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December 03, 2011

Heidelberg Researchers Create “Squeezed” Quantum Vacuum Filled with Atoms

Researchers from Heidelberg University have now succeeded in creating a special quantum state between two mesoscopic gases with approximately 500 atoms. The state is known as a “squeezed“ vacuum, in which measuring one gas affects the results of the measurement on the other. To produce these results the team, headed by Prof. Dr. Markus Oberthaler at the Kirchhoff Institute for Physics, had to develop a novel detection technique to measure values in atomic gases that were previously unobtainable.


Typically noise is unwanted in experiments, and the challenge is minimising it. In the experiment of generating and detecting a „squeezed“ vacuum, the noise is the signal that reveals the existence of quantum entanglement. Even though the number of atoms in both gases (marked in red and blue) fluctuates extremely, their difference (marked in black) is very small. In order to obtain a correct analysis, a few experiments (on the left) are not sufficient. The noise has to be analysed in long series of measurements (on the right).

Journal Nature - Atomic homodyne detection of continuous-variable entangled twin-atom states

Interfaces you can feel from Senseg

Senseg patented solution creates a sophisticated sensation of touch using Coloumb’s force, the principle of attraction between electrical charges. By passing an ultra-low electrical current into the insulated electrode, Senseg’s Tixel™, the proprietary charge driver can create a small attractive force to finger skin. By modulating this attractive force a variety of sensations can be generated, from textured surfaces and edges to vibrations and more.

Unlike effects created by mechanical vibration and piezo solutions, Senseg is silent. Moreover, with Senseg application developers have precise control of the location and type of effect users experience. What’s more, Senseg technology scales from touch pads, smart phones and tablets to the largest touch screens without increasing manufacturing complexity.

Caltech-Led Team of Astronomers Finds 18 New Planets

The discovery is the largest collection of confirmed planets around stars more massive than the sun aside from the discoveries made by the Kepler mission. The Kepler space telescope has so far identified more than 1,200 possible planets, but the majority of those have not yet been confirmed.

Rapamycin used to increase the lifespan of mice

Rapamycin increases lifespan and inhibits spontaneous tumorigenesis in inbred female mice

The nutrient-sensing TO R (target of rapamycin) pathway is involved in cellular and organismal aging. Rapamycin, an inhibitor of TO R, extends lifespan in yeast, fruit flies and genetically heterogeneous mice. Here, we demonstrate that lifelong administration of rapamycin extends lifespan in female 129/Sv mice characterized by normal mean lifespan of 2 y. Importantly, rapamycin was administrated intermittently (2 weeks per month) starting from the age of 2 mo. Rapamycin inhibited age-related weight gain, decreased aging rate, increased lifespan (especially in the last survivors) and delayed spontaneous cancer. 22.9% of rapamycin-treated mice survived the age of death of the last mouse in control group. Thus we demonstrated for the first time in normal inbred mice that lifespan can be extended by rapamycin. This opens an avenue to develop optimal doses and schedules of rapamycin as an anti-aging modality.

Larry King wants to be cryogenically frozen

Larry King, CNN and talk radio celebrity, has publicly stated his desire to be cryogenically frozen.

Quadcopters build a 6 meter tall tower

This December, two Swiss architects and an Italian robotics engineer will, for the first time, build a tower solely by flying robots.

The demonstration, called “Flight Assembled Architecture“, will take place at the FRAC Centre in Orléans, France. Fifty quadcopters will take to the air simultaneously and work together to position all of the 1,500 prefabricated foam blocks. When it is completed the tower will stand 6 meters tall (19.7 feet) and 3.5 meters wide (11.5 feet). That’s a significant chunk of the 10 x 10 x 10 meter airspace that the 50 quadcopters get to work in. Custom built electronics and onboard sensors enable the precise control needed to dance together so dangerously close. The robots can be pre-programmed for flight paths that might include arcs and spirals, and a fleet management program takes over when the vehicles fly too close to avoid collisions. The program also automates take-offs and landings. A state-of-the-art motion capture system will track the robots simultaneously at a rate of 370 frames per second with millimeter accuracy. The tracking computer will send flight commands wirelessly from a control room nearby.

Memjet printers finally and Aptera 300 mpg carmaker goes bankrupt

Memjet Technologies was awarded the prestigious 2011 "Best of What's New" Award in the Computing category by Popular Science magazine. One of the top technology innovations of 2011. They have partnered with Lenova and other printer makers.

The Memjet reference color office printer honored by Popular Science means incredibly fast color productivity, cost efficiency, and high impact documents for less money. The magazine describes how Memjet printers crank out photo-quality pages in a record-setting one page per second, four times the rate of the average laser model and much more quickly than your standard inkjet: "The 8.77-inch fixed print head covers the width of a letter-size sheet of paper. As the paper passes underneath, 70,400 nozzles—17 times as many as in an inkjet—deposit 774 million dots of ink per second."

Memjet-powered office printers print high-quality color at incredibly fast speeds of 60 pages per minute (the fastest desktop printer speed in the world), while consuming considerably less energy than competing technologies of inkjet and laser. Around the world, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) use Memjet technologies to power printers and printing solutions far beyond what traditional markets have come to know and expect. In addition to the office market, Memjet provides technologies and components to OEMs and partners in the labels, wide format and photo markets.

Back in 2007, Memjet Technologies was listed as a technology to watch in 2008 by Nextbigfuture.

December 02, 2011

Scientists merge spider silk, human muscle to design a novel, self-assembling peptide

Scientists from Kansas State University, University of Nebraska, and PNNL used two native functional sequences from spider flagelliform silk protein and a trans-membrane motif of human muscle L-type calcium channel to design a self-assembling peptide, h9e.

The h9e peptide formed two novel hydrogels in Ca2+ solution and acidic pH conditions—h9e Ca2+ hydrogel and h9e acidic hydrogel. The shear-thinning, rapid-strength-recovering h9e Ca2+ hydrogel proved to have potential for drug delivery and tissue-engineering applications and was tested on mice as an injectable adjuvant for H1N1 swine influenza virus killed vaccine. The study showed it was biologically safe, improved immune response on killed H1N1 virus antigen by approximately 70%, and induced a similar H1N1-specific IgG1 antibody response compared with an oil-based commercial adjuvant.

Design of a shear-thinning recoverable peptide hydrogel from native sequences and application for influenza H1N1 vaccine adjuvant


Vacuum thermal insulation is being thinner, tougher and cheaper to go from refrigerators to buildings

Insulation panels that are both thin and effective are expensive. At present these high-end products are built into energy-saving refrigerators. Innovative components and production techniques are now set to sink the costs – so that private home-builders can also benefit from the new technology.

In Germany, the rising cost of heating has sparked a renovation boom. In order to lower energy costs, more and more homeowners are investing in insulation facades. But the typical insulation layers on the market have one drawback: they add bulk. The 20-centimeter-thick outer skin changes the building’s visual appearance and can result in significant follow-up costs – with a need to fit new, deeper window sills and sometimes even roof extensions. Fraunhofer researchers are now developing films for a material that will insulate homes without much additional structural alteration: vacuum isolation panels, VIPs for short. The panels are only two centimeters thick and yet perform just as well as a classic 15-centimeter-thick insulation layer made from polyurethane foam. The inner workings of the VIPs are made mostly from pyrogenic silica. A high-tech film holds the material together and makes it air-tight.

Vacuum insulation panels, VIPs for short, insulate ten times better than conventional insulation of the same thickness. © va-Q-tec AG

Optoelectronic Reservoir Computing

Arxiv - Optoelectronic Reservoir Computing (39 pages) A new approach is much faster than prior attempts at this style of computing but it is not known if it will become faster than regular electronic computing techniques.

