September 05, 2009

NanoPen: Low-Power, and Light-Actuated Patterning of Nanoparticles

Nanoletters Journal: NanoPen: Dynamic, Low-Power, and Light-Actuated Patterning of Nanoparticles (H/t Brett Coalson)

We introduce NanoPen, a novel technique for low optical power intensity, flexible, real-time reconfigurable, and large-scale light-actuated patterning of single or multiple nanoparticles, such as metallic spherical nanocrystals, and one-dimensional nanostructures, such as carbon nanotubes. NanoPen is capable of dynamically patterning nanoparticles over an area of thousands of square micrometers with light intensities <10 W/cm2 (using a commercial projector) within seconds. Various arbitrary nanoparticle patterns and arrays (including a 10 × 10 array covering a 0.025 mm2 area) are demonstrated using this capability. One application of NanoPen is presented through the creation of surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy hot-spots by patterning gold nanoparticles of 90 nm diameter with enhancement factors exceeding 10^7 and picomolar concentration sensitivities.

The NanoPen could provide a quick, convenient way of laying down patterns of nanoparticles — from wires to circuits — for making electronic devices, medical diagnostic tests, and other applications.

7 pages of supporting info on the nanopen.

Patterning of Multi-wall Carbon Nanotubes
The NanoPen patterning process of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) is seen below. It is important to note that during the patterning process, the CNTs are oriented vertically due to the torque experienced by 1-dimensional nanostructures in the electrical fields. However, after the patterning process is completed and the AC voltage is removed, the 1-dimensional structures fall on the surface with random orientations which increases the effective linewidth of the patterned structures. One potential way to achieve better orientation of these structures would be to use a lateral field optoelectronic tweezer (LOET) device.

Optical Quantum Computing and a Complete Methods Set for Scalable Ion Trap Quantum Information Processing

1. New Scientist reports that the codebreaking quantum computer algorithm (shors algorithm for factoring) has been run on a silicon chip.

Journal Science abstract: Shor’s Quantum Factoring Algorithm on a Photonic Chip

Shor’s quantum factoring algorithm finds the prime factors of a large number exponentially faster than any other known method, a task that lies at the heart of modern information security, particularly on the Internet. This algorithm requires a quantum computer, a device that harnesses the massive parellism afforded by quantum superposition and entanglement of quantum bits (or qubits). We report the demonstration of a compiled version of Shor’s algorithm on an integrated waveguide silica-on-silicon chip that guides four single-photon qubits through the computation to factor 15.

BBC News reports: The Bristol team's approach makes use of waveguides - channels etched into the chips that provide a path for the photons around the chips like the minuscule wires in conventional electronics.

The work, reported in Science, is rudimentary but could easily be scaled up to handle more complex computing.

While Professor O'Brien said he is confident that such waveguides are the logical choice for future optical quantum computers, he added that there is still a significant amount of work to do before they make it out of the laboratory.

"To get a useful computer it needs to be probably a million times more complex, so a full-scale useful factoring machine is still at least two decades away," he said.

"But this is one important step in that direction."

The device performs a compiled version of the quantum routine in Shor's algorithm.

A study demonstrates that complex quantum circuits can be built relatively easily out of silicon and silica – a significant milestone on the road to full-blown quantum computing.

Fifteen years ago, Peter Shor, a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, predicted that quantum computers could beat even the most powerful supercomputers and crack the widely used RSA encryption algorithm.

The 26-millimetre-long chip was designed and built using standard fabrication processes by Jeremy O'Brien, Jonathan Matthews and Alberto Politi at the University of Bristol, UK. It can run Shor's algorithm in cut-down form – confirming that 3 and 5 multiply to form 15, which is the simplest possible demonstration.

Unlike the silicon chips inside conventional computers, the Bristol team's chip uses light rather than electricity. Light-transmitting silica on a silicon wafer guides photons with entangled quantum properties around, an approach first demonstrated by the same team last year.

White points out that the technology used to generate individual photons to feed into the chip, and to detect them as they emerge, is not efficient, fast or compact enough yet. Although the new chip is only 26 mm long, it has to be surrounded by a whole table top of that equipment.

2 pages of supplemental information on photonic quantum computing.

2. Abstract from Journal Science: 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 show a combination of all of the fundamental elements required to perform scalable quantum computing through the use of qubits stored in the internal states of trapped atomic ions. We quantified the repeatability of a multiple-qubit operation and observed 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.

The Supporting Online Materials provide further details about the sympathetic cooling, the use of state-dependent forces to implement a geometric phase gate using multiple motional modes, transfer between the gate and memory qubit manifolds, state detection and error analysis for quantum process tomography. [4 pages of Supplemental information]

German Researchers Make Steel Velcro Fastener

Hook and loop fasteners made of spring steel have now been developed at the Institute of Metal Forming and Casting of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen. These fasteners are resistant to chemicals and can withstand a tensile load of up to 35 tonnes per square meter at temperatures as high as 800°C.

It appears that there could be uses for steel velcro in rapid manufacturing.

“The unbeatable advantage of a hook and loop fastener is that it is easy to close and open again,” explains Josef Mair, a scientist from the Institute of Metal Forming and Casting (utg) at the TU Muenchen.

The researchers opted to use spring steel, which unites high ductility with high strength, as the material for their fastener. They created various three-dimensional models for the optimum interlocking of the fastener elements on the computer. They then built the most promising candidates as prototypes and subjected them to comprehensive tests. Around 40 variations of the geometry referred to as “Flamingo” alone were tested on the computer. The researchers studied its adhesive strength and reaction to extreme temperatures to establish the limits of its resilience.

Two of the tested models ultimately made the grade: a spring lock, the Flamingo, and a hook and loop system known as the “Entenknopf” (“duck’s head”). Both consist of 0.2-mm-thick hook tape and loop or perforated tape of the same thickness. The “duck’s head” model is based on the traditional synthetic hook and loop system. Numerous delicate steel hooks can attach at any angle to the loops in the perforated metal loop tape.

The second variant, the Flamingo, is even more stable. It consists of wider hook elements that snap into the openings in a perforated tape. They are bent in such a way that they deform elastically under light pressure and glide into the holes like the synthetic buckles on backpack straps. Once inserted, they return immediately to their original form and, thanks to their sprung splaying arms, they resist back pull like an expanding rivet.

In order for the hooks to be able to snap into place, they must first, however, be positioned at the correct angle, that is parallel or perpendicular to the perforated tape. Depending on the direction of the applied force, this fastener can withstand a load of 7 to 35 Newtons per square meter. Following an initial loss of around 20 percent during the first ten tests, the adhesive strength remained constant in the numerous repetitions.

“The animal names arose as a way of differentiating between the multifaceted models. The hook forms of the two systems are vaguely reminiscent of a duck’s head and a flamingo standing on one leg,” explains Mr. Mair. The scientists have also come up with a third alternative, the “hybrid” model which combines a steel hook tape with a synthetic loop tape and is suitable for the secure and reversible fastening of textiles.

Metaklett is basically suitable for use in all areas that require easily opened but stable fasteners, for example air-conditioning and ventilation systems in building services engineering and automotive construction. As the Jury of the German Stahl-Innovationspreis (Steel Innovation Award) noted in its appraisal of the project: “Metaklett is suitable for a wide variety of applications, in which the combination of simple production and a high level of resilience in the fastener is crucial.” The metal hook and loop fastener succeeded in overcoming over 100 competing projects on June 30, 2009, to take third place in this award process, which only takes place every three years.

September 04, 2009

Mach Effect: Interview with Paul March and an Update on the Work of James Woodward

STAIf 2007- Mach-Lorentz Thruster (MLT)Applications presentation by Paul March.

1-G Space Drive

One-G constant acceleration and deceleration space drive would mean Earth-to-moon in 4 hours, Earth to Mars in 2-5 days, Earth to Saturn in 8-9 days.

If the Mach Effect is real [mass fluctations) and behaves as theorized (with some experimental confirmation) by James Woodward and the effect scales up as expected then we can create reactionless drive.

