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October 15, 2011

Carnival of Space 219

The Carnival of Space 219 is up at Weird Warp

Universe Today - Latest Eye Candy from Cassini

Enceladus and Tethys hang below Saturn's rings in this new image from the Cassini spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SS

OECD energy statistics for July 2011

IEA has reported the energy statistics for July 2011 for the OECD

For the year to date, nuclear generation is down 2.5% or about 15 Terawatt hours for the OECD. For July it was down about 10 Terawatt hours for the same month in 2010. For the remaining 5 months the expectation would be similar monthly deficiency. The OECD should have nuclear energy generation that is down 65 Terawatt hours versus 2010.

The Non-OECD countries (India, China, Russia, Ukraine, Iran, etc...) will probably have higher nuclear power generation but not enough to offset the OECD shortfall. This is in regards to a nuclear generation bet that the world will generate 2600 TWH in 2011.



RAMCloud proposed but Imminent Commercialization of Memristors will deliver RAMCloud promise

Storing information in DRAM memory instead of hard disks could vastly speed up computing according to Stanford researchers. John Ousterhout's proposed RAMCloud is based on dynamic random access memory (DRAM). In personal computers, after data is fetched from a disk or flash drive, it is temporarily stored in DRAM, which provides a program with very fast access. Data is stored as an electrical charge on a capacitor. In a data center, fetching bits from DRAM and sending them over the center's internal network should be 100 to 1,000 times faster than getting it from a disk.

"You'll be able to build new kinds of applications that just weren't possible before," says Ousterhout. "Can you ever think of a time in the history of technology that improving speed by a thousandfold happened and nothing changed?"

"HP is planning to put a replacement chip on the market to go up against flash within a year and a half," said Williams, "and we also intend to have an SSD replacement available in a year and a half." "In 2014 possibly, or certainly by 2015, we will have a competitor for DRAM and then we’ll replace SRAM." HP thinks they can do two orders of magnitude improvement in terms of switching energy per bit.

Proposed metamaterial structure to test for a predicted large Casimir effect

Arxiv - Huge Casimir effect at finite temperature in electromagnetic Rindler space (8 pages)

We investigate the Casimir effect at finite temperature in electromagnetic Rindler space, and find the Casimir energy is proportional to temperature^4/diameter^2 and in the high temperature limit, where Temp is 27C is the temperature and diameter is about 100nm is a small cutoff. The parameters of metamaterials we proposed are quite simple, this experiment would be easily implemented in laboratory.

October 14, 2011

Computerworld considers Rossi Cold Fusion

Computer World - Rossi has another demonstration scheduled in Bologna, Italy, for Oct. 28 for which he has partnered with a U.S. company, AmpEnergo, to build what is claimed to be a 1MW plant in a shipping container.

Mainly the article reviews what is already known, but it indicates that some attention is being paid by the mainstream press.

Comparing China and India

The Economist magazine compares India and China over 13 metrics. China is far ahead on most of the statistical comparisons with longer life expectancy, more literacy and a better economy.

The most recent 2011 Indian census statistics show an improvement in the literacy rate to 74% in India.

China's hidden economy adds another 25% to the official GDP numbers.

China’s households hide as much as 9.3 trillion yuan ($1.4 trillion, 2010) of income that is not reported in official figures, with 80 percent accrued by the wealthiest people according to a Credit Suisse Equities Research Study

* the money is mostly illegal or quasi-illegal equates to about 30 per cent of China's gross domestic product
* The average urban disposable household income in China is 32,154 yuan (2010), or 90 percent more than official figures

The University of Pennsylvania has adjusted the purchasing power parity GDP numbers for both countries

China is estimated at 11.3 to 11.6 trillion (2009).
India is estimated at 4.15 trillion (2009).

China has grown by about 20% from 2009 and would be 13.5 to 13.9 trillion.
India has grown by about 16% from 2009 and would be nearly 5 trillion.

Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Puzzle Claimed Solved by Special Relativity

Technology Review - a likely but unconfirmed explaination for the faster than light experiement measurements has been put forward.

The relativistic motion of clocks on board GPS satellites exactly accounts for the superluminal effect, says physicist.

The radio waves carrying the time signal must travel at the speed of light, regardless of the satellites' speed.

But there is an additional subtlety. Although the speed of light is does not depend on the the frame of reference, the time of flight does. In this case, there are two frames of reference: the experiment on the ground and the clocks in orbit. If these are moving relative to each other, then this needs to be factored in.

The OPERA team overlooks this because it thinks of the clocks as on the ground not in orbit.

How big is this effect? Van Elburg calculates that it should cause the neutrinos to arrive 32 nanoseconds early. But this must be doubled because the same error occurs at each end of the experiment. So the total correction is 64 nanoseconds, almost exactly what the OPERA team observes.

That's impressive but it's not to say the problem is done and dusted. Peer review is an essential part of the scientific process and this argument must hold its own under scrutiny from the community at large and the OPERA team in particular.

If it stands up, this episode will be laden with irony. Far from breaking Einstein's theory of relatively, the faster-than-light measurement will turn out to be another confirmation of it.

Arxiv - Times of Flight between a Source and a Detector observed from a GPS satelite

Twisted Carbon Nanotube Artificial Muscle

Researchers have created artificial muscles that can twist 1,000 times more than any suitable material made in the past—a development that could prove useful in robots and prosthetic limbs.

The new muscles—carbon nanotube fibers spun into a yarn—can produce as much torque, or twisting force, as commercial electric motors.

"This is remarkable," says James Tour, a professor of chemistry and computer science at Rice University, who was not involved with the work. "To have such torsion in a fiber is fascinating and likely to lead to applications in mechanics that have hitherto been unattainable with any other material. [They] really knocked the ball out of the park on this one."

Singapore develops the nanopatterning for 6 times the memory density on hard drives

Scientists has used nanopatterning to closely pack more of the miniature structures that hold information in the form of bits, per unit area. Dr Joel Yang’s IMRE research team, working with peers from A*STAR’s DSI and NUS, has used nanopatterning to create uniform arrays of magnetic bits that can potentially store up to 3.3 Terabit/in2 of information, six times the recording density of current devices. This means that a hard disk drive that holds 1 Terabyte (TB) of data today could, in the future, hold 6 TB of information in the same size using this new technology.

Nanotechnology - Fabrication and characterization of bit-patterned media beyond 1.5 Tbit/in2


Tolerance of process to exposure variation. SEM images of 30-nm-pitch dots before (a,b) and after (c,d) Co or Pd multilayer deposition. SEM images of HSQ posts exposed at the optimized dose of 30 fC per dot (a) and overdosed by three times higher dose at 90 fC per dot. Though the HSQ dots are of different sizes in (a) and (b), the resulting dots after magnetization (c) and (d) are almost identical in size due to shadowing effects during Co/Pd deposition. Insets show the possible cross sections of these structures.

