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August 08, 2009

How Much Uranium is in the Solar System ?


We don't know the composition of the asteroids or the objects in the Oort comet cloud or the Kuiper belt in great detail. One theory of solar system formation is that there are more metals in the inner solar system. That would mean most of the uranium is Mars, Mercury, Earth Venus and asteroid belt. There is an estimated 40 trillion tons of Uranium and 120 trillion tons of thorium in the Earth's crust. Most of that Uranium is concentrated in the continental crust. The mantel has lower concentration of uranium, but there is a lot more mantel and mantel recycles out to crust.

The solar heavy-element abundances described above are typically measured both using spectroscopy of the Sun's photosphere and by measuring abundances in meteorites that have never been heated to melting temperatures. These meteorites are thought to retain the composition of the protostellar Sun and thus not affected by settling of heavy elements. The two methods generally agree well.

Meteors tend to only have 0.008 ppm uranium

The Sun is 332,830 earth masses. So if the Sun was 8 ppb (parts per billion) uranium, then 0.27% of an earth mass of uranium in the Sun.

The National Physics laboratory (UK) has an estimate of the amount of all elements in the sun, solar system, meteorites, crust and ocean

0.018 atoms of uranium out of every 30 billion atoms in the solar system. 1 out of 5 billion by weight (1/40th of the meteor estimate). Then about 0.005% of an earth mass of Uranium.

99.8% of the total mass of the Solar System is the Sun. So the Uranium that is not in the Sun in the solar system is 500 times less than 0.005% of an earth mass [1/ten millionth of an earth mass]. One earth mass is 5.9742 × 10^21 tons. So 6 x 10^14 tons of Uranium. An estimate of 600 trillion tons or 12 times the amount in the earth's crust for Uranium not in the Sun in the solar system.


There definitely is a lot of metal (iron, platinum) in the asteroids.

One NASA report estimates that the mineral wealth of the asteroids in the asteroid belt might exceed $100 billion for each of the six billion people on Earth. John S. Lewis, author of the space mining book Mining the Sky, has said that an asteroid with a diameter of one kilometer would have a mass of about two billion tons. There are perhaps one million asteroids of this size in the solar system. One of these asteroids, according to Lewis, would contain 30 million tons of nickel, 1.5 million tons of metal cobalt and 7,500 tons of platinum. The platinum alone would have a value of more than $150 billion.


The outer Oort cloud is believed to contain several trillion individual comet nuclei larger than approximately 1.3 km (about 500 billion with absolute magnitudes brighter than 10.9), with neighboring comets typically tens of millions of kilometres apart. Its total mass is not known with certainty, but, assuming that Halley's comet is a suitable prototype for all comets within the outer Oort cloud, the estimated combined mass is 3 × 10^25 kilograms, or roughly five times the mass of the Earth.

Models predict that the inner cloud should have tens or hundreds of times as many cometary nuclei as the outer halo; it is seen as a possible source of new comets to resupply the relatively tenuous outer cloud as the latter's numbers are gradually depleted

The collective mass of the Kuiper belt is relatively low. The upper limit to the total mass is estimated at roughly a tenth the mass of the Earth, with some estimates placing it at a thirtieth an Earth mass.

There is uranium and thorium on Mars

There is uranium on the moon.



Several of the larger moons in the solar system and planets could have substantial percentages of uranium in their cores. There is a controversial theory that there is a lot of Uranium in planetary cores. Some spectral analysis of the surface of some solar bodies a couple of sampling missions and guesses at what is in the core of objects is what we are going on.

A discussion of uranium in the solar system

Olympic Dam and Other Uranium Projects


There is an 11 year expansion project of the Olympic Dam mine in Australia New capacity would come online in about 2017-2019 assuming a prompt approval and ontime project.

The Australian government decision is scheduled to be made July, 2010.








Kazakhstan Production
Kazatomprom official opening ceremony for a new in-situ leaching deposit - Irkol [mine]- with a production capacity of 750 tonnes of uranium per annum was held in the Shieli district of the Kyzylorda region on April 28, 2009.

The project capacity of 750 tonnes of uranium per annum is expected to be reached within the next twelve months with plans this year for the extraction of 500 tonnes of natural uranium


Khorassan-1 Uranium Mine opening ceremoney April, 2009

Production throughput, on a year-by-year basis, is as follows:
2009: 180 tonnes
2010: 1,000 tonnes
2011: 1,500 tonnes
2012: 2,000 tonnes
2014: 3,000 tonnes.

Kazakhstan 2008 production

The year 2008 saw the Republic of Kazakhstan produce a total of 8,521 tonnes of uranium. This is 28.5% up on 2007 levels, when production stood at 6,637 tonnes of U3O8. Last year's production volume includes the aggregate output of the JSC National atomic company Kazatomprom, joint ventures in which it has stakes and the Stepnogorsk mining and chemical complex (under Kazatomprom’s trust management).

It is planned to produce up to 11,900 tonnes of uranium in 2009, though this index is, of course, subject to change as the actual output will depend on global market conditions




Followup on Independent Seasteads or You Want to Start a Micronation

This is a follow up to "How Independent Could a Seastead or Space Colony Be?"

If one is a libertarian inclined billionaire (like Peter Thiel) or a larger group of people who want to have a city where you want to have more freedom is it better to start a seastead city or become mayor of a libertarian inclined city and make it more libertarian.

Alfin has a good piece on charter city states in the third world.

Paul Romer (via A Thousand Nations) describes a system of "Charter Cities" distributed about the third world, modeled after Hong Kong and Singapore. These chartered city-states would be "in the third world but not of the third world." In other words, the rule of law and economic dynamism in these city-states would provide an environment of living and choice distinctly different from the squalid and corrupt living conditions currently prominent across the third world.


China has the model of special economic zones for giving special rules for cities to promote economic growth.

The developed world also seems to have need for charter cities
http://chartercities.org/blog/


Could a billionaire like Thiel follow the example of Michael Bloomberg and buy city elections to become mayor of city and in a state with libertarian tendencies and shift policies towards greater libertarianism ? Would any place in the USA be the place to do it ? What would be the best place in the developed world ?

Places in Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming or Texas come to mind. Where elsewhere in the World? Would the tax haven countries be a start ?

Or is it necessary to setup a smallish cityof 100,000-200,000 people on an island or seastead ? It seems that 500,000 people should be enough based on the Brunei model.


most economically free countries
1) Hong Kong
2) Singapore
3) Australia
4) Ireland
5) New Zealand

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/182631...

Micronations
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micronation

19th and early 20th century micronation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cocos_(Keeling)_Is...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_havens<



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It seems pretty clear historically that you cannot be lazy or unwilling to fight in order to sustain a nation.
Eventually someone comes around who wants to take over.
Israel has mandatory military service.
Outsourcing the defence ends up failing sooner or later. ie .England handing some island over to Australia

Would technology enable minimization of the work needed to defend a libertarian micronation ?
UAVs and other automated systems.
The less effort and resources that get put into the defense and it ends up being a problem later.

Just like a successful startup company a startup nation needs to have a means to scale up to critical size and have
a sustainable business model to maintain revenue and cashflow. A British Virgin Islands like purpose in the overall economic system


Bioengineered Tooth Regeneration in Mice


A bioengineered tooth germ placed in the jaw of a mouse (top) buds through the gum at 36 days (center) and fully grows in after 49 days (bottom).
Credit: Takashi Tsuji/Tokyo University of Science



A Japanese group, led by cell biologist Takashi Tsuji of Tokyo University of Science in Noda, Chiba Prefecture, focused on tooth germs, the embryonic tissues that develop into teeth. After obtaining such germs from mouse embryos, they separated out two types of cells--epithelial cells and mesenchymal cells--and then recombined them into a new bioengineered tooth germ. The team then grew the bioengineered germs in a special culture for 5 to 7 days and transplanted them into the upper jaws of adult mice in the place of an extracted molar. New teeth poked through the gums after about 36 days and reached the proper size and alignment with opposing teeth for proper chewing after 49 days.

