September 12, 2009

IEC / Bussard Fusion has gotten $8 million in Funding

M Simon at iecfusiontech reports that IEC (inertial electrostatic) fusion has gotten $8 million in funding. IEC Fusion is one of the most promising routes to commercial nuclear fusion and a possible solution to all of our energy problems. If it works we will be able to develop over thousand times our current level of energy, cheap, clean energy and have easy access to space.

This is in a list of Department of Defence contracts listed at Global Security.

Energy Matter Conversion Corp., (EMC2)*, Santa Fe, N.M., is being awarded a $7,855,504 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for research, analysis, development, and testing in support of the Plan Plasma Fusion (Polywell) Project. Efforts under this Recovery Act award will validate the basic physics of the plasma fusion (polywell) concept, as well as provide the Navy with data for potential applications of polywell fusion. Work will be performed in Santa Fe, N.M., and is expected to be completed in April 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR 6.302-1. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting activity (N68936-09-C-0125).

This site has an interview of Dr Richard Nebel who is leading the IEC/Bussard Fusion project.

Dr. Nebel commented: I believe we will know the answer for the Polywell [commercial nuclear fusion viability] in ~ 1.5-2 years. I haven't looked at MSimons design, but I know he has a lot of good ideas. We'll probably take a closer look at D-D reactors over the next 2 years.

From the Interview: The project that we hope to have out within the next six years will probably be a demo, which won't have the attendant secondary equipment necessary for electricity generation. Hopefully the demo will demonstrate everything that is needed to put a full-scale working plant into commercial production. So if the concept works we could have a commercial plant operating as early as 2020.

18-24 months : Verification if this approach is commercially viable [boom or bust for Polywell]
6 years: a full-scale demo of IEC fusion
By 2020: A first commercial IEC Fusion plant, with an estimated cost of 2-5 cents per kilowatt hour.

We've looked at the side reaction [ 11B-4He -> 14N + n, 11B + p -> 11C+n, etc) that will produce neutrons,] and it is down 8 orders of magnitude from the P-B11 reaction. The reason for this is that the alpha particles are not well confined and leave the system very rapidly. The alpha-B11 reaction is the dominant side reaction. Note: This was a computational analysis.

Older prototype

This work is very important because we could have commercial fusion in as little as 5 years if the work is successful. Success would also transform space travel. (40 to 1000 times cheaper to get into space)

WB-6 (the previous prototype) had 2.5 billion fusions per second

The initial analysis showed that Bussard's data on energy yields were consistent with expectations, Nebel said.

He said he's hoping to find out by this spring whether or not Bussard's concept is worth pursuing with a larger demonstration project.

"We don't know for sure whether all that's right," he said, "but it'd be horrible for Mother Nature to give you what you expect to see, and have it all be bogus."

Introduction to IEC fusion

This is paraphrasing from the Tom Ligon description.

IEC fusion uses magnets to contain an electron cloud in the center. It is a variation on the electron gun and vacuum tube in television technology. Then they inject the fuel (deuterium or lithium, boron) as positive ions. The positive ions get attracted to the high negative charge at a speed sufficient for fusion. Speed and electron volt charge can be converted over to temperature. The electrons hitting the TV screen can be converted from electron volts to 200 million degrees.

The old problem was that if you had a physical grid in the center then you could not get higher than 98% efficiency because ions would collide with the grid.

UPDATE: The problem with grids is that the very best you can do is 2% electron losses (the 98% limit). With those kinds of losses net power is impossible. Losses have to get below 1 part in 100,000 or less to get net power. (99.999% efficiency) [thanks to M Simon for the clarification]

Bussard system uses magnets on the outside to contain the electrons and have the electrons go around and around 100,000 times before being lost outside the magnetic field.

The fuel either comes in as ions from an ion gun or it comes in without a charge and some of it is ionized by collisions with the madly spinning electrons. The fuel is affected by the same forces as the electrons but a little differently because it is going much slower. About 64 times slower in the case of Deuterium fuel (a hydrogen with one neutron). Now these positively charged Deuterium ions are attracted to the virtual electrode (the electron cloud) in the center of the machine. So they come rushing in. If they come rushing in fast enough and hit each other just about dead on they join together and make a He3 nucleus (two protons and a neutron) and give off a high energy neutron.

Ions that miss will go rushing through the center and then head for one of the grids. When the voltage field they traveled through equals the energy they had at the center of the machine the ions have given up their energy to the grids (which repel the ions), they then go heading back to the center of the machine where they have another chance at hitting another ion at high enough speed and close enough to
cause a fusion.

Details of the polywell fusion reactor. (Polywell fusion and Inertial Electrostatic Confinement fusion are the same thing).

Easy low cost and very low radiation fusion

Previous bussard fusion update

UPDATE: A prediction on how this might play out if it is successful.

Oil prices can fluctuate for a lot of reasons. There is currently a $20-30 premium because of fear of more middle east conflict. The peak oil fears might also be adding $5-10 to the price per barrel. So any immediate hit to prices would be from changing the psychology around oil prices not from actual shifts in the economics of supply and demand. The supply and demand would get impacted over one to two decades. Once the full scale system is proved out then there would be a rush to build them.

I think if the prototypes pan out this spring, most people will not believe it. So I do not think the working prototypes should effect price more than $1-2 per barrel if anything. The working full scale system (in 3-8 years) $5-15 from a psychological shift. Maybe $20 with the optimism.

Just as the thermoelectrics have actual released products (car seat warmers) but most people do not believe that the better thermoelectrics in the labs are on the way starting within 5 years. However, it will take time for the thermoelectrics to be deployed.

The promise of highly successful first two prototypes WB7 and then WB8 should definitely green light the full scale positive power system. That would still take 5 years (maybe 2-3 if people got excited and accelerated development and effort with promising results and might take 8 years or more if there are unforeseen problems.)

From the descriptions it is clear that the IEC fusion devices are far simpler than the ITER tokomak fusion devices. It is also simpler than nuclear fission reactors. So success would mean faster transformation, but it would still take five to ten years for big infrastructure impact to the point that oil would start to be significantly displaced. Plus it would first hit coal for electricity. Unlike current fission reactors which take 4-6 years to build, these IEC fusion reactors might be buildable in 1-3 years. There is still the issue of licensing and regulatory approvals. It is not clear what that licensing/regulatory process would be but it should be shorter than nuclear fission licensing as the IEC fusion is easier to shutoff and does not have nuclear fuel or waste.

The full scale IEC fusion reactors would be about 4 meters in radius and weigh about 14 tons and generate 1GW and 8 meters for about 128GW. Power will be 5-20 times cheaper.

The power generator is about 10 to 12 ft across for an output between 100 MW and 1,000 MW. Power output scales as the 7th power of size. Double the size and you get 128X as much power.

Elements of Star Wars Recycled in the Recent Battlestar Galactica TV Series

There are some things in this that can be considered spoilers, but the Battlestar TV series has finished its first run and if you have not seen the Star Wars movies then go rent the DVDs. With DVDs you can fast forward through all of the Anakin-Padme/Amidala "relationship".

Note: Star Wars was not original either. All of its elements were taken from earlier science fiction work.

Star Wars Battle Droids versus Cylon Centurions

Both had rotating guns as part of their hand/wrists.

Clone Army Versus Cylon Skin Jobs

Seemingly Good Jedi Would go to the Dark Side versus Trusted People Were Really Cylon Skin Jobs

Anakin was a trusted Jedi. Count Dooku was trusted at one time before the movies, but in the arc of the characters. Senator Palpatine was trusted by the characters.

In the beginning of Battlestar Galactica, no one suspected any of the humanoid cylons and in the first season no one knew who could be a cylon. It also was not known which humanoid cylons were good or bad.

Luke I am Your Father Versus Final Five Mothers and Fathers to All Humanoid Cylons

Long Ago

A Long Time ago in Galaxy far away...Star Wars.

Long Ago (150,000 years) but not in another galaxy Battlestar Galactica.

September 11, 2009

Robust versus Vulnerable Roundup: Blast Resistant Glass, Electric Grid Vulnerability, Life Survives Big Asteroid

1. University of Missouri researchers are developing and testing a new type of blast-resistant glass that will be thinner, lighter and less vulnerable to small-scale explosions.

