May 22, 2009

Improving Space Elevators By Having a Rototating Hoop

By have a rotating hoop for a space elevator then objects sliding along Rotating Space Elevator(RSE) strings do not require internal engines or propulsion to be transported from the Earth's surface into outer space. (H/T Tom Craver)

A previous article had noted that the strength of the space elevator tether and the power of the engines driving the climbers were inter-related in terms of how feasible the space elevator was. By removing the need for powered climbers this could improve the overall feasibility of space elevators.

Physorg has info as well

To initiate the double rotational motion, the string system is given an initial spin. Other than this initial spin, the RSE moves purely under the influence of inertia and gravity. In simulations, Golubović and Knudsen show how a load starting at rest near the Earth spontaneously oscillates between its starting point near Earth and a turning point in outer space (close to the top of the string). Using a specially chosen variation of the tapered elevator cable cross-sectional area, the scientists could ensure that the RSE string will indefinitely maintain its initial looped shape. Golubović said that, as far as he knew, this type of motion does not occur in any other areas of physics or astronomy.

Golubović and Knudsen also proposed a slightly different form of the RSE, which combines an RSE with an LSE (an ellipse-like rotating string is attached to a linear string). This “uniform stress RSE” (USRSE) could be designed with its loop positioned above the Earth’s surface, which might have advantages for launching satellites. The scientists also show that stacking several USRSE loops could create pathways reaching deeply into outer space, and loads could cross from string to string at intersection points.

The RSEs are rapid outer space transportation systems that require no internal engines for the climbers sliding along the elevator strings. RSE strings exhibit interesting nonlinear dynamics and statistical physics phenomena. RSEs' action employs basic natural phenomena—gravitation and inertial forces. Satellites and spacecrafts carried by sliding climbers can be released (launched) along RSEs. RSE strings can host space stations and research posts. Sliding climbers can be then used to transport useful loads and humans from the Earth to these outer space locations.

Strings and membranes play prominent roles in modern days investigations in statistical physics, nonlinear dynamics, biological physics, and in applied physical sciences. Technologically achievable celestial-size strings are no exception to this. Ever since an early dream of Tsiolkovsky, the vision of Space Elevator, a giant string connecting the Earth with heavens has intrigued diverse researchers as well as science fiction writers. The space elevator reaches beyond the geosynchronous satellite orbit. In its equilibrium state, the space elevator is straight and at rest in the non-inertial frame associated with the rotating planet, thanks to a balance between the gravity and the centrifugal force acting on the long elevator string. A major shortcoming of this traditional linear space elevator (LSE) is that significant energy must be locally (by internal engines, propulsion, or laser light pressure) supplied to climbers creeping along the LSE string to allow them to leave the gravitational potential trap of the Earth.

This study opens a new venue in the physics of strings and membranes. We introduce for the first time a novel class of nonlinear dynamical systems, Rotating Space Elevators (RSE). The RSEs are multiply rotating systems of strings. Remarkably, useful loads and humans sliding along RSE strings do not require internal engines or propulsion to be rapidly transported (sled) away from the Earth's surface into outer space. The nonlinear dynamics and statistical physics of RSE strings are shown here to be also interesting in their own right.

Our RSE is a double rotating floppy string. In its quasi-periodic like state, the RSE motion is nearly a geometrical superposition of: a) geosynchronous (one-day period) rotation around the Earth, and b) yet another rotational motion of the string which is typically much faster (with period ~tens of minutes) and goes on around a line perpendicular to the Earth at its equator. This second, internal rotation plays a very special role: It provides the dynamical stability of the RSE shape and, importantly, it also provides a mechanism for the climbing of objects free to slide along the RSE string. The RSE can be envisioned in various shapes;. As revealed here, for a given RSE shape, by a special (magical) choice of the mass distribution of the RSE string, the simple double-rotating geometrical motion can be (under some conditions) made to represent an approximate yet exceedingly accurate solution to the exact equations of the RSE string dynamics.

Classical and statistical mechanics of celestial-scale spinning strings: Rotating space elevators (full 6 page article)

Figure 1. (Color online) In (a) and (d), respectively, the elliptical RSE and the USRSE (attached to a LSE) discussed in the text. In these figures we include also the equipotentials of the effective potential. Sliding climbers oscillate between two turning points (indicated by arrows) that are on the same equipotential. From our simulations: The R1(t) coordinate of the climber is shown in (b) and (e) on the floppy RSEs with initial shapes in, respectively, (a) and (d). (With a sliding friction (not included here), climbers would eventually stop at the RSE point minimizing the which occurs close to the RSE point with maximizing R2 in (a) and (d)). The magical mass distributions derived by eq. (8) are shown in (c) and (f) for the RSEs in, respectively, (a) and (d).

Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC/Bussard) Fusion

A--Plasma Wiffleball 8 Testing Funded

The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake intends to procure on sole-sourced basis, a Cost Plus Fixed Fee contract for research, analysis, development, and testing to validate the basic physics of the plasma fusion (polywell) concept as well as requirements to provide the Navy with data for potential applications of polywell fusion with a delivered item, wiffleball 8 (WB8) and options for a modified wiffleball 8 (WB8.1) and modified ion gun. The requirement is sole sourced to Energy/Matter Conversion Corporation (EMC2) who is the original developer of the plasma fusion (polywell) approach and holds the proprietary data rights.

H/T Classical Values

The Interview with Dr Nebel, lead of the IEC/Bussard Fusion project.

May 20, 2009

Simpler Optical Invisibility Developed

Purdue University researchers have a simpler method for optical invisibility using a "tapered optical waveguide" design instead of metamaterials.

The research team used their specially tapered waveguide to cloak an area 100 times larger than the wavelengths of light shined by a laser into the device, an unprecedented achievement. Previous experiments with metamaterials have been limited to cloaking regions only a few times larger than the wavelengths of visible light.

Because the new method enabled the researchers to dramatically increase the cloaked area, the technology offers hope of cloaking larger objects

Findings are detailed in a research paper appearing May 29 in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Theoretical work for the design was led by Purdue, with BAE Systems leading work to fabricate the device, which is formed by two gold-coated surfaces, one a curved lens and the other a flat sheet. The researchers cloaked an object about 50 microns in diameter, or roughly the width of a human hair, in the center of the waveguide.

"Instead of being reflected as normally would happen, the light flows around the object and shows up on the other side, like water flowing around a stone," Shalaev said.

The research falls within a new field called transformation optics, which may usher in a host of radical advances, including cloaking; powerful "hyperlenses" resulting in microscopes 10 times more powerful than today's and able to see objects as small as DNA; computers and consumer electronics that use light instead of electronic signals to process information; advanced sensors; and more efficient solar collectors.

A Bad Week For Those Who Deny Molecular Nanotechnology or Accelerating Technology or the Tech Singularity

This weeks news makes it a tough week to deny technology acceleration or an eventual technological Singularity. It is looking far more certain that a very powerful three dimensional DNA/RNA/Protein Nanotechnological capability is emerging and that nanotechnology will be integrated with carbon nanotubes and nanoparticle metal and can be used to bootstrap precise control and structures with carbon and metals:

DNA wrapped carbon nanotubes for artificial tissue

Two ways to make large scale three dimensional structures out of DNA

One from Harvard, which appears more flexible and robust.

DNA boxes from Danish Aarhus university

DNA used to assemble sheets of metal nanoparticles, which could be the basis of nancircuits and could be integrated with the 3D nanotech.

Large scale 3D nanotech with DNA that is integrated with carbon nanotubes, diamond nanorods, nanoparticle metal, graphene and other DNA compatible chemistry.

DNA can detect pathogens and be used for drug delivery (any of the 3D structure methods can be adapted for these purposes)

RNA can modified (change its charge) so that it reliably enter cells for drug delivery.

Ultrathin diamond nanorods - just twice as thick as the diamond rod logic for molecular computers that Drexler discussed. Note: the diamond nanorods are still bulk technology and do not have the molecular precision needed to make the molecular rod logic, but we are getting into the size range.

Does the above list look like news for a place that is within say 20-30 years of a Singularity or place where a Singularity will not happen ?

The DNA structures have begun to be edited into replicating DNA and trillions of copies produced in customized cells (this was done using the crossbar structure of Ned Seeman). There are other ways to synthesize and scale up and lower the costs of DNA nanotech. there are active structures in the lab as well.

2D precision in the 6 nanometer feature size range and 3D in the 10-100 nanometer range.

George Church believes he can make structured DNA for dollars per kilogram.

George lays out a roadmap synthesize DNA material for dollars per kilogram of DNA. This price is about a billion times cheaper than current costs for synthesizing DNA.

