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December 10, 2011

Carnival of Space 227

1. Discovery Space News - Forget the much-hyped doomsday in 2012, we were inundated with doomsday events THIS year... in other star systems. -- Ian O'Neill


Rail and Pipeline expansions and project to move more Bakken Oil from North Dakota and Saskatchwan

1. Enbridge Energy Partners LP will make an additional $145 million investment in North Dakota to expand crude oil capacity and add a rail car loading facility to accommodate the additional volume, the company said today.

The Houston-based petroleum company, which operates oil pipelines, said that it will increase the holding capacity at the Berthold terminal by 80,000 barrels per day and add a double-loop unit-train facility, oil tanks and other terminal facilities next to its existing facilities.

The expansion adds to ongoing efforts by Enbridge to accommodate a boom in oil production in the region. Its Bakken Expansion Program announced in 2010 is aimed at increasing the company's transport capacity by another 145,000 barrels of oil per day from fields in Montana, North Dakota and southeast Saskatchewan. Expansion Program is expected to cost about $370 million for the U.S. projects and about $187 million for the Canadian projects

2. Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB) (NYSE:ENB) and Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (NYSE: EPD) announced that they have agreed to reverse the direction of crude oil flows on the Seaway pipeline to enable it to transport oil from Cushing, Oklahoma to the U.S. Gulf Coast. Pending regulatory approval, the line could operate in reversed service with an initial capacity of 150,000 barrels per day by second quarter 2012.

December 09, 2011

Eurozone Bank trouble and a US General warns of unrest

1. Telegraph UK - The eurozone banking system is on the edge of collapse as major lenders begin to run out of the assets they need to keep vital funding lines open.

Senior analysts and traders warned of impending bank failures as a summit intended to solve the European crisis failed to deliver a solution that eased concerns over bank funding.

The European Central Bank admitted it had held meetings about providing emergency funding to the region's struggling banks, however City figures said a "collateral crunch" was looming.

NRC battle Jaczko vs. fellow commissioners

A war among the five commissioners of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission broke into the open Friday night when Republican Rep. Darrell Issa released a letter in which four of the commissioners said they have “grave concerns” about NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko.

A letter was sent by the four commissioners to the White House in October

I think Jaczko is terrible and I would be happy to see him ousted. I do not think that is the likely outcome which will be politically determined.

Idaho Samizdat - Next Wednesday December 14 the House Oversight Committee will hold a very unusual hearing in which four NRC Commissioners will air their complaints about NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko.

North Dakota Produced 488068 barrels of oil per day in October, 2011 for another record high

North Dakota produced 488068 barrels of oil per day in October, 2011 This is 100,000 barrels per day more than in June, 2011.

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 900,000 barrels per day in 2013-2014.

California produces about 539,000 barrels of oil daily, compared with about 550,000 barrels in Alaska and about 1.2 million barrels daily in Texas. North Dakota is likely to move to become the second largest state for oil production in 2012.



Spreadtrum releases platforms for $40 Android smartphones

EEtimes - Chinese fabless semiconductor firm Spreadtrum Communications, Inc. has released two new low-cost, 600MHz Android smartphone platforms, made on a 40-nm process, aimed at ultra-cheap smartphones in the $40-50 range.

China Mobile has said it expects to sell over 30 million TD-SCDMA smart phones next year, most of which it predicts will come from the low-cost segment.

D.C. gets 100 gigabit network

Washington D.C. went live with the first link of a 100-gigabit network Wednesday. The new network, called the D.C. Community Access Network (DC-CAN), will provide links out to communities east of the Anacostia River, but the ultra-high-speed network will soon serve the entire District. However, the pricing for the service still looks expensive with 1 gigabit access costing about $8600/month.

Already, 24 community anchor institutions such as libraries, schools and other municipal buildings are connected to the 100-gig network. As the network expands, the city hopes to link up to 199 more. And having a low-cost, middle mile network could entice other service providers to hook up D.C. homes and businesses with faster broadband access. The network was funded in part by federal broadband stimulus funds and is expected to be complete by 2013.

SpaceX Dragon cargo freighter scheduled to dock with International Space Station in February, 2012

Sapceflight Now - The next demonstration test-flight for the SpaceX Dragon cargo freighter will link up with the International Space Station, officials have decided, allowing the company to combine the two previously-planned flyby and capture missions into one, launching from Cape Canaveral on February 7.

Artist's concept of the Dragon spacecraft approaching the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

Death by Lava or molten steel

Wired Science - In answer to the question - In that scene from Return of the King when Gollum falls into the pit of lava, would he have really just sunk into the lava like that? The answer is no the person would stay on top as the molten rock is denser than the human body.

However there is more to death by lava and molten steel and details depend upon the amount of lava or molten steel and the temperature. Do not read further if you are squeamish.

A man fell more than 20ft into this vat of steel which was 450 degrees celsius

EU Deal for closer Economic Union and views on why it is not enough

1. The EU, minus the U.K., announced at the Brussels summit that it would push forward with efforts to forge a closer economic union. They agreed to adopt a “new fiscal compact” that includes more stringent budget rules and nearly automatic penalties when those rules are broken. They also agreed to explore the closer coordination of national economic policies, to accelerate the formation of a permanent bailout fund and to send 200 billion euros to the International Monetary Fund so it can help finance remedies to the crisis.
Germany managed to quash any talk of any issuance of common debt by EU members, of allowing the ECB to assume a lender-of-last-resort role, and of other steps such as issuing the permanent bailout fund a banking license to help it combat the crisis.

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has effectively been put in the hot seat by European Union leaders. But it’s unclear what untapped crisis-fighting options he’s able or even willing to consider.

Instead, the EU leaders have punted back to the ECB and appear to be counting on the central bank’s new leader, Mario Draghi, to save them.

Raytheon developing cheap thermal imagers for the smartphones of soldiers for DARPA

Raytheon Company has been awarded $13.4 million by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) under the Low Cost Thermal Imaging Manufacturing (LCTI-M) program. The goal of LCTI-M is to develop a wafer scale manufacturing process that will make thermal imagers affordable and accessible to every warfighter.

Under the three-year contract, Raytheon Vision Systems (RVS) will develop wafer scale manufacturing processes to reduce the size, weight, power and cost of thermal cameras so that they can be integrated into PDAs or cell phones. Wider availability would enhance situational awareness and information sharing among dismounted soldiers and individual intelligence personnel, where a common view of the battlefield is critical.

Currently thermal imagers are bulky (a few kilograms and cost about $1000 to several thousand dollars each. They also suck up a lot of power which means heavier batteries are needed.

Getting the Life Extension benefits of Rapamycin without the Side effects

In a recent issue of Cell Cycle Anisimov and et al. reported that lifelong intermittent administration (three times a week for 2 weeks, followed by a 2 week break) of rapamycin started at 2 months of age (in mice) significantly increased maximal lifespan and delayed spontaneous cancer in normal inbread female 129/Sv mice. This study is in agreement with the effect of inhibition of Tor/S6K signaling in protecting yeast against age-dependent DNA mutations and of mutations in GH or GHR in reducing cancer incidence in mice and humans. Similarly, dietary restriction (calorie restriction) without malnutrition extends lifespan and powerfully protects against cancer in mice.

Intermittent dosage of Rapamycin extends maximum and average lifespan and reduces cancer (similar to the effects of calorie restricted dieting) with what should be reduced side effects in mice. More work on mice and monkeys is needed, but this could be a way to get Rapamycin used to mimic calorie restriction benefits of life extension and health improvement to humans in a few years.

Fine particle health risks calculated for roughly city size areas in California

Three new studies released today by the California Air Resources Board reveal that exposure to airborne fine-particulate matter significantly elevates the risk for premature deaths from heart disease in older adults and elevates incidence of strokes among post-menopausal women. Heart disease is the number one killer in California and is responsible for approximately 35% of annual deaths.

