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January 21, 2012

Gingrich wins Republican South Carolina Primary

Gingrich won the South Carolina primary


Gingrich 40%
Romney 27%
Santorum 18%
Ron Paul 13%
Cain/Colbert 1%

Let us suppose that nationally Romney has 30-40% support and Ron Paul 20%, then Gingrich and Romney cannot get to a majority. it then goes to a brokered convention. This would open up the choices. Romney would still be favored because Gingrich has so many enemies. One of the other Republicans could also steal it at a convention.

Twenty predictions for 100 years from readers of the BBC News

BBC News - Last week BBC News asked readers for their predictions of life in 100 years time. Inspired by ten 100-year predictions made by American civil engineer John Elfreth Watkins in 1900, many readers wrote in with their vision of the world in 2112.

I will review those predictions. A common problem to many of the predictions is that most not properly qualified. Without proper qualification and context it becomes nearly impossible to judge whether the predictions will be correct or not. Several predictions are saying the majority of people will choose to make societal changes to foundational institutions like marriage which people have shown consistent strong resistance to any minor alterations.

I will update and finish thus review later.

BBC Reader Prediction 1. Oceans will be extensively farmed and not just for fish (Jim 300)

Seaweed farming has began in Japan as early as 1670 In 1997 it was estimated that 40,000 people in the Philippines made their living through seaweed farming. Cultivation is also common in all of southeast Asia, Canada, Great Britain, Spain, and the United States.

Seaweed production in Indonesia alone should be over 10 million tons in 2010

State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2010 (88 pages) 15.8 million tons of aquatic plants were produced in 2008.

Shrimp farming is already over 1.6 million tons per year The growth rate of worldwide aquaculture has been sustained and rapid, averaging about 8 percent per annum for over thirty years, while the take from wild fisheries has been essentially flat for the last decade. The aquaculture market reached $86 billion in 2009. Aquaculture is at about 55 million tons. It is mostly fish and 20 million tons of it is marine (ocean farming versus inland water farming).

For this prediction to be meaningful, there has to be some quantification.

World production of seaweed will exceed the production of corn. This would address food production and being more important for biofuel.

World production of ocean products will exceed land based agriculture and biofuel.

These are both quantifiable and take out the scenario where biofuels get wiped out by say some kind of cold fusion.

Reviewing Predictions of the year 2000 made in 1900 - Part 3 of 3

John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. made 29 predictions in 1900 of what may happen in the next 100 years. Here we will review what was right, what was too optimistic and what was too pessimistic.

Prediction #20: Coal will not be used for heating or cooking. It will be scarce, but not entirely exhausted. The earth’s hard coal will last until the year 2050 or 2100; its soft-coal mines until 2200 or 2300. Meanwhile both kinds of coal will have become more and more expensive. Man will have found electricity manufactured by waterpower to be much cheaper. Every river or creek with any suitable fall will be equipped with water-motors, turning dynamos, making electricity. Along the seacoast will be numerous reservoirs continually filled by waves and tides washing in. Out of these the water will be constantly falling over revolving wheels. All of our restless waters, fresh and salt, will thus be harnessed to do the work which Niagara is doing today: making electricity for heat, light and fuel.

Wrong Caol is used for half of the world electricity. Coal use has increased to nearly 7 billion tons per year. Coal is still used for cooking in most of the developing world. Hydro power is used but it is one fourth of the power generated from coal.

Prediction #21: Hot and Cold Air from Spigots. Hot or cold air will be turned on from spigots to regulate the temperature of a house as we now turn on hot or cold water from spigots to regulate the temperature of the bath. Central plants will supply this cool air and heat to city houses in the same way as now our gas or electricity is furnished. Rising early to build the furnace fire will be a task of the olden times. Homes will have no chimneys, because no smoke will be created within their walls.

Mostly Right There is central air conditioning. Homes still have chimneys.

January 20, 2012

ZTE and Huawei are pushing android phone pricing to new lows

Forbes - Chinese cellphone makers ZTE and Huawei are heading to dominate the global low and mid end android smartphone markets. Several of the models and particularly the ZTE Blade (which Orange named “San Francisco”) became bestsellers by pushing smartphone pricing to new lows.

The Huawei Blaze is now selling for 60 pounds (US$93) without contract – and it features a 3 MP camera and a 3.2 inch display. It’s only 11 mm thick; a far cry from the chunky low-end smartphones consumers are used to.

ZTE is now targeting 80 Million handset volume in 2012 – and 100% smartphone volume growth. ZTE Blade became the second-best selling W-CDMA phone in China last summer and is now cruising towards 10 million units sold globally. The ZTE Skate is off to an even faster start. And ZTE is actually behind Huawei in China – these two combined are likely to hit 25% share of China’s handset market by summer.

ZTE Blade on wikipedia

IBM plans to push Watson to finance and medical markets

IBM has revealed more of its plans to turn its Watson supercomputing platform into a viable business offering, outlining several of the industries where it believes it can find a market for the system.

Manoj Saxena, IBM's general manager for Watson, explained that the firm is set to target industries that generate and collect huge volumes of data as its core markets for the tool, including finance, telecoms and healthcare.

IBM will use Watson to go after the Big Data markets. The Watson version that won the TV Show Jeopardy can analyze 200 million documents in three seconds.

Terahertz-Rays Technology Could Help Develop Star Trek-Style Hand-Held Medical Scanners

Scientists who have developed a new way to create a type of radiation known as Terahertz (THz) or T-rays - the technology behind full-body security scanners - say their new, stronger and more efficient continuous wave T-rays could be used to make better medical scanning gadgets and may one day lead to innovations similar to the “tricorder” scanner used in Star Trek. The secret behind the innovation lies in the new nano-antenna that we had developed and integrated into the semiconductor chip. Arrays of these nano-antennas create much stronger THz fields that generate a power output that is 100 times higher than the power output of commonly used THz sources that have conventional interdigitated antenna structures.

A*STAR in Singapore and Imperial College London in the UK have made T-rays into a much stronger directional beam than was previously thought possible and have efficiently produced T-rays at room-temperature conditions. This breakthrough allows future T-ray systems to be smaller, more portable, easier to operate, and much cheaper.
Schematic drawings of the fabricated c.w. terahertz photomixers. Right: overall antenna structure with four bias pads and a modified meander terahertz antenna design. Left: active region designs with interdigitated electrodes (top) and tip-to-tip nanogap electrodes (bottom).

Nature Photonics - Greatly enhanced continuous-wave terahertz emission by nano-electrodes in a photoconductive photomixer

Reviewing Predictions of the year 2000 made in 1900 - Part 2 of 3

John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. made 29 predictions in 1900 of what may happen in the next 100 years. Here we will review what was right, what was too optimistic and what was too pessimistic.

Prediction #10: Man will See Around the World. Persons and things of all kinds will be brought within focus of cameras connected electrically with screens at opposite ends of circuits, thousands of miles at a span. American audiences in their theatres will view upon huge curtains before them the coronations of kings in Europe or the progress of battles in the Orient. The instrument bringing these distant scenes to the very doors of people will be connected with a giant telephone apparatus transmitting each incidental sound in its appropriate place. Thus the guns of a distant battle will be heard to boom when seen to blaze, and thus the lips of a remote actor or singer will be heard to utter words or music when seen to move.

Correct

Prediction #11: No Mosquitoes nor Flies. Insect screens will be unnecessary. Mosquitoes, house-flies and roaches will have been practically exterminated. Boards of health will have destroyed all mosquito haunts and breeding-grounds, drained all stagnant pools, filled in all swamp-lands, and chemically treated all still-water streams. The extermination of the horse and its stable will reduce the house-fly.

