May 08, 2010

Project Icarus Interstellar Spaceship Project Summary and Blog

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The Project Icarus Team plan to follow on from Project Daedalus and design an interstellar spaceship. (H/T Centauri Dreams

Daedalus had three stated guidelines as follows:

1.The spacecraft must use current or near-future technology.
2.The spacecraft must reach its destination within a human lifetime.
3.The spacecraft must be designed to allow for a variety of target stars.

Following on from this historical work, the purpose of Project Icarus is as follows:

1.To design a credible interstellar probe that is a concept design for a potential mission in the coming centuries.

Phoenix: an Ultra-Low Power Processor for Cubic Millimeter Sensor Systems

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The University of Michigan developed a low power chip for cubic millimeter sensors in 2009. It was built in 180 micron lithography process so the chip could theoretically be reduced in size by about 20 times with the latest lithography process. However, the key is power management.

An integrated platform for sensor applications, called the Phoenix Processor, is implemented in a 0.18μm CMOS process with an area of 915x915 microns, making on-die battery integration feasible. The Phoenix Processor uses a comprehensive standby strategy with a unique power gating approach, custom low leakage memory cells, low voltage ROM, CPU with compact ISA, data memory compression, and adaptive data memory leakage management. Measurements show that the Phoenix Processor consumes on average 29.6pW in standby mode and 2.8pJ/cycle in active mode.

May 07, 2010

IO9 Costs Out Massively Inferior Version of Iron Man

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IO9 tries to cost out a real version of the Iron Man armor but the systems that they provide are massively inferior to Iron Man.

* realistic human size flight pack goes about 100 mph while Iron Man flies supersonic. Actually I believe what they show is an unpowered gliding wing.
* Instead of a fusion reactor with 1-16 million HP (1 megawatt is 1341 HP, 70 MW - 1.2 GW) they try to substitute a radiothermal generator with about 100 watts
* the exoskeleton they look at is the XOS exoskeleton which can help someone lift about 200 pounds repeatedly without tiring while iron man lifts ten to one hundred tons.
* They do not spec out or cost out the actual armor defense which can resist missiles and tank weapons
* they do not spec out or cost out the weapons (repulsor rays, lasers etc..)

German Researchers Have a Study Which Can Be Summarized as What if Roberto The Knife Wielding Robot From Futurama Was Real

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The main goal of a study by Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics, part of DLR, the German aerospace agency, was to understand the biomechanics of soft-tissue injury caused by a knife-wielding robot. But the researchers also wanted to design and test a collision-detection system that could prevent or at least minimize injury. Apparently the system worked so well that in some cases the researchers were willing to try it on human subjects.
The TV Show Futurama had a knife wielding robot Roberto.

Progress to Nuclear Fusion with Pulsed Power Improvement at Sandia

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Physicist Dr. Franklin Felber has taken a big step towards meeting two of the greatest technological challenges of pulsed power for fusion – current amplification and pulse compression.

A wire-array flux-compression cartridge installed on Sandia’s Saturn pulsed power generator doubled the current into a 3-nH load to 6 MA and halved its rise time to 100 ns . The current into the load, however, was unexpectedly delayed by almost 1  μs. Estimates of a plasma flow switch acting as a long-conduction-time opening switch are consistent with key features of the power compression. The results suggest that microsecond-conduction-time plasma flow switches can be combined with flux compression both to amplify currents and to sharpen pulse rise times in pulsed power drivers.

Ultrafast Fourier Transform with a Femtosecond-Laser-Driven Molecule

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Physical Review Letters - Ultrafast Fourier Transform with a Femtosecond-Laser-Driven Molecule 4 page pdf)

Vibrations of the atoms in a molecule are used to implement a Fourier transform orders of magnitude faster than possible with devices based on conventional electronics.

Abstract :
Wave functions of electrically neutral systems can be used as information carriers to replace real charges in the present Si-based circuit, whose further integration will result in a possible disaster where current leakage is unavoidable with insulators thinned to atomic levels. We have experimentally demonstrated a new logic gate based on the temporal evolution of a wave function. An optically tailored vibrational wave packet in the iodine molecule implements four- and eight-element discrete Fourier transform with arbitrary real and imaginary inputs. The evolution time is 145 fs, which is shorter than the typical clock period of the current fastest Si-based computers by 3 orders of magnitudes.