“We’ve long known particulate matter is a major component of California’s air pollution problem,” said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “These new studies underscore the need to eliminate the threat from California’s air.”

Particulate matter is a complex blend of substances ranging from dry solid fragments, solid-core fragments with liquid coatings, and small droplets of liquid. These particles vary in shape, size and chemical composition, and can contain metals, soot, nitrates, sulfates and very fine dust. One source of particulate matter, including PM2.5 or fine-particulate –matter, is exhaust from vehicles, especially from diesel engines. PM 2.5 is particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter - a human hair is about 60 microns in diameter.

December 08, 2011

Cells’ electrical properties manipulated to grow eye in gut a major step towards regeneration of complex organs and limbs

For the first time, scientists have altered natural bioelectrical communication among cells to directly specify the type of new organ to be created at a particular location within a vertebrate organism. Using genetic manipulation of membrane voltage in Xenopus (frog) embryos, biologists at Tufts University's School of Arts and Sciences were able to cause tadpoles to grow eyes outside of the head area.

The researchers achieved most surprising results when they manipulated membrane voltage of cells in the tadpole's back and tail, well outside of where the eyes could normally form. "The hypothesis is that for every structure in the body there is a specific membrane voltage range that drives organogenesis," said Tufts post-doctoral fellow Vaibhav P. Pai Ph.D., first author of the paper, entitled "Transmembrane Voltage Potential Controls Embryonic Eye Patterning in Xenopus laevis." Pai noted, "These were cells in regions that were never thought to be able to form eyes. This suggests that cells from anywhere in the body can be driven to form an eye."

To do this, they changed the voltage gradient of cells in the tadpoles' back and tail to match that of normal eye cells. The eye-specific gradient drove the cells in the back and tail—which would normally develop into other organs—to develop into eyes.

These findings break new ground in the field of biomedicine because they identify an entirely new control mechanism that can be capitalized upon to induce the formation of complex organs for transplantation or regenerative medicine applications, according to Michael Levin, Ph.D., professor of biology and director of the Center for Regenerative and Developmental Biology at Tufts University's School of Arts and Sciences
Eye grown in gut of tadpole

Imec presents a MEMS energy harvester suitable for shock-induced energy harvesting in car tires

Imec and Holst Centre announce that they have made a micromachined harvester for vibration energy with a record output power of 489µW. Measurements and simulation show that the harvester is also suited for shock-induced energy harvesting in car tires, where it could power built-in sensors. In a tire, at 70km/h, the new device can deliver a constant 42µW, which is enough to power a simple wireless sensor node.


MEMS energy harvester generates power from vibrations inside tires, eliminating the need for batteries in tire pressure sensors.

Magnetization textures in NiPd nanostructures

An international collaboration led by the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology has used scanning electron microscopy with polarization analysis (SEMPA) to acquire images of the magnetic structure inside patterned nickel-palladium (NiPd) thin film nanostructures, revealing peculiar magnetization textures that can affect the behavior of these ferromagnetic alloys in experimental applications.

The Physical Review B journal has published the research, so the NIST work has undergone peer review.

The NIST work further confirms the Brian Ahern theory that nanomagnetism plays an important part in low energy assisted nuclear reactions. The nickel and palladium electrodes used in many cold fusion experiments would have this nanomagnetic behavior.

NiPd alloys are used for studying how ferromagnets affect nearby superconductors. They are also good electron spin injectors and spin analyzers being applied to the development of carbon nanotube-based electronics using electron spin (“spintronics”). The magnetic orientation of nano-patterned NiPd thin film contacts was expected to be simple, controlled primarily by the shape of the patterned film and the applied magnetic field. The SEMPA measurements, along with magnetic force microscopy and spin-polarized photoemission electron microscopy, revealed a surprisingly complex spatial structure of the magnetization. In some devices, the magnetization was even perpendicular to the expected direction. The researchers found that complexity arises from stress-induced anisotropies caused by mismatches in both the lattice structures and the thermal expansion coefficients between the NiPd films and the underlying substrates. Although this stress-induced magnetic structure may be a problem for some applications, the researchers believe it can be used as a new route to control the orientation of the magnetization in nano-patterned electrodes.

Arxiv - On the magnetization textures in NiPd nanostructures

On the magnetization textures in NiPd nanostructures 8 pages)

IEDM - 10 and 15 nanometer technology

1. EETimes - IMEC reports 10-nm RRAM cell

European research institute IMEC has reported a Resistive RAM (RRAM) memory cell that measures 10-nm by 10-nm at the International Electron Devices Meeting, which took place Dec. 5 to 7 in Washington DC. The organization claims this is the smallest such cell and that it shows the potential to replace NAND flash memory.

RRAM is one of a number of emerging non-volatile memory technologies being researched as a potential replacement for NAND flash, which is based on charge-storage and which in its present form is thought will not scale below about 18-nm planar dimensions
[note 15-nm NAND was revealed at IEDM and it is discussed in the next item below].


Cross-section of 10-nm Hf/HfOx RRAM element.

Granulyte Infusion treatment offered in Mexico to Boost Immune system against Cancer

FightAging - a cancer immune therapy pioneered by Zheng Cui that involves transplanting granulocytes from suitable donors - performed very well indeed in mice, superbly in fact, but only the one anemic human trial is underway in the US. Now the treatment is available in Mexico and has reportedly cured at least one patient. This is part of a trend for medical tourism to circumvent US regulations (slow clinical trials) to get treatment and cures that would people with diseases that have no hope with current approved treatments.



A clinic in Mexico called NCIM that is now offering granulocyte infusion treatment

New NCIM Program Debuts: Treating Cancer with Mismatched Donor Granulocytes and Umbilical Cord Blood Stem Cells

Back during 1999 Wake Forest researcher Zheng Cui, MD, PhD injected mice with an ultra aggressive form of cancer that should have killed all the treated animals. One didn’t contract cancer. Curious as to why, Dr. Cui went about determining what was protecting the resistant mouse and found that the little bugger has white blood cells (granulocytes) that are quick to attack and dispatch cancer cells. More work followed that led Dr. Cui to propose that between 10-15% of people harbor granulocytes that make them resist developing cancer. He also proposed that these cancer-resistant granulocytes could be harvested from donors and given to cancer patients. This idea gathered momentum resulting in a clinical study proposal that was approved by the FDA. However, the Wake Forest study ultimately was withdrawn. More recently the South Florida Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant Institute has received FDA approval to conduct a similar study (but is “enrolling participants by invitation only.”)

Earlier this year we at NCIM approached biomedical theoretician Dr. Anthony G. Payne and asked him for any ideas or suggestions he might have for bettering the lot of a middle-aged male end stage prostate cancer patient. As he had exhausted whatever conventional approaches were available for his particular malignancy this was time for heroic measures. With Dr. Cui's pioneering work in mind Dr. Payne then set to work to develop an experimental protocol that would combine the use of mismatched donor granulocytes from healthy young people with HLA mismatched umbilical cord stem cells from healthy newborns.

DNA-based switchable devices and materials

Nature Asia - Other than carrying the code of life, in the past three decades, DNA has played an important role in weaving two- and even three-dimensional nanostructures by taking advantage of its programmable sequences and precise recognition properties. The highly specific base-pairing interactions of DNA molecules not only allow for the building of static DNA nanostructures, but also enable the construction of machine-like devices capable of responding to external stimuli, such as pH, small molecules, light, electricity, and temperature, thus performing tasks otherwise beyond our reach. This review summarizes DNA-based switchable devices and materials, particularly where the responsiveness of DNA is caused by changes in secondary structures, and more importantly, where such stimuli-responsive processes are reversible. This review covers DNA-based devices and materials from smart surfaces and responsive nanopores/nanochannels to DNA hydrogels, which are expected to be designed with even more intelligence in the future.


