March 06, 2010

Congressional Budget Office Projects US Economy and Deficit to 2020

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CBO has just released its preliminary analysis of the President's budget. This analysis presents CBO's assessment of the budgetary outlook for the 2010-2020 period assuming enactment of the President's policy proposals and reflecting CBO's economic forecast and technical estimating procedures.


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DARPA Plans Unmanned Versions of the A-10, F-4 and F16 and a hypersonic plane

1. DARPA's is seeking purpose-built unmanned systems for close air support, as well as unmanned versions of manned fighters, including the "QF-4, QF-16 and UA-10". The QF-4 and QF-16 designates target drone versions of the original F-4 and F16 fighters, while the UA-10 is presumably a reference to an unmanned version of the A-10.

The project is targeting demonstrations in 2012 or 2013 of the unmanned component for a next-generation close air support system.

DARPA has set different performance requirements for unmanned versions. An unmanned variant of the A-10 would have to demonstrate comparable endurance to the manned version, while a purpose-built UAS would have to equal the persistence of the MQ-1 or MQ-9.

The payload of weapons and sensors sought by DARPA is comparable with the MQ-9, with only 907-2,270kg (2,000-5,000lb) requested. The aircraft, however, should have more agility than the Reaper

Tissue Engineering and Regeneration of Breasts, Limbs and Kidneys

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1. Melbourne aims to become an international leader in "limb regeneration" with plans for a dedicated centre.

The O'Brien Institute plans to combine its expertise in tissue regeneration and stem cell technology, as well as more traditional surgical methods, to help people with injured and amputated arms and legs. Tissue regeneration is a discipline some experts believe will lead to patients being able to regrow body parts.

The institute opened Australia's first stem cell bank last year.

It is also behind a world-first trial on breast cancer patients which, if successful, will allow women to regrow their breasts from implants of fat cells.

2. U.S. researchers say they've discovered a molecular pathway that can regenerate damaged kidney tissue.

In a multi-institution collaboration led by Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the Harvard Medical School, scientists said their findings might also lead to new therapies for repairing injuries in several other organ systems.

Acute kidney injury is a significant cause of kidney disease, cardiovascular complications and early death. There are currently no effective treatments for acute kidney injury.

The scientists found the protein Wnt7b helped initiate tissue repair and regeneration in injured kidneys

Proceedings of the National Academy of Science - Macrophage Wnt7b is critical for kidney repair and regeneration

Macrophages are required for tissue homeostasis through their role in regulation of the immune response and the resolution of injury. Here we show, using the kidney as a model, that the Wnt pathway ligand Wnt7b is produced by macrophages to stimulate repair and regeneration. When macrophages are inducibly ablated from the injured kidney, the canonical Wnt pathway response in kidney epithelial cells is reduced. Furthermore, when Wnt7b is somatically deleted in macrophages, repair of injury is greatly diminished. Finally, injection of the Wnt pathway regulator Dkk2 enhances the repair process and suggests a therapeutic option. Because Wnt7b is known to stimulate epithelial responses during kidney development, these findings suggest that macrophages are able to rapidly invade an injured tissue and reestablish a developmental program that is beneficial for repair and regeneration.

8 pages of supplemental material

3. Octane Medical Group's biomaterial is already being used in spinal surgery to repair damage caused by degenerative disc diseases, while its next generation of products will be used to repair knee cartilage or heart valves damaged by diseases such as arterial sclerosis

4. Mesynthes, a privately held regenerative medicine company, today announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted clearance for the company’s Endoform Dermal Template. Endoform, a proprietary extracellular matrix biomaterial, provides a unique biologic template for tissue regeneration.


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Skinput: Appropriating the Body as an Input Surface.

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Carnegie Mellon University and Microsoft research are working on Skinput.

Devices with significant computational power and capabilities can now be easily carried on our bodies. However, their small size typically leads to limited interaction space (e.g., diminutive screens, buttons, and jog wheels) and consequently diminishes their usability and functionality. Since we cannot simply make buttons and screens larger without losing the primary benefit of small size, we consider alternative approaches that enhance interactions with small mobile systems.

One option is to opportunistically appropriate surface area from the environment for interactive purposes. For example, Scratch Input is technique that allows a small mobile device to turn tables on which it rests into a gestural finger input canvas. However, tables are not always present, and in a mobile context, users are unlikely to want to carry appropriated surfaces with them (at this point, one might as well just have a larger device). However, there is one surface that has been previous overlooked as an input canvas, and one that happens to always travel with us: our skin.

Appropriating the human body as an input device is appealing not only because we have roughly two square meters of external surface area, but also because much of it is easily accessible by our hands (e.g., arms, upper legs, torso). Furthermore, proprioception (our sense of how our body is configured in three-dimensional space) allows us to accurately interact with our bodies in an eyes-free manner. For example, we can readily flick each of our fingers, touch the tip of our nose, and clap our hands together without visual assistance. Few external input devices can claim this accurate, eyes-free input characteristic and provide such a large interaction area.

The research on Skinput – a method that allows the body to be appropriated for finger input using a novel, non-invasive, wearable bio-acoustic sensor is presented in this 10 page paper.