Over a century has passed since Ernst Mach conjectured that the cause of inertia should somehow be causally related to the presence of the vast bulk of the matter (his “fixed stars”) in the universe. Einstein translated this conjecture into “Mach’s principle” (his words) and attempted to incorporate a version of it into general relativity theory (GRT) by introducing the “cosmological constant” term into his field equations for gravity. Einstein ultimately abandoned his attempts to incorporate Mach’s principle into GRT. But in the early 1950s Dennis Sciama revived interest in the “origin of inertia”.

James Woodward 1990 Mach Effect Conjecture:
* Mach's principle and local Lorentz-invariance together yield the prediction of transient mass fluctuations in accelerated masses that concurrently change their internal energy states.”

* “The resulting mass fluctuations, in both principle and practice, can be quite large and, in principle at least, negative.”

* “The M-E derivation is relativistically invariant, so the conservation laws are automatically satisfied”

*“No New Physics is involved

Woodward demonstrated in 2002 that something like his negative wormhole term’s mass fluctuation exists, for his piezoelectric stack based device lost 1.2% of its apparent weight when excited by 400 watts of 66.6 kHz ac power while in a vacuum.

MLT Output Force Scaling Rules and Energy Conservation

Proportional to the applied vxB Magnetic-field
The CUBE of the applied Cap Voltage
The CUBE of the MLT Operating Frequency
The SQUARE of the Cap dielectric constant
The thickness of the Cap Dielectric
Proportional to the total active Dielectric Mass
But Inversely Proportional to the Cap Density

The MLT LOCAL input energy required to generate a specific thrust could be much less than a rocket’s equivalent jet-power of equal power or thrust.

Every non-local Joule produced by the MLT has to come from spacetime momenergy wave exchanges with the universe’s gravinertial (G/I) radiation field.

The source of this G/I radiation field is the mass-energy contained in the causally connected universe’s estimated 10^80 atoms and perhaps the “Dark Energy.”

Published results up to 2007
James F. Woodward ~1988-to-2007 with max thrust: up to 750 micro-Newton (mN) measured, with ~25 mN verified at ~53kHz with Faraday Shielded MLT in Vacuum – end of 2006
Hector Brito ~1993-to-2005 with max Self-Contained Slepian Thrust measured: up to ~50 mN at 39kHz
Tom Mahood 1997-to-2007 with max acoustically rectified thrust developed: ~0.03-to-15.0 mN at up to 50kHz / 100kHz, measured with the U-80 & torque pendulum force sensors
Paul March 2002-to-2007 with max MLT thrust developed: up to ~1k-to-5k mN in two different experiments at 2-to-4MHz
Nembo Buldrini 2005-to-2006 with max MLT C-O thrust measured: ~20mN at ~53kHz, but claimed unexpected results

See this site for more links and research

Projected Timeline from 2007 if there was some DARPA/NASA or other funding [Note: Obama Space commission is talking about reviving Nasa Advanced Ideas group]
Recycled Propellant Propulsion 2015
HFGW Radio 2020
G/I Power Generators 2025
G/I Thermal Radiators 2030
G-Field Generators 2035
Space Propulsion (1-G drive) 2040

This is not faster than light, but it would mean the solar system would be completely open. It also can solve the cost issue of getting into orbit.

A video of a test of a Mach Effect device in operation

The Paul March Interview

Paul March works at Johnson Space Center on the Project Orion electrical power system. He also designed the nuclear-DCX (a nuclear thermal rocket design) and he has written papers and presented on the Mach Effect.

Question "I saw the prediction of a 15-25 year development timeline."

At the rate we are going, 15-to-25 years may be optimistic now, for we have been able to generate zero outside support for this M-E effort at DARPA and NASA. The idea of extracting energy and momentum from the gravinertial field for power and propulsion is just too new, foreign & quackish to most folks who control the R&D coins. So until we can develop and demonstrate an M-E thruster with at least 10 milli-Newton thrust and preferably much higher, (A Newton would do nicely.), this sorry state of affairs will continue.

Question "What are the key technological and material developments that are needed to realize a 50 MHz MLT drive?"

Key technological issues for any working high thrust MLT center around developing a high-k / low mechanical fatigue dielectric (e-r> 1,000) that simultaneously provides a magnetic permeability greater than 10 and preferably 100. The latter requirement is driven by the need to maximize the crossed B-field in the dielectric that will in turn maximize the vxB Lorentz force generated during the mass fluctuation derived force rectification process.

Question "Is there some key scaled test (500KHz ?) that could unambiguously produce enough force to prove this to the doubters?"

That is where we are currently fighting our way up the M-E mountain. Jim W. performed a yearlong M-E proof of principle test series that ended last May that showed to those who are familiar with the issues of electrostriction in high-K ceramics that there IS a mass fluctuation signal generated when a time rate of change of energy flux in a capacitor is multiplied by a constant or time varying acceleration. However since the cap's high-k dielectric's electrostriction signal is in antiphase with the M-E delta mass signal for this test series, the data does take some educated interpretation instead of just a clean yes/no answer to the question of do mass fluctuations exist under the required conditions. I can pass along Jim's summary paper on this M-E proof of principle work if you would like.

This fall Jim indicated that he also wants to build a third generation M-E shuttler device based on Tom Mahood's 1998 second generation work using all the lessons learned to date to see if a convincing M-E thruster demonstrator can be built. Since Jim has a very sensitive torque pendulum that he & Tom Mahood built at Fullerton, (resolution to ~0.5 micro-Newton), his new test article doesn't need to produce more than say 100 micro-Newton to demonstrate a convincing test of the M-E, provided one is educated in the ways of these kinds of tests at least.

My current M-E experiment is the MLT-2009 that will run at 51 MHz and uses a low-k high-Q Teflon dielectric for the vxB cap. The test article is built, but I'm currently wading through RF drive problems for it before I can start testing. Predicted thrust levels are anywhere from zero to Newtons dependent on a number of variables I have little or no control over yet.

The 2009 3rd generation shuttler device that is to be tested through the end of 2009 by James Woodward

Question "The reaction to the unidirectional force proven with the work you did in 2007?"

Actually the Mach-2MHz work was reported in my and Andrew Palfreyman's STAIF-2006 paper and even though the unidirectional forces reported where above 1.0 milliNewton, in the eyes of the scientific community Woodward's and my work is still considered "spurious noise" and nothing more. Paradigm changing takes a lot of effort and data...

Question "What is a near term achievable work that could be done in 5 years?"

It depends on the health of Jim Woodward and the time and resources I can to bring bear on my M-E work. I'm working full time on the NASA Project Orion electrical power system at JSC and until I get a break from that, I don't have much time or energy to push the M-E wagon.

Question "What do you think of the EMdrive work?"

The proposed E&M/SRT conjecture IMO is garbage. The experimental results is tantalizing, but it has to be repeated in a vacuum chamber to get rid of possible spurious error sources for the thrust signatures observed. If it still moves in a 1x10-4 Torr vacuum, then we have to explain what is going on in view of Jim's work.

EMDrive site

Question "Comment on other Lorentz force propulsion work"

This is conventional electric induction motor effect that is well understood in the current electrical sciences. My concern is over the possible maximum level of magnitude of this effect with realistic power supplies that a satellite can provide. In other words its merits have yet to be proven, to me at least.

Question "What is useful background information to understand this work?"

Dr. Woodward's California State University web page which has an excellent write up on his M-E conjecture. See: and first check out his "Gravitation" page and his "Origins of Inertia" essays.

"How much budget is needed for the third generation shuttler device ? Is that in hand ?"

Dr. Woodward has already fabricated the third gen parts, see attached picture, and he just needs a few weeks in his Fullerton lab to assemble them and then install the new test article in his ARC-Lite torque pendulum/vacuum chamber test rig before testing starts.

Question "How long will it take to test it ?"

Once debugged, the initial results should be evident within a week's worth of trial runs, but it's the debugging time that can vary all over the lot depending on whether the Lab gods are for you or against you that week. I'd guess that if Jim stays healthy he could have it done by Thanksgiving if not before.

Question "If that worked what would the next steps be for fourth or fifth generation device ?"

That's up to Jim, but you need to keep in mind that Dr. Woodward is retired and fighting lung cancer that was in remission the last time I asked him.

Question "Is it the high-k that is the more difficult characteristic or the / low mechanical fatigue dielectric (e-r> 1,000) or the magnetic permeability greater than 10 and preferably 100."