Prediction of one million barrels per day from Bakken Oil Field by 2020

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David Hobbs, IHS, Cambridge Energy Research Association (CERA), is forecasting that by the end of the decade, production in the Bakken will be one million barrels a day

"The potential production is far greater than anyone would have admitted to even a couple years ago. The rate at which innovation is changing the unit costs to bring it into the attractive oil prices - will ensure that activity keeps on going." Hobbs' forecast is based on the acreage that's available and the number of wells that can be drilled on that land. (speaking at Williston Basin Oil Conference in Bismarck)

70-80 rigs a year can drill 1,000 wells a year... And Hobbs also watched as production rates in the Bakken have reached higher levels with the help of new technology..

In addition he says the Bakken could out perform what he's predicting because he may have underestimated the improvements in technology

Laser Beam Interference Lithography for 30 nm direct Writing at Ten Times Lower Cost

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Laser interference to make 2D and 3D nanostructures

Laser interference lithography can produce very high-resolution (30 nanometer to 5 nm) nano-scale surface patterns at low cost

DELILA (Development of Lithography Technology for Nanoscale Structuring of Materials Using Laser Beam Interference - European project) showed for the first time feature sizes of ~30nm for direct writing and ~5nm for modification of nano-structures. These are state-of-the-art results for the technology. Where typical fabrication systems cost in the millions of euros, systems based on DELILA’s breakthroughs would cost just in the hundreds of thousands.

Mitosens Progress to Moving Genes from Mitochondria to the Nucleus

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The purpose of the Mitosens project is to prevent damage from mitochondrial mutations.

The mitochondrion is a machine within the cell that acts as the "power plant" of the cell. Mitochondria take oxygen and chemically combine it with energy-rich nutrients from our food, to make carbon dioxide and water (which we exhale) and ATP, the "energy currency" of the cell.

This Could be the Breakout Year for SpaceX and New Space

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SpaceX aiming to launch three additional test flights of the Falcon-Dragon system by the end of this year, culminating in a berthing demonstration at the space station. That would open the way for robotic cargo deliveries that could earn SpaceX $1.6 billion through 2016. The list price for a Falcon 9 launch is around $50 million, compared with $138 million or more for an Atlas 5. SpaceX is currently waiting for the Air Force to sign off on the Falcon 9's flight termination system. The Falcon 9 will have its first launch sometime after May 23, 2010.

Aubrey de Grey declares an end to generations

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“There won’t be generations anymore,” says Aubrey de Grey of tomorrow’s world where anti-aging treatments will give us at least 30 extra years of life. You’ll be able to keep up with your granddaughter on the ski slopes, he told his host at the Lift 2010 conference in Geneva Thursday 6 May. And for de Grey, the future is close: we can expect to see such treatments within our lifetimes, he believes. (H/T Fightaging)

De Grey is a biomedical gerontologist who is the chief science officer for the Sens Foundation in Cambridge, England. The foundation is a non-profit charity that focuses on combating diseases of old age. The questions people invariably ask de Gray focus on such mundane matters as where all these extra people will live, how pension plans will pay for them and what they’ll do with their time, but he says the questions are not the right ones. We should balance out these against the problems caused right now by “100,000 people a day getting very sick and staying that way a long time and then dying.”

The Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) website was recently revamped.
News on a recent project - trying to DNA and peptide vaccination to prevent Alzheimers.

the affiliated researchers have now advanced to work with DNA epitope vaccines, which have features that are highly desirable for an early Aß immunotherapy strategy. Their efficacy against a wide range of pathogen, autoimmune, and tumor antigens has been demonstrated in preclinical models, and the antigens are produced endogenously, so that antigen processing can occur directly in target transfected cells. Moreover, ongoing expression of the antigen leads to the maintenance of an active immunological response, potentially removing much of the need for repeated dosing that clearly poses a challenge to monoclonal antibody vaccines and even conventional active vaccination.