Wrong. Although DDT enabled a massive reduction in mosquitoes in the developed world

New Bottle Screening system could enable water onto planes as early as 2013

Cobalt Light Systems has received European approval for its revolutionary INSIGHT100 bottle scanner, which enables aircraft passengers to carry liquid items larger than 100ml once more. Airports could now allow passengers to take items such as water, cosmetics, perfumes and duty free through airport security channels from as early as 2013. The current ban on items over 100ml in hand baggage can only be lifted when airports are able to effectively screen quickly and without opening the containers. INSIGHT100 screens individual bottles in less than 5 seconds to determine whether there is a security threat.

The INSIGHT100 system uses a proprietary technology called Spatially Offset Raman Spectroscopy (SORS), which was pioneered at the Central laser Facility of the Science & Technology Facilities Council’s (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratories in Oxfordshire, and led to the creation of Cobalt Light Systems as a spin out of STFC.

Reviewing Predictions of the year 2000 made in 1900 - Part 1 of 3

John Elfreth Watkins, Jr. made 29 predictions in 1900 of what may happen in the next 100 years. Here we will review what was right, what was too optimistic and what was too pessimistic.

Prediction #1: There will probably be from 350,000,000 to 500,000,000 people in America and its possessions by the lapse of another century. Nicaragua will ask for admission to our Union after the completion of the great canal. Mexico will be next. Europe, seeking more territory to the south of us, will cause many of the South and Central American republics to be voted into the Union by their own people.”

Wrong US Population was 281 million in 2000. Nicaragua had a population of 4.8 million. Mexico had a population of 100 million. So the population estimate (385 million) would have been correct if Nicaragua and Mexico had joined the USA.

Prediction #2: The American will be taller by from one to two inches. His increase of stature will result from better health, due to vast reforms in medicine, sanitation, food and athletics. He will live fifty years instead of thirty-five as at present – for he will reside in the suburbs. The city house will practically be no more. Building in blocks will be illegal. The trip from suburban home to office will require a few minutes only. A penny will pay the fare.

Correct, Underestimation of 1900 and 2000 for life expectancy, underestimate height improvement

They had an underestimation of the life expectancy at birth of someone born in 1900 but it was about right for someone born in 1880. Life expectancy is a lagging indicator, which is based upon the age of deaths of those dieing in the year born. This prediction was already baked in when it was made in 1900. Life expectancy was already almost 50. Another 28 years of life expectancy was achieved, which was more than the 15 year improvement from 1900 to 2000.

Life Expectancy at Birth in the United States
1880     39.4
1900     47.8   (gain to 50 year life expectancy by those born in 1905)
1910     53.1   
1920     54.1
1930     59.7
1940     62.9
1950     68.2
1960     69.7
1970     70.8
1980     73.7
1990     75.4
1998     76.7

Incremental driver automation until the big leap to full automation

Technology Review - European automakers say their strategy is to move toward greater levels of autonomy incrementally, depending on what does well in showrooms.

Buyers of European luxury cars are already choosing from a menu of advanced options. For example, for $1,350, people who purchase BMW's 535i xDrive sedan in the United States can opt for a "driver assistance package" that includes radar to detect vehicles in the car's blind spot. For another $2,600, BMW will install "night vision with pedestrian detection," which uses a forward-facing infrared camera to spot people in the road.

Lasers, cameras, and other sensors are the most expensive part of autonomous driving systems. Some experimental self-driving cars are estimated to carry more than $200,000 worth of cameras and other gear. Those costs are also leading automakers toward a gradual approach that starts with sensor technologies and then extends capabilities to control driving tasks as well. In the high-end Mercedes-Benz CL, for instance, cameras not only tell a driver when he or she is leaving the lane but actually help the vehicle steer itself back. Several automakers already sell cars with so-called adaptive cruise control that automatically applies the brakes during highway driving if traffic slows. Next, BMW plans to extend that idea in its upcoming i3 series of electric cars, whose traffic-jam feature will let the car accelerate, decelerate, and steer by itself at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour—as long as the driver leaves a hand on the wheel.

Type III Dyson Sphere of Highly Advanced Civilizations Around a Super Massive Black Hole

Arxiv - Researchers describe a new system for a society of highly advanced civilizations around a super massive black hole (SMBH), as an advanced Type III “Dyson Sphere,” pointing out an efficient usage of energy for the advanced civilizations. SMBH also works as a sink for waste materials. Here we assume that Type III civilisations of Kardashev classification [1] form a galactic club [2] in a galaxy, and the energy from the SMBH will be delivered to the club members, forming an energy control system similar to power grids in our present society. The energy is probably transmitted by a sharp beam with coherent electro-magnetic waves, which provide a new concept for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) via detection of such energy transmission signals. This expands the search window for other intelligences within the Universe.

The condition around a SMBH at the centre of galaxy would be more efficient both in extracting energy and exhausting the waste energy for advanced civilizations, than those of a Dyson Sphere. Some active galactic nuclei (AGN) are extremely luminous, hundreds of times the integrated stellar luminosity of a whole galaxy. For example, bolometric luminosity of QSOs and Seyfert galaxies is distributed mostly in a range between 10^43-10^47 erg/s

(H/T Al Fin and Discovery News


Schematic picture around SMBH. Items are not to scale. In this picture, an example of power plants with transmitters is shown partly. BLR stands for the Broad Line Region. The SMBH and accretion disk will not be fully covered by the collectors of power plants, so as not to prevent jets emanating from somewhere in this area, and accretion flow coming out of the central region. A twin jet is thought to emanate perpendicular to the plane of accretion disk, seen about 10% of AGN. The energy from the power plants is transferred by electro-magnetic waves to habitats of advanced civilizations. In this picture, the beams are directed to a galactic plane on which a galactic club is formed. However, the planes of the accretion disk and the host galaxy may not necessarily be in the same plane (e.g., Inoue). One Rs for the SMBH mass of 10^8 M is ~10^-5 pc (3 × 10^8 km).

January 19, 2012

Riptide Amphibious light tank

With guidance from the Navy (SF) and Army (Picatinnay Arsenal ARDEC) Howe and Howe Technologies have developed an amphibious version of the highly acclaimed UGV Ripsaw platform apply name 'Riptide'. Possessing 90% of Ripsaw's terrestrial capability coupled with the newly added high speed marine capability, Riptide will become a valuable tool in any arsenal and push the future of UGVoperations

Sustainable seaweed: Researchers explore algae-based animal feed

Cornell University - The pigs and poultry in Professor Xingen Lei's lab have been consuming feed one wouldn't expect in Ithaca: marine algae.

The Cornell animal science professor is testing the unlikely material as a new protein-rich source of feed to supplement and replace some of the corn and soybean meal mix traditionally given to food-producing animals.

By doing so, he could transform a biofuel byproduct into a valuable commodity, potentially freeing thousands of acres of cropland.

Algae produces 50 times more oil per acre than corn, with a much smaller carbon footprint; uses nutrients more efficiently than land plants, with no runoff; and places no demand on high-quality agricultural land or freshwater supplies.

There are an estimated 1 billion swine, 1 billion cattle, 2 billion sheep and goats and 40 billion poultry worldwide. The average pig consumes about 660 pounds of feed by the time it goes to market, Lei said, so replacing just 10 percent of that feed with algae would save a whopping 33 million tons.

iRobot shows off tablet headed AVA bot at CES

EETimes - iRobot’s AVA, whose swivel head, perched atop its articulating torso and holonomic base, is an iPad.

iRobot's AVA is a system that Nextbigfuture believes will start having a huge impact later this year or next year.

Unlike the complex robotic SDKs available for hardcore robot developers, AVA’s tablet driven brain makes her much easier to program for, using iRobot’s API.

The tablet interface also allows AVA to leverage in-built cameras, gesture recognition algorithms, connectivity, and access to the cloud for higher level applications.

At CES, iRobot was demoing AVA driving herself around between points on the show floor, chosen by her controller, also using an iPad.

