May 29, 2010

Game Changing Fuzzy Fiber Nanomaterial

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A $3 million Ohio Third Frontier award to the University of Dayton Research Institute will fund the scale-up and production of a “game-changing” new nanomaterial that will allow composites to multitask – a wind turbine tower that can de-ice its own blades in winter, or store energy to release on a calm day, powering a grid even when its blades are not moving. Or a military vehicle whose armor can serve as a battery – powering some of the vehicle’s electrical components.

Lafdi called the material “game-changing” because of its ability to be produced in continuous sheets to desired sizes like other fabrics. “Everybody is growing carbon nanotubes on substrates,” Lafdi said. “We’re the only people who are producing them on a large-scale and continuous process, and not just in batches. This means we can produce the material at a low cost, and it also means we can produce pieces big enough to cover an aircraft.”

Lafdi and his team have been producing 500 feet of 12-inch-wide fabric per day at a pilot plant in UDRI’s Shroyer Park Center. The new facility, to be located within Dayton’s Aerospace Hub, will be equipped to produce 60-inch-wide fabric.

Nicknamed “fuzzy fiber” by its inventor at UDRI, Nano Adaptive Hybrid Fabric (NAHF-XTM) is the first tailored nanomaterial capable of being produced in sizes and quantities large enough to make them affordable and viable for large-scale commercial use. When incorporated into resins, fuzzy fibers enable composites to be tailored for electrical and thermal conductivity, chemical and biological sensing, energy storage and conversion, thermal management and other properties.

Top Kill Fails To Plug Oil Spill, Next the lower marine riser package Method

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BP says its Top Kill attempt to plug the Gulf of Mexico oil leak has failed and after a review by government officials it has been decided to move to the next option.

Deployment would first involve removing the damaged riser from the top of the failed BOP to leave a cleanly-cut pipe at the top of the BOP's LMRP.

The cap, a containment device with a sealing grommet, will be connected to a riser from the Discoverer Enterprise drillship, 5,000 feet above on the surface, and placed over the LMRP with the intention of capturing most of the oil and gas flowing from the well.

Mr Suttles said it should capture "most of the oil" and was expected to last at least four days but "we cannot guarantee success at this time."

May 28, 2010

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 3 - NEI 2009 Stats, Nuclear Renaissance and More

Welcome to the third Carnival of Nuclear Energy.

1. NEI summarizes the updated 2009 nuclear statistics.

* US nuclear plants generated slightly less electricity in 2009 than in 2008, yet nuclear’s fuel share increased from 19.6% in 2008 to 20.2% in 2009. That’s simply because electricity generation declined by four percent in the US due to that major economic setback we’re finally coming out of

* the production costs of nuclear compared to fossil fuels. In 2009, the US nuclear fleet’s production costs were 2.03 cents/kWh, a five percent (5%) increase from 2008 after adjusting for inflation. Coal’s production costs for 2009 were 2.97 cents/kWh (6% increase over 2008), gas was 5.00 cents/kWh (36% decrease over 2008), and petroleum was 12.37 cents/kWh (30% decrease over 2008).

Japan Plans $2.2 billion Robotic Moon Base at South Pole of the Moon by 2020

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Japan plans to use $2.2 billion to make a lunar base operated by robots at the south pole of moon by 2020.

* A Japanese government panel has produced a draft paper outlining how humanoid rover robots will begin surveying the moon by 2015, according to a report by the prime minister's office.
* the droids (weighing 300 kg / 660 pounds) will roll on treads and operate within a 60-mile (100 km) radius of the base. They'll be equipped with solar panels, seismographs to investigate the moon's inner structure, high-def cameras, and arms to gather rock samples, which will be returned to Earth via rocket.

Air Force Information of the Hypersonic flight of X-51 Waverider

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The Air Force provides information on the X-51A Waverider flight. The test vehicle successfully made the longest ever supersonic combustion ramjet-powered hypersonic flight Wednesday, May 26 off the southern California Pacific coast.

The X-51 launched about 10 a.m. Wednesday, from Edwards Air Force Base, carried aloft under the left wing of an Air Force Flight Test Center B-52 Stratofortress. Then, flying at 50,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range, it was released. Four seconds later an Army Tactical Missile solid rocket booster accelerated the X-51 to about Mach 4.8 mach before it and a connecting interstage were jettisoned. The launch and separation were normal, Mr. Brink said.

Then the X-51's SJY61 engine ignited, initially on a mix of ethylene, similar to lighter fluid, and JP-7 jet fuel then exclusively on JP-7 jet fuel, the same fuel once carried by the SR-71 Blackbird before its retirement. The flight reached an altitude of about 70,000 feet and a peak speed of Mach 5.

Onboard sensors transmitted data to an airborne U.S. Navy P-3, as well was ground systems at Point Mugu, Vandenberg and Edwards Air Force Bases. After about 200 seconds of engine operation a vehicle anomaly occurred and the flight was terminated. Engineers are busily examining the data to identify the cause of the problem.

China Argues Over Regular High Speed Rail Versus Maglev High Speed Rail Projects

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A maglev train leaves Shanghai Pudong International Airport heading to the city. Plans to extend the line to Hangzhou were stalled by protests.