Progress to the Mundane Singularity by Dec 2016

This site has looked at a revised list of technologies for a Mundane Singularity This article will focus on what should be the developments in those areas that will have the biggest impact by Dec, 2016. The Mundane Singularity still has a normal adoption and deployment cycle. So the impact will increase over time. ie. More robots in 2020 and still more in 2025.

Here is the prior revised list that includes technologies or policies that have current active projects. For example, Broad Groups factory mass produced high rises replaces printed buildings using layers of additive concrete. Broad Group has more resources and appears on track to getting a lot of commercial success.

1. Pro-growth Policies
Skipping it. Depends upon 2012 and other elections.

2. Energy Efficiency - superconductors, thermoelectrics, improved grid
3. Energy Revolution - Mass produced fission, fusion, and maybe cold fusion
4. Additive manufacturing
5. Not so mundane - neuromorphic chips, quantum computers, photonics
6. Automated transportation (leading to robotic cars and planes)
7. Urbanization MegaCities
8. Urbanization Broad Group skyscrapers, Tata flat packed buildings
9. Robotics
10. Hyperbroadband
11. Supermaterials
12. Improve medicine and public health
13. Space
14. Synthetic biology and recombineering
15. Sensors everywhere
16. Education transformed and accelerated innovation
17. Supersmartphones, exoskeletons and wearable systems

Adding
18. Memristors and other significant computing and electronic improvements.

I will put the new item first.


18. Memristors and other significant computing and electronic improvements

HP and Hynix intend to have an alternative technology to flash on the market in eighteen months, an alternative to DRAM in three to four years and, following DRAM, a replacement for SRAM, Stan Williams, Senior Fellow at HP, told the IEF2011 meeting in Seville this morning.

"We’re planning to put a replacement chip on the market to go up against flash within a year and a half," said Williams, "and we also intend to have an SSD replacement available in a year and a half."

"In 2014 possibly, or certainly by 2015, we will have a competitor for DRAM and then we’ll replace SRAM." They plan to be 100 times better than DRAM for energy efficiency. HP’s approach is memristor, thin film technology which it allows it to stack an "arbitrary number of layers," said Williams, with 500 billion memristors per layer at 5 nanometers.


October 13, 2011

Nissan fuel cell stack with 250% of the energy density versus 2005 version

Nissan has released its next generation fuel cell stack (2011 model) for fuel cell electric vehicles. Through improvements to the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) and the separator flow path, Nissan has increased the stack’s power density to 2.5 times greater than its 2005 model, claiming a record among automotive OEMs’ fuel cell stacks of 2.5kW per litre.

It has 85 kilowatts of power in a 34-liter package. Nissan brought the production cost down by 85 percent. It is close to meeting the U.S. Department of Energy cost target for 2010.

Moulding the supporting frame of the MEA integrally with the MEA itself enabled stable, single-row lamination of the fuel cells, thereby reducing the stack's overall size by more than half compared to conventional models. Compared with the 2005 model, both the usage of platinum and parts variation have been reduced by 75%, thereby reducing cost of the new stack to one-sixth of the 2005 model.

The Nissan Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) is ready to go. They just need the hydrogen distribution network.

UK Cella energy microbead based hydrogen storage could be used to create the hydrogen distribution.

Warp field Mechanics paper from the 100 year Starship symposium

Harold White's presentation on warp drive from the 100 year Starship symposium

Warp Field Mechanics 101 by Sonny White (33 pages)

This paper will begin with a short review of the Alcubierre warp drive metric and describes how the phenomenon might work based on the original paper. The canonical form of the metric was developed and published in which provided key insight into the field potential and boost for the field which remedied a critical paradox in the original Alcubierre concept of operations. A modified concept of operations based on the canonical form of the metric that remedies the paradox is presented and discussed. The idea of a warp drive in higher dimensional space-time (manifold) will then be briefly considered by comparing the null-like geodesics of the Alcubierre metric to the Chung-Freese metric to illustrate the mathematical role of hyperspace coordinates. The net effect of using a warp drive “technology” coupled with conventional propulsion systems on an exploration mission will be discussed using the nomenclature of early mission planning. Finally, an overview of the warp field interferometer test bed being implemented in the Advanced Propulsion Physics Laboratory: Eagleworks (APPL:E) at the Johnson Space Center will be detailed. While warp field mechanics has not had a “Chicago Pile” moment, the tools necessary to detect a modest instance of the phenomenon are near at hand.


Iowa State, Ames Lab physicist says nanoparticle assembly is like building with LEGOs

New processes that allow nanoparticles to assemble themselves into designer materials could solve some of today's technology challenges

The controlled self-assembly of nanoparticles could help researchers create new materials with unique electrical, optical, mechanical or transport properties.

"Nanoparticle self-assembly has entered the LEGO era," Travesset said. "You can really work with nanoparticles in the same way you can work with LEGOs. This represents a breakthrough in the way we can manipulate matter. Really revolutionary applications will come.

This image shows a crystal of nanoparticles (the red and blue spheres) held together by DNA strands (the orange lines) via the hybridization of complementary sequences (the blue and red rings). Larger image. Image courtesy of Chris Knorowski.

This is a discussion of the work by Chad Mirkin which was covered earlier today.

The developments by the Mirkin and Schatz research team are "likely to elevate DNA-programmed self-assembly into a technique for the design of nanoparticle structures a la carte," Travesset wrote.


Carbon nanotube muscles generate giant twist for novel motors

Researchers announced new artificial muscles that twist like the trunk of an elephant, but provide a thousand times higher rotation per length.

These muscles, based on carbon nanotubes yarns, accelerate a 2000 times heavier paddle up to 590 revolutions per minute in 1.2 seconds, and then reverse this rotation when the applied voltage is changed. The demonstrated rotation of 250 per millimeter of muscle length is over a thousand times that of previous artificial muscles, which are based on ferroelectrics, shape memory alloys, or conducting organic polymers. The output power per yarn weight is comparable to that for large electric motors, and the weight-normalized performance of these conventional electric motors severely degrades when they are downsized to millimeter scale.

These muscles exploit strong, tough, highly flexible yarns of carbon nanotubes, which consist of nanoscale cylinders of carbon that are ten thousand times smaller in diameter than a human hair. Important for success, these nanotubes are spun into helical yarns, which means that they have left and right handed versions (like our hands), depending upon the direction of rotation during twisting the nanotubes to make yarn. Rotation is torsional, meaning that twist occurs in one direction until a limiting rotation results, and then rotation can be reversed by changing the applied voltage. Left and right hand yarns rotate in opposite directions when electrically charged, but in both cases the effect of charging is to partially untwist the yarn.


his is an illustration of an electrolyte-filled electrochemical cell used for characterizing torsional and tensile actuation for a carbon nanotube muscle, where the optional reference electrode, the actuating nanotube yarn electrode, and the counter electrode are from left to right. Torsional actuation rotates the paddle attached to the nanotube yarn. Credit: Image courtesy of the University of Texas at Dallas


chemistry World - Carbon nanotubes give artificial muscles a new twist

Scientists have created an artificial muscle fibre that can twist at high speeds in both directions along its axis while carrying a heavy load. The torsional micromotor, based on spun threads of multiwalled carbon nanotubes, could be used for pumping or mixing fluids in microfluidic lab on-a-chip devices, the researchers suggest, or could be used as a propulsion system for microscopic robots.