Reservoir computing is a recently introduced, highly efficient bio-inspired approach for processing time dependent data. The basic scheme of reservoir computing consists of a non linear recurrent dynamical system coupled to a single input layer and a single output layer. Within these constraints many implementations are possible. Here we report an opto-electronic implementation of reservoir computing based on a recently proposed architecture consisting of a single non linear node and a delay line. Our implementation is sufficiently fast for real time information processing. We illustrate its performance on tasks of practical importance such as nonlinear channel equalization and speech recognition, and obtain results comparable to state of the art digital implementations

Technology Review on Reservoir Computing -
Here the reservoir consists of a reasonably large number of nodes that are connected together at random. Each node is some kind of non-linear feedback loop. The input, or inputs, are fed into random nodes in the reservoir and the output, or outputs, taken from other randomly chosen nodes. The system is then trained to produce the desired computation by weighting the outputs in a certain way. For example, the input might consist of a waves of certain shapes and the output would be an indication that specific shapes had been recognised.

It is similar to neural networks. However, the important difference is that the reservoir works essentially like a black box. Only the output signals are weighted during training, making this process much simpler than with a neural network, which are notoriously difficult to fine tune.


Gingrich likely nominee - not politics just horse race numbers and predictions

The latest Rasmussen Reports poll has Gingrich with 38% support and a 21% lead over Romney. I make this observation not because politics and whether this is good or bad. It is just as a futurist and predictor, what happens in the US election and with the Republican presidential nomination can effect certain scenarios.

Cain falls to 8% in the latest polling. Cain will make some announcement on the weekend. I predict he will pull out of the race. The Rasmussen polling seems to indicate almost all of the dwindling Cain support will go Gingrich.

Gingrich has a big lead in Iowa and again it will get bigger when Cain pulls out. Ron Paul could end up second.

DNA Nanotechology could achieve a 100 fold cost reduction to start breaking through cost barrier

Nature Nanotechnology - DNA molecules have been used to build a variety of nanoscale structures and devices over the past 30 years, and potential applications have begun to emerge. But the development of more advanced structures and applications will require a number of issues to be addressed, the most significant of which are the high cost of DNA and the high error rate of self-assembly. DNA nanostructures could be used in molecular and cellular biophysics, as biomimetic systems, in energy transfer and photonics, and in diagnostics and therapeutics for human health.

Examples of DNA Nanostructures
DNA synthesis and sequence design. At current prices of about US$0.10 per base for oligonucleotide synthesis on the 25-nmol scale, the overall material cost for constructing a new M13-based origami is around US$700. A key technological opportunity is the emerging commercial availability of affordable arrays on which small amounts of each of the tens of thousands of unique oligonucleotide sequences are printed at a current price of less than US$0.001 per base. If reliable low-cost methods for enzymatic amplification of subsets of strands from these arrays could be further developed this would raise the possibility of custom-designed DNA nanostructures that are 1 gigadalton in mass (that is, around 100 times as complex as current M13-based origami) for a material cost of ~US$1,000. Large reductions in cost of enzymatic amplification would also enable production of gram to kilogram quantities of complex DNA nanostructures, which will be important for many but not all applications.

For DNA origami, a current constraint has been the reliance on the 7 kb genome of M13 as the primary source of scaffold. To create larger structures, ideally one could fold either a longer unique scaffold, or as an alternative, multiple scaffolds with distinct sequences. Furthermore, it seems unlikely that M13 encodes the optimal sequence for high-yield folding of all possible DNA nanostructures. Thus, one would want to generate many unique scaffold sequences, each tailored for optimized folding into a particular origami shape, or at least a large number of distinct generic scaffold sequences that can support independent foldings in a single pot. Affordability is a concern, but gene synthesis from array-printed DNA again may provide a solution. Consideration of these issues naturally leads to the question of what the rules are for effective sequence design, and our current ignorance in this area warrants much future work in this direction, involving an interplay between theory and experiment.

The Shadow War Against Iran's Nuclear Program

1. Haaretz - Explosions, deadly computer viruses and other sorts of 'accidents' - someone is targeting Iran's nuclear project: either the Western intelligence agencies, internal opposition groups, or both.

In June 2010, the computer system operating the uranium enrichment centrifuges at Natanz had been infected with the Stuxnet worm (computer virus)

Nextbigfuture - Sean McGurk, the Homeland Security Department's acting director of national cyber security and communications integration, says Stuxnet is a “game changer.” (a weaponized computer virus)

Two weeks ago, a huge blast ripped through a Revolutionary Guards military base 40 kilometers west of Tehran. The explosion could be heard as far away as the capital. Dozens of people were killed, including the head of Iran's missile development project, General Hassan Tehrani Moqaddam.

This week, there was a powerful explosion in Isfahan, Iran's third-largest city, which has a uranium conversion plant on its outskirts. It is not yet clear what was damaged in the blast.

Coupled with other incidents, including the assassination of several Iranian nuclear scientists

Engineering cartilage replacements

Eben Alsberg at Case Western has made progress toward implantable replacement cartilage, holding promise for knees, shoulders, ears and noses damaged by osteoarthritis, sports injuries and accidents.

Self-assembling sheets of mesenchymal stem cells permeated with tiny beads filled with growth factor formed thicker, stiffer cartilage than previous tissue engineering methods.

"We think that the capacity to drive cartilage formation using the patient's own stem cells and the potential to use this approach without lengthy culture time prior to implantation makes this technology attractive," said Eben Alsberg

Jeon O, Powell C, Solorio L, Krebs MD, Alsberg E: Affinity-based growth factor delivery from biodegradable, photocrosslinked heparin-alginate hydrogels. Journal of Controlled Release (in press, 2011).

Lee JB, Jeong SI, Bae MS, Heo DN, Kim CH, Alsberg E, Kwon IK: Highly porous electrospun nanofibers enhanced by ultra-sonication for improved cellular infiltration. Tissue Engineering (in press, 2011).

Cheap beads offer alternative solar-heating storage

A cheap material that can store heat energy collected from the sun during the day that can be released slowly over night has been developed by researchers in the India. The material is based on paraffin wax and stearic acid.

Mechanical engineer Meenakshi Reddy of Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering and Technology, in Chittoor, Andra Pradesh, and colleagues explain how certain materials, known as phase change materials (PCM) can store a large amount of heat in the form of latent heat in a small volume.

Heated in the sun, the mixture of paraffin wax (which melts at about 37 Celsius) and stearic acid (a fat commonly used to make soap) becomes entirely liquid. However, as it solidifies it slowly releases the stored heat. The process is akin to the phase changing heating that occurs in hand-warmers that contain a PCM but in this case the material does not need to be boiled in a pan or heated in a microwave oven to absorb latent heat.

The team has now tested spherical capsules just 38 millimetres in diameter containing a blend of paraffin and stearic acid, which can be floated on the top of water in a tank. Stearic acid is a lot cheaper on the Indian market than paraffin and more readily available. The team found that costs could be held down without reducing the overall heating efficiency of the capsules by lowering the proportion of paraffin wax.

"Solar energy based thermal energy storage system using phase change materials" in Int. J. Renewable Energy Technology, 2012, 3, 11-23

Canadian researchers increase liver and pancreas precursor stem cell production by 35 times

Scalable Amounts of Liver and Pancreas Precursor” New Stem Cell Method Developed Increasing the available stem cells by 35 times or more will open the path to more regenerative medicine treatments using stem cells.

Scientists in Canada have overcome a key research hurdle to developing regenerative treatments for diabetes and liver disease with a technique to produce medically useful amounts of endoderm cells from human pluripotent stem cells.