People in China are questioning the logic of having two high-speed rail links between the same cities (Shanghai and Hangzhou), especially as the maglev will be far more expensive yet only 10 minutes faster.

Protein Computing, Bio-based Quantum Computing and Nano-sized biolasers from ExQor Technologies

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Triskelia are the tripod shaped subunits of Clathrin. The Clathrin protein self-assembles into nanoscale spheres that lase "Our clathrin scaffolding applications are also dual use, with commercial applications in VLSI lithography, biomolecular electronics and in self-assembling novel photonic nanostructures for alternative energy generation

EETimes reports on the self assembled protein work at ExQor Technologies.

* Clathrin, a protein found in every cell of the human body, could become a self-assembler of future information processing systems that are smaller, faster and cheaper than today's computer circuitry

* Boston-based ExQor Technologies said it has demonstrated that Clathrin can be formed into nano-sized biolasers suitable for transmitting information. It expects the technology will initially be used in medical applications.

ExQor's patented bio-nanolasers (as small as 25 nm) can be functionalized with ligands, enzymes, peptides, etc., and used to kill cancer cells, destroy blood clots in hard to reach locations, and act as diagnostic sensors.

One very exciting prospect is using ExQor's nano-lasers for repairing and growing neurons in the human nervous system.

Another powerful application for ExQor's nanolasers is disposable, safe, ultrasensitive, ultrafast biochips for DNA and RNA detection.

Carnival of Space 155 - Backseat Driving Haiku Format

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The Carnival of Space 155 is up at backseat driving and it is in Haiku format

This site provided two articles
Details on a SSTO magnetohydrodynamic and inertial electrostatic space plane. This design was covered at STAIF 2005 but there is continuing research into both MHD (at NASA and other places) and the IEC reactor (EMC2 fusion and Washington State and other places.) There has been $7 million funded into nuclear fusion for space propulsion. The IEC, MHD and combined space plane would each need a several billion dollars to fully develop.

2. Paul March's Mach effect Propulsion experiment this summer could achieve over 50 milliwatts of propulsion.

May 27, 2010

NASA WISE Telescope has found at least two cool Brown Dwarf Stars and 11000 Asteroids so Far

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NASA WISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explore) space telescope has discovered at least two cool, substellar objects known as brown dwarfs.

One of the brown dwarfs, dubbed WISE 2, appears to be as cold as any that are known. It may even be colder, Wright said, than the brown dwarfs recently found by the UKIDSS survey, which are estimated to be in the neighborhood of 500 Kelvin, but the exact temperature of WISE 2 is uncertain (as are the temperatures of the UKIDSS objects). WISE 1 is a bit warmer, Wright said: "We think this is about an 800-Kelvin object."

Brown dwarfs share characteristics with both stars and planets. Despite the success of surveys such as 2MASS and SDSS, they have been unable to find brown dwarfs cooler than 750 degrees Kelvin. Cooler objects primarily emit light at wavelengths longer than either of those surveys probe, and it is at these wavelengths where WISE will operate. With WISE we will be able to see 450-K brown dwarfs out to a distance of 75 light-years (ly), 300-K brown dwarfs out to 20 ly, and 150-K brown dwarfs out to 10 ly. Finding these cooler objects will provide examples of exoplanet-like atmospheres in order to investigate atmospheric properties in the unexplored temperatures between 150 and 750 Kelvin.

Low Intensity Ultrasound Could Boost Tissue Implant Success and Enhances Bone and Muscle Healing

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LIUS (Low Intensity UltraSound) has been used to enhance bone healing, repair of damaged muscle, and differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells into osteoblasts or chondrocytes. Ultrasound can improve cell viability, thanks to its ability to get molecules moving, and researchers have used it to increase blood flow to tissues in the process of healing and regenerating. In particular, low-intensity ultrasound (LIUS) has been used to help regenerate cartilage and bone, and in tissue engineering to stimulate cells.

Journal of Tissue Engineering - Indirect Low-Intensity Ultrasonic Stimulation for Tissue Engineering

Nvidia Fermi GPGPU has Delays, Power Problems and Scaled Back Earlier Performance

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The Inquirer reports that the Nvidia Fermi GPGPU is a power hungry chip, which poses problems for the HPC (High Performance Computing) customers

To accommodate Tesla boards Mannel said that SGI and its customers have had to "scale up the cooling infrastructure" to meet the higher ambient temperature demands in HPC data centres due to the additional heat output of the hardware.

After the delays, the scaling back of performance and increases in power consumption and cooling needs, it's no surprise that SGI is looking elsewhere.

Bill Mannel, SGI's senior director of server product marketing, said he expects there to be "even performance capability" between AMD/ATI and Nvidia within the next 18 months

Northrop Grumman Makes Worlds Fastest Integrated Circuit at 670 Gigahertz

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Northrop Grumman Corporation has set a new electronics performance record with a Terahertz Monolithic Integrated Circuit (TMIC) operating at 0.67 terahertz (THz), or 0.67 trillion cycles per second. (H/T Popular Science

Developed at the company's Simon Ramo Microelectronics Center under a contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Terahertz Electronics program, this new performance record more than doubles the frequency of the fastest reported integrated circuit.