Flibe Energy Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor Company

Kirk Sorensen presented an Introduction to Flibe Energy at the Thorium Energy Conference 2011 (55 pages)

Flibe Energy will initially design, develop and demonstrate a small modular liquid-fluoride thorium reactor (SM-LFTR) for the US military.
* Desired first demonstration at a military site to be determined.
* Design power level of 20-50 MWe.

The SM-LFTR is the precursor to much larger, utility-class LFTRs operating at the 250-300 MWe power generation scale.
* Factory-produced and modular, with lower capital costs like gas turbines.
* Extremely low fuel-cycle costs through use of thorium in a liquid fluoride form.

Small Rugged Reactor (SRR) LFTR Concept

The military is exploring use of small rugged reactors capable of operating in dangerous and remote areas.

We are designing small rugged LFTRs for this purpose.

The SRR LFTR would
Operate at low pressure
Operate at high temperature
Drive closed-cycle gas turbines
Use waste heat for desalination
Be portable and easy to assemble and disassemble
Could eventually generate syn-fuels onsite



Peanut Allergy Turned Off by Tricking Immune System

Researchers have turned off a life-threatening allergic response to peanuts by tricking the immune system into thinking the nut proteins aren’t a threat to the body, according to a new preclinical study from Northwestern Medicine. The peanut tolerance was achieved by attaching peanut proteins onto blood cells and reintroducing them to the body -- an approach that ultimately may be able to target more than one food allergy at a time.

DNA and nanoparticles used to build nanomaterials with desired properties

A team of Northwestern University scientists has learned how to top nature by building crystalline materials from nanoparticles and DNA, the same material that defines the genetic code for all living organisms.
Using nanoparticles as "atoms" and DNA as "bonds," the scientists have learned how to create crystals with the particles arranged in the same types of atomic lattice configurations as some found in nature, but they also have built completely new structures that have no naturally occurring mineral counterpart.

The basic design rules the Northwestern scientists have established for this approach to nanoparticle assembly promise the possibility of creating a variety of new materials that could be useful in catalysis, electronics, optics, biomedicine and energy generation, storage and conversion technologies.

Chad A. Mirkin led the research. Chad said "Using these new design rules and nanoparticles as 'artificial atoms,' we have developed modes of controlled crystallization that are, in many respects, more powerful than the way nature and chemists make crystalline materials from atoms. By controlling the size, shape, type and location of nanoparticles within a given lattice, we can make completely new materials and arrangements of particles, not just what nature dictates."

Science - Nanoparticle Superlattice Engineering with DNA

Google Conversation mode voide to voice translation now works for 14 languages

Oct 13, 2011, the Google translate app now can translate among 14 spoken languages. Along with English and Spanish, the app now translates between Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Russian and Turkish.

The number of languages supported for text and text-to-speech translations continues to grow, with 63 languages supported for text, speech-to-text in 17 languages and text-to-speech working in 24 languages.

A new scheme for photonic quantum computing

A new scheme termed “coherent photon conversion”, could potentially overcome all of the currently unresolved problems for optical implementations of quantum computing.

Quantum technology derives its potential by exploiting uniquely quantum features such as superposition and entanglement. Single photons are excellent quantum information carriers, because they are naturally almost perfectly isolated from their environment. Also, quantum computers based on photons promise to be extremely fast. But current schemes for preparing, processing and measuring photons are inefficient.

The new scheme provides a method of coherent conversion between different photon states and is based on enhancing the nonlinearity of a medium by a strong laser field. The method paves a road to solving all open challenges for optical quantum computation. For example, deterministically doubling single photons solves the preparation and measuring problems, and a novel type of photon-photon interaction gives efficient quantum gates. This new quantum optics toolbox opened up by "coherent photon conversion" promises to lead to a nonlinear optical quantum computer.

Nature - Efficient quantum computing using coherent photon conversion

Dennis Ritchie who created C and co-created Unix has died

Dennis Ritchie, creator of the C programming language and co-creator of the Unix operating system, has died aged 70.

Wikipedia on Dennis Ritchie

Ritchie was best known as the creator of the C programming language and a key developer of the Unix operating system, and as co-author of the definitive book on C, The C Programming Language, commonly referred to as K&R (in reference to the authors Kernighan and Ritchie).

Ritchie's invention of C and his role in the development of UNIX alongside Ken Thompson has placed him as an important pioneer of modern computing. The C language is still widely used today in application and operating system development, and its influence is seen in most modern programming languages. UNIX has also been influential, establishing concepts and principles that are now precepts of computing.

Is longevity research speeding up?

The writer and columnist Sonia Arrison has recently published 100 plus in which she describes the coming "age of longevity". Arrison argues that the fields of tissue engineering , as well as gene therapy and stem cell research, are experiencing rapid growth. In an interview with Sander Olson, Arrison discusses why longevity research will be more affected by incremental advances rather than dramatic breakthroughs, why the DOD is funding longevity related research, and why she believes that the first human heart derived from tissue engineering will emerge within the next twenty years.


Sonia Arrison

Question: You recently attended the SENS5 conference. How did that go?

The conference itself was high quality – many of the scientists that I describe in my book, 100+, were there. Hearing about the tangible progress that these researchers are continually making was very exciting. I noticed that there were many companies that attended this conference, which is an indication that extending health span is a prospect which is starting to garner serious consideration.

NTT Docomo vision of 2010 and the reality of Skype and video calling

NTT Docomo released videos in 2003-2004 about life in 201X.

Docomo has long been a leader in mobile payment.

The issues with these future visions -

They are loaded with all kinds of new form factors for pico-projectors, video glasses, video watches, electronic paper and holograms.

There is also the appearance of full market penetration and support from multiple companies and integration of networks and systems. Market deployment, market penetration and user adoption take time.

1 million picoprojectors were sold in 2010 out of 8.5 million video projectors in total and some market projections are for 27 million picoprojectors to sell by 2015 out of 39 million total video projectors.

There is video calling now with Skype and Facetime and Google Talk.

Cisco has sold a few thousand video telepresence conference rooms.

Skype has group video calling for up to 5 people(still in beta and for the premium service $5-9/month).



October 12, 2011

More than 6 billion Global mobile connections by November 2011

Wireless Intelligence estimates that the 6 billion milestone will be reached in late November and that total global connections will end the year at 6.07 billion. The last 1 billion connections were added in just 16 months.

The world population (of people) will reach 7 billion in October 2011.

The global mobile penetration rate will be 86 percent, up from 74 percent at the 5 billion connections point.

