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March 07, 2009

Printing Bones Using Your Own Cells


New Scientist reports on a 3D bone printer.

Exact replicas of a man's thumb bones have been made for the first time using a 3D printer. The breakthrough paves the way for surgeons to replace damaged or diseased bones with identical copies built from the patients' own cells.

"In theory, you could do any bone," says Christian Weinand of the Insel Hospital in Berne, Switzerland, head of the team that copied his thumb bones. "Now I can put spares in my pocket if I want," he says.

Firstly, you need a 3D image of the bone you want to copy. If the bone has been lost or destroyed, you can make a mirror image of its surviving twin.

This image is then fed into a 3D inkjet printer, which deposits thin layers of a pre-selected material on top of one another until a 3D object materialises.

Weinand loaded the printer with tricalcium phosphate and a type of polylactic acid - natural structural materials found in the human body. The resulting bone "scaffolds" contained thousands of tiny pores into which bone cells could settle, grow and eventually displace the biodegradable scaffold altogether.

The team extracted CD117 cells from bone marrow left over after hip-replacement operations. CD117 cells grow into primordial bone cells called osteoblasts, which the team syringed onto the bone scaffolds in a gel designed to support and nourish them. Finally, the scaffolds were sewn under the skin on the backs of mice where they grew for up to 15 weeks, until the scaffold had changed into human bone.








RELATED NEWS
The gene that controls teeth growth has been found. It is possible that this could lead to people being able to regrow their own teeth

There is various progress with stem cell for creating transplant organs.


MIT has a new fibrous scaffold that can help regenerate cartilage and other tissues

Carnival of Space 94

Carnival of Space 94 is up at the Planetary Society blog

This site contributed one of the articles in the series on using an underground nuclear blast to launch large unmanned and cheap payloads into space.

A Mars sample return mission is examined at robot explorers





Discovery helps peole understand the size and scale of the Universe.

Astroengine looks at the first steps to artificial life.

Centauri Dreams considers "What if the Keppler Mission discovers that Earth-like worlds are common ?"

Meet some of the cast of the new Star Trek movie at a babe in the universe. [Chris Pine and Zack Pinto]

Check out the Carnival of Space 94 at the Planetary Society blog for a lot more


Naming Ideas for Tea Party Members - Teaocons, Teaocrats

There has been a fair bit of activity for a grass roots anti-tax movement.

On February 27th, 2009 an estimated 30,000 Americans took to the street in 40+ cities accross the country in the first nationwide "Tea Party" protest.

The Tax Day Tea Party is a national collaborative grassroots effort organized by Smart Girl Politics, Top Conservatives on Twitter, the DontGo Movement and many other online groups/coalitions.

The Tea Party protests, in their current form, began in early 2009 when Rick Santelli, the On Air Editor for CNBC, set out on a rant to expose the bankrupt liberal agenda of the White House Administration and Congress. Specifically, the flawed "Stimulus Bill" and pork filled budget.

With April 15th being "Tax Day", it was decided to schedule the second round of Tea Party protests to ride alongside the tax deadline.


There is also a lot of coverage from
Michelle Malkin and Instapundit, Glenn Reynlolds.

Anti-tax and more limited government are small "c" conservative issues.

Thus my suggestion for some ideas for naming the members of the Tea Party movement.

What should members of the grassroots anti-tax and anti-bailout the Tea Party movement be called ?
Teaocrats
Teaocons
Teapublicans
Other in the comments
  
pollcode.com free polls








Related concepts are tax reform such as the Fairtax idea.

The FairTax is a proposed change to the federal tax laws of the United States that would replace all federal income taxes with a single national retail sales tax. The plan has been introduced into the United States Congress as the Fair Tax Act (H.R. 25/S. 296). The tax would be levied once at the point of purchase on all new goods and services for personal consumption. The proposal also calls for a monthly payment to all family households of lawful U.S. residents as an advance rebate, or 'prebate', of tax on purchases up to the poverty level. The sales tax rate, as defined in the legislation, is 23 percent of the total payment including the tax ($23 of every $100 spent in total—calculated similar to income taxes). This would be equivalent to a 30 percent traditional U.S. sales tax ($23 on top of every $77 spent before taxes).

With the rebate taken into consideration, the FairTax would be progressive on consumption, but would also be regressive on income at higher income levels (as consumption falls as a percentage of income). Opponents argue this would accordingly decrease the tax burden on high income earners and increase it on the middle class. Supporters contend that the plan would decrease tax burdens by broadening the tax base, effectively taxing wealth, and increasing purchasing power. The plan's supporters also argue that a consumption tax would have a positive effect on savings and investment, that it would ease tax compliance, and that the tax would result in increased economic growth, incentives for international business to locate in the U.S., and increased U.S. competitiveness in international trade. Opponents contend that a consumption tax of this size would be extremely difficult to collect, and would lead to pervasive tax evasion. They also argue that the proposed sales tax rate would raise less revenue than the current tax system, leading to an increased budget deficit.

In recent years, a tax reform movement has formed behind the FairTax proposal. Increased support was created after talk radio personality Neal Boortz and Georgia Congressman John Linder published The FairTax Book in 2005 and additional visibility was gained in the 2008 presidential campaign. A number of congressional committees have heard testimony on the bill; however, it has not moved from committee since its introduction in 1999 and has yet to have any effect on the tax system. The plan is expected to increase cost transparency for funding the federal government, and supporters believe it would have positive effects on civil liberties, the environment, and advantages with taxing illegal activity and illegal immigrants. There are concerns regarding the proposed repeal of the Sixteenth Amendment, removal of tax deduction incentives, transition effects on after-tax savings, effect to the income tax industry, incentives on credit use, and the loss of tax advantages to state and local bonds.


March 06, 2009

Kepler Earth Sized planet Hunter Launches Today



The Kepler Planet Hunting mission launches today. H/T Sander Olson.

The Kepler spacecraft will stare at a patch of sky – the same 100,000 stars near the northern constellation Cygnus, all at once – for at least 3-1/2 years. The goal is to detect Earth-like planets orbiting their host stars at distances thought to be sweet spots for life.

If all goes well, Kepler’s journey will start with the launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida at around 10:49 p.m. Eastern time.

The one-ton Kepler observatory boasts a 1.4-meter (4-1/2 foot) diameter mirror and a push-the-envelope camera, according to James Fanson, project manager for the Kepler mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. A typical digital camera has roughly eight million to 10 million individual picture elements, or pixels, on its light detector. Kepler’s camera boasts 95 million pixels.

The camera won’t take pictures of the stars it monitors, however. Instead, it will measure changes in starlight as an orbiting planet slips in front of its host star.

Picking the targets, 100,000 sun-like stars, was no cake walk. Astronomers spent five years methodically measuring traits of 4.5 million stars in Kepler’s planned field of view.

Out of the resulting 100,000-star catalog, Kepler scientists estimate that perhaps only 10 percent have planets with orbital periods short enough to allow for repeated detections within Kepler’s 3-1/2 year primary mission length. Some 0.5 percent of the 100,000 stars are expected to reveal planets orbiting at Earth-like distances.