All of the above. The stored energy in a cap for a given applied voltage is proportional to the capacitance & therefore the relative dielectric constant of the dielectric so higher k is better. As to fatigue, we have found these high-k ceramic dielectric as exemplified by the Vishay/Cera-Mite Y5U, (e-r=~5,000), barium titanate ceramic blend's expression of the M-E mass fluctuation signal fades with constant usage, but returns to near normal after a rest period of days or when it is heated above its Curie temperature for a few hours. For a reliable thruster system we would have to find a least one way to extend this "fatigue" lifetime so it occurs over tens of thousands of hours instead of minutes of operating time. The large magnetic permeability is required to make the vxB toroidal magnetic circuit in the MLT much stronger so the rectified force output can be increased by the same desired permeability factor of 10 to 100 for a given mass fluctuation figure over the current dismal performance of the Y5U dielectric that has a magnetic permeability of 1.0. Lastly since the electrostrictive effect in the high-k caps subtracts from the M-E signal until the M-E signal simply neutralizes it, finding a high-k, but low electrostrictive constant material would be ideal. So the optimum dielectric for MLTs would therefore be a material with a dielectric constant of say ~10,000, a magnetic permeability of ~100, an electrostrictive constant at least two orders of magnitude down from the current electrostrictive constant of barium titanate, and a half thrust fatigue lifetime of say 100,000 hours. The only outfit that has ever played this game is I think MuRata and they were using it for EMI filters for printed circuits. DARPA and others R&D houses are primarily pushing high energy density caps, which simultaneously optimizes the k and voltage handling capabilities of the caps which is good thing for MLT caps, but they are not sufficient. When we can get some folks optimizing dielectric blends that can meet our above requirements is when useable 10,000+ Newton MLTs will start to become a reality.


There is a need to control the magnitude of the piezoelectric effect coefficient in the optimum M-E dielectric. We are still debating whether a large or small piezoelectric constant is best for M-E based thruster because that is dependent on the type of M-E thruster that is built. And that call affects whether the piezoelectric induced cap motions help or hinder the bulk acceleration of the accelerated dielectric when being driven cyclically. In either case though, the manufactures of such M-E caps will have to control this parameter whereas they do not do so in standard energy storage caps that use barium titanate ceramic as their base material like the Cera-Mite Y5U ceramic. Its piezoelectric constant is all over the barn from part to part and can vary over an order of magnitude or more in lots of 50.

Question "Is there some other question that you would like to provide the answer to or highlight so that someone reading this would take away an important insight ?"

Not at the moment but you or any other interested parties in the M-E need to read everything at Jim W.'s web site and some of his Foundations of Physics and STAIF papers including his seminal 2004 Origins of Inertia paper that is attached. After you've waded through all that you might also check out Denis Sciama's 1953 Origins of inertia papers, which Jim W. bases his work on. Let me warn you though there is still several loose ends surrounding Woodward's & Sciama's work and they rest primarily around how is inertial reaction force's momentum and energy conveyed effectively instantaneously between the distant mass in the universe to the locally accelerated mass Jim's take on this question is that it has to be via radiation reaction forces conveyed by forward and backwards in time momenergy fluxes in the universe's ambient gravity field that gives rise to inertial effects in universes that salute Mach's principle. However there might also be another complimentary explanation and that is we actually do live in a hyperdimensional realm where gravitational momentum and energy AKA momenergy propagate thru higher dimensions as exemplified by String Theory's 11 dimensional Brane Multiverse.

That's all for now and have a great day.


Successful lorentz force propulsion experiment

Nextbigfuture proposal that lorentz force propulsion could accelerate fuel to a nuclear pulse propulsion space ship.

The Frontiers of Propulsion Science book has a chapter related to the Mach Effect work. There was also a study in the NASA Breakthrough Propulsion Projects.

Other US Legislation

Forbes has a list of other US Legislation [besides Healthcare, climate change and finance regulatory reform.

Appropriations: Aside from health care reform, this will be Congress' main task between now and December, as the Senate has only approved four of the 12 appropriations bills.

Defense spending: Perhaps the most contentious of the spending bills now in play. in July, the House of Representatives passed a $636 billion defense spending bill, cutting additional funding for some programs, like the F-22 fighter jet

Debt limit: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said it is "critically important that Congress act" to raise the government's $12.1 trillion statutory debt limit "as soon as possible."

Telecom: Many telecom issues have been pushed aside to make way for health care and other pending Democratic priorities, but some things are likely to pass.

Union membership: Since the beginning of the year, the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make it easier for workers to join unions, has been the lobbying focus for organized labor. They've met a formidable wall of opposition, led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Upcoming in the SENS4 conference Schedule

Talks that are scheduled for Sunday, Sept 6, 2009 at the SENS4 conference.

Session 21 Tissue engineering (Chair: Leonid Gavrilov)
Augustinus Bader Leipzig, Germany
Currently Available Therapies with Autologous Stem Cells - From Basic Principles to Clinical Application

Gabor Forgacs Columbia, USA
Organ Engineering by Bioprinting

Biomaterials-based exogenous scaffolds, though promising, still face general as well as specific challenges. Scaffolds may elicit adverse host responses and interfere with direct cell-cell interaction, as well as assembly and alignment of cell-produced extracellular matrix. Thus, fabrication techniques for production of scaffold-free engineered tissue constructs have recently emerged. Here we describe a novel fully biological self-assembly approach, which we implement through a rapid prototyping bioprinting method. The approach utilizes bio-ink particles, convenient multicellular units, either spheroids or cylinders of controlled diameter (300 to 500 μm), that are deposited with specifically designed bio-printers. The cellular composition of the bio-ink and the deposition scheme are respectively consistent with the cellular composition and topology of the desired biological construct. We use the method for scaffold-free small diameter vascular reconstruction and nerve regeneration. Various vascular cell types, including smooth muscle cells and fibroblasts, are aggregated into the bio-ink units. These are printed layer-by-layer concomitant with agarose rods, used here as a molding template. The post-printing fusion of the discrete units results in single- and double-layered small diameter vascular tubes. A unique aspect of the method is the ability to engineer vessels of distinct shapes, complex internal geometry, in case of nerve grafts, and hierarchical trees that combine tubes of distinct diameters, in the case of vascular grafts. The technique is quick and easily scalable.

Sally Dickinson Bristol, UK
The first clinical transplantation of a tissue engineered airway

Session 22 The longer term (Chair: Augustinus Bader)

Philip Moriarty Nottingham, UK
Molecular Nanotechnology in the Real World: How Feasible is a Nanofactory?

I will critically assess MNT (molecular Nanotechnology) from the perspective of an experimental nanoscientist, focussing in particular on the aims and objectives of a recently-funded programme of work on computer-controlled assembly of diamond nanostructures, e.g. via mechanosynthesis

Leonid Gavrilov Chicago, USA
Demographic consequences of defeating aging

Even for very long 50-year projection horizon [with defeat of aging], with the most radical life extension scenario (assuming no aging at all after age 50), the total population increases by 35 percent only (from 9.1 to 13.3 billion).

Nickolas Mayer Satellite Beach, USA
The Lifenaut Project: a multifaceted experiment in data storage for future machine consciousness learning

The goal of the Lifenaut Project has been to create a diverse, large-scale database consisting of real people's personality archives such that future intelligent agents can learn rapidly by uploading archived data rather than experiencing events in real time. A learning protocol such as this would increase the rate of progress in the field of machine consciousness and may be more effectively tested than real time learning protocols, since in many cases a frame of reference will exists for comparison with the replicated consciousness.

A web-based personality archiving architecture ( has been created and promoted to the general public as such. Through this web-based interface anyone worldwide with an internet connection can create a "mindfile" free of charge. The mindfile consists of: personality test results, personal profile data, uploaded biographical media, and an archive of the user's lines of conversation with a chatbot. Since its kickoff in 2006, Lifenaut has undergone 3 major iterations and each user's mindfile is tapped into the iCogno chatbot engine combined with an InterMediaLab photo-based avatar. At the time of this writing 8,702 from around the globe have created Lifenaut accounts. Agents resulting from long-term user interaction with the Lifenaut software will be tested with the ConsScale 2 consciousness taxonomy (Arrables-Moreno).