Ultimately, we believe that the further refinement of our AD DNA epitope vaccines, possibly combined with a prime boost regime, will facilitate translation to human clinical trials in either very early AD, or preferably in preclinical stage individuals identified by validated AD biomarkers

May 06, 2010

Faster Wound Healing with Lasers and Nanotech

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Wired Mag Danger Room -the Air Force is funding scientists who are using nano-technology and lasers to seal up wounds at a molecular level. The US Military is funding many potential disruptive improvements to wound healing and treatment.

* human trials have started for spray on skin.
On one patient, a patch of spray-on skin the size of a postage stamp grew to repair an entire arm. The military has identified 40 troops for future trials, and 40 more civilians have been picked, as well.

Sony Ericsson Predicts a Mobile Broadband World

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Ericsson estimates show that the number of mobile broadband users will increase from today's 400 million to 3.5 billion in 2015 and then to 6 billion mobile broadband users in 2020 and 50 billion connected devices.

* Less than 5% of the world's population has access to 21 Mbit/s or more in the air, at least 1.5 million installed GSM radio base stations must be replaced and in addition we see continued need for services in fields such as consulting, system integration and managed services.
* In India, the number of mobile subscriptions grew by 20 million in March 2010, making India the fastest growing market in the world
* Mainland China added more than 100 million subscriptions last year and we expect similar numbers in 2010

Japan reactivates Monju nuclear breeder reactor

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Japan's Atomic Energy Agency has restarted the Monju fast neutron reactor.

The facility, called Monju, was shut down in 1995 following a fire. The fast-breeder reactor was declared reactivated by Monju's director general, Kazuo Mukai, after one of its control rods, which had been inserted to prevent an atomic reaction, was lifted. It is expected to reach operational levels by Saturday, and then to reach full output by the spring of 2013.

Room Temperature Microlasers

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MIT Technology Review - Scientists have created the smallest ever laser capable of operating at room temperature. The device is less than one cubic micron--less than the wavelength of the light it emits. It is the first sub-wavelength laser that doesn't require cryogenic cooling. Besides high-speed communications, sub-wavelength lasers could find applications in biomedical imaging and near-field optical microscopy

It should be possible to pack the microlasers close together without interference between devices. This paves the way for, among other things, faster optical communications devices that use sub-wavelength lasers in dense arrays.

Universal Flu Vaccine Progress

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BiondVax is one of several companies working towards a universal vaccine for the Flu

BiondVax’s Approach
BiondVax’s approach uses a combination of conserved epitopes derived from the influenza virus as immunogens, forming the vaccine. The "conserved epitopes" are common to most human flu virus strains regardless of their antigenic drift and shifts. These conserved epitopes are used to activate the human immune system in a long-lasting and effective manner against known and future strains of the influenza virus. These conserved epitopes are restricted to the viral structure and are not shared by any human protein, thus they are unlikely to induce an autoimmune phenomenon.

Look at thousands of flu strains and find the molecular parts that remain unchanged and those unchanged molecular parts trigger immune response.

Phase II clinical trials were successfully completed.

May 05, 2010

Prevention is Key to Roadmap to Make United States the Healthiest Nation

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The Commission on U.S. Federal Leadership in Health and Medicine: Charting Future Directions is releasing its second report, "A 21st Century Roadmap for Advancing America’s Health: The Path from Peril to Progress," emphasizing a comprehensive spectrum of actions to build a 21st century system that will make America the healthiest nation in the world.

CPR for the American Health System:
* “C” for expanding coverage to all Americans
* “P” for emphasizing prevention
* “R” for investing in research

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics Achieves 1 Mega-amp Pinch and Is another Step closer to Nuclear Fusion Goals

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Lawrenceville Plasma Physics has achieved a 1 mega-amp dense plasma fusion pinch.

(H/T to TalkPolywell)

After six months of modifying the switches, LPP finally achieved the firing of all 12 switches within 25 ns of each other in four shots on April 26. At a charging voltage of 30 kV, we achieved our first pinch at over 1 mega-amp (MA). The fill pressure of the deuterium gas was 40 torr, which is a record for a pinch in a DPF. We were deliberately using a pressure about twice what we believe is optimal for this charging voltage in order to avoid a pinch so we could test the electrical characteristics of the device. But the plasma pinched anyway, although well after the higher current had passed. The 1.03 MA current is a record for us when creating a pinch, but the 40 torr is a record for a pinch in any DPF.