The team stained cells with fluorescent dye and as the cells divided, the dye was shared equally between the divided cells. By measuring the fluorescence of cell populations at a later stage the team were able to work out the frequency of cell division, which allowed them to predict how many cells would be present in a population at any given time.

This technique allowed the team to detect cell inefficiencies and develop a new understanding of the underlying cell biology during the differentiation of PSCs. This allowed the team to increase effective cell production 35 fold.

Biotechnology and Bioengineering - Rational bioprocess design for human pluripotent stem cell expansion and endoderm differentiation based on cellular dynamics

Thermophotovoltaic devices without mirrors to concentrate sunlight to 1000 degrees celsius and 37% overall system efficiency

Researchers at MIT have found a way to use thermophotovoltaic devices without mirrors to concentrate the sunlight, potentially making the system much simpler and less expensive.

The key is to prevent the heat from escaping the thermoelectric material, something the MIT team achieved by using a photonic crystal: essentially, an array of precisely spaced microscopic holes in a top layer of the material.

If you put an ordinary, dark-colored, light- and heat-absorbing material in direct sunlight, “it can’t get much hotter than boiling water,” because the object will reradiate heat almost as fast as it absorbs it. But to generate power efficiently, you need much higher temperatures than that. By concentrating sunlight with parabolic mirrors or a large array of flat mirrors, it’s possible to get much higher temperatures — but at the expense of a much larger and more complex system.\
Diagram of angle-selective solar thermophotovoltaic system. Bermel et al. Nanoscale Research Letters 2011 6:549 doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-549

Nanoscale research letters - Tailoring photonic metamaterial resonances for thermal radiation

Selective solar absorbers generally have limited effectiveness in unconcentrated sunlight, because of reradiation losses over a broad range of wavelengths and angles. However, metamaterials offer the potential to limit radiation exchange to a proscribed range of angles and wavelengths, which has the potential to dramatically boost performance. After globally optimizing one particular class of such designs, we find thermal transfer efficiencies of 78% at temperatures over 1,000°C, with overall system energy conversion efficiencies of 37%, exceeding the Shockley-Quiesser efficiency limit of 31% for photovoltaic conversion under unconcentrated sunlight. This represents a 250% increase in efficiency and 94% decrease in selective emitter area compared to a standard, angular-insensitive selective absorber.

Australian Star Scientific is probably the claimant of the 1 megawatt nuclear fusion device

The extraordinary claim of nuclear fusion of 1 megawatt in a rice cooker size device that is being further developed with the Australian military into a 10 megawatt device is probably Star Scientific muon catalyzed fusion.

(H/T reader Robert Lynn for reminding me about my own article from July)


Scientists have been producing nuclear fusion reactions from muon catalysed fusion for decades – just not consistently, or in sufficient volumes for it to be considered a viable energy source – until now. Star Scientific Limited is perfecting a world-first technique to economically produce pions, and hence muon catalysed fusion, in a CONTROLLED and SUSTAINED way. They are developing a method to efficiently and consistently produce pions (which immediately decay to become muons) in their hundreds and thousands, meaning the loss of some muons is of no consequence.

(H/T Talk Polywell)

UPDATE - This one I am willing to place in the fraud category until they produce evidence. I have zero evidence to support their claim of a pion production process that is 300 times better in terms of energy to produce the pions. No pictures of the facilities or the device for producing pions and no papers that describe what is being done. Even Rossi (controversial energy catalyzer/cold fusion) shows the device as it is supposed to be working and writes some technical descriptions.

A 22 page presentation that describes traditional pion production (2009)

Japanese work on muon catalyzed fusion was described here in 2009


Energy input versus output is an issue with plasma fusion, not muon catalysed fusion. Plasma fusion consumes 18 times more energy than it produces. The Star Scientific system requires very little energy to run, which means 99% of the energy liberated by the fusion reaction is available for use.

They are claiming that they have a low energy input pion factory. If 100 times more heat is produced than the energy input, then the heat can be converted to electricity that is 30 times more than the input energy.

Muon catalyzed fusion at wikipedia

Stephen Horvath has been working on Muon catalyzed fusion for decades.

In 1989, after extensive discussions with General Electric, in Schenectady, New York, Stephen was invited to secretly test the second prototype reactor at their facility.

The next step for Stephen was to design an enhanced reactor. In 1998, he formed Star Energy as the patent holder and developer of the final stage of the fusion development. He began assembling the requisite testing equipment and enlarged system to produce a commercial device to demonstrate energy release via muon-catalysed fusion.

Star Scientific was formed in 2004 and has been performing 'final testing' since 2004.

Gasoline Fuel Cell Would Boost Electric Car Range

Researchers at the University of Maryland have made a fuel cell that could provide a far more efficient alternative to a gasoline generator. Like all fuel cells, it generates electricity through a chemical reaction, rather than by burning fuel, and can be twice as efficient at generating electricity as a generator that uses combustion.

The researchers' fuel cell is a greatly improved version of a type that has a solid ceramic electrolyte, and is known as a solid-oxide fuel cell. Unlike the hydrogen fuel cells typically used in cars, solid-oxide fuel cells can run on a variety of readily available fuels, including diesel, gasoline, and natural gas. They've been used for generating power for buildings, but they've been considered impractical for use in cars because they're far too big and because they operate at very high temperatures—typically at about 900 ⁰C.

By developing new electrolyte materials and changing the cell's design, the researchers made a fuel cell that is much more compact. It can produce 10 times as much power, for its size, as a conventional one, and could be smaller than a gasoline engine while producing as much power.

Gas guzzler: The fuel cell developed at the University of Maryland.

Pitt Researchers Invent a Switch That Could Improve Electronics

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have invented a new type of electronic switch that performs electronic logic functions within a single molecule. The incorporation of such single-molecule elements could enable smaller, faster, and more energy-efficient electronics.

“This new switch is superior to existing single-molecule concepts,” said Hrvoje Petek, principal investigator and professor of physics and chemistry in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and codirector of the Petersen Institute for NanoScience and Engineering (PINSE) at Pitt. “We are learning how to reduce electronic circuit elements to single molecules for a new generation of enhanced and more sustainable technologies.”

Entangled earring size diamonds at room temperature

New Scientist - Two diamonds as wide as earring studs have been made to share the spooky quantum state known as entanglement. The feat, performed at room temperature, blurs the divide between the classical and quantum worlds, since typically the quantum link has been made with much smaller particles at low temperatures.

Physicists there led by Ka Chung Lee and Michael Sprague were able to show that the two 3-millimetre-wide diamonds shared one vibrational state between them.

Other researchers had previously shown quantum effects in a supercooled 0.06-millimetre-long strip of metal, which was set in a state where it was vibrating and not vibrating at the same time. But quantum effects are fragile. The more atoms an object contains, the more they jostle each other about, destroying the delicate links of entanglement.

Science - Entangling Macroscopic Diamonds at Room Temperature

December 01, 2011

Czech, Australian Thorium Molten Salt Project has 50 researchers

Prague Post - Thorium Energy Pty. Limited is a Czech and Australian partnership with around 50 scientists working on the development of commercial thorium-fueled molten salt reactors. For the past five years, a group of Czechs and Australians have been working on the beginnings of a partnership to develop an energy source they say could be the answer to Europe's growing energy needs and lower emissions goals.

There are more than a few global efforts developing MSRs, with China potentially leading the way after the government agreed to fund a private company with goals of producing a small MSR within five years.