That still means there is potential to find hundreds of Earth-like planets orbiting in that sweet spot. The solar systems range in distance from around 50 light-years away to some 3,000 light-years or more.


Wired has live video feed of the Kepler Launch






The Mercury Laser Moves Toward Practical Laser Fusion


The diode-pumped Mercury laser will deliver 100 J pulses at 10 Hz under automatic control, advancing the development of high-repetition-rate inertial laser fusion.

The National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is on target to demonstrate “breakeven”–creating as much fusion-energy output as laser-energy input. The NIF laser will compress a tiny sphere of hydrogen isotopes with 1.8 MJ of light in a 20 ns pulse, packing the isotopes so tightly that they fuse together.

If laser fusion is ever to generate power for civilian consumption, the laser will have to deliver pulses nearly 100,000 times faster than NIF–a rate of perhaps 10 shots per second as opposed to NIF’s several shots a day.

The Mercury laser (named after the Roman messenger god) is intended to lead the way to a 10-shots-per-second, electrically efficient driver laser for commercial laser fusion. While the Mercury laser will generate only a small fraction (1/30,000) of the peak power of NIF, it operates at a higher average power.

One significant difference is that, unlike the flashlamp-pumped NIF, Mercury is pumped by highly efficient laser diodes. Mercury is a prototype laser capable of scaling in aperture and energy to a NIF-like beamline with greater electrical efficiency, while still running at a repetition rate 100,000 times greater. While the goal of NIF is to achieve fusion breakeven, the goal of the Mercury laser system is the demonstration of a reliable diode-pumped solid-state laser system capable of scaling in aperture to the equivalent energy of a single one of NIF’s 192 beamlines. Diode pumping reduces the heat deposited into the Mercury laser, while gas cooling allows the residual heat to be efficiently removed.

To date, Mercury has operated for more than 300,000 shots at greater than 50 J at a repetition rate of 10 shots per second. Ultimately, Mercury’s goal is to generate 100 J pulses at this rate.








The amplifiers are face-cooled with high-pressure helium gas, removing approximately 3 W/cm2 of heat with minimal thermal wavefront distortions. Helium is chosen for two unique properties: its low refractive index and its high thermal conductivity. One advantage of gas cooling is that the technology is scalable–once a system design has been formulated to remove a certain amount of heat per square centimeter, it is possible to scale in aperture, allowing a small-energy (100 J) laser system to operate with the same characteristics as a large-aperture system with 100 times more energy. This heat-removal method is applicable not only to the laser gain medium, but also to the frequency-conversion system, in which the IR laser emission is converted to green or UV light.


Petawatt lasers now and Exawatt and Zettawatt Lasers on the Way

The Texas Petawatt laser was completed March 31, 2008, allowing an immediate demonstration of its 1.1 petawatt power by producing, 200 J, 167 fs pulses.


The US National Ignition Facility is to start firing in 2010

Zettawatt-Exawatt Lasers and Their Applications in Ultrastrong-Field Physics

From 1992-2001, however, we have seen a surge in our ability to produce high intensities, five to six orders of magnitude higher than was possible before. At these intensities, particles, electrons and protons acquire kinetic energy in the mega-electron-volt range through interaction with intense laser fields. This opens a new age for the laser, the age of nonlinear relativistic optics coupling even with nuclear physics. We suggest a path to reach an extremely high-intensity level 10^26−28 W/cm2 in the coming decade, much beyond the current and near future intensity regime 10^23 W/cm2, taking advantage of the megajoule laser facilities. Such a laser at extreme high intensity could accelerate particles to frontiers of high energy, tera-electronvolt and peta-electron-volt, and would become a tool of fundamental physics encompassing particle physics, gravitational physics, nonlinear field theory,
ultrahigh-pressure physics, astrophysics, and cosmology.

A zettawatt system could be built using Yb:glass, with the advantages of being
relatively compact due to the high Fsat of this material and being diode pumpable, much development work needs to be accomplished to reach this intensity level with this material. The proposed systems described below have been stimulated by the construction , both in France and in the U.S, of lasers delivering a few megajoules of energy as well as the availability of large telescope technology (10m diameter) and deformable mirrors

An exawatt system on the other hand,which would produce 10 kJ in 10 fs, i.e., 10^25 W/cm2, could be readily constructed. Only one percent or 30 kJ of the NIF/LMJ energy would be necessary. The beam size will be of the order of one meter in diameter. The amplifying method will be composed of a matrix of 25 Ti:sapphire 20×20 cm2 crystals and two gratings of meter-size.


A tutorial on the Technology and Economics of laser Inertial Fusion by Per Peterson

How IFE works








Europe has extreme light project to plan and build an exawatt laser

Europe also the Hiper project to develop laser fusion.

HiPER proposes to build a demonstrator diode-pump system producing 10 kJ at 1 Hz or 1 kJ at 10 Hz depending on a design choice yet to be made. The best high-repetition lasers currently operating are much smaller; MERCURY at Livermore is about 70 J, HALNA in Japan at ~20 J, and LUCIA in France at ~100 J. HiPER's demonstrator would thus be between 10 and 1000 times as powerful as any of these. HiPER construction is to begin in 2011 or 2012.


Construction of the HiPER facility is envisaged to start mid-decade, with operation in the early 2020s.

If the Nuclear Cannon Jump Started Space Development



The Near Earth Asteroid 433 Eros is about 6.7 trillion tons. It is the second-largest near-Earth asteroid (NEA) after 1036 Ganymed.

Eros is an S-type asteroid and 17% are of this type.

C-type asteroids are carbonaceous asteroids. They are the most common variety forming around 75% of known asteroids.

Eros has a lot of gold and platinum in it. Perhaps a $100 trillion plus at $1000/ounce. The issue would be how much could be mined in a year and how would it effect market prices. Eros is shaped like a 33 km by 13 km by 13 km banana.

Eros is typical of stony meteorites, then it contains about 3% metal. With the known abundance's of metals in meteorites, even a very cautious estimate suggests 20,000 million tonnes of aluminium along with similar amounts of gold, platinum and other rarer metals.

It takes about 2,000 calories to boil a gram of iron so the equivalent of between 20 to 200 thousand megatons of TNT would be needed to start liberating substantial quantities of iron from the asteroid. But this energy could be obtained from the Sun. One of the main uses for placing a lot of power generation into space using the nuclear cannon is to provide the gigawatts of industrial power needed to process asteroids.


This chart of space velocities corrects some previous information that I had for the nuclear cannon







Near Earth Asteroids

Near Earth Asteroids (NEA) at wikipedia.

As of May 2008, 5,474 NEOs have been discovered: 65 near-Earth comets and 5,409 near-Earth Asteroids. Of those there are 453 Aten asteroids, 2,053 Amor asteroids, and 2,894 Apollo asteroids.

743 NEAs have an absolute magnitude of 17.75 or brighter, which roughly corresponds to at least 1 km in size.


Summary of the Nuclear Cannon Idea

the key points:
* the idea hinges on achieving and the payload/projectile surviving thousands of G's of acceleration
* In George Dyson's book he mentions Johndale Solem designing a 100G asteroid interceptor
* This is only for launching High-G payload, not people
* With salt domes that are 6.5 kilometers, I believe that large diameter, 5 kilometers deep shafts could be made relatively easily.
* A launch tube can also be added be lain on the slope of a mountain like Mt Kenya (20-30 mile slope)

Differences from Solem 100G interceptor - even higher Gs and bigger.
One shot plate does not have to survive one thousand pulses just one and damage is ok so long as payload stays contained.
There is stronger metal now than 40-50 years ago. 250,000-400,000 PSI instead of about 50,000 PSO strength metal.