All indications are that the teeth function just like the real thing. They have the roots, inner pulp, and outer enamel of normal teeth and are just as hard, the team reports. Moreover, unlike dental implants, the regenerated teeth develop the periodontal ligaments that tie normal teeth to the supporting bone and the nerve fibers that give sensitivity to chewing pressure and other stresses. "We clearly demonstrated that the bioengineered organ germ could develop into a fully functioning organ," Tsuji says.


Stem Cells => epithelial cells and mesenchymal cells => Culture =>Implant into jaw => New Teeth



Further challenges include demonstrating the formation of different kinds of teeth and the proper location of cusps. Tsuji admits that although the bioengineered teeth are functional, the crown widths, cusp positions, and tooth patterning were not quite normal. But he expects his group to gain control over such details with further research.


August 07, 2009

Some of the Healthcare Discussion Includes Fixing Aging and Disease

Wired Magazine has an article "To Pay for Health Care, Treat Aging"

As politicians try to reform a health care system that could swallow one-fifth of the nation’s economic output by 2020, they should consider making a small bet with a potentially huge payoff: research that could slow the process of aging

In papers published in The Scientist and British Medical Journal, Olshanksy and International Longevity Center president Robert Butler wrote that drugs that delay aging’s onset by seven years are now a realistic possibility.

They’re currently in the process of calculating this longevity dividend’s economic benefits. Even if the figures aren’t finalized, however, they’re likely to be massive. For Alzheimer’s disease alone, they estimate that the cost of care will rise to $1 trillion by 2050. The Robert Wood Johnson foundation estimates two-thirds of rising health costs come from chronic diseases

The NIH channels almost all U.S. governmental support for age-delaying research through the National Institute on Aging, but its $1 billion budget is a pittance by federal standards. Nearly $5 billion is earmarked for the National Cancer Institute, and that’s just one disease of aging. Of the NIA’s $1 billion, just $180 million is set aside for research on the biology of aging. That figure has barely changed since 2006.

President Obama’s stimulus package did allot $273 million for the National Institute on Aging, but only a small fraction will likely go to potentially age-delaying research, said Peter Rabinovitch, a University of Washington gerontologist. By contrast, the stimulus plan contains $37 billion for electronic health records.


Recent results indicate that an approved diabetes drug, metformin, may battle aging. Approved in 1995, metformin was marketed as Glucophage.

The UK Prospective Diabetes Study 34 showed that in patients with type II diabetes, metformin treatment resulted in reductions in end-organ damage, myocardial infarction, and all-cause mortality. Stephen Spindler, professor of biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego, has shown that metformin out-performs short-term calorie restriction in inducing the geneexpression changes associated with long-term calorie restriction. Not everyone is persuaded by the metformin results, however. Side effects, such as a small risk of lactic acidosis that can be fatal in certain patients, are not likely worth the risk of lifelong treatment for aging.


Fighting Aging talks about body wide fixes for mitochondria.

We could sidestep all of these issues with a technology that repairs or replaces mitochondrial DNA globally throughout the body - such as protofection, demonstrated back in 2005. If we replace all mitochondrial DNA with fresh new mitochondrial DNA, then it doesn't matter why or how its prior state was causing issues because we just fixed the problem.

This is as good an example as any to show that we don't need complete understanding of human biochemistry in order to make important inroads into repairing the damage of aging. More understanding helps, but we have enough knowledge now to move ahead with significant and important rejuvenation technologies - were there a large research community and the will and funding to forge ahead


From Rafal Smigrodzki - via the Extropy chat list in 2005

Our team confirmed our previous preliminary data showing that we can achieve robust mitochondrial transfection and protein expression in mitochondria of live rats, after an injection of genetically engineered mitochondrial DNA complexed with our protofection transfection agent. A significant fraction of cells in the brain is transfected with this single injection even though we so far did not optimize the dose.

This achievement has important implications for medicine: protofection technology works in vivo, and should be capable of replacing damaged mitochondrial genomes





In Popular Mechanics, Dean Kamen one of the world's most prolific inventors of healthcare technologies, challenges the notion that the U.S. has a healthcare crisis. Rather than slowing the pace of medical progress in order to cut healthcare costs, he argues, America should be encouraging more innovation in life-saving drugs and technologies.

Every drug that's made is a gift from one generation to the next because, while it may be expensive now, it goes off patent and your kids will have it essentially for free. You can't look at the problem and say, "I want them to do more, better, faster miracles—and not invest in research, not invest in development, and have those miracles delivered to me free." It's unrealistic. And people know that about most things. They do. Nobody expects that just because they've made computers better they're going to give them to you free.

We spent on all pharmaceuticals in the United States last year $260 billion. That means all those vaccinations to prevent diseases, all those pills to treat diseases, all those pills to cure them so we don't have to treat them anymore. We spent in all branches of all our pharmaceutical suppliers, $260 billion.

That's certainly way up from what it was in the early days of the world, but we also spent way more money on computers and other things that didn't exist back then, either, and we don't claim we have a computer crisis. We spent more money on our iPhones last year than we did ten years ago cause there were no iPhones. But let me compare $260 billion to other things. How much did we spend in the United States last year on tobacco? $88 billion. That's a significant piece of 260. It's the reason we spent some of that 260. How much did we spend last year on alcohol? The government doesn't subsidize that, you don't have a right to it, it's discretionary spending and if you were really in trouble you would probably spend a little less on alcohol. We spent $90 billion.

Last year what did we spend in the United States on soft drinks? $121 billion. Nearly half of what we spend on all of our pharmaceuticals, on soft drinks. I'm not against soft drinks—I think you ought to buy all the soft drinks you want.

Last year what did we spend supporting professional sports? $409 billion.

Now if somebody in this country wants to explain to me that we ought to be spending about twice as much supporting sports as on all of our pharmaceuticals, then stop spending. You don't like that drug? You don't want to cure this disease? Don't buy it. But don't make villains out of people so that we can turn what is a real social responsibility issue into a political debate.

Diabetes alone, if you include all of the long-term, insidious consequences of a lifetime of diabetes, is responsible for about 30 percent of the federal reimbursement for healthcare. Well, it would kill us if we look at the 30-year actuarial data based on our 19th century confidence in technology. But I'm sure in 1920 if you asked actuaries to say what percentage of our GDP are we going to spend taking care of people with polio, they'd say: "They get polio, it goes to their lungs, they sit in iron lung machines, they could live a whole lifetime with three people watching over them. We can't support them all."

But what did it cost to deal with everybody with polio? Oh, $2 apiece. We gave them the Salk vaccine. But in the 1920s Salk wasn't around yet.


Cures and treatments are not equal. Iron lung style are expensive and bad while vaccines and new treatments like stem cells and gene therapy could be very good.

How Independent Could a Seastead or a Colony in the Solar System Be ?

Jamais Cascio, Open the Future, claims that ending politics is a delusion and provides the following example.

In the early days of the dot-com era, this attitude resulted in the absence of digital tech industry voices in Washington, DC, allowing the incumbent telecom and entertainment industries free rein to write laws and buy politicians without opposition. Companies and industries that had considered themselves beyond politics found out just how wrong they were. Stung by that experience, today's advocates of the "escape politics" position usually articulate it as more of a wishful whine, as with Thiel's line quoted above.


This is an example of the Africa-lite problem of North America and Europe. Africa being the poster-continent for massive political corruption and systems that massively under-deliver on the potential of the people and societies.