China is forecast to hit the 1 billion mobile connections milestone in May 2012.
India's wireless population is about 600 million subscribers in 2011. Previous estimates had included about 250 million inactive accounts.

iPhone and Google Android Compatible Ava Robot has navigation Apps

Forbes - iRobot (maker of the Roomba) has a new robot, called Ava. iRobot made it compatible with applications written for Apple’s iOS operating system and Google’s Android platform. “To truly accelerate the robot industry, we need more people developing for it,” said iRobot Chief Executive Colin Angle in an interview. “Now, if you can develop for Android or iOS, you’re a roboticist.”

Ava has an adjustable three to five-foot-tall “torso” atop a sturdy, triangular set of wheels, utilizes either a tablet computer or a smartphone as its head. The tablet/phone, which doubles as the robot’s brain can be either iOS or Android-powered, such as an iPad, iPhone, Motorola Xoom or Samsung Galaxy Tab. Ava, which runs on an iRobot Linux-based software platform called AWARE is also designed to be controlled remotely with a corresponding tablet or smartphone.

Third-party Ava apps have yet to emerge; iRobot still considers the robot a prototype. But the company has created several apps that it plans to offer to Ava users and outside developers when the robot becomes broadly available, likely some time in 2012.


Robot's mobile robotics platform Ava can run Apple (iOS) and Google Android apps.

University of Minnesota discovery could make fuel and plastics production more energy efficient and cost effective

A University of Minnesota team of researchers has overcome a major hurdle in the quest to design a specialized type of molecular sieve that could make the production of gasoline, plastics and various chemicals more cost effective and energy efficient. The team devised a means for developing free-standing, ultra-thin zeolite nanosheets that as thin films can speed up the filtration process and require less energy.

Separating mixed substances can demand considerable amounts of energy—currently estimated to be approximately 15 percent of the total energy consumption—part of which is wasted due to process inefficiencies. In days of abundant and inexpensive fuel, this was not a major consideration when designing industrial separation processes such as distillation for purifying gasoline and polymer precursors. But as energy prices rise and policies promote efficiency, the need for more energy-efficient alternatives has grown.


U of M researchers developed “carpets” of flaky crystal-type nanosheets that can be used to separate molecules as a sieve or as a membrane barrier in both research and industrial applications to save money and energy.

Science - Dispersible Exfoliated Zeolite Nanosheets and Their Application as a Selective Membrane

Repaired Stem Cells Treat Liver Disease in Mice

Technology Review - Scientists corrected a genetic error in stem cells from patients with liver disease, and implanted those cells in the livers of mice.

The research combines several techniques, including cell reprogramming and gene editing, that scientists hope will make gene therapy and cell replacement therapies a reality. While safety testing is needed before the treatment can be tested in people, researchers used technologies that left the cells "pristine," with no signs of the genetic manipulation that took place. This makes them more likely to be suitable for patients.

Researchers first collected cells from patients with α1-antitrypsin deficiency, an inherited disease that strikes one in 2,000 people of northern European descent. People with the disease have a single letter mutation in both copies of the α1-antitrypsin gene. The mutated protein builds up in liver cells, killing off the tissue and eventually necessitating a liver transplant.

Nature - Targeted gene correction of α1-antitrypsin deficiency in induced pluripotent stem cells

Paul Allen says The Singularity Isn't Near

Technology Review - Paul G. Allen, who cofounded Microsoft in 1975, is a philanthropist and chairman of Vulcan, which invests in an array of technology, aerospace, entertainment, and sports businesses. Mark Greaves is a computer scientist who serves as Vulcan's director for knowledge systems.

Rather than the ever-accelerating advancement predicted by Kurzweil, we believe that progress toward this understanding is fundamentally slowed by the complexity brake. Our ability to achieve this understanding, via either the AI or the neuroscience approaches, is itself a human cognitive act, arising from the unpredictable nature of human ingenuity and discovery. Progress here is deeply affected by the ways in which our brains absorb and process new information, and by the creativity of researchers in dreaming up new theories. It is also governed by the ways that we socially organize research work in these fields, and disseminate the knowledge that results. At Vulcan and at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, we are working on advanced tools to help researchers deal with this daunting complexity, and speed them in their research. Gaining a comprehensive scientific understanding of human cognition is one of the hardest problems there is. We continue to make encouraging progress. But by the end of the century, we believe, we will still be wondering if the singularity is near.

The basic issue with how quickly a scientifically adequate account of human intelligence can be developed. We call this issue the complexity brake. As we go deeper and deeper in our understanding of natural systems, we typically find that we require more and more specialized knowledge to characterize them, and we are forced to continuously expand our scientific theories in more and more complex ways. Understanding the detailed mechanisms of human cognition is a task that is subject to this complexity brake.

Paul Allen has funded detailed brain mapping projects. He also funded Virgin Galactic (suborbital space tourism).

Reconfigurable Imaging Systems Using Elliptical Nanowires

Nanoletters - Materials that have subwavelength structure can add degrees of freedom to optical system design that are not possible with bulk materials. Researchers demonstrate two lenses that are composed out of lithographically patterned arrays of elliptical cross-section silicon nanowires, which can dynamically reconfigure their imaging properties in response to the polarization of the illumination. In each element, two different focusing functions are polarization encoded into a single lens. The first nanowire lens has a different focal length for each linear polarization state, thereby realizing the front end of a nonmechanical zoom imaging system. The second nanowire lens has a different optical axis for each linear polarization state, demonstrating stereoscopic image capture from a single physical aperture.


Greece, China, and World Economic Predictions

1. WSJ - The inspectors sent to Athens by Greece’s top creditors have recommended that the Greeks get the next payment of €8 billion from its 2010 bailout agreement. The decision was never in doubt because there wasn’t any other choice. If it buys time to fix Greece’s €350 billion debt disaster and save the euro, that installment of €8 billion might be more than just good money thrown after bad. French banks are among the most exposed in Greece, which is why the EFSF could come in handy. It also is why France is against deeper haircuts sought by the euro zone’s “German bloc.” The ECB won’t underwrite the EFSF, as some have suggested, and also doesn’t want to be on the hook for the €50 billion in Greek bonds it now holds as collateral against Greek bank borrowing.

2. WSJ - Mr. Yiping Huang is chief economist for emerging Asia at Barclays Capital.

Foreign investors are assuming that structural factors within China—falling property prices, rising bad loans or the like—will make for a hard landing. The greater threat is a double-dip recession abroad. Left to its own devices, China's growth would soften to just above 8%, down from 10% or more in recent years but still able to create jobs.

October 11, 2011

Nitrogen-vacancy Diamond research towards quantum computing

1. University of Buffalo - New Knowledge About "Flawed" Diamonds Could Speed The Development of Diamond-Based Quantum Computers

Diamonds with defects known as "nitrogen-vacancy centers" can be used in applications including quantum information processing.

* One problem preventing scientists from fully understanding these defective diamonds is that at the point of defect, the high-symmetry energy configuration of the defect becomes unstable when an electron is promoted to an excited state. This is known as the Jahn-Teller effect.