An intermediate design is maximum G [whatever that level is] unmanned accelerator over the North Pole. Fewer air pulses to get to escape velocity and less fallout because of fewer pulses.

Three other points :
Pascal-A/B "launched a concrete plug at 6 times escape velocity. A proof of concept that an object can be accelerated by a nuclear device to multiples of escape velocity.

Brownlee test

The asteroid and meteor FAQ explains how atmospheric resistance is a problem for small objects. If an object (round object like a meteor) is less than 8 tons then it loses all of its momentum and gets mostly destroyed trying to pass through the atmosphere at high speed. On the very large end of the scale, a meteoroid of 1000 tons (9 x 10^5 kg would retain about 70% of its cosmic velocity. A 100,000 ton object passes through the atmosphere like it is not there.

How big can even a mostly metallic projectile be and still take the high-Gs of acceleration without losing the cargo?

Thus the logic of the large objects is that if we can accelerate the big object with a nuke then the atmosphere (a few hundred tons of air in the cylinder of air that is in the way) effects the overall momentum less than for a big object. The nuclear cannon is better than the chemical cannon since it is tougher to scale the chemical cannon to large size and there is more trouble getting the chemical cannon up to escape velocity projectiles. With Nuclear it should be more dialing it back to not destroy the projectile.

If we do it underground, I am pretty sure that a scheme can be devised to trap more if not all fallout and we only have to negotiate the exception to the Threshold Test ban (USSR/Russia is the only other signer to the Threshold test ban). No exception is needed for tests or small scale efforts up to 150 kilotons. 150 kilotons probably enough to launch 500 tons through the atmosphere. The Comprehensive test ban has not been ratified yet by the USA. Suggest ratifying it with an exception for space launches. Leave the partial test ban alone.

There seems to be experimental proof that we can accelerate something to high-Gs with a nuke. If we accelerate bigger with a bigger nuke can we not destroy the projectile ? If we go big (at least 1000 tons, but bigger is better) then we have no atmosphere problem.

Big Acceleration - Yes
Big Object - Yes
Cleaner underground -Yes, and many more tricks possible than with air bursts
Would this be very useful and cheap ? - seems to be yes (big cheap payloads)
Can it be made even cleaner - Many ways - details to be sorted out
Technically should work and be very clean.
Are there missing major technical points ?

Things to be researched
Pulse details
Projectile details
Pusher - projectile details
the underground chamber, shaft and containment

Can it be made good enough so that politicians and public agree to actually do it ? We can only try to make it as good as possible and get support and move it along from technical proof, computer simulated then get Los Alamos, DOE and then others on board.

UK Military Robot Plans



The UK rolled out plans for a lot more robots in their future military. This is for air and ground forces.




The MOD's research needs the plan also introduces five Capability Visions designed to stimulate new technologies and new uses of existing ones.

They are:

• Reducing the burden on the dismounted soldier – challenging industry to lighten the load on a soldier to 25kg while maintaining and improving personal protection levels

• Future Protected Vehicle – lightweight vehicles to achieve the effectiveness and survivability of a main battle tank. (Watch a computer animation of the Future Protected Vehicles in action in a simulated battle scenario.)

• Reducing operational dependency on fossil fuels – finding options for alternative sources of energy supply, management and use in future operations

• Novel Air Concept – a cost effective, reusable uninhabited air system that operates within the urban landscape

• Electronics Defeat – understanding the threats of and to sophisticated electronic systems and information technology and how they can be protected against.









March 05, 2009

Reasons From Other on Why Charles Stross is Wrong and Article on the Nuclear/Verne Cannon

Michael Anissimov wrote up his reasoning for why Charles Stross is wrong about what will happen in the 21st century.

Some key points:
* no one is waiting for greater than human intelligence AGI
* Disruptive technological impacts can already be clearly seen to be developing
* Many other useful insights into the Singularity and AI and AI development

J Storrs Hall has a good piece on this as well at foresight's nanodot.

* Examples of how the 1900's Popular Mechanics was way off the mark for the 20th century and so the New Scientist magazine for the 2000-2010 period is not highly likely to get the 21st century right

So here’s the really interesting question: Compared to the people in 1900, we live a lot longer. We’re healthier. We’re enormously richer. We have an almost incredibly greater array of choices available to us, ranging from what kind of food we want to eat, where we want to travel, what kind of lifestyle we want to live, and on and on and on.

So why are we the pessimists and they the optimists?


My original article is is here

Charles Stross has his FAQ for the 21st century.




Science Fiction author Karl Schroeder wrote about the nuclear cannon (one underground pulse Orion), which I have been writing about extensively.

I call it the Verne gun because frankly, a name like THE ATOMIC CANNON would just not go over well in certain circles.

What you could do if you could put 280,000 tons into orbit in one shot ?:

* Put 1.5 terawatts of clean solar power into orbit with less than ten launches. Obsolete coal and petroleum power production with green baseline power, using less than a 10th the number of solar cells as you'd have to install on Earth to capture the same amount of sunlight.
* Orbit an entire space elevator with one launch. Set it up, retire the gun, and get on with a clean space age.
* Do the same thing with an orbiting greenhouse infrastructure. Drop solar-powered mass drivers on the moon to feed a continual stream of building material to the building sites.
* Orbit fuel depots to drop the price of conventional rocketry to orbit through the floor. One shot and access to space for NASA becomes 10 times cheaper.
* Send up a telescope so big that it can image the continents of planets circling other stars.
* Put up one or more of those cool gigantic orbiting space station wheels that are showcased so dramatically in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.
* Send an entire colony's worth of material to the moon or Mars. With a second shot, put up an interplanetary cycler ring, tether launch system or other permanent mechanism for shuttling people to and from the colonies.
* Toss a couple hundred thousand tons of nuclear waste into the sun, where it won't bother us anymore. (Trust me, the sun won't notice.)
* Launch an empty Orion ship, send its fuel up the safer space elevator, and send an expedition to Saturn, or a probe to the next star.


Note: nuclear waste is unburned fuel. It is valuable and is not waste.
However, the rest is on track. There will be more details on how to specifically use this system to bootstrap and get many trillions from space resources and rapidly develop into an inter-planetary civilization.

We can also conclude that in terms of rating future vision for science fiction authors it is Charlie Stross bad and Karl Schroeder good. ; )

Breakthrough 12.5 Gigabit per second 5G Wireless Communication



Millimetre (mm)-wave’ or microwave photonics could deliver 12.5 Gigabit per second wireless communication as a follow up to 4G mobile communication. It has commercial applications not just in telecommunications (access and in-house networks) but also in instrumentation, radar, security, radio astronomy and other fields. High Gain antennas can boost the range to 1000 meters with 99% availability.