The goal of DARPA's Terahertz Electronics program is to develop the critical device and integration technologies necessary to realize compact, high-performance, electronic circuits that operate at center frequencies exceeding 1.0 THz. Managed by DARPA's Microsystems Technology Office, the program focuses on two areas – terahertz high-power amplifier modules, and terahertz transistor electronics.

"The success of the THz Electronics program will lead to revolutionary applications such as THz imaging systems, sub-mm-wave ultra-wideband ultra-high-capacity communication links, and sub-mm-wave single-chip widely-tunable synthesizers for explosive detection spectroscopy," according to Dr. John Albrecht, THz Electronics program manager for DARPA.

Optical Legos: building nanoshell structures

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Scientists from four U.S. universities have created a way to use Rice University's light-activated nanoshells as building blocks for 2-D and 3-D structures that could find use in chemical sensors, nanolasers and bizarre light-absorbing metamaterials. Much as a child might use Lego blocks to build 3-D models of complex buildings or vehicles, the scientists are using the new chemical self-assembly method to build complex structures that can trap, store and bend light.

Journal Science - Self-Assembled Plasmonic Nanoparticle Clusters

The self-assembly of colloids is an alternative to top-down processing that enables the fabrication of nanostructures. We show that self-assembled clusters of metal-dielectric spheres are the basis for nanophotonic structures. By tailoring the number and position of spheres in close-packed clusters, plasmon modes exhibiting strong magnetic and Fano-like resonances emerge. The use of identical spheres simplifies cluster assembly and facilitates the fabrication of highly symmetric structures. Dielectric spacers are used to tailor the interparticle spacing in these clusters to be approximately 2 nanometers. These types of chemically synthesized nanoparticle clusters can be generalized to other two- and three-dimensional structures and can serve as building blocks for new metamaterials.

OECD Raises GDP forecasts for China, the 30 OECD Countries and the World

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The OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) forecasts that China's gross domestic product will exceed 11 percent this year before slowing to just under 10 percent in 2011. (22 page pdf)
* Deteriorating trade and still-strong domestic demand would cut current account surplus sharply in 2010, while the inflationary pressure was likely to remain subdued with mitigation in food prices
* the smaller growth rate in 2011 will be because of the phasing out of the stimulus package.

The Economist Magazine Discusses the Increasing Risk of North Korea Situation Imploding or Exploding

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The Economist Magazine indicates it is time for all of North Korea’s neighbours to start thinking of how they might together deal with some of the unthinkables they have hitherto tried hard to ignore

If China cannot have a grown-up discussion with America about something as clear-cut as the attack on the Cheonan, how much greater will be the danger of miscommunication in the event of something hitherto unthinkable happening: an outbreak of war, say, a nuclear incident, or the collapse of the regime. Anything that sparked fears of “loose nukes” or a refugee crisis, with American and Chinese troops aiming nervously at each other across North Korean territory, could quickly make the Korean peninsula the most dangerous place on earth. China ignores such risks at its peril.

North Korea, a nuclear-armed state, seems to be increasingly unstable. What can the big powers do about it?

A handover of power—whenever that happens—may not be smooth. So a number of academics, in China as well as in America and South Korea, are arguing that the three countries—and perhaps Japan and Russia too—should consider a new co-ordinated approach to deal with the eventuality that the hermit kingdom spins dangerously out of control.

In gauging the regime’s stability, analysts look at the economy, the armed services and the political powerbrokers likely to survive Mr Kim’s eventual demise. There is a great deal of uncertainty about each—North Korea-watchers have remarkably little to go on. Economic problems are the most apparent but may also be the least important: for years the regime has shown that it can carry on with its policies regardless of the hunger of its people.

The level of hunger has become considerably worse in the past few years—in a country where famine led to the deaths of some 1m people, or nearly 5% of the population, in the 1990s. One man who works there says the number of orphans has surged recently as hunger has claimed their parents’ lives. Another man who works in the north-eastern enclave of Rajin-Sonbong, where foreign investment is allowed, says he has seen open expressions of defiance by North Koreans.

If a meltdown does occur, the risks are enormous. North Korea’s GDP per head is about 6% that of South Korea’s, which is far lower than East Germany’s was compared with West Germany when the Berlin Wall collapsed. This means that unifying the two countries could be treacherous, with costs that the South Korean central bank has put as high as $900 billion over four decades

BP and Coast Guard say that Top Kill Procedure has Stopped the Worst US Oil Spill But the Well Must Still Be Capped

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New Scientist reports that BP engineers and US coastguard officials say the flow of oil into the ocean has stopped, although the well has not yet been successfully capped.

Newsweek reports on the success as well
Almost 19 hours after the “top kill” process of pumping mud and viscous liquid into the broken oil well in the Gulf, officials are claiming the process has worked. The main challenge had been to overcome the pressure of the oil spewing upward from the sub-sea reservoir. The first ship containing 50,000 barrels of the mud mixture reportedly ran out early Thursday, although a second boat was on the way. Coast Guard officials and BP engineers on the scene said they were hopeful the process could be labeled a full success once cement was pumped in to fully block the pipe within the next few hours.