Schematic figure of the working cycle of i-motif DNA motors. At acidic pH, strand X folds into the closed i-motif structure. When the pH is raised to 8.0, strand X unfolds and is captured by hybridization to Y to form an extended duplex structure. Adapted from Ref. 19 (© 2003 Wiley-VCH).

IEDM: cognitive science makes use of Phase Change Memory technology

EEtimes - researchers are finding phase-change memory (PCM) technology a good candidate for use as programmable artificial synapses in neuromorphic circuitry because of its great energy efficiency, scaling potential, endurance and reliability.

Researchers from a combination of several European labs led by CEA, Leti and Minatec will report on their search to reduce the high power consumption of large neuromorphic circuits which can be used for complex tasks such as pattern-recognition.

After investigating various phase-change memory devices for use as programmable synapses in an ultra-dense, large-scale neuromorphic system the researchers designed, modeled and simulated a neural network based on a two-PCM-device per synapse structure (four million PCMs in total)


European reforms are not enough, joint liability needed

Economist magazine - the proposed tightening of EU rules will not be enough to solve the problem. The odds of deterring a malfeasant country with fines, however semi-automatic they may appear, are slim. And the flouting of fiscal rules was not the only, or even the main, cause of the problem in the first place. Today’s crisis is less about fiscal profligacy than about investors’ fears for the euro’s sustainability and their flight from peripheral assets. In the short run an obsession with austerity could make matters worse by deepening recession. And without a framework for common financing, investors’ confidence will not return.

Anderson Forecast: U.S. economy mired in slump, but little chance of double-dip recession

The most recent Anderson forecast calls for a 2 percent national growth rate for the current quarter and a sub–2 percent growth rate for most of 2012. Further down the road, GDP is forecasted to exceed 3 percent in 2013 as a number of contractionary forces continue to abate.

Despite the tepid numbers, the current national forecast is actually more optimistic in tone than the preceding forecasts in June and September. In California, the current forecast is for the recent surge in employment to abate while slow growth persists on average through 2012. The rest of the United States, the state's international trading partners and consumer purchases will combine to generate faster growth in 2013.

Robots could transform the agriculture industry

Agriculture is a field where robotics holds particular promise. Agricultural work is often simple but grueling, and the agriculture and horticulture industries are finding it difficult to meet their labor requirements. A startup robotics company called Harvest Automation is developing robots designed specifically for agricultural work. In an interview with Sander Olson, roboticist and Harvest CTO Joe Jones describes behavior-based robotics, the future of robots, and how robotics could become a transformative force in the agriculture and horticulture industries.


Joe Jones


Question: I first interviewed you 10 years ago. How has the field of robotics evolved since then?

The robotics field is considerably larger than it was a decade ago, and there are now several successful commercial companies providing robotic equipment. The robotics industry is more focused than in 2001. Back then, many researchers envisioned creating general-purpose robots. In 2011, we are thinking more in terms of purpose built robots that accomplish a particular task, rather than general purpose robots. I see that as being a positive development.


Question: You originally worked for iRobot on the Roomba robot. How similar are these agrarian robots to Roomba?

Roomba is different in many ways. Roomba was only designed to operate indoors, on flat surfaces, and it had no idea of where it was. It wasn't waterproof, and couldn't affect its environment other than cleaning the floor. By contrast, our Harvest robots have to know where they are, they have to grip and manipulate pots, and they have to be able to operate in a wide variety of terrain and field conditions.


Question: These harvest robots are battery powered. Did you consider using gasoline engines?

We considered it, but ultimately decided against it. These robots are designed for both outdoor and indoor operation. To develop a propane engine for indoor use would have been costly and unnecessary, so we went with batteries. Batteries have improved, and we use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that should give us a 4 hour runtime. Users will simply swap out the depleted batteries and put in fresh ones.


Question: How do these robots navigate?

We wanted to develop a simple sensor system that was robust and low cost. GPS systems that can navigate to within an inch or two are quite expensive, so we developed an alternate approach that involves using boundary markers. This boundary marker is made of a reflective material that robots easily recognize. The robots pick up a plant, move toward the boundary marker, and then follows the boundary marker to determine where to put the plants. The robots only need to position plants a few feet away from the boundary, this limits the amount of dead reckoning robots must do and that, in turn, limits the build up of positioning error. This method is much simpler and less expensive than alternate methods while providing the level of performance and accuracy that we need.

Question: So these robots lack cameras?

They lack cameras, because cameras are poorly suited to working in sunny areas and our robots need to work in open field environments. Cameras don't work well with both very dark objects and bright reflections in the same scene, so we went with a simpler and more robust system. But, with further development we are looking into adding cameras for future models to enhance the functionality of the robots.


Question: Wouldn't radar be useful?

We considered radar as a ranging system, but many of our pots are only 4-8 inches in diameter. The radar "beam" is too broad to work well with narrow objects—it’s lateral resolution wasn’t sufficient.


Question: Each of your robots can discern other robots. Why is this important?

Teammate detection is important because we need the robots to operate at a high level of performance and throughput to meet the needs of growers. Each robot checks to see if there is another robot in the space it wants to traverse. If it discerns a teammate, it waits for the teammate to pass. Currently, the robots, can differentiate between pots, other robots, and obstacles.

Question: And they manipulate pots using a gripper?

Yes, our manipulator has two degrees of freedom, with a simple gripper at one end, for lifting and depositing plants. It is capable of lifting up to 22 pounds. Our robots will be able to move 1-5 gallon size containers which represent the majority of the plants produced by the nursery & greenhouse sector.

Question: What sort of AI do these robots employ?

We use behavior-based programming, and these robots are capable of performing a single task intelligently. Our robots are capable, for instance, of "marking" objects so that it won't attempt to pick up the same wrong object (for example, a sprinkler standpipe) twice. They also can “change their mind” about what to do next based on ongoing changes in the environment.

Question: Could these robots be used to spray plants, or to pick fruit from trees?

We are already working on concepts for robots that spray pesticides and herbicides, as well as performing other critical production tasks, but a commercial version of these machines is several years in the future. Trees are out of reach, no pun intended. Picking fruit is a surprisingly difficult problem.

Question: Potentially how large is this market?

Although I can't provide exact figures, our research has concluded that the Agriculture industry annually spends in excess of $20B on low productivity manual labor that could be addressed by agrarian robots based on our platform. Anyone who has tried to move heavy plants in 90+ degree weather knows that it is grueling work. So it is no surprise that the horticulture industry has great difficulty finding human workers willing to do it. Every year the cost of labor will increase, and every year our robots will become more capable.


Question: How much will these robots cost? Will there be different versions of the robot available?

We are targeting a pricing level that provides the grower with a 12 to 24 month payback on the robots. Finding legal manual labor is a difficult challenge for growers—the costs and uncertainty increase every year. Growers value our robots because they provide a dependable, low-cost solution to the problem of worker scarcity. We have received numerous advanced deposits from growers who want our robots. This is an indication of how much interest there is in our product. We see our current product as the first robot in a line of products that we will develop for the Agriculture industry.

Question: How difficult would it be to modify these robots for various tasks?

It should be fairly easy. With Roomba, there wasn't much that we could do with it outside of cleaning the floor. By contrast, this technology is very adaptable to other tasks that agriculturalists require. The capabilities of our robots will rapidly increase, and we envision them being used for all manner of agricultural tasks that humans don't like doing.


Question: The military and healthcare fields both hold enormous potential for the robotics industry. Why not enter those fields?