The mm-wave band is the extremely high frequency part of the radio spectrum, from 30 to 300 gigahertz (GHz), and it gets it name from having a wavelength of one to 10mm. Until now, the band has been largely undeveloped, so the new technology makes available for exploitation more of the scarce and much-in-demand spectrum.

IPHOBAC is not simply a ‘paper project’ where the technology is researched, but very much a practical exercise to develop and commercialise a new class of products with a ‘made in Europe’ label on them.

While several companies in Japan and the USA have been working on merging optical and radio frequency technologies, IPHOBAC is the world’s first fully integrated effort in the field, with a lot of different companies involved. This has resulted in the three-year project, which runs until end-2009, already having an impressive list of achievements to its name.

It recently unveiled a tiny component, a transmitter able to transmit a continuous signal not only through the entire mm-wave band but beyond. Its full range is 30 to 325GHz and even higher frequency operation is now under investigation. The first component worldwide able to deliver that range of performance, it will be used in both communications and radar systems. Other components developed by the project include 110GHz modulators, 110GHz photodetectors, 300GHz dual-mode lasers, 60GHz mode-locked lasers, and 60GHz transceivers.















The same technology has been demonstrated for access telecom networks and has delivered world record data rates of up to 12.5Gb/s over short- to medium-range wireless spans, or 1500 times the speed of upcoming 4G mobile networks.

One way in which the technology can be deployed in the relatively short term, according to Stöhr, is wirelessly supporting very fast broadband to remote areas. “You can have your fibre in the ground delivering 10Gb/s but we can deliver this by air to remote areas where there is no fibre or to bridge gaps in fibre networks,” he says.

The project is also developing systems for space applications, working with the European Space Agency. Stöhr said he could not reveal details as this has not yet been made public, save to say the systems will operate in the 100GHz band and are needed immediately.

“In just a few years time everybody will be able to see the results of the IPHOBAC project in telecommunications, in the home, in radio astronomy and in space. It is a completely new technology which will be used in many applications even medical ones where mm-wave devices to detect skin cancer are under investigation,” says Stöhr.


March 04, 2009

Carbon Nanotube Nanostitching Makes Composites of Airplane Skins Ten Times Stronger At Weakest Point for Nominal Cost


Airbus has worked nanostitching into their plans already.



MIT engineers are using carbon nanotubes only billionths of a meter thick to stitch together aerospace materials in work that could make airplane skins and other products some 10 times stronger at a nominal increase in cost.

The advanced materials currently used for many aerospace applications are composed of layers, or plies, of carbon fibers that in turn are held together with a polymer glue. But that glue can crack and otherwise result in the carbon-fiber plies coming apart. As a result, engineers have explored a variety of ways to reinforce the interface between the layers by stitching, braiding, weaving or pinning them together.

Carbon nanotubes reinforce the plies in advanced composites with nanotubes aligned perpendicular to the carbon-fiber plies. How does nanostitching work? The polymer glue between two carbon-fiber layers is heated, becoming more liquid-like. Billions of nanotubes positioned perpendicular to each carbon-fiber layer are then sucked up into the glue on both sides of each layer. Because the nanotubes are 1000 times smaller than the carbon fibers, they don't detrimentally affect the much larger carbon fibers, but instead fill the spaces around them, stitching the layers together.

"So we're putting the strongest fibers known to humankind [the nanotubes] in the place where the composite is weakest, and where they're needed most," Wardle said. He noted that these dramatic improvements can be achieved with nanotubes comprising less than one percent of the mass of the overall composite. In addition, he said, the nanotubes should add only a few percent to the cost of the composite, "while providing substantial improvements in bulk multifunctional properties."

Moreover, advanced composites reinforced with nanotubes are also more than one million times more electrically conductive than their counterparts without nanotubes, meaning aircraft built with such materials would have greater protection against damage from lightning, said Brian L. Wardle, the Charles Stark Draper Assistant Professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.



MIT's nanostitching work was described in a 2008 technology poster which is shown in two pieces in this article. (click on the pictures for larger images)

Another description from last year is here




















Containment of Underground Nuclear Tests

This site has previously presented the concept of the one underground pulse nuclear launch cannon. It is reconfiguring Project Orion into a one pulse true nuclear space cannon with no atmospheric detonations. Only underground detonation like was done Amchitka Island in Alaska. Most of the nuclear test ban can stay in place. The Threshold test ban only comes into effect when scaling up past the 150 kiloton underground test or launch. The Comprehensive test ban (1996) which would ban underground tests has not been ratified by the USA yet. The concept needs to use underground explosion for peaceful purposes. After reviewing the idea, we will look at the details of underground nuclear explosions.

One post presents the basic idea of the one pulse cannon and

works out more details of the underground launch and the configuration and how it relates to historical nuclear test.

Briefly Reviewing the One Underground Pulse Nuclear Launch Cannon
I have an analysis of using a one pulse Orion like configuration to launch 100,000 to 200,000 tons of cargo to Orbit or the moon using one 10 megaton explosion. 150 kilotons which is allowed under the Threshold test ban could probably launch 500-1000 tons. Chemical rockets would take $1-5 trillion to launch that much cargo into space. Even assuming super-high volume chemical rocket costs could be reduce by ten times, this would still be a $100 billion to 500 billion value. (fuel, water, metals and
any other gravity hardened material.)

It is a modification of the old underground nuclear tests. Repeating the old 5-10 megaton tests, but reconfigure to optimize conversion to kinetic energy as per the
Project Orion, Pascal-A/B, Thunderwell and Casaba-Howitzer work. Radiation containment for underground tests is a known problem and demonstrated by actual US and Russian tests.


This chart of space velocities corrects some previous information that I had for the nuclear cannon

Sacrifice one salt dome or an area under an island. Salt dome is easier to make a large diameter shaft for the projectile. Using natural geological feature mostly reduces cost of containment and has been demonstrated historically.

Actual out of pocket cost could be less than one billion dollars. Can be done within 2 years. Supercomputer modeling would be needed to get everything to work properly.

Very limited technical risk for the launch. Nuclear bombs work. Leverages the trillions spent on the arms race for good. (sunk costs)

Need to get some support from notable people who already support Project Orion.
Can we get George Dyson, Freeman Dyson or other old-timers to look at this idea and
see if they like it ? How much support if there is no airbursts, no dangerous EMP, and no atmospheric radiation but just vastly superior unmanned space launch capability. Negotiate for the exception to the comprehensive test ban. Maybe allow Russia, China, UK and France and other to share the payload that is delivered or for each to be allowed to launch one.



Underground Nuclear Explosions

Underground nuclear explosions can have all radiation contained. The underground explosion for a nuclear launch would need to have different containment for a larger initially open shaft. The shaft is open to allow the projectile to launch. Shaft sections can be collapsed as soon as the projectile is passing (so long as the collapse does not interfere with the launch. There can be initially fully contained underground tests. A 1 kiloton or 10 kiloton sideways launching into the ground to confirm the nuclear to kinetic energy conversion. A 100 kiloton launching could be performed before scaling to 1 megaton or 10 megatons. Before any live tests the supercomputer modelling and other tests could be performed.