Harrison, C., Tan, D. Morris, D. 2010. Skinput: Appropriating the Body as an Input Surface. To appear in Proceedings of the 28th Annual SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Atlanta, Georgia, April 10 - 15, 2010). CHI '10. ACM, New York, NY.
Currently, the acoustic detector can detect five skin locations with an accuracy of 95.5%, which corresponds to a sufficient versatility for many mobile applications. The prototype system then uses wireless technology like Bluetooth to transmit the commands to the device being controlled, such as a phone, iPod, or computer. Twenty volunteers who have tested the system have provided positive feedback on the ease of navigation. The researchers say the system also works well when the user is walking or running.


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Europe Targets Nanoscale Computer Memory with 16 nanometer and Eventually 5 nanometer Features

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There is a European project to design nanoscale memory for the computers of the future. The Terascale Reliable Adaptive Memory Systems (TRAMS) initiative is a Future Emerging Technologies (FET) collaborative research project approved by the European Commission as part of the Seventh Framework Program for Research and Technological Development.

The starting point will be the latest Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) technologies, which are the most commonly used in the manufacture of integrated circuits in most electronic products. The project includes the study of the new generations of chips with transistor sizes below 16 nm (whereas the current ones are 32 nm), as well as architectures with advanced devices (multigate devices, which are controlled from two or more different electrodes). It will also study new gate and channel materials that are being designed with a scale of less than 10 nm (they can be as small as 6 nm).

In addition, the project will also analyze emerging technologies, such as nanowire transistors, quantum devices, carbon nanotubes, graphene and molecular electronics, which are expected to reach sizes of less than 5 nm.

All of this new technology promises an increase in the density of integration of components, as well as performance and functionality, to hundreds of times the current values. However, at this scale, a dramatic reduction in the quality and reliability of components is also expected, with intense degradation effects, a sharp reduction in the signal to noise ratio and extreme variability of characteristics. Thus it is necessary to research new techniques and design rules for circuits and systems to guarantee reliable and robust systems in spite of the reduced quality of the components. To enable reliable, robust, fault and defect tolerant nanoscale memory systems to be built at a reasonable cost and with less designer effort, the TRAMS project will study these new devices, define new design paradigms and implement principles of hierarchical design.


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Metamaterial Hybrid Memory Devices

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Arxiv - Memory Metamaterials

The resonant elements that grant metamaterials their unique properties have the fundamental limitation of restricting their useable frequency bandwidth. The development of frequency-agile metamaterials has helped to alleviate these bandwidth restrictions by allowing real-time tuning of the metamaterial frequency response. We demonstrate electrically-controlled persistent frequency tuning of a metamaterial, allowing lasting modification of its response using a transient stimulus. This work demonstrates a form of memory capacitance which interfaces metamaterials with a class of devices known collectively as memory devices.

The use of a temperature bias in our experiment is required only to put a particular VO2 film into a regime where the IMT is highly hysteretic, although our VO2 does exhibit some hysteretic qualities even at room temperature. More promisingly, several VO2 fabrication techniques are known to reduce the phase-transition temperature down to room temperature and thus will enable VO2-hybrid memory metamaterials to operate at ambient conditions. Additionally, any material which posses a hysteretic response in either its permittivity or permeability at a suitable frequency range could be used in a hybrid-metamaterial design to obtain memory effects analogous to those we demonstrated here. The correlated electron state which gives VO2 the divergent permittivity used in this demonstration is only effective up to mid-infrared. Combination of other hysteretic materials with metamaterials operational in near-infrared and visible could easily push this effect to higher frequencies which are beneficial for a variety of practical applications


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March 05, 2010

DARPA wants Petaflop Computers that Are Several hundred Times more Energy Efficient

Register UK - DARPA issued a request for information to the HPC community to come up with a supercomputing system that could jam a petaflops in a rack, burn only about 57 kilowatts and be easy to program.

The UHPC project does not expect the technologies proposed to be available until 2018, and it does not even care so much if the underlying technologies that would be deployed in a UHPC ExtremeScale system get widely commercialized. But DARPA is adamant that it wants to cram the system, its networking, its storage, and its cooling into a cabinet that is 24 inches wide by 78 inches high and 40 inches deep - a little wider and taller than a standard server rack.

70 page pdf on the design goals

DARPA also wants the system to deliver 50 gigaflops per watt on the Linpack benchmark test, with a peak performance of one petaflops. That 57 kilowatt power budget is essentially what is required to completely run the box. The system has to chew on data coming in from a massive streaming sensor array, do single- and double-precision floating point math that is compatible with IEEE754 standards as well as 16-bit, 32-bit, and 64-bit integer math. The UHPC ExtremeScale system will need something on the order of 10 bytes per flops, or 10 petabytes

The Nvidia Fermi GPGPU has about 3 gigaflops per watt.