Conventional blast-resistant glass is made with laminated glass that has a plastic layer between two sheets of glass. MU researchers are now replacing the plastic layer with a transparent composite material made of glass fibers that are embedded in plastic. The glass fibers add strength because, unlike plastic, they are only about 25 microns thick, which is about half the thickness of a typical human hair, and leave little room for defects in the glass that could lead to cracking. The use of a transparent composite interlayer provides us the flexibility to change the strength of the layer by changing the glass fiber quantity and its orientation, Khanna said.

In tests, researchers are observing how the glass reacts to small-scale explosions caused by a grenade or hand-delivered bomb. They tested the glass by exploding a small bomb within close proximity of the window panel. After the blast, the glass panel was cracked but had no holes in the composite layer.

“The new multilayered transparent glass could have a wide range of potential uses if it can be made strong enough to resist small-scale explosions,” Khanna said. “The super-strong glass also may protect residential windows from hurricane winds and debris or earthquakes. Most hurricane damage occurs when windows are punctured, which allows for high-speed wind and water to enter the structure.”

2. The electric grid vulnerability study revealed: "An attack on the nodes with the lowest loads can be a more effective way to destroy the electrical power grid of the western US due to cascading failures," Wang says. To minimise the risk, he says, the grid's operators should defend the west coast sections by adjusting their power capacity to ensure these specific conditions do not arise.

The US Department of Homeland Security is reviewing the research, says John Verrico, the department's technology spokesman, who adds that countermeasures are already in the works. "Our engineers are working on a self-limiting, high-temperature superconductor technology which would stop and prevent power surges generated anywhere in the system from spreading to other substations. Pilot tests in New York City may be ready as soon as 2010."

Al Fin notes that simply removed the anchoring bolts for the line tower can cause a blackout

Foresight Institute also wrote about the many ways to take out transformers.

EMP isn’t the only way to fry a transformer. Natural solar Carrington events would have the same effect. They could be blown up the old-fashioned way by explosives — or even explosively shorted out by shooting giant steel arrows into them from catapults.

Rob Freitas and J Storrs Hall once did a back-of-the-envelope calculation that a fully-developed molecular manufacturing capability could rebuild the entire infrastructure of the US in somewhere between 1 and 2 weeks. If you have that kind of productive capacity available, you can stand lots of shocks with equanimity. If the twin towers had that kind of productive technology built in for active maintenance, repair, and expansion, they’d still be standing.

3. How life survives and asteroid impact

A dinosaur-killing asteroid may have wiped out much of life on Earth 65 million years ago, but now scientists have discovered how smaller organisms might have survived in the darkness following such a catastrophic impact.

They tested both freshwater and ocean mixotrophs under conditions ranging from low light to complete darkness for six months, and added food sources during short-term experiments to simulate decaying organic matter. Mixotrophs survived all the experiments, and some even grew under the low light conditions. Their ability to consume other organisms or organic matter helped them rebound quickly after low light returned, perhaps similar to the clouds of dust and debris finally beginning to clear.

But the real shock came from how well light-dependent organisms did when living with the mixotrophs. No photosynthesis could take place under the complete darkness, but the phototrophs mostly managed to survive based on nutrients cycled by the active mixotrophs.

"We were extremely surprised at how well phototrophs did during six months darkness, when they can't eat at all," Jones said. Such findings may cause researchers to rethink how well certain life forms survived the catastrophic impacts that dot Earth's geological record.

Furthermore, the mixotroph activity allowed the phototroph populations to rebound quickly back to normal within a month. And in the end, both mixotrophs and phototrophs tended to fare better when living together.

"So long as mixotrophs are cycling nutrients, [phototroph] algae can take off quickly and get the life cycle going," Jones explained.

4. Health officials say influenza is circulating unusually early this year with cases in every state - and nearly all the infections are swine flu.

Australian and U.S. researchers said Thursday that one dose of the new swine flu vaccine looks strong enough to protect adults - and can begin protection within 10 days of the shot.

Australian drug maker CSL Ltd. published results of a study that found 75 percent to 96 percent of vaccinated people should be protected with a single dose - the same degree of effectiveness as the regular winter flu shot. That's remarkable considering scientists thought it would take two doses.

New Display Technology, Augmented Reality Glasses and Folding E-Book

2009 is the first year that we're really seeing all of the display types mentioned here—LED LCD, OLED, E-Ink, and legacy CFL LCD, plasma and others—all coexist in the market and establish themselves in their respective niches.

LCD-backlit LED has so far brought incremental advances to the mobile-computing space, the place where it's poised to have the most dramatic impact is in televisions. A high-end LCD HDTV has a contrast ratio of about 30,000:1, whereas LED LCDs have contrast ratios between 1,000,000:1 and 2,000,000:1. Power consumption and weight savings of LED-backlit LCDs are between 30 and 50 percent, and these savings translate into very attractive form factors—the latest LED LCD TVs from Sharp and others are only a little over 1 inch thick, despite their large (46 inch and up) screen sizes. iSuppli predicts the percentage of these LED-backlit TVs will grow from 3 percent of TV sales in 2009 to 39 percent in 2013.

The smaller end of the screen size spectrum will soon belong to organic LED (OLED). OLED needs no backlighting because the pixel grid itself is an array of colored lights. Such "active-matrix" OLED displays are also brighter than active-matrix LCD technology. OLED screens have every other screen technology beat in the contrast and brightness departments and they're also thinner. Sony's 11-inch XEL-1 is currently the only commercially available OLED TV, and it boasts a thickness of 3 millimeters. LG has announced a 15-inch OLED TV that will be a scant 0.85 millimeters thick, which will launch Korea at the end of this year.

Once credit loosens up and those fabs come online, OLED will finally be able to break out of its small-screen niche. Ultimately, OLED has potential applications far beyond HDTV. OLED displays can be printed on a flexible plastic substrate, and foldable screens with the thickness of a credit card have already been demonstrated at CES 2009. Clear OLED screens will also eventually be possible, so that a window in your house could double as a TV screen.

E-Ink's ultra-low power usage and daylight readability make it an ideal replacement for printing in another application: signs. Signs in grocery stores for displaying product prices and specials were among the earliest commercial uses for E-Ink, and as the technology gets cheaper and gains new features like color and faster refresh times, it will see more widespread use in such signage applications

Retinal Imaging Displays (RID)
Microvision released the Nomad Expert Technician System in 2004. (It cost $4,000 a unit and only projected images in red; Honda ordered some for their training centers, but the NETS never caught on, and was discontinued by 2006.)

Brother announced last year (2008) that it was hoping to make their retinal imaging display device commercially available sometime in 2010.

Conceptual image of the visual field seen through the RID

Asus plans Cheap E-book and Foldable E-book

Asus plans a cheap E-book and a Foldable E-book.

With dual screens, the new Eee e-reader could give readers a user experience similar to paper books. The device could also offer readers the option of using the second screen to browse a web page. The best part about the device, though, would be the price tag, says the Times report. The cheapest version of the Asus Eee reader could lost about £100, equivalent to $165.

Asus popularized inexpensive and simple netbooks. Asus should unveil the device either in December of 2009 or January of 2010.

Far More Important than Freeing Music Online - Fighting to Allow College Education to Be Offered at $99/Month

Higher education is ready to be re-invented and this re-invention should not be delayed for two decades.

The next generation of online education could be great for students—and "catastrophic" for universities.

StraighterLine is offering online courses in subjects like accounting, statistics, and math. It offers as many courses as you want for a flat rate of $99 a month.

Online study groups were available where she could collaborate with other students via listserv and instant messaging. StraighterLine courses were designed and overseen by professors with PhDs, and she was assigned a course adviser who was available by e-mail. And if Solvig got stuck and needed help, real live tutors were available at any time, day or night, just a mouse click away.

Crucially for Solvig—who needed to get back into the workforce as soon as possible—StraighterLine let students move through courses as quickly or slowly as they chose. Once a course was finished, Solvig could move on to the next one, without paying more. In less than two months, she had finished four complete courses, for less than $200 total. The same courses would have cost her over $2,700 at Northeastern Illinois, $4,200 at Kaplan University, $6,300 at the University of Phoenix, and roughly the gross domestic product of a small Central American nation at an elite private university. They also would have taken two or three times as long to complete.