* Now, for the first time, researchers led by the University at Buffalo have conducted calculations revealing how the diamond lattice stabilizes itself at the point of defect by changing its shape, providing new information on the consequence of such dynamical distortion.

Physical Review Letters- Dynamic Jahn-Teller Effect in the NV Center in Diamond

China's nuclear energy program continues in spite of Fukushima

NY Times - Jiang Kejun, a director of the Energy Research Institute at the National Development and Reform Commission, the top Chinese economic planning agency, said that the government was sticking to its target of 50 gigawatts of nuclear power by 2015, compared to just 10.8 gigawatts at the end of last year.

Mr. Jiang said in an interview that nuclear power construction targets for 2020 had not yet been set and might end up slightly lower than they would have been without the meltdowns in Fukushima.

At reactors that had been approved before the Fukushima accident but where construction had not yet begun, the government still has not allowed construction to start while continuing to study whether further safety improvements can be made, said Xu Yuanhui, one of China’s top nuclear engineers for the past half century.

The delay applies to several conventional nuclear reactors plus Beijing’s project to build two reactors in northeastern China, using a new generation of technology known as a pebble-bed design. Critics and advocates describe it as safer than current reactors, though its cost-effectiveness unclear.

China's national power consumption (all types of energy) from January through August, 2011 reached 3,124 TWh, up 11.9 percent on the year.

Titanium deposits on the moon discovered that are ten times the best concentration on Earth

A map of the Moon combining observations in visible and ultraviolet wavelengths shows a treasure trove of areas rich in Titanium ores. The new map of the moon has uncovered a trove of areas rich in precious titanium ore, with some lunar rocks harboring 10 times as much of the stuff as rocks here on Earth do. Apollo data indicated that titanium-rich minerals are more efficient at retaining solar wind particles, such as helium and hydrogen. These gases would likely be vital resources in the construction of lunar colonies and for exploration of the moon.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC) Wide Angle Camera (WAC) is imaging the surface in seven different wavelengths at a resolution of between 100 and 400 metres per pixel. Specific minerals reflect or absorb strongly certain parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, so the wavelengths detected by LROC WAC help scientists better understand the chemical composition of the lunar surface.

Robinson and his team previously developed a technique using Hubble Space Telescope images to map titanium abundances around a small area centred on the Apollo 17 landing site. Samples around the site spanned a broad range of titanium levels. By comparing the Apollo data from the ground with the Hubble images, the team found that the titanium levels corresponded to the ratio of ultraviolet to visible light reflected by the lunar soils.


This lunar mosaic shows the boundary between Mare Serenitatis and Mare Tranquillitatis. The relative blue color of the Tranquillitatis mare is due to higher abundances of the titanium-bearing mineral ilmenite.
CREDIT: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University


Oak Ridge will upgrade Jaguar supercomputer to 20 petaflop Titan supercomputer by 2013

The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory has awarded a contract to Cray Inc. to increase the Jaguar supercomputer's science impact and energy efficiency. The upgrade, which will provide advanced capabilities in modeling and simulation, will transform the DOE Office of Science-supported Cray XT5 system, currently capable of 2.3 million billion calculations per second (petaflops), into a Cray XK6 system with a peak speed between 10 and 20 petaflops.

The new system will employ the latest AMD Opteron central processing units as well as NVIDIA Tesla graphics processing units — energy-efficient processors that accelerate specific types of calculations in scientific application codes. The last phase of the upgrade is expected to be completed in late 2012. The system, which will be known as Titan, will be ready for users in early 2013.

Xerion forecasts China Muddling through

Business week - China’s model is unbalanced and its economy has misallocated capital, but its policy makers are using the country’s plentiful reserves and policy tools to keep inflation under control and growth on a sustainable path.

China has recently been raising interest rates and restricting credit to slow things down. Credit growth has stabilized at 17 percent from a year earlier, down from 32 percent in post-crisis 2009. It’s ironic that the China bears who worried about inflation a few months ago now characterize the government’s calculated moderation as an “unwinding bubble.” Managing growth without arresting it is the very definition of a “soft landing.”

The yuan is up more than 6 percent against the U.S. dollar this year, and officials are targeting full convertibility by 2015. Nominal wages are rising 17 percent annually, and consumption has increased 12 percent.

Deterministic design of wavelength scale, ultra-high Q photonic crystal nanobeam cavities

Optics Express - Photonic crystal nanobeam cavities are versatile platforms of interest for optical communications, optomechanics, optofluidics, cavity QED, etc. In a previous work [Appl. Phys. Lett. 96, 203102 (2010)], we proposed a deterministic method to achieve ultrahigh Q cavities. This follow-up work provides systematic analysis and verifications of the deterministic design recipe and further extends the discussion to air-mode cavities. We demonstrate designs of dielectric-mode and air-mode cavities with Q over 1 billion, as well as dielectric-mode nanobeam cavities with both ultrahigh-Q (over ten million) and ultrahigh on-resonance transmissions (T over 95%).

Arxiv - Deterministic design of wavelength scale, ultra-high Q photonic crystal nanobeam cavities (14 pages)

A robust, scanning quantum system for nanoscale sensing and imaging

Arxiv - A robust, scanning quantum system for nanoscale sensing and imaging

Controllable atomic-scale quantum systems hold great potential as sensitive tools for nanoscale imaging and metrology. Possible applications range from nanoscale electric and magnetic fi eld sensing to single photon microscopy, quantum information processing, and bioimaging. At the heart of such schemes is the ability to scan and accurately position a robust sensor within a few nanometers of a sample of interest, while preserving the sensor's quantum coherence and readout fidelity. These combined requirements remain a challenge for all existing approaches that rely on direct grafting of individual solid state quantum systems or single molecules onto scanning-probe tips. Here, we demonstrate the fabrication and room temperature operation of a robust and isolated atomic-scale quantum sensor for scanning probe microscopy. Speci fically, we employ a high-purity, single-crystalline diamond nanopillar probe containing a single Nitrogen-Vacancy (NV) color center. We illustrate the versatility and performance of our scanning NV sensor by conducting quantitative nanoscale magnetic fi eld imaging and near-fi eld single-photon fluorescence quenching microscopy. In both cases, we obtain imaging resolution in the range of 20 nm and sensitivity unprecedented in scanning quantum probe microscopy.


Experimental setup and probe fabrication for the scanning NV sensor. (a) Schematic of the setup consisting of a combined optical and atomic force microscope (AFM). We use a 532 nm laser (green arrows) to address the scanning NV center through its red fluorescence (red arrows). The scanning NV center resides in a diamond nanopillar (inset) and its proximity to the sample is maintained through AFM feedback. (b) Scanning electron microscope (SEM) image of a single-crystalline diamond nanopillar-probe (falsecolor coded in red) with a single NV center in its tip. (c) Brief depiction of the fabrication process for scanning single-crystalline diamond NV sensors. Electron-beam lithography is used to defi ne nanopillars and platforms from the top- and bottom-sides of a few micron thin diamond membrane. Patterns are then transferred to the diamond by reactive ion etching. (d) SEM image of a finalized array of diamond platforms with nanopillars. In all panels, dotted rectangles highlight diamond nanopillars.