AMD firestream 9250 had 8 gigaflops per watt in single precision

IEEE Computing - Energy-Efficient Computing For Extreme-Scale Science (10 page pdf)

Poverty is Falling Fast in Africa

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This graph is showing a shift to the right over time, which means that the income distribution for the entire African population is improving

African Poverty is Falling...Much Faster than You Think! (38 page pdf) by Maxim Pinkovskiy, MIT ; Xavier Sala‐i‐Martin, Columbia University (H/T Marginal Revolution)

Most of the analysis from the 38 page report linked above and the basis of this article uses PPP (purchasing power parity) from the Penn world 6.2 figures calculated in 2007. The year 2000 is used as the basis for value of the dollar. The United Nations millenial development goals use 1985 for the 1$, 2$ and 3$ poverty analysis.

The conventional wisdom that Africa is not reducing poverty is wrong. Using the methodology of Pinkovskiy and Sala‐i‐Martin (2009), we estimate income distributions, poverty rates, and inequality and welfare indices for African countries for the period 1970‐2006. We show that: (1) African poverty is falling and is falling rapidly. (2) If present trends continue, the poverty Millennium Development Goal of halving the proportion of people with incomes less than one dollar a day will be achieved on time. (3) The growth spurt that began in 1995 decreased African income inequality instead of increasing it. (4) African poverty reduction is remarkably general: it cannot be explained by a large country, or even by a single set of countries possessing some beneficial geographical or historical characteristic. All classes of countries, including those with disadvantageous geography and history, experience reductions in poverty. In particular, poverty fell for both landlocked as well as coastal countries; for mineral‐rich as well as mineral‐poor countries; for countries with favorable or with unfavorable agriculture; for countries regardless of colonial origin; and for countries with below‐ or abovemedian slave exports per capita during the African slave trade

After three decades of zero or negative growth, Africa began a growth spurt around 1995 that has been sustained at least to 2006. The poverty rate in 1970 was 0.398. That is, close to 40% of the entire population lived with less than one dollar a day in Africa in 1970. After a small decline during the first half of the seventies, the rate jumped to around 0.42 in 1985 and stayed more or less at that level for a decade. In 1995 there is a dramatic change in trend: the poverty rate began a decline that led to a ten percentage point reduction by 2006.

Previous look at Africas economy

Examining global progress against poverty
These results contradict the 2008 Millennium Development Goals Report (UN, 2008), which asserts that “little progress was made in reducing extreme poverty in sub‐Saharan Africa.” Our estimates disagree: the African poverty rate in 2006 was 0.318, 30% lower than in 1995 (0.428) and 28% lower than in 1990 (0.421). That is, while progress in Africa has by no means been as extraordinary as that of East Asia, there has been a significant reduction in poverty and a substantial movement towards achieving the MDGs. The poverty rate in 1990 was 0.421. Hence, the MDG is for the poverty rate to be 0.210 by 2015. The rate in 2006 was 0.318, so even though substantial progress has been made, we still have ten basis points to go. But we also have 9 years left. We do not know what the future will look like, but if poverty continues to fall at the rates it fell between 1995 and 2006, we project that the $1/day poverty rate will be 0.228 in 2015. In fact, we project that the MDG will be achieved by 2017: just two years late.

The main point is that Africa has been moving in the right direction and, while progress has not been as substantial and spectacular as in Asia, poverty has been falling and it has been falling substantially. We should not let the literal interpretation of the MDGs turn good news (Africa is rapidly moving in the right direction) into bad news (Africa will not achieve the MDGs on time)

The overall Gini coefficient for Africa: starting at a level of around 0.63, the inequality index increased to around 0.66 during the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s. Then it stayed at that level until the early 1990s and started a downward trend that took it to its initial level by 2006. In other words, during the period of positive and sustained African growth (1995 to 2006), not only inequality did not explode as predicted by those who say that all the wealth went to a narrow elite, but it actually declined substantially.


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NPR Science Friday Looks at Hyperion Power Generation and Hyperion Power and Other Nuclear Energy Videos from Mondo Energy

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March 5, 2010, NPR's (National Public Radio) Science Friday had a segment on what's next for the technology of nuclear power ? It was the second segment in the second hour of the show.

From small-scale nuclear power plants to advanced reactor designs, what's next for the technology of nuclear power? We'll talk about some of the technology changes involved in proposed new reactor designs under consideration by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. We'll also look at the idea of small-scale nuclear -- building a power plant to support a community, rather than an entire state. Will downsizing make the nuclear any more appealing?

John R. 'Grizz' Deal, CEO, Hyperion Power

Lester Brown
Author, Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilizatio

Richard Lester
Professor and Head, Dept of Nuclear Science and Engineering, MIT

Scott Burnell
Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

Listened to part of it on the Radio. There is online podcast and MP3. A summary is that John R. 'Grizz' Deal made his case for Hyperion's new 25 MWe reactor and how small factory mass produced reactors would be revolutionary.

Scott Burnell of the NRC tried to put Hyperion into the overall context of the nuclear industry and that there are seven 'advanced reactors' under pre-certification review by the NRC. The NRC has not approved any new reactor designs.