And if Solvig needed any further proof that her online education was the real deal, she found it when her daughter came home from a local community college one day, complaining about her math course. When Solvig looked at the course materials, she realized that her daughter was using exactly the same learning modules that she was using at StraighterLine, both developed by textbook giant McGraw-Hill. The only difference was that her daughter was paying a lot more for them, and could only take them on the college’s schedule. And while she had a professor, he wasn’t doing much teaching. “He just stands there,” Solvig’s daughter said, while students worked through modules on their own.

The cost of storing and communicating information over the Internet had fallen to almost nothing. Electronic course content in standard introductory classes had become a low-cost commodity. The only expensive thing left in higher education was the labor, the price of hiring a smart, knowledgeable person to help students when only a person would do. And the unique Smarthinking call- center model made that much cheaper, too. By putting these things together, Smith could offer introductory college courses à la carte, at a price that seemed to be missing a digit or two, or three: $99 per month, by subscription. Economics tells us that prices fall to marginal cost in the long run. Burck Smith simply decided to get there first.

The biggest obstacle Smith faced in launching StraighterLine was a process called accreditation. Over time, colleges and universities have built sturdy walls and deep moats around their academic city-states. So Burck Smith devised a clever way under the accreditation wall, brokering deals whereby a handful of accredited traditional and for-profit institutions agreed to become “partner colleges” that would allow students to transfer in StraighterLine courses for credit.

As word of the StraighterLine deal spread around the Fort Hays campus, professors and students began to protest. By early 2009 a Facebook group called “FHSU students against Straighter Line” had sprung up, attracting more than 150 members. Smith had to recruit several new partner colleges to stay afloat.

Smith’s struggle to establish StraighterLine suggests that higher education still has some time before the Internet bomb explodes in its basement. The fuse was only a couple of years long for the music and travel industries; for newspapers it was ten. Colleges may have another decade or two, particularly given their regulatory protections.

If the USA and other countries truly cared about effectively educating the people, increasing the productivity of economy, then legislative efforts would be made to breakdown the barriers to effective and affordable online education. Funding could be provided to help educational institutions to transition to a new world where they are less land/building intensive and where they have less of an undergraduate cash cow. Some inferior institutions would be shutdown.

As seen on this site there is also no need to allow students to be subjected to inferior teachers. There are the online videos of Richard Feynmann explaining physics. There are other videos of highly competent and inspirational MIT teachers explaining various topics.

There is no reason for first year students to get courses from unmotivated teaching assistants who may have only completed an undergraduate in the topic and do not have a firm grasp of the material.


Al Fin: Disruptive Educational Technology: Doom U?

Speculist: Some people pay more for cable


MIT Open courseware

1900 courses

Whole Human Genomes Sequenced for $5000 Each When Bought in Volume

Complete Genomics of Mountain View, CA, announced that it had fully sequenced 14 individual genomes, almost doubling the number of people who have had nearly every C, T, A, and G in their bodies decoded and published.

Although last year it announced that it had sequenced a genome for $4,000. And CEO Clifford Reid says the company will soon start charging $20,000 per genome for an order of eight genomes or more, and $5,000 apiece for an order of 1,000 or more-with variable pricing in between. The sequencing technology involved is gearing up to run one genome per day per instrument, Reid says, with an accuracy that is comparable to the sequences published last year using technology developed by San Diego-based Illumina, which charged about $250,000 to sequence that genome.

Having one's complete genome sequenced is far more thorough than the scans done by companies such as 23andMe (also in Mountain View) and DeCodeMe, in Iceland. These companies offer direct-to-consumer testing of a person's DNA for between $399 and $985. But they test only about a million genetic markers out of the six billion nucleotides that reside inside human cells.

Richard Feynmann Explaining Quantum Physics in Video

Feynmann Explaining Reflection

Feynman on Wave Particle Duality (QED Lecture in New Zealand)

5 minutes of Part of the longer videos linked to below.

Feynmann on Electricity

Feynmann on Atoms

Feynmann on Magnets

Here is a youtube video where Feynmann explains gravitation. [no embed link]

There are lengthy 90-100 minute video lectures by Feynmann here.

There are four videos here by Feynmann.

Part 1: Photons - Corpuscles of Light

A gentle lead-in to the subject, Feynman starts by discussing photons and their properties.

Youtube has the talk in 9-10 minute chunks

Part 2: Fits of Reflection and Transmission - Quantum Behaviour
What are reflection and transmission, and how do they work?

Part 3: Electrons and their Interactions.
Feynman diagrams and the intricacies of particle interaction.

Part 4: New Queries
What does it mean, and where is it all leading?

BBC Video on Feynmann and Quantum Electrodynamics

3 parts:

September 10, 2009

SENS4 Antiaging conference: Tissue Engineering, Stem Cells, Gene Therapy, rejuvenated immune system and More

Ouroboros continues writeups of the recently completed SENS 4 antiaging conference.

Previous nextbigfuture coverage:

Part 2 of 3 summary of Ouroboros SENS4 coverage

The Seconds half of the SENS4 schedule with links to abstracts

Part 1 of 3 summary of Ouroboros SENS4 coverage

SENS4, Session 21: Tissue engineering

Gabor Forgacs gave a very interesting talk about using bioprinting to build entire organs from scratch. He argued that while traditional scaffold-based methods of tissue engineering work for thin tissues, they are not appropriate for thick, complex tissues. They have designed a computer-aided printing system that can put down layers of single cells according to a blueprint, and are applying it to produce vascular and nerve grafts.

Sally Dickinson spoke about the first transplant of a tissue-engineered airway, which took place in June 2008. She played a cool video explaining the whole procedure, which is up on youtube. Using a donor trachea, they first treated it to remove all the donor’s cells; they then took some stem cells from the patient’s bone marrow, turned them into chondrocytes, grew them up and seeded them onto the scaffold; finally, they transplanted the engineered trachea into the patient

Session 15: Rejuvenation Blood and the immune system demonstrated in mice.

Justin Rebo spoke about some initial experiments that show it’s feasible to selectively remove anergic T cells from old mice. The basic idea: remove some blood from a mouse; mix it with some selective superparamagnetic antibodies; clean the blood by applying a magnet to separate out tagged cells; put it back into the animal

Session 16: Gene therapy

Carlos Barbas talked about altering the activity of individual genes using zinc finger recombinases. They have developed an automated approach for producing enzymes that can accurately target any region of DNA, and made it publicly available – just input your target sequence to ZFTools.

Session 18 : Advances in Cell Therapies

Daniel Kraft spoke about stem cell transplantation in bone marrow. They developed an alternative method of ‘making room’ in bone marrow for new stem cells that uses antibodies (which is much less toxic than chemotherapy, the usual approach). Also, they developed MarrowMiner, a faster and less painful way to extract bone marrow from a donor using only a single entry site – previous methods require making hundreds of individual needle jabs.

Conventional Uranium Supply and Demand

An IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) report on Uranium until 2050 has the above chart.

Market Based Demand Cases (Tons per year needed
Low demand case 1 917 990
Middle demand case 4 158 280
High demand case 6 406 190

The conclusions of a World Nuclear Association report,The Global Nuclear Fuel Market Supply and Demand 2009-2030 are the nuclear energy's fuel supply infrastructure should be able to meet world demand in the short term, but expansion will be needed across the entire fuel cycle beyond 2020.

Three scenarios presented for world nuclear capacity up to 2030, only the lower scenario sees nuclear generation failing to increase above its 2008 level of 371 GWe. The reference scenario sees an overall 2.2% growth rate reaching 476 GWe by 2020 and 600 GWe by 2030, while the upper scenario sees 558 GWe by 2020 and 818 GWe by 2030.

The report uses information gathered via questionnaires from WNA members representing all aspects of the fuel cycle across the globe. A computer model is then used to forecast nuclear fuel supply and demand to 2030.

Uranium Resource Categories

Category Definitions

Reasonably assured resources (RAR): Uranium that occurs in known mineral deposits of such size, grade, and configuration that it could be recovered within the given production cost ranges, with currently proven mining and processing technology. Estimates of tonnage and grade are based on specific sample data and measurements of the deposits and on knowledge of deposit characteristics. Note: RAR corresponds to DOE's uranium reserves category.

Estimated additional resources (EAR): Uranium in addition to RAR that is expected to occur, mostly on the basis of geological evidence, in extensions of well-explored deposits, in little-explored deposits, and in undiscovered deposits believed to exist along well-defined geological trends with known deposits. This uranium can subsequently be recovered within the given cost ranges. Estimates of tonnage and grade are based on available sampling data and on knowledge of the deposit characteristics, as determined in the best-known parts of the deposit or in similar deposits. Note: EAR corresponds to DOE's probable potential resources category.