There was a Thorium Base Load Project Symposium held at Parliament house, Canberra, Austrlia November 24 and 25th, 2011 The opening address was by Martin Ferguson AM, MP Austrlian Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism. Peter Stepanek Director Thorium Energy Pty Ltd. spoke at the Symposium as did other scientists and officials

New Extraordinary claims of a nuclear fusion breakthrough in Australia

A new Kachan report on new safer, cleaner nuclear technology, interviewed dozens of scientists at nuclear research outfits like Flibe Energy, General Atomics, General Fusion, Helion Energy, Hyperion Power Generation, the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), Invap, Lightbridge, NuScale, Ottawa Valley Research, QPower, Radix Power and Energy Corp, Rare Earth Extraction Co., Rhodia, Scandinavian Advanced Technology (SCATEC), Terra Power, Thor Energy, Thorium One International, Tri Alpha Energy and U.S. National Ignition Facility (NIF). (H/T Al fin)

UPDATE - The extraordinary claim is probably from Star Scientific which is working on muon nuclear fusion. They claim to be able to generate Pions with over one hundreds times greater efficiency. Muon fusion has been studied extensively for 50 years and national labs in the US and Japan had achieved 40% return on energy.

One interviewee, in a face-to-face conversation told us of a small company he’s involved with that he claims has built a working 1 megawatt fusion reactor the size of a rice cooker (though it’s dubious that approximation includes the requisite shielding, cooling, turbines, etc.) The company is now apparently in the process of building a 10MW version that it plans to trial in 2012.

For a 40-watt power input, the reactor is said to be able to generate a megawatt. The company is based in Australia.

The technology’s inventor has apparently tinkered with his design for 40 years, and self-funded the company’s early stages, reinvesting income from earlier lucrative inventions. Now, strategic investors are said to include family money, such as a Shanghai real estate baron and decedents of American industrialist John Pitcairn, Jr.

Culture of secrecy: The company’s secrecy about its actual progress makes Apple look sophomoric. In development since the 90s, it has sworn employees and investors not to let on how successful its research has been. It’s said to have retained the former head of Israel’s counter terrorism unit as its chief of security.

No to takeover offers: The company is said to have already fielded a buyout attempt by General Electric (NYSE:GE). The founder apparently didn’t want the invention owned by just one corporation, characterizing it an invention for mankind, apparently.

Requisite military involvement: The company is said to be secretly working with the Australian Air Force and Navy, and the U.S. Department of Defense, and aims to trial a 10MW version of its reactor in 2012 with an Australian utility.

The $1295 report claims to provide more details of this breakthrough, but there is no information about it in the table of contents or the executive summary

Dwave Systems shows off 512 qubit quantum computer chip

The next generation of D-Wave’s adiabatic quantum computer technology is called Vesuvius, and it’s going to be a very interesting processor. It will have 512 qubits and the system is scheduled for release late in 2012. The testing and development of this new generation of quantum processor is going well. Originally Dwave had talked about getting to over 1000 qubits by the end of 2008. Perhaps they have solved the issues which caused them to put off scaling the chips. Perhaps in 2013, Dwave will go to 1000 and 2000 qubit chips.

From Suzanne Gildert - Dwave System is hoping to scale along a Moore’s law like trajectory, but it is incredibly difficult with so many technical challenges of building a new processor technology. They are really hopeful that they will be able to scale to 1000, 2000…qubits. Of course like you say there is always the possibility of unknowns.

Regarding entanglement, it is something they are looking into, but there is not really a good definition of entanglement (or any ideas in the literature of how to measure it) for more than 2 qubits in an open quantum system. The physicists at D-Wave are trying to come up with more experiments to verify the quantum nature of the chip at larger and larger scales. Everything they have measured so far has agreed with quantum mechanical theory so we’re confident that it will pass future ‘tests’ too.

An entire wafer of Vesuvius processors after the full fabrication process has completed.

New materials could be transformative

Citing historical examples, U.S. secretary of energy Steven Chu argues that the nation can still regain its manufacturing leadership.

Americans should not regret that solar panels were invented here but are now mostly made in China. “They’re Henry Fording us,” he said of the Chinese innovations that lowered the cost of solar-panel production. But in that fast-developing field, there are still many opportunities to regain the lead, he suggested.

The potential for innovation that could revitalize American manufacturing extends across many sectors, Chu said. For example, improved steel alloys can allow car bodies to be just as strong but much lighter. This means that the engine and drive train can be smaller and lighter, since they don’t have to move as much weight, which in turn lowers the overall weight even more. In total, he said, cars could become 25 to 30 percent lighter, with essentially no sacrifice in size or performance. Similarly, new ways of processing composite materials for car bodies at much lower cost could achieve even greater improvements.

Other countries are working on better materials as well

Stronger steel and aluminum alloys and redesigning car parts to reduce weight is likely to have the most impact in reducing vehicle weight. 10% reduction in vehicle weight provides a 6-7% boost in fuel efficiency.

Mazda Motor Corporation, in collaboration with Sumitomo Metal Industries, Ltd. and Aisin Takaoka Co., Ltd., became the first automaker to successfully develop vehicle components using 1,800 MPa ultra-high tensile steel. The super-strength steel will debut in the new Mazda CX-5 crossover SUV that will commence its global launch in early 2012.

Mazda’s new production technology uses 1,800 MPa ultra-high tensile steel to fabricate bumper beams, which fit inside the front and rear bumpers and mitigate damage in the event of a collision. The bumper bars are 20% stronger and 4.8 kilograms lighter than previous versions and are a key part of Mazda’s next-generation, lightweight and highly rigid vehicle architecture.

Toray Industries, which got its start making rayon and is now the largest producer of carbon fiber. Teijin, another company that began in textiles, also presented a concept car based on carbon fiber in March this year. The two companies are beginning a major push to market carbon fiber to car companies as a serious substitute for the heavier steel-based designs of today. Even with a 200-kilogram battery, this car weighs 846 kilograms which is about half the weight of a comparable regular car.

Box lift and place is a better assessment than pushups and chinups for job strength tasks

Current generic fitness assessments (including push-ups, sit-ups and chin-ups) are often poor predictors of performance in strength based job tasks.

In a DSTO study involving over 100 soldiers, the effectiveness of push-ups, sit-ups and chin-ups was compared to a 'box lift and place' assessment method (pictured) that involves lifting a weighted box in a manner that replicates what is required in the field.

The results of this assessment method were then recorded against five strength based task simulations, including 'bombing up' a tank, repetitively loading an artillery gun, dragging an injured soldier, building a bridge, and lifting a field pack onto the tray of a truck.

Success with the 'box lift and place' assessment method was closely correlated to success in four of the five strength based tasks, while push-ups and chin-ups correlated with only one of the five job tasks (bridge building).

“The box lift assessment is a far superior predictor of job performance,” Mr Carstairs said.

Study of China's nuclear arsenal and tunnel system indicates China could have 3000 nuclear weapons

Washington Post - Georgetown University has released a 363-page study on china's nuclear weapons and tunnel system. It is the largest body of public knowledge about thousands of miles of tunnels dug by the Second Artillery Corps, a secretive branch of the Chinese military in charge of protecting and deploying its ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads. The study concludes that China’s nuclear arsenal could be many times larger than the well-established estimates of arms-control experts.


Key barrier to using human pluripotent stem cells for aging rejuvenation has been crossed

1. SENS - the Potential of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells Released in a Model of Parkinson's Disease.

Rejuvenation biotechnology encompasses a suite of advanced medical therapies, each of which removes, repairs, replaces, or renders harmless one of the forms of cellular or molecular damage that accumulates in an aging tissue over time and impairs its function. Through the comprehensive abatement of all such aging damage to levels approximating those of younger adults, tissue structure and function can be made more youthful, restoring the health and vigor of aging persons to that of persons years or decades younger. This approach is most prominently under pursuit in the development of cell therapy and tissue engineering, of which the most striking success to date has been the use of fetal and embryonic mesencephalic tissue grafts to replace dopaminergic (DA) neurons lost to the age-related neurodegenerative processes driving Parkinson's disease


Foldable robot scooter Kobot

A foldable robot electrical scooter controlled by a smart phone is the Kowa-tmsuk personal mobility Kobot.