Other Sessions

Sept 4, 2009

Session 5 Eliminating recalcitrant intracellular molecules: the lysosome (Chair: Alex Whitworth)

Session 6 Eliminating recalcitrant intracellular molecules: other (Chair: Ana Maria Cuervo)

Session 7 Panel discussion and short talks (Chair: John Furber)

Session 8 Short talks (Chair: Alex Zhavoronkov)

Session 9 Rejuvenating extracellular material: amyloid (Chair: Kendall Houk)

Session 10 Rejuvenating extracellular material: other (Chair: Nik Nikitin)

Sept 5, 2009

Session 11 Telomeres and telomerase (Chair: Cassian Yee)

Maria Blasco Madrid, Spain
Role of Shelterin in Cancer and Aging

Vera Gorbunova Rochester, USA
Evolution of anticancer mechanisms in short- and long-lived species

David Keefe Tampa, USA
Telomeres and Reproductive Aging

Session 12 Novel anti-cancer approaches (Chair: Vera Gorbunova)

Paul Hallenbeck Malvern, USA
Phase I study of Seneca Valley Virus (SVV-001), a replication competent oncolytic virus, in patients with neuroendocrine (NE) cancers

Adela Ben-Yakar Austin, USA
Femtosecond laser nanosurgery from shedding light on nerve regeneration to aiding in cancer diagnosis and therapy

Cassian Yee Seattle, USA
Engineering Tumor Immunity: Adoptive T Cell Therapy of Cancer

Session 13 SENS Lecture and short talks (Chair: Silvia Gravina)
Moses Znaimer Toronto, Canada
SENS Lecture: Canada - Harbinger of the Zoomer Phenomenon (Chair: Aubrey de Grey)

Natalia Gavrilova Chicago, USA
Search for mechanisms of exceptional human longevity

Mike Berridge Wellington, New Zealand
Effects of mitochondrial gene deletion on tumorigenicity of metastatic melanoma: reassessing the Warburg effect

Ülo Kristjuhan Tallinn, Estonia
Postponed Aging in University Teachers

Session 14 Short talks (Chair: Mike Berridge)

Session 15 Rejuvenating the immune system (Chair: Lusine Danielyan)
Janko Nikolich-Zugich Beaverton, USA
Why T-cells go out of whack with aging and what to do about it

Anne de Groot Providence, USA
Re-establishing Immunological Balance and Re-engineering Tolerance with Tregitopes

Omar Ali Cambridge, USA
Infection-mimicking materials to program dendritic cells in situ

Justin Rebo
SENS Foundation Research Center Senescent T cell removal using magnetic antibodies

Session 16 Delivering genes, proteins and larger structures in vivo (Chair: Janko Nikolich-Zugich)

Dieter Willbold Düsseldorf, Germany
Oral treatment with an Aβ42 oligomer modulating D-amino acid peptide improves cognitive behavior of APP/ PS1 double transgenic mice

Lusine Danielyan Tübingen, Germany
Intranasal delivery of cells to the brain

Carlos Barbas La Jolla, USA
Synthesis of programmable integrases

Sunday 6th September

Session 17 Novel routes to the ES-like phenotype (Chair: Daniel Kraft)

Justin Ichida Cambridge, USA
Reprogramming Somatic Cells to Pluripotency Using Small Molecules

Ilham Abuljadayel London, UK
Retrodifferentiation and Aging: Harnessing Youth through Induction of Pluripotency in mature adult cells via Cell Surface Receptor Contact

Khachik Muradian Kiev, Ukraine
"ORION" - a glimpse of hope in life span extension?

Vadim Fraifeld Beer-Sheva, Israel
MicroRNA-regulated protein-protein interaction networks: how could they help in searching for pro-longevity targets?

Session 18 Recent advances in cell therapies (Chair: Ilham Abuljadayel)

Daniel Kraft Stanford, USA
Manipulation and Derivation of the Hematopoitic Stem Cell Niche

Gene Redmond Thousand Oaks,
USA Cellular repair in the non-human primate brain with human neural stem cells and multiple fetal cells grafts.

Hadi Aslan Jerusalem, Israel
Engineered Mesenchymal Stem Cells - The Road to Skeletal Tissue Regeneration

Session 19 Panel discussion and short talks (Chair: James Morré)
James Larrick Sunnyvale, USA
Panel Discussion: Applied Healthspan Engineering

Dazhong Yin Guangzhou, China
Preventive Treatment of Traditional Chinese Medication as Anti-stress and Anti-aging Strategy

Jwala Sinha Palamau, India
Strategies for adjustment of the aged

John Furber Gainesville, USA
Extracellular Aging: Issues for Therapy Design

Session 20 Short talks (Chair: James Larrick)
Gunther Kletetschka Greenbelt, USA
Crack avoidance during cryopreservation attempts

Sonya Vasto Palermo, Italy
Parental longevity impacts on the healthy ageing of their offspring: Effects on blood and clinical chemistry parameters in centenarians' offspring

Noel Patton New York, USA
Recent progress in pharmacological amelioration of telomere shortening

David Williams Cambridge, UK
Cataract development as a model of ageing - a comparative approach

Michael Colgan Salt Spring Island, Canada
Combined chemical and brain stimulation induction of neurogenesis in brain injury and brain degeneration of aging.

D. James Morré West Lafayette, USA
Aging related NADH oxidase (arNOX) response to dietary supplementation . The French Paradox revisited

Joshua Mitteldorf Philadelphia, USA
Accumulated Damage is not the Root Cause of Aging

SENS4 : Antiaging conference coverage

Ouroboros has coverage of the SENS4: Antiaging conference.

The SENS site has all of the conference abstracts

UPDATE: SENS4, Session 6: Eliminating recalcitrant intracellular molecules: other

Claude Wischik spoke about preventing aggregation of tau protein, which is implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. Clinical trials of their aggregation-inhibiting drug Rember are promising.

Andrei Seluanov talked about naked mole rats, those odd-looking miracle rodents that live for 30 years and don’t seem to ever get cancer. Mole rat contact inhibition/cancer resistance was controlled by p53 and pRB, both known tumour suppressors.

Alex Whitworth spoke about the relationship between mitochondrial degradation and Parkinson’s disease genes [Parkin and PINK1 genes].

SENS4, Sessions 9 and 10: Rejuvenating extracellular material

Mark Pepys talked about treating amyloidosis by targeting serum amyloid P component (SAP), which is present in all amyloid deposits and plays a role in stabilizing them. Several years ago, Pepys discovered a compound (CPHPC) that quickly removes SAP from the bloodstream and from most amyloid plaques; however, clinical trials showed that CPHPC alone does not help people with advanced disease. Today, Pepys reported on some very promising results from combining CPHPC with an antibody, effectively targeting the antibody to amyloid: in mouse studies, plaques completely disappear. Clinical testing of this combination approach will begin in 2011.

Kendall Houk gave a very interesting talk on computationally designing enzymes from scratch. They plan to apply their recently published protocol to develop enzymes that can reverse the formation of Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs) – sugar-modified proteins that accumulate with age and are implicated in several age-related diseases.


Session 5: Eliminating recalcitrant intracellular molecules: the lysosome

Jeffrey Grubb spoke about new methods for delivering missing enzymes to the lysozomes of patients suffering from lysosomal storage diseases. Several of these should be able to deliver any protein to the lysozome, including novel ones capable of degrading undesirable intracellular molecules that accumulate with age and that normal lysosomes can’t handle. Central goal of the LysoSENS project

Ana Maria Cuervo spoke about the relationship between autophagy and aging. Artifically maintaining autophagy shows improved liver function in mice.

John Schloendorn discussed ongoing work at the SENS Foundation Research Center to develop new enzymes that can degrade harmful intracellular junk that accumulates with age. So far, they have discovered enzymes that can degrade A2E and 7-ketocholesterol, which are implicated in macular degeneration and osteoporosis, respectively. Their next step will be to construct a drug delivery system to get these enzymes to lysozomes, possibly using methods similar to those of Jeffrey Grub.

SENS4, Session 4: Adult regenerative capacity

Brandon Reines presented a counterintuitive result on regeneration: sometimes old animals have a higher regenerative capacity than young animals. In particular, if you punch a hole in the ear of a young mouse, then it won’t heal; but in a middle-aged mouse it will heal completely. He argued that this happens because mouse ear connective tissues never fully differentiate, and suggested that other neural-crest-derived connective tissues might show similar properties.