When we founded the company back in 2008, it wasn’t pre-determined that our focus would be on providing robotic equipment for Agriculture industry. We initially looked at several potential markets including possible military and healthcare applications, but concluded that the low productivity sectors of the Agriculture industry involving highly repetitive, physical work represented the greatest opportunity for commercial robots in terms of a well-defined need that could be addressed with existing technology.

Question: The Apple Siri software is enormously popular. Why not add voice-recognition capabilities to your robots?

Voice recognition is fun but unnecessary. The primary objective with robotics is getting the robot to perform the task that you require it to perform. Having a user interface that makes it easy to tell the robot to do the job is the subsequent step. We had the opportunity to field test our user interface at grower operations this summer and the response we heard back was overwhelmingly positive. Perhaps this voice-recognition capability will be standard on robots a decade from now, but this is not high value for our product and not my area of specialty.


Question: What will be the first "killer app" for robotics?

There have already been several successful robot products including but not limited to Roomba and the robots that are provided by Kiva Systems. The idea of a “killer app” may be more suited to the software industry, but we believe that Harvest is developing a “game changer” and this is just the first in a line of products that we envision will revolutionize a big part of the Agriculture industry.

Question: What would you recommend to someone thinking of founding a robotics startup company?

The key is to focus on a specific application where there is a defined need. There are quite a few manual operations that could profitably be done by robots today, without any technological breakthroughs. The problem is that the people doing these chores aren't aware of robotics, and the people doing robotics research aren't aware of these tasks. Tremendous opportunities exist for individuals who can connect these two domains.


Question: Will we see the first general-purpose robots emerge within ten years?

Ten years is too soon for general-purpose robots, but there could be dramatic progress within the next decade. I predict that by 2021 we will see all manner of robots that are able to effectively and cost-effectively be able to perform a wide variety of specific tasks. The growth in robotics may not be as fast as the growth in the computer industry, but it will still be quite rapid and the value creation is significant.






















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China and Russia work on floating nuclear power plants and nuclear powered shipping

Russia and China have held their first meeting for cooperation in the development of marine nuclear energy for floating power plants and potentially for propulsion of large ships.

While hundreds of nuclear reactors have been employed in the military navies of China, France, Russia, the UK and USA for decades, only Russia has maintained a fleet of civil nuclear ships: the icebreakers that work the country's Arctic ports and one freighter. Other countries' forays into civil marine nuclear power - the NS Savannah, the Otto Hahn and the Mutsu - did not continue in the long term due to various social, economic or technical factors.

Russia went on to expand its leadership in this area with the adaptation of the KLT-40S small reactor for installation in pairs on a barge. This vessel could be docked in remote places to supply power and heat either to the local population or new industry. The first such floating nuclear power plant, the Akademic Lomonosov, is at an advanced stage of construction at the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard. The barge is completed and afloat, with main power systems already fitted. Eventually it will be maneuvered along rivers and canals to the Arctic sea and towed to the town of Vilyuchinsk on the Pacific coast of Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia's far east. Another is planned for Pevek, on the Arctic coast.


China has looked at nuclear commercial shipping

With high oil costs nuclear commercial shipping makes economic sense and would make the environment a lot cleaner

Brian Ahern talk on Energy Localization and Nanomagnetism as explanation for LENR/Cold Fusion

Here were the 16 pages of slides for the talk that Brian Ahern was going to give at Citi5 until he cancelled.

I had already presented the energy localization part of Brian Ahern's talk, which basically summed up to there is a lot of evidence to support the case that 3-12 nanometer sizes have special properties that amplify the physical effects. If a rope or hose is too long you cannot make it behave like skipping rope with one big wave. If the rope is too long then the energy dies out.

What is added is that magnetism also has amplified effects at the 3 to 12 nanometer size range and that amplified nanomagnetism is interacting to generate the extra energy of what is called cold fusion /LENR (low energy nuclear reactions).


There are peer reviewed papers (in journal Nature and Science) that Ahern cites as showing that other respected researchers have detected and investigated special effects of nanomagnetism at 3 to 12 nanometers.

NewEnergyTimes gets three NASA powerpoint LENR presentations

Newenergytimes obtained three NASA LENR (low energy nuclear reaction) presentations using a freedom of information request

There was the Zawodny slides.

The presentation slides were very similar to a Zawodny presentation that we covered in January of 2011. Joseph Zawodny, NASA Langley Research Center - Energetics, had a presentation at NASA Aviation Unleashed where he looked at low energy nuclear reactions and other possible game changing technologies.

There was new information. There is experimental work being done by NASA.

December 07, 2011

Graphene spun into metre-long fibres

Nature- Nano-sized flakes of graphene oxide can be spun into graphene fibres several metres long, researchers in China have shown. The strong, flexible fibres, which can be tied in knots or woven into conductive mats, could be the key to deploying graphene in real-world devices such as flexible batteries and solar cells.

Improving the graphene fibre’s strength is Gao’s next goal. His first-generation fibres have some structural imperfections, which compromises mechanical performance. “At the moment, the mechanical strength can’t compete with carbon fibres, but we believe that the mechanical properties can be greatly improved.”

However, strength is not necessarily needed if the fibres are to be used primarily for their electrical properties. Hua Zhang, who studies graphene synthesis at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, says that the fibres “will definitely have some applications — maybe for touch panels, for sensors or for functional textiles”.

A graphene oxide fibre measuring four metres long was wound on to this Teflon drum. CHAO GAO


DARPA's factory of the future looks like open source development

Ars Technica - DARPA Adaptive Vehicle Make project may reinvent manufacturing itself, and seed the workforce with a new generation of engineers who can "compile" innovations into new inventions without having to be tied to a manufacturing plant.

The Department of Defence is on a trend that is not far off from a tongue-in-cheek statement made by former Lockheed Martin president Norman Augustine—one of "Augustine's Laws"—that by 2054, the entire defense budget will purchase one aircraft.

Adaptive Vehicle Mak seeks to reduce the "product cycle" of defense systems from an average of almost 10 years down to two years—similar to the design cycle for new integrated circuits. To do that, DARPA is funding the development of software tools, called META, that will allow engineers to design, prototype and test systems collaboratively before they are ever built.

Assembly of hybrid photonic architectures from nanophotonic constituents

Nature - The assembly of hybrid nanophotonic devices from different fundamental photonic entities—such as single molecules, nanocrystals, semiconductor quantum dots, nanowires and metal nanoparticles—can yield functionalities that exceed those of the individual subunits. Combining these photonic elements requires nanometre-scale fabrication precision and potentially involves a material diversity that is incompatible with standard nanotechnological processes. Although merging these different systems on a single hybrid platform is at present challenging, it promises improved performance and novel devices. Particularly rapid progress is seen in the combination of plasmonic–dielectric constituents with quantum emitters that can be assembled on demand into fundamental model systems for future optical elements.


Nanophotonic functional elements.

China is moving urgently to IPv6 and has the second largest Venture Capital Market

NY Times - “China must move to IPv6,” Dr. Wu said. “In the U.S., some people don’t believe it’s urgent, but we believe it’s urgent.” IPv6 — Internet Protocol version 6 — offers advanced security and privacy options, but more important, many more I.P. addresses, whose supply on the present Internet (IPv4) is almost exhausted. China already has almost twice the number of Internet users as in the United States, and Dr. Wu, a computer scientist and director of the Chinese Educational and Research Network, points out that his nation is moving more quickly than any other in the world to deploy the new protocol.