The Kobot is a scooter-like three-wheeler with just one seat that can can be packed away after use in a space of around one square metre.

With a target speed of 30kmh, makers Kowa Tmsuk.

The driver uses a smart phone to remotely tell the Kobot to fold its rear wheel and seat onto the main body of the vehicle when not in use, something designers say is ideal for cities like Tokyo where parking space is at a premium.

Shkadov thruster and Stellar Engines for moving stars

A statite (a portmanteau of static and satellite) is a hypothetical type of artificial satellite that employs a solar sail to continuously modify its orbit in ways that gravity alone would not allow. Typically, a statite would use the solar sail to "hover" in a location that would not otherwise be available as a stable geosynchronous orbit.

Stellar engines are a class of hypothetical megastructures which use a star's radiation to create usable energy. Some variants use this energy to produce thrust, and thus accelerate a star, and anything orbiting it, in a given direction. The creation of such a system would make its builders a Type-II civilization on the Kardashev scale.
Image from Steve Bowers. Moving stars using light pressure. The mass of the statite reflector attracts the star like a gravity tug, causing the star and statite to slowly move

November 30, 2011

China: The New Techonomic Power

This session at Techonomy 2011 features Ned Hooper of Cisco, Doreen Lorenzo of frog, and Guo Xiao of ThoughtWorks. Gary Rieschel of Qiming Venture Partners moderates.

Watch live streaming video from techonomy at livestream.com

Peter Thiel Announces Breakout Labs to Energize Innovation

Calling for more rapid innovation in science and technology, Peter Thiel today launched a new program of the Thiel Foundation, Breakout Labs. Thiel announced that Breakout Labs will use a revolving fund to improve the way early-stage science and technology research is funded by helping independent scientists and early-stage companies develop their most radical ideas.

"Some of the world’s most important technologies were created by independent minds working long nights in garage labs," said Thiel. "But when their ideas are too new, unproven, or unpopular, these visionaries can find it difficult to obtain support. Through Breakout Labs, we’re going to create opportunities for revolutionary science by cultivating an entrepreneurial research model that prizes extreme creativity and bold thinking."

Mythbusters truck bedliner can help wooden walls resist 95 PSI

Mythbusters put 2 pounds of C4 5 feet away from a regular wood and drywall wall coated with truck bedliner and the coated wall resisted the 95 PSI force.


There has been wall paper that has been developed to make walls blast resistant but truck liner is cheaper.



Fast Cycle Experimentation in Companies and Countries

Techcrunch - At the 2011 Techonomy conference, Intuit co-founder Scott Cook was pretty radical in his economic and political analysis. Arguing that all companies need to turn themselves upside down, he told me that it’s the young technology entrepreneur – the Zuckerberg or the Shawn Fanning – who is most skilled at navigating today’s ever-turbulent economic waters. The video of the interview is below.

It’s in his political analysis that Cook really went nuclear. Arguing that “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”, he made the case for the Singapore or China model of economic growth, where great (and old) leaders have been able to reinvent their countries. In China, for example, Cook uses the example of Deng Xiaoping’s establishment of “Special Economic Zones” such as in Shenzhen that, he says, resulted in 300 million Chinese people being liberated from “grinding poverty”.

Intellectual Ventures Invents Beam-Steering Metamaterials Antenna

IEEE Spectrum - new antennas based on metamaterials, though, may soon rescue Web-addicted travelers from expensive connections in the air and elsewhere, and a group at the patent-licensing firm Intellectual Ventures (IV) thinks that it can implement the new technology by 2014.

While IV has researched exotic applications of metamaterials like cloaking devices that could make an object invisible, our current focus is on more practical applications of the technology:

* Satellite user terminals to connect boats, planes, cars and other vehicles to broadband service
* Dynamic cellular base station antennas to expand cell phone service
* Dynamic antennas for home and office wireless routers
* Collision avoidance radar systems for vehicles
* Advanced medical devices for focused surgical procedures
* Imaging systems for non-destructive testing of composite materials

Metamaterial Surface Antenna Technology

Unlike today’s large, heavy and hand-built mechanical and phased array user terminals, MSA-T’s antenna structure is similar to printed circuit boards and can be fabricated using established lithography and mass-production techniques. MSA-T allows for lower-cost user terminals as thin as 2-3 cm that weigh only a few kilograms. MSA-T transmit and receive modules can be tiled as needed to meet customer bandwidth requirements. Variants of MSA-T offer the potential for curved antenna products that conform to a mounting surface, such as the fuselage of an aircraft.



Image: Intellectual Ventures Radio Row: Individual metamaterial elements, like those shown here, can be tuned to dynamically redirect radio waves.

UCLA scientists engineer blood stem cells to fight melanoma

Researchers from UCLA's cancer and stem cell centers have demonstrated for the first time that blood stem cells can be engineered to create cancer-killing T-cells that seek out and attack a human melanoma. The researchers believe the approach could be useful in about 40 percent of Caucasians with this malignancy.

Done in mouse models, the study serves as the first proof-of-principle that blood stem cells, which make every type of cell found in the blood, can be genetically altered in a living organism to create an army of melanoma-fighting T-cells.


Antigen-targeted tumors on right dis-appeared; control tumors on left remained.

PNAS - Antitumor activity from antigen-specific CD8 T cells generated in vivo from genetically engineered human hematopoietic stem cells

UCLA researchers demonstrate fully printed carbon nanotube transistor circuits for displays

Researchers from Aneeve Nanotechnologies, a startup company at UCLA's on-campus technology incubator at the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), have used low-cost ink-jet printing to fabricate the first circuits composed of fully printed back-gated and top-gated carbon nanotube–based electronics for use with OLED displays.

The team made carbon nanotube thin-film transistors with high mobility and a high on–off ratio, completely based on ink-jet printing. They demonstrated the first fully printed single-pixel OLED control circuits, and their fully printed thin-film circuits showed significant performance advantages over traditional organic-based printed electronics.

Ink-jet-printed circuit

Nanoletters - Fully Printed Separated Carbon Nanotube Thin Film Transistor Circuits and Its Application in Organic Light Emitting Diode Control



UK Considers PRISM and Thorium Reactors for converting Plutonium stockpile

Guardian UK - General Electric set out proposals on Wednesday to build a new nuclear reactor at Sellafield that would convert the UK's stockpile of radioactive plutonium into electricity.

The multibillion pound project would take plutonium – the residue from the UK's nuclear power plants – and use it as fuel for a 600MW reactor that could provide power for 750,000 homes, according to GE Hitachi.

The UK government has still not decided which option it prefers for dealing with the UK's plutonium – others include long-term storage, converting it for use in a thorium reactor or building a new mixed oxide fuel ('mox') processing plant – and GE's proposal is likely to face competition. Ministers have been increasingly talking about the future of the stockpile, which costs about £2bn a year to maintain, and some in government want the plutonium to be classed as an asset rather than a liability.

S-PRISM, also called PRISM (Power Reactor Innovative Small Module), is the name of a nuclear power plant design by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) based on a sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor. The design utilizes reactor modules, each having a power output of 311 MWe, to enable factory fabrication at low cost. The design is based on the Integral Fast Reactor.

China connects another new nuclear reactor and Progress on the pebble bed reactor and other new reactors

1. Unit 4 of China National Nuclear Corporation's (CNNC's) Qinshan Phase II nuclear power plant was connected to the grid on 25 November – the second Chinese reactor to be connected this year. It is expected to enter commercial operation early in 2012. The reactor, a CNP-600, is a two loop domestic design rated at 650 MWe. It has taken about five years to build, with first concrete for the unit poured in January 2007.

