Claytronics at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)

Claytronics hardware at CMU

At the current stage of design, claytronics hardware operates from macroscale designs with devices that are much larger than the tiny modular robots that set the goals of this engineering research. Such devices are designed to test concepts for sub-millimeter scale modules and to elucidate crucial effects of the physical and electrical forces that affect nanoscale robots.

* Planar catoms test the concept of motion without moving parts and the design of force effectors that create cooperative motion within ensembles of modular robots.

Planar magnetic rings. Two magnet rings from Planar Catom V7 display the arrangement of their 12 magnets around individual driver boards and the coil design for horseshoe magnets

* Electrostatic latches model a new system of binding and releasing the connection between modular robots, a connection that creates motion and transfers power and data while employing a small factor of a powerful force.

A simple and robust inter-module latch is possibly the most important component of a modular robotic system.

* Stochastic Catoms integrate random motion with global objectives communicated in simple computer language to form predetermined patterns, using a natural force to actuate a simple device, one that cooperates with other small helium catoms to fulfill a set of unique instructions.

* Giant Helium Catoms provide a larger-than-life, lighter-than-air platform to explore the relation of forces when electrostatics has a greater effect than gravity on a robotic device, an effect simulated with a modular robot designed for self-construction of macro-scale structures.

* Cubes employ electrostatic latches to demonstrate the functionality of a device that could be used in a system of lattice-style self-assembly at both the macro and nano-scale.

The Cube above models the primary building block in a hypothetical system for robotic self-assembly that could be used for modular construction and employ Cubes that are larger or smaller in scale than the pictured device.

One wheel and three wheel motorbikes

Ben Gulak has developed a 15 mph unocycle all electric (battery powered) based on Segway balancing technology. Ben Gulak, suspects it could go as high as 40 mph.

Jake Loniak (Art College Student) has a wearable motorcycle concept.

The wearable motorcycle would have nano phosphate batteries and artificial muscles to give it a theoretical top speed of 75mph. A video demonstrates Deus’s intended functional ability: namely standing up while being mounted and then laying down for high-speed stability. According to Popular Science a functional prototype may be feasible. The 36 artificial muscles, for instance, are made by Festo, while the Lithium Ion batteries are produced by Massachusetts-based A123.

Bombardier the leading builder of skidoos has a one wheel motorbike concept, the Embrio (design has been around since 2003. No indications that it will be built)

Cheaper and greener biodiesel process

A better biodiesel process has been developed with no waste products and lower costs. Raw fats and oils of any type are combined with an alcohol. This mixture is run through a sulfated zirconia column heated to 300 degrees Celsius. Easy Fatty Acid Removal (EFAR) system recycles any unreacted raw material back through the reactor. Excess alcohol is recycled back through the reactor. Pure biodiesel comes out the end.

The Benefits
• Can utilize a variety of inexpensive, not food grade feedstocks [like fat and garbage food waste]
• Can produce biodiesel in seconds not hours
• Does not produce any waste
• Small in physical size
• No washing, refinging or neutralizing of the biodiesel is necessary [can be 88% of the cost of biodiesel]
• Sulfated zirconia catalyst never needs replacing
The group has formed a company called Ever Cat Fuels and is in the process of building a 3 million gallon per year (MMgy) commercial biodiesel facility with the intention of scaling it up to 30 MMgy in the next 3-5 years. As soon as the Ever Cat plant is producing biodiesel successfully, the group plans on licensing the technology to other interested parties. 1000 larger plants would produce 30 billion gallons per year. The United States currently uses 140 billion gallons of gasoline each year. 1 billion tons of biomass could supply the material for 30 billion gallons per year.

Nuclear power will be added faster than wind power

Existing Nuclear power can be uprated. Over 2008-10 EdF (France) plans to uprate five of its 900 MWe reactors by 3% [135Mwe, 1.1TWh/yr]. Then in 2007 EdF announced that the twenty 1300 MWe reactors would be uprated some 7% from 2015 [1820MWe], within existing licence limits, and adding about 15 TWh/yr to output.

Spain has a program to add 810 MWe (11%) to its nuclear capacity through upgrading its nine reactors by up to 13%.