For now, sadly, AVA is just a "concept car" and development platform, but iRobot, whose tagline is “Robots that make a difference,” is hoping that one day she’ll be a lot more. The firm is even partnering with InTouch Health to try to bring remote presence into health institutions.

This remote presence could include robots acting as interfaces for doctors making rounds remotely, or bringing outside medical specialties to remote hospitals.

Steve Wozniak Praises the Android Smartphones Capabilities that are Better than the iPhone

Daily Tech - Apple Founder Steve Wozniak says the iPhone is for people who like simple, pretty things while the Android-based smartphones offer greater capabilities.

"My primary phone is the iPhone," said Wozniak. "I love the beauty of it. But I wish it did all the things my Android does, I really do."

Wozniak was recently spotted at the Google campus' Android development building to scoop up a pre-release of the company's Galaxy Nexus, causing quite a stir amongst Google fans outside. As it turns out, Wozniak is good friends with Andy Rubin, the head of Android, and regularly uses a Motorola Droid Razr.

Air Lubricated Ships being Commercialized

The Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System (MALS) was the first air lubrication system in the world to be applied to a newly built ship, and resulted in a substantial reduction in the ship’s resistance. Therefore, a performance estimation method using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) needs to be established as soon as possible to apply the MALS to general commercial ships.

Wired - Grain conglomerate Archer Daniels Midland has ordered three dry bulk carriers that blow bubbles to improve fuel efficiency. The boats, to be completed by 2014, rely on Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ proprietary Mitsubishi Air Lubrication System (MALS). Mitsubishi claims that MALS can reduce CO2 emissions by a quarter compared with conventional dry bulk carriers. Considering the ships will carry about 100,000 tons including cargo, fuel and crew, that’s a significant reduction. The three ships ordered by ADM will be 131 feet wide and 777 feet long and will be built by Oshima Shipbuilding.

Bubbles under the vessel bottom of the new bulk carrier with MALS.

Technology to Efficiently Convert Seaweed to Renewable Fuels and Chemicals

A team of scientists from Bio Architecture Lab (BAL), has developed breakthrough technology that helps to further enable the wide-scale use of seaweed (macroalgae) as a feedstock for advanced biofuels and renewable chemical production. The team engineered a microbe to extract the sugars in seaweed and convert them into renewable fuels and chemicals, thus making seaweed a real renewable biomass contender.

“About 60 percent of the dry biomass of seaweed are sugars, and more than half of those are locked in a single sugar - alginate,” said Daniel Trunfio, Chief Executive Officer at Bio Architecture Lab. “Our scientists have developed a pathway to metabolize the alginate, allowing us to unlock all the sugars in seaweed, which therefore makes macroalgae an economical alternative feedstock for the production of renewable fuels and chemicals.”

Science - An Engineered Microbial Platform for Direct Biofuel Production from Brown Macroalgae

Hydrogen-Bubble-Propelled Zinc-Based Microrockets Could move medical devices in the body

Chemical and Engineering News - Microrockets—those tiny, self-propelled, tubular engines being developed to pick up and carry cellular and molecular cargo—can now operate in some natural environments

A team led by Joseph Wang of the University of California, San Diego, has now developed microrockets that use strong acids—already present in extreme environments such as the stomach—as fuel. The new versions have a tubular zinc core and an outer layer of polyaniline. The zinc reduces acids to produce hydrogen bubbles, which serve as the propellant. The researchers showed that the speed of the acid-fueled rockets depends on solution pH and that by adding layers of titanium and nickel to the outside of the tubes they can control rocket motion with a magnetic field. Wang says his group will be working on extending the lifetime of the rockets, which are currently consumed by strong acid after two minutes.

An acid-propelled microrocket (left) moves at about 500 microns per second in 1 M HCl, leaving a trail of H2 bubbles behind (right). Credit: J. Am. Chem. Soc.

ICube unifies CPU and GPU into one core with four threads per core

ICube is a fabless semiconductor company developing semiconductor System-On-Chip (SOC) solutions based on our Harmony Unified Processor Technology, genuinely integrating two different processor types: a central processing unit (CPU) and a graphics processing unit (GPU), into one unified core. Founded by Silicon Valley veterans (Simon Moy, CTO was Principal Engineer at NVIDIA and Fred Chow, is Chief Scientist was Chief Scientist at SGI and principle engineer at MIPS) who are experts in processor, software and integrated circuit development, the strength of our engineering team enjoys international distinction. The company is based in China.

People don’t need another processor. People need new digital devices that are cheaper, with higher performance, and lower power consumption.

MVP is more cost-efficient than existing processors and is better positioned to ride the performance increases projected by Moore’s law, which in turn allows it to adequately meet the needs of emerging applications.

ICube has an Android SoC (system on a chip) with their own core processor technology based on parallel computing with optimizing compilers, parallel programming APIs, and tool sets to assist application migration.

Extremetech - The Harmony Unified Processing Architecture (and the first iteration of that architecture, the IC1) are described as consisting of “the Multi-Thread Virtual Pipeline parallel computing core (MVP), an independent instruction set architecture, an optimizing compiler, and the Agile Switch dynamic load balancer.” Elsewhere, the chip is described as a “parallel computing stream processor core.” We also know, based on available literature, that the chip uses both SMP (Symmetric Multi-Processing) and SMT (Simultaneous Multi-Threading).

At a larger feature size and slower clock speed the UPU has higher performance

Jobs and investments of the Top 1% and Inequality may have decreased over 25 years

1. The New York Times has a interactive graphic that shows the composition of the top 1 percent of wealthiest households by the jobs held by the people in those households.

1. Managers 376,000
2. Doctors 192,000
3. CEOs 164,000
4. Lawyers 145,000

School teachers don't earn enough to make the top 1 percent on their own, but many live in 1-percent households, primarily through marriage.

29.3% of lawyers for securities and commodity brokers are in the top 1%
27.2% of doctors in office and clinics are in the top 1%
24.4% CEOs of securities and commodity brokers are in the top 1%
Doctors of all types are in the range of 20% in the top 1%

January 18, 2012

Chip for Cardiac biomarker analysis from fingerprick blood with results in 45 minutes and 100 times more sensitivity

A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics have now developed a handheld blood testing device with significantly improved sensitivity.


Cardiovascular diseases are the major cause of death among adults worldwide. Electrocardiogram (ECG) is a first test when a patient suffering from chest pain sees a doctor, however, it is lack of the required sensitivity. Standard assays to detect cardiac biomarkers, like enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) are sensitive, but suffer from important sample and reagent consumption in large-scale studies. Moreover they are performed in central laboratories of clinics and hospitals and take a long time, which is highly incompatible with the quick decisions needed to save a heart attack patient. Herein, we describe an integrated chip allowing rapid, sensitive, and simultaneous analysis of three cardiac biomarkers in fingerprick blood. The integrated chip is composed of a filtration chip for plasma separation from blood and a silicon nanowire (SiNW) array sensor chip for protein detection. These two chips are fabricated separately and bonded to form a single unit after alignment. The integrated chip is capable of reducing the dead volume of the sample by eliminating the tubing between the two chips. After the plasma is filtrated by the filtration chip, the SiNW sensor, spotted with three different antibodies, enabled us to detect three cardiac biomarkers, troponin T (cTnT), creatine kinase MM (CK-MM) and creatine kinase MB (CK-MB), simultaneously. The integrated chip is able to attain a low detection limit of 1 pg / ml for the three cardiac biomarkers from 2 microliters of blood in 45 min.

"Actuation at a distance" of microelectromechanical systems using photoelectrowetting: proof-of-concept

Arxiv - Researchers demonstrate a proof-of-concept experiment that microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) can be actuated using photoelectrowetting. In order to demonstrate this, a 30 micron thick aluminum cantilever is actuated using an ordinary white light source. A deflection of 56 microns is observed using a light irradiance equal to approx 1000 W m-2 at a bias of 7 V. Such "actuation at a distance" could be useful for optical addressing and control of autonomous wireless sensors, MEMS and microsystems.