Another Chinese reactor, Ling Ao unit 4, was connected to the grid on 3 May while unit 1 of the Ningde nuclear power plant began its cold test functions on 28 November and should enter service next year. With the addition of Qinshan Phase II unit 4, the total number of operating Chinese reactors stands at 15.

2. China's HTR-PM (high temperature pebble bed) began construction in mid 2011. This will have twin reactors, each of 250 MWt driving a single 210 MWe steam turbine. The fuel is 9% enriched (520,000 elements) giving 80 GWd/t discharge burn-up.

The projected cost is US$ 430 million (but later units falling to US$1500/kW with generating cost about 5 ¢/kWh). Start-up was scheduled for 2013, now 2015. The HTR-PM rationale is both eventually to replace conventional reactor technology for power, and also to provide for future hydrogen production. INET is in charge of R&D, and is aiming to increase the size of the 250 MWt module and also utilize thorium in the fuel. Eventually a series of HTRs, possibly with Brayton cycle directly driving the gas turbines, would be factory-built and widely installed throughout China.

Australian and Czech project to make Thorium molten salt reactor

A group of Australian and Czech companies have come together to develop a thorium fueled molten salt reactor.

While thorium reactors are currently banned in Australia, they are recognized to have less waste than uranium reactors, and do not have the capacity to produce weapons.

Spokesperson for SDH and the Australian/ Czech consortium, Phil Joyce, told Australian Mining that work has already begun on developing a 60MW pilot plant in Prague, with preparatory work on the prototype to be finalised next year.

Development is slated to cost around $300 million.

Iranian uranium conversion facility has exploded

the Australian - An Iranian nuclear facility has been hit by a huge explosion, the second such blast in a month, prompting speculation that Tehran's military and atomic sites are under attack.

Satellite imagery seen by The Times of London confirmed that a blast that rocked the city of Isfahan on Monday struck the uranium enrichment facility there, despite denials by Tehran.

The images clearly showed billowing smoke and destruction, negating Iranian claims yesterday that no such explosion had taken place. Israeli intelligence officials told The Times that there was "no doubt" that the blast struck the nuclear facilities at Isfahan and that it was "no accident".

The explosion at Iran's third-largest city came as satellite images emerged of the damage caused by one at a military base outside Tehran two weeks ago that killed about 30 members of the Revolutionary Guard, including General Hassan Moghaddam, the head of the Iranian missile defence program.

Jeruselam post coverage

Income Distribution in the United States - Exactly how much to qualify as top 1%

The Tax Policy Center has updated its figures on the income distribution in America.

For all tax units:
to be in the top 1% your household has to earn $506,553 or more.
the top 2% earn $360,435 or more
the top 3% earn $290,860 or more
the top 0.5% earn $815,868 or more
the top 0.1% earn $2,070,574 or more

For joint filers:
to be in the top 1% your household has to earn $761,938 or more.
the top 2% earn $477,128 or more
the top 3% earn $391,010 or more
the top 0.5% earn $1,096,732 or more
the top 0.1% earn $2,998,714 or more


Below is the chart for the top 20% and the bottom 20%.

Clinical trial for muscular dystrophy demonstrates safety of customized gene therapy

Clinical trial for muscular dystrophy demonstrates safety of customized gene therapy. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have shown that it is safe to cut and paste together different viruses in an effort to create the ultimate vehicle for gene therapy. In a phase I clinical trial, the investigators found no side effects from using a “chimeric” virus to deliver replacement genes for an essential muscle protein in patients with muscular dystrophy.

Gene therapy turns muscles into HIV antibody factories

David Baltimore of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, and colleagues have a new approach that is part vaccine, part gene therapy. They turn muscles into factories that churn out potent antibodies against HIV. Because muscle isn't on HIV's hitlist, it will continue to generate antibodies even after an HIV infection, making the strategy potentially better than one which tweaks the immune system to produce the antibodies.

Genetically altered mice were able to resist 100 times the level of HIV that would normally cause an infection.

Nature - Antibody-based protection against HIV infection by vectored immunoprophylaxis

Nvidia Mobile Head Phil Carmack talks about Augmented Reality

EEtimes interviewed Phil Carmack.

The term “augmented reality” has been overused, but we were by far the first to show it using a Tegra 1 in 2008. Basically its computer vision coupled with other capabilities. You will want your mobile computer to recognize you and your environment and to replicate you and your world--you want it both ways. Both of those capabilities require a lot of innovation in terms of GPUs and content, and we are working on all those things. I do like gesture recognition. I hate getting smudgies all over my smartphone screen. Taking it to the next level will involve cameras and voice and touch to make a better experience.

Six Central banks provide cheap loans to shore up financial system and China eases reserve requirements

1. Wall Street Journal - The U.S. Federal Reserve, the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank and the Swiss National Bank launched a joint action to provide cheap, emergency U.S. dollar loans to banks in Europe and elsewhere, a sign of growing alarm among policy makers about stresses in Europe and in the global financial system.
The coordinated action doesn't directly address Europe's government-debt and budget woes. Instead, it is aimed at alleviating the impact of those troubles on global markets. Moreover, it raises the prospect of other steps by central bankers to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.

Praxen-Defkalion reveals technical specification sheet for pre-industrial Hyperion product

Today, and through our company website, Praxen - Defkalion Green Technologies Global has disclosed its current work on Nickel and Hydrogen exothermic reaction using Chemically Assisted Low Energy Nuclear Reactions.

The provided Technical Specifications Sheet is a first preparation of our pre-industrial Hyperion product. This data has been tested with progress made towards the design of a final product ready for market entry in 2012.

Here is the 21 page Technical Specifications Sheet of the pre-industrial Hyperion product

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics Has Repeatable Power Pulses

Latest Lawrenceville Plasma Physics report.

FF-1 has taken a long step toward demonstrating the level of repeatable firing needed for a fusion generator. On November 2, FF-1 fired five shots in a row, under the same conditions, with fusion yield varying by only plus or minus 2.6% from an average of 0.9x1011 neutrons. While dense plasma focus (DPF) devices preceding FF-1 have had a reputation for large shot-to-shot variability, a fusion generator (as well as most other applications) requires repeatable functioning. In May 2011, LPP reported that our research team had succeeded in stabilizing FF-1’s output to within a range of plus or minus 15%. The latest, tighter stability of function represents a six-fold improvement over the May results and achieves approximately the range of reliability that would be required in a generator pulsing many times per second.

The greater repeatability, we believe, is due to our tighter control of asymmetries in the device, including the centering of the electrodes

November 29, 2011

Power Generation Costs in China

China's renewable and nuclear energy targets have recently been updated by the NEA (National Energy Agency). They now stand at 150 gW of installed wind capacity by 2020, along with 20 gW of solar, 380 gW of hydro and 80 gW of nuclear.

The NEA plans to increase non-fossil fuel energy to 15 percent of total primary consumption by 2020. These targets are additional to the country's goal of a reduction in energy intensity of between 40 and 45 percent by the same year.

This implies that wind-energy generation should increase by an average of 12.5 gW every year through to 2020, according to the International Energy Agency.

Thermal power is coal. Nuclear power is competitive with some coal power. Hydro is the cheapest

Making a light-harvesting antenna from scratch

A biomimetic antenna for gathering sunlight may one day transform solar-powered devices.

At Washington University in St. Louis’s Photosynthetic Antenna Research Center (PARC) scientists are exploring native biological photosystems, building hybrids that combine natural and synthetic parts, and building fully synthetic analogs of natural systems.