The USA will be adding about 2 GW of power via uprates over the next 4 years.

MIT annular fuel technology can uprate existing reactors by 50%. Westinghouse is working on commercialization and this can be deployed before 2020.

The expected nuclear reactor completions from now until 2013
3 more nuclear reactors are starting up in 2008
7 reactors in 2009 (5200MW)
7 reactors in 2010 (5200MW)
7 reactors in 2011 (6600MW)
9 reactors in 2012 (9075MW)
16 reactors in 2013 (17120 MW)
This includes Watts Bar 2, 1180 MWe reactor is expected to come on line in 2013

47+ GW added by 2013.
350+ TWh

China's new nuclear power generation target for 2020 is 70GW an increase from 40GW two years ago and 60GW last year. [up from 8.6GW now]

200+ GW by 2020
1500+ TWh

If the 50% power uprate comes through, that is 1500-2000 TWh more

The time limit arguments do not hold up because there is no credible plan that adds alternative power on a faster time line. Most importantly cutting back on nuclear power build does not increase the build rate of wind and solar power.

People talk about how fast it is to assemble wind turbines, but this ignores the time needed to build the factories for components and the time needed to build all of the components.

The 2007 Global wind energy report (72 pages). It was published March 2008.

By 2020, the overall German onshore capacity could be at 45,000 MW, assuming an optimal use of sites and no general height restrictions for turbines [ie everything goes the wind industry way], with an additional 10,000MW offshore. This would account for about 25% of German electricity consumption, or about 150 TWh/year.
The EU wind target for 2020 is 477 TWh/year. This is not based on committed projects as in the case of nuclear power but on hoped for build based on desired policy changes.

Multiply this by 3 times to add possible USA, Canada, and China wind power and is 1430 TWh/year which is less than the 1500TWh for nuclear power. So nuclear power is on track based on existing projects to be adding more TWh than optimistic wind assumptions and targets by 2020.

The American Wind Energy Association plan for 20% wind by 2030

The AWEA target is 150 GW of installed wind power in the United States that would generate about 390 TWh if the wind association plan is adopted and followed. This would be up from 20GW of wind in the USA now that will generate 48 TWh.

GDP if the Soviet Union still Existed

What if the Soviet Union still existed ?
GDP estimates from wikipedia This GDP table is in billions.

Country GDP (2008 nominal) GDP (2009 nominal)PPP 2009 Population
Russia 1,700 2,016 2462 141.9
Ukraine 183 221 366 46.1
Belarus 53 61 125 9.7
Kazakhstan 134 148 196 15.4
Azerbaijan 49 63 93 8.5
Georgia 13.5 16.6 25.3 4.4
Uzbekistan 26 31 77 27.4
Armenia 9.3 10.6 21 3.0
Lithuania485470 3.4
Latvia 36 40 43 2.3
Estonia 25 27.6 31.4 1.3
Kyrgyzstan4.85.7 12.4 5.3
Tajikistan 4.1 4.7 13.76.7
Moldova 5.3 6.5 11.8 3.8
Totals 2291 2705.7 3548 279.2

How many olympic medals would a Soviet Union/Unified Team have won in Beijing.

Wikipedia list of countries by population

The Soviet Union/Unified Team would have won 171 medals

If the Soviet Union would not have broken up, they would have won the most medals in the Beijing Olympics. (H/T to reader Sera Jones and wisegeek)

There would have been some reduction or shifts in the medal total
Because a unified team would not have been able to send multiple teams to rhythmic gymnastics to win gold and bronze and would only have won gold A combined team would probably had stronger relay teams in track and field and in swimming. However, this could have been made up by having stronger teams in gymnastics for the men and women team results.

Reuters has an article which talks about China breaking up the old duopoly in Olympic medals. China would have had more gold medals than even a unified Soviet team. China will need to wait until 2012 to exceed the USA and a hypothetical unified team in total olympic medals.