Jamais Cascio is correct that it takes a lot more to escape corruption or disengage from a political system than running a new technology and trying to ignore the current systems.

What are the historical examples of "escape from [old] politics" or massive reduction in corruption ?

There was the colonization of North America and the American revolution. The new system was not escape from politics but it was new politics and one that escaped from much of the politics of Europe.

This involved being in a physically separate place where the forces of the old system could only project forces able to be delivered across an ocean. Plus France supported the breakaway.

There was the relatively peaceful breakup of the Soviet Union.

Geopolitical groups that had been conquered and had an identity before being conquered were able to breakoff and form (reform) and adopt new economic and political systems. It helped that the old central system had weakened. The US and NATO provided cover and support for the nations that broke away.



New nations have been formed in the 1990s and in the 21st century

The group or place that is breaking away seems to need to have enough critical mass and level of capability and to find a new sustainable position in the world system and often needs support from other established powers and political groups.

How the new group or place is run is less important than how it relates to the existing powers to create a sustainable niche.

Any seastead would have to deal with all of the Ocean going Navies and the political forces that they represent.

In future, any sizeable space colony (millions of people) would mean that there is massive space going capability. This would not be a capability that is exclusive to the space colonists. The space colonists would need to deal with US, Chinese and other nations with space capability.

Breaking away for a new political system and entity is a non-trivial task and there will be a relationship to the major powers of the day. Also, those who want to do it (libertarian or whoever) must be willing to go to substantial lengths to achieve it.

City States and Regional Autonomy
There are also some trends toward more regional and city autonomy. Quebec received a great deal of autonomy from Canada. There are successful city-states like Singapore. Hong Kong has a certain amount of autonomy and has its own business systems and laws.
Dubai is a successful small entity with its own systems and laws.

Future Technology, Space and Sea Colonization
Assuming that there is sea and space colonization, then what would the political systems be and what would be the geopolitics of that situation ? Would the traditional powers be able to maintain control ? Over the course of decades what would happen ?

Canada is about 142 years old. The USA is 233 years old. India (1950) and Pakistan and Israel only formed in the 20th century.

Political change can happen and new entities and relatively indepedent systems can be formed.

How small is a viable entity now ? How small might it be in the future ? What are the non-violent paths where more seasteads, space colonies or regular land regions might become independent ?

If change is desired enough it will probably not be non-violent.

The demographics and votes for Quebec sovereignty do not seem to be there anymore.
However, it seems that if a referendum for Quebec Sovereighty was successful, then Canada and Quebec would likely be able to effect the change without violence. The likely issue would be many lawyers and politicians working out the new arrangement and determining how to split up the national debt. If there were orderly progressions to sovereighty in this or other situations (Texas) in developed countries, there would likely be useful precedent established in the right way to enact new nation forming.

The current best example of an orderly spinning of nations is the Commonwealth of Nations. The Commonwealth of Nations uses the Singapore Declaration.

The Commonwealth of Nations is a voluntary association of independent sovereign states, each responsible for its own policies, consulting and co-operating in the common interests of their peoples and in the promotion of international understanding and world peace.

Commonwealth is compatible with membership of any other international organisation or non-alignment.

The next ten articles in turn detail some of the core political principles of the Commonwealth. These include (in the order in which they are mentioned): world peace and support for the United Nations; individual liberty and egalitarianism; the eradication of poverty, ignorance, disease, and economic inequality; free trade; institutional cooperation; multilateralism; and the rejection of international coercion


The Singapore Declaration seems compatible with a capitalist libertarian system that might be formed by someone like Peter Thiel (who wrote the article to which Jamais Cascio was responding).

Would the USA or other developed nation adopt something like the Commonwealth system if in the future groups of citizens wanted to breakoff ?

FURTHER READING
Rwanda anti-corruption success

20,000 nations above the sea

Billionaire with his own inherited small nation. The Sultan of Brunei

Brunei had about 500,000 people when it became indepedent from the UK i 1984 It stopped being a british protectorate in 1984.

Politics and law as related to seasteads

Cascio, OpentheFuture response: Brian -- you're right. For groups. In which there will be... politics.

Libertarianism as espoused by Thiel would be an escape from old politics. Just as a nation with an official position of atheism in regards to religion would be an escape from all old religions.

A place with libertarianism in the form compatibile with what Thiel is espousing would be a significant break from the political past.

Cascio statement that there would still be politics in a Libertarian state is semantics and does not address the viability of an independent libertarian entity.

Michael Anissimov, Accelerating Future, has a post "Politics is Truly the mind Killer" which is responding to the OpentheFuture post. H/T to michael as his article led me to the Openthefuture post.

3 million Picoprojectors per year by 2013


Pico projectors embedded into products such as smartphones are set to experience a sixtyfold growth in shipments during the next four years [3 million/year by 2013) , according to a forecast by market research firm iSuppli Corp.



Japan's Riken Advances DNA Positioning of Gold Nanoparticles



Japan's RIKEN describe a new method to immobilize a given number of oligonucleotides (ODNs) on gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) in a specific arrangement directed by a geometrical template made of DNA. The basic strategy is as follows. First, a set of thiolated ODNs for immobilization and a nonthiolated template are hybridized to make a DNA nanostructure. Next, the DNA nanostructure is reacted with AuNPs via the thiol groups to form a complex of the AuNP and the DNA nanostructure. Finally, the intended AuNP/ODN conjugate is obtained by removing the template from the complex. The above strategy enables us to make various formats of AuNP/ODN conjugates simply by changing the design of the DNA nanostructure. We demonstrate proof-of-concept experiments using a linear design of the DNA nanostructure.

Top-down methods such as immobilization by a tip of scanning probe microscope are very precise, but prohibitively slow. In contrast, Riken's DNA template is extremely fast and automated, and represents a new type of ‘nanomachine.’ This is advance for bottom up nanomanufacturing.



11 page pdf with supporting information



Fuel Efficient and Fast Trimaran's for Navy, Cars and People



Shipbuilder Austal launched the world’s largest aluminum vessel, the 127 meter Benchijigua Express in 2005 and makes trimarans and navy littoral ships.

The US Navy wants 55 of these littoral vessels and Austal has an order for two catamaran troop carriers. If the US Navy does buy/build all of littoral and troop carriers by 2014, Austral will have built 20% of the US Navy’s fleet.

Trimaran power consumption is 20% less when operating in a seaway compared to a catamaran in that area. And reduced by as much as 50% when compared with a monohull operating in waves. All those power reductions equate directly to fuel consumption reductions.

The Austral Trimarans have a speed of 39-40 knots.

the trimaran hullform which effectively decouples vessel length from capacity and permits the marriage of a cost effective, revenue-earning platform with a longer hull form that offers superior seakeeping in a range of conditions.





August 06, 2009

Powerful Disruptive Potential of Quantum Computers and Memristors for Artificial General Intelligence and Medicine


Novamente is working on Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and the above is an architecture.

More recent AGI work is the Opencog project

In 2009, opencog presendted AGI Preschool: A Framework for Evaluating Early-Stage Human-like AGIs.

The toddler is the second of five AGI stages.

Memristors Patents and Current Developments

Williams' solid-state memristors can be combined into devices called crossbar latches, which could replace transistors in future computers, taking up a much smaller area.

They can also be fashioned into non-volatile solid-state memory, which would allow greater data density than hard drives with access times potentially similar to DRAM, replacing both components. HP prototyped a crossbar latch memory using the devices that can fit 100 gigabits in a square centimeter. HP has reported that its version of the memristor is about one-tenth the speed of DRAM.

Patents related to memristors appear to include applications in programmable logic, signal processing, neural networks, and control systems.

Pattern matching,classification/machine learning and sensors and sensor processing are important parts of AGI as seen in the diagram above.