Speculative resources (SR): Uranium in addition to EAR that is thought to exist, mostly on the basis of indirect evidence and geological extrapolations, in deposits discoverable with existing exploration techniques. The location of deposits in this category can generally be specified only as being somewhere within given regions or geological trends. The estimates in this category are less reliable than estimates of RAR and EAR. Note: SR corresponds to the combination of DOE's possible potential resources and speculative potential resources categories.

*Identified Resources (formerly Known Conventional Resources)
- Reasonable Assured Resources (RAR)
- Inferred Resources (formerly Estimated Additional Resources I (EAR-I))

*Undiscovered Resources
- Prognosticated Resources (formerly Estimated Additional Resources II (EAR-II))
- Speculative Resources (SR)

Niger Could Move Beyond Current Levels of Top Uranium Producing Nations

Niger to triple uranium production in the next few years Niger communication minister and government spokesman Mohamed Ben Omar has said his country plans to raise its annual uranium production from 3,500 to 10,500 tonnes a year in the next few years.

21 page presentation (from 2007) on Niger Uranium Limited.

100% of Niger’s Uranium Production kin 2006 came from Areva’s Somair and Cominack Mines near Arlit. A mere $10 million exploration program spread over 2 years just completed in 2009. The growth to 10,000 tons/year is coming from the meager spending on exploration.

At the beginning of 2009, Niger and the French state mining company agreed a deal to build near Arlit the Imouraren mine. Areva would hold a 66% stake to the Nigerien mining office's 33%. At a projected output of five thousand tonnes of ore a year, it would be largest uranium mine in the world by 2012, as the SOMAIR and COMINAK mines are phased out. The deal would make Niger the second largest uranium producer in
the world, and included plans to construct a civil nuclear power station for Niger.

Niger has a substantial amount of political unrest but this unrest is not hindering exploitation or shipment of uranium.

Despite the violence in the Air Massif, Areva NC and the Nigerien government were by later 2008 unhindered in their exploitation of the Arlit uranium mines and in the transport of its product by highway to ports in Benin.

The Imouraren mine will le launched with an initial investment of more than 1.2 billion euros (1.6 billion dollars) and create almost 1,400 jobs. Once up to full production capacity, it should be producing 5,000 tonnes of uranium a year for 35 years.

Despite the unrest France, China, India and others are in Niger and cutting deals and getting Uranium. France seems to know how to get what they want out of Africa. It is like they have many decades of experience and the willingness to do whatever it takes to supply the nuclear reactors that provide 80% of France's electricity.

Niger to award 100 exploration permits to ramp up uranium industry . Niger Energy and Mines Minister Mamadou Abdulahi said that the country will award 100 mining exploration permits over the next two years. State-controlled French utility Areva has enjoyed a monopoly on production of uranium in Niger for some 40 years. In recent years, the
government has issued a slew of new exploration licences in an effort to diversify the uranium sector. (Resource Investor Jan 10, 2008)

Kazakhstan Situation

Kazakhstan is a dictatorship. It appears to be a stable dictatorship. Kazatomprom, a state-owned holding company produces the uranium.

Former Kazatomprom head Mukhtar Dzhakishev and other company officials illegally shifted ownership of uranium mines worth tens of billions of dollars through a network of offshore companies, the KNB security
service said.

Interpretation: An underboss over-reached and got put down by the Godfather and the Don's security forces. Or the whatever the real story is... the top
guy decide to put down one of his underlings. The uranium is real and the reserves look real too. The Godfather in the movie had an olive oil business that was "real".

Just like the developed countries deal with bastards who control oil, they will deal with bastards who control uranium. The bastards with oil and uranium still sell it. It is not a question of if they will sell, it is a question of price.

Wikipedia has some info on the Kazakhstan dictatorship. The years following independence have been marked by significant reforms to the Soviet-style economy and political monopoly on power. Under Nursultan Nazarbayev, who initially came to power in 1989 as the head of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan and was eventually elected President in 1991, Kazakhstan has made significant progress toward
developing a market economy. The country has enjoyed significant economic growth since 2000, partly due to its large oil, gas, and mineral reserves. Democracy, however, has not gained much ground since 1991. "In June 2007, Kazakhstan's parliament passed a law granting President Nursultan Nazarbayev lifetime powers and privileges, including access to future presidents, immunity from criminal prosecution, and influence over domestic and foreign policy. Critics say he has become a de facto "president for life."

Kazakhstan's National Security Committee (KNB) was established on June 13, 1992. It includes the Service of Internal Security, Military Counterintelligence, Border Guard, several Commando units, and Foreign Intelligence (Barlau). The latter is considered by many as the most important part of KNB. Its director is Major General Omirtai Bitimov.

Energy is the leading economic sector. Production of crude oil and natural gas condensate in Kazakhstan amounted to 51.2 million tons in 2003, which was 8.6% more than in 2002.

Canada Uranium Situation

The delays in bringing the Canadian mines into production are not insurmountable. Especially if supply issues were idling hundreds of billions of dollars in nuclear plants. $2-3 billion more to overcome the flooding would be made available. Just like tens of billions go to solve oil sand recovery. Higher uranium prices also would also justify the investment needed to fix the problems. Canada also continues to find 4000-7000 ppm deposits.

World Nuclear Association report on Canada's Uranium

Canada's production is expected to increase significantly after 2011 as several new mines, now planned or under construction, go into operation.

Uranium production in Canada is likely to increase significantly as several new mines, now planned or under construction, go into operation sometime after 2011. The two largest projects are Cameco's Cigar Lake mine and Areva's Midwest mine, both in northern Saskatchewan. The mill at McClean Lake has been modified to process ore from both mines. The Rabbit Lake mill will also be modified to take ore from Cigar Lake. Total production is expected to be 8,200 t/y U3O8 from Cigar Lake and 2,600 t/y from Midwest.

The proven and probable ore reserves at Cigar Lake are extremely large and very high grade. A 450-metre-deep underground mine is being developed in very poor ground conditions. Hence it will use ground freezing and high pressure water jets to excavate the ore. High-grade ore slurry from remote mining will be trucked for toll treatment at Areva's expanded McClean Lake mill, 70 km northeast, for the first two years. The average feed grade will be 20.7% U3O8. Then, as production approaches full capacity, all of the leaching will be done at McClean Lake but about half of the uranium solution will go on to Cameco's Rabbit Lake mill 70 km east for final production of uranium oxide concentrate. From both mills total production is expected to be 8,200 t/y U3O8 (7,000 tU/y) ramping up to this over three years from production start in 2011. Known resources are 160,000 tonnes U3O8 at about 19% average grade, and with other resources the mine is expected to have a life of at least 30 years.

Construction on the project began in 2005 with production originally scheduled to start in 2011. However, underground floods in 2006 and 2008 set the start date back until after 2011 and increased the overall cost of the project from C$660 to more than C$1billion. There will be extra requirements for pumping capacity and ground refrigeration. Some 1.3 million cubic metres of waste rock from Cigar Lake is being emplaced under water in the Sue C pit at McClean Lake, to prevent acid generation from it. Tailings will remain at Mclean Lake and Rabbit Lake.

A Cigar Lake II deposit nearby is being investigated.

In addition to mining operations planned for the near future, active exploration involving more than 40 companies continues in many parts of Canada. While exploration has concentrated on northern Saskatchewan, new prospects extend to Labrador and Nova Scotia in the Atlantic provinces, Nunavut Territory in the far north, Quebec province and Ontario's Elliott Lake area. Resource figures quoted are generally NI 43-101 compliant.

In uranium-rich northern Saskatchewan, exploration projects are now well-advanced at three locations. The Millennium deposit (42% owned by Cameco, 30% by JCU and 28% Areva Resources) has indicated resources of 21,000 tonnes of 4.5% grade U3O8 and 4,400 tonnes of 2.1% grade inferred. Ore would be milled at Key Lake. A feasibility study on the project is under way. The Tamarack deposit associated with Dawn Lake is also a focus of interest.