Kaisa Selesniemi talked about possible methods for sustaining fertility in older women. They found that an infusion of bone marrow from younger females keeps older mice fertile longer. They hope that these treatments might not only prolong fertility, but also female health: mice with longer “ovarian lifespan” show reduced disease incidence.

Alexandra Stolzing presented a new method for generating induced pluripotent stem cells (i.e., for reprogramming adult somatic cells to become pluripotent) that doesn’t use viral compounds or plasmids. Viruses can cause abnormalities in the reprogrammed cells, so much recent work has focused on developing alternate methods for deriving iPS cells

SENS4, Session 3: Optimising metabolism against aging

Stephen Spindler described his (ongoing) project to screen a large number of potential lifespan-affecting compounds in mice – so far, several candidates look promising. Interestingly, he also argued that the majority of previous studies measuring the effects of various compounds on rodent life expectancy suffer from serious flaws. In particular, he argued that many of them were confounded by a possible calorie restriction effect.

Manuel Serrano talked about his recent experiments with sirtuins in mice. Overexpression of sirtuins in yeast, worms, and flies delays aging, but their role in mammalian aging is still highly controversial. He found that mice overexpressing Sirt1 had improved health, according to several metrics – but no difference in lifespan.

David Melzer talked about his analyses of human genetic association studies. A large number of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) have been associated with age-related diseases in humans; Melzer showed that many of these are near genes that play a role in pathways relevant to aging, and also identified three genes associated with two or more age-related diseases: p16/p15, MYC, and TERT.

SENS4, Session 1: Combating oxidation

Vladimir Skulachev spoke about his extensive work with SkQ1, an antioxidant targeted to mitochondria. He reported that SkQ1 supplementation extends median lifespan in several species (including mammals), and slows the development of multiple age-related diseases and conditions.

Holly Brown-Borg talked about the connections between stress resistance and longevity in Ames dwarf mice, which live around 50% longer than normal mice and show elevated levels of some antioxidants.

Cathy Clarke tested an original and interesting approach to avoiding free radical damage to poly-unsaturated fatty acids, or PUFAs: isotope reinforcement. The basic idea here, explained in an earlier paper, is very simple: heavier isotopes make stronger bonds, so isotope-reinforced PUFAs will be more resistant to free radical attack. Will these results transfer to higher organisms? Is there any chance that the deuterium could get incorporated into other molecules, stabilizing proteins that we want to degrade? The authors plan to follow up this study in worms and mice.

WSJ: Ian Bremmer and Nouriel Roubini: don't expect a Near Term 'USA-China Strategic Alliance' but Expect Sharing of Nuclear Energy Tech

From the Wall Street Journal: American and Chinese officials said all the right things during this summer's inaugural round of their Strategic and Economic Dialogue. President Barack Obama pledged to "forge a path to the future that we seek for our children." Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo wondered aloud whether America and China can "build better relations despite very different social systems, cultures and histories." He answered his own question, in English, with a "Yes we can."

They can, but they probably won't. Yes, Mr. Obama will visit China in November. But when it comes to international burden-sharing, Washington is focused on geopolitical headaches while China confines its heavy-lifting to geoeconomic challenges. The two sides have good reason to cooperate, but there's a growing gap between what Washington expects from Beijing and what the Chinese can deliver.

UPDATE: Bloomberg reports that there are talks between the USA and china on sharing Nuclear Energy Technology

Companies like General Electric Co., Toshiba Corp.’s Westinghouse Electric Co. unit and France’s Areva SA are jockeying for more than $1 trillion worth of contracts for reactors worldwide in the coming decade.

China is buying and building hundreds of nuclear reactors from now to 2030. In the range of 35-50% of all nuclear reactors that are expected in the world. The US wants to get a piece of that multi-hundred billion dollar action. Plus China will be moving up the learning curve on nuclear energy technology and the flow of technical expertise will be flowing back to the USA more and more.

Obstacles to Strategic partnership.

First, both governments remain largely focused on formidable domestic challenges
Second, there's the bureaucratic problem
Third Beijing has little appetite for a larger geopolitical role

China is not free riding. China is funding the US debt and providing a global economic growth engine.


Hyperion Power Generation Update

Dan Yurman has an updated interview of the CEO of Hyperion Power Generation.

John (Grizz) Deal is an expressive driver of an entrepreneurial start-up that has spun out unique nuclear reactor technology from the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). It’s not a conventional reactor with fuel rods and cooling systems. Instead, it is a 25 MW “battery” that is expected to be compact and light enough to be delivered on the back of a truck. The vision is a user will pop it into a hole in the ground and have to replace the fuel just once every five years. Hyperion Power Generation claims 122 potential users have signed options to buy one and a quarter of them are in the U.S. The primary output of Hyperion’s “battery” is heat. A customer that wants to buy one to make electricity has to get their own turbines and power distribution network. Deal claims he can deliver his pocket reactor for $1,000/Kw, or $25 million, and that the balance of plant for one will come in at another $1,000/Kw for a market maker price of $2,000/Kw.

Deal says he will deliver Hyperion's reactor for commercial sale in 2013. To get here, he has daunting challenges to overcome including raising $65 million to complete the design, get it licensed by the NRC, develop a supply chain, and, most importantly, build a factory to make it.

For a location he’s looking at Idaho Falls, ID, a “nuclear city” which last year went all out to successfully get French nuclear giant Areva to commit to build a $2 billion uranium enrichment plant 18 mile west of town.

September 03, 2009

Ethics of Human Enhancement Report

A study on the ethics of human enhancement has been completed.

Entitled “Ethics of Human Enhancement: 25 Questions & Answers,” the 50-page report serves as a convenient and accessible starting point for both public and classroom discussions, such as in bioethics seminars.

The 50 page pdf is here and is available for free download.

Some comments: Society will come up with multiple answers (or default lack of answers) and there will be different situations and rules by state, region and country.

From the introduction:
Forget about Pocket PCs, mobile phones, GPS devices, and other portable gadgets; we might soon be able to communicate and access those capabilities without having to carry any external device, thus raising our productivity, efficiency, response time, and other desirable measures—in short, enabling us to even better survive our world.

I disagree with that aspect. How convenient, powerful and easy the wearable, portable or just usable/commandable machines, services and technology that is at someones disposal does matter as does the context of technological society at the time. If there non-harmful to health of the user steroids that were ten times more effective, would not make that big a difference for 99% of the jobs in the developed world. Labor-related work has already been mostly replaced with people driving and using machines.
- Physically enhanced lumberjack versus tree clearing machines
- exoskeletons versus physical enhancement
- Physically enhanced supersoldier versus rapid fire recoilless rifle firing grenade rounds, wide area taser devices, tanks, planes, UAVs etc...

The more powerful technology and the one which will have a larger impact on society and control are early adopter/developers of molecular nanotechnology and nuclear fusion [or breakthrough energy technology that is over 20 times cheaper - both also provide access and control of space based resources] and the best supercomputers and AI. It will be similar to position of the earlier explorers and colonist of North America, except there is the potential for far greater advantages to those with advanced technology. Control of space has massive military and security implications as asteroid bombardment is more powerful than nuclear weapons.

There is world and solar system shaping technology. An early situation of this is the ability for a billionaire or large company to develop and deploy climate engineering technology. This already has been happening for decades via those who operate coal plants. Particulates and air pollution (smog) and CO2 effect the health of millions around coal plants. The weather is effected. Soon those who would deploy technology to create articificial volcano cooling effects will be performing reverse climate alteration.

However, the questions and answers in the report are still interesting within the scope of what they are addressing.

These are the 25 questions addressed in the report:

Definition & Distinctions
1. What is human enhancement?
2. Is the natural/artificial distinction morally significant in this debate?
3. Is the internal/external distinction morally significant in this debate?
4. Is the therapy/enhancement distinction morally significant in this debate?

Contexts & Scenarios
5. Why would contexts matter in the ethics of human enhancement?
6. What are some examples of enhancement for cognitive performance?
7. What are some examples of enhancement for physical performance?
8. Should a non-therapeutic procedure that provides no net benefit be called an “enhancement”?

Freedom & Autonomy
9. Could we justify human enhancement technologies by appealing to our right to be free?
10. Could we justify enhancing humans if it harms no one other than perhaps the individual?