Applications of Memristor Crossbars for Pattern Recognition and Robotics Blaise Mouttet received U.S. Patent 7,459,933 including various patent claims to using 2-terminal hysteretic resistance materials for image processing and pattern recognition. (December 2, 2008).

As opposed to storing data, attempting to recreate the basic logic functions used in digital logic, or create a neural net, the present invention proposes an implementation of a crossbar array as a component of a system which, given a first set of analog or digital input signals, can transform the signals into a second set of analog or digital output signals based on preprogrammed values stored in the crossbar array. Employing particular modifications of the crossbar array structure allows for preprogrammed impedance values (Zij) to uniquely determine transfer function coefficients (Tij) for the crossbar and, when combined with specific input and output circuitry, creates a physical device capable of performing a linear transformation of the input signals into output signals. This introduces a new level of parallel processing and adaptability to signal processing applicable to wave function generation, control systems, signal filtering, communications, and pattern recognition

If a 10×10 scanning probe input/output array is provided, and given the [described in patent] parameters, 100×10,000=1,000,000 programmable regions are possible. However, for a 1000 micron×1000 micron area, corresponding to an area covered by the 10×10 scanning probe array with a 100 micron interspacing, 10^10 intersection points of the nanowires may be achieved with 10^10 /25 programmable regions


Experimental demonstration of associative memory with memristive neural networks associative memory – the ability to correlate different memories to the same fact or event.

Circuit elements with memory: memristors, memcapacitors and meminductors

We extend the notion of memristive systems to capacitive and inductive elements, namely capacitors and inductors whose properties depend on the state and history of the system. All these elements show pinched hysteretic loops in the two constitutive variables that define them: current-voltage for the memristor, charge-voltage for the memcapacitor, and current-flux for the meminductor. We argue that these devices are common at the nanoscale where the dynamical properties of electrons and ions are likely to depend on the history of the system, at least within certain time scales. These elements and their combination in circuits open up new functionalities in electronics and they are likely to find applications in neuromorphic devices to simulate learning, adaptive and spontaneous behavior.

Apart from the obvious use of these devices in non-volatile memories, several applications can be already envisioned for these systems, especially in neuromorphic devices to simulate learning, adaptive and spontaneous behavior. For instance, the identification of memristive behavior in primitive organisms such as amoebas, opens up the possibility to relate physiological processes that occur in cells with the theory of memory devices presented here. Along similar lines, one could envision simple models that identify memory mechanisms in neurons and use these memory devices to build such models in the laboratory. Therefore, due to their versatility (including analog functionalities) the combined operations of these memory devices in electronic circuits is still largely unexplored, and we hope our work will motivate experimental and theoretical investigations in this direction.




Speculation on Billions of Memristors per Square Centimeter

If there are billions of memristor elements then massive gigapixel and terapixel images could be rapidly processed. With new metamaterial enhanced resolution to the nanometer level then images of DNA could be taken for nearly instant gene sequencing or for images of someones blood for detection of disease or illness.

We would be able to image at the nanometer scale and also process and understand what we are measuring at massive volumes.

There is evidence that a synapse is a memristor. Being able to make many billion memristors could be an easier way to enable hardware brain emulation.

Quantum computer machine learning

The global optimization approach using the quadratic objective function yields
the best results.
The accuracy is only increased by less than 10% relative to AdaBoost, but this is accomplished with a reduction of more than 50% of the switched-on weak classifiers. This improvement is before boosting by using the quantum computing devices.

The competitive performance of bit-constrained classifiers suggests that
training benefits from being treated as an integer program. This has a twofold implication. First, this is good news for hardware-constrained implementations such as cell phones, sensor networks, or early quantum chips with small numbers of qubits. Second, this renders the training problem manifestly NP-hard, thus further motivating the application of quantum algorithms that may generate better approximate solutions than classically available. Our next steps will be to investigate the advantages that global optimization with AQC hardware offers for our problem instances. We plan to use the next generation of D-Wave chips with 128 qubits. This will involve adjusting our implementation to additional engineering constraints of the existing AQC hardware such as a sparse connectivity graph among the qubits. Employing AQC during the training phase has the significant benefit that once the optimal set of weights is computed, those can be utilized by an entirely classical processor. In this work we only considered fixed dictionaries of weak classifiers. An important generalization that remains to be studied is to apply this framework to adaptive dictionaries. We conclude with the remark that our finding that bit-constraint learning has good generalization properties may have implications when studying plasticity in the nervous system, where it is still an unresolved problem how a synapse can store information reliably over a long period of time


Video of adiabatic quantum computer for binary classification.


Quantum computers and memristors could blow past the performance of conventional transistors.

Technology based pattern recognition and categorization could rapidly become many orders of magnitude better than human capabilities and beyond current levels. Integration into a self-improving AGI might remain challenging even with those new capabilities, but by themselves super-pattern recognition and superfast categorization would have a lot of impact. They would be powerful tools and devices for accelerating scientific and technological progress. They would be powerful tools for people to use and could become integrated into daily use when costs come down. More progress in nanotechnology (not even full molecular nanotechnology) could bring the costs down and increase the capabilities.

British Anti-RPG Cloth,DARPA Instant Wound Healing Project and Genetic Blood Test for Early Infection Detection

1. Scientists have identified a genomic "signature" in circulating blood that reveals exposure to common upper respiratory viruses, like the cold or flu, even before symptoms appear.

The discovery could lead to dramatic changes in the way doctors care for the millions of people who develop upper respiratory infections every year. Ginsburg says the symptoms of a cold, the flu or pneumonia can appear similar, but right now, doctors can't tell what the patient really has until laboratory tests are conducted, and that can take days.

This approach could lead to more precise, informed and tailored therapy – essentially, personalized care for infectious disease. That's better for the patient and better for public health, in general.

Zaas and colleagues recruited 57 healthy volunteers who agreed to be inoculated with either a live cold virus (rhinovirus), the respiratory syncytial virus, or the influenza A virus. Researchers first took detailed baseline measures of genomic profiles in participants' blood, nasal fluid, breath and urine, and then inoculated the volunteers with one of the three viruses. They waited to see who became sick, and noted when symptoms first appeared, measuring markers of biological response at multiple time points after exposure. Volunteers were quarantined during the time they were infectious.

The research team studied changes in gene expression patterns in the participants' blood and identified 30 genes – many of which were already known to be active in the body's response to viral infections – whose expression patterns changed only among those who became symptomatic.

Investigators tested this "acute respiratory viral signature" in an independently acquired data set of gene expression patterns among people infected with influenza A and found that the signature was able to clearly distinguish with 100 percent accuracy between individuals who were infected and those who were not.


2. A shaped charge only works if it's detonated at the correct stand-off distance from the surface of the armour. This is done by having the detonator mounted ahead of the cone; in the case of an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) at the tip of the streamlined nose put on the end of the warhead in order to make it fly straight. TARIAN replaces metal bars or slats with super-strong, tough textile. The TARIAN cloth is stretched taut enough that it can, apparently, trigger an RPG just as well as a bar kit.

DARPA has announced that it intends to give Amsafe a $100,000 sole-source order for thirty "test articles". According to the military boffins "the proprietary Amsafe net technology shows unique promise in successfully defeating RPGs



3. The vision for the DARPA Restorative Injury Repair (RIR) Program is to fully restore the function of complex tissue (muscle, nerves, skin, etc.) after traumatic injury on the battlefield.

Phase I effort focused on defining the wound environment and generating a blastema in an otherwise non-regenerating animal. This work will be followed by a Phase II effort, which will culminate in the restoration of a functional multi-tissue structure in a mammal.