New form of superhard carbon observed

Scientists at Carnegie’s Geophysical Laboratory are part of a team that has discovered a new form of carbon, which is capable of withstanding extreme pressure stresses that were previously observed only in diamond.

The experiment started with a form of carbon called glassy carbon, which was first synthesized in the 1950s, and was found to combine desirable properties of glasses and ceramics with those of graphite. The team created the new carbon allotrope by compressing glassy carbon to above 400,000 times normal atmospheric pressure.

This new carbon form was capable of withstanding 1.3 million times normal atmospheric pressure in one direction while confined under a pressure of 600,000 times atmospheric levels in other directions. No substance other than diamond has been observed to withstand this type of pressure stress, indicating that the new carbon allotrope must indeed be very strong.

Samsung grows gallium nitride LEDs on glass

Samsung and Seoul National University researchers have grown crystalline gallium nitride (GaN) on the surface of amorphous glass. The idea could lead to new, scalable ways of making semiconductor devices that don't need to be grown on silicon or sapphire wafers. Commercialisation will take at least 10 years.
The technique uses a thin layer of titanium metal to provide a crystalline template for the GaN to grow on and a silicon dioxide layer patterned with tiny holes to control the shape and orientation of the growing crystals.


Thin layers of titanium (blue), low temperature GaN (green) and silica (orange) turn a sheet of glass into an ideal substrate to grow GaN LEDs © Nat. Photon.

Nature Photonics - Nearly single-crystalline GaN light-emitting diodes on amorphous glass substrates

Heat-assisted magnetic recording hard drives for 2015

Eetimes - Hard disk drive makers are gearing up for a generational shift to heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology. Leading researchers will share their progress toward that goal at the annual Diskcon event next week.

For years, drive makers argued over the future of their road map. Some, led by Seagate, lobbied for HAMR; others, led by Hitachi GST, called for a move to bit-patterned media.

Both technologies aimed to deliver drives that could pack multiple terabits of data on a square inch of disk space.

Econophysicists calculate Facebook corporate market value

Facebook's valuation which stands at anything from $65 billion to north of $100 billion. Peter Cauwels and Didier Sornette, econophysicists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich calculated a value of base case of $15 billion, in the high growth case of $20 billion and in the extreme growth case of $33 billion.

Cauwels and Sornette then calculate a value for the company based on the prospect of each user generating $1 profit per year, the approximate average over the last five years.

It's worth pointing out some of the assumptions behind this calculation. It generously assumes that real interest rates are essentially 0% for the next 50 years, that Facebook's profit margins remain as high in future as they are now and that its revenue per user remains constant in future.

This last one is particularly generous. Cauwels and Sornette have worked out the average revenue per user over the last five years. But the truth is that Facebook's revenue per user appears to be halving every 3.5 years, a fall that is entirely masked by taking an average.

If the current valuations are to be achieved, Facebook will somehow have to improve its profit per user by between 1.5 and 6 times.

Arxiv - Quis pendit ipsa pretia: facebook valuation and diagnostic of a bubble based on nonlinear demographic dynamics (18 pages)

October 10, 2011

A Fully reusable Falcon 9 would dramatically reshape the space industry

Space Review looks SpaceX trying to make a fully reusable Falcon 9.

The Spacex Grasshopper will be used to test reusable vertical takeoff and landing flight regimes, and will consist of a Falcon 9 first stage powered by a single Merlin 1D engine, and equipped with a landing structure comprised of four steel legs. The proposed range of testing is relatively modest, lasting three years and beginning with a series of flights to 75 meters (240 feet). It culminates with flights to a maximum altitude of 3,500 meters (11,500 feet). By contrast, a recently failed Blue Origin test vehicle was lost at 13,700 meters (45,000 feet) while traveling at Mach 1.2. The key difference, however, is that as a video released in concert with Musk’s speech makes clear, the purpose of the Grasshopper program is to develop a tail-first, rocket-powered vertical landing technique for both stages of an already flight proven vehicle, the Falcon 9.

It will not be easy. Achieving reusability is, as Elon Musk succinctly observes, “super damn hard.”

Bigelow Aerospace lays off 40 of 90 staff

Bigelow Aerospace, which is developing inflatable space habitats for commercial use, laid off some 40 of its 90 employees Sept. 29.

The BA 330 is a six-person inflatable space station Bigelow Aerospace of North Las Vegas, Nev., is developing to serve commercial and government human spaceflight markets. The BA 330 is one of the proposed commercial platforms Boeing Co. intends to serve with the CST-100 space capsule it is developing with financial assistance from NASA's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program. The company laid off nearly all of its machinists and that most of the workers retained are associated with the Boeing CCDev effort.

"We had hoped that by 2014 or 2015 that America would again be able to fly its own astronauts. Unfortunately, the prospect of domestic crew transportation of any kind is apparently going to occur years after the first BA 330 could be ready," Gold wrote. "For both business and technical reasons, we cannot deploy a BA 330 without a means of transporting crew to and from our station, and the adjustment to our employment levels was necessary to reflect this reality.

"If anything, Bigelow Aerospace has been suffering from its own early success, and we’re years ahead of where the rest of the industry is."

New technique produces one hundred-fold increase in efficiency in reprogramming human cells

Researchers from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have today announced a new technique to reprogramme human cells, such as skin cells, into stem cells. Their process increases the efficiency of cell reprogramming by one hundred-fold and generates cells of a higher quality at a faster rate.

Until now cells have been reprogrammed using four specific regulatory proteins. By adding two further regulatory factors, Liu and co-workers brought about a dramatic improvement in the efficiency of reprogramming and the robustness of stem cell development. The new streamlined process produces cells that can grow more easily.


A SH-iPSC Colony on STO feeders.[Genome Research Limited]

Scattering Confirms Wideband Invisibility Cloak Using Fractal Metamaterials

Researchers from Boston-area Fractal Antenna Systems, Inc., report additional measurements that confirm its claims of a working ‘invisibility cloak’.

In March, 2009, the firm’s research group disclosed the first invention of the invisibility cloak. It had unprecedented ability to work ‘wideband’ and render an object invisible to microwaves. The wideband aspect also demonstrated a path for making invisibility cloaks in the full spectrum of visible light. A previous invisibility cloak effort by Duke University-based researchers had shown some degree of cloaking , but over a narrow frequency band. That cloaking also rendered the object partially detectable/visible by the presence of shadows.

The firm’s unprecendented invisibility cloak uses layers of state of the art metamaterial, made from self repeated designs called fractals. The layers surround the object to be cloaked like an onion skin. The microwaves slip stream around the object and its cloak layers.