George Church notes two key requirements for implementation:

1. Engineering of [more efficient] nucleotide synthesis: George Church and his team are collaborating with Philippe Marliere on optimizing metabolic pathways to the synthesis of the four dNTPs in vivo.
2. DNA secretion: This is a natural process in some bacteria, could be enhanced to prevent (potentially toxic) levels of DNA in vivo.

Can these developments continue and be brought to a large scale and commercialized ?

This is not talking about some kind of mathematical projection of capabilities on a graph. It is plugging specific gaps in technical capability and integrating several separate proven in the lab projects. There is also the other guided self assembly capabilities.

Is it wild fantasy to expect that this work will make an impact outside of the lab within ten years ? twenty years ? That the tens of millions to billions of dollars being spent in multiple countries will be able to bear fruit ?

What would be the issue where we would be unable to advance from three dimensional DNA structures, with nanoparticle metals, carbon nanotubes, diamond nanorods, graphene to fullblown molecular nanotechnology ? How close would the only molecularly precise nanotechnology in some cases be to the real deal ? How powerful would the computing and electronics be with precise 3D structures of carbon nanotubes and graphene and metal nanoparticles ? The 3D structures with near molecular precision would make pretty damn good photonic communication structures. If 2D onchip photonics can be used to give zettaflop supercomputers then full 3D would give 1000 zettaflops or more.

A candidate for reversible computer memory (lower energy/less heat and able to last a billion years) was also announced this week.

We would also have more advanced atomic layer deposition and expitaxy. Zyvex is working on atomic control of the deposition.

DNA Wrapped Carbon Nanotubes for Tissue Replacement

Tough and soft: Highly porous, spongelike materials self-assemble by calcium ion condensation of DNA-wrapped carbon nanotubes (SWNTs-DNA; see picture, IL=ionic liquid). The toughness, modulus, and swellability of the electrically conductive sponges can be tuned by controlling the density and strength of interfiber junctions. The sponges have compliances similar to the softest natural tissue, while robust interfiber junctions give high toughness.

9 pages of supplemental material for "Tough super-soft sponge fibres with tunable stiffness made by a novel DNA self-assembly technique".

Physorg has coverage on this candidate of DNA wrapped carbon nanotubes for artificial tissue.

A team of Australian and Korean researchers led by Geoffrey M. Spinks and Seon Jeong Kim has now developed a novel, highly porous, sponge-like material whose mechanical properties closely resemble those of biological soft tissues. As reported in the journal Angewandte Chemie, it consists of a robust network of DNA strands and carbon nanotubes.

Soft tissues, such as tendons, muscles, arteries, and skin or other organs, obtain their mechanical support from the extracellular matrix, a network of protein-based nanofibers. Different protein morphologies in the extracellular matrix produce tissue with a wide range of stiffness. Implants and scaffolding for tissue growth require porous, soft materials -- which are usually very fragile. Because many biological tissues are regularly subjected to intense mechanical loads, it is also important that the implant material have comparable elasticity in order to avoid inflammation. At the same time, the material must be very strong and resilient, or it may give out.

The new concept uses DNA strands as a matrix; the strands completely “wrap” the scaffold-forming carbon nanotubes in the presence of an ionic liquid, networking them to form a gel. This gel can be spun: just as silk and synthetic fibers can be wet-spun for textiles, the gel can be made into very fine threads when injected into a special bath. The dried fibers have a porous, sponge-like structure and consist of a network of intertwined 50 nm-wide nanofibers. Soaking in a calcium chloride solution further cross-links the DNA, causing the fibers to become denser and more strongly connected.

These spongy fibers resemble the collagen fiber networks of the biological extracellular matrix. They can also be knotted, braided, or woven into textile-like structures. This results in materials that are as elastic as the softest natural tissues while simultaneously deriving great strength from the robust DNA links.

An additional advantage is the electrical conductivity of the new material, which can thus also be used in electrodes for mechanical actuators, energy storage, and sensors. For example, the researchers were able to produce a hydrogen peroxide sensor. The carbon nanotubes catalyze the oxidation of hydrogen peroxide, which results in a measurable current. Hydrogen peroxide plays a role in normal heart function and certain heart diseases. A robust sensor with elasticity similar to the heart muscle would be of great help in researching these relationships.