China is now the world’s second-largest venture capital market, growing to $7.6 billion from just $2.2 billion in 2005, while the American venture capital market has remained largely stagnant

Two Explanations of China's Economic Growth

1. Forbes - How China's Economy Keeps Growing

Frank Newman is probably the only American to ever run a Chinese bank and a large American bank in his career. Newman ran the Shenzhen Development Bank for five years, ending in 2010. Prior to that, he worked as a CFO at Bank of America and was a former CEO at Bankers Trust. I spoke with him recently about Chinese banking, the real estate bubble and his new book “Six Myths That Hold Back America: What America Can Learn From The Chinese Economy.”

The banks in China are in far better shape than the people outside the country realize. Non-performing loans at Shenzhen Development Bank when I got there were around 20% of our loan portfolio and when I left they were just 0.5%. We didn’t take on a lot of commercial real estate risk, and I am sure that a lot of banks will see their non-performing loans (NPL) rise because of that risk. No one knows for sure the NPLs in China, but from my point of view, whenever problems arise in China, the government has been able to move quickly. That’s not a comment on the country’s politics. It’s just how the economy works. A lot of people don’t realize that fully.

Researchers find best routes to self-assembling 3-D shapes

Researchers at Brown and Johns Hopkins universities have found optimal configurations for creating 3-D geometric shapes — like tiny, highly simplified geodesic domes that assemble by themselves. The Brown team developed the algorithmic tools, and the Johns Hopkins team tested selected configurations. The research may lead to advances from drug-delivery containers to 3-D sensors and electronic circuits.


2-D nets for 3-D shapes A few of the 2.3 million possible 2-D designs — planar nets — for a truncated octahedron (right column). The question is: Which net is best to make a self-assembling shape at the nanoscale? Credit: Shivendra Pandey/Gracias Lab, Johns Hopkins University

PNAS - Algorithmic design of self-folding polyhedra

New Study Says Carbon Capture will not be cost-effective for the foreseeable future

Numerous studies have shown that the cost of removing one substance from a mixture depends on its initial concentration, so the much lower concentration of CO2 in outside air makes its removal from air much more costly than from exhaust gases. After a detailed comparison, the MIT-led team concluded that the cost of such removal is likely to be more than $1,000 per ton of CO2 avoided, compared to $50 to $100 per ton for current powerplant scrubbers.

It turns out that “many of those advocating air-capture deployment and research are really lowballing the cost,” Herzog says. When the underlying chemistry and mechanics are analyzed, their numbers don’t hold up, he says. Compared with removing carbon dioxide from the emissions at a powerplant — technology that exists and can be measured — removing it from the outside air means processing about 300 times more air per ton of CO2 removed, because that’s the difference in CO2 concentration.

UN Recommended Actions against Soot, Methane and Ozone could save 2.5 million lives per year

Nextbigfuture has indicated the benefits and need to act against black carbon (ie Soot)

Download Report: Actions for Controlling Short-Term Climate Forcers (36 pages)

Cost-Effective Actions to Cut Black Carbon, Methane and Tropospheric Ozone Spotlighted in New Report

A package of 16 measures could, if fully implemented across the globe, save close to 2.5 million lives a year; avoid crop losses amounting to 32 million tonnes annually and deliver near-term climate protection of about half a degree C by 2040.

The report estimates that implementing these measures would help keep a global temperature rise below the 2 degrees C target, at least until mid-century.

The measures, outlined in a new report compiled by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) with an international team of experts, target short-lived climate forcers (SLCFs)—black carbon which is a major component of soot, methane and tropospheric ozone.

The report, funded by the Government of Sweden, estimates that around half of the black carbon and methane emission reductions can be achieved through measures that result in cost savings over the lifetime of the investment.

This is because some of the measures—such as recovering rather than emitting natural gas during oil production—allow the methane to be harvested as a clean source of fuel.

Cutting black carbon emissions by, for example, replacing inefficient cookstoves and traditional brick kilns with more efficient ones, also cuts fuel costs for households and kiln operators.

Bridging the Carbon Dioxide Emissions Gap of 6 to 12 billion tons of CO2 per year by 2020

A United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report last month calculated that the existing pledges would result in emissions of 50-55 billion tonnes in 2020, compared with a level of 44 billion tonnes needed to meet the 2 degrees Celsius target.

Emissions Gap Report download

The emissions gap by 2020 which, as a result of improved modeling from last year's assessment, is now estimated, under the most optimistic scenarios, to be 6 GtCO2e rather than 5 Gt of GtCO2e. The report also outlines far more pessimistic scenarios, if the commitments and pledges of developed countries, including levels of financing amounting to $100 billion a year by 2020, and the intentions of developing ones are not fully realized-the gap then, by 2020, could be 11 GtCO2e. Under business-as-usual conditions, it could even be 12 GtCO2e.

The report cites aviation and shipping as a special but important case, as currently these 'international emissions' fall outside the Kyoto Protocol-the emission reduction treaty.

Together they account for around five per cent of C02 emissions and could account for up to 2.5 Gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e) annually, by 2020.

Steroids Reduce Mortality by 33 Per Cent in Preemie Babies as Young as 22 Weeks at a cost of $50

With chubby cheeks and weighing in at a healthy 10 pounds, the imminently huggable Lexi Morrison is far removed from the 1-pound, 9 –ounce preemie she was in June when she was born premature at 24 weeks.

Giving antenatal corticosteroids in extremely preterm infants like Lexi — those born between 22 and 25 weeks gestation and weighing less than 2 pounds — is associated with significant reductions in death and long-term complications such as neurodevelopmental impairments, including cerebral palsy, poor motor skills and lower intelligence, according to research by Wally Carlo, M.D., director of the UAB Division of Neonatology, published in the Dec. 7, 2011, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Uranium Mining Company Cameco Discusses Possible Uranium Shortfall and Higher Prices

Cameco Corp. (CCO), the world’s largest uranium producer, said some investors underestimate the potential for supply shortfalls to spur higher prices for the nuclear fuel. Disruptions in mine production, the difficulty faced by development companies in raising funds for new mining projects, and the end of a Russian deal to supply uranium from scrapped atomic warheads may help create a supply deficit, Chief Executive Officer Tim Gitzel said in an interview.

Cameco, which is based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, in August cut its full-year global uranium demand estimate to 175 million pounds (79,400 metric tons) from 180 million pounds.

Higgs at 125-126 GeV ? So far 3.5 Sigma

Vixra log - suggests that a signal for the Higgs boson has been seen at 125 GeV

Not Even Wrong - This morning’s rumors are a 3.5 sigma 126 GeV excess at ATLAS in the ATLAS-only combination, and 2.5 sigma at 124 GeV for CMS. Heuer’s message to all CERN personnel says the December 13 announcements will be “significant progress in the search for the Higgs boson, but not enough to make any conclusive statement on the existence or non-existence of the Higgs.” Presumably they’re waiting for 5 sigma before claiming conclusive proof.

New '3-D' transistors promising future chips, lighter laptops

Researchers from Purdue and Harvard universities have created a new type of transistor made from a material that could replace silicon and have a 3-D structure instead of conventional flat computer chips.

The approach could enable engineers to build faster, more compact and efficient integrated circuits and lighter laptops that generate less heat than today's. The transistors contain tiny nanowires made not of silicon, like conventional transistors, but from a material called indium-gallium-arsenide.

The device was created using a so-called "top-down" method, which is akin to industrial processes to precisely etch and position components in transistors. Because the approach is compatible with conventional manufacturing processes, it is promising for adoption by industry, said Peide "Peter" Ye, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue.

Researchers develop one of the world’s smallest electronic circuits

A team of scientists, led by Guillaume Gervais from McGill’s Physics Department and Mike Lilly from Sandia National Laboratories, has engineered one of the world's smallest electronic circuits. It is formed by two wires separated by only about 150 atoms or 15 nanometers (nm). This discovery, published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, could have a significant effect on the speed and power of the ever smaller integrated circuits of the future in everything from smartphones to desktop computers, televisions and GPS systems.