The Shea Creek project (51% owned by Areva, 49% UEX Corp.) in the western Athabasca Basin has reported very high grade ore and a 900 metre shaft is being sunk to provide better access. UEX (21.3% owned by Cameco) has invested about C$30 million in exploration. UEX is also exploring the Horseshoe and Raven deposits at Hidden Bay in the eastern Athabasca basin (close to Rabbit Lake and McClean Lake). The Horseshoe deposit has indicated resources of 11,100 tonnes of U3O8 at a grade of 0.237%, and Raven has indicated resources of 7,060 tonnes at 0.02% cut-off.

Denison is actively exploring the Wheeler River deposit half way between Key Lake and McArthur River. It is a long strike from the latter and geologically very similar, with some high-grade uranium mineralisation.

The main Labrador prospect centres on the Michelin deposit, which is being drilled in a C$21million program by Aurora Energy Resources (46.8% Fronteer Development). Michelin and the adjacent Jacques Lake deposit have identified resources of 46,000 tonnes of U3O8. Michelin was originally scheduled for development starting in 2010, but a provincial government moratorium until 2011 will delay the project. In Nova Scotia, exploration has been proposed at Millet Brook, but it awaits a review of a 1985 moratorium on uranium mining in the province.

Far north in the Nunavut Territory, a joint venture headed by Areva is conducting a feasibility study on the Kiggavik uranium deposit in the Thelon Basin, with an estimated 67,000 tonnes U3O8 at 0.24% grade. The indigenous Inuit organization, Nunavut Tunngavic, reversed its previous ban on uranium exploration and mining in 2006, but the project has faced opposition from other groups. The project involves the development of three open pit mines at Kiggavik and both an open pit mine and an underground mine at Sissons. Areva and its partners, JCU (Canada) Exploration and Daewoo, hope for a start-up of the mine and mill complex in 2015.e

Also in Nunavut, at Amer Lake, Uranium North Resources has reported resources of 8,770 t U3O8.

In Quebec, exploration is underway at several locations with a total of more than 40,000 tonnes of indicated or inferred deposits. Strateco Resources has reported indicated resources of 1,700 t U3O8 grading 0.68% and inferred resources of 6,000 tonnes grading 0.44% at its Matoush deposit in the Otish Basin of central Quebec. The company completed a scoping study in 2008 and will begin underground development in mid-2009, with a view to mine production in 2012. Azimut Exploration has committed C$42 million to uranium exploration, mainly for the Katavic project in Quebec's northern Nunavik region and other prospects in the Ungava Bay region further north. Uracan Resources reports 18,400 tonnes of U3O8 of inferred resources at its North Shore prospect in eastern Quebec.

The Elliot Lake area of Ontario, which was the centre of Canada's early uranium mining, is again attracting exploration. In September 2008, Pele Mountain Resources commenced the permitting process for its Eco Ridge underground uranium mine and processing facility in the region. Eco Ridge contains indicated resources of 5,700 tonnes U3O8 and inferred resources of 37,300 tonnes U3O8.

In British Columbia, the Blizzard prospect south of Kelowna, which was first explored in the 1980s, has been revived by Boss Power. The company has challenged a provincial government moratorium on exploration and mining imposed in April 2008, and the British Columbia government has indicated the Blizzard project may be able to go forward.

Uranium exploration appears to be on the upswing throughout Canada. Cameco spent C$57 million on exploration in 2008 (plus a further $32 million in three strategic partnerships with junior explorers) and plans C$50-55 million for 2009, mainly in Saskatchewan, Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. In late 2007, Cameco announced an agreement with the Russian company Uranium Holding ARMZ (JSC Atomredmetzoloto)
to create a joint venture to explore and mine uranium in northwest Russia, Saskatchewan and Nanavut.

September 09, 2009

Lithographic Graphitic Memories

HPC Wire reports that advances by the Rice University lab of James Tour have brought graphite’s potential as a mass data storage medium a step closer to reality and created the potential for reprogrammable gate arrays that could bring about a revolution in integrated circuit logic design. (H/T Sander Olson)

In a paper published in the online journal ACS Nano, Tour and postdoctoral associate Alexander Sinitskii show how they've used industry-standard lithographic techniques to deposit 10-nanometer stripes of amorphous graphite, the carbon-based, semiconducting material commonly found in pencils, onto silicon. This facilitates the creation of potentially very dense, very stable nonvolatile memory for all kinds of digital devices.

With backing from a major manufacturer of memory chips, Tour and his team have pushed the technology forward in several ways since a paper that appeared last November first described two-terminal graphitic memory. While noting advances in other molecular computing techniques that involve nanotubes or quantum dots, he said none of those have yet proved practical in terms of fabrication.

Not so with this simple-to-deposit graphite. "We're using chemical vapor deposition and lithography -- techniques the industry understands," said Tour, Rice's Chao Professor of Chemistry and a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and of computer science. "That makes this a good alternative to our previous carbon-coated nanocable devices, which perform well but are very difficult to manufacture."

James Tour of Rice university has developed easily accessible memory devices based upon stripes of chemical vapor deposited (CVD) nanosized irregular discs of graphitic material that can be layered in stripes ≤10 nm thick with controllable lengths and widths. These lithographic graphitic stripes, which can be easily fabricated in large quantities in parallel by conventional fabrication techniques (such as CVD and photo- or e-beam lithography), with yields >95%, are shown to exhibit voltage-induced switching behavior, which can be used for two-terminal memories. These memories are stable, rewritable, and nonvolatile with ON/OFF ratios up to 10^7, switching times down to 1 μs (tested limit), and switching voltages down to 3−4 V. The major functional parameters of these lithographic memories are shown to be scalable with the devices’ dimensions.

Graphite's other advantages were detailed in Tour's earlier work: the ability to operate with as little as three volts, an astoundingly high on/off ratio (the amount of juice a circuit holds when it’s on, as opposed to off) and the need for only two terminals instead of three, which eliminates a lot of circuitry. It's also impervious to a wide temperature range and radiation; this makes it suitable for deployment in space and for military uses where exposure to temperature extremes and radiation is a concern.

Tour's graphite-forming technique is well-suited for other applications in the semiconductor industry. One result of the previous paper is a partnership between the Tour group and NuPGA (for "new programmable gate arrays"), a California company formed around the research to create a new breed of reprogrammable gate arrays that could make the design of all kinds of computer chips easier and cheaper.

Currently, antifuse FPGAs can be programmed once. But this graphite approach could allow for the creation of FPGAs that can be reprogrammed at will. Or-Bach said graphite-based FPGAs would start out as blanks, with the graphite elements split. Programmers could "heal" the antifuses at will by applying a voltage, and split them with an even higher voltage.

Such a device would be mighty handy to computer-chip designers, who now spend many millions to create the photolithography mask sets used in chip fabrication. If the design fails, it's back to square one.

Carbon-based memory architectures promise to revolutionize FPGA design, according to the founder of a chip startup.

Startup NuPGA was founded by Zvi Or-Bach, a winner of the EE Times Innovator of the Year Award. He previously founded eASIC and Chip Express. Or-Bach has applied for a patent, along with Rice University, for its carbon-based memory process developed by professor James Tour. The approach uses graphite as the reprogrammable memory element inside vias on otherwise conventional FPGAs.

"Using graphite in the vias as fuse is a very interesting concept," said Dean Freeman, senior analyst at Gartner Inc. "We are going to see a lot of very innovative, creative thinking along these lines in the next five years."

Rice University researchers developed a bulk chemical process that converted nanotubes into nanoribbons, providing the raw material needed to perfect a technique based on using voltage pulses to make or break connections--essentially turning the carbon ribbons into reprogrammable switches. NuPGA plans to harness these reprogrammable switches in FPGAs by inserting graphite into vias between chip layers, allowing them to be reconfigured on-the-fly.

"Graphene can become interesting when it is shaved down to below 10-nanometer widths into ribbon structures, making it much easier to modulate at low voltages," said Tour. "Graphene won't be ready to go head-to-head with Intel until 2015, when lithography dips below that 10-nanometer size. By that time, much of the market could already be using thin films of carbon materials for bulk electronics in places where silicon can't be used today."

By making thin films from his slurries of carbon nanotubes--what he calls "graphene nanoribbons"--Tour perfected the memory architecture to be used in reprogrammable switches in NuPGA's chips. The process allows a voltage pulse to reprogram FPGAs by making or breaking the connection pathway through graphite-filled vias.