UCI researchers create retina from human embryonic stem cells

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UC Irvine scientists have created an eight-layer, early stage retina from human embryonic stem cells, the first three-dimensional tissue structure to be made from stem cells

Journal of Neuroscience Methods - Three-dimensional early retinal progenitor 3D tissue constructs derived from human embryonic stem cells

UEX Corp Discovers 44 thousand ton Uranium Deposit

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1. UEX Corp, a Vancouver company, is sitting on what could be the largest undeveloped uranium deposit in Canada.

UEX Corp. (TSX:UEX) announced the first 43-101 resource estimate for its Shea Creek project in Saskatchewan’s Athabasca Basin Wednesday morning. The basin is considered the world’s richest source of uranium.

The estimate revealed a total resource of 88.1 million pounds (44,000 tons) of uranium in indicated and inferred categories, which are standardized classifications based on drill results. In 2009, UEX spent $14.5 million on exploration in the Athabasca Basin to find this $4 billion of uranium.

May 26, 2010

Evaluation of High Power Density Annular Fuel for Korean OPR-1000 Reactor: Final Report

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Earlier MIT studies have shown that internally and externally cooled annular fuel makes it possible to significantly increase (by up to 50%) power density in the standard Westinghouse PWR while maintaining or increasing safety margin. The present project has evaluated feasibility of 20% higher power density for the Korean OPR-1000 reactor having annular fuel assemblies of different dimensions and operating conditions than the standard Westinghouse PWR used in previous MIT analyses. The most important difference is keeping the coolant flow rate fixed at the reference value in this study. (H/T Charles Barton

DNBR evaluation of an annular fueled core using VIPRE-01 for the whole core showed that the original KAERI annular fuel design has larger MDNBR margin than the solid fuel at 100% power. Assuming an unchanged core flow rate and equal conductances for the inner and outer gaps, however, this design cannot achieve power uprate to 120% even with a reduced core inlet temperature. The MDNBR in the inner channel is too small. This problem arises because the diameter of the inner channel does not allow sufficient flow rate through it. Use of KAERIs suggested gap conductances (3500/7000 for inner/outer) significantly alleviates this problem, allowing an uprate to 117.55%. Search was then performed to identify a better optimized design that could achieve 20% power uprate. This might be accomplished through fine-tuning of the rod dimensions by slightly increasing both inner channel and outer channel diameters, while keeping the fuel to moderator ratio fixed, but the modified design requires reducing the gap between the rods to 1mm, which may challenge manufacturing feasibility. An alternative design with slightly larger gap was shown to also achieve 120% power with good MDNBR margin, but requires grids with higher grid loss coefficient and results in a slight increase of core pressure drop.

DARPA Sniper Upgrades Start in 2011

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Wired Danger Room reports that DARPA will have new laser sniper scopes in field trials in 2011.

Darpa, the Pentagon’s way-out research arm, is hoping to use lasers and advanced optical systems to make other snipers Harrison-accurate (world record sniper record holder had three accurate 1.54 mile shots in a row, even when the winds are howling. The agency is looking for 15 ultraprecise sniper scopes to put in shooters’ hands by next year.

The “One Shot” program originally aimed to give snipers the power to hit a target from 2000 meters away in winds as high as 40 miles per hour. In the first phases of the 3-year-old program, shooters used prototype rifles dressed with lasers and fancy computer hardware to do damage from 1,100 meters away in 18-mile-an-hour winds. The scope-mounted lasers can “see” wind turbulence in the path of the bullet and feed the data to computers, enabling real-time calculation of — and compensation for — the wind-blown trajectory.

X-51A WaveRider Had a Successful 200 Second Hypersonic Flight

The Boeing X-51A WaveRider on May 26, 2010 successfully completed the longest supersonic combustion ramjet-powered flight in history -- nearly three and a half minutes at a top speed of Mach 5. The previous longest scramjet burn in a flight test was 12 seconds in a hydrogen-based engine in the NASA X-43.

UPDATE - August 15, 2012 - the most recent test ended in failure. A faulty control fin caused the Waverider to be lose control after 15 seconds which was before the scramjet engine was to be ignited.

The unmanned aerial vehicle was released from a U.S. Air Force B-52H bomber off the southern California coast around 10 a.m. today. It flew autonomously for more than 200 seconds, powered by its Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne supersonic combustion ramjet (scramjet) motor, as it transmitted telemetry data to ground stations. Something then occurred that caused the vehicle to lose acceleration. At that point, the X-51A was terminated as planned.

The X-51A was carried aloft under the left wing of an Air Force Flight Test Center B-52H Stratofortress that took off from Edwards Air Force Base. It was released while flying at approximately 50,000 feet over the Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center Sea Range. Four seconds later, a solid rocket booster from a U.S. Army tactical missile accelerated the X-51A to about Mach 4.5 before it and a connecting interstage were jettisoned. The X-51A's engine ignited on a mix of ethylene and JP-7 jet fuel. After a short period, the X-51A ran exclusively on JP-7 jet fuel. The flight reached an altitude of about 70,000 feet and an approximate speed of Mach 5.