Another Method for 3 Dimensional DNA Structures

Douglas et al. report a method for designing and constructing three-dimensional nanostructures from DNA. a, The computer-aided design process begins with a block of tubes arranged in a honeycomb lattice. b, A template for the desired DNA structure is designed by removing sections of the tubes, just like carving a sculpture from a block. The remaining tubes will become DNA duplexes in the final object. The DNA structure is designed by routing a single-stranded scaffold DNA (a virus genome) through every section of the tube template. Hundreds of short strands of DNA are then designed to bind to the folded scaffold, cross-linking between different tubes and 'stapling' together the overall structure. When the staple molecules are synthesized and mixed with the scaffold DNA in solution under appropriate conditions, they direct the folding of the scaffold into the desired nanostructure. The structure shown here is more complex than those prepared by the authors

Self-assembly of DNA into nanoscale three-dimensional shapes using nanotubes of DNA has been proven. Note: On Jan 31, 2008 this site had declared that we had moved into the age of DNA Nanotechnology. Clearly the recent work in three dimensions with DNA is clearly screaming "Age of DNA Nanotechnology".

This is the abstract

Shawn M. Douglas, Hendrik Dietz, Tim Liedl, Björn Högberg, Franziska Graf & William M. Shih1

Department of Cancer Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard University

Molecular self-assembly offers a 'bottom-up' route to fabrication with subnanometre precision of complex structures from simple components. DNA has proved to be a versatile building block for programmable construction of such objects, including two-dimensional crystals, nanotubes, and three-dimensional wireframe nanopolyhedra. Templated self-assembly of DNA into custom two-dimensional shapes on the megadalton scale has been demonstrated previously with a multiple-kilobase 'scaffold strand' that is folded into a flat array of antiparallel helices by interactions with hundreds of oligonucleotide 'staple strands'. Here we extend this method to building custom three-dimensional shapes formed as pleated layers of helices constrained to a honeycomb lattice. We demonstrate the design and assembly of nanostructures approximating six shapes—monolith, square nut, railed bridge, genie bottle, stacked cross, slotted cross—with precisely controlled dimensions ranging from 10 to 100 nm. We also show hierarchical assembly of structures such as homomultimeric linear tracks and heterotrimeric wireframe icosahedra. Proper assembly requires week-long folding times and calibrated monovalent and divalent cation concentrations. We anticipate that our strategy for self-assembling custom three-dimensional shapes will provide a general route to the manufacture of sophisticated devices bearing features on the nanometre scale.

a, Double helices comprised of scaffold (grey) and staple strands (orange, white, blue) run parallel to the z-axis to form an unrolled two-dimensional schematic of the target shape. Phosphate linkages form crossovers between adjacent helices, with staple crossovers bridging different layers shown as semicircular arcs. b, Cylinder model of a half-rolled conceptual intermediate. Cylinders represent double helices, with loops of unpaired scaffold strand linking the ends of adjacent helices. c, Cylinder model of folded target shape. The honeycomb arrangement of parallel helices is shown in cross-sectional slices (i–iii) parallel to the x–y plane, spaced apart at seven base-pair intervals that repeat every 21 base pairs. All potential staple crossovers are shown for each cross-section. d, Atomistic DNA model of shape from c.

a, Left panel, Cylinder model of stacked-cross monomer (Fig. 2e), with dotted line indicating direction of assembly. Right panels, typical TEM micrographs showing stacked-cross polymers. Purified stacked-cross samples were mixed with a fivefold molar excess of connector staple strands in the presence of 5 mM Tris + 1 mM EDTA (pH 7.9 at 20 °C), 16 mM MgCl2 at 30 °C for 24 h. Monomers were folded in separate chambers, purified, and mixed with connector staple strands designed to bridge separate monomers. b, Cylinder model (left) and transmission electron micrograph (right) of a double-triangle shape comprised of 20 six-helix bundle half-struts. c, Heterotrimerization of the icosahedra was done with a 1:1:1 mixture of the three unpurified monomers at 50 °C for 24 h. d, Orthographic projection models and TEM data of four icosahedron particles. Scale bars in a, b and d: 100 nm.