Advanced Reactors Under Pre-certification Review
1. International Reactor Innovative and Secure (IRIS) Westinghouse Electric Company
2. NuScale NuScale Power, Inc.
3. Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) PBMR (Pty.), Ltd.
4. Super-Safe, Small and Simple (4S) Toshiba Corporation
5. Hyperion Hyperion Power Generation, Inc.
6. Power Reactor Innovative Small Module (PRISM) GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy
7. mPower Babcock and Wilcox Company

The NRC has certified boiler water reactors and pressure water reactors

The NRC opened in 1975 and there were already a few dozen nuclear reactors and nuclear reactor designs in commercial operation in the United States. Before the NRC there was the Atomic Energy Commission.

Large Boiler water Nuclear reactors and large pressure water reactors already existed and were commercially operating by the time the NRC started.

In 35 years, the NRC has not certified any new reactor types.

Currently there are four certified reactor designs that can be referenced in an application for a combined license (COL) to build and operate a nuclear power plant. They are:

1.Advanced Boiling Water Reactor design by GE Nuclear Energy (May 1997);
2. System 80+ design by Westinghouse (formerly ABB-Combustion Engineering) (May 1997);
3. AP600 design by Westinghouse (December 1999); and
4. AP1000 design by Westinghouse (January 2006).

Mondo energy Videos on Nuclear Energy

MIT 2009 report on the Future of Nuclear Power (21 page pdf)

Richard K Lester talked about his energy views in a Wall Street Journal article

Annual U.S. carbon-dioxide emissions currently average about 5.5 tons of carbon per person. Achieving Mr. Obama's goal would mean reducing this to 0.63 tons per person by midcentury, taking expected population growth of just under 1% per year into account. If the rest of the world were to do likewise, global carbon dioxide emissions would be 25% lower than today.

There are two main routes to achieving the president's goal. First, the U.S. must reduce the share of fossil fuels—currently 85%—in the energy supply system, which includes everything from electricity generation and transportation to industrial uses. And second, Americans must use energy more efficiently.

Ultimately what's required will depend on America's future economic growth.

A look at the underlying numbers helps explain.

Assume for now an annual economic growth target of 2% per capita for the next four decades. This would be higher than the disappointing 1.4% of the past decade, but roughly what the U.S. economy has achieved overall since 1970. With this target, the implications of the president's emission reduction goal become clearer.

First start with the key measure of energy efficiency: energy use per unit of economic output. Recently this has been falling by about 2% each year. Suppose that, through more aggressive policies like rewriting building codes to ensure greater energy efficiency, it was accelerated to 3%. In effect, this would mean bringing the rate of progress in every state in the country up to the level of the best state performer. It is not at all clear how this would be possible, but even if it is, meeting the 83% goal would still require extraordinary decarbonization measures on the supply side.

Here is a recipe that would work: Add 30,000 megawatts of new wind turbines every year between now and 2050 (this is nearly four times what was added in 2008, a record year). Add another 35,000 megawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity annually (more than 100 times what was added last year—a record year for solar, too).

That's just the beginning. Now multiply the nuclear reactor fleet fivefold by midcentury. Retrofit all existing coal-fired power plants with carbon capture and storage technology. And build twice as many new plants, also with carbon capture. Natural gas could substitute for coal, but only with carbon capture too. By 2050, the electric power system would be four times bigger than today. Two-thirds of the car and truck fleet would be powered by electricity, and the rest would run on advanced biofuels.

All of this would indeed reduce carbon emissions by 83%. It would also practically eliminate America's dependence on oil imports. But could it be done?

Perhaps, though not without enormous effort. Operating a power grid reliably and economically with intermittent solar and wind resources generating 40% of the electricity cannot be done today. Carbon capture and storage has yet to be demonstrated on a large scale. Meanwhile, a still vocal group of environmentalists remains adamantly opposed to nuclear energy—even though it is the only low-carbon energy source that is both scaleable and already generating large amounts of electricity.

Yet falling short on any of these decarbonization measures would require even more of the others, or even greater energy efficiency gains


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Israel. Iran, United States and Global Nuclear Poker

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Haaretz - discusses the situation with Israel, Iran and United States in regards to Iran's nuclear bomb ambitions

Netanyahu is playing poker and hiding his most important card: the Israel Defense Forces' true capabilities to destroy Iran's nuclear installations. If he attacks, he is risking a war of attrition in which Tel Aviv will be hit by missiles and Ben-Gurion International Airport will be closed. And the longer the violence continues, the more international firms will leave the country; the talented and wealthy will abandon it, too.

Netanyahu sees the same danger, but from the other side. He believes that if Iran goes nuclear, the elites and high tech will leave and the economy will be destroyed, so an Iranian bomb must be prevented.

Netanyahu managed to convince the world that Israel is on the verge of a preemptive war to try to foil Iran's nuclear program. His speeches on a second Holocaust and Amalek, the acceleration of military preparations, the exercises on the Home Front, the distribution of gas masks and even the stockpiling of dollars by the Bank of Israel all suggest that Israel is preparing to strike Iran, as it did when it attacked the nuclear plants in Iraq and Syria. The preparations for war give Israel unprecedented international significance.

Ahmadinejad is also playing poker, and in recent weeks he upped the ante when he posed the destruction of the Zionist regime not merely as a religious-ideological ambition, but as a practical goal. Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who is functioning as a super-adviser to Netanyahu for national security affairs, said in response that "the clock for the Iranian regime's downfall is ticking."