Country Golds Silvers Bronzes Total Medals
Russia 23 21 28 72
Ukraine 7 5 15 27
Belarus 4 5 10 19
Kazakhstan 2 4 7 13
Azerbaijan 1 2 4 7
Georgia 3 0 3 6
Uzbekistan 1 2 3 6
Armenia 0 0 6 6
Lithuania023 5
Latvia 1 1 1 3
Estonia 1 1 0 2
Kyrgyzstan01 1 2
Tajikistan 0 1 12
Moldova 0 0 1 1
Totals 43 45 83 171

China appears headed towards Olympic medal dominance

The GDP and population if the Soviet Union still existed.

Protein scanning chip breakthrough

Scientists at The University of Manchester have developed a new and fast method for making biological 'chips' – technology that could lead to quick testing for serious diseases, fast detection of MRSA infections and rapid discovery of new drugs. They are aiming to develop 'nanoarrays'. These would be much smaller than existing 'micro arrays' and would allow thousands more protein samples to be placed on a single 'chip', reducing cost and vastly increasing the volume of data that could be simultaneously collected.

Researchers working at the Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre (MIB) and The School of Chemistry have unveiled a new technique for producing functional 'protein chips' in a paper in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), published 22 August 2008. The paper is "Direct Site-Selective Covalent Protein Immobilization Catalyzed by a Phosphopantetheinyl Transferase".

Functional protein arrays could give scientists the ability to run tests on tens of thousands of different proteins simultaneously, observing how they interact with cells, other proteins, DNA and drugs.

As proteins can be placed and located precisely on a 'chip', it would be possible to scan large numbers of them at the same time but then isolate the data relating to individual proteins.

The Manchester team of Dr Lu Shin Wong, Dr Jenny Thirlway and Prof Jason Micklefield say the technical challenges of attaching proteins in a reliable way have previously held back the widespread application and development of protein chips.

Current methods also require proteins to be purified first – and this means that creating large and powerful protein arrays would be hugely costly in terms of time, manpower and money.

Now researchers at The University of Manchester say they have found a reliable new way of attaching active proteins to a chip. Biological chemists have engineered modified proteins with a special tag, which makes the protein attach to a surface in a highly specified way and ensures it remains functional.

The attachment occurs in a single step in just a few hours – unlike with existing techniques – and requires no prior chemical modification of the protein of interest or additional chemical steps.

The abstract:
Immobilization of proteins onto solid supports is important in the preparation of functional protein microarrays and in the development of bead-based bioassays, biosensors, and industrial biocatalysts. In order to generate the stable, functional, and homogeneous materials required for these applications, attention has focused on methods that enable the efficient and site-specific covalent immobilization of recombinant proteins onto a wide range of platforms. To this end, the phosphopantetheinyl transferase Sfp was employed to catalyze the direct immobilization of recombinant proteins bearing the small, genetically encoded ybbR tag onto surfaces functionalized with CoA. Using mass spectrometry, it was shown that the Sfp catalyzes immobilization of a model acyl carrier protein (ACP) onto CoA-derivatized PEGA resin beads through specific covalent bond formation. Luciferase (Luc) and glutathione-S-transferase (GST) ybbR-fusion proteins were similarly immobilized onto PEGA resin retaining high levels of enzyme activity. This strategy was also successfully applied for the immobilization of the ACP, as well as ybbR-Luc, -GST, and -thioredoxin fusion proteins, on hydrogel microarray slides. Overall, the Sfp-catalyzed surface ligation is mild, quantitative, and rapid, occurring in a single step without prior chemical modification of the target protein. Immobilization of the target proteins directly from a cell lysate mixture was also demonstrated.

August 24, 2008

The Future of Carbon fiber in Cars

Year Carbon Fiber (CF) Market
2007 35,000 tons
2008 40,000 tons
2009 46,000 tons
2010 52,000 tons
2011 60,000 tons
2012 69,000 tons
2015 88,000 tons

70-80% of the CF market is for industrial purposes (10-15% growth in industrial), but the market for aircraft parts is growing the fastest (15-24% growth). The overall market is projected to grow at 10-15% per year.

A new and growing CF market will be for car parts and body panels.

Using 100kg in 6.5 million cars would see a CF market of 654,000 tons per year in the 2020s.

Japanese carmakers have plans to reduce vehicle weight and improve fuel economy from 2010 an beyond.

CF are getting stronger with smaller defects.

Toray expansion plans from 2007