At the top there can either be some kind of dome structure with a massive door or mechanical closure as shown in one of the pictures below or there could be a dam holding back piled earth. The dam would be blown up as the projectile is launched to release the more material to block the shaft.

Underground tests after 1971 had no radiation leakage or very little. The previously described 5 megaton Amchitka Island test had no leakage.

There is an 85 page pdf on Underground Nuclear Tests.























































































March 03, 2009

Canada s Oil Forecast and Saskatchewan's Bakken Status


Technology is unlocking the Bakken oilfield potential In Saskatchewan.

As of mid-October, 2008, Saskatchewan had 1,050 wells capable of producing in the Bakken. Of these, the vast majority (979) have been drilled since October 2004. Over the first eight months of 2008, the Bakken accounted for about 8.6 million bbls (an average of 35,250 bbls a day) of Saskatchewan's oil production of 105.7 million bbls (approximately 434,000 bbls a day).

Operators such as TriStar, with current production from the Bakken of more than 4,700 BOE per day, are continuing to focus on improving potential primary recovery factors in the play. TriStar's current oil reserve booking is based on a recovery factor of 1.1% of the estimated net total original oil in place. Achieving a primary recovery factor of 12.5% consisting of four wells per section at current average reserve engineer bookings would yield up to 70.5 million bbls of additional recoverable oil to its current booked reserves.

Crescent Point's Bakken technical team conservatively expects over time it could achieve a 15% recovery factor on primary production, based on detailed simulation work that suggests up to 19% recovery with infill drilling at eight wells per section.

Another option is enhanced recovery with water or carbon dioxide (CO2) floods. Crescent Point is in the early stages of determining how best to apply water and/or CO2 flooding to the formation with the objective of increasing its recovery rate to as much as 25-30%.








Canada Dec 2008 Interim Oil Forecast






























Saskatchewan has 60 billion barrels of bitumen.

Saskatchewan is also developing the Lower Shaunavon formation


Economic Stimulus of a High Technology Transportation Solution

The BLEEX/HULC exoskeleton was developed in the City of Berkeley and State of California. There should be Federal stimulus dollars directed to a proposed BLEEX/e-bike electrified transportation system.

* Lower medical costs
* Help senior citizens stay mobile
* Accelerate the electrification of transportation at lower cost than current plans
* Reduce gasoline usage
* Reduce imported oil
* Improve the environment
* Lower the unit cost of military systems
* More productivity and overall faster transportation times

The exoskeleton and e-bike model are examined in this article.

The general capabilities of the exoskeleton add-ons are considered.

The military exoskeleton is reviewed in pictures and video.

Currently the plan is to give $7500 tax credits per car for plug in hybrid cars - half electric cars.

Why not setup the Democratic home base of California with the next generation of electric transportation ? Plus the exoskeleton can be used to help senior citizens stay mobile and more independent longer. This will help enable more out-patient care and lower medical costs.

The plan will help with stimulating California (and other high tech places), stimulate high technology industries, scale up and lower future soldier dual use technology, use less oil, integrate with public transportation and increase productivity with faster movement and help seniors stay mobile all while doing it cheaper than the tax credits for hybrids.

What would be the price of volume units of Bleex/folding e-bike combo ?
The current low volume price of the 40mph e-bike is $3000. There are 25mph e-bikes for $300-1000. In volume production it seems that high performance $1000 folding e-bikes are possible and $100 lower performance e-bikes.

How cheap would BLEEX/HULC exoskeletons when produced in millions of units ? It seems likely that $1000-3000 per unit prices could be reached. Although $5000 would be an initial target.



How much better would the environment be if people predominantly electric transportation systems ? How much easier would it be to make public transit work if people were rapidly moving about with 10 mph exoskeletons and 40 mph e-bikes and only have to hop on public transit for extended highway travel ?

In order to not increase the number of transportation deaths

* People would need to have the hard shell motorcycle racing crash protection suits
* There are also $500 air bag deploying jackets
* This should ideally be part of wide-scale rollout where city transportation is adjusted at the same time with dedicated e-bike lanes

$3000 per person could be possible in volume for the exoskeleton, the folding e-bike and for the advanced and comfortable crash safety gear.

FURTHER READING
Japan has the HAL-5 exoskeleton for helping seniors lift things and stay mobile. They will be retailing for 500,000 to 1 million yen. ($5000-10,000)

Japanese company making the HAL-5 exoskeleton



Senior citizen fall statistics (medical costs and deaths)

In 2003, more than 13,700 older adults died from falls, making them the leading cause of injury deaths among people 65 and older. From 1993 to 2003 fatal falls increased by more than 55 percent - with more men (46.2 percent) dying from falls than women (31.1 percent). The report also indicates that in 2003 almost 1.8 million seniors were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal injuries from falls and more than 460,000 were hospitalized. In 2000, the direct medical costs for falls among older adults were approximately $19 billion.


AI Milestone: Supercomputer Given 6/7 Stone Handicap Able To Win Professional 19X19 Go Games


At the Taiwan Open 2009 held in Taiwan from Feb. 10-13, the Dutch national supercomputer Huygens, which is located at SARA Computing and Networking Services in Amsterdam, defeated two human Go professionals in an official match.

This is the second victory of Huygens playing Go against professional players. During the first two days of the event, the Go program MoGo TITAN set two new world records by winning a 19x19 competition with a 7-stones handicap against the 9P dan professional Go player Jun-Xun Zhou, and a 19x19 competition with a 6-stones handicap against the 1P dan professional Go player Li-Chen Chien.

Huygens, an IBM Power 575 Hydro-Cluster system, is the national supercomputer and located at SARA Computing and Networking Services in Amsterdam. The system, which is in production since August 2008, has a peak speed of 60 trillion calculations per second (Teraflop/s), 3328 Power6 processor cores at 4.7 GHz, a total memory capacity of more than 15 TB, and almost 1,000 TB disk capacity.


Go handicapping at wikipedia.

It is usually thought that the difference is only two or three stones between 1p and 9p, i.e., the difference is reduced to perhaps 1/3 stone per rank.


Computer Go at wikipedia

Go and mathematics at wikipedia.

Game complexity at wikipedia


Game Board size State-space Game-tree Avg game Complexity
complexity (log)complexity Length Class
Draughts 32 20 or 18 31 70 EXPTIME-complete
Chess 64 50 123 80 EXPTIME-complete
Go (19x19) 361 171 360 150 EXPTIME-complete







The game of Go at wikipedia

Go Ranks and ratings at wikipedia

The Prace Project site

Electric Bikes Compatible with Exoskeleton


The new HULC exoskeleton helps you carry 200 lbs for hours or days. For pure mobility, one could carry an electric bicycle. So what transportation options could mix in with the 200lb weight limit. The other transportation option also has to be able to carry you, your gear and the 50lb exoskeleton. Electric bike and the electric exoskeleton can share or run off the same batteries and/or ultracapacitors or small engine.

If you could
* go 25 mph in your exoskeleton (with bionic boot attachment)
* could switch at any time to a 40-50mph electric bike that you were carrying along with crash safety armor
* could walk onto public transporation for more range

would you look at using your car a lot less or trading in your car ?

The electric transportation would be about $2 of electricity for 300 miles of range. The total purchase price would be about $25,000-30,000 initially. How about with a crash hardened baby/child carrier ?