One team has just succeeded in making a crucial photosystem component -- a light-harvesting antenna -- from scratch. The new antenna is modeled on the chlorosome found in green bacteria.

Chlorosomes are giant assemblies of pigment molecules. Perhaps Nature’s most spectacular light-harvesting antennae, they allow green bacteria to photosynthesize even in the dim light in ocean deeps.

Towards an artificial chlorosome

3D printer used to make bone-like material

Washington State University researchers have used a 3D printer to create a bone-like material and structure that can be used in orthopedic procedures, dental work and to deliver medicine for treating osteoporosis. Paired with actual bone, it acts as a scaffold for new bone to grow on and ultimately dissolves with no apparent ill effects.

The authors report on successful in vitro tests in the journal Dental Materials and say they’re already seeing promising results with in vivo tests on rats and rabbits. It’s possible that doctors will be able to custom order replacement bone tissue in a few years, said Susmita Bose, co-author and professor in WSU’s School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

World Bank Chief Economist Justin Yifu Lin says China can grow at 8% per year for another 20 years

China can continue its dynamic economic growth for at least another 20 years, although it needs to embark on an overhaul that removes internal imbalances in its economy and society, World Bank Chief Economist Justin Yifu Lin said in a speech here Tuesday. This is the same presentation he gave in March 2011. (16 pages)

China's "backwardness" in terms of economic development still leaves it far behind developed countries, Lin said, noting that in relative terms to the U.S., the country is at the level of Japan in 1951, Korea in 1977, and Taiwan in 1975. He said that in the 20 subsequent years after each of those dates, the economies of those three Asian countries expanded at rates of 9.2%, 7.6% and 8.3%, respectively.

"China has the potential to achieve another 20 years of 8% growth," Lin said, addressing an audience at a conference on the Asia-Pacific economy sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. "By that time, China's per capita income measured in purchasing power parity may reach about 50% of U.S. per capita income." He added that China's economy would then be twice the size of the U.S.'s when measured in purchasing power parity and the same size as the U.S. when measured in market exchange rates.

World Bank Chief Economist Justin Yifu Lin spoke at the Beijing Forum on the topic China’s Economic Development and Cultural Renaissance in the Multipolar Growth World of the 21st Century


Space Based Solar Power Status

Japan is currently the only country with a focused solar power satellite plan. In fact, space power is one of the nine official goals of the Japanese space programme. The country's space agency is planning to construct a solar power station in space and use it to beam energy down to earth using lasers by 2030.

JAXA , Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, is leading the research and development effort

SSPS consists of a space-based power generation/transmission facility that gathers sunlight, converts it into microwaves or laser beams, and transmits those to the ground; and a power receiving facility on the ground. There are differences in characteristics and capability between microwaves, which are used in microwave ovens and cellular phones, and laser beams, which you commonly see in computer printers and presentation pointers. We have not yet decided which of the two to use with SSPS, or whether we will somehow combine them. We are currently conducting ground-based experiments to find the most efficient way to transmit energy.
Laser beam-type SSPS

What is the progress status of SSPS in Japan?

There are many technological challenges to solve before SSPS can be implemented. However, in principle, we are getting close to the stage where it is feasible, and we have just moved from the study phase to the technology demonstration phase. Researchers have started preparation for the world's first demonstration of 1kW-class wireless power transmission technology, and are aiming for practical use in the 2030s. At this point, you could say that Japan is leading the world in SSPS research. I think that this is all thanks to JAXA's long-term commitment to this research.

Status of Air Pollution Control in China

McIlvaine Company - Contrary to popular belief, China is ahead of the U.S. in cleaning up its air emissions from coal-fired power plants. Furthermore, regulations will be tightened. This will cause another $40 billion in investment. This is the conclusion reached in FGD World Markets, a continually updated publication of the McIlvaine Company.

China has installed flue gas desulfurization systems on 532,000 MW of capacity as of the end of 2010. This compares to less than 200,000 MW of FGD in the U.S. No other country in the world has more than 50,000 MW of FGD. With 707,000 MW of total coal-fired capacity, China has fitted more than 75 percent of its coal-fired capacity with FGD. This compares to less than 60 percent in the U.S.

New standards to take effect on January 1, 2012 will limit sulfur emissions in populated areas to 100 mg/Nm3. This is a reduction from the present general standard of 400 mg/Nm3. China is also investing more in NOx reduction than any other country. It has now targeted mercury and is crafting a program to achieve reduction of this pollutant as well.

China has also undertaken a massive program to shut down 76,000 MW of old small coal-fired power plants. This is more capacity than exists in any country except the U.S. Additional measures are being taken to strengthen the enforcement of the regulations. Fines and continuous monitoring of emissions are two key elements of this program.

Nextbigfuture has covered the economics and technology for retrofitting air pollution controls

More should be done to get complete air pollution controls in place as coal power is still a rapidly growing industry.

The combination of retrofits to existing power plants and start-up of new coal-fired power plants in 2014 represents a total investment of $220 billion. At the end of 2013, the world will have coal-fired capacity of 2.21 million MW. At the end of 2014 there will be an increase of 60,000 MW to a new total of 2.27 million MW. There are 150 projects with an average size of 400 MW which are now in the final purchasing stage for all the components. Each of these projects represents a total investment of $1.2 billion. So the total is $180 billion in purchases.

Scientists Regenerate Muscle in Mice

A team of scientists from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) and CellThera, a private company located in WPI's Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center, have regenerated functional muscle tissue in mice, opening the door for a new clinical therapy to treat people who suffer major muscle trauma. They reprogrammed human cells and bioengineered microthreads.

The team used a novel protocol to coax mature human muscle cells into a stem cell-like state and grew those reprogrammed cells on biopolymer microthreads. The threads were placed in a wound created by surgically removing a large section of leg muscle from a mouse. Over time, the threads and cells restored near-normal function to the muscle, as reported in the paper "Restoration of Skeletal Muscle Defects with Adult Human Cells Delivered on Fibrin Microthreads", published in the current issue of the journal Tissue Engineering. Surprisingly, the microthreads, which were used simply as a scaffold to support the reprogrammed human cells, actually seemed to accelerate the regeneration process by recruiting progenitor mouse muscle cells, suggesting that they alone could become a therapeutic tool for treating major muscle trauma.

"We are pleased with the progress of this work, and frankly we were surprised by the level of muscle regeneration that was achieved," said Raymond Page, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at WPI, chief scientific officer at CellThera, and corresponding author on the paper

Tissue Engineering Part A. - Restoration of skeletal muscle defects with adult human cells delivered on fibrin microthreads


In the study, a portion of a leg muscle was removed from mice. Untreated mice grew scar tissue (right image, blue area ). Mice receiving seeded microthreads had minimal scarring and regrew functional muscle (left image).

There has previously been success in leg muscle regeneration in a wounded soldier

Corporal Isaias Hernandez had his right leg mangled in 2004 in Iraq. He lost 70% of his thigh muscle. “The whole thing was gone,” Hernandez explained. “You could see the femur.”

Hernandez was one of the first to try a radical therapy to spark his body to regrow the lost tissue and function. Using what’s called extracellular matrix from a pig, his body recruited its own stem cells to regrow muscle, nerves and vessels.

Defkalion has Rossi’s formula

Nyteknik - Tomorrow on Wednesday the Greek company Defkalion will present products similar to Andrea Rossi’s 'E-cat', claiming that the technology is developed in-house. But Defkalion earlier told Ny Teknik that it has 'the formula of Rossi'.
“Let’s say I have the formula of Rossi, but I’m not saying it officially. My scientists found a way to make it. They need three months.”

That is what Alexandros Xanthoulis, representative of Defkalion Green Technology’s owners, told Ny Teknik in a telephone conversation on August 5, 2011.