From Wired Magazine: Darpa’s solicitation: 85 percent of recent wartime injuries involved damage to the extremities and facial regions. That often means multiple surgeries, rehab and permanent disability for vets. They’re hoping to eliminate the injuries, and their long-term consequences, with a system that can reproduce in vitro tissues with the same structural and mechanical properties of the real stuff. And maybe make better versions: Darpa wants implanted results that will “replace, restore or improve tissue/organ function.”

Phase II of the project will see animal testing of the most promising systems. And Darpa foresees eventual use by military and civilian populations.


Restorative Injury Repair is on page 46 of this 57 page DARPA Strategic Plan Pdf document

The goal of the Restorative Injury Repair (RIR) program is to fully restore the function of complex tissue, such as muscle, nerves, and skin, after traumatic injury on the battlefield. These injuries include penetrating wounds as well as chemical and thermal burns, and musculoskeletal and blast overpressure injuries. RIR aims to replace nature’s process of “wound coverage” by fibrosis and scarring with true “wound healing” by regenerating fully differentiated, functional tissue at the wound site.

Improvements in body armor and medical care have increased the chances of survival, but also have led to more limb amputations. While current prosthetic leg technology is good and improving, prosthetic arm technology, involving so many more joints and movements, as well as the combined abilities to touch, sense, and manipulate fine objects, is much more challenging.

The ultimate goal of DARPA’s flagship prosthetics program, Revolutionizing Prosthetics, is to transform upper extremity prosthetics, specifically arms and hands, by developing a prosthetic arm that can be directly controlled by the brain, and which provides the manual dexterity and sensation brain feedback equivalent to a natural hand or arm.

DARPA has been making rapid progress toward this goal. Clinical trials have already begun at Walter Reed and Brooke Army Medical Centers with an intermediate-stage prototype arm that, while not neurally controlled and with less capability than the ultimate goal, is already the best in the world (Figure 34). For some patients who do not need or want a neurally controlled prosthetic, this prototype could constitute a quite satisfactory, practical, and perhaps even preferred long-term solution.


CNN Vital signs video on the restoration injury repair project

FURTHER READING
DARPA Highlights

NIST Achieves Sustained Operation Prove Feasability of "Large Scale" Quantum Computer


NIST's quantum artithmetic-logic unit demonstrated sustained operations that proved the feasibility of large-scale quantum computers.

NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) researchers report sustained operation of a large-scale trapped ion quantum computer. The NIST article has a video.

NIST's quantum artithmetic-logic unit demonstrated sustained operations that proved the feasibility of large-scale quantum computers. The quantum computer maintained a 94 percent accuracy rate in multistep operations for quantum bits. These qubits passed intermediate results to the next processing stage for up to 15 seconds. NIST's 94 percent accuracy rate will have to be raised to 99.9 percent to make quantum computing commercially feasible.

Science Express paper: Complete Methods Set for Scalable Ion Trap Quantum Information Processing

Large-scale quantum information processors must be able to transport and maintain quantum information, and repeatedly perform logical operations. Here, we demonstrate a combination of all the fundamental elements required to perform scalable quantum computing using qubits stored in the internal states of trapped atomic ions. We quantify the repeatability of a multi-qubit operation, observing no loss of performance despite qubit transport over macroscopic distances. Key to these results is the use of different pairs of 9Be+ hyperfine states for robust qubit storage, readout and gates, and simultaneous trapping of 24Mg+ "re-cooling" ions along with the qubit ions.


4 page pdf with supplemental information. The work was done with two qubits but prove that large scale trapped ion quantum computer can work.

The sequence of quantum operations used five arithmetic-logic operations--four single-qubit operations and a two-qubit operation--involving 10 transport operations. The sequence of operations took about 20 milliseconds and was repeated 3,150 times for each of 16 different starting states. The sustained operations could be performed for as long as 15 seconds before errors occurred. The current prototype used no error-correction procedures, but was constructed to test the limits of trapped-ion quantum computers.

Trapped-ion quantum computers store qubits on electrically charged atoms--NIST used beryllium ions--which were isolated inside a dark slit between the gold-covered alumina wafers measuring just 3.5 millimeters long and 200 microns wide. The trapped beryllium ions were moved among six zones in the trap. Operations were preformed using lasers to initialize the ions in a known quantum state, store data as operands, perform several one- and two-qubit operations during which intermediate results were transported between traps and then read out the final result.

"Next, we want to improve our accuracy, which involves building better, more powerful lasers," said Homes, "as well as demonstrate operations using more qubits in more complicated computing tasks




FURTHER READING

This site will update when NIST publishes the details of the work

Wikipedia on trapped ion quantum computers

2007 NIST paper : Towards scaling up trapped ion quantum information processing

Trapped ion quantum computers could scale to thousands of qubits

Synapse Project to Make an Artificial Human Brain Gets $16 million more from DARPA

IBM this week got an additional $16.1 million from DARPA for its Synapse project to make a computer hardware version of a human brain.

The Synapse project : ‘SyNAPSE’ is a backronym and stands for Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics. The stated purpose is to “investigate innovative approaches that enable revolutionary advances in neuromorphic electronic devices that are scalable to biological levels.”



While SyNAPSE basically seeks to replicate human brain function, DARPA has another project that seeks to develop an artificial intelligence system that can read, learn and develop knowledge about all manner of digital material in a quick, cost effective way. BBN Technology recently got $29.7 million to develop a prototype machine reading system that transforms prose into knowledge that can be interpreted by an artificial intelligence application.



FURTHER READING

the DARPA synapse project website

Brain on a chip project roundup from Hplusmagazine

DNA Nanotechnology For More Shapes and Tools



Wired has a feature on the rapidly progressing capabilities with DNA Nanotechnology

Original paper: "Folding DNA into Twisted and Curved Nanoscale Shapes," by Hendrik Dietz, Shawn M. Douglas, and William M. Shih, published in the August 7, 2009, issue of Science.

The ability to engineer complex shapes to custom specification likely will be as critical in realization of advanced functionality for nanoscale technology as it has been for macroscale technology. We used targeted insertions and deletions of base pairs in DNA double helices bundled as a crystal-like array to implement twisting of either handedness and to induce quantitatively controlled bending with radius of curvature as tight as only six nanometers. We also combined multiple curved elements to build diverse nanostructures such as a wireframe beach ball or square-toothed gears. Our new methods provide access to a rich diversity of shapes on the nanoscale.


The press release from the researcher William Shih and Hendrik Dietz:

Scientists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) and Harvard University have thrown the lid off a new toolbox for building nanoscale structures out of DNA, with complex twisting and curving shapes. In the August 7 issue of the journal Science, they report a series of experiments in which they folded DNA, origami-like, into three dimensional objects including a beachball-shaped wireframe capsule just 50 nanometers in diameter.

"Our goal was to find out whether we could program DNA to assemble into shapes that exhibit custom curvature or twist, with features just a few nanometers wide," says biophysicist Hendrik Dietz, a professor at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen. Dietz's collaborators in these experiments were Professor William Shih and Dr. Shawn Douglas of Harvard University. "It worked," he says, "and we can now build a diversity of three-dimensional nanoscale machine parts, such as round gears or curved tubes or capsules. Assembling those parts into bigger, more complex and functional devices should be possible."





As a medium for nanoscale engineering, DNA has the dual advantages of being a smart material – not only tough and flexible but also programmable – and being very well characterized by decades of study. Basic tools that Dietz, Douglas, and Shih employ are programmable self-assembly – directing DNA strands to form custom-shaped bundles of cross-linked double helices – and targeted insertions or deletions of base pairs that can give such bundles a desired twist or curve. Right-handed or left-handed twisting can be specified. They report achieving precise, quantitative control of these shapes, with a radius of curvature as tight as 6 nanometers.

The toolbox they have developed includes a graphical software program that helps to translate specific design concepts into the DNA programming required to realize them. Three-dimensional shapes are produced by "tuning" the number, arrangement, and lengths of helices.