During the month of May, we will be replacing the automotive spark plugs in the switches (which had been leading to the prefiring) with custom-built tungsten-rhenium rods from which we will make our own spark plugs. We expect them to have a very long life and practically eliminate prefiring in future testing.

World Sniper Record - Two consecutive Kill Shots from 2470 meters and then a Gun Shot

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Gizmag reports that a british Corporal Craig Harrison killed two Taliban with consecutive shots at a distance of 2.47 kilometres (8120 ft) in Helmand Province, Afghanistan last November (2009). He then fired a third shot and hit the Taliban's PKM machinegun in perhaps the most prodigious feat of marksmanship in military history. He used an Accuracy International L115A3

Snipers are the most cost effective way of killing the enemy. Individual snipers routinely account for more kills than entire battalions operating in the same place at the same time, hit the target almost every time, and each bullet costs around €2.

There are several other reports in UK newspapers.

Uncertainty of Population Counts and Future Population Estimates and Economic Estimates

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In April 2001, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that the total population of the United States on April 1, 2000, was 281,421,906. The apparent precision was entirely spurious. The Director of the Census Bureau later remarked that the true population of the United States in 2000 is known only to within 5 million persons or so
(so plus or minus 2%). The amount of error and uncertainty remains or increases for historical estimates, current estimates and future estimates.

According to a preliminary announcement of the United Nations Population Division (2001), the difference between the medium projected population of the world in 2050 according to its 1998 projection (8.9 billion) and its 2000 projection (9.3 billion) is 413 million people, roughly 5 percent of the 1998 projected population size for 2050. The population project at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis projected a median (not medium) world population in 2050 of 8.8 billion. These three projections for 2050 differ in methods and assumptions. The differences in output among them of half a billion people express demographers’ ignorance of the future, not differences in genuine knowledge.

The demographic present, past, and future are surrounded by uncertainty. Population projections are uncertain for several reasons. The initial data may be erroneous. The rates of birth, death, and migration in cohort-component models may be projected erroneously. (Projections for countries or small areas normally are more uncertain than those for the world because of the greater importance of migration for local areas.) External factors may change unexpectedly (such as AIDS, natural hazards, or climate). External factors may change as expected but the relationship between those factors and demographic rates may change. Policies and programs may develop to influence the rates of birth, death, and migration.

Estimates or guesses about historic, current and future economic activity (GDP etc...) build upon the uncertainty around population.

American Superconductor Sea Titan 10 MW Superconducting Wind Turbine Should Start Commercial Licensing in 2010

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With the ability to produce 10 MW of power or more, the SeaTitan is expected to be the world’s most powerful wind turbine. This wind turbine is being developed by AMSC (American Superconductor) Windtec.

Each SeaTitan will contain a Titan™ generator. These generators utilize high temperature superconductor (HTS) rotors rather than copper, which enables the generator to be much smaller, lighter, more efficient and less expensive than conventional large-scale wind turbine generators. In addition, since Titan generators are direct drive, there is no need for a gearbox, which tends to be the most maintenance intensive wind turbine component. AMSC expects to license SeaTitan wind turbines and Titan generators to multiple manufacturers around the world. American Superconductor cofounder and chief executive Greg Yurek expects to license the SeaTitan within months, certainly by the end of 2010.

UCLA researchers use new microscope to 'see' atoms for first time

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UCLA researchers report in the April 30 edition of the journal Cell that they have imaged a virus structure at a resolution high enough to effectively "see" atoms, the first published instance of imaging biological complexes at such a resolution.

The research team, led by Hong Zhou, UCLA professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, used cryo-electron microscopy to image the structure at 3.3 angstroms. An angstrom is the smallest recognized division of a chemical element and is about the distance between the two hydrogen atoms in a water molecule.

Cell Journal - 3.3 Å Cryo-EM Structure of a Nonenveloped Virus Reveals a Priming Mechanism for Cell Entry

Cameco Targets 40 Million pounds of Uranium Per Year by 2018

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Cameco said it plans to nearly double uranium production to 40 million pounds annually over the next eight years to satisfy rising demand for nuclear fuel as nuclear power generation capacity expands.