Technology Review- The goal is to create devices, such as a lab-on-a-chip, that can carry out self-contained chemical and biological tests on tiny samples. To that end, researchers have developed various new ways to move liquid around using exotic pumps relying on things like electric fields. So-called microfluidic devices are having a big impact in areas from pathogen identification to environmental monitoring.

The ability to actuate at a distance using light alone could have many applications because it eliminates the need for the complex circuitry and pumps now used to transport droplets. It could also allow optical addressing of autonomous, wireless sensors.

Research team generates world-record 35.4 tesla magnetic field using a superconducting insert magnet

A research team at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory reached (September 2011) a new world record in magnetic field generation, successfully testing a superconducting electromagnet to a field of 35.4 tesla. The magnet used a single, paper-thin, 100-meter-long strip of tape made with "YBCO," a superconducting ceramic composed of yttrium, barium, copper and oxygen. Tesla is the unit of measurement of magnetic field named in honor of Nikola Tesla, a famous 20th-century pioneer in the field of electromagnetism. One tesla is equal to 20,000 times the Earth's magnetic field.

The new results provide vital information for the next generation of high-field superconducting magnets. It's part of an ongoing effort to build a 32-tesla all-superconducting research magnet that could both reduce the cost of scientific experiments and make high-field research accessible to more scientific users. The 35.4 tesla field was achieved by "nesting" the YBCO coil inside a 31-tesla resistive magnet, with the "insert" YBCO coil supplying the additional 4.4 tesla.


Dr. Ulf Peter Trociewitz and Matthieu Dalban-Canassy examine the YBCO insert magnet

Antimicrobial Functionalized Sand for Cheap and safe Drinking Water

The seeds of the Moringa ("miracle tree") tree has a natural substance could purify and clarify water inexpensively and sustainably in the developing world, where more than 1 billion people lack access to clean drinking water. Past research showed that a protein in Moringa seeds can clean water, but using the approach was too expensive and complicated. So Velegol's team sought to develop a simpler and less expensive way to utilize the seeds' power. Removing the disease-causing microbes and sediment from drinking water requires technology not always available in rural areas of developing countries.

Added an extract of the seed containing the positively charged Moringa protein, which binds to sediment and kills microbes, to negatively charged sand. The resulting "functionalized," or "f-sand," proved effective in killing harmful E. coli bacteria and removing sediment from water samples

Langmuir journal - Antimicrobial Sand via Adsorption of Cationic Moringa oleifera Protein

Moringa oleifera (Moringa) seeds contain a natural cationic protein (MOCP) that can be used as an antimicrobial flocculant for water clarification. Currently, the main barrier to using Moringa seeds for producing potable water is that the seeds release other water-soluble proteins and organic matter, which increase the concentration of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in the water. The presence of this DOM supports the regrowth of pathogens in treated water, preventing its storage and later use. A new strategy has been established for retaining the MOCP protein and its ability to clarify and disinfect water while removing the excess organic matter. The MOCP is first adsorbed and immobilized onto sand granules, followed by a rinsing step wherein the excess organic matter is removed, thereby preventing later growth of bacteria in the purified water. Our hypotheses are that the protein remains adsorbed onto the sand after the functionalization treatment, and that the ability of the antimicrobial functionalized sand (f-sand) to clarify turbidity and kill bacteria, as MOCP does in bulk solution, is maintained. The data support these hypotheses, indicating that the f-sand removes silica microspheres and pathogens from water, renders adhered Escherichia coli bacteria nonviable, and reduces turbidity of a kaolin suspension. The antimicrobial properties of f-sand were assessed using fluorescent (live-dead) staining of bacteria on the surface of the f-sand. The DOM that can contribute to bacterial regrowth was shown to be significantly reduced in solution, by measuring biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). Overall, these results open the possibility that immobilization of the MOCP protein onto sand can provide a simple, locally sustainable process for producing storable drinking water

Interview with Aubrey De Grey on Progress in Therapies for Rejuvenation and Their Delivery

HPlus Magazine- Adam Ford conducted a fascinating video interview with biogerontologist Aubrey de Grey.

* SENS - there are seven deadly things (known damage caused by aging processes)


Aging Damage                SENS Solution
Cell loss, tissue atrophy   Stem cells and tissue engineering (RepleniSENS)
Nuclear [epi]mutations
(only cancer matters)      Removal of telomere-lengthening machinery (OncoSENS)
Mutant mitochondria         Allotopic expression of 13 proteins (MitoSENS)
Death-resistant cells       Targeted ablation (ApoptoSENS)
Tissue stiffening           AGE-breaking molecules (GlycoSENS); tissue engineering
Extracellular aggregates    Immunotherapeutic clearance (AmyloSENS)
Intracellular aggregates    Novel lysosomal hydrolases (LysoSENS)

We’re doing them all at the same time. I’m interested in making sure that none of these things are left behind. We prioritize certain things over others is simply if they are not being prioritized by the rest of the world.



Donate to SENS here

Faster-than-fast Fourier transform

For a large range of practically useful cases, MIT researchers have found a way to increase the speed of one of the most important algorithms in the information sciences.

The Fourier transform is one of the most fundamental concepts in the information sciences. It’s a method for representing an irregular signal — such as the voltage fluctuations in the wire that connects an MP3 player to a loudspeaker — as a combination of pure frequencies. It’s universal in signal processing, but it can also be used to compress image and audio files, solve differential equations and price stock options, among other things.

Arxiv - Nearly Optimal Sparse Fourier Transform (27 pages)

China will put 3956 miles of high speed rail into service in 2012

Xinhua - China's Railway Ministry plans to invest 500 billion yuan (79 billion US dollars) on fixed assets in 2012, including 400 billion yuan (63.2 billion US dollars) for railway construction, minister Sheng Guangzu said at an annual railway working conference.

The investment scale registers a slight decline from the total expenditure of 469 billion yuan this year and a marked decrease from over 700 billion yuan (111 billion US dollars) in 2010.

Since the deadly crash between two high-speed trains in Wenzhou in July, this is the first time the government announced a clear-cut goal for future railway development.

According to the official, the investment will be used to finish key projects, and some 6,366 kilometers (3956 miles) of new lines will be put into service in 2012.



US High Speed Rail Association

Dropbox founder Drew Houston wants to Sync files on all devices

LA Times - Dropbox is a service with the goal of being able instantly (and seamlessly) syncs all of your files on all of your devices.

Dropbox has more than 50 million users and adds another every second. It's one of the fastest-growing companies Silicon Valley has ever seen. Both Apple's Steve Jobs and Google's Sergey Brin sounded out Houston about buying Dropbox.

But Houston says he's determined to build the next Apple or Google, not sell out to them.

Dropbox has figured out an elegant solution to a vexing problem. With the explosion of smartphones and tablets, people have more devices and more apps than ever before. How can they get access to the latest version of all their stuff — photos, music, videos, documents, spreadsheets — no matter what device they are using and no matter where they are?

Morgan Stanley 2012 Forecast

Zerohedge provides a summary of Morgan Stanley's 2012 forecast. The Morgan Stanely 2012 Forecast was on Scribd but it was removed.

US Bear Case: Off the rails (35%). No positive intervention or development at all until at least 2013

US Base Case: The muddle in the middle (50%). Our base case is an unsatisfying muddle-through in both the US and Europe over the coming months. Politicians will avert a near-term train wreck but not put the train on track toward a long run destination.

US Bull Case : Two good plans presented in 2012, one gets picked an implemented (15%). The election contest presents two coherent, opposing remedies that offer clarity and efficiency. The American people decide in November, and newly elected officials have a mandate to implement the preferred program in spring 2013.