Nature Nanotechnology - Positive and negative Coulomb drag in vertically integrated one-dimensional quantum wires

NASA's Kepler Mission Confirms Its First Planet in Habitable Zone of Sun-like Star

NASA's Kepler mission has confirmed its first planet in the "habitable zone," the region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface. Kepler also has discovered more than 1,000 new planet candidates, nearly doubling its previously known count. Ten of these candidates are near-Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of their host star. Candidates require follow-up observations to verify they are actual planets.

The newly confirmed planet, Kepler-22b, is the smallest yet found to orbit in the middle of the habitable zone of a star similar to our sun. The planet is about 2.4 times the radius of Earth. Scientists don't yet know if Kepler-22b has a predominantly rocky, gaseous or liquid composition, but its discovery is a step closer to finding Earth-like planets.

This diagram compares our own solar system to Kepler-22, a star system containing the first "habitable zone" planet discovered by NASA's Kepler mission. Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech

Germany, France begin to scale back ambitions of summit

German and French officials lowered expectations Wednesday for a deal to save the euro during this week's European summit, deflating investors' optimism about a broad resolution of Europe's debt crisis.

Instead of a new treaty among the 27 members of the European Union, a French official suggested a more likely outcome will be an accord by the 17 nations that use the euro. And a German official said reaching a deal might take until Christmas.

Two ten-billion-solar-mass black holes at the centres of giant elliptical galaxies

Nature - Observational work conducted over the past few decades indicates that all massive galaxies have supermassive black holes at their centres. Although the luminosities and brightness fluctuations of quasars in the early Universe suggest that some were powered by black holes with masses greater than 10 billion solar masses the remnants of these objects have not been found in the nearby Universe. The giant elliptical galaxy Messier 87 hosts the hitherto most massive known black hole, which has a mass of 6.3 billion solar masses. Here we report that NGC 3842, the brightest galaxy in a cluster at a distance from Earth of 98 megaparsecs, has a central black hole with a mass of 9.7 billion solar masses, and that a black hole of comparable or greater mass is present in NGC 4889, the brightest galaxy in the Coma cluster (at a distance of 103 megaparsecs). These two black holes are significantly more massive than predicted by linearly extrapolating the widely used correlations between black-hole mass and the stellar velocity dispersion or bulge luminosity of the host galaxy. Although these correlations remain useful for predicting black-hole masses in less massive elliptical galaxies, our measurements suggest that different evolutionary processes influence the growth of the largest galaxies and their black holes.

Nuclear power to become foundation of China's Electrical system

China will make nuclear energy the foundation of its power-generation system in the next 10 to 20 years, said a senior official

China will increase generation capacity by 2 billion kilowatts (kW) (2000 GW) during that period, with as much as 300 million kW (300 GW) coming from nuclear power, said Shi Lishan, deputy director of the National Energy Administration's new-energy and renewable energy department.

China will spend about 800 billion yuan ($125 billion) annually in the next 10 to 20 years.

Research and development into making equipment for nuclear generation, the high costs of nuclear plants will decrease to between 15,000 and 20,000 yuan a kW.

Bill Gates in talks with China National Nuclear Corporation for Terrapower nuclear reactor

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates confirmed Wednesday he is in discussions with China to jointly develop a new and safer kind of nuclear reactor.

UPDATE - MIT Technology Review - Terrapower says that it is just having discussions with China. It's also talking to other countries, as well as with two research centers in India. "We are sharing information on the [traveling wave reactor] with a variety of research, supply and manufacturing organizations, but there are no deals to speak to at this time," John Gilleland, TerraPower's C.E.O. said in a statement today.

The idea is to be very low cost, very safe and generate very little waste," said the billionaire during a talk at China's Ministry of Science and Technology.

Gates has largely funded a Washington state-based company, TerraPower, that is developing a Generation IV nuclear reactor that can run on depleted uranium.

The general manager of state-owned China National Nuclear Corporation, Sun Qin, was quoted in Chinese media last week saying Gates was working with it to research and develop a reactor.

"TerraPower is having very good discussions with CNNC and various people in the Chinese government," said Gates, cautioning that they were at an early stage.

Gates says perhaps as much as a billion dollars will be put into research and development over the next five years.


Tube-shaped traps carved from bottle-brush molecules could be used to capture and purify nanomaterials, proteins

Using clever but elegant design, University at Buffalo chemists have synthesized tiny, molecular cages that can be used to capture and purify nanomaterials.

Sculpted from a special kind of molecule called a "bottle-brush molecule," the traps consist of tiny, organic tubes whose interior walls carry a negative charge. This feature enables the tubes to selectively encapsulate only positively charged particles.


An illustrated cross-section of a nanotube UB chemists created. The green structures are negatively charged carboxylic acid groups, which help trap positively charged particles.

December 06, 2011

Video of Drexler talk on Exploring a Timeless Landscape: Physical Law and the Future of Nanotechnology

Speaking at the inaugural public lecture of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology, Dr Eric Drexler said there is a compelling case for the viability of atomically precise manufacturing. This is the process of building structures, tools and machines starting at the molecular level, with atomic precision, to address challenges such as rising greenhouse gases and energy production for our growing population. (H/T Foresight)

A methodology grounded in physics and engineering can answer a limited yet illuminating range of questions about the potential of physical technology. This line of inquiry leads to a crucial question: What can physics tell us about the potential of advanced nanotechnologies? Well-established physical principles show that this potential embraces productive nanotechnologies that have the potential to transform the material basis of civilization. This prospect calls for re-evaluating both research opportunities and broader choices with consequences for the human future.

Eric demonstrated the power of atomically precise manufacturing, using the fabrication processes of ribosomes as an example. We are only beginning to be able to manufacture at this level, but, he argued,but, a physics-based analysis shows that the possibilities offered by nanomanufacturing could be immense: desktop computers with 1 billion processors or materials 100 times stronger than steel.

Pathetic US Nuclear Regulatory Agency Slow Processing of Standard License Renewals

Limited staffing at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission may slow the agency in renewing licenses for existing nuclear power plants, the agency’s chairman said. The NRC has over $1 billion per year in budget and over 3000 staff (charts below). Not only is the US not competing with China in building new reactors but the paperwork of its regulations continues to slow it down from even basic operations. The NRC also collects $200 an hour from utilities to cover the costs of license reviews.

“There are resource limitations,” Gregory Jaczko said today at a meeting with reporters at NRC headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. It may take a bit longer to get through the license renewal reviews, he said.

Reactor owners such as Entergy Corp. (ETR) of New Orleans are seeking operating-license extensions for some of the 104 U.S. commercial nuclear generating units. Entergy’s Indian Point plant, about 24 miles (39 kilometers) north of New York City, has two units with licenses expiring in 2013 and 2015.

Jaczko didn’t say that licenses are in danger of expiring as the commission reviews their applications. The agency has renewal applications pending for 14 reactors, according to the NRC website

This site has noted how the NRC has failed to authorize any new reactor designs that were not a variant of existing approved designs since it was created in 1974

A previous claimed "big success" by the head of the NRC is being able to handle regular maintenance applications 90% of the time within 1 year.


First Molybdenite Microchip

Molybdenite, a new and very promising material, can surpass the physical limits of silicon. EPFL scientists have proven this by making the first molybdenite microchip, with smaller and more energy efficient transistors.

“We have built an initial prototype, putting from two to six serial transistors in place, and shown that basic binary logic operations were possible, which proves that we can make a larger chip,” explains LANES director Andras Kis, who recently published two articles on the subject in the scientific journal ACS Nano.