Cameco's expansion plans rely heavily on production from its 50 percent owned Cigar Lake project in Saskatchewan, which was on track to produce 18 million pounds a year before it flooded in 2006. France's Areva (CEPFi.PA) owns a minority stake. The company has been struggling to overhaul the project over the past four years, and now expects output in 2013

Asteroid Found Covered in Ice

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The asteroid belt is classically considered the domain of rocky bodies, being too close to the Sun for ice to survive. Or so we thought — not only is ice present, but at least one asteroid is covered in it. Nature - Water ice and organics on the surface of the asteroid 24 Themis

Asteroid 24 Themis is a 200 km-diameter asteroid.

It has been suggested that Earth’s current supply of water was delivered by asteroids, some time after the collision that produced the Moon (which would have vaporized any of the pre-existing water). So far, no measurements of water ice on asteroids have been made, but its presence has been inferred from the comet-like activity of several small asteroids, including two members of the Themis dynamical family. Here we report infrared spectra of the asteroid 24 Themis which show that ice and organic compounds are not only present on its surface but also prevalent. Infrared spectral differences between it and other asteroids make 24 Themis unique so far, and our identification of ice and organics agrees with independent results that rule out other compounds as possible sources of the observed spectral structure. The widespread presence of surface ice on 24 Themis is somewhat unexpected because of the relatively short lifetime of exposed ice at this distance (~3.2 au) from the Sun. Nevertheless, there are several plausible sources, such as a subsurface reservoir that brings water to the surface through ‘impact gardening’ and/or sublimation

May 04, 2010

Wide Variance of the Present, Many Simultaneous Futures and Challenge of Understanding the True Reasons for and Drivers of History

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One of the many challenges of being a futurist is that the statistics and narratives of the present and past are shifting and inaccurate. If you do not know where you are and how you got there then it is very tough to say where you are going.

What is the economic size and wealth of different countries ? What were the accurate statistics for different years in the past ? How do we look at shifting exchange rates ? It is not uncommon for a currency could gain or lose 20% in value from the high to the low in a year. If you are going to purchasing power parity then you are going to estimates and constructed values.

1mm Diameter Claytronic Robot

The vision of claytronics (by Intel and Carnegie Mellon university) is to create programmable grit, that behaves somewhat like the liquid robot in Terminator 2 or an earlier version of utility fog.
Stress-driven MEMS Assembly + Electrostatic Forces = 1mm Diameter Robot (7 page pdf)

As the size of the modules in a self-reconfiguring modular robotic system shrinks and the number of modules increases, the flexibility of the system as a whole increases. In this paper, we describe the manufacturing methods and mechanisms for a 1 millimeter diameter module which can be manufactured en masse. The module is the first step towards realizing the basic unit of claytronics, a modular robotic system designed to scale to millions of units.

Successfully realizing claytronics rests firmly on the ability to mass-produce sub-millimeter scale catoms. Each catom must have a small robust physical structure integrated with the ability to transfer energy to neighboring units, store energy, move, communicate with its neighbors and selectively adhere to neighboring units; all under the local control. To invest each unit with all of this functionality requires a novel approach towards the design and manufacture of the catom. Our design philosophy seeks to simplify the catom design by following the ensemble principle, which states that: A unit should include only enough functionality to contribute to the desired functionality of the ensemble.

Air Force Research Support Thermowave Power

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MIT researchers are exploring a new technology funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the National Science Foundation, which they call a thermopower wave, that may convert chemical energy to fuel cells for micro-machines, sensors and emergency communication beacons.

"We envision these thermopower wave devices enabling a new generation of energy sources by providing more power -- as much as ten times -- than smaller commercial batteries," said Dr. Michael Strano, MIT associate professor of chemical engineering.

Nextbigfuture covered the technical details and science behind thermopower waves before.

Taiwan Manufacturing ARM chip Based Brain Emulation for a UK Robotics project

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Chips under construction in Taiwan contain 20 ARM processor cores, each modelling 1000 neurons. (New Scientist) With 20,000 neurons per chip, 50,000 chips will be needed to reach the target of 1 billion neurons. Steve Furber hopes to have a 10,000-processor version working later this year.