Israel and Iran are gambling that only one of them will survive the confrontation. Is this threat serious? History suggests it is. In the Six-Day War and the War of Attrition, Israel defeated Nasserism, which, like Ahmadinejad today, preached the wiping of Israel off the map of the Middle East. The price was high and cost Israel the Yom Kippur War, but the Arabs became convinced that the Jewish state is not a passing phenomenon.

The third player, Obama, holds the weakest hand. This is so because of domestic political weakness and because he can't seriously threaten Ahmadinejad or Netanyahu. Obama doesn't want to attack Iran himself and will find it hard to restrain Israel at the moment of truth.

What will he do? Will he turn off the American early warning radar in the Negev and announce that there will be no airlift and no diplomatic support, and as far as he's concerned Tel Aviv can burn because Israel acted against his advice? It's hard to imagine that Obama will abandon Israel to its fate. He can only complain and signal to Netanyahu that American support is not guaranteed for any Israeli action.

Before war breaks out - if indeed it does - the real hands the leaders are holding will not be seen. But in the meantime the stakes are constantly rising with the expectations that one of the players will recognize his weakness, blink and leave the table.

The Bushehr nuclear power plant could be operational in March-July of 2010 The exact state of Iran's nuclear bomb program is not clear.

In the Wall Street Journal, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the provocative foreign-policy icon who was White House national security adviser when the Iranian revolution erupted three decades ago and has followed the case ever since, gives his advice. Although it is advice from someone who failed to get the correct results at the start.

Mr. Brzezinski lays out his formula. Try to stop Iran's nuclear program, and make Tehran pay a price if it keeps pursuing it, but don't count too much on sanctions; offer a robust American defense umbrella to protect friends in the region if Iran crosses the nuclear threshold; give rhetorical support to Iran's opposition while accepting America's limited ability to help it; eschew thought of a pre-emptive attack on Iran's nuclear facilities; and keep talking to Tehran.

Above all: Play the long game, because time, demographics and generational change aren't on the side of the current regime.

"This is a country with a growing urban middle class, a country with fairly high access to higher education, a country where women play a great role in the professions," he says. "So it is a country which I think, basically, objectively is capable of moving the way Turkey has moved." That is, it can evolve into a country where Islam and modernity co-exist, even if somewhat uncomfortably.

Politico - Joe Biden and others administration officials have been going tto Israel.

Israelis don’t know whether, at the end of the day, they can count on Obama to use force against Iran if other measures fail to change its nuclear behavior.

The New York Times has coverage as well


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Why China Does Not Join the International Space Station and is Proceeding to Make Their Own Space Station

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This posting is an answer to a reader who commented on an article which updated China's unmanned (2011) and manned space station plans (2013+).

International Space Station is a Bad Investment And Dependent on the US to Keep it Going

NASA's budget for 2011 shows that direct costs for the International space station are just below $3 billion and increase to over $3 billion and need to include a large part of the Space and Flight Operations budget. So the US portion of the International Space Station costs about $4 billion per year. This does not include the spending by the other countries involved.

The ISS budget supports extension of the lifetime of the ISS likely to 2020 or beyond in concert with our international partners. The goal will be to fully utilize the Station’s R&D capabilities to conduct scientific research, improve our capabilities for operating in space, and demonstrate new technologies developed through NASA’s other programs.

Wikipedia on the ISS- The cost estimates for the ISS range from 35 billion to 160 billion dollars. ESA, the one agency which actually presents potential overall costs, estimates €100 billion for the entire station over 30 years. A precise cost estimate for the ISS is unclear, as it is difficult to determine which costs should be attributed to the ISS programme, or how the Russian contribution should be measured.

NASA had planned to deorbit the ISS in the first quarter of 2016. If the line item for ISS in NASA's budget ever got cut, then the remaining partners would have to try to come up with the funding and the technical means to keep it in space and get the USA and NASA to sign off on that plan.

China's space program has about a $2-3 billion per year budget and they can proceed by themselves and own and control their own space station and other space capabilities. The Chinese space station is planned to be smaller than the ISS. If China put $1.5 billion each year for ten years towards the ISS, then how big a piece would it get ? China would have chipped in 10% or less of the total spending and only 30% of what will be spent going foward.

China Goals in Space

The Chinese space program is driven by commercial, political and military goals and not science.

China's expected space missions in 2010:

* Start a total of eight Compass satellites. The Compass system is a direct competitor to GPS and the European Galileo system, intended for navigation. China could just use the existing GPS. However the Chinese made the same conclusions as the Europeans. They want to be independent from foreign technology.

*In October 2007 China sent Chang’e-1 to the moon. Chang’e-2 is supposed to start in 2010. The second version of this moon orbiter is quite similar to the first. One of the few changes is a better camera which should take pictures with 5m per pixel resolution.

* As noted, the first Chinese space station tiān gōng yī hào, “Heavenly Palace” was supposed to launch in 2010, however it got pushed back to early 2011. According to Chinese media the construction already started, so this should be a minor delay.

* In 2011 we will see the first unmanned Chinese Mars mission, called yínghuǒ Yīhào, which will orbit the red planet for one year and take pictures and other measurements.