Lincoln logs of DNA

26 pages of supplemental information that describe exactly how the DNA fits together

DNA is Being Used to Form Sheets of Nanoparticles

20 pages of supplemental information in regards to sheets of nanoparticles being created using DNA by researchers at Cornell University. - A densely-packed DNA ligand layer around the nanoparticles is required to achieve a high degree of order. - a high degree of order was only observed in a low-salt condition (< 5 mM NaCl), which is not favorable for specific Watson-Crick base-pairing - DNA-DNA interaction energy dictates the ordering, which is influenced by length, inter-ligand hybridization, solution ionic strength and temperature - Spacing and several other factors can be controlled by adjusting the DNA ligands used and other factors. Small holes (a few microns across) are made in different material and then a suspension of DNA and nanoparticles fills the hole like a bubble filling an empty ring before you blow a bubble. Abstract: Free-standing nanoparticle superlattice sheets controlled by DNA"
Free-standing nanoparticle superlattices (suspended highly ordered nanoparticle arrays) are ideal for designing metamaterials and nanodevices free of substrate-induced electromagnetic interference. Here, we report on the first DNA-based route towards monolayered free-standing nanoparticle superlattices. In an unconventional way, DNA was used as a 'dry ligand' in a microhole-confined, drying-mediated self-assembly process. Without the requirement of specific Watson–Crick base-pairing, we obtained discrete, free-standing superlattice sheets in which both structure (inter-particle spacings) and functional properties (plasmonic and mechanical) can be rationally controlled by adjusting DNA length. In particular, the edge-to-edge inter-particle spacing for monolayered superlattice sheets can be tuned up to 20 nm, which is a much wider range than has been achieved with alkyl molecular ligands. Our method opens a simple yet efficient avenue towards the assembly of artificial nanoparticle solids in their ultimate thickness limit—a promising step that may enable the integration of free-standing superlattices into solid-state nanodevices.
Nanowerk has coverage. A schematic drawing of gold nanoparticles held together by tangled, hairlike strands of DNA. The thin sheets could prove useful in electronic applications. (Image: Michael Campolongo/Luo Labs)
They created suspended, free-standing sheets of gold nanoparticles only 20 nanometers thick and held together by tangled, hairlike strands of DNA. To make the thin, ordered sheets, called superlattices, the researchers attached gold nanoparticles to single-stranded DNA and submerged them in a water-based solution. They then deposited droplets of the solution onto a holey silicon substrate and allowed the water to evaporate. What was left were thin sheets of gold nanoparticles, suspended in place by the DNA strands. What's more, Luo explained, the researchers demonstrated easy control of the sheets' mechanical properties by changing the lengths of the DNA or the distance between nanoparticles. "We hope this can contribute to development of future nanocircuits," Luo said.


Nanoscale Reversible Mass Transport for Archiving Computer Memory that Can Last One Billion Years

Nanoscale reversible mass transport computer memory has been demonstrated by Zettl Research Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of California at Berkeley.

In separate but related research in Japan, Daisuke Takagi at NTT Basic Research Laboratories in Atsugi, Japan, decided to replace the metal nanoparticles (the seeds for growing carbon nanotubes) with a densely packed layer of diamonds, each around 5 nanometres across. Passing ethanol gas over these diamonds created a lush forest of nanotubes 1 to 2 nanometres wide. Carbon nanotubes grown from diamond nanoparticles can be grown closer together. This could eventually allow the carbon nanotube memory shuttle memory from Berkeley to be grown closer together.

Abstract for the Nanoscale Reversible Mass Transport for Archival Memory

We report on a simple electromechanical memory device in which an iron nanoparticle shuttle is controllably positioned within a hollow nanotube channel. The shuttle can be moved reversibly via an electrical write signal and can be positioned with nanoscale precision. The position of the shuttle can be read out directly via a blind resistance read measurement, allowing application as a nonvolatile memory element with potentially hundreds of memory states per device. The shuttle memory has application for archival storage, with information density as high as 10**12 bits/in2, and thermodynamic stability in excess of one billion years.

The reversibility of the nanoparticle motion allows a memory "bit" that can be rewritten. Here we show this property, moving the nanoparticle back and forth over the position threshold defining the state of the device. A nanoparticle of iron is moved with carbon nanotubes

6 pages of supporting info for the carbon nanotube grown from diamond seed work.

The carbon nanotubes grown from diamond seeds are still tangled.

May 19, 2009

DARPA Strategic Plan Report 2009

Network World has coverage of a 57 page DARPA project report.

Some of the highlights:
DARPA's Structural Amorphous Metals (SAM) program is building a new class of bulk materials with amorphous or "glassy" microstructures that have previously unobtainable combinations of hardness, strength, damage tolerance and corrosion resistance. Calcium-based SAM alloys are being developed for ultralight space structures, aluminum-based alloys for efficient turbine compressor blades, and iron-based alloys for corrosion resistance in marine environments. In an effort with the Navy, the Naval Advanced Amorphous Coatings program has devised a thermal spray technique that produces textured amorphous metal coatings with a high coefficient of friction and wear, impact, and corrosion resistance that is superior to any other corrosion-resistant, non-skid material, with the goal of certifying them for unrestricted use on Navy ships.