It would be an electric (green) transportation system. Being able to crush your enemies, is a side-effect.

At what price would you swap your car for an electric exoskeleton (25 mph), electric bike (50mph) combination ? Operating costs 10 times less.
$30,000 or more
$20,000
$15,000
$10,000
$5,000
$2,500
$1,000
Never
  
pollcode.com free polls




The combination of an electric bike (especially a foldable one) and the exoskeleton can allow most any person to have a lightweight and all terrain transportation combination. Better power sources will enable longer range 50mph-60mph speeds. The ability to easily carry the weight can also allow for convenient carrying of crash safety body armor and helmets. The person can also ride on public transit.


Here is a converted bicycle with an older phoenix electric conversion kit. The new 7240 would look similar.

A Phoenix racing kit (72 volt, 2880 watts) can convert most regular bicycles or folding bicycles and can reach speeds of 50-mph The Phoenix 7240 kit weighs 80lbs. A lightweight but sturdy bicycle can weigh 20-40lbs.


This is the range for the less powerful Phoenix 4840.




The blade XT bike can go 45 MPH and weighs 199 lbs. It has a fully programmable 19.2 kiloWatt Peak (25.7 electrical HP).




A 96 volt electric bike set a 93 mph quarter mile speed record. The bike is probably in the range of 300-400lbs so it would not be suitable until advance materials lighten its weight while maintaining most performance.

March 02, 2009

What if Everyone had Exoskeletons Just for Getting Around and Carrying Stuff?




This site has featured the emergence of the HULC, Human Universal Load Carrier which has been fielded for military usage. Military technology for the exoskeleton, body armor and new power sources could re-invent personal transportation so people can get around with 200lbs of gear including an electric bike. Instead of moving about in a 6000 lb car. Current exoskeletons let a person carry 200 lbs without strain as the weight is supported by the frame of the exoskeleton. This would allow a person, who was just looking to get around, have a bike rack attached to the exoskeleton for holding a folding electric bike. You would want a sturdier and more powerful electric bike so that the weight of the batteries and the HULC (50 lbs) and the person could be easily moved. A 72 volt bike can go 40-50 mph. Other electric bikes can go to highway speeds. Exoskeleton and bike combination is far more flexible all-terrain locomotion. Upgraded gecko wall-climbing exoskeletons could be available in a few years.

UPDATE: Specific electric bike's bicycles and conversion kits are examined that would be light enough to be carried by the exoskeleton. Phoenix 7240 kit on a good folding bicycle seems like the best current option. Being able to walk onto public transportation enhances travel range.

Ballpark estimate of $20,000 for the exoskeleton, $4000 for the e-bicycle and $5000 for a bionic boot attachment.

The combination with crash safety armor makes personal transportation faster, safer and far more energy efficient than 6000lb gasoline powered cars.
END UDPATE

Our wimpy little Achilles tendons allow the average human to run somewhere between 6 to 8 miles an hour and, unless your name is LeBron James, leap only a few feet in the air. New “bionic boots” and “spring walkers” in development are hoped to solve this. These attach outside the leg and mechanically mimic the enlarged Achilles tendon of a kangaroo, one day perhaps giving the wearer the ability to run as fast as 25 miles per hour and leap 7 feet.




bionic boots for faster running and jumping













EEStor claims that their new technology ultra-capacitor can store 10 times more power pound for pound than lead-acid batteries while costing half as much and without needing toxic chemicals. An EEStor weighing less than 45 kg (100lbs) would hold 15kWh and recharge in minutes.


If EEStor were to deliver on their claims they would have 3-4 times more energy (Whr/kg) stored for the same weight than lithium ion batteries. Advanced lithium ion batteries could also achieve similar energy storage. The advanced version could store 30 KWh in 45 kg.

Increased power could see exoskeletons enable 25 mph movement (with the bionic boot add-on, which can be carried and worn as needed) over stairs and rough terrain, while carrying a folded electric bike. If smooth roads were available someone could switch to the folded bike. Even faster highway safe speeds are possible. Plus body armor (that the military is also developing) could be worn that would enable a person to be safely protected in case of a crash at highway speeds. A person and their 200+lbs of gear could also walk onto public transportation. No seats would be needed in the train as the exoskeleton could provide a comfortable no strain seated position.

There are many electric bike options. Here is one.


The RoboScooter is a lightweight, folding, electric motor scooter. It is designed to provide convenient, inexpensive mobility in urban areas while radically reducing the negative effects of extensive vehicle use – road congestion, excessive consumption of space for parking, traffic noise, air pollution, carbon emissions that exacerbate global warming, and energy use. It is clean, green, silent, and compact.







Another alternative power source is a cyclone or waste heat engine that lets a person use raw biomass foraged from the environment to power a suit and/or bike.

FURTHER READING
Lockheed Martin the maker of the HULC is also looking to use EEStor ultra-capacitors for body armor.

China Fires up Construction of the First of Many AP1000 nuclear reactors

Real construction work on the China's Sanman AP1000 nuclear reactors should begin within one month.

The result will be the first Westinghouse-designed AP1000 pressurized water reactors in the world, ahead of the others at Haiyang in Shandong province and more expected in the UK and the USA. Site preparation at Sanmen in Zhejiang province is well advanced, with basic excavations completed early in September last year. Now the engineering, procurement and construction contract has been signed off construction work can begin in earnest, SNTPC said. An official 'groundbreaking' ceremony is to be held on schedule before the end of March.






Chinese planners have tasked SNPTC with a three-stage program for mastering AP1000 technology. The first is to introduce the advanced reactor successfully; the second is to 'assimilate' it and master its construction using domestic expertise and manufacturing capacity; the third is to 're-innovate' the design, which could see it engineered to produce more power than its current 1100 MWe.


The AP1000, the CPR-1000 (derived from French reactors) and China's high temperature nuclear pebble reactor will be built in large numbers.

Two stem cell breakthroughs

1. Scientists have found a way to make an almost limitless supply of stem cells that could safely be used in patients while avoiding the ethical dilemma of destroying embryos.

Scientists at the universities of Edinburgh and Toronto have found a way to achieve the same feat without using viruses, making so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell therapies a realistic prospect for the first time.

In 2007, researchers in Japan and America announced they had turned adult skin cells into stem cells by injecting them with a virus carrying four extra genes. Because the virus could accidentally switch on cancer genes, the cells would not be safe enough to use in patients.

In two papers published in the journal Nature, Keisuke Kaji in Edinburgh and Andras Nagy in Toronto, describe how they reprogrammed cells using a safer technique called electroporation. This allowed the scientists to do away with viruses and ferry genes into the cells through pores. Once the genes had done their job, the scientists removed them, leaving the cells healthy and intact.

Tests on stem cells made from human and mouse cells showed they behaved in the same as embryonic stem cells.


2.
Stem cells can thrive in segments of well-vascularized tissue temporarily removed from laboratory animals, say researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Once the cells have nestled into the tissue’s nooks and crannies, the so-called “bioscaffold” can then be seamlessly reconnected to the animal’s circulatory system. This is an incredible opportunity to bulk-deliver cells that don’t just die.