Furber won't come close to copying every property of real neurons, says Henry Markram, head of Blue Brain. Big Blue is an IBM project attempt to simulate a brain with unsurpassed accuracy on a Blue Gene supercomputer. Brain-inspired chips can only produce brain-like functions. However, that is good enough for Furber, who wants to start teaching his brain-like computer about the world as soon as possible. His first goal is to teach it how to control a robotic arm, before working towards a design to control a humanoid. A robot controller with even a dash of brain-like properties should be much better at tasks like image recognition, navigation and decision-making.

A memory chip next to each processor stores the changing synaptic weights as simple numbers that represent the importance of a given connection at any moment. Initially, those will be loaded from a PC, but as the system gets bigger and smarter, says Furber, "the only computer able to compute them will be the machine itself".

May 03, 2010

Superpower Inc Targets Tenfold Improvement in Superconducting Wire Performance

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Superpower inc makes superconductors

* Superconducting wire consists of a strip a few thousandths of an inch thick of modified YBCO, surrounded by various other layers, including copper. To work, it must be chilled within a cryostat, a cooling device that uses liquid nitrogen to push the material down to superconducting temperatures.

* Superconducting wire's more exotic materials, advanced manufacturing techniques and cooling needs all combine to raise its costs. It's about six times as expensive as conventional copper wire.

BP Trying Five Different Ways to Stop the Leak and My Suggestions for Future Mitigation and Preparation

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BP says it is working on at least five possible approaches for halting the spew of oil from a damaged well deep in the Gulf of Mexico that is feeding one of the worst spills in U.S. history.

* They still hope to seal the well at any moment using robot submarines to activate an array of shut-off valves atop the well, called a blowout preventer.
* planned to install a valve on the end of a leaking drill pipe
* installing huge containment boxes over leaks to collect the oil and send it through a mile of pipe to a ship above
* using long wands to spray chemical dispersants on the leaks at the sea floor to break up oil and keep it from rising to the surface
* lowering a second blowout preventer onto the damaged one to seal the well
* and drilling a relief well to intercept the damaged one and plug

Holographic Adaptive Optics

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Air Force Office of Scientific Research-supported holographic, adaptive, optics research may help transform software into computer-free, electronics for unmanned aerial vehicles, high energy lasers and free-space optical communications that will enable each to run faster and more efficiently than before

"The current system for UAV imagery, lasers and optics is computer software driven, but the next phase is to replace that with an electronics system called High Altitude Large Optics," he said. "Such a system would be orders of magnitude faster than anything else available, while being much more compact and lightweight."

It is hoped that HALOS will become the standard in adaptive optics of the future. It may also create entirely new markets for sharper telescopes and camera images that will be used for military purposes.
Holographic Adaptive Optics (7 page paper from 2009)

For the last two decades adaptive optics has been used as a technique for correcting imaging applications and directed energy/laser targeting and laser communications systems affected by atmospheric turbulence. Typically these systems are bulky and limited to < 10 kHz due to large computing overhead and limited photon efficiencies. Moreover most use zonal wavefront sensors which cannot easily handle extreme scintillation or unexpected obscuration of a pre-set aperture. Here we present a compact, lightweight adaptive optics system that utilizes a hologram to perform an all-optical wavefront analysis that removes the need for any computer.

Exaflop Supercomputer Race

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On 23 March 2010, Forschungszentrum Jülich and IBM signed the contract for a joint "Exascale Innovation Center" (EIC). EIC will develop hardware and software for an exascale supercomputer by the end of 2019. According to the schedule, a prototype of the new exascale supercomputer is expected to be available in 2015. Five scientists from the IBM development laboratory in Böblingen and five scientists from Jülich will be collaborating with a team of scientists at the IBM Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights. The goal is to install an exascale-class system in Jülich by 2019. The supercomputer QPACE (developed by IBM and Julich) was declared the world’s most energy-efficient supercomputer in November, 2009. Further challenges are the development of the chip and processor technology towards the exascale level with respect to hardware and the improvement of algorithms with respect to software in order to run and use a supercomputer of this size. QPACE has 26 peak teraflops and uses 35 KW of power and is based on cell processors. This is about ten times more power efficient as other supercomputers.

Maximum Magnetic Field Allowed in Quantum Electro Dynamics is not 10^42 Gauss

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Arxiv - Is there a maximum magnetic field in QED?