In their current paper, the researchers present a wide variety of nanoscale structures and describe in detail how they designed, formed, and verified them. "Many advanced macroscopic machines require curiously shaped parts in order to function," Dietz says, "and we have the tools to make them. But we currently cannot build something intricate such as an ant's leg or, much smaller, a ten-nanometer-small chemical plant such as a protein enzyme. We expect many benefits if only we could build super-miniaturized devices on the nanoscale using materials that work robustly in the cells of our bodies – biomolecules such as DNA."



Demographic Reversal: Wealthier People are Starting to Have More Children


the Economist Magazine reports, Mikko Myrskyla of the University of Pennsylvania has a study which shows that wealthier people are starting to have more children. The wealthier are heading back up to replacement levels of 2 children per couple.

Dr Myrskyla speculates that the introduction of female-friendly employment policies in the most developed countries allows women to have the best of both worlds, and that this may contribute to the uptick.



Nature Article: Advances in development reverse fertility declines

During the twentieth century, the global population has gone through unprecedented increases in economic and social development that coincided with substantial declines in human fertility and population growth rates. The negative association of fertility with economic and social development has therefore become one of the most solidly established and generally accepted empirical regularities in the social sciences. As a result of this close connection between development and fertility decline, more than half of the global population now lives in regions with below-replacement fertility (less than 2.1 children per woman). In many highly developed countries, the trend towards low fertility has also been deemed irreversible. Rapid population ageing, and in some cases the prospect of significant population decline, have therefore become a central socioeconomic concern and policy challenge. Here we show, using new cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of the total fertility rate and the human development index (HDI), a fundamental change in the well-established negative relationship between fertility and development as the global population entered the twenty-first century. Although development continues to promote fertility decline at low and medium HDI levels, our analyses show that at advanced HDI levels, further development can reverse the declining trend in fertility. The previously negative development–fertility relationship has become J-shaped, with the HDI being positively associated with fertility among highly developed countries. This reversal of fertility decline as a result of continued economic and social development has the potential to slow the rates of population ageing, thereby ameliorating the social and economic problems that have been associated with the emergence and persistence of very low fertility.






The figure depicts the difference between the TFR in 1975 and 2005 compared to the lowest TFR that was observed while a country's HDI was within the 0.85–0.9 window. The (first) year in which this TFR is observed is denoted as the reference (ref.) year. For four particularly interesting and relevant countries, the United States (USA), Norway, the Netherlands (NL) and Japan, the graph shows the full path of the HDI–TFR development during the period 1975–2005. The figure includes all countries that attained an HDI 0.9 in 2005, with the exception of Slovenia for which no pre-1990 HDI time series could be constructed. For all countries, the HDI in 2005 is higher than the HDI in the reference year; for 18 of the 26 countries that attained a HDI 0.9 by 2005, the TFR in 2005 is higher than the TFR in the reference year. Countries ending in the top right quadrant in 2005 are Norway, the Netherlands, the United States, Denmark (1), Germany (2), Spain (3), Belgium (4), Luxembourg (5), Finland (6), Israel (7), Italy (8), Sweden (9), France (10), Iceland (11), the United Kingdom (12), New Zealand (13), Greece (14) and Ireland (15). Countries ending in the bottom-right quadrant in 2005 are Japan, Austria (16), Australia (17), Switzerland (18), Canada (19) and South Korea (20).

15 page pdf with supplemental information.

Nature Editors summary: Global population trends

The increasing wealth of nations is accompanied by a fall in fertility, so that in many developed (and developing) nations, fertility rates have dropped below the replacement value of about 2.1 births per woman. This 'birth dearth', together with the ageing of populations, presents many difficult social and political problems. But, based on new cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of the relationship between the total fertility rate and the human development index, Myrskylä et al. show that above a certain degree of economic development, fertility once again begins to rise, slowing the rate at which populations age. As a consequence, in contrast to the current popular and scientific debates, it seems likely that countries at the most advanced development stages will face a relatively stable population size, if not an increase in total population in cases where immigration is substantial.


Nature journal article: Demography: Babies make a comeback

August 05, 2009

Graphene has Current Carrying Capability 100-1000 times Copper and Graphane For Easier Electronic Device Construction

1. Recent research into the properties of graphene nanoribbons provides two new reasons for using the material as interconnects in future computer chips. In widths as narrow as 16 nanometers, graphene has a current carrying capacity approximately a thousand times greater than copper—while providing improved thermal conductivity.

Georgia Tech is claiming 100MA/cm2 current densities for graphene interconnect. Our measurements show that graphene nanoribbons have a current carrying capacity of more than 10^8A/cm2, while a handful of them exceed 109," said researcher Raghunath Murali. Thermal conductivity is also high - more than 1kW/m.K for structures less than 20nm wide.

2. In August’s Physics World, Kostya Novoselov - a condensed-matter physicist from the Manchester University group that discovered graphene -- explains how their discovery of graphane, an insulating equivalent of graphene, may prove more versatile still

Graphane has the same honeycomb structure as graphene, except that it is "spray-painted" with hydrogen atoms that attach themselves to the carbon. The resulting bonds between the hydrogen and carbon atoms effectively tie down the electrons that make graphene so conducting. Yet graphane retains the thinness, super-strength, flexibility and density of its older chemical cousin.

One advantage of graphane is that it could actually become easier to make the tiny strips of graphene needed for electronic circuits




Physicists in Manchester have found that by gradually binding hydrogen to graphene they are able to drive the process of transforming a conducting material into an insulating one and watch what happens in between.

Perhaps most importantly of all, the discovery of graphane opens the flood gates to further chemical modifications of graphene. With metallic graphene at one end and insulating graphane at the other, can we fill in the divide between them with, say, graphene-based semiconductors or by, say, substituting hydrogen for fluorine?

As Professor Novoselov writes, "Being able to control the resistivity, optical transmittance and a material’s work function would all be important for photonic devices like solar cells and liquid-crystal displays, for example, and altering mechanical properties and surface potential is at the heart of designing composite materials. Chemical modification of graphene – with graphane as its first example – uncovers a whole new dimension of research. The capabilities are practically endless."



Siggraph Emerging Technology : Touchable Holography, Scratch Interaction and Progress to Holodecks

There were a lot of Emerging technologies presented at Siggraph 2009 [see this link for the list]. Here are several of those emerging technologies.

Touchable Holography from the The University of Tokyo Ultrasound is used to focus force or sensation where it is precisely needed and wiimotes are used for handtracking.



Recently, mid-air displays are attracting a lot of attention in the fields of digital signage and home TV, and many types of holographic displays have been proposed and developed. Although we can "see" holograhpic images as if they are really floating in front of us, we cannot "touch" them, because they are nothing but light.

This project adds tactile feedback to the hovering image in 3D free space. Tactile sensation requires contact with objects, but including a stimulator in the work space dilutes the appearance of holographic images. The Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display solves this problem by producing tactile sensation on a user's hand without any direct contact and without diluting the quality of the holographic projection.



Scratch Input: Carnegie Mellon Ph.D student Chris Harrison created a gestural input interface using existing surfaces and an acoustic input technique. Harrison's interface uses scratches to communicate with his machine. By taping a modified stethoscope to a wall, Harrison got users to perform six scratch input gestures at about 90% accuracy with less than 5 minutes of training. If Scratch Input were utilized by a mobile manufacturer, a phone owner could simply rest their device on a table top and use it to scribble out messages.



Combine scratch input with projectors in cameras and cellphones and we will interactive large format displays in a portable form. Nikon just introduced a coolpix S1000pj camera with a built in projector



AN MIT system can reconstruct high-resolution 2.5-D surface data at interactive rates. An Interactive Retrographic Sensor for Touch, Texture, and Shape.