Future X-ray Sources Will Enable New Science

Science and Technology of Future Light Sources (91 pages) by Argonne National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

X-rays with energies above 10 keV offer capabilities extending beyond the nanoworld shown aboce due to their ability to penetrate into optically opaque or thick objects. This opens the door to combining atomic level information from scattering studies with 3D information on longer length scales from real space imaging with a resolution approaching 1 nm. The investigation of multiple length scales is important
in hierarchical structures, providing knowledge about function of living organisms, the atomistic origin of materials failure, the optimization of industrial synthesis, or the working of devices.

Future advanced x-ray sources and instrumentation will extend the power of x-ray methods to reach greater spatial resolution, increased sensitivity, and unexplored temporal domains. The purpose of this document is threefold:
1) summarize scientific opportunities that are beyond the reach of today’s x-ray sources and instrumentation;
2) summarize the requirements for advanced x-ray sources and instrumentation needed to realize these scientific opportunities, as well as potential methods of achieving them; and
3) outline the R&D required to establish the technical feasibility of these advanced x-ray sources and instrumentation.

Science Drivers

The need for advanced x-ray capabilities, two examples are given below of what we need to learn. They are related to “chemical reactivity” and “complex materials,”

• Knowing the importance of energy in guiding chemical reactions, we envision driving chemical transformations by controlled optical or infrared pulses and understanding the atomic and electronic transformation by means of advanced x-ray spectroscopies. More specifically, we need to capture, with snapshots on the femtosecond timescale, the making and breaking of chemical bonds and the crucial transition-state intermediates in chemical reactions.

• We foresee an understanding of the origins of nanoscale charge, spin, and orbital order and their dynamics in correlated materials through high-resolution energy- and time-dependent x-ray tools with nm resolution. The correlated interactions lead to unusual phenomena such as high-transition temperature superconductivity, metal-insulator transitions and novel phases. We need to visualize through ultrafast x-ray motion pictures the performance limits of materials and electronic devices, e.g., the speed limit of a spintronics device.

Time and Matter and Better Light Sources

Essential New X-Ray Capabilities
1 X-Ray Time Structure—Complete Control of Longitudinal Phase Space
2 Full Transverse Coherence
3 High Average Flux and Brightness
4 Tunability, Polarization Control, and Extended Photon Energies

Type of X-ray Sources with Enhanced Capabilities
1 Storage Rings
2 Energy Recovery Linacs (ERLs)
3 Linac-Based FELs [Free Electron Lasers]

China Making Largest Solar Power Plant: Two Billion Watts

First Solar, which makes more solar cells than any other company, said it struck a tentative 10-year deal to build in China's vast desert north of the Great Wall. The project would eventually blanket 25 square miles of Inner Mongolia — slightly larger than the size of Manhattan — with a sea of black, light-absorbing glass.

The solar field would dwarf anything in operation in the U.S. or Europe. At 2 gigawatts, or 2 billion watts, the solar plant could pump as much energy onto China's grid as two coal-fired plants, enough to light up three million homes

First Solar will provide most of the solar, with the first 30 megawatts installed by June 1, 2010. The company will expand the plant over the next decade, installing about 27 million thin-film panels by 2019.

Interesting but Remote Possibility: Curt Schilling Could Throw Pitch to Start Baseball Season

United States presidents have thrown out the first pitch of the baseball season since President Taft.

The path for Curt Schilling to throwing out the first pitch of the baseball season.

1. Enter and win the US Senate Race for Senator of Massachusetts

Newsweek notices the advantages that Schilling would have in running for the US Senate seat left open by Teddy Kennedy's death

Schilling would be the biggest name in the race, and he has already established a legacy in the heart of Red Sox Nation that no other candidate can rival. Just by entering the race, he would challenge Sarah Palin’s status as the nation’s most prominent Alaska Republican. (Schilling is from Anchorage.) And he is both brighter (though he never graduated from college) and far more articulate than Palin, as well as exceptionally savvy about both traditional media and new technologies that enable him to reach his audience directly.

Schilling campaigned for John McCain as seen in the video. Recently McCain appeared with Schilling.

John McCain is encouraging Schilling to run in the special election for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat.

One problem Schilling has is that he's registered to vote as an independent, and therefore might not be legally able to run as a Republican. If so, the GOP would have to clear the field and back Schilling as an independent with Republican support

Relevant Precedent
Kentucky Senatory Jim Bunning, a Hall-of-Famer who pitched mostly for Detroit and Philadelphia, is retiring from the Senate next year after two terms.

Bunning pitched in the Major Leagues for 17 seasons, most notably with the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Phillies. When he retired, he had the second-highest total of career strikeouts in Major League history; he is currently 17th. Bunning pitched a perfect game in 1964, a feat that has been accomplished only eighteen times in Major League history. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.

After retiring from baseball, Bunning returned to his native northern Kentucky and was subsequently elected to the city council, and then the state senate, in which he served as minority leader. In 1986, Bunning was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Kentucky's 4th congressional district, and served in the House from 1987 to 1999. He was elected to the United States Senate from Kentucky in 1998 and has served there since 1999 as the Republican junior U.S. Senator. Bunning is currently the sixth oldest U.S. Senator and the oldest Republican in the Senate

Bill Bradley was a hall of fame basketball player who was a three term US Senator from New Jersey.

There are also successful celebrity politicians like Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sonny Bono, Steve Largent (Seattle Seahawks QB) , Helen Gahagan Douglas, George Murphy, Jesse Ventura, Al Franken, Fred Grandy (Love Boat's Gopher), Jack Kemp (Buffalo Bills QB)

2. Presumably be successful as a US Senator

3. Run and win a Presidential campaign

Curt Schilling has substantial financial resources and has name recognition. The Republican Party is relatively wide open in terms of possible presidential candidates.


Curt Schilling is an Advanced Squad Leader enthusiast

Schilling has played EverQuest and EverQuest II, and has reviewed two of the game's many expansion packs for PC Gamer magazine. Most recently, Schilling has been playing World of Warcraft and has become a regular guest on the popular World of Warcraft podcast, The Instance, with hosts Scott Johnson and Randy Jordan. In a July 2008 interview on The Jace Hall Show, Schilling confirmed this: "My time-sink has been MMOs for the most part, all the way back to Ultima Online, where I started, to EverQuest, EverQuest II. Last couple of years I've been pretty stuck to World of Warcraft." In 2006 Schilling created Green Monster Games, which Schilling stated, despite widespread rumor, was not named after the Fenway left field wall. In early 2007, the company's name was changed to 38 Studios.

He is an avid web communicator. Before the 2007 season, Schilling started a blog called in which he answers fan questions, documents his starts and refutes press coverage about him or the team that he believes is inaccurate. Schilling can also be found on the popular micro-blogging website twitter under the handle gehrig38

Schilling earned $114,158,000 in baseball salary which does not include bonuses. He did earn bonuses for his success with the Boston Red Sox. Schilling also had endorsement earnings.

MIT Finds the Molecular DNA of concrete: Structure of Most Common Building Material Decoded

An MIT team found that the calcium-silica-hydrate in cement isn't really a crystal. It's a hybrid that shares some characteristics with crystalline structures and some with the amorphous structure of frozen liquids, such as glass or ice. "Now that we have a validated molecular model, we can manipulate the chemical structure to design concrete for strength and environmental qualities, such as the ability to withstand higher pressure or temperature," said Franz-Josef Ulm, the Macomber Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), a co-author of the paper.

At the atomic scale, tobermorite and other minerals resemble the regular, layered geometric patterns of kilim rugs, with horizontal layers of triangles interspersed with layers of colored stripes. But a two-dimensional look at a unit of cement hydrate would show layers of triangles (the silica tetrahedra) with every second, fifth or eighth triangle turned up or down along the horizontal axis, reaching into the layer of calcium oxide above or below.

And it is in these messy areas - where breaks in the silica tetrahedra create small voids in the corresponding layers of calcium oxide - that water molecules attach, giving cement its robust quality. Those erstwhile "flaws" in the otherwise regular geometric structure provide some give to the building material at the atomic scale that transfers up to the macro scale. When under stress, the cement hydrate has the flexibility to stretch or compress just a little, rather than snapping.