“I know what he’s got in the reactor, I know everything. It was a spectroscopy made by the University of Siena. (...) They tried his reactor without him understanding what they did,” he continued.

OECD Economic Outlook, Upside and Downside Scenarios through 2013 for OECD and China

OECD published their latest economic outlook with forecasts out to 2013.

The global economy has deteriorated significantly since our previous Economic Outlook. Advanced economies are slowing down and the euro area appears to be in a mild recession. Concerns about sovereign debt sustainability in the European monetary union are becoming increasingly widespread. Recent contagion to countries thought to have relatively solid public finances could massively escalate economic disruption if not addressed. Unemployment remains very high in many OECD economies and, ominously, long-term unemployment is becoming increasingly common. Emerging economies are still growing at a healthy pace, but their growth rates are also moderating. In these countries falls in commodity prices and the slower global growth have started to mitigate inflationary pressures. More recently, international trade growth has weakened significantly. Contrary to what was expected earlier this year, the global economy is not out of the woods.

More than usual, world economic prospects depend on events, the nature and timing of which are highly uncertain. The projections presented in this Economic Outlook portray a scenario that rests on the assumptions that monetary policy remains very supportive (and, in some places, becomes more so), that sovereign debt and banking sector problems in the euro area are contained and that excessive fiscal tightening will be avoided. From the second half of 2012, confidence is assumed to recover gradually as it becomes clearer that worst-case outcomes have been avoided. Near-term output growth is subdued in the OECD economies and at below-trend rates in the major emerging-market economies, developments which are likely to be associated with further short-term weakening of sentiment and confidence. In some
economies, especially the euro area, a mild recession is projected in the near term.

Alternative scenarios are possible, and may be even more likely than the baseline. A downside scenario would be characterised by materialisation of negative risks and the absence of adequate policy action to deal with them. An upside scenario could arise if policy action were successful in boosting confidence and no significant negative events occurred.

OECD projects China's economic growth will drop to 8.5 percent in 2012, from this year's estimated 9.3 percent. In 2013, it will pick up to 9.5 percent. Last year, it was 10.4 percent.



Rossi electricity generation claim is based on getting steam up to 450 celsius with Energy Catalyzer

Ecat World - Rossi claims - we have found a breakthrough with a primary fluid with which the reactors remain stable when we make steam at 450 Celsius. We are working on it together with our Customer. I am learning very much from him, and in particular I am learning from the person who made the test of the plant on October 28th. This person, now retired, is an engineer who used to test for military concerns thermic plants and missiles, so that he has a tremendous experience in thermodynamics. Here is to learn really and, honestly, when it turns to learn I am pretty fast. This collaboration is accelerating the development of the technological declinations.”

The retired engineer Rossi mentions is Domenico Fioravanti, the consultant that was sent by Rossi’s military customer to test the first 1 MW plant in Bologna. Now it looks like the two are working together to find ways to make these 1 MW plants (the military entity has ordered 12 more) produce electricity and steam, and Rossi is evidently learning a great deal from Fioravanti, and he seems to be very happy about the collaboration.

Defkalion (once Rossi partner and now competitor) will have their big announcement of products on Wednesday, November 30 (tomorrow).

New nanoscale electronic state discovered on graphene sheets

Eurekalert - Researchers from the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN) have discovered electronic stripes, called 'charge density waves', on the surface of the graphene sheets that make up a graphitic superconductor. This is the first time these stripes have been seen on graphene, and the finding is likely to have profound implications for the exploitation of this recently discovered material, which scientists believe will play a key role in the future of nanotechnology.


These are electronic stripes, called "charge density waves," on the surface of a graphitic superconductor. Credit: K. A. Rahnejat

Nature Communications - Charge density waves in the graphene sheets of the superconductor CaC6

Whole-Cell Imaging at Nanometer Resolutions Using Fast and Slow Focused Helium Ions

Whole-Cell Imaging at Nanometer Resolutions Using Fast and Slow Focused Helium Ions from researchers at the National University of Singapore

The ability to obtain an accurate three-dimensional image of an intact cell is critical for unraveling the mysteries of cellular structure and function. However, for many years, tiny structures buried deep inside cells have been practically invisible to scientists due to a lack of microscopic techniques that achieve adequate resolution at the cell surface and through the entire depth of the cell. Now, a new study published by Cell Press in the October 4th issue of Biophysical Journal demonstrates that microscopy with helium ions may greatly enhance both surface and sub-cellular imaging.

Saboteurs in Iran ?

Asia Times Online - The explosion at the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' (IRGC) Al-Ghadir base in Bigdaneh (near Tehran) on November 12 which killed the architect of Iran's ballistic missile programme has added fuel to widespread suspicions that Iran is under concerted sabotage attacks by Western and Israeli special forces and intelligence services.

Even though the Iranian government was quick to rule out sabotage and insisted the explosions were an accident, the steady leaking of Brigadier General Hassan Tehrani-Moghaddam's hugely sensitive role in developing Iran's ballistic missile programme, lends credence to the theory that the country's enemies had a hand in the "accident" that killed at least 16 other IRGC personnel.

Reports on Iranian media - directly attributed to members of Tehrani-Moghaddam's family or senior IRGC commanders - have speculated widely on the context and cause of the "accident", with some reports suggesting that the pioneering IRGC commander was supervising the testing of an inter-continental ballistic missile, while others suggest he was testing a new ballistic surface to sea missile, presumably designed to attack American warships in the event of a war.

Yesterday there were unexplained explosions in the western Iranian city of Isfahan (home to Iranian nuclear facilities).
Original report of blast in Iranian city of Isfahan as appeared on Fars website, Nov. 28, 2011.

An explosion rocked the western Iranian city of Isfahan on Monday, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, adding that the blast was heard in several parts of the city.

According to reports, frightened residents called the fire department after the blast, forcing the city authorities to admit there had been an explosion.Residents reported that their windows shook from the explosion's force.

The government of Isfahan said that the explosion occurred as a result of a military drill, denying reports that the blast was somehow related to the nearby nuclear facility.

Gene Therapy cures deafness in Mammals

Researchers first gave the guinea pigs antibiotics which destroyed their inner-ear hair cells. They then apparently repaired the damage by injecting them with genetically engineered adenoviruses. ... The therapy promotes the regrowth of crucial hair cells in the cochlea, the part of the inner ear which registers sound. After treatment, the researchers used sensory electrodes around the animals' heads to show that the auditory nerves of treated - but not untreated - animals were now registering sound. ... The experiment worked beyond expectation. "The recovery of hair cells brought the treated ears to between 50% and 80% of their original hearing thresholds," says Raphael. Even more surprising, the team found that the hair cells were created from cells lining the scala media which - according to biological orthodoxy - should not be able to turn into other cells.

Nature - Auditory hair cell replacement and hearing improvement by Atoh1 gene therapy in deaf mammals

In the mammalian auditory system, sensory cell loss resulting from aging, ototoxic drugs, infections, overstimulation and other causes is irreversible and leads to permanent sensorineural hearing loss. To restore hearing, it is necessary to generate new functional hair cells. One potential way to regenerate hair cells is to induce a phenotypic transdifferentiation of nonsensory cells that remain in the deaf cochlea. Here we report that Atoh1, a gene also known as Math1 encoding a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor and key regulator of hair cell development, induces regeneration of hair cells and substantially improves hearing thresholds in the mature deaf inner ear after delivery to nonsensory cells through adenovectors. This is the first demonstration of cellular and functional repair in the organ of Corti of a mature deaf mammal. The data suggest a new therapeutic approach based on expressing crucial developmental genes for cellular and functional restoration in the damaged auditory epithelium and other sensory systems.