Faster Vaccines and Enhanced Effectiveness from Smaller Doses
DARPA has developed approaches to dramatically increase the effectiveness of vaccines. One agent, CpG, has been shown to reduce the dose required to achieve immunity and the number of "booster shots" required to maintain immunity. With CpG, DARPA demonstrated a nearly nine-fold improvement in response to the anthrax vaccine, and significantly shortened the time until military personnel are fully protected. CpG has transitioned widely and is in advanced clinical trials for influenza and biodefense vaccines.

Wireless and Chip Scale Atomic Clocks

DARPA is developing technologies for wireless tactical net-centric warfare that will enable reliable, mobile, secure, self-forming, ad hoc networking among the various echelons while using available spectrum very efficiently.

For starters, DARPA said frequency spectrum is scarce and valuable. Most of the radio frequency spectrum is already allocated to users who may or may not be using it at a given time and place. DARPA's neXt Generation (XG) Communications technology will effectively make up to ten times more spectrum available by taking advantage of spectrum that has been assigned but is not being used at a particular point in time. XG technology senses the actual spectrum being used and then dynamically uses the spectrum that is not busy at that particular place and time. XG resists jamming and does not interfere with other users.

DARPA also has been developing autonomous network communications for the cluttered environment of cities. Urban clutter usually creates multiple signals from diverse reflections of the initial signal (multi-path), and the result is weak and/or fading voice/data communications. DARPA's the Mobile Networked Multiple-Input/Multiple-Output (MNM) program is actually exploiting multipath phenomena to improve communications between vehicles moving in cities without using a fixed communications infrastructure.

Networks rely on a widely available timing signal, or common clock, to sequence the movement of voice and data traffic and to enable encryption. The timing signal is often provided by the Global Positioning System (GPS) or broadcast via other radio signals. We should expect adversaries to attack our networks by blocking these timing signals.

DARPA has been developing a miniature atomic clock - measuring approximately one cubic centimeter - to supply the timing signal should the external signal be lost. The Chip-Scale Atomic Clock will let a network node, using a Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System, maintain synchronous operation with the network for several days after loss of the GPS signal.

Bakken and Oilsands Update

Petrobank's canadian oil production averaged 22,085 barrels per day (bpd), up 59 per cent from 13,889 bpd in the first quarter of 2008. Petrobank credited the gains to its Bakken properties in southeast Saskatchewan that account for more than 85 per cent of its production and reserves. The Bakken remains profitabl for Petronbank at today's prices--bench-mark oil prices briefly hit a six-month high of $60 US a barrel in New York before settling at $58.85, up 35 cents on the day.

Petrobank's oilsands vice-president Chris Bloomer said the company is ready to proceed with a 100,000-barrel-a-day commercial project at May River, immediately south of Whitesands.

Bloomer predicted the fireflooding technique could unlock 70 to 80 per cent of the existing oil in place in Saskatchewan -- some 20 billion barrels -- compared with seven per cent using existing heavy oil techniques.

Petrobank has four projects currently underway to develop and commercialize the THAI and Capri oil recovery processes.

-The Dawson project will be Petrobank's first application of THAI™ in a more conventional heavy oil reservoir and will be an important step in the expansion of THAI™ as a heavy oil application that can be broadly applied in Canada and internationally.
- White sands project
- May River project
- Sutton (in Saskatechewan)

Output from Canada’s oilsands could rise to as much as 6.3-million barrels a day by 2035, a nearly fivefold increase above current levels, according to energy consultancy IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) in a study called Growth in the Canadian Oil Sands: Finding a New Balance.

To reach the theoretical level of 6.3 million barrels a day, the study assumes strong economic growth and robust oil prices over the long-term. If the global economy stagnates and oil prices remain weak, it is projecting daily production of 2.3 million barrels a day by 2035. That is still about one million barrels a day above current levels.

The numbers show just how important Canada’s oil will become to the United States, as the study predicts that Canada would account for 37 per cent of U.S. oil imports if production is ramped up to 6.3 million barrels a day. It was just 19 per cent in 2008.

Petrobank Presentation 2009

Q1 2009 Petrobank presentation

North Dakota's Bakken region remains active with drilling and exploration.

Optical interface can recognize pen, touch and shapes

On the left the new Sharp LCD Optical touchpad on their new laptops and on the right an image from Microsoft's vision of the future where computer mice are replaced with dynamical optical interfaces.