Fairness & Equity
11. Does human enhancement raise issues of fairness, access, and equity?
12. Will it matter if there is an “enhancement divide”?

Societal Disruptions
13. What kind of societal disruptions might arise from human enhancement?
14. Are societal disruptions reason enough to restrict human enhancement?
15. If individuals are enhanced differently, will communication be more difficult or impossible?

Human Dignity & The Good Life
16. Does the notion of human dignity suffer with human enhancements?
17. Will we need to rethink the notion of a “good life”?

Rights & Obligations
18. Is there a right to be enhanced?
19. Could human enhancement give us greater or fewer rights?
20. Is there an obligation in some circumstance to be enhanced?
21. Should children be enhanced?

Policy & Law
22. What are the policy implications of human enhancement?
23. Should there be limits on enhancements allowed, e.g., for military purposes?
24. Might enhanced humans count as someone’s intellectual property?
25. Will we need to rethink ethics itself?

Tom Baker Returns in Audio Production of Dr. Who

Wired reports that Tom Baker [the fourth of 11 actors who have played Dr. Who] stars in Doctor Who: Hornet’s Nest, a five-part adventure series for BBC audio dramas. The first episode (”The Stuff of Nightmares”) will be released Thursday in the United Kingdom, with subsequent episodes arriving Oct. 8 (”The Dead Shoes”) and Nov. 5 (”The Circus of Doom”). The final two parts (”A Sting in the Tale” and “Hive of Horror”) arrive Dec. 3.

“Tom Baker and The Doctor was the single best marriage of an actor to a role in TV history,” Russell Davies [21st-century Doctor Who producer] said.

The fourth doctor at tardis wikia.

"You may be a doctor but I'm the Doctor, the definite article you might say."
―The Fourth Doctor to Harry Sullivan

Ranking of Dr. Who doctors
1. Tom Baker (fourth)
2. David Tennant (tenth)
3. Jon Pertwee (third)
4. ninth
5. Fifth
6. Second
7-10. Irrelevant: Too large a drop in quality to care

Doctor Who Companion at wikipedia

Ranking of Companions
1. Sarah Jane Smith
2. Rose
3. Romana
4. Martha Jones
5. Captain Jack Harkness
6. K-9's
7-9. Adric/Leela/Donna Noble
10+. Irrelevant: Too large a drop in quality to care

Brigadier not officially a companion but I would put him 6th ahead of K9's.

Nicholas Courtney played the Brigadier and was to record but had to be replaced for health reasons. If there are more audio recordings he could record them.

September 02, 2009

Technology and Economic Growth Enter Into the Heart of Scarcity

Africa Has Had About 6% Annual GDP Growth and 3% per Capita GDP Growth Since 2001

In 2009, the economic crisis has hurt growth but much of Africa is heading back to 4-5% growth in 2010 and probably back to 6% growth in 2011 onwards.

Economic Growth Has Had a Positive Impact on Poverty Reduction and Other UN Millenium Goals

The UN millenium goals report for 2009, shows solid progress. 2009 saw slowing of progress and some backsliding because of the financial crisis.

A mid2009 UN report shows that GDP growth in the 2-5.5% is expected in Africa in 2010.

The IMF raised its GDP growth expectations in July 2009.

The African and middle east economies have performed relatively well in this crisis.

Africa                            1.8  4.1  
Emerging and developing economies 1.5  4.7   

Wikipedia list of countries by future nominal GDP per capita (from the IMF) shows solid growth for most of the poorest nations.

Africa's total population is about 1 billion. The ten largest countries have about two thirds of the population.

Country        2009   2010  2011  2012  2013  2014   Population 
Nigeria      1,108 1,200 1,264 1,334 1,405 1,480    155 million
Ethiopia       427   442   459   475   500   538     85 million
Egypt        2,456 2,610 2,860 3,130 3,337 3,634     81 million
Congo          173   182   194   205   220   246     66 million
South Africa  4,943 5,014 5,207 5,456 5,744 6,031     49 million
Tanzania        538   568   600   643   690   740     44 million
Sudan         1,334 1,511 1,690 1,847 2,026 2,160     42 million
Kenya           829   993 1,148 1,256 1,356 1,474     40 million
Algeria       3,640 4,064 4,357 4,630 4,893 5,073     35 million
Morocco       2,655 2,802 2,991 3,211 3,449 3,689     32 million

List of African countries by population

Africa is Getting Some Technology and the Tech is Improving Lives
Foreign Policy: Thing Again Africa's Crisis Africa, the continent is in far better shape than most experts think.

Some countries in the region are as poor as England under William the Conqueror, but that doesn't mean Africa's on the verge of doomsday. How many serfs had a cellphone? More than 63 million Nigerians do. Millions travel on buses and trucks across the continent each year, even if the average African road is still fairly bumpy. The list of modern technologies now ubiquitous in the region also includes cement, corrugated iron, steel wire, piping, plastic sheeting and containers, synthetic and cheap cotton clothing, rubber-soled shoes, bicycles, butane, paraffin candles, pens, paper, books, radios, televisions, vaccines, antibiotics, and bed nets.

The spread of these technologies has helped expand economies, improve quality of life, and extend health. About 10 percent of infants die in their first year of life in Africa -- still shockingly high, but considerably lower than the European average less than 100 years ago, let alone 800 years past. And about two thirds of Africans are literate -- a level achieved in Spain only in the 1920s.

Thanks to the spread of technologies and new ideas, African economies are expanding fast and population growth has been accompanied by better health. The continent of Africa has seen output expand 6½ times between 1950 and 2001. Of course, the population has grown nearly fourfold, so GDP per capita has only increased 67 percent

Some widespread health conditions in the region -- notably HIV/AIDS -- are still expensive to treat. But the most effective interventions for promoting health in Africa are remarkably cheap. Breast-feeding, hand-washing, sugar-salt solutions, vaccines, antibiotics, and bed nets together save millions -- and could save millions more -- and none need cost more than $5 a pop. Rollout of a vaccination program, for example, has slashed annual measles deaths in the region from 396,000 to 36,000 in just six years. And though Chad isn't going to see universal college enrollment anytime soon, some very poor countries have already achieved near-universal primary education based in large part on free schooling.

A lot of aid to Africa is wasted, and some goes to support silly ideas or countries that can't use it well. But aid has also supported some programs that have made a real difference in quality of life -- things like supporting the measles vaccination program, helping to eradicate smallpox, fighting river blindness, funding educational radio programs, building sewage networks, and providing scholarships so that poor children can afford to stay in school

Cellphones Can be Cheaper than Clean Water and Sanitation

There is clearly a need for clean water and sanitation.

In 2003, 1.6 million deaths were estimated to be attributable to unsafe water and sanitation, including lack of hygiene; 90% of this burden is concentrated on children under five, mostly in developing countries. In spite of the considerable investment in the provision of water supply and sanitation in the 1980s and 1990s, in 2000 a significant proportion of the world’s population remained without access: an estimated 1.1 billion people were without access to improved water sources and 2.4 billion people lacked access to improved sanitation. Expanding this access is essential to reduce the burden of water-related diseases and to improve the well-being of a large part of the world's population.

Clear dirty water is a serious problem but it usually does not kill people right away. It makes people sick and causes a percentage of deaths of children and the elderly. But clean water and sanitation projects tend to be large infrastructure spending efforts. The overall problem would need $25 billion/year for improved water and sanitation for all who currently need it and then about $150 billion/year for real infrastructure fix. Those numbers are for thousands of mostly million dollar and multi-million dollar projects across a hundred countries and dozens of projects in each country.

Cellphones are bought by individuals and can help connect people to finance and banking and helps with irrigation and farming with weather reports and connection to information. There is immediate financial gain by better access to markets, savings in time (do not need to travel someplace -you can just call) and allows for business opportunities. The rollout of cellphone networks by providers is far cheaper than the rollout of water/sanitation infrastructure and the economics for the providers is far better.

Africa: Cellphones Tipped to Drive Growth in Poor Nations

The mobility, ease of use, flexible deployment, and relatively low and declining roll-out costs of wireless technologies enable them to reach rural populations with low levels of income and literacy.

The report says the next billion mobile subscribers will consist mainly of the rural poor.

An important use of mobile phones in rural areas is to access market information.