Jhai telemedicine solution for India and other low income countries which integrates with Telemedicine and EMR software.

Jhai Systems includes licensed, profitable, participatory, accountable, scalable sustainable franchise templates and consulting for entrepreneurs and donors who want to empower village entrepreneurs to help themselves and their villages by using ICT.

Multi-parameter Data Acquisition Unit
Measurements – 12-channel ECG, NiBP, Auscultation Sounds (Stethoscope), Temperature and Heart rate
Optional Pulse Oximeter and Spirometer probes available
Standalone PC software/ interface libraries for WinXP/ Win2K/ WinME/ Win98
Choice of serial or USB interface to the PC
Choice of semi-automatic or automatic BP measurement
Integrates with ReMeDi – SOFT, for a complete telemedicine and EMR solution

Neurosynaptic ReMeDi telemedicine solution: Includes self-contained re-chargeable battery, five probes, 2 way A/V at low bandwidth, low cost. Proposed price: $735+/- in quantity. Please see http://www.neurosynaptic.com/products_ReMeDi_MDAU.htm

Telemedicine and EMR software

Video, audio conferencing facility
Electronic Patient Medical Records
Medical data transfer, real-time audio/video conferencing at extremely low bandwidth
Standalone/ store-and-forward mode supported
Image capture and storage in patient records
Works with a normal configuration PC with web - camera, speakers and microphones.
Text chat facility
Integrates with ReMeDi - MDAU for a complete telemedicine solution





A better version of a floor of the holodeck has been made at McGill University This interface is intended for immersive virtual-reality and augmented-reality environments in which users walk over "natural" ground surfaces such as snow and ice.

Virtualization Gate : See a 3D model of yourself in a virtual environment and visually see yourself and others holding and interacting with that environment.

Users see the 3D model of their hands and the virtual object correctly positioned in their palms. It enables a first-person viewing and occlusion-free, co-located interactions. The 3D modeling system makes no assumption about the scene observed. One or several persons can stand in the acquisition space. The number of persons only affects the model quality and the computation time




Comparing Healthcare in Canada and the United States and the World

Wikipedia has a lengthy comparison of the healthcare systems in Canada and the United States.

UPDATE: Comparison study of many national healthcare programs around the world by the CATO institute H/T reader Mercy Vetsel for the link



The WHO (World Health Organization) is study bases its conclusions on such highly subjective measures as “fairness” and criteria that are not strictly related to a country’s health care system, such as “tobacco control.” For example, the WHO report penalizes the United States for not having a sufficiently progressive tax system, not providing all citizens with health insurance, and having a general paucity of social welfare programs. Indeed, much of the poor performance of the United States is due to its ranking of 54th in the category of fairness. The United States is actually penalized for adopting Health Savings Accounts and because, according to the WHO, patients pay too much out of pocket. Such judgments clearly reflect a particular political point of view, rather than a neutral measure of health care quality


Of course, there is no single model for national health care systems in other countries. Indeed, the differences from country to country are so great that the terms “national health care” or “universal coverage” can be misleading—as if one collective model shows how other countries deal with health care and health insurance. Each country’s system is the product of its unique conditions, history,
politics, and national character. Those systems range from the managed competition
approach of the Netherlands and Switzerland to the more rigid single-payer
systems of Great Britain, Canada and Norway, with many variations in between.

Ezra Klein of the American Prospect calls France “the closest thing to a model structure out there.”

Some countries, such as France and Japan, impose significant cost sharing on consumers in an effort to discourage overutilization and to control costs. The French system ranks at or near the top of most cross-country comparisons and is ranked number one by the WHO.

Although the French system is facing looming budgetary pressures, it does provide at least some level of universal coverage and manages to avoid many of the problems that afflict other national health care systems. However, it does so in large part by adopting market-oriented approaches, including consumer cost sharing. Other aspects of the system appear to reflect French customs and political attitudes in such a way that would make it difficult to import the system to the United States. France provides a basic level of universal health insurance through a series of mandatory, largely occupation-based, health insurance funds. These funds are ostensibly private entities but are heavily regulated and supervised by the French government. Premiums (funded primarily through payroll taxes), benefits, and provider reimbursement rates are all set by the government. In these ways the funds are similar to public utilities in the United States.


END UPDATE

Canadians spend about 55% of what Americans spend on health care and have longer life expectancy, and lower infant mortality rates. Many Americans have access to quality health care. All Canadians have access to similar care at a considerably lower cost.

In 1999, health administration costs totaled at least $294.3 billion in the United States, or $1,059 per capita, as compared with $307 per capita in Canada. After exclusions, administration accounted for 31.0 percent of health care expenditures in the United States and 16.7 percent of health care expenditures in Canada. Canada's national health insurance program had overhead of 1.3 percent; the overhead among Canada's private insurers was higher than that in the United States (13.2 percent vs. 11.7 percent). Providers' administrative costs were far lower in Canada.


The gap between U.S. and Canadian spending on health care administration has grown to $752 per capita. The administrative cost difference is a substantial part of the price difference.

Health care is one of the most expensive items of both nations’ budgets. In the United States, the various levels of government spend more per capita on health care than levels of government do in Canada. In 2004, Canada government-spending was $2,120 (in US dollars) per person on health care, while the United States government-spending $2,724.

However, U.S. government-spending covers less than half of all health care costs. Private spending for health care is also far greater in the U.S. than in Canada. In Canada, an average of $917 was spent annually by individuals or private insurance companies for health care, including dental, eye care, and drugs. In the U.S., this sum is $3,372. In 2006, health care consumed 15.3% of U.S. annual GDP. In Canada, only 10% of GDP was spent on health care. This difference is a relatively recent development. In 1971 the nations were much closer, with Canada spending 7.1% of GDP on health while the U.S. spent 7.6%.


In Canada, waiting is prioritized by patient according to relative urgency, with urgent patients receiving immediate access and the least urgent waiting longer. Studies by the Commonwealth Fund found that 42% of Canadians waited 2 hours or more in the emergency room, vs. 29% in the U.S.; 57% waited 4 weeks or more to see a specialist, vs. 23% in the U.S., but Canadians had more chances of getting medical attention at nights, or on weekends and holidays than their American neighbors without the need to visit an ER (54% compared to 61%). However, statistics from the free market think tank Fraser Institute in 2008 indicate that the average wait time between the time when a general practitioner refers a patient for care and the receipt of treatment was almost four and a half months in 2008, roughly double what it had been 15 years before.

There is online sources for tracking wait times at hospitals near your location in Canada (and similar sites in the US)



A Canadian systematic review concluded that differences in the health care systems of Canada and the United States could not alone explain differences in health care outcomes.

Canadians are, overall, statistically healthier than Americans and show lower rates of many diseases such as various forms of cancer. On the other hand, evidence suggests that with respect to some illnesses (such as breast cancer), those who do get sick have a higher rate of cure in the U.S. than in Canada

FURTHER READING
World Health Organization - World Healthcare Reports

Per Peterson on Pebble Bed Reactors Status


Status and Progress for the Pebble-Bed Advanced High
Temperature Reactor (AHTR) by Per Peterson Mar 2009 [53 page pdf]



Overview of intermediate and long term nuclear energy options
* Modular PB-AHTR design
900 MWth / 410 MWe
Core power density 20 - 30 MW/m3
Core inlet/outlet temps 600°C/704°C
Uses available ASME Section III Materials

* Modular PB-AHTR development

Only 1% of the cost of nuclear plant construction in the USA is for natural resources ($35/KW for natural resources - metal and concrete, out of recent $3500/KW construction cost).