Jim Von Ehr says Zyvex will Achieve Digital Matter from Building Blocks by 2015 and Rudimentary Molecular Manufacturing by 2020

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Jim Von Ehr is interviewed by Sander Olson for Nextbigfuture. Mr. Von Ehr founded the Zyvex Corporation in the 1990s in order to expedite the development of molecular manufacturing. He has recently spun off Zyvex into Zyvex Labs, Zyvex Performance Materials, and Zyvex Instruments. Mr. Von Ehr hopes to have a primitive nanotechnology system that can create blocklike objects by 2015 and rudimentary molecular manufacturing by 2020.

Zyvex had a $25 million grant from NIST in 2001 and $15 million from DARPA in 2008 and has other grants and support for several million from Texas and other US government programs and they have some commercial products.

Jim Von Ehr was featured in the Dallas News in 2009

Von Ehr, who sold his first company for $100 million in 1995, has poured millions of dollars into companies working on everything from mobile software to telecom hardware to Internet portals to electronic prosthetics. But his day job is running the company he founded in 1997, Richardson-based nanotechnology company Zyvex Corp.

Varaha, which makes software that lets cellphones seamlessly switch from cellular networks to Wi-Fi networks, is one of about a half-dozen start-up firms in which Von Ehr is actively invested.

Von Ehr is using his money to push near-term creations at companies such as Varaha; optical network terminal maker TXP in Richardson ; 10C Technologies Inc. in Addison, which is developing battery-charging systems; and Dallas-based medical devices company TissueGen Inc.

He also contributed $3.5 million to establish the University of Texas at Dallas NanoTech Institute, endowed the James Von Ehr Distinguished Chair of Science and Technology at the university and sits on the board of venture capital firm STARTech Early Ventures LLC in Richardson.

Here is a link to a 26 minute interview of Jim Von Ehr for WHYY PBS.

Question 1: Zyvex originally had an emphasis on facilitating molecular manufacturing. Is Zyvex still doing research directly related to molecular manufacturing?
Answer 1
: Absolutely. Zyvex was founded with the goal of doing atomically precise manufacturing. Along the way, we had to develop some of our own tools. This led to spinoff businesses such as Zyvex Performance Materials and Zyvex Instruments. I sold Zyvex Instruments earlier this year (Feb, 2010 DCG Systems buys Zyvex Instruments), and am no longer directly affiliated with them, and I am only involved with Zyvex Performance Materials as Chairman of the Board, so my efforts are now primarily focused on Zyvex Labs.

Some Casually Toss Around the Idea of China Invading Taiwan But Think Okinawa or D-Day in World War 2

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Relations between Taipei and Beijing have been improving since Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomingtang Party came to power in Taiwan two years ago, promising to bolster bilateral trade and allowing the inflow of growing numbers of Chinese tourists. So there is no need for China to invade Taiwan. However, some casually toss around the idea of China invading Taiwan. This shows a complete lack of understanding of the military situation and military history. Taiwan's defense used to be a no-brainer. Taiwan had air superiority. Only now is that air superiority coming into doubt. China is developing a credible threat but that threat is not fully here yet and Taiwan can do things now to prevent China from being able to execute a successful attack even up to 2020 and beyond.

Military History and the Challenge of Invading Islands

The Battle of Okinawa, codenamed Operation Iceberg, was fought on the Ryukyu Islands of Okinawa and was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War

The US was able to hit Okinawa with 102,000 Army and 81,000 Marine Corps personnel. The Japanese land campaign (mainly defensive) was conducted by the 67,000-strong (77,000 according to some sources) regular Thirty-Second Army and some 9,000 Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) troops at Oroku naval base (only a few hundred of whom had been trained and equipped for ground combat), supported by 39,000 drafted local Ryukyuan people (including 24,000 hastily-conscripted rear militia called Boeitai and 15,000 non-uniformed laborers).

The US military command staff calculated that superior quality and numbers of weapons gave each U.S. division five or six times the firepower of a Japanese division.

Taiwan has 290,000 to 400,000 active military personnel. Taiwan has 1,675,000 military reserve. There is still a draft so all of the military reserve have served at least a couple of years in the military.

Taiwan is a way tougher military nut to crack than Okinawa. It would be a D-Day scale operation for China. I have lived in Taiwan and I know that the defense is dug into the mountains and other areas.

A 185 page Rand study from 2009 analyzed a possible military attack by China on Taiwan

The growing size and quality of China's missile arsenal, along with other advances in Chinese military capabilities, call into question the United States' and Taiwan's ability to defend the island against a large-scale Chinese attack. In this volume, the authors employ a mix of theater-level combat modeling, simpler mathematical models, historical analysis, interviews with experts, and qualitative judgment to evaluate both the China-Taiwan political dynamic and the cross-strait military balance. Shlapak et al. conclude with a discussion of how Taiwan might be successfully defended against a Chinese invasion attempt.