TradeNet, a Ghana-based trading platform, allows users to sign up for SMS alerts about commodities and markets while receiving instant alerts for offers to buy or sell when anyone else on the network has submitted an offer.

Read more on the transformative benefits of cellphones in Africa:
Cellphones lower cost of irrigation

Cellphones support access to clean water

Africa: Cell Phones Transform Continent's Development

Cellphones enable a financial revolution in Africa

Getting cellphones to rural Africa is a challenge and there are ingenius solutions.

Millenium village projects to solve poverty and other problems in Africa and other poor regions.


1. Africa is growing fairly fast now and has been for a decade. This could be the beginning of a multi-decade journey like the one in Asia to prosperity for the region.

2. Technology like cellphones or new technology that is emerging that costs less than $50-100/year per person and can be rolled out in smaller overall project sizes and with faster project return on investment will have a faster distribution than clean water and sanitation projects.

3. There are still plenty of super-cheap per person assistance to be done by the people themselves or with international aid that can save many millions of lives and improve quality of life.

4. Technology is a major force in ending extreme poverty.

2008 GDP statistics
East Asia & Pacific 5,186,610
Europe & Central Asia 3,860,600
Latin America & Caribbean 4,247,077

Middle East & North Africa 1,117,198
About 400 million people in Middle East and North Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa 987,120
Sub-saharan Africa has 800 million people The population is projected to grow to 1.5-2 billion in 2050.

India has 1.2 billion people and a GDP of 1.2 trillion. So collectively Africa is ahead of India. Sub-saharan Africa is economically similar to the most of India.

Sub-saharan Africa could follow fairly closely behind India's development of 6-8% annual GDP growth, but per-capita GDP it will be about 20-50% slower to improve because of higher population growth rates.

South Asia 1,531,499
High income 43,189,942
Euro area 13,565,479

Some recommendations on policy that will encourage a faster recovery in Africa


Trading Futures
Nano Technology
Netbook     Technology News
Computer Software
Future Predictions

Adapting plants to be survivable on Mars

A pdf of a 2006 presentation updating the work to design plants to survive on Mars [this article was posted on Oct 26, 2006 and has been updated]

Gluthathione Reductase (GOR) from Colwellia psychrerythraea was cloned and overexpressed in E coli and is cold active.

[Times were from a late 2006 timeframe]

They are putting GOR into plants and selecting the transformed plants over the next 10 months.

Develop plants to resist ROS stress under extreme environment of low Oxygen and pressure. This is for the next 3 years

Produce transgenic plants with improved growth and productivity at low temperature and water availability. This is targeted for 5 years time.

Enhance ability for plant to resist and repair radiation damage, 10 years

Collaborate with scientists to use this technology in non-model systems 10-15 years.

The same methods for make plants tough enough to grow on the Moon and Mars can be used to make plants that can grow in the desert. Waterproof sand helps conserve 75% of the water used for irrigation. Genetically engineered plants and waterproof sand can transform the deserts of the world and the lives of people who depend on water and food from currently inhospitable land.


A 2007 BBC Radio interview about work to enable potatoes, tomatoes and even tulips on the Moon and Mars.

The website of the Wendy Boss Lab

Redesigning Plants For Increased Stress Tolerance Using Genes From Extremophiles:

The second major project began with a focus on synthetic biology. The project is funded by the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts. Our goal is to redesign plants to withstand increased stress by expressing genes from extremophiles. This is a collaborative project with Dr. Amy Grunden in Microbiology. We have expressed in plants one of three superoxide reductase (SOR) pathway genes from Pyrococcus furiosus. The SOR pathway is a more effective and efficient pathway for removing reactive oxygen species (ROS) than the endogenous, plant pathways and the SOR pathway enzymes are functional over a broad temperature range (4-100 oC). Our hypothesis is that the P. furiosus enzymes will enhance stress tolerance by rapidly removing the ROS. We have shown that P. furiosus superoxide reductase is a functional enzyme in plants and that it is heat stable like the P. furiosus enzyme (Im et al., FEBS Letts 579:5521-5526.
2005). We are currently using the synthetic systems that we have generated to characterize the long term impact of removing the signals generated by ROS. This project included teaching an honors course entitled “Redesigning Life for Mars.” Publicity concerning the project and an interview by Bob McDonald on the CBC radio show “Quirks and Quarks” can be found at the following web sites.

Wendy Boss's homepage

Amy Grunden's homepage

Amy Grunden's publications.

Iraq's Rumaila Oil Field Could Double Iraq Oil Production and a Big Oil Find in the Gulf of Mexico

Business Week reports on the BP (British Petroleum) project to modernize the Rumaila oil field to nearly double its production and restore Iraq's power in OPEC.

A lot of the underproduction of "easy oil reserves" is in Iraq and Nigeria. Brazil, Russia, China, United States, Kazakhstan and Canada have key oil megaprojects that are non-OPEC over the next 5 years. Saudi Arabia continues to develop large fields, but OPEC production is held back as part the control of oil prices. New Oil production technology (like THAI/Capri and electrothermal stimulation) are key to unlocking vast oilsand reserves and further improvement of multistage wells are needed for the economic development of Bakken oilfields.

Rumaila, is a monster, producing 960,000 barrels per day now—nearly half of Iraq's current output. The winners, BP (BP) and China's CNPC, plan to bring the field to plateau production of 2.85 million barrels per day within six years. That would make it one of the most prolific fields in the world. However, the companies may have deliberately made high estimates so as to try to win the contracts.

BP also thinks it understands Rumaila well, having originally discovered the field in the 1950s and having worked on it with the Iraqis during the past five years. BP also thinks Rumaila closely resembles the giant Samatlor field in western Siberia, which it has successfully managed through its TNK-BP Russia subsidiary. Finally, through CNPC the partners will have access to a Chinese supply chain to bring in the low-cost equipment needed, including onshore drilling rigs. An Iraqi state company will have a 25% stake, while BP and CNPC will share a 75-25 split of the rest.

The top production targets bid by the international oil community on the six Iraqi oil fields on offer add up to 8.2 million barrels per day. If achieved, that level of output would put Iraq in a rarefied league with Saudi Arabia as a major oil exporter. Potential is one thing, of course, and actual production is another.

2. BP announced today a giant oil discovery at its Tiber Prospect in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

The well, located in Keathley Canyon block 102, approximately 250 miles (400 kilometres) south east of Houston, is in 4,132 feet (1,259 metres) of water. The Tiber well was drilled to a total depth of approximately 35,055 feet (10,685 metres) making it one of the deepest wells ever drilled by the oil and gas industry.

BP Plc, Europe’s second-largest oil company, “giant” discovery at the Tiber Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico that may contain more than 3 billion barrels, after drilling the world’s deepest exploration well.

The latest discovery will help BP, already the biggest producer in the Gulf of Mexico, boost output in the region by 50 percent to 600,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day after 2020.

Oil megaprojects list at wikipedia.

The Rumaila project is not included on the oil megaprojects list at this time.

Vankor Field in Russia came online August, 2009 and is to produce 60 thousand barrels per day in 2009 and 220 thousand barrels per day in 2010 and 315 thousand barrels per day in 2011.

Brazil, Russia, China, United States, Kazakhstan and Canada have key oil megaprojects that are non-OPEC over the next 5 years.

Sander Olson Interview of Jeff Welser, Director of the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI)

Jeff Welser Interview

Here is the Jeff Welser interview by Sander Olson. Dr. Welser is the Director of the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI). The NRI was established in 2004 in order to develop post-silicon CMOS computing technologies, which will be needed by 2020 if not earlier. The NRI is hoping that a post-CMOS technology will emerge by 2020. If the NRI succeeds then the exponential growth in computing could continue until the mid 2030s.

Question 1: Tell us about the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) and the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI).

Answer: The semiconductor Research Corporation is a research consortium that began in the early 1980s. It was started specifically to encourage universities to extend Moore's law as long as possible. It is funded by both industry and government, and the SRC now oversees several subsidiary programs. One of these subsidiary programs is the NRI, which I direct. The SRC is focused on improving charge-based components, such as field effect transistors (FETs). The NRI, however, is focused on computing and switching technologies that could outperform anything that is currently envisioned from charge based devices. We are hoping that one of these post-CMOS technologies could emerge by 2020.