It was recently conjectured by Shabad and Usov that there exists in QED a maximum magnetic field of 10^42 Gauss, above which the magnetized vacuum becomes unstable. Using a nonperturbative analysis that consistently incorporates the effective electron mass and the screening effect in a strong magnetic field, we show that the conjectured phenomenon of positronium collapse never takes place. Thus, there does not exist a maximum magnetic field in QED and the magnetized vacuum is stable for all values of the magnetic field.

So the answer of the maximum magnetic field is not 42 (10 to the 42 Gauss).

Laser Powerbeaming to UAVs

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LaserMotive White Paper – Power Beaming for UAVs (9 page pdf)
Laser Motive will be competing in the 2010 Powerbeaming (Space Elevator Games) competition. The last date given for the competition is May 10, 2010. However, this would seem likely to slip as their should be word of the teams being onsite and the course being setup by now for a competition in one week.

The UAV powerbeaming is at technology readiness 5 or 6.

LaserMotive envisions three general applications for laser-powered UAVs feasible with current technology:
1. A stationary observing platform for long-­‐duration ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance). The UAV can be a quadricopter, airplane, or aerostat.
2. Extended or multi-­‐mission operations. An electric UAV is launched and flies to a target beyond laser range where it can loiter for some time. Once the on-­‐board energy storage goes below a predetermined level, the UAV flies to a location within line of sight of a recharging laser and recharges in the air.
3. Unlimited patrol. Missions that can be conducted within line-­‐of-­‐sight (~10 miles for an altitude of 1 mile) of a laser station (which may itself be moving) can be continuously powered, enabling a UAV to patrol or shadow a target indefinitely.

Carnival of Space 152

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Carnival of Space 152 is up at Martian Chronicles.

Nextbigfuture contributions the 152nd carnival:
1. Earth based and space based hypertelescope proposals are reviewed. Includes calculations of the optical baselines and light gathering specifications for heroic imaging of planets in other solar systems

2. Dyson Swarms and dyson spheres
3. Dyson Bubbles, statites, molecular nanotechnology and current solar panels for the Mercury Messenger and the design of the Solar Probe Plus.

Centauri Dreams has details of the Ikaros hybrid solar sail mission.

Polymer Optical Switches Could Make the Internet Hundreds of Times Faster

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Tel Aviv University develops fiber optics technology to replace semi-conductors. It's a new nano-based technology that can make computers and the Internet hundreds of times faster — a communications technology "enabler" that may be in use only five or ten years in the future. Dr. Koby Scheuer has developed a new plastic-based technology for the nano-photonics market, which manufactures optical devices and components. Reported in the journal Optics Express, his plastic-based "filter" is made from nanometer-sized grooves embedded into the plastic. When used in fiber optics cable switches, this new device will make our communication devices smaller, more flexible and more powerful.

The Path to Bose Einstein Condensate Positronium and Gamma Ray Lasers

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Here is a powerpoint presentation on the from 2009 on the work to create a Bose-Einstein condensate of Positronium (24 pages). This work recently made progress as researchers isolated a collection of “pure” or spin polarized positronium atoms for the first time. Positronium is a short-lived system in which an electron and its anti-particle are bound together. [wikipedia]

May 02, 2010

MEMS Generates Electricity from Body Heat and MEMS Device Harvests Enough Walking Energy to Power a GPS receiver

1. Fabrication and Characterization of CMOS-MEMS Thermoelectric Micro Generators (11 page pdf)

This work presents a thermoelectric micro generator fabricated by the commercial 0.35 μm complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) process and the post-CMOS process. The micro generator is composed of 24 thermocouples in series. Each thermocouple is constructed by p-type and n-type polysilicon strips. The output power of the generator depends on the temperature difference between the hot and cold parts in the thermocouples. In order to prevent heat-receiving in the cold part in the thermocouples, the cold part is covered with a silicon dioxide layer with low thermal conductivity to insulate the heat source. The hot part of the thermocouples is suspended and connected to an aluminum plate, to increases the heat-receiving area in the hot part. The generator requires a post-CMOS process to release the suspended structures. The post-CMOS process uses an anisotropic dry etching to remove the oxide sacrificial layer and an isotropic dry etching to etch the silicon substrate. Experimental results show that the micro generator has an output voltage of 67 μV at the temperature difference of 1 K.