Three atoms thick

“The main advantage of MoS2 is that it allows us to reduce the size of transistors, and thus to further miniaturize them,” explains Kis. It has not been possible up to this point to make layers of silicon less than two nanometers thick, because of the risk of initiating a chemical reaction that would oxidize the surface and compromise its electronic properties. Molybdenite, on the other hand, can be worked in layers only three atoms thick, making it possible to build chips that are at least three times smaller. At this scale, the material is still very stable and conduction is easy to control.

ACS Nano - Ripples and Layers in Ultrathin MoS2 Membranes

ACS Nano- Integrated Circuits and Logic Operations Based on Single-Layer MoS2

Brian Ahern Will Not Be Presenting on December 7, 2011 but here is some of his Cold Fusion Information

Previously it was announced that Brian Ahern would give a presentation that would describe his theories about the basis for Cold fusion / Low energy nuclear reactions. However, I understand that he will not be presenting.

Here is some information that describe the foundation of Brian Ahern's theories for Cold fusion - low energy nuclear reactions.

Brian Ahern has a patent on Amplification of Energetic Reactions.

A method includes amplifying an energy release from a dispersion of nanoparticles containing a concentration of hydrogen/deuterium nuclei, the nanoparticles suspended in a dielectric medium in a presence of hydrogen/deuterium gas, wherein an energy input is provided by high voltage pulses between two electrodes embedded in the dispersion of nanoparticles.

Amplifying an energy release from a dispersion of nanoparticles containing a concentration of hydrogen/deuterium nuclei, the nanoparticles suspended in a dielectric medium in a presence of hydrogen/deuterium gas, wherein an energy input is provided by high voltage pulses between two electrodes embedded in the dispersion of nanoparticles.

The medium for amplification of energy is hydrated/deuterated nanoparticles are of a dimension between 3-20 nanometers (nm) and suspended in macroscopic particles of a dielectric composition.

High voltage pulses used are between 150-15,000 volts.

Brian Ahern gave a presentation at the 2011 Lattice-Assisted Nuclear Reactions/Cold Fusion Colloquium at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts) was held on Saturday, June 11 and Sunday, June 12, 2011
Amplification effects for countable nanoparticles in the 3 to 12 nanometer range can also be seen with larger beads as shown above. The effect is similar to putting energy into a hose or rope to get a section of it to move with more energy like for a jump rope.

IEDM ponders radically different computers

The International Electron Devices Meeting is an annual conference in which the world's foremost device researchers describe a variety of conventional and unconventional transistor paradigms. The semiconductor industry is starting to mass produce 22 nanometer transistors, and should begin volume production of 14 nanometer microchips by 2014. The 2011 IEDM focused both on continuing CMOS scaling down to 5 nm gate lengths as well as a host of potential post-CMOS technologies. Researchers from Purdue, MIT, and Berkeley presented a paper on Ultimate Device Scaling and concluded that:

"Despite Multiple Leakage Paths, non-planar devices with a multi-gate architecture and an extremely narrow cross-section can be expected to still work as good switches, even with a 5 nm gate length, provided that they exhibit a large enough band gap and transport effective mass and that their gate contact can modulate the electrostatic potential of the source and drain extensions to effectively increase the gate length."

Below 10 nm, however, the viability of CMOS technology is unclear, and a variety of substitutes are being examined. In particular, graphene has emerged as the candidate with the highest likelihood of displacing silicon CMOS. Switching speeds as high as 155 GHz have been reported, and 200 mm wafers have been fabricated. However, the lack of a bandgap for graphene means that graphene is currently unsuitable for digital applications. Researchers are also making progress on using carbon nanotube transistors, and are implanting them on silicon wafers. Stanford researchers reported their progress making digital circuits, claiming that "the building blocks required for an elementary computing system have been demonstrated using CNFETs." These researchers noted that CNFETs at the 11nm node should outperform their silicon counterparts in speed and power consumption. Papers were also given on high mobility "gate all around" nanowire devices, which have been experimentally demonstrated and which could prove to be the optimal device for ultimately miniaturized logic switches. Researchers have even fabricated Indium gallium arsenide nanowires with wraparound gates. Although the era of planar silicon CMOS devices may soon be ending, a plethora of options exist to continue Moore's law for at least the next decade.








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Ink Jet Printed Carbon Nanotube Electronics could enable cheap roll to roll printing of OLED 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.

"This is the first practical demonstration of carbon nanotube–based printed circuits for display backplane applications," said Kos Galatsis, an associate adjunct professor of materials science at UCLA Engineering and a co-founder of Aneeve. "We have demonstrated carbon nanotubes' viable candidacy as a competing technology alongside amorphous silicon and metal-oxide semiconductor solution as a low-cost and scalable backplane option."

This distinct process utilizes an ink-jet printing method that eliminates the need for expensive vacuum equipment and lends itself to scalable manufacturing and roll-to-roll printing. The team solved many material integration problems, developed new cleaning processes and created new methods for negotiating nano-based ink solutions.

For active-matrix OLED applications, the printed carbon nanotube transistors will be fully integrated with OLED arrays, the researchers said. The encapsulation technology developed for OLEDs will also keep the carbon nanotube transistors well protected, as the organics in OLEDs are very sensitive to oxygen and moisture.

This is a follow up of a report of the scientific work, with an emphasis on the possibility for a price and manufacturing process breakthrough.

Joe Eck at Superconductors.org claims Room Temperature Superconductor

Joe Eck is a private researcher who has been working for many years on superconducting materials. Some researchers in Iran, Thailand and Columbia seem to have plagiarized some of Joe's earlier work in publishing into some peer reviewed journals. It does suggest that Joe's work is of high quality. I definitely think it would be worthwhile for others to follow up and try to replicate the work and purify samples. Joe has filed a provisional patent application for a room-temperature superconductor.

The hallmark of superconductivity is a sudden resistance drop to zero ohms and strong diamagnetism (the Meissner effect) near the same temperature. In numerous tests a small amount of the compound (Tl5Pb2)Ba2Mg2Cu9O17+ consistently produced sharp resistive transitions near 28.5 Celsius (see above graphics), and diamagnetic transitions also near 28.5C (below). The transitions were unambiguous, repeatable, and at ambient pressure, making this the first observation of true room-temperature superconductivity in a copper-oxide. Unfortunately, like the 18C superconductor discovered in March 2011, these transitions occurred in a noisy environment, suggesting the volume fraction is very low. As such, any plans for immediate commercialization will have to wait for a refining method to be developed.


Intel and the future of computing

The 2011 International Electron Device Meeting is held annually to describe the state of the art in transistors and switching circuits. This year's Washington meeting is exploring a variety of options for continuing Moore's law for as long as is feasible. The keynote speaker, Intel Senior Fellow Mark Bohr, noted that traditional scaling ran out of steam in the early 2000s, and that the semiconductor has had to repeatedly come up with innovations in order to keep semiconductor scaling viable. At the 90nm node, Intel introduced Strained silicon, and 45 nm microchips featured high-k metal gates. The 22 nm generation, which is now in volume production at Intel, is made using tri-gate transistors. Intel is particularly proud of the tri-gate advance because tri-gate transistors require less doping, leading to better performance, reduced leakage, and less transistor variation. Intel is confident that these tri-gate transistors, which can be used in everything from mobile devices to supercomputers, will give it a competitive advantage over competitors using conventional planar transistor technology,.