China is openly acknowledging that the new Tiangong outpost will involve military space operations and technology development.

The fact it has been given a No. 1 numerical designation indicates that China may build more than one such military space laboratory in the coming years.

China's plans to land a nuclear powered unmanned lunar rover by 2012-2013 followed by an unmanned sample return mission about 2017.

Senior Chinese space officials have told their state media that China could be on the moon by 2022 at the outside. Other authoritative Chinese space engineers see a moon landing as a next step in the Tiangong program that will launch three Chinese space stations into Earth orbit between 2011 and 2015. In 2008, NASA scientists told the Bush White House that, with the technology currently available to the Chinese space program, Chinese cosmonauts could be on the moon by 2017.

China's space program also seems to have all the funding and resources it needs, partially due to the fact that seven of China's nine most senior leaders - the Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party Politburo - are themselves engineers.

The US space program is mostly political pork that is labelled as a space program. Most of the money goes to facilities on the ground that are in the districts of powerful senators and congressmen. NASA still has valuable programs are still being run and they do return good science. However, a lot more could be done with the current budget and should have been done with the historical budget.

It makes no sense for China to join the International Space Station program. If the US had a robust space program with a clear vision and long term commitment and a recent history of successful execution, then their could be some enticement to have some joint pograms with the US. However, there would be the need for the political benefits to balance off with any compromises on China's commercial and military goals. Currently none of the components even individually analyzed seems to have more pros than cons for China to join with the US space program.

A 2008 study on how China and the US could cooperate in space


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NASA Wise Mission Finding Asteroids and Looking for Brown Dwarfs

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Jan. 12, 2010, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, spotted its first never-before-seen near-Earth asteroid, the first of hundreds it is expected to find during its mission to map the whole sky in infrared light. There is no danger of the newly discovered asteroid hitting Earth.

The near-Earth object, designated 2010 AB78, was discovered by WISE Jan. 12. The mission's sophisticated software picked out the moving object against a background of stationary star. New Scientist reported that 15 more near earth asteroids have been found by WISE.

WISE is expected to find about 100,000 previously unknown asteroids in our main asteroid belt, a rocky ring of debris between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It will also spot hundreds of previously unseen near-Earth objects.

Near-Earth objects are asteroids and comets with orbits that pass relatively close to Earth's path around the sun. In extremely rare cases of an impact, the objects may cause damage to Earth's surface. An asteroid about 10 kilometers (6 miles) wide is thought to have plunged into our planet 65 million years ago, triggering a global disaster and killing off the dinosaurs.

The WISE project has released photos of galaxies that were previously hidden by dust and comets.

Besides the Asteroids, I am looking forward to WISE finding Brown dwarf stars.

Brown dwarf's are interesting because there could be a brown dwarf (or several) and its solar system that are closer than the nearest known star (Proxima Centauri).

Wikipedia list of nearest stars

The mission will scan the sky one-and-a-half times by October. At that point, the frozen coolant needed to chill its instruments will be depleted.


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Nuclear Roundup- China Increasing Companies Allowed to Build Nuclear Reactors, Belgium Making Accelerator Driven Reactor, Li Ka-Shing Will Bid for UK part of EDF

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1. China's Energy Administration (Regulates China's nuclear and other energy industries) is moving to allow more power companies are able to build and operate nuclear power plants.

Soon independent power producers like Huaneng Power International Inc. (HNP) and Datang International Power Generation Co. (0991.HK), could join the ranks of approved developers like China National Nuclear Corp., China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Corp., and China Power Investment Corp., the Yuanta analyst said.

In a research note, Min said that Sichuan and Guangxi provinces may follow other areas like Jiangxi, Hunan and Hubei in building inland nuclear power plants

2. Belgian nuclear scientists have been given the go-ahead to work towards an advanced new research reactor system (the Multipurpose Hybrid Research Reactor for High-tech Applications, Myrhha) with a role in researching the transmutation of wastes.

SCK-CEN is hoping to start construction in 2015 and begin the first phase of operation in 2023. SCK-CEN said the total budget could be around €1 billion ($1.3 billion) and the project should create about 2000 long-term jobs.

Myhhra would be unique as a sub-critical assembly relying on an accelerator to achieve periods of criticality. It would use a core of low-enriched uranium and would develop 57 MWt, using lead-bismuth as coolant. Later, the accelerator could be removed for separate use and the reactor could become a more conventional fast-neutron irradiation facility.

3. India's nuclear industry is preparing for a major expansion after assuring international cooperation with a round of cooperation deals.

The next seven to eight years will see the annual requirement for new recruits in the Indian nuclear industry rise to around 1900. Nuclear Power Corporation of India's internal training programs currently provide about 250 engineers annually. In addition to this, Homi Bhabha National Institute, a government university with ten facilities around the country, trains 400 to 600 recruits every year. The Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and Kharakpur also run postgraduate courses in nuclear related fields, but with limited seats. So about twice as many nuclear engineers need to be trained each year.

India's current nuclear power capacity of 4340 MW is expected to reach 7280 MW by March 2012 with the progressive completion of projects under construction. 2800 MW of capacity addition by 2016/2017 have already been approved. More projects are also planned in future to further increase the nuclear power capacity.