Europe Bear Case: Breakup of eurozone and defaults (25%)

Europe Base Case: The muddle in the middle (60%). We do not think that authorities get to where they need to go in 2012, but our base case is that they are mostly successful in signaling in 2012 that they are on the right path in a series of unsatisfactory summit meetings.

Europe Bull Case: Fiscal Union is promptly and effectively implemented (15%)


World Bank forecasts weaker global GDP growth and a fragile and uncertain world economy in 2012

—Developing countries should prepare for further downside risks, as Euro Area debt problems and weakening growth in several big emerging economies are dimming global growth prospects, says the World Bank in the newly-released Global Economic Prospects (GEP) 2012.

The Bank has lowered its growth forecast for 2012 to 5.4 percent for developing countries and 1.4 percent for high-income countries (-0.3 percent for the Euro Area), down from its June estimates of 6.2 and 2.7 percent (1.8 percent for the Euro Area), respectively. The global economy is now expected to expand 2.5 and 3.1 percent in 2012 and 2013 (3.4 and 4 percent when calculated using purchasing power parity weights), versus the 3.6 percent projected in June for both years.

4 page executive summary

The world economy has entered a dangerous period. Some of the financial turmoil in Europe has spread to developing and other high-income countries, which until earlier had been unaffected. This contagion has pushed up borrowing costs in many parts of the world, and pushed down stock markets, while capital flows to developing countries have fallen sharply. Europe appears to have entered recession. At the same time, growth in several major developing countries (Brazil, India and, to a lesser extent, Russia, South Africa and Turkey) is significantly slower than it was earlier in the recovery, mainly reflecting policy tightening initiated in late 2010 and early 2011 in order to combat rising inflationary pressures. As a result, and despite a strengthening of activity in the United States and Japan, global growth and world trade have slowed sharply.


Country         2012f    2013f
China           8.4       8.3
United States   2.2       2.4
Japan           1.9       1.6
India           6.5       7.7
Euro Area      -0.3       1.1



January 17, 2012

Siemens puts 1.7 trillion Euro price tag on Germany's nuclear exit

Siemens expects Germany's exit from nuclear power to cost the country up to 1.7 trillion euros ($2.15 trillion) by 2030, the head of its energy business said.

"We have calculated that between 1,400 billion and 1,700 billion will have to be invested in the German energy sector over the next 20 years," Siemens board member Michael Suess, in charge of the company's Energy Sector, told Reuters.

"This will either be paid by energy customers or taxpayers," he said at the annual Handelsblatt Energiewirtschaft conference.

The 1.7 trillion euros scenario is based on a strong expansion of renewables -- with feed-in tariffs as the biggest chunk of costs -- while the 1.4 trillion scenario emphasizes gas as one of the major energy alternatives, he said.

Study Finds Age-related Effects in Multiple Sclerosis may be Reversible

Scientists at Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard University, and the University of Cambridge have found that the age-related impairment of the body’s ability to replace protective myelin sheaths, which normally surround nerve fibers and allow them to send signals properly, may be reversible, offering new hope that therapeutic strategies aimed at restoring efficient regeneration can be effective in the central nervous system throughout life.

In a proof-of-principle study published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, the researchers report that defects in the regeneration of the myelin sheaths surrounding nerves, which are lost in diseases such as multiple sclerosis may be at least partially corrected following exposure of an old animal to the circulatory system of a young animal. Myelin is a fatty substance that protects nerves and aids in the quick transmission of signals between nerve cells.

Using a surgical technique, the researchers introduced an experimental demyelinating injury in the spinal cord of an old mouse, creating small areas of myelin loss, and then exposed those areas to cells found the blood of a young mouse. By doing so, they found that the influx of certain immune cells, called macrophages, from the young mouse helped resident stem cells restore effective remyelination in the old mouse’s spinal cord. This “rejuvenating” effect of young immune cells was mediated in part by the greater efficiency of the young cells in clearing away myelin debris created by the demyelinating injury. Prior studies have shown that this debris impedes the regeneration of myelin.

Journal Cell Stem Cell - Rejuvenation of Regeneration in the Aging Central Nervous System

New microtweezers may build tiny 'MEMS' structures

Purdue University - Researchers have created new "microtweezers" capable of manipulating objects to build tiny structures, print coatings to make advanced sensors, and grab and position live stem cell spheres for research.

The microtweezers might be used to assemble structures in microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS, which contain tiny moving parts. MEMS accelerometers and gyroscopes currently are being used in commercial products. A wider variety of MEMS devices, however, could be produced through a manufacturing technology that assembles components like microscopic Lego pieces moved individually into place with microtweezers


Purdue researchers have created a new type of microtweezers capable of manipulating objects to build tiny structures, print coatings to make advanced sensors, and grab and position live stem cell spheres for research. (Birck Nanotechnology Center photo)

Latest Big Mac Index on Currency Undervaluation and overvaluation

THE ECONOMIST's Big Mac index is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity: in the long run, exchange rates should adjust to equal the price of a basket of goods and services in different countries. This particular basket holds a McDonald's Big Mac, whose price around the world we compared with its American average of $4.20. According to burgernomics the Swiss franc is a meaty 62% overvalued.

In July 2011, the euro was 21% overvalued against the dollar, but it is now just 6% overvalued.

The Jan 2012 Economist Big Mac Index
China yuan is 42% undervalued. (China was 44% undervalued)
Hong kong is 49% undervalued.
Japan is 1% undervalued. (Japan was on par value 6 months ago)
Canadian dollar is 10% overvalued.
British pound is 9% undervalued.
Indian rupee is 61% undervalued.

Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Russia, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia are all about 40% undervalued.
Brazil is 35% overvalued.

China gets a lot of pressure to revalue its currency but Russia does not. Russia is about one third the economy of China and has a higher per capita GDP. Russia and Saudi Arabia also has an economy which is mostly dependent on oil and gas resources.

Other petrocurrency (commodity economies) countries like Norway, Brazil and Canada have over valued currencies.

Jerry Yang resigns from Yahoo

Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) said co-founder Jerry Yang resigned from the board and all other positions, two weeks after the company announced new leadership under Chief Executive Officer Scott Thompson.
Yang, who had the position of “chief Yahoo,” was CEO from June 2007 to January 2009, when the Sunnyvale, California-based company rejected an acquisition offer from Microsoft for $47.5 billion. He was replaced by Carol Bartz as CEO, who was fired in September 2011.

Yang’s exit comes after Yahoo investor Third Point LLC asked for two board seats and for Yang to step down as a director. Third Point cited the “board’s inability -- or perhaps unwillingness -- to properly solicit true strategic alternative bids, let alone to negotiate them,” in a November statement.

Yahoo is now worth about $19 billion. Any buyout would be fortunate to get half of the Microsoft offer. The bulk of the value in Yahoo is the value of their stake in the chinese company Alibaba.

New York Times gets behind fixing Soot as a major climate change mitigation first step

NY Times gets behind a proposal to fix soot and methane as the faster way to address climate change while also improving public health.

Science - Simultaneously Mitigating Near-Term Climate Change and Improving Human Health and Food Security

Tropospheric ozone and black carbon (BC) contribute to both degraded air quality and global warming. We considered ~400 emission control measures to reduce these pollutants by using current technology and experience. We identified 14 measures targeting methane and BC emissions that reduce projected global mean warming ~0.5°C by 2050. This strategy avoids 0.7 to 4.7 million annual premature deaths from outdoor air pollution and increases annual crop yields by 30 to 135 million metric tons due to ozone reductions in 2030 and beyond. Benefits of methane emissions reductions are valued at $700 to $5000 per metric ton, which is well above typical marginal abatement costs (less than $250). The selected controls target different sources and influence climate on shorter time scales than those of carbon dioxide–reduction measures. Implementing both substantially reduces the risks of crossing the 2°C threshold.

Nextbigfuture has been calling for action on black carbon (soot) and other air pollution for years. I am glad that it is finally being addressed.