Diamond MechanoSynthesis paper from Robert Freitas and the Nanofactory Collaboration

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Robert Freitas and the nanofactory collaboration published a nanotechnology paper in February, 2010

Denis Tarasov, Natalia Akberova, Ekaterina Izotova, Diana Alisheva, Maksim Astafiev, Robert A. Freitas Jr., “Optimal Tooltip Trajectories in a Hydrogen Abstraction Tool Recharge Reaction Sequence for Positionally Controlled Diamond Mechanosynthesis,” J. Comput. Theor. Nanosci. 7(February 2010):325-353 [29 pages]

It is our first published paper with our Russian collaborators and is now available online. This paper represents the first extensive DMS (Diamond Mechno-Synthesis) tooltip trajectory analysis, examining a wide range of viable multiple degrees-of-freedom tooltip motions in 3D space that could be employed to recharge the hydrogen abstraction tool, a key reaction set in DMS.

Beyond Nuclear Financials and Funding from Celebrities

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Atomic Insights Rod Adams spoke with Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear. (an anti-nuclear energy advocacy website)

I also asked Paul bluntly why he spent so much time fighting nuclear on the "leak" issue when he did not spend any time fighting coal - with its designed environmental dumps called smoke stacks. I am paraphrasing his response because I did not have any recorder running at the time - "Because that is not what I get paid to do. If you want to pay me to protest coal, I will." I thought that was an illuminating and surprisingly honest answer. Gunter, who is probably ten years older than I am, started his adult life as a protester at Seabrook nuclear power plant as a founding member of the Clamshell Alliance. Nearly thirty five years later, his full time job is still related to fighting nuclear energy. From his own biography posted at Beyond Nuclear, Gunter is "An environmental activist and energy policy analyst, he has been an ardent critic of atomic power development for more than 30 years."

Beyond Nuclear Financials

Beyond Nuclear has an 8 page annual report for 2009

We appreciate your continued and most welcome generosity. We also thank our celebrity supporters Bonnie Raitt; Jackson Browne, Ed Begley, Jr., Ed Asner, Susan Clark, and James Cromwell

Perceived Ludicrousness Levels - How People React To Technology

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Guest Post by Joseph Friedlander.

I was looking up NASA Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) from 1 to 9 to better characterize the state of some upcoming inventions, and I thought about using them to comment upon how ordinary mental resistance to new inventions proceeds. Note that the order parallels the order of the Technology Readiness Levels scale for ease of comparison. (Literally, I took parts of the defining phrases from the NASA paper by John C. Mankins of the Advanced Projects Office—hat tip to him. )

Union of Concerned Scientists Claim to not be Anti-Nuclear Energy But Their Bias is Obvious

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The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) sends out emails that claim that they are not anti-nuclear. On the Union of concerned Scientists website they have a large section on nuclear power that discusses costs and risks. I think their analysis is flawed but I think it is good to discuss energy costs and risks.
However, if they are not anti-nuclear then why don't they provide any critical analysis of each of the other energy sources ? Where is the critical analysis of the pros and cons and issues with wind, solar, natural gas, oil, coal, biomass, hydro, geothermal ?

The UCS has occasional articles about coal,like the one on the homepage today but their nuclear criticism is a permanent part of their top level site navigation.

If there was balance then there would be a section for each one. And discuss the risks of each one.

Nuclear proliferation has killed no one but there is nothing on wars fought for oil resources.

How about wars over water resources and the connection to water problems from oil and coal usage ?

UCS covers nuclear leaks but they have nothing on the oil spills, oil fires, coal fires, coal pollution, natural gas pollution, accidents etc... How about hydroelectric dam failures ? How about the engineer reports of 2000 dams that are high risk and in need of repair that put cities at risk in the United States.

I laugh at their balance and claims of not being anti-nuclear.

May 25, 2010

Field Effect Transistors Printed with Carbon Nanotube Infused Ink Jet Printers

Rice University researchers have discovered thin films of nanotubes created with ink-jet printers offer a new way to make field-effect transistors (FET), the basic element in integrated circuits.

This is not a perfect transistor, but it is applicable in digital electronics," Vajtai said. "There are some limitations. I doubt anyone could take a $60 ink-jet printer and print predesigned electronic circuits. But with a high-end printer, it is a fairly straightforward process and allows you to put together whatever you want." He expects manufacturing nano-FETS in bulk would require a process more akin to silk-screening.

Though the researchers' test FETs were relatively large -- about a square millimeter -- they reported that circuits could scale down to about 100 microns, about the width of a human hair, with a channel length of about 35 microns – the size of the print head. Shrinking them further might be possible with smaller print heads or pretreated hydrophilic or hydrophobic surfaces.

Vajtai said nanotube-based FETs will be good for logic-based applications that can be printed on a flexible surface but don't need a large number of circuits. "Say you want to have a raincoat made with transistors – doing whatever a raincoat needs to do that requires electricity, such as controlling and analyzing signals from several sensors and light sources, for safety. It can be done.”

Graphene Can Have Quantum Dots Whereever Hydrogens are Removed

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Rice researchers created these fanciful images of electron densities from their graphane-embedded quantum dot calculations. The isosurfaces depict electrons in the valance band that, in reality, would be confined within the quantum dot, and demonstrate that very little charge would leak from the hydrogen-defined boundaries of such a dot.
Removing hydrogen from Graphane creates quantum dots.