List of 100 Year Starship Symposium Presentations

Centauri Dreams - List of 100 Year Starship Symposium presentations

There is an eight page 100 Year Starship Study Public Symposium
The final agenda is online

The 16 page 100 Year Starship™ Study Public Symposium Program

Presentations of those associated with Tau Zero:

* E. Davis, “Faster-Than-Light Space Warps, Status and Next Steps”
* K. Denning, “Inertia of Past Futures” (anthropology)
* P. Gilster, “The Interstellar Vision: Principles and Practice”
* G. Landis, “Plasma Shield for an Interstellar Vehicle”
* C. Maccone, “Sun Focus Comes First, Interstellar Comes Second (Mission concept)”
* J. Maclay, “Role of the Quantum Vacuum in Space Travel”
* G. Matloff, “Light Sailing to the Stars”
* M. Millis, “Space Drive Physics, Intro and Next Steps”
* M. Millis, “Cockpit Considerations for Inertial Affect and FTL Propulsion”
* R. Noble, “Small Body Exploration Technologies as Precursors for Interstellar Robotics”
* S. White, “Warp Field Mechanics 101”

Researchers control the rate of photon emission in diamond is progress to onchip quantum networks

Harvard University - Engineers and physicists at Harvard have managed to capture light in tiny diamond pillars embedded in silver, releasing a stream of single photons at a controllable rate.

The advance represents a milestone on the road to quantum networks in which information can be encoded in spins of electrons and carried through a network via light, one photon at a time.

The breakthrough takes advantage of imperfections in the diamond’s crystal lattice, where carbon atoms are replaced by other elements. To the naked eye, these imperfections can appear as discolorations in the diamond, turning it yellow in the case of nitrogen. Occasionally, there is also a vacancy (missing carbon atom) next to the nitrogen atom.

Each nitrogen-vacancy imperfection can serve as a nearly perfect quantum emitter, capable of emitting red photons one by one, even at room temperature. The technology is a promising candidate for realization of scalable, on-chip quantum networks.


Imperfections in the diamond can give the crystals a characteristic color. Nitrogen in these tiny diamonds (top) turns them yellow. (Microdiamond powder provided by Daniel Twitchen and the Element Six company [UK].) Some imperfections, including the nitrogen-vacancies explored in this work, are luminescent (can emit red photons one at a time) and behave as excellent optically addressable quantum memory. The chip (bottom right) consists of diamond with a silver layer on top.

Arxiv - Enhanced Single Photon Emission from a Diamond-Silver Aperture (16 pages)

China iPhone Clone will have a quadcore A9 processor - it is the first quadcore smartphone in the world

The world's best iPhone imitators, Meizu, has launched the world's first quad-core smartphone, the Meizu MX.

The MX's screen will be a 4.3-inch qHD screen vs. the iPhone 4S 3.5 inch Retina Display with the same 960 x 640 resolution on both devices.

The MX has an 8-megapixel camera with flash.
The MX is scheduled to launch later this month for about $625 (16GB) and $780 (32GB).

the Apple iPhone 4S technical specifications are here

* Retina display
* 3.5-inch (diagonal) widescreen Multi-Touch display
* 960-by-640-pixel resolution at 326 ppi
* 8-megapixel camera
* Price with 2 year wireless plan subscriptions are $299 for 32Gb and $199 for 16 GB and $399 for 64 GB.

North Dakota produced a record 444,142 barrels of oil per day in August, 2011

North Dakota produced 444142 barrels of oil per day in August, 2011 This is 60,000 barrels per day more than two months ago and 80,000 barrels per day more than three months ago.

North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms indicated that the boom in North Dakota oil is likely to lead to over 500,000 barrels per day by the end of 2011 and is heading to 800,000 barrels per day in 2013-2014




Floppy thin silicon wafer of power semiconductor chips that can reduce global power consumption by 25%

Infineon Technologies AG has produced the first chips (“first silicon”) on a 300-millimeter diameter thin wafer for power semiconductors at the Villach site in Austria. This makes Infineon the first company in the world to succeed in taking this step forward. The chips now produced on a 300-millimeter thin wafer exhibit the same behavior as the power semiconductors made on 200-millimeter wafers – as has been demonstrated by successful application tests using Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field-Effect Transistors (MOSFETs) for High Voltage applications.

The first silicon on 300-millimeter (diameter) is an achievement which, among other things, puts Infineon on track to continue its success story with power semiconductors used for energy efficiency applications.



Greece Default more likely like Argentina in 1999-2001 than Uruguay in 2003

UK Guaridan - Uruguay, like other South American economies, ran into its own debt crisis in 2003.

Uruguay was able, via a $1.5 billion bridging loan from the US treasury, to open negotiations with its creditors, overseen by the IMF. A bond-swap was offered, replacing shorter-term bonds with longer maturities. Over 90% of bond-holders agreed to the terms and haircuts averaged only 13%. Uruguay's downward spiral was broken, with four years of recession rebounding into growth of nearly 8% the following year and a similarly swift return to the international capital markets.

Uruguay's public debt at the time, while large, was approaching 100% of GDP – not pushing towards double that, as in Greece. It was not crippled by a fixed exchange rate regime, as Greece, trapped inside the euro, currently is. And it could rely, post default, on a booming world economy to drive domestic expansion.

Lair of a Giant 30 meter long Triassic Kraken (giant octopus) Discovered

At Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park in Nevada is a site where the remains of nine 45-foot (14-meter) ichthyosaurs, of the species Shonisaurus popularis can be found. These were the Triassic’s counterpart to today’s predatory giant squid-eating sperm whales. The new thinking is that there was a Kraken (giant octopus) that preyed on the ichthyosaurs.

They hypothesize that the shonisaurs were killed and carried to the site by an enormous Triassic cephalopod, a “kraken,” with estimated length of approximately 30 meters, twice that of the modern Colossal Squid Mesonychoteuthis. The proposed Triassic kraken, which could have been the most intelligent invertebrate ever, arranged the vertebral discs in biserial patterns, with individual pieces nesting in a fitted fashion as if they were part of a puzzle. The arranged vertebrae resemble the pattern of sucker discs on a cephalopod tentacle, with each amphicoelous vertebra strongly resembling a coleoid sucker. Thus the tessellated vertebral disc pavement may represent the earliest known self‑portrait. The submarine contest between cephalopods and seagoing tetrapods has a long history. A Triassic kraken would have posed a deadly risk for shonisaurs as they dove in pursuit of their smaller cephalopod prey.

It was a very odd configuration of bones. First of all, the different degrees of etching on the bones suggested that the shonisaurs were not all killed and buried at the same time. It also looked like the bones had been purposefully rearranged. That it got him thinking about a particular modern predator that is known for just this sort of intelligent manipulation of bones.

“Modern octopus will do this,” McMenamin said. What if there was an ancient, very large sort of octopus, like the kraken of mythology. “I think that these things were captured by the kraken and taken to the midden and the cephalopod would take them apart.”