A new technique neatly sidesteps a fundamental stumbling block in tissue engineering: the inability to generate solid organs from stem cells in the absence of a reliable supply of blood to the interior of the developing structure.





Gurtner and his colleagues removed microcirculatory beds about the size of a half-dollar coin from the groin of laboratory rats and attached the ends of the two main blood vessels to a modified piece of equipment called a bioreactor designed to keep livers and kidneys healthy outside the body. The modified bioreactor pumps an oxygenated soup of nutrients into one vessel and recovers it from the other; Gurtner referred to it as a "kind of life support, or cardiopulmonary bypass, machine for tissue."

The scientists showed that, once the appropriate blood pressure and nutrient balance was achieved, the bioreactor could keep the tissue healthy enough for reimplantation into a second, genetically identical animal for up to 24 hours. In many cases, the tissue became nearly indistinguishable from surrounding skin within 28 days of transplant, although the success rate of the procedure decreased as time spent on the bioreactor increased. In contrast, control tissue not connected to the bioreactor after removal died within six hours of transplantation.

The team then used the bioreactor to pump multipotent stem cells from a variety of sources, including bone marrow and fat tissue, through the tissue. Unlike embryonic stem cells, which can become any type of cell in the body, multipotent cells are more restricted in their potential. The researchers found that the cells could migrate out of the vascular spaces and into the surrounding tissue. Once there, they set up shop and began to form colonies. Unlike stem cells injected directly into the tissue, the stem cells that had been seeded into the tissue continued to thrive even eight weeks after reimplantation.

Members of Gurtner’s team are now trying to use the technique to deliver Factor VIII and Factor IX — crucial blood-clotting components that are missing in people with hemophilia. The researchers concede, however, that much remains to be done before the technique could be used to generate whole organs. Indeed, Gurtner readily agrees that other methods might be developed that could be more effective. But for now, they’ve overcome a major hurdle in tissue engineering.


Carnival of Space 92

Carnival of Space 92 is up in two parts at the Xprize.og Launchpad.

You have to open your browser wide or scroll over to the right in order to get the scroll bar for the article which is inside some kind of frame.

This site provided its article (by Joseph Friedlander) on four large launch vehicles.

"Power to Push Away the Darkness" has an article on the UK Skylon spaceplane's design modifications.





The Orbital Hub has interview discussion on solar sails.

Centauri Dreams talks about the science and upcoming launch of the Kepler mission.

Bad Astronomy talks about why Science is important

Check out the Carnival of Space #92 for a lot more.

Pieces of a True Nuclear Cannon: Underground Nuclear Tests, Salt Formations and One Shot Kick Start to the Space Age

This is analysis of past underground nuclear tests which did contain all of the radiation for the initial tests. There is a question about how well the radiation has been contained in the decades since, but the leakage is to the Ocean and is not increasing the health risk to people. The largest underground nuclear tests were 4-10 Megatons in size and were performed as late as 1973. (H/T to Joseph Friedlander for research and joint brainstorming and Dr Bolonkin for his large dome and other work)

This a further follow up to the analysis of using a single nuclear explosion which has its fallout contained to launch a massive payload into space at low cost.

10 Megatons of TNT, equal to 4.185x10^16 Joules (1 ton of TNT = 4.185x10^9 Joules, One Joule is one kilogram/M^2/S^2 )The average power produced during the entire fission-fusion process, lasting around 39 nanoseconds, was about 1.1×10^24 watts or 1.1 yottawatts. Configuring a nuclear device the way project Orion had planned would direct 85% if the energy at the pusher plate.

so 3.5*10^16 Joules towards kinetic energy.

Kinetic Energy =1/2*Mass*Velocity^2
Escape velocity=11186 M/S
EV ^ 2 = 125 million (m^2/s^2)

2.8*10^8 kg or 280,000 tons. Say 140,000 tons to double escape velocity if we wanted to be pretty sure that the projectile cargo could go the moon if we aimed it right.


This chart of space velocities corrects some previous information that I had for the nuclear cannon

Currently the worlds cheapest rocket is the Russian Dnepr which costs about $2500/kg to low earth orbit (2006 prices) and $6000-9000/kg to Geosynchronous orbit. Chemical rocket cargo delivered to the moon is about ten times more expensive ($50,000/kg).



So 100,000 tons of cargo delivered to the moon would be worth $5 trillion at the best prices today. 200,000 tons delivered to orbit would be worth $1 trillion @$5000/kg. If this could be done at one tenth the cost it is still worth $100 billion to orbit and $500 billion to the moon. Getting to one tenth of current costs is an optimistic ten years away and billions in development. The cost is to find a location like another remote island to sacrifice the underground area for nuclear launch similar to the areas sacrificed for underground nuclear testing. However, with proper preparation and a dome with a door and charges to speed the collapse of the shaft, there would be no radiation into the atmosphere. Other industries like oil, gas and coal regularly contaminate salt domes and underground and above ground locations. This would be safer and cleaner than those continuing operations. We would use nuclear bombs that are costing money to be maintained in storage and have a risk non-peaceful use. There is no risk of damaging EMP because damaging EMP occurs when a nuclear device is exploded at high altitude.

* So no fallout into the atmosphere
* No EMP
* Use existing nuclear device or dismantle several devices and reconfigure for optimum directing of energy
* Use an underground area - how much is the value of a few cubic miles of salt ?
* Almost no one includes the cost of the salt dome for strategic petroleum storage
* Make a large metal shell projectile and place ablative oil on the bottom
* Create the appropriate shaft to the launch chamber.
* The only applicable treaty that has currently been ratified by the USA is the Threshold Test treaty which limits underground nuclear tests to 150 kilotons or less. The comprehensive test ban treaty has not been ratified.

There was also tests where an underground nuclear test launched a multi-ton object. This was not an intentional launch.

The Pascal A nuclear test "launched" a blast door at six times earth escape velocity.

The asteroid and meteor FAQ explains how atmospheric resistance is a problem for small objects. If an object (round object like a meteor) is less than 8 tons then it loses all of its momentum and gets mostly destroyed trying to pass through the atmosphere at high speed. On the very large end of the scale, a meteoroid of 1000 tons (9 x 10^5 kg) would retain about 70% of its cosmic velocity. A 100,000 ton object passes through the atmosphere like it is not there.

Objects can only be propelled to very high velocities by a nuclear explosion if they are located close to the burst point. Once a nuclear fireball has grown to a radius that is similar in size to the radius of a quantity of high explosive of similar yield, its energy density is about the same and very high velocities would not be produced. This radius for a 300 ton explosion is 3.5 meters.

The steel plate at the top of the shaft was over 150 m from the nuclear device, much too far for it to be propelled to extreme velocity directly by the explosion. The feature of Pascal-B that made this possible was the placement of the collimator close to the device. The mass of the collimator cylinder was at least 2 tonnes (if solid) and would have been vaporized by the explosion, turning it into a mass of superheated gas that expanded and accelerated up the shaft, turning it into a giant gun. It was the hypersonic expanding column of vaporized concrete striking the cover plate that propelled it off the shaft at high velocity.


So we should try to size at that range for a nuclear launched projectile. Shaping the projectile like a bullet or rocket would also help.