"We've known for several years that at the nano scale, cement hydrates pack together tightly like oranges in a grocer's pyramid. Now, we've finally been able to look inside the orange to find its fundamental signature. I call it the DNA of concrete," said Franz-Josef Ulm, the Macomber Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), a co-author of the paper. "Whereas water weakens a material like tobermorite or jennite, it strengthens the cement hydrate. The 'disorder' or complexity of its chemistry creates a heterogenic, robust structure

CEE Visiting Professor Roland Pellenq, director of research at the Interdisciplinary Center of Nanosciences at Marseille, which is part of the French National Center of Scientific Research and Marseille University, pinned down the exact chemical shape and structure of C-S-H using atomistic modeling on 260 co-processors and a statistical method called the grand canonical Monte Carlo simulation.

Like its name, the simulation requires a bit of gambling to find the answer. Pellenq first removed all water molecules from the basic unit of tobermorite, watched the geometry collapse, then returned the water molecules singly, then doubly and so on, removing them each time to allow the geometry to reshape as it would naturally. After he added the 104th water molecule, the correct atomic weight of C-S-H was reached, and Pellenq knew he had an accurate model for the geometric structure of the basic unit of cement hydrate.

The team then used that atomistic model to perform six tests that validated its accuracy.

"This gives us a starting point for experiments to improve the mechanical properties and durability of concrete. For instance, we can now start replacing silica in our model with other materials," said Pellenq.

Quantum Computing with an Electron Spin Ensemble Proposed to Make Hundreds of Qubits

The physical setup of the quantum computer consists of a superconducting transmission line cavity coupled to an ensemble of electron spins and a transmon Cooper pair box. The cavity dimensions allow 100 billion electron spins to be coupled to the cavity mode, which could be used to make hundreds of physical qubits. Image copyright: J.H. Wesenberg, et al.

Physics Review Letter A: UK and Denmark researchers propose to encode a register of quantum bits in different collective electron spin wave excitations in a solid medium. Coupling to spins is enabled by locating them in the vicinity of a superconducting transmission line cavity, and making use of their strong collective coupling to the quantized radiation field. The transformation between different spin waves is achieved by applying gradient magnetic fields across the sample, while a Cooper pair box, resonant with the cavity field, may be used to carry out one- and two-qubit gate operations.

Phys org has coverage

Scientists have recently proposed a quantum computing scheme that uses an ensemble of about 100 billion electron spins. They show that hundreds of physical qubits can be made from these collective electron spin excitations.

The system can also perform qubit encoding and provide one- and two-bit gates for quantum computing. In the setup, the electron spins are coupled to a superconducting transmission line cavity. In turn, this cavity is coupled to a transmon Cooper pair box that carries out the gate operations.

“A single electron spin only interacts very weakly with its environment: this makes it a good quantum memory, except that it is very hard to initialize or read out,” Wesenberg explained to “In the ensemble register we make use of the fact that the collective interaction between an ensemble of billions of spins and a microwave cavity is greatly enhanced by the so-called superradiant effect. This makes it possible to transfer a microwave photon (carrying a qubit), from the cavity to the spin ensemble in a few tens of nanoseconds compared to a significant fraction of a second for a single spin. Once the photon has been transferred to the ensemble, it lives as an delocalized excitation.

“The state of the system is a quantum superposition of each spin being excited, that is, flipped relative to the very strong magnetic field that has been applied to the system. There is an infinite number of ways in which a single excitation can be superpositioned in this way, and these can be described in terms of spin waves. By applying a magnetic gradient pulse, we can transfer an excitation that lives as one kind of spin wave to another kind of spin wave.”

Depending on the materials used, the system could achieve spin coherence times of up to tens of milliseconds, which could be used to build a solid-state device.

“The immediate plan is to demonstrate experimentally that this works,” Wesenberg said. “First in the semi-classical setting (which is essentially electron spin resonance spectroscopy), and later in the quantum regime. Experiments to this end are underway at Yale and Oxford.”

Mach Effect Part II

This is a follow up to the Mach Effect introduction article and interview article that Nextbigfuture had with Paul March.

Reminder: Mach Effect is based on a theory of inertia that is consistent with General Relavity that is about one hundred years old where inertia is the gravititional effect of all gravity from all matter 10^80 atoms in the universe.

If a Mach Lorentz Thruster can be made, it will enable a space faring civilization that has most science fiction capabilities other than faster than light travel.

On the Talk Polywell site where people discuss the Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC) fusion device work, there has been some points asked about the Mach Lorentz Thruster work of James Woodward and Paul March.

From a commenter: "This is making my head hurt, how does mach's priniciple lead to variable mass for ions?"

It’s because in a Machian universe inertial mass arises from the radiation reaction interaction of the local accelerated mass with the cosmological / ambient gravitational or gravinertial field. If you transiently shield the local accelerated mass from its inertial field source, its instantaneous inertial mass has to transiently change in lock step with this shielding effect. This transient inertial shielding effect can be induced by accelerating a the local mass, while simultaneously changing its internal stored energy state. See Dr. Woodward's Cal. State University web page for details if interested.

From a commenter: "Stuff like this just makes me mad. They are trying to get people on step 12 when they are on step 2. Establishing the existence measurable mass fluctuations doesn't sound very expensive and is interesting all by itself. They should focus on that."

Response from Paul March

Dr. Woodward has been doing M-E “proof of principle” tests since ~1990 and I started in 2002. In short, the M-E derivation indicates that when a capacitor dielectric is subjected to a sinusoidal time rate of change of stored energy while simultaneously being subjected to a bulk acceleration relative to the distant stars, that a mass density variation of the dielectric should be expressed at 2X the drive frequency of the dE/dt energy flux, AKA electrical power. And its magnitude should be proportional to the product of the cube of the applied voltage times the applied bulk acceleration with all other controlling parameters held constant.

The latest Woodward run M-E proof of principle test series was expanded in the 2008 to 2009 time period to include the upgraded Mark-III rotary test rig that could supply a variable bulk centripetal gee loading to the excited dielectric cap array that went from zero up to over 800 gees (~7,900 m/sec^2) at 3600 RPM. A ring of eight high-k (e-r=~5,000) ceramic dielectric caps that were subjected to this variable acceleration were then excited at 40 kHz with 2.0, 4.0, & 6.0 kV-peak voltages while the 2nd harmonic (80 kHz) mass density fluctuations were measured using an instrumentation system that included an FFT time to frequency domain measurement scope that displayed the magnitudes of the generated fundamental and harmonic signals. We found a mass density variation signal present at 80 kHz that was proportional to the applied gee loading, varied with the cube of the applied voltage and subtracted from the mundane electrostrictive signal that was also suppose to be expressed at this 80 kHz frequency but at 180 degrees out of phase with the dm signal. Data is available to all who are interested.

Now you have to remember that the M-E powered WarpStar-1 slides appended at the “Next Big Future” web site were from my third STAIF paper published in 2007 which was about the possible future applications of the M-E, IF perfected. My 2004 and 2006 papers explored the theory, math modeling and M-E proof of principle tests that had been performed up to that time, including my own Mach-Lorentz Thruster (MLT) tests at a drive frequency 2.15, 2.2 and 3.8 MHz, where I measured a peak thrust of ~5.0 milli-Newton with a Faraday shielded test article.

So yes, I was selling step-12 as you call it in my STAIF-2007 paper since few people in the aerospace community had noticed the possible importance of the foregoing M-E proof of principle work by several different investigators both here in the USA and in Argentina. However, since then we have come to the conclusion that we will have to create a M-E demonstrator that will have to levitate itself for all to see before the mainstream will even acknowledge the possibility that we are on to something that could change the course of history in a very big way. Working…

Would the EEstor ultracapacitor or some other improved ultracapacitor help to significantly increase the voltages being used in the tests and thus help boost the effect ? double voltage for eight times the effect.

If the EEStor folks have a real product we can buy next year, they could be used in making a M-E based rotary unidirectional force generator or UFG, AKA an "Impulse" drive. Since the EEStor caps are multilayer, they could not be used in a Mach Lorentz Thruster (MLT) due to Lorentz vxB B-field force cancellations in every other
layer of the cap in question, since the E-field in each layer is rotated 180 degrees. For MLTs, we need a monolithic block of dielectric where the applied E-field vector and B-field vectors always have the same fixed physical orientation. As to the other super caps [100 kw linear drive capacitors for the Z pinch and other air force capacitor research], they may work for the rotary UFG, but they probably won't work for the MLT for the same Lorentz force cancellation issue.

From the comment thread of the prior nextbigfuture article

Qraal: "Bit of a misnomer to call it a "reactionless drive" isn't it?"