It has been listed as the biggest technologies for addressing greenhouse gas emission.

Soot causes 40% of the worlds warming and fixing soot would be the fastest impact on global temperatures. Soot is in and out of the atmosphere in weeks but carbon dioxide is there for decades.

Reductions in low-level ozone and black carbon would yield lots of benefits long before 2050. Because people would be breathing cleaner air, 700,000 to 4.7 million premature deaths would be avoided each year. Thanks to improved crop yields, farmers would produce at least 30 million more metric tons of food annually.

Dealing with soot is a win for the countries who do it as it saves the lives of their people and lowers health costs. It pays for itself and is not a sacrifice. Carbon dioxide mitigations as they have been presented are calls to lower economic growth. There are ways to address carbon dioxide emissions that do not sacrifice economic growth but those ideas have also not been promoted. The environmental movement has been focused on using carbon dioxide mitigation as a tool to force slower economic growth and to promote technologies that they prefer.

Making small modular factory mass produced breeder reactors and getting a lot of uranium is not a solution that they like. Even though that is a path which could also be implemented over the 30-50 year timeframe of their own plan and set the stage for a world economy that could be 100 times larger while still fixing the climate. There can also be cement that absorbs carbon dioxide instead of releasing it. The pro-growth solutions to climate change have been ignored. They seem to be too technical for some people and some who do understand it have a bias to solar and wind power versus nuclear power and green cement.

The technocrats in China do understand it and are on the path to implementation.

Metamaterial for Gecko toes for controlled adhesion to any surface

Arxiv - Metamaterial ‘Gecko Toe’: Optically-Controlled Adhesion to Any Surface (5 pages)

On the mesoscopic scale, electromagnetic forces are of fundamental importance to an enormously diverse range of systems, from optical tweezers to the adhesion of gecko toes. Here we show that a strong light-driven force may be generated when a plasmonic metamaterial is illuminated in close proximity to a dielectric or metal surface. This near-field force can exceed radiation pressure and Casimir forces to provide an optically controlled adhesion mechanism mimicking the gecko toe: at illumination intensities of just a (few tens of nW) divided by (μm^2) it is sufficient to overcome the Earth’s gravitational pull.


Zhang and co point out some applications. The say, for example, that an optical scanning tip covered with a metamaterial could be used to pick up and place nano-objects or that metmaterials suspended near the surface of a metal could be tuned with incident light to dramatically change the broadband reflectance of the material.

Technologyu Review - There's no end of interesting applications. These guys even tease their readers with images of a gecko's toes implying that some kind of spiderman-like adhesion may be possible too.

The only outstanding problem is to find this force. Zhang and co clearly outline the conditions under which it ought to be measurable and say: "The near-field electromagnetic force described here should be easy to detect."

So it should only be a matter of weeks or months before they reveal the first evidence of it.


Gecko toes and their optical analogue. a, Gecko toes sticking to a smooth glass wall. b, Artistic impression of a metamaterial film attracted by a beam of light to a dielectric surface.

Preemptive warfare and Preventative warfare and ethical scenarios

Stanford Law Review discusses The Iraq War, the Next War, and the Future of the Fat Man

The Obama Administration’s emphasis on targeted killing of terror suspects—what President Obama has called eliminating our enemies—is also a form of anticipatory self-defense. Indeed, as the administration continues to ratchet up its use of remote drone attacks, we really would seem to have entered what one observer has called the new age of preventive war.

Preemptive warfare is a form of self-defense that occurs when your adversary has the tanks massed on your border, ready to attack. Preventive warfare is aimed at keeping your adversary from gaining the means to attack you. Both the law and the ethics of self-defense have tended to frown on preventive warfare, not least because it has no logical stopping point. But America’s recent wars have all been, in one way or another, preventive—aimed less at foiling current plans than at stopping future ones.

Goldman Sachs Says China fourth Quarter GDP a blow to Hard Landing Guys

1. Bloomberg - Jim O’Neill, the economist who coined the term BRIC a decade ago, said China’s fourth-quarter growth rate, while the slowest in more than two years, was stronger than many analysts had forecast and was a “blow” to those predicting a “hard landing” for the nation’s economy.

China's GDP in 2011 was US$7.49 trillion and is $7.8 trillion including Hong Kong and Macau.

China’s economy grew 8.9 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, the statistics bureau said today in Beijing. That exceeded the 8.7 percent median estimate of 26 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News and is above the 8 percent that signals a “soft landing” for China, according to SinoPac Financial Holdings Co.

Ff China grew at an annual rate of 7.5 percent this decade, as he forecast, it would contribute more to world growth in dollar terms than the U.S. and Europe combined.

“It’s the most important thing in the world,” said O’Neill, who last month published his new book, “The Growth Map,” with predictions of “rosy prospects” for the BRIC nations of Brazil, Russia, India and China and other developing markets. “Some democracy a la Chinese style is going to emerge,” he said. “They want more freedom but they really want more wealth.”

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's LAMP reveals location and amounts of lunar water

New maps produced by the Lyman Alpha Mapping Project aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter reveal features at the Moon's northern and southern poles in regions that lie in perpetual darkness. LAMP, developed by Southwest Research Institute® (SwRI®), uses a novel method to peer into these so-called permanently shadowed regions (PSRs), making visible the invisible.
The LAMP maps show that many PSRs are darker at far-ultraviolet wavelengths and redder than nearby surface areas that receive sunlight. The darker regions are consistent with large surface porosities — indicating "fluffy" soils — while the reddening is consistent with the presence of water frost on the surface.

"Our results suggest there could be as much as 1 to 2 percent water frost in some permanently shadowed soils," says author Dr. Randy Gladstone, an Institute scientist in the SwRI Space Science and Engineering Division. "This is unexpected because naturally occurring interplanetary Lyman-alpha was thought to destroy any water frost before it could accumulate.


These images produced by LAMP aboard NASA's LRO reveal features at the Moon's northern and southern poles in the regions that lie in perpetual darkness. They show many permanently shadowed regions, or PSRs, are darker at far-ultraviolet wavelengths (at left, and top inset) and redder than nearby surface areas that receive sunlight (bottom inset). The darker PSR regions are consistent with having large surface porosities (indicating "fluffy" soils) while the reddening is consistent with the presence of water frost on the surface. Image courtesy of Southwest Research Institute

Journal of Geophysical Research, Far-ultraviolet reflectance properties of the Moon's permanently shadowed regions

Uranium producers reporting for 2011 and India and Japan have reactor startup delays for months

1. World Nuclear news - Paladin Energy and Uranium One both had record years for uranium production in 2011. Denison and Rio Tinto had problems.

Uranium One, the year's attributable production totalled a record 10.7 million pounds U3O8 (4116 tU), up 45% on 2010 figures, with record full-year sales of 9.9 million pounds U3O8 (3808 tU) up 43% on the previous year. The majority of Uranium One's production comes from its Kazakh ventures, although 2011 also saw the company's first report of output from the Honeymoon in-situ leach (ISL) operation in Australia, contributing 210,000 pounds U3O8 (81 tU) to the total.

Paladin Energy (9 page quarterly report for period ending Dec 31, 2011

Record production at both Langer Heinrich and Kayelekera mines with major step-changing break throughs achieved in overall performance at both sites:
- production of 1.82Mlb U3O8 – an increase of 24% above previous record quarter and 47% over last quarter.

China’s GDP hits 7.49 trillion US dollars in 2011

The gross domestic product (GDP) of China hits 47.2 trillion yuan (7.49 trillion US dollars at 6.3 yuan to 1 US dollar) in 2011, 9.2 percent higher than 2010 calculating at comparable prices, according to the economic data issued by the National Bureau of Statistics of China on Tuesday.

In 2011 China’s GDP increased by 9.4 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, 9.5 percent in the second quarter, 9.1 percent in the third quarter and 8.9 percent in the fourth quarter.