Libyan Oil output to reach 750,000 barrels per day by the end of October

Petroleum Economist - Libya's oil production should reach 750,000 barrels per day by the end of October and 1 million barrels per day by the end of 2011 according to leaked documents from the National Oil Corporation.

Arabian gulf oil (Agoco) is restarting production in the Sirte-basin oilfields of Nafura and Bayda in two weeks.

Financial Times - Nuri Berruien, chairman of the country’s National Oil Company, told the Associated Press news agency on Sunday that crude oil output has reached 390,000 barrels a day, nearly a quarter of Libya’s pre-war level of 1.6m b/d.

Olympic Dam expansion gets environmental approvals

Olympic Dam (in Australia) is the world's fourth largest remaining copper and gold deposit and the largest known uranium deposit.

The expansion plan would see ore recovered from an open pit which would operate alongside the existing underground mine. It would be implemented progressively over a period of about 11 years and the project would ultimately have a uranium output of some 19,000 tU3O8 (16,100 tU) per year, including that recovered from overseas refining. Some of the uranium-bearing copper concentrate would be transported overseas for smelting under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.

Uranium is recovered from the copper concentrate through a leaching circuit. Existing operations have a nameplate capacity of 4500 tU3O8 (3800 tU) per year.

In 2010, there was 53,663 tons of mined uranium production for the whole world. The 16,100 tons would be almost 30% of the 2010 world mined uranium production.

An open pit is proposed at Olympic Dam, adjacent to the existing underground mine (Image: BHP Billiton)

October 09, 2011

Political and legal challenges when other countries copy US precendent drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen

NY Times - Chinese companies startled some Americans by unveiling 25 different models of remotely controlled aircraft and showing video animation of a missile-armed drone taking out an armored vehicle and attacking a United States aircraft carrier. The United States’ near monopoly on armed drones was coming to an end, with far-reaching consequences for American security, international law and the future of warfare.

What the short-run hazard experts foresee is not an attack on the United States, which faces no enemies with significant combat drone capabilities, but the political and legal challenges posed when another country follows the American example. The Bush administration, and even more aggressively the Obama administration, embraced an extraordinary principle: that the United States can send this robotic weapon over borders to kill perceived enemies, even American citizens, who are viewed as a threat.

“Is this the world we want to live in?” asks Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Because we’re creating it.”

In Pakistan, according to American officials, strikes from Predators and Reapers operated by the C.I.A. have killed more than 2,000 militants; the number of civilian casualties is hotly debated. In Yemen last month, an American citizen was, for the first time, the intended target of a drone strike, as Anwar al-Awlaki, the Qaeda propagandist and plotter, was killed along with a second American, Samir Khan.

If China, for instance, sends killer drones into Kazakhstan to hunt minority Uighur Muslims it accuses of plotting terrorism, what will the United States say? What if India uses remotely controlled craft to hit terrorism suspects in Kashmir, or Russia sends drones after militants in the Caucasus? American officials who protest will likely find their own example thrown back at them.

A 43 page paper from the New York University Journal of Law and Liberty by Stephen Knoepfler lays out a moral and legal basis for assassination (using drones or otherwise) based on Just War Theory. The USA could adopt a new executive order properly couched in the [ethical] parameters” of just war theory. Drones and other assassination would only be used in defense of rights. Defense of rights is the only justifiable reason for fighting a war or for assassination.


Curbing inflammatory cells could lead to treatments for diseases including atherosclerosis and cancer

MIT - Using short snippets of RNA to turn off a specific gene in certain immune cells, scientists have shown that they can shut off the inflammation responsible for diseases such as atherosclerosis.

This technique, known as RNA interference, offers a targeted way to stop inflammation and could be useful in treating not only atherosclerosis, but also other forms of heart disease as well as cancer.

The researchers delivered short strands of RNA packaged in a layer of fat-like molecules called lipidoids. These RNA-delivering nanoparticles successfully reduced inflammation in mice, without side effects.


Schematic outline of in vivo siRNA CCR2 silencing in inflammatory monocytes

Nature Biotechnology - Therapeutic siRNA silencing in inflammatory monocytes in mice

Steve Jobs ensured there was four years worth of iPad, iPhone, iPod and Macbook product pipeline

The Daily Mail reports that Jobs left behind plans for at least four generations worth of iPads, iPhones, iPods, and MacBooks.

Steve Jobs had also been overseeing the development of the delayed iCloud project, which will allow Apple users to store their music, photos and other documents remotely and masterminding updated versions of the iPod, iPad, iPhone and MacBooks, ensuring at least four years’ worth of products are in the pipeline.

Aquion energy Battery is three times cheaper and is targeting grid scale energy storage

Advanced battery maker Aquion Energy landed $30 million in private equity from three venture capital firms on Sept. 7 Aquion, which has about 50 workers, could employ 500 people by 2014 when it reaches commercial-scale production, said Ted Wiley, vice president of business and market development. He said he envisions perhaps 1,000 workers by about 2017.

Aquion's electrolyte, based on salt water rather than on a flammable organic solvent, makes its batteries environmentally friendly and keeps costs down, Whitacre said. The up-front cost of a lithium ion battery used in consumer electrical devices, for instance, is between $300 and $1,000 per kilowatt hour. Aquion's battery will cost between $150 and $500 per kilowatt hour, or about the same as a conventional lead-acid battery in most cars.

Technology Review - Third-party tests have shown that Aquion's battery can last for over 5,000 charge-discharge cycles and has an efficiency of over 85 percent.

Batteries, Capacitors, low energy usage processors and smartphones and Cyborg-lite

The iPhone 4 has a battery with 3.7 V at 1420 mAh. This is 5.25 watt hours

* Amp-hours multiplied by battery voltage will give you watt-hours. Divide by 1000 for kWh.

* The energy density of lithium-ion batteries varies from chemistry to chemistry. The specific energy density can range from 100 wh/kg to 125 wh/kg, and volumetric energy density from 240 wh/L to 300 wh/L (double of the Ni/Cd, 1.5 times of Ni/MH) , which has not reached the maximum energy density in theory of 150 wh/kg or 400 wh/L.

* A 1-farad capacitor can hold 1 amp-second of electrons at 1 volt.

* A standard alkaline AA battery holds about 2.8 amp-hours All battery sizes with standard storage statistics is at wikipedia

* To store one AA battery's energy in a capacitor, you would need 3,600 * 2.8 = 10,080 farads to hold it

* There are various claims of batteries being able to achieve ten or even twenty times the energy storage of current batteries. Prieto Battery is working on nanowire batteries that could get 20 times better storage. silicon and seaweed anodes could get eight times better storage.

Back in March, 2011 Elon Musk indicates that would bet on ultracapacitors instead of batteries as power storage for electric cars. The original reason Musk came out to California years ago was to do research on advanced, high energy density capacitors at Stanford, and to try to leverage what Musk said was tens of billions of dollars of R&D that’s been applied to capacitors for advanced ship making. But then, that whole Internet thing and PayPal happened. And then Tesla (and SolarCity and SpaceX).