The Sharp optical sensor is a new type of LCD with three major features. It supports handwriting, enables touch operations, like the iPhone, and can recognize shapes.

According to Sharp, a pen can be used to input drawings and text, while finger gestures on the LCD pad can enlarge, shrink or rotate items on the notebook screen – all in addition to the conventional ways a mouse is used. Users can sign their name to a photo before emailing it, for instance; or they can use two fingers to zoom in and out of internet websites to adjust them for the best view.

The Mebius offers an illustration application which allows users to edit their photos, using many different pre-installed stickers and stamps, like photo-booth stickers. The notebook also comes with games that support finger-touch operations. They include easy-to-understand games like bowling and playing the piano.

Microsofts 2019 Productivity vision versus Sharps Reality of Today

Previous nextbigfuture article covering microsoft's productivity vision.

Gizmodo has more information on the Sharp Mebius PC-NJ70A netbook.

Best Lithium Batteries and Lithium air cell batteries have up to ten times the power storage

An early demonstration model of the St Andrews air cell. Air enters and leaves via the porous circular membrane in the centre (Image: Peter Bruce/EPSRC)

The team's prototype device has a capacity-to-weight ratio of 4000 milliamp hours per gram – eight times that of a cellphone battery. Even a 10-fold improvement is possible, but tweaking conventional lithium-ion designs will likely offer only a doubling in capacity

The new battery has a higher energy density than existing lithium ion batteries because it no longer contains dense lithium cobalt oxide. Instead, the positive electrode is made from lightweight porous carbon, and the lithium ions are packed into the electrolyte which floods into the spongy material.

When the battery is discharged, oxygen from the air also floods through a membrane into the porous carbon, where it reacts with lithium ions in the electrolyte and electrons from the external circuit to form a solid lithium oxide.

Lithium-air battery:
Bruce and colleagues are now working to transform their proof-of-principle version into a small working battery like those used in mobile electronic devices. "But the technology could be just as important for electric and hybrid vehicles in future," Bruce points out.

Hitachi Has Some of the Best Non-Air Lithium Batteries

Hitachi, Ltd. (NYSE:HIT / TSE:6501,hereinafter Hitachi) today announced that Hitachi, Ltd. and Hitachi Vehicle Energy, Ltd. which develops and manufactures lithium-ion batteries for automotive applications, such as hybrid electric vehicles, have developed a lithium-ion battery having the world's highest power density of 4,500W/kg, 1.7 times the output of the company's mass-produced, automotive lithium-ion batteries. Sampling of the new battery by domestic and overseas car manufacturers will start in the fall.

To reduce internal resistance, the battery employs a new manganese cathode and an original Hitachi battery structure, in such as thinner electrodes, power collection method and effective configurations to achieve the world's highest output.

A second-generation lithium-ion battery with an power density of 2,600 W/kg that currently is being delivered for automotive and railway applications, is the world's only mass-produced lithium-ion battery for on-board applications. Up to this point, a total of some 600,000 cells have been delivered, mainly to car manufacturers and railway companies.

Moreover, development of a third-generation lithium-ion battery having an even higher power density (3,000 W/kg) has already been completed, and will go into mass-production in 2010, with deliveries scheduled to begin the same year.

A123 Hybrid Batteries

A123 System prismatic cells can reach up to 5300W/kg.

A123 uses nanophosphate technology.

May 17, 2009

Enabling Effective Personalized Cancer Treatment With New siRNA Modification

In technology that promises to one day allow drug delivery to be tailored to an individual patient and a particular cancer tumor, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, have developed an efficient system for delivering siRNA into primary cells. The work will be published in the May 17 in the advance on-line edition of Nature Biotechnology.

The team solved the problem of delivery of siRNAs into cells by making a PTD fusion protein with a double-stranded RNA-binding domain, termed PTD-DRBD, which masks the siRNA's negative charge. This allows the resultant fusion protein to enter the cell and deliver the siRNA into the cytoplasm where it specifically targets mRNAs from cancer-promoting genes and silences them.

The researchers have a startup, Traversa Therapeutics, which is commercializing this work.