4. China's nuclear companies are looking at IPO's to finance overseas expansion.

China National Nuclear Corp., the country’s biggest operator of atomic power plants, may sell shares publicly to fund overseas projects as demand for clean energy increases, President Sun Qin said.

China is urging nuclear equipment makers including rival China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group to partner with foreign firms to build reactors abroad.

South Korea aims to get $400 billion of nuclear contracts by 2030. Korea Electric is in talks with at least five countries including Turkey, Jordan and Malaysia to build atomic plants after winning an order from the United Arab Emirates

5. Li Ka-Shing, Hong Kong’s richest man, confirmed today that he will bid for the British arm of the French state electricity giant, EDF, later this month.

The bid will be a joint venture between holding company Cheung Kong Infrastucture (CKI), Hong Kong’s leading energy infrastructure company, and Hong Kong Electric, which is 40 per cent owned by CKI.

EDF, which is 85 per cent owned by the French state, said in October last year that it was putting its UK wires business up for sale. It includes about 100,000 miles of cables supplying electricity to 15 million people across London, the South East and the East of England, a region that generates 40 per cent of Britain’s GDP. The business provides power for Heathrow and Gatwick airports, as well as London’s Underground and rail networks, Canary Wharf in Docklands and the Channel Tunnel.

EDF is seeking to raise €5 billion (£4.5 billion) to reduce its debt levels. EDF’s borrowings have swelled over the past year after its £12.5 billion acquisition of British Energy, the nuclear generator, and a stake in Constellation Energy.

Mr Ka-Shing, 81 is Hong Kong’s richest man, with a US$21.3 billion fortune, according to Forbes, the business magazine. He was ranked the world’s 16th wealthiest person in November and correctly predicted in 2007 that China's stock market was in a "bubble."


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March 04, 2010

China plans to launch unmanned space module in 2011 in Step to Manned Space Station in 2013

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Xinhua - China plans to launch an unmanned space module, Tiangong-1, in 2011, which is expected to accomplish the country's first space docking and regarded as an essential step toward building a space station, an expert said Wednesday

Tiangong, or the Heavenly Palace, would finally be transformed into a manned space lab after experimental dockings with three Shenzhou spacecraft, which are expected to be put into space within two years following the module's launch. (by 2013)

A spokesman of China's space program said in February last year that the country had planned to launch the unmanned module into orbit as early as the end of 2010. Qi said the delay was due to technical reasons.

Weighing about 8.5 tonnes, Tiangong-1 is able to perform long-term unattended operation, which will be an essential step toward building a space station

Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10, the two other spaceships to dock with Tiangong-1, would carry two or three astronauts each.

The spaceships would possibly carry seeds from Taiwan for experiments

China is building a carrier rocket production base in the northern municipality of Tianjin, according to Liang.

With a total investment of 10 billion yuan and covering an area of more than one million square meters, the base would be capable of producing 12 carrier rockets each year once completed, he said.

The base will be able to produce two carrier rockets each year after the first stage of construction is completed next year

experts are currently developing China's new generation of carrier rockets, the Long March V, in the Tianjin base, adding that research on the initial model of the large-thrust rocket is already underway.

Earlier report said Long March V, with a maximum payload capacity of up to 25 tonnes, would be put into service in 2014


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China Economic Forecast to 2040 and Defence Budgets

Christian Science Monitor reports that China's official military budget grew by 7.5% to 532 billion yuan

Wikipedia -the military budget of the united states

Estimate of Defense Budgets for China and the USA in Billions

Official Defense Budget Forecast Based on Fixed Percent of GDP

GDP Forecasts in Trillions of US Dollars

In the table below:
GDP is in Trillions of RMB in column 2 (china GDP) and
Trillions of USD in column 5 (China GDP USD Trillions) and
column 7 (USA GDP in trillions)

The Official Defence budgets for China (column 6) and US (column 8, the last column on the right) are in Billions.

China's official defence budget can probably be doubled to estimate actual spending. China's budget does not include purchases of foreign weapon systems, paramilitary and several other categories.

The US budget can be increased about 50% for defence related spending for homeland security, military in DOE budget, veterans administration, veterans pensions and other such spending.