Question 2: A recent report by iSuppli argued that Moore's law won't continue past 2014 due to increasingly high costs. Do you agree?

Answer: I believe that prediction is excessively pessimistic. Although spiraling costs are clearly burdening the semiconductor industry, the industry is responding by creating alliances and pooling R&D resources. Moreover, there are other ways beside scaling to increase chip performance, and these options are being actively researched.

Question 3: What is the biggest technical hurdle that the semiconductor industry faces?

Answer: The single biggest challenge the industry faces relates to power density. The power density of modern microprocessors is too high for us to fully utilize all the transistors at full speed. The industry has reduced voltages to one volt, but can't realistically go too much below that for room temperature operation. This inability to continue to scale the voltage is a primary contributor to the increasing power density and imposes fundamental limits on silicon FET scaling. This is one of the main reasons for the increased interest in post-silicon technologies.

Question 4: There has recently been a surge of interest in memristors. Is this interest justified?

Answer: Memristors have been researched for quite a while, and they do hold promise in the memory area. It isn't clear if memristors are suitable for logic, which is the NRI's primary focus, since memristors operate slower than silicon transistors. But slow switching speed is actually a serious problem for many post-CMOS technologies - they often operate at a fraction of the speed of silicon FETs.

Question 5: Is graphene currently the front-runner in the race to supplant silicon? Is it considered a more suitable candidate than carbon nanotubes?

Answer: Graphene is currently one of the materials we are focusing on, and it does have a number of advantages. It has very high switching speed, and it should be feasible to fabricate graphene FETs. Even more interesting for NRI post-FET switch research is the unique physics in graphene that could lead to completely new devices based on pseudospintronics or other state variables. So a hybrid chip containing both silicon and graphene is a real possibility.

Question 6: When will the first logic gate based on one of these nanoelectronics technologies emerge?

Answer: We have already seen individual switches made from flakes of graphene. At some point there should be a breakthrough - some researcher will figure out how to make a uniform layer of graphene across a wafer. That should hopefully happen within the next couple of years, and we will need it to happen within that time frame if we are to have working products by 2020.

Question 7: What about nanotubes?

Answer: Nanotubes could make excellent FETs, and could probably be used for a generation or two. But since these would still be charge-based devices, they would not allow for an entirely new scaling path.

Question 8: What is your assessment of spintronics?

Answer: Whereas charge-based devices take advantage of an electrons charge, spin-based devices determine whether an electron’s "spin" is up or down. The primary advantages of spin-based devices are that they can be non-volatile, so can consume little power and dissipate minimal heat. Spin or magnetic devices could also potentially be used as multi-bit devices, which might compensate for low switching speeds. Switching speeds are a problem for logic applications in particular, since spintronics is currently substantially slower than FETs, which is why spin and magnetic have mostly been looked at for memory and storage up to now.

Question 9: Any post-CMOS technology will need to first integrate with CMOS processes. How will these manufacturing challenges be surmounted?

Answer: The manufacturing challenges will be huge for any new devices. We assume that new devices will initially integrate with CMOS. Obviously any such components would need to withstand the harsh chemical processes that are employed in chipmaking fabs. Perhaps we could put components on top of chips, or use some 3D technology.

Question 10: What organizations fund the NRI?

Answer: There are three components to our funding. The first component comes from semiconductor corporations IBM, Intel, GLOBAL FOUNDRIES, Micron and Texas Instruments. The second component comes from NIST and the NSF. The third component comes from state governments. So we have centers in New York, California, Texas and Indiana, and these research centers are located in these locations because state governments provided matching funds.

Question 11: Does the SRC or NRI have a roadmap?

Answer: The SRC uses the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) roadmap to ascertain what technologies need to be researched. So the SRC tracks the ITRS roadmap closely. The NRI does not have any particular roadmap that we follow, since we don't yet know what technology will eventually supplant silicon CMOS, but use the ITRS roadmap as a guide know where CMOS will be in the future, and hence the bar we must reach to surpass it.

Question 12: How big are the potential gains of post-silicon computing? Are orders of magnitude speedup feasible?

Answer: Although we don't have any specific performance goals in mind, orders of magnitude speedups should be feasible. Any new technology that requires a major manufacturing change would need to be at least an order of magnitude better than conventional technology in order to justify the expense.

Question 13: What computing technology excites you the most?

Answer I am most excited about the potential of graphene. The properties of graphene, which is essentially a single sheet of pure carbon, are pretty amazing. Graphene has an extremely high electron mobility and thermal conductivity. Graphene transistors have also already been fabricated, so it could be used to substantially increase transistor speeds for charge-based devices. Or it could form the basis of an entirely new computing paradigm, such as spintronics. The technology is improving exponentially and allows the industry to hedge its bets.

Question 14: When do you see the exponential growth in computing ending?

Answer: If these technologies pan out, performance doublings could continue into the 2030s. This computing industry has always been searching for ways to increase computations per second.. As long as the computer industry exists it will incessantly endeavor to increase speeds. Although at some point scaling has to end, I predict that increasing functional throughput will continue for at least the next quarter century.

September 01, 2009

Online and Offline: Wealthier are far more Politically Engaged

The wealthy and affluent are 2.5 times more engaged than the poor in offline politics and over 4 times more engaged than the poor in online politics.

Predictions of the Cumulative US Federal Deficit 2010-2019

Seekingalpha looks at some deficit scenarios:

Current law commits to the Bush tax cuts only until the end of 2010 ($7.1 trillion in deficits);

but President Obama has proposed to extend most of the Bush tax cuts in his budget proposal ($9.1 - $10.3 trillion); and

therefore Obama Administration tax policy is not that different from where we’d end up if we extended all of the Bush tax cuts (as Senator McCain had wanted to do had he become president) ($11.3 trillion).

The Concord Coalition Plausible Baseline, created using the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) updated projections, shows that current policy would lead to $14.4 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years. The Concord coalition assumes that the cost of wars wind down.

The Concord Deficity Projection Baseline makes some key assumption changes to the CBO baseline. CBO is required to assume that congressional appropriations continue increasing only at the rate of inflation for the 10 year baseline. They also extend emergency supplemental at their "current" level plus inflation over the duration of the baseline. For tax legislation, they assume current law will govern--so if there are tax cuts that have sunsets (as the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts have), CBO is required to project revenues assuming the tax cuts expire as written in the legislation. They also project economic growth in a very conservative fashion--they do not try to anticipate major changes in the economy, either recessions or accelerations.

The Concord Coalition takes the CBO baseline and adjusts it to assume appropriations increase at the same rate as the economy (GDP growth). This increase is closer to the historical average rate of increase. We also assume that supplemental appropriations do not continue indefinitely. For recent appropriations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we include realistic estimates from CBO about how much will be spent under a scenario where troop levels slowly decrease to about one-third of their level at the time of the estimate. For taxes, we assume that all of the major tax cuts will be extended beyond 2010. We also assume the one-year patches to the Alternative Minimum Tax will continue to be enacted, holding the level of taxpayers hit by the tax roughly constant throughout the baseline period. Finally, we include a calculation for the increased debt service (interest payments) that these policies would cause by their increasing the deficit. We do not make any changes to CBO's economic assumptions.

“Today’s numbers illustrate that we have a revenue crisis in the federal budget as much as a health care crisis. The federal revenue system is clearly failing to keep up with our nation’s spending needs. Since last September, the 10-year revenue forecast has shrunk by over $3 trillion solely due to deteriorating economic conditions. What’s troubling is that even without any more tax cuts and even after the economy is expected to recover, today’s reports show revenues will continue to fall short. It is time to rethink tax policy, from the deficit-financed extensions of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts proposed by the administration, to an even broader look at how to increase the revenue base,” said Concord Coalition Chief Economist Diane Lim Rogers.

Under the plausible baseline, revenues would average 16.4 percent of GDP over the next decade -- the lowest 10-year average since 1942-1951. Even under the administration’s optimistic projections, revenues average only 18.4 percent through 2019. While this is in line with the 40-year historical average, it comes during a time of unusually high spending (23.5 percent) -- as stimulus gives way to increased entitlement spending, caused by an aging population and health care cost inflation, and growing interest rates and continued deficits lead to increasing debt service.

US Federal Budgets past, present and future