There is analysis that the fourth quarter GDP number of 8.9% is evidence of a soft landing for China's economy

Hong Kong GDP is 278 billion US dollars at the end of 2011. Macau has a GDP of about $30 billion US dollars. China's GDP with Hong Kong and Macau is $7.8 trillion.

China has a hidden economy that is about another 10-15% of the economy.


January 16, 2012

Rossi Interview Claims Energy Catalyzer submitted for UL product certification

In a Smart Scare Crow Show interview, Andrea Rossi, the inventor of the E-Cat (cold fusion energy catalyzer), announced many breakthroughs in the development of his technology, answered a wide range of questions, and shared many details regarding the upcoming ten kilowatt heat unit for home use.

UNDERWRITERS LABORATORIES -- Rossi said that they have sent prototypes to UL, and they are working with them to get the home unit certified for "UL approval".

This was a major announcement. If they are at this state of development, it means they are very far along. This alone would be worthy of a feature story. As far as we know, this is the first exotic free energy technology that has been submitted for UL approval.

You don't submit something to UL until you have a final version. What is submitted to UL is what is taken to market. If any changes are made, they have to once again pass through the UL certification process, which takes several months.

Energy news in China, Ukraine, United States and Germany

1. China Daily - China is under greater pressure to ensure energy supply this year as both demand and international competition for resources grows.

The NEA plans to add another 200 million metric tons to the country's coal-producing capacity this year plus 70 million kw of new installed power-generating capacity.

If the ecology is protected and people are relocated, China will start construction of hydropower projects of 20 million kw in 2012.

The NEA plans to launch wind power projects with a total capacity between 15 million kw and 18 million kw, while developing 3 million kw of solar power over the new five-year period ending 2015.

Liu said, in 2012, the country aims to provide electricity to another 600,000 people who currently have no access to it and expand electricity access to 5 million people by 2015.

The NEA has budgeted 65 billion yuan ($10.3 billion) for upgrading the grids in rural areas.

Over the next four years, China will facilitate the development of non-conventional natural gas, such as shale gas and coalbed methane by increasing the number of natural gas users by 100 million to 250 million.

Power consumption is expected to grow by 8.5 percent.

2. Power project investment totaled 739.3 billion yuan in 2010, compared with 705.1 billion yuan in 2011.

Power projects could be around 670 billion yuan in 2012.

In a Brain Emulation world the richest will richer

Overcoming Bias - Today, firms and cities are quite unequal, following a Zipf distribution, with a tail power near one (giving a very thick tail.) Individual wealth is a bit more equal, with a bigger power of ~1.4 (and hence a thinner tail).

In the em (whole brain emulation) era, I expect firm distributions to stay similar, but expect city and individual wealth distributions to change. I’ve talked before about how I suspect strong gains to em concentration, as they suffer less from travel congestion, leading perhaps to most being in a few dense cities. In this post, let me talk about em wealth.

Since em lifespans should be limited mainly by em wealth, em lifetimes can vary a lot more than human lifetimes, and ems can have more long-term spending consistency. While some ems will spend their wealth on more copies, others will hoard their wealth. Some may even manage to consistently reinvest most of their wealth via something like a Kelly criteria. This seems likely to make future em wealth evolution more akin to today’s firm and city evolution. I thus expect a near Zipf distribution for the high tail of em wealth.

This change in tail power should make em wealth distributions more unequal. Under a tail power of ~1.4, today’s richest person has about $75B, which is about 0.04% of the world’s $200T wealth. Under a power of ~1, the richest person might be about a hundred times richer, holding ~4% of the world’s wealth, or $7.5 trillion.

Apple IPad 3 will have higher Screen resolution and LTE Access

Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s next iPad, expected to go on sale in March, will sport a high-definition screen, run a faster processor and work with next-generation wireless networks, according to three people familiar with the product.

UPDATE - March 7, 2012. Apple confirmed the new screen resolution and 4G versions of iPad 3. They also announced the new pricing and kept iPad 2 available but at a lower price of $399.

The company’s manufacturing partners in Asia started ramping up production of the iPad 3 this month and plan to reach full volumes by February. The tablet will use a quad-core chip.

The iPad 3 is expected to feature a slightly thicker case, twice the battery life of the current iPad 2 model, and a 1,536 x 2,048-pixel HD display.

Nextbigfuture Dwave Interview covered at IEEE Spectrum

IEEE Spectrum blog nanoclast covers my interview with Dwave CTO Geordie Rose

Here is an article from 2010 where Geordie discusses where research shows that adiabatic quantum optimization outperforms all known classical algorithms for a wide range of problem and yet will have a title Adiabatic quantum optimization fails for random instances of NP-complete problems.

California High Speed Rail and Keystone XL Pipeline

1. American Interest - Roelof van Ark, the chief executive, and Thomas Umberg, the chairman of the High Speed Rail Authority, announced they will step down from their posts as the odds against the project grow longer.
The highly indebted, cash strapped state has commitments of $3.3 billion of federal money in hand against the roughly $100 billion that the train is now estimated to cost (the price will certainly go even higher). Voters authorized almost $10 billion in bonds in a referendum, but that was when the train looked much cheaper and more federal funding was available. Since then the cost estimates more than doubled to $99 billion, ridership estimates have been slashed indicating that the completed system will require unending subsidies, and Congress has stopped voting new funds for high speed rail.

To make matters even worse, the federal funds that are available can only be used for a “spur” out into the Central Valley, rather than the main line from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The “spur” is the least needed, least wanted and least useful part of the system and will never generate significant traffic. There are, in other words, federal funds to help with the part of the system that nobody really wants, and the heavily indebted state must find at least $70 billion to fund the rest.

One recent poll now shows that 53 percent of voters now want the bond sales stopped, and only 33 percent want the state to go ahead. In a new referendum, 59 percent would vote to reverse the decision that authorized the state to assume new debt for the rail system.


Fresno to Bakersfield is the segment funded with the federal funds

Adiabatic Quantum Computer for speeding up Google pagerank and other papers

1. Arxiv - Adiabatic quantum algorithm for search engine ranking (6 pages)

We propose an adiabatic quantum algorithm for generating a quantum pure state encoding of the PageRank vector, the most widely used tool in ranking the relative importance of internet pages. We present extensive numerical simulations which provide evidence that this algorithm prepares the quantum PageRank state in a time which scales polylogarithmically in the number of webpages. The top ranked log(n) entries of the quantum PageRank state can be estimated with a polynomial quantum speedup. Moreover, the quantum Pagerank state can be used in “q-sampling” protocols for testing properties of distributions, which require exponentially fewer measurements than all classical schemes designed for the same task. This can be used to decide whether to run a classical update of the PageRank.

Adiabatic quantum computation.—Even though classical PageRank computation time scales modestly with the problem size n, in practice its evaluation for the actual WWW already takes weeks, a time which can only be expected to grow if current computational methods remain the norm, given the rapid pace of expansion of the web. Furthermore, it is often desirable to have multiple personalization vectors. We now show how adiabatic quantum computation (AQC) might be able to help in the optimization of the resources needed to provide an up-to-date PageRank.

An interesting problem for future research is to apply compressed sensing techniques—which have recently been extended to quantum state tomography—to the problem of efficiently extracting the relevant information contained in the quantum PageRank state. Finally, it would be interesting to formulate a quantum circuit version of our PageRank algorithm. Perhaps the results obtained in concerning the efficient solution of linear systems of equations could be used for this purpose.

Adiabatic Quantum Computers have the potential to be faster than classical computers and circuit model quantum computers

Optimal Annealing Paths for Adiabatic Quantum Computation (AQC). 80 pages, 2011 by Navid Yousefabadi

The generic form of the gap functions for all the factorization problems allow an iterative process for finding the optimal parameters. AQC has the potential to be not only faster than the classical computers, but also the circuit model quantum computer.