......China..GDP..Currency China...China...........Budget
Year GDP ..Growth USD-RMB GDP USD Defence USA GDP US Defence
2009...32.8...8.0..  6.8.... 5.0....  72... 13.9... 650
2010...35.4...10.9.  6.6....5.6.... 81.... 14.0.... 685
2011...39.3...9..... 5.6....7.2.... 108.... 14.2.... 721
2012...42.8...9..... 5.1....8.6.... 129.... 14.5.... 767
2013...46.7...9..... 4.7....10.1.... 152....14.8.... 783
2014...50.9...9..... 4.2... 12.4... 185....15.2....807
2015...55.5...9..... 3.8... 14.8... 223....15.7....831
2016...60.4...9..... 3.5... 17.5... 263....16.2....856
2017...65.9...8..... 3.2... 20.8... 312....16.6.. 882
2018...71.2...8..... 3.0... 23.9... 359....17.1.. 908
2019...76.8...8..... 3.0... 25.8... 387... 17.6.. 935
2020...83.0...8..... 3.0... 27.9... 418... 18.2.. 963
2021...89.6...8..... 3.0... 30.1... 451... 18.7.. 992
2022...96.8...8..... 3.0... 32.5... 487... 19.3.. 1022
2023..104.6...8..... 3.0... 35.2... 527... 19.9.. 1053
2024..112.9...8..... 3.0... 37.9... 569... 20.5.. 1084
2025..121.9...8..... 3.0... 40.9... 614... 21.1.. 1117
2026..131.7...8..... 3.0... 44.2... 663... 21.7.. 1150
2027..140.9...8..... 3.0... 47.3...  709... 22.4.. 1185
2028..150.8...8..... 3.0... 50.6...  758... 23.0.. 1221
2029..161.3...8..... 3.0... 54.1...  811... 23.7.. 1257
2030..172.6...7..... 3.0... 57.8...  868... 24.4.. 1295
2031..184.7...7..... 3.0... 61.9...  928... 25.2.. 1334
2032..197.7...7..... 3.0... 66.2...  993... 25.9.. 1374
2033..211.5...7..... 3.0... 70.8...  1062.. 26.7.. 1415
2034..226.3...7..... 3.0... 75.7...  1136.. 27.5.. 1457
2035..242.1...7..... 3.0... 81.0...  1215.. 28.3.. 1501
2036..259.1...6..... 3.0... 86.7...  1300.. 29.2.. 1546
2037..274.6...6..... 3.0... 91.8...  1378.. 30.0.. 1593
2038..291.1...6..... 3.0... 97.3...  1460.. 30.9.. 1640
2039..308.6...6..... 3.0... 103.2..  1547.. 31.9.. 1689
2040..327.1...6..... 3.0... 109.3..  1640.. 32.8.. 1740


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Indian Economic Forecast for 2014 and up to 2030 and Indian Budgets for Space and Defence

Economy Watch has a forecast for the Indian Economy in 2014

GDP Growth (Constant Prices, National Currency) 8.079 %
GDP (Current Prices, National Currency) INR 101,695.91 Billion.
GDP (Current Prices, US Dollars) US$ 1,908.33 Billion
GDP Per Capita (Constant Prices, National Currency) INR 41,928.71
GDP Per Capita (Current Prices, National Currency) INR 79,043.24
GDP Per Capita (Current Prices, US Dollars) US$ 1,483.25
GDP (PPP), US Dollars US$ 5,513.41 Billion
GDP Per Capita (PPP), US Dollars US$ 4,285.30
GDP Share of World Total (PPP) 5.714 %

GDP is in Trillions and US dollar GDP is in Billions
Year GDP Rupee Growth Inflation...USD-Rupee USD GDP
2009 57.0          7     4        46           1240
2010 63.3          9     4        46           1376
2011 71.5          9     4        46           1555
2012 80.8          9     4        46           1757
2013 91.4          9     4        46           1986
2014 100.2         9     4        46           2244
2015 116.7         9     4        46           2536
2016 131.8         9     4        46           2866
2017 149.0         9     4        46           3238
2018 168.3         9     4        45           3740
2019 190.2         9     4        44           4323
2020 214.9         9     4        43           4998
2021 242.9         9     4        42           5782
2022 274.4         9     4        41           6693
2023 310.1         9     4        40           7753
2024 350.4         9     4        39           8985
2025 396.0         9     4        38          10420
2026 447.5         9     4        37          12093
2027 505.6         9     4        36          14045
2028 571.4         9     4        35          16324
2029 645.6         9     4        34          18989
2030 729.6         9     4        33          22108

Implied Purchasing power parity and big mac exchange rates for Brazil, Russia, India and China

India in Space

The Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) on Friday prepared to zoom into higher orbit following a nearly 35% hike in its budget. This, the space agency says, is the highest in recent years.

In 2009, Isro's budgetary allocation was Rs 4,167 crore. This year it has jumped to Rs 5,778 crore.

India's human space flight programme and the moon mission have got booster shots. The amount for the manned flight project has increased from Rs 30 crore in 2009 to Rs 150 crore. "This will allow us to initiate some of the additional pre-project activities," the official said. The overall cost of the programme is around Rs 13,000 crore, of which the government has allotted only Rs 95 crore so far. Last February, the Plan panel cleared the programme and estimated that Rs 5,000 crore would be needed for executing the preliminary plans

Te ISRO budget is in the range US$1 billion (RM3.5 billion) in allocation under the new budget. Under the plan, nearly US$100 million (RM350 million) would be spent to build two rockets, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

India, Russia, South Korea and China are competing in further exploration of the moon.

Indian Defence Budget

India pumped in a hefty US$32 billion (RM112 billion) for defence spending under its new 2010-2011 budget.

India, Asia's third largest economy, allocated about 2.4 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for military modernisation, largely to counter the constant security threats within the country and along its borders.

India, the fourth largest military force in the world, is busy upgrading its defence capabilities, developing its homegrown missile technology, building hi-tech weaponry systems and procuring new fighter jets.


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