Response from Paul March Yes and that is why I don't use this phrase. An M-E drive requires a certain minimum amount of local reaction mass to work with, which interacts with the mostly distant mass/energy in the universe via the ambient cosmological gravinertial field wave interactions. That is why in the strictest sense an M-E drive is a "Recycled" mass driver since it reuses the onboard mass in the engine and the vehicle for each new acceleration/energy storing cycle in the M-E dielectric.

Kurt9:"Woodward and March's idea strikes me as being similar to or based on
Cramer's retro-causality ideas. Several years ago, Cramer passed around the
hat to fund his retro-causality experiment and that he was successful at
getting the necessary money. Does anyone know if this experiment was done
and what the results were?"

Response from Paul March
Woodward is going to be attending John Cramer's 75th Birthday Symposium on
September 10-11, 2009.


Jim will be presenting a summary of his M-E proof of principle tests he completed last spring at this symposium at 3:10 PM on the 10th. During the same meeting, Jim has promised me he will ask Dr. Cramer about the status of Cramer's retro-causality experiment that is at the heart of Cramer's Transactional Interpretation of QM. Why that is important is that it provides a readymade explanation of how inertial momenergy waves propagate to/from the mostly distant mass/energy in the universe in apparently zero local time.

BTW, there are at least two other SRT/GRT/String Theory based explanations
for the instantaneity of the radiation reaction based inertial forces. The
first is that there is a higher dimensional realm beyond our normal 4
spacetime that can convey these inertial reaction force momenergy fluxes, (String Theory's 11 dimensional Brane Multiverse), at much, much greater than our local c. This solution also provides a readymade explanation for Gunter Nimitz's superluminal choked waveguide tests and the workings of the M-E quation's "wormhole" term that always provides a negative going inertial mass density fluctuation that can exceed the rest mass of the excited dielectric, thus allowing the possibility of creating Kip Thorne's absurdly benign traversable wormholes through spacetime, and Alcubierre like warp bubbles that can propagate though normal spacetime at arbitrarily high velocities that can be much greater than c. In other words the M-E can supply the functions of both of the Star Trek like "Impulse" drive for local cruising, and the "Warp" drive for interstellar and/or time travel jumps.

The second approach to explaining these instant inertial reaction forces is that the current cosmological gravinertial field was created at the moment of the "Big Bang" and an M-E drive simply extracts energy and momentum from this gravinertial field with the recharging energy fluxes required to balance the momentum and energy books being supplied by the spherical momenergy waves radiating out from the M-E engine into the cosmos at light speed c. This latter approach does put a limit on the maximum power /thrust that can be obtained with these types of drives, but we are so ignorant as to where that limit may be met that it doesn't matter much until we build much higher power M-E units. However, this explanation does not explain the already demonstrated mass reduction effect that Woodward's 2002 IIT experiment where his 125 gram PZT test article lost close to 2.0 grams for 2 seconds while ~400W at 66.6 kHz power was applied to the test article, so I don't give it much credence.

From 2007 STAIF Paper by Paul March Could the Mach-Lorentz Thruster (MLT) usher in a new era in space exploration? If the nascent MLT technology scales as Woodward’s theory predicts, then it might. (Brito and Elaskar 2003; Mahood, March and Woodward 2001; March and Palfreyman 2006; Woodward 2004, 2005) It could allow us to go anywhere interesting in our solar system in less than three weeks; travel times limited only by the specific power of the available power supplies available and the accelerations human physiology can endure. However, there’s a large chasm between this vision of what could be and where we are today, for there are several MLT engineering challenges to be overcome first before we can make this vision a reality. We still need to determine experimentally what the MLT’s actual specific thrust and thrust to weight ratio scaling rules will be by constructing more powerful MLTs than the tens to hundreds of micro-Newton test articles that have been demonstrated thus far. MLT capacitor aging issues also need to be solved. (March and Palfreyman 2006; Woodward 2006), but given that these engineering tasks are not insurmountable, what new capabilities could these MLTs offer a spaceship designer?

The basic performance parameters of an MLT powered vehicle include the MLT’s specific thrust, electrical input energy, MLT subsystem mass, operating lifetime, the vehicle’s electrical power subsystem’s specific power ratio, gross-lift-off-weight (GLOW), and obtainable payload mass fraction. All of these parameters interact with each other, but the primary parameters of interest in an MLT powered vehicle are the MLT’s specific thrust in N/W and the vehicle’s electrical generation subsystem’s specific power in watts per kg (W/kg). A quick survey of existing high performance turbofan jets and rockets shows that the current specific thrust values for these engine types runs in the range of ~2.5x10^-3 N/W for high bypass turbofan jets to ~2.5x10^-4 N/W for the Space Shuttle Main Engine (SSME) rocket. Electrical power generation subsystems run in the 10-to-200 W/kg range dependent on their run-times, which is driven by their energy source. Due to the fact that the MLT’s recycle their onboard propellant, their specific thrust could be much higher than these current engine examples and may be as high as 10 N/W or higher dependent on the desired peak acceleration and other gravinertial issues not explored in this paper. For this MLT capabilities study, a variable specific thrust range of 0.5-to-1.0 N/W was chosen to allow peak vehicle accelerations of up to 2.0 Earth-gravities (E-g = 9.81m/sec2) while allowing economy cruise at ~0.5 E-g when in deep space.

Different Designs: Unidirectional Force Generator Versus Mach Lorentz Thruster

The original thruster, the UFG [Unidirectional Force Generator]; uses piezo ceramics to oscillate the active (fluctuating) mass caps in phase with their mass fluctuation. This design predates the MLT [Mach Lorentz Thruster] and has seen significant success. The troubles with UFG design are:

a) it is limited in frequency by the ability to mechanically shuttle the caps back and forth, generally limited to kHz frequencies though there are a couple ideas how to do this in the mHz range, perhaps up to hundreds of mHz.

b) UFG's in the past have appeared to have an objectionable acoustic destructive wave interference issue that has reduced results. Despite this difficulty, Jim is returning to UFG research in Oct.

The MLT was originally designed as a "silver bullet" to solve the acoustic interference issue. It has no moving parts except the caged titanium ion inside the BaTiO3 lattice. Unfortunately, this design did not adequately take to account the need to accelerate the entire lattice or provide for "bulk acceleration" so MLT results were disappointing. Despite this, Paul is pursuing the MLT design and should be able to do some testing on his recent build in the fall.

The rotator is not a thruster. It does not produce rectified force. It only produces "Mach-Effects," otherwise known as "mass fluctuations." It is therefore a proof of principle devise that shows empirical evidence for the science behind all M-E thruster work, but it is not in itself a thruster.

Worm holes from Mach Effect

Look at the Mach Effect (M-E) equation from Paul's 2009 AIAA presentation above. The M-E equation provides two solutions to the M-E gravinertial wave equation, that being the alternating plus & minus "Impulse" mass density term, and the always negative going "Wormhole" mass density term. Next, remember that the impulse term is the exciter/driver function of the M-E Wormhole term. Also note that the M-E wormhole term has an effective c^8 term in the denominator, which makes it very, very small under most circumstances, UNLESS the impulse term drives the cap dielectric density very, very close to zero, which can make it swamp out this 1/c^8
term and then go to a very large negative inertial mass density, very quickly, unless if it is constrained in some yet to be determined manner by the quantum vacuum, which it may well be, TBD. Once the wormhole term makes the apparent mass density of the excited dielectric in question go below zero, i.e., negative, this dielectric mass then becomes gravitationally "exotic" which mean that the sign of its inertial reaction forces reverses in comparison to normal gravitational matter when it is accelerated. This type of gravitationally exotic mass, if appropriately configured, can then be used to open up a Kip Thorne like absurdly benign traversable wormhole to anyplace in spacetime, or it can be used to create an Alcubierre spacetime warp bubble that can travel through normal spacetime at any arbitrarily large velocity that can be much larger than the speed of light c. In other words what we can create using the M-E is not only a classical Star Trek
like "Impulse" Drive, but an interstellar "Warp Drive" capability as well.

From the space show interviews with James Woodward:

James mentions that the wormhole possibility requires a Jupiter mass of exotic mass. So taking advantage of this possibility requires all of the science to work out and a Kardashev 2 (use all energy of the Sun) or 3 civilization (use all energy of all stars in a galaxy). Probably earlier if it was used to open a tiny wormhole for sending a Faster than light communication.