Traversa's siRNA delivery technology is specifically designed to avoid the physical size and bioavailability problems inherent in the Liposome/cationic-lipid approach. The technology is non-cytotoxic, delivers to the entire cell population and all cell-types tested, and is dramatically smaller than a liposome. The Company expects the technology to provide improved pharmacokinetics, distribution and bioavailability over other methods. The technology supports delivery to primary and tumor cells, T cells, B cells, Macrophage, neuronal cells and human stem cells, where other approaches have failed. This ability to induce RNA interference in entire cell populations and all cell types in a non-cytotoxic fashion is unique to Traversa's technology and provides the Company's competitive advantage.

Traversa's siRNA delivery technology (PTD-DRBD) is a protein comprised of multiple Peptide Transduction Domains (PTD) linked to a Double-stranded RNA Binding Domain (DRBD). The PTD portion of the protein induces delivery into the cell through a fluid-uptake mechanism that all cells perform, called macropinocytosis. The DRBD portion of the protein initially binds to the siRNA, and later releases the siRNA once inside the cell.

RNA Interference (RNAi) is a recently discovered natural biological process. The Central Dogma of biology is that DNA makes RNA, and RNA subsequently makes protein. Because undesired proteins are the cause of most human disease, pharmaceutical drugs typically target select proteins and block their function. RNAi works upstream from the manufacture of protein in cells, silencing genes and thereby blocking the creation of these disease-causing proteins before they are made.

This breakthrough discovery is being harnessed by RNAi researchers to develop an entirely new class of human therapeutic that could potentially treat sixty percent of all human disease – the Interfering RNA. This new class of drugs brings with it enormous potential:

- Significantly improved specificity of target molecules
- Greater efficacy with fewer side effects
- New drugs for rare or difficult to treat diseases
- Reduced drug discovery timelines
- Faster response to pandemic infection

Interfering RNAs have tremendous selectivity, degrade only target RNAs, and yield specific gene silencing. However, due to their relatively large size (~14,000-18,000 Daltons), they require an additional delivery technology in order to enter cells and produce their intended effect.

"RNAi has an unbelievable potential to manage cancer and treat it," said Steven Dowdy, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and professor of cellular and molecular medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine. "While there's still a long way to go, we have successfully developed a technology that allows for siRNA drug delivery into the entire population of cells, both primary and tumor-causing, without being toxic to the cells."

For many years, Dowdy has studied the cancer therapy potential of RNA inhibition which can be used to silence genes through short interfering, double-stranded RNA fragments called siRNAs. But delivery of siRNAs has proven difficult due to their size and negative electrical charge – which prohibits them from readily entering cells.

A small section of protein called a peptide transduction domain (PTD) has the ability to permeate cell membranes. Dowdy and colleagues saw the potential for PTDs as a delivery mechanism for getting siRNAs into cancer cells. He and his team had previously generated more than 50 "fusion proteins" using PTDs linked to tumor-suppressor proteins.

"Simply adding the siRNAs to a PTD didn't work, because siRNAs are highly negatively charged, while PTDs are positively charged, which results in aggregation with no cellular delivery," Dowdy explained. The team solved the problem by making a PTD fusion protein with a double-stranded RNA-binding domain, termed PTD-DRBD, which masks the siRNA's negative charge. This allows the resultant fusion protein to enter the cell and deliver the siRNA into the cytoplasm where it specifically targets mRNAs from cancer-promoting genes and silences them.

To determine the ability of this PTD-DRBD fusion protein to deliver siRNA, the researchers generated a human lung cancer reporter cell line. Using green and fluorescent protein and analyzing the cells using flow cytometry analysis, they were able to determine the magnitude of RNA inhibitory response and the percentage of cells undergoing this response. They found that the entire cellular population underwent a maximum RNAi response. Similar results were obtained in primary cells and cancer cell lines.

"We were subsequently able to introduce gene silencing proteins into a large percentage of various cell types, including T cells, endothelial cells and human embryonic stem cells," said Dowdy. "Importantly, we observed no toxicity to the cells or innate immune responses, and a minimal number of transcriptional off-target changes."

These RNAi methods can be continually tweaked to combat new mutations – a way to overcome a major problem associated with current cancer therapies. "Such therapies can't be used a second time if a cancer tumor returns, because the tumor has mutated the target gene to avoid the drug binding," said Dowdy. "But since the synthetic siRNA is designed to bind to a single mutation and only that mutation on the genome, it can be easily and rapidly changed while maintaining the delivery system – the PTD-DRBD fusion protein."

"Cancer is a complex, genetic disease that is different in every patient," Dowdy added. "This is still in early stages, but I believe the siRNA-induced RNAi approach to personalized cancer treatment is the only thing on the table."