90pct containment was proved by Pascal A dome, which did not get direct blast exposure but instead needs a rapid closing mechanism after projectile exit.
10pct blown into air should be 99pct contained within dome which sees NO direct heat radiation. There would be considerable secondary from the muzzle blast. So 99.9+ percent containment. 10 megaton blast say 15 kilograms tritium output all but 15 grams contained, if 5 kt fission (design a device with less fission and more fusion) then all but 5 tons of fission products contained! (fraction of 1 gram by weight)

There could be conventional explosives in the shaft to collapse the shaft after the launch projectile has passed.

Underground Nuclear Testing

The effects of an underground nuclear test may vary according to factors including the depth and yield of the explosion, as well as the nature of the surrounding rock. If the test is conducted at sufficient depth, the test is said to be contained, with no venting of gases or other contaminants to the environment. In contrast, if the device is buried at insufficient depth ("underburied"), then rock may be expelled by the explosion, forming a crater surrounded by ejecta, and releasing high-pressure gases to the atmosphere (the resulting crater is usually conical in profile, circular, and may range between tens to hundreds of metres in diameter and depth). One figure used in determining how deeply the device should be buried is the scaled depth of burial, or -burst. This figure is calculated as the burial depth in metres divided by the cube root of the yield in kilotons.

Although there were early concerns about earthquakes arising as a result of underground tests, there is no evidence that this has occurred. However, fault movements and ground fractures have been reported, and explosions often precede a series of aftershocks, thought to be a result of cavity collapse and chimney formation. In a few cases, seismic energy released by fault movements has exceeded that of the explosion itself.


Large Earthquakes and volcanoes can reach multi-gigatons of energy release.


1 megaton would crack rock in up to a 1.2 kilometer radius and crush rock out to 400 meters.
8 megatons would crack rock in up to a 2.4 kilometer radius and crush rock out to 800 meters.



4-10 Megaton Underground Nuclear Tests Performed
Note: The ocean has Uranium and thorium and other naturally occuring radioactive material in it. A few parts per million which total to 4 billion tons of Uranium.


The W71 was the high-yield warhead developed for the Spartan ABM. The W71's yield was too large for underground testing at the Nevada Test Site, so Amchitka Island in the Alaskan Aleutians was selected as a site. To evaluate concerns over this site, a test of 1.2 megatons was conducted at Amchitka on 2 October 1969 (Milrow). Political opposition to the W-71 test (and the Safeguard ABM system in general) included an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court attempting to block the test on the scheduled day; the Court rejected the appeal 4-3, allowing the test to procede. On 6 November 1971 the Spartan's warhead, the W71, was tested at full yield in shot Cannikin of Operation Grommet. At the bottom of a 1.76 km-deep shaft, the warhead's yield was reported as "approximately" 5 mt or "less than 5 megatons", estimated here as about 4.8 megatons.


Two high yield Soviet tests were conducted underground at the southern island of Novaya Zemlya in 1973. At least one probably exceeded 4 mt in yield. The yield of these and other Soviet underground tests were the subject of debate in the West for years, with some sources suggesting that published yield estimates were too high. Based on recent information from Russian sources, it appears if anything that the Western estimates had been too low. MINATOM has reported a total yield of 7.8 mt for the two 1973 tests at Novaya Zemlya. The first test, on 12 September, involved a salvo detonation of one device reported as 1.5 to 10 mt in yield plus two with yields between 0.15 and 1.5 mt. The total yield for this test was about 4 mt. The test on 27 October is reported by MINATOM as between 1.5 and 10 mt in yield. Western estimates have ranged from 2.8 to 4.9 mt; recent reports place the yield at 3.5 mt. If this is correct, the 12 September test yield was about 4.2 mt, of which about 3-3.5 mt was the larger device. Both tests were probably reduced yield versions of warheads for ICBMs nearing deployment.


Summary
*This is a modification of the old underground nuclear tests. Repeating the old 5-10 megaton tests. But reconfigure to optimize conversion to kinetic energy. Radiation containment for underground tests is a known problem and has proven tests.
* The Project Orion configuration and directed nuclear blasts had the Orion work and the Casaba-Howitzer work. So 85% conversion of nuclear explosion to directed propulsion is known.
* Sacrifice one salt dome or an area under an island. Using natural geological feature mostly reduces cost of containment.
* Actual out of pocket cost less than one billion. Can be done within 2 years.
* Can do some supercomputer modeling and tweaking and optimization to be sure.
* Very limited technical risk for the launch. Nuclear bombs work.
* Leverages the trillions spent on the arms race for good. (sunk costs)
* Negotiate for the exception to the test Threshold test ban and only ratify the Comprehensive test ban with an exception for space launches. Maybe allow Russia, China, UK and France and other to share the payload that is delivered or for each to be allowed to launch one.

This proposal is simpler, cheaper and safer than Project Orion. The proposal is not to build a manned space vehicle but an unmanned projectile that contains cargo. There are not two hundred atmospheric explosions but one underground explosion. the pusher plate does not need to withstand multiple explosions but survive one while not losing the cargo. The cargo is selected and designed to survive the forces that it will encounter.

There are petaflop class supercomputers now that were built for the sole purpose of modeling nuclear explosions in a precise way as an alternative to live tests. There are powerful lasers and other high energy machines created to validate the precision of the computer models.

Most of what is being proposed is the simplest conversion of heat and explosive energy into kinetic energy. This is guns and metallergy and decades of nuclear weapons research and age old newtonian mechanics.

An interesting question is what happens when you set off another nuclear bomb in fractured and crushed rock a year or so later? The ground has settled and has contamination but most of the most radioactive fallout is no longer dangerous. So long as the new charge is placed low enough so that the fallout does not escape the fractured rock then you could just keep re-contaminate the same contaminated site.


The 5 megaton underground nuclear test video. Notice things are shaking as this is like a magnitude 7 earthquake but there was no radiation venting. 85% of the energy for the nuclear cannon would go at the projectile.

Amchitka islands today.



Dr. Volz hand catches Eider Ducks on Amchitka Island, Aleutians, for Radionuclide Internal Dose Assessment

University of Alaska study of Amchitka Island: "There were no indications of any radioactive leakage, and all that was really wonderful news."

FURTHER READING
1989 congressional analysis of underground test safety.

A person's total exposure would be equivalent to 32 extra minutes of normal background exposure (or the equivalent of 1/1000 of a single chest x-ray).

A worst-case scenario for a catastrophic accident at the test site would be the prompt, massive venting of a 150-kiloton test (the largest allowed under the 1974 Threshold Test Ban Treaty). The release would be in the range of 1 to 10 percent of the total radiation generated by the explosion (compared to 6 percent released
by the Baneberry test or an estimated 10 percent that would be released by a test conducted in a hole open to the surface). Such an accident would be comparable to a 15-kiloton above ground test, and would release approximately 150,000,000 Ci. Although such an accident would be considered a major catastrophe today, during the early years at the Nevada Test Site 25 above ground tests had individual yields equal to or greater than 15 kilotons.


Gas Storage in Salt Structures
















There are salt domes that are 6.5 kilometers thick and 10 kilometers across.

Multi-megaton tests