Researchers mentored by Boris Yakobson, a Rice professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and of chemistry, have discovered the strategic extraction of hydrogen atoms from a two-dimensional sheet of graphane naturally opens up spaces of pure graphene that look – and act – like quantum dots. The work so far is computationally proven, but it offers a path to large scale arrays of quantum dots on sheets of graphane.

Graphene is one-atom-thick sheets of carbon.

Graphane is simply graphene modified by hydrogen atoms added to both sides of the matrix, which makes it an insulator. While it's still technically only a single atom thick, graphane offers great possibilities for the manipulation of the material's semiconducting properties.

Status of China Nuclear Reactor Construction Approvals

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In 2010, China is expected to approve the construction of five nuclear power generating units, including Tianwan Phase III project, Fangchenggang Phase I project, Shidaowan high temperature gas cooled reactor demonstration project.

China has approved 30 generation units of 11 nuclear power generation plants with installed capacity amounting to 32.7 million kilowatts. Among them, 25.4 million kilowatts of installed capacity are under construction now.

Synthetic Cornea from a successful EU Research Project

Gizmag has coverage of the development of synthetic corneas.
Dr. Joachim Storsberg of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in Potsdam-Golm created the first artificial cornea, which has been successfully trialed and has been in use now since 2009. The work could provide sight to 40,000 in Europe and hundreds of thousands around the world.
Science Daily covered the earlier work onthe artificial cornea in 2007.

US Global Positioning System is Getting an $8 billion Upgrade

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The LA Times reports that the US Global Positioning System is getting an $8 billion upgrade.

The upgrade GPS will have accuracy to less than one meter. Typically unenhanced accuracy now is about 15 meters (50 feet).

Scientists and engineers — including those at a sprawling satellite-making factory in El Segundo — are developing an $8-billion GPS upgrade that will make the system more reliable, more widespread and much more accurate. The 24 satellites that make up the GPS constellation — many of them built at the former Rockwell plant in Seal Beach — will be replaced one by one. The first replacement was scheduled to be launched from Cape Canaveral this weekend. The overhaul will take a decade and is being overseen by engineers at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, where Parkinson and his team developed the current system.

Tennessee Valley Authority Study Prefers Completing of Bellefonte Unit 1 Over New Build

TVA said its integrated assessment of the two alternatives (build all new or complete unit 1) has resulted in identifying the completion of unit 1 (one of the partially completed B&W units) as the preferred project.

The FEIS is the fourth of five detailed studies being prepared to support a future decision by the TVA board about whether to operate a nuclear reactor at Bellefonte. The fifth study will evaluate the financing options to support construction. TVA directors are expected to make a decision on the proposed nuclear unit at a meeting scheduled for 20 August. The authority is also in the process of developing an Integrated Resource Plan to help identify regional electricity needs over the next two years.

Korean Peninsula Tensions Rise with Risk of a Second Korean War

BBC News reports that North Korea is to cut all relations with South Korea

The North was also expelling all South Korean workers from a jointly-run factory north of the border.

Amid the rising tensions, South Korea has said it will drop propaganda leaflets into the North to tell people about the Cheonan incident, as well as setting up giant electronic billboards to flash messages.

Christian Science Monitor reports that South Korean stocks continued to fall Tuesday on reports that North Korea was preparing for military action and had accused the South's Navy of trespassing.

Markets in South Korea and the region plunged, a reflection of how volatile the situation remains after a multinational probe last week squarely blamed North Korea for sinking a South Korean ship with a torpedo on March 26, killing 46.

May 24, 2010

Seven atom quantum dot transistor

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Nanowerk reports that Australian researchers have created a quantum dot of just seven atoms that acts as a transistor.

The Age reports that Michelle Simmons, co-author, said the achievement marked the first time scientists had been able to dictate the placement and behaviour of single atoms within a transistor. "We're basically controlling nature at the atomic scale," she said. "This is one of the key milestones in building a quantum computer."

The Centre for Quantum Computer Technology (CQCT) team is making devices with 4 nanometer features.

Nature Nanotechnology - Spectroscopy of few-electron single-crystal silicon quantum dots

5 nanometer Titanium oxide nanoparticles Could make Cheap Storage Discs with 1000 Times the Density of Blue-Ray

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A japanese research team has found a material (titanium oxide) that could be used to make a low-price super disc with data storage capacity thousands of times greater than a DVD.

The material transforms from a black metal state that conducts electricity into a brown semiconductor when hit by light, according to Shin-ichi Ohkoshi, chemistry professor at the University of Tokyo.

His team has succeeded in creating the material in particles measuring five-to-20 nanometres (a five-billionth to 20-billionth of a metre) in diameter. If the smallest particle is used, the new disc could hold more than 1,000 times as much information as a Blu-ray disc, provided that matching data-writing and reading equipment are developed. A single-layer Blu-ray disc can hold five times as much data as a conventional DVD.