Three primary options exist for long-term, sustainable nuclear energy systems
• Fast neutron spectrum reactors
– Uranium-238 based fuel cycle
– Increased fission/capture probability (good neutron economy)
– Large transuranic inventories and complex reactivity control
• Thermal neutron spectrum reactors
– Thorium-232 based fuel cycle
– Requires highly efficient neutron economy (liquid fuels best)
– Small transuranic inventories and simple reactivity control
• Fission/fusion thermal spectrum hybrid reactors
– Uranium-238 or Thorium-232 based fuel cycle
– Abundant neutrons
– Small transuranic inventories and simple reactivity control
– Requires workable fusion power source








Comparison of PB-AHTR with the PBMR:
– 2 x power output per reactor
– ~30 MWth/m^3 core power density versus 4.8 MWth/m^3
– large reduction in vessel size
– atmospheric pressure operation
– 4 x reduction in spent fuel volume per unit of electricity/process steam
produced
– maximum fuel temperature during transients/accidents reduced from 1600°C to 1000°C



Faster and Cheaper Nuclear Plant Construction



An 83 page presentation on the Westinghouse AP1000 and the recent Korean experience with nuclear plant construction.

Schedule Validation With 4D Tools
Allows the details of construction, erection and test activities as well as their interactions to be worked out well in advance of actual construction.
Primavera linked to Intergraph Smart Plan was used for the AP1000.

Intergraph has articles discussing their Smart Plan software successes.

Korea's Successes with Faster and Cheaper Construction

Korea's nuclear plants are being built faster and cheaper.










The AP1000 uses 5 times less concrete and steel as older nuclear plants to generate the same power.


Uprating Existing Nuclear Reactors

The design of every U.S. commercial reactor has the excess capacity needed to potentially allow for an uprate, which can fall into one of three categories: 1) measurement uncertainty recapture power uprates, 2) stretch power uprates, and 3) extended power uprates.
1) Measurement uncertainty recapture power uprates are power increases less than 2 percent of the licensed power level, and are achieved by implementing enhanced techniques for calculating reactor power. This involves the use of state of the art devices to more precisely measure feedwater flow which is used to calculate reactor power. More precise measurements reduce the degree of uncertainty in the power level which is used by analysts to predict the ability of the reactor to be safely shut down under possible accident conditions.
2) Stretch power uprates are typically between 2 % and 7 %, with the actual increase in power depending on a plant design's specific operating margin. Stretch power uprates usually involve changes to instrumentation settings but do not involve major plant modifications.
3) Extended power uprates are greater than stretch power uprates and have been approved for increases as high as 20 %. Extended power uprates usually require significant modifications to major pieces of non-nuclear equipment such as high-pressure turbines, condensate pumps and motors, main generators, and/or transformers.
Exelon’s uprate projects use proven technologies and are overseen by the US? Nuclear Regulatory Commission(NRC.) They fall into four general categories:

* "Measurement uncertainty recapture" (MUR) uprates, in which more accurate metering allows more precise reactor operations and more electrical output. MUR uprates increase reactor thermal power and require NRC approval.
* Extended power uprates, in which reactor power can be safely increased by up to 20 % after careful, rigorous analysis, equipment upgrades and NRC approval.
* Generator rewinds, in which replacing certain generator components with new copper makes it possible for the generator to produce more electricity. Power plants will continue to meet all NRC license basis requirements.
* Turbine retrofits, in which advanced technology has allowed production of new and better shapes and sizes of turbine parts, such as blades, rotors and casings. These new parts make the turbines more efficient, akin to improving the gas mileage on an automobile by using computer-controlled fuel injection rather than a carburetor. Power plants will continue to meet all NRC license basis requirements.

An approximate 38-megawatt increase in output at an Exelon Nuclear plant last week launched a series of planned power uprates across the company’s nuclear fleet that will generate between 1,300 and 1,500 MW of additional generation capacity within eight years.

Annular Fuel (Dual Cooled Fuel) Progressing to Implementation in Korea

There is advanced nuclear fuel technology under development which could enable a significant increase in nuclear power generation. The technology is referred to as annular fuel or dual cooled fuel. The new fuels could enable ultra power uprates for existing pressure water reactors of from 20-50% by safely enabling a higher power density and uprates for existing boiler water reactors by 20-30%.

Annular fuel is especially well suited for pressurized water reactors, which make up 60% of the world's 443 reactors. The designer, MIT Professor Pavell Hejzlar says that utilities in the U.S., Japan, and South Korea have expressed interest in his design. The annular fuel would boost power by up to 50%. Nanoparticles in fluid would boost power by 20% for existing reactors and 40% for new reactors. Cross-shaped spiral design would boost boiler water reactors by 30%. The MIT fuel is thin walled donuts with pellets inside and using nanoparticles in the fluid.

Korea is studying MIT’s annular fuel and they think can achieve 20% uprates with minimal changes to the existing plants.

Research abstract on the work to resolve the details of implementing annular fuel for Korean reactors

Technical paper on Korean annular fuel research

Annular fuel allows PWR (what is PWR) power density to be raised by 50% within current safety limits. The sintered fuel pellets appear viable with appropriate manufacturing need lead tests. Annular fuel uprating is economic, depending on plant remaining lifetime, with IRR (pls spell out IRR) from 20% to 27%

A Potential of Dual Cooled Annular Fuel for OPR-1000 Power Uprate
T-H Chun, C-W Shin, W-K In, K-H Lee, K-H Bae, K-W Song (KAERI-Korea)

A highly promising concept of externally and internally cooled annular fuel for PWRs was studied earlier by MIT to increase the power density substantially. The reference plant of the study was the standard Westinghouse PWR. The purpose of this study is to evaluate a potential of the annular fuels for the OPR-1000 in Korea in terms of power uprate along with different constraints. The constraints are those considerations like more adaptive to the existing power plants by means with fewer changes on the plant system components and less impact on the current fuel design practice. Specifically, first of all, the fuel array configuration has to be structurally compatible with the current solid fuel in the operation of current control rod driving mechanism. Others are no reactor coolant pump changes, same core outlet temperature in standpoint of the plant system and operation, and 3 batch reload, fuel enrichment less than 5 w/o, maximum fuel burn-up less than 60 Mwd/kgU for the fuel management scheme. In this paper a proposed annular fuel for OPR will show the satisfaction of power uprate up to 20% through the reactor physics analysis, thermal-hydraulic analysis and safety analysis.

Structural integrity of the components of a dual-cooled fuel rod is studied in this paper. The investigated topics are: i) the thickness determination of a cladding tube (especially outer tube of a large diameter), ii) vibration issue of an inner cladding tube, iii) design concern of plenum spring and spacer.

A Study on the Structural Integrity Issues of a Dual-Cooled Fuel Rod
Hyung-Kyu Kim*, Kang-Hee Lee, Young-Ho Lee, Kyung-Ho Yoon, Jae-Yong Kim, Kun-Woo Song
Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute,

Irradiation Test of Dual-cooled Annular Fuel Pellets
Yong Sik Yang1, Dae Ho Kim1, Je Geon Bang1, Hyung Kyu Kim1, Tae Hyun Chun1, Keon
Sik Kim1, Chul Gyo Seo2, Hee Taek Chae2, Kun Woo Song1 Innovative Nuclear Fuel Division,

Thermo-mechanical analysis of a dual cooled annular fuel behavior
Ju-Seong Kima, Yong-Soo Kima+, Yong-Sik Yangb, Je-Geon Bangb, KunWoo Songb
a Hanyang University, bKorea Atomic Energy Research Institute,

The maximum temperature of the annular pellet turn out to be below 700_, even in 200% power up-rated conditions, pellet temperature remains below 950_. Furthermore in accident conditions, sub-channel local boiling occurs, pellet temperature is still below 1000_ that is very small value compare to existing solid fuel.