These innovations have served to substantially reduce leakage, and have allowed Intel to envision producing .7 volt microchips. For the 14 nm generation and beyond, Intel is examining a number of approaches, including III-V compounds such as gallium arsenide and indium phosphide. These compounds have significantly greater mobility than silicon, but could increase manufacturing costs. Other options that Intel is exploring include "wraparound" nanowire devices, tunneling FETs, 3-d chip stacking, and graphene FETs. Graphene transistors have extremely high switching speeds, but have no bandgap. Unless ways are found to give graphene a bandgap, graphene will not be suitable for digital devices. Whatever options are introduced, Bohr made it clear that Intel is now more focused on switching efficiency and power per watt than raw switching speed. In 1996, Intel CEO Andy Grove made a prediction that in 2011 microprocessors would operate at 10 GHz. Given the industry preoccupation with leakage/power issues, such a microprocessor may never see the light of day.





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December 05, 2011

Blueseed Seastead funded by Peter Thiel

Blueseed a seasteading company is getting a funding round led by Peter Thiel

Venture beat talks about the seed round and other details about Blueseed


The Economist covers seasteading and Blueseed and other companies.

A breakaway group from TSI (The Seastead Institute) is working on a simpler and cheaper idea called Blueseed. The idea is to convert a cruise liner into an offshore “incubator” for small, high-tech start-ups and position it just outside American territorial waters off California. The attraction for the start-ups is that they would be able to hire foreign engineers and scientists without the hassle of getting work visas for them.

Dario Mutabdzija of Blueseed says chartering and adapting a cruise ship should cost $15m-50m, depending on its size, and the combined rent for a tenant’s living quarters and office space might be around $2,000 a month, comparable with costs in Silicon Valley.

There is a 328' ice classed expedition cruise ship with proven polar capabilities for sale for about $2.9 million. The vessel has a comfortable layout with attractive accommodations for up to about 230 passengers plus up to 70 crew. The vessel is in Class with current certificates and is in fully operational condition. It is equipped and set up to be able to do polar cruises in both the Arctic and Antarctica.

Industrial-Sized Rooftop Fish Farm and garden Planned for Berlin to prove sustainable urban agriculture

The Frisch vom Dach, or Fresh from the Roof project, plans to create a 7,000-square-meter (1.73 acre) roof garden, complete with a fish farm, to provide Berliners with sustainable, locally-grown food. They hope to sow the seeds of a new form of urban agriculture, arguing that traditional farming needs to evolve -- and soon.

In 2013 they plan to harvest lettuce, herbs and tomatoes, as well as raising different species of fish from the roof of a former malt factory in Berlin's Schöneberg district. Once their unorthodox farm is established, they expect to produce tons of vegetables and fish each month.

Key to their plans are a row of massive vats near the top of the rambling factory. Formerly used to dry barley, they want to repurpose the containers as a fish farm.



Metamaterials could amplify Casimir effect by 100 billion times

Technology Review blog looks at an Arxiv paper on metamaterials on the Casimir force

Nextbigfuture looked at the Huge Casimir effect at finite temperature in electromagnetic Rindler space paper seven weeks ago.

In a particular kind of electromagnetic space called a Rindler space, the Casimir effect is huge. The essential idea here is that the space can be designed to allow only certain wavelengths to operate. If the electromagnetic properties of the Rindler space are matched to the ambient temperature, then these kinds of thermal waves can be made to dominate the Casimir energy.

That makes the Casimir energy huge. Zhao and Miao calculate that in a lab at 300K (room temperature), the Casimir energy would be some 100 billion times bigger than the free space value. That's a significant difference that ought to make these effects accessible in an entirely new way to a much broader audience.

Zhao and Miao also say that this kind of material ought to be relatively straightforward to build, layer by layer.

Carnival of Space 226

Carnival of Space 226 is up at Dear Astronomer

Nicole Gugliucci at Discovery News writes about how Astronomers can make very precise measurements of a black hole’s mass and size, using an array of techniques that span the electromagnetic spectrum.

A group led by Jerome Orosz of San Diego State University used data from optical and ultraviolet telescopes to determine the orbital velocity of the blue star around its black hole companion. From this, and knowing the distance, the astronomers found the star to be 19 times the mass of the sun and the black hole to be 15 times the mass of the sun.

Having measured both the mass and the radius, the scientists determined the black hole to be rapidly spinning and thus complete the physical description of Cygnus X-1, 47 years after its discovery with an X-ray detector onboard a rocket, and 39 years after it was determined to be a candidate for this mysterious thing called a "black hole."

The scientific papers don't make a big deal out of the value of the radius, or physical size, of the black hole. Though it is typical for a black hole, it is still a bit mind-blowing that almost 15 times the mass of the sun can be compacted into something 44 kilometers, or 27 miles, across. That's just the size of an asteroid


Schematic of the black hole and its accretion disk, from Gou et al. The ISCO is the innermost stable circular orbit and goes up to the edge of the gray ellipse that represents the edge of a Kerr black hole. "kT" refers to the energy of the X-ray photons emitted from either the disk or surrounding stellar material.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 81

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 81 is up at Idaho Samizdat

ANS Nuclear cafe compares renewable energy loan guarantees with nuclear loan guarantees.

For nuclear project loan guarantees, the government requires that the utility pay a large sum of cash, up front, to the government. This cash payment (the “credit subsidy fee”) is essentially an insurance premium, which compensates the government for the risk of loan default. It is somewhat analogous to mortgage insurance that some homeowners pay. The amount of the cash payment is determined, on a project-specific basis, by the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The required amount can vary significantly for different projects, based on various market factors like whether they are in a merchant or regulated market, if they have a long term power purchase agreement, etc.


Kinect for Xbox 360 brings voice control to TV and living room entertainment

Kinect for Xbox 360 brings voice control to living room entertainment with update that launches Dec. 6. 57 million people worldwide already have an xbox 360 that’s about to be upgraded for free.

Kinect for Xbox 360 revolutionized controller-free entertainment by letting you use your body and voice to play your favorite games and entertainment, turning you into the controller. The power of Kinect combined with the intelligence of Bing search is turning your voice into the ultimate remote control. With Bing on Xbox, you can use your voice to effortlessly find the games, movies, TV shows and music you want and discover the best offerings on Xbox LIVE, by simply saying what you’re searching for. You say it, Xbox finds it. Beginning tomorrow and over the coming weeks, Bing on Xbox voice search will initially be available in English in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. for Zune video, Xbox LIVE Marketplace and select content partners. For those who do not have a Kinect for Xbox 360, text search will be available in Xbox LIVE markets.

Sony Move and camera synchronization gives the illusion of a holodeck

Sony has funded a series of movies where a guy's room totally change into the movie he is watching. No SFX, no post production, no cuts, everything you see here is 100% for real.

They made a series of movie related videos using 'Immersive Imaging' which takes 3D projection mapping as its starting point, but gives the viewer a supercharged experience with the help of the PlayStation Move controller.

In the past, projection mapping worked only from a single, static view point, and thus was very limited. By attaching the PlayStation Move to the camera, we can track projections to screens in real time, enhancing the effect of spatial deformation and false perspective on the projections and allowing viewers to look round (virtual) corners, bend walls, create a hole in the wall, or remove the walls altogether to reveal vast expanses of virtual worlds.

Protein Electronics devices could be on the market within ten years

Nature Asia Materials - Biological materials: Protein electronics

Similar proteins demonstrate different charge transport characteristics offering a route to biological electronic devices.

Long-range electron transfer in proteins is an important biological process, driving functions such as cellular respiration. If the charge transport properties of these biological materials can be fully understood and controlled, opportunities open up for cheap, flexible, biocompatible electronics. Yuichi Tokita and colleagues from Sony and Nagoya University in Japan have now revealed the electronic properties of two structurally similar proteins that take part in charge transport in cellular membranes.

Zinc-substituted cytochrome b562 (right) immobilized on a gold electrode acts as an n-type photodiode, whereas zinc-cytochrome c (left) acts as a p-type photoconductor.© 2011 Wiley-VCH