Prof Ohkoshi said it was not known when a disc with the material would be manufactured and put to practical use, adding that he would start talks with private-sector companies for commercialisation. Titanium Oxide is currently used in things like white paint.
Nature Chemistry - Synthesis of a metal oxide with a room-temperature photoreversible phase transition

Japan delays a restart of a reactor and Namibia is working to Quadruple Uranium Production by 2015

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1. Tokyo Electric Power Co said on Monday it has delayed the planned restart of the 1,100-megawatt No.1 nuclear unit at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant for an unplanned inspection and repairs. The quake-hit reactor was slated to be restarted on May 22, but in tests before the restart the power firm found problems with a pump vent, forcing it to postpone the restart. A TEPCO spokesman said that a new timetable for the restart of the unit had yet to be set, but that he anticipated the inspection and repairs to the unit would take about a week. So a restart sometime in June seems likely although another month or two of delay is possible.

May 23, 2010

Designing, Building and Using Larger Flywheels

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The U.S. Navy is presently pursuing electromagnetic launch technology to replace the existing steam catapults on current and future aircraft carriers.

The present EMALS design centers around a linear synchronous motor, supplied power from pulsed disk alternators through a cycloconverter. Average power, obtained from an independent source on the host platform, is stored kinetically in the rotors of the disk alternators. It is then released in a 2-3 second pulse during a launch. This high frequency power is fed to the cycloconverter which acts as a rising voltage, rising frequency source to the launch motor. The linear synchronous motor takes the power from the cycloconverter and accelerates the aircraft down the launch stroke, all the while providing "real time" closed loop control.

The introduction of EMALS would have an overall positive impact on the ship. The launch engine is capable of a high thrust density, as shown by the half scale model that demonstrated 1322 psi over its cross section. This is compared to the relatively low 450 psi of the steam catapult. The same is true with energy storage devices, which would be analogous to the steam catapult's steam accumulator. The low energy density of the steam accumulator would be replaced by high energy density flywheels. These flywheels provide energy densities of 28 KJ/KG. The increased densities would reduce the system's volume and would allow for more room for vital support equipment on the host platform.

The EMALS offers the increased energy capability necessary to launch the next generation of carrier based aircraft. The steam catapult is presently operating near its design limit of approximately 95 MJ. The EMALS has a delivered energy capability of 122 MJ, a 29% increase. This will provide a means of launching all present naval carrier based aircraft and those in the foreseeable future.

The so-called Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, or EMALS, is now under development in a shore-based test facility at Lakehurst naval air station in New Jersey. However, according to May 12, 2010 reports, the test mass-driver installation suffered serious damage earlier this year in a mishap blamed on a "software malfunction". Apparently the "shuttle" - which moves along the catapult track to accelerate a plane to flying speed - went the wrong way in a test shot and smashed into important equipment. The accident has delayed the shore-based testing by several months. It had been planned to commence launching aircraft - as opposed to test loads - this summer, but that will not now happen until autumn. The next US supercarrier, CVN 78, aka USS Gerald R Ford, is now under construction and intended to join the fleet in 2015. Navy officials confirmed last year that it is now too late to amend the ship's design and revert to steam catapults: EMALS must be made to work or the US Navy will receive the largest and most expensive helicopter carrier ever.

Technology that Will Change Everything before 2050

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Scientific American looks at 12 events (mostly technology) that would change everything before 2050. Scientific American gets the probability and impact of those events completely wrong. They also miss important events and technology.

Overcoming Bias takes note of the vastly underrating of importance by Scientfic American of machine self-awareness.

The Scientific American list and my brief comments:

Machine-self awareness (likely) [Very Important but not likely until after 2030 without other breakthroughs]

Creation of life (almost certain) [synthetic DNA cell reboot already happened and there is more work to make the synthetic cell membrane.]

Room-temperature superconductors (50-50) [Improved superconductors helps in many ways and just getting to room temperature is not the only way things bust out with superconductors. Vast price breakthroughs will happen by 2016 - articles on Super Power Inc superconducting wire. As noted here, superconducting wire can be placed in orbit to enable the efficient generation and capture of multi-gram quantities anti-matter.]

Fusion energy (very unlikely) [almost certain and before 2025. Even partial success can allow fission to close its fuel cycle by allowing transmutation of uranium 238 and enable single stage to orbit space planes. Note vastly better superconductors helps progress to fusion energy. Totally successful commercial nuclear fusion can reduce energy costs by 5-100 times and trigger an economic boom which enables faster technology development]

Google Will Win in Phones and Pad Computers and Apple will still be a Niche Player

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Apple has returned to being a successful company. Apple has about 1% of the global phone market and a US PC marketshare of about 8%. Worldwide Apple's PC marketshare is about 2-3%. Apple is a profitable premium niche player and a design leader. However, Apple is repeating its formula for smartphones and Pad computers and their choices will leave them with a small premium market. If Apple stumbles like they did when Steve Jobs left them then the volume players will out innovate them and Apple will lose premium pricing power and lose some branding edge.

Google Andoid has
* 50,000 Applications
* 180,000 developers
* Google is already Second in Smartphone sales after Rim (Blackberry)
* Google Android has the most web and data traffic for smartphones (it is used more for browing and searching which means it is the best for mobile advertisers already)
* The Google ecosystem is healthier and stronger for developers, OEMs (hardward partners) and business partners

* Apple iPhone and iPad are good and profitable for Apple, but they do not leave a lot on the table for others. It is the rare application writers who do well with Apple but adsense and adwords make many a lot of money.
Full Google Day 2 Keynote address (43 minutes)