The computational power of AQCs is not determined yet. It is mainly because the Hamiltonian of the AQC model is intractable, and consequently there is no rigid formulation that can relate the AQC’s computation time with the problem size. However, we know that entanglement is the key ingredient to the quantum computation power, and AQC directly uses the entangled qubits to anneal the system. There are some arguments about the power of this machine in literature. In a paper by Vazirani, it is stated that AQC can be used to gain quadratic speedup over classical search algorithms, and later the Grover bound was recovered for AQC. There
is even hope that AQCs has the potential to solve NP-complete problems polynomially,
where people solve random instances of NP-complete problems in polynomial time. In these works the AQC was simulated on a traditional computer, and the NP-complete problems that were solved with the simulated AQC, were limited to small sizes. Later, in several other similar works, it was shown that conventional AQC fails to provide an exponential speedup for solving NP-complete problems.

In this dissertation, we similarly simulate AQC (the spin glass Ising model AQC), with which we solve integer factorization instances (noting that instead of using the adiabatic approximation, we evolve the Hamiltonian in time and find the exact state of the system). Although we are limited in the problem size, we show that even if the conventional AQC fails to provide an exponential speedup, one can find optimal annealing paths that can exponentially improve the computation time. The Hamiltonian we use is the one implemented by D-Wave. This Hamiltonian is known to not be universal. However, a very large class of problems can be solved with Hamiltonian, including the important problem of integer factorization, and this is the problem on which we will focus.

The factoring problems could be encoded in an Ising Hamiltonian. For this task some carry qubits are needed. It was shown that to factor a 6 bit number, 17 bits are needed in total: 6 bits represent the factors (either a 3-bit and a 3-bit number or a 4-bit and a 2-bit number) and 11-bits for the carry bits.

However, for an algorithm that factorizes integer numbers on an Adiabatic quantum computer, which operates without using quantum logic gates, there is still no way to show how the computational time will scale with respect to the problem size. It is not clear whether an adiabatic quantum computer could be exponentially more efficient than a classical computer. The main issue seems to be that in the case of AQC, there is no explicit expression that can express the relationship between the annealing time needed to find the answer, and the size of the system. Having such an expression requires solving the time dependant Schrodinger equation for any large size Ising Hamiltonian.

The computational power of circuit model quantum computers is dramatically illusrated via Shor’s algorithm for integer factorization, where this quantum algorithm is exponentially more efficient than any known classical algorithm. On the other hand, there is no mathematical formulation for adiabatic quantum computers, such that one can assert any scaling between the problem size and computation time. However, through a limited number of factorization problems that could be solved numerically, we demonstrated such scaling. We showed that naive AQC is incapable of providing an exponential speedup over classical computers, but its unleashed power lies in the evolution path. Intuitive from the adiabatic theorem, the main ingredients of the AQC’s speed are larger gaps and slower speeds. We brought conclusive evidence that there exist evolution paths that provide such ingredients. We provided one-parameter and two-parameter evolution schemes. Utilizing heuristically-derived parametrised functions, it was shown how these functions could find larger gaps, and could adjust their speed with the gap value to result in a faster computation. Not only could AQC factorize integers in polynomial time, but also the degree of the polynomial can be reduced by optimising the evolution path.

We have preliminary evidence that there exist even more optimal paths in higher dimensions, although only results for one-dimensional and two-dimensional landscapes were shown. We have developed a scheme to penetrate higher dimensions, in order to find short paths with larger gaps. The generic form of the gap functions for all the factorization problems allow an iterative process for finding the optimal parameters. Therefore, AQC has the potential to be not only faster than the classical computers, but also the circuit model quantum computer. These issues are the subject of ongoing work.

Titan's Atmosphere Layers

Nature Asia - The lower atmosphere of Saturn’s moon Titan is strongly structured, with two distinct layers that affect wind patterns, dune spacing and cloud formation, reports a paper published online this week in Nature Geoscience. Benjamin Charnay and Sebastien Lebonnois used a three-dimensional climate model of Titan’s dense atmosphere (albeit without an active methane cycle) to study the layering in the moon’s lowermost atmosphere. Model simulations reconcile observations from the Huygens probe with independent and apparently incompatible measurements obtained by the Voyager 1 spacecraft, the Cassini orbiter, and dune spacing analyses. In the simulations of Titan’s atmosphere, a shallow boundary layer of about 800 meter depth develops on a daily scale, in addition to a 2-km-deep layer that is generated over a season. The authors conclude that in terms of its daily cycle, Titan is more similar to an Earth-like world than we thought.

Nature Geoscience - Two boundary layers in Titan’s lower troposphere inferred from a climate model

Last year research indicated that Saturn's moon titan might have a subsurface ocean

Indian Scientists Propose 10 Experiments For 2013 Mission To Mars

Asian Scientist - An Indian mission to Mars is taking shape with space scientists proposing 10 experiments, mostly related to the study of the Red Planet’s atmosphere. Scientists from various ISRO centers and the PRL are extremely enthusiastic about the flight to the Red Planet, and are awaiting a formal ‘go’ from ISRO, the Space Commission, and the Union Cabinet.

Food Security around the World

Food security is an increasingly critical global issue, affected by a complex and inter-related set of variables that influence the availability and access to food in each country. The political and economic stability of countries with a large proportion of the population living on less than US$1-a-day are particularly affected by food price inflation and limited availability of food stocks.
Maplecroft – the risk, responsibility and reputation specialist – has produced a global index of food security risk, which provides a quantitative assessment of the risk from lack of universal access to basic food staples in 162 countries. The unique Food Security Index (FSI) is comprised of 18 key indicators, which collectively form four sub-indices: first, the current nutritional and health status of the population, and second, the three factors which determine the intrinsic vulnerability of a country to food insecurity – availability, stability and access to food stocks. Key indicators of societal, environmental and macroeconomic risk provide a forward-looking approach to assessing food security risk.

The map highlights global hotspots of food insecurity as the countries which score in the ‘extreme risk’ category. These countries are situated predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of a few countries in the Americas and Asia, such as Haiti, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and North Korea. The table below lists the 15 countries most at risk of food insecurity by index score and ranking: Zimbabwe, Burundi, DR Congo, Eritrea, Yemen, Malawi, Somalia, Haiti, Liberia, Angola, Kenya, Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.

NASA Zawodny clarifies his views on Rossi and Low Energy Nuclear reactions

NASA Zawodny clarifies his views on Rossi and Low Energy Nuclear reactions on his own website

There have been many attempts to twist the release of this video into NASA’s support for LENR or as proof that Rossi’s e-cat really works. Many extraordinary claims have been made in 2010. In my scientific opinion, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I find a distinct absence of the latter. So let me be very clear here. While I personally find sufficient demonstration that LENR effects warrant further investigation, I remain skeptical. Furthermore, I am unaware of any clear and convincing demonstrations of any viable commercial device producing useful amounts of net energy.

French mobile phone service competition will it be a trend for more competition in other countries

A new cellphone service provider in France is making waves with very competitive pricing.

Free’s flat rate offers you the most generous unlimited service offer (fair use of 3G + calls to 40 destinations included …) all 2.5 times cheaper than the cheapest competing offer.


The low usage low rate US$2.50 per month plan is particularly interesting.

Child Mortality progress and further actions

The number of children under five years of age dying each year declined from more than 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010, according to World Health Organization estimates on worldwide child mortality.

The vast majority of those deaths can be avoided. Saving the lives of the children will not cause a surge in population because people in underdeveloped countries who lose a child have more children. They also have larger families with the anticipation of losing some children to disease. There are smaller family sizes in countries with low infant and child mortality.

A child's greatest risk of dying is during the first 28 days of life, accounting for 40% of all deaths among children under the age of 5. Half of newborn deaths occur during the first 24 hours and 75% during the first week of life, with preterm birth, severe infections and asphyxia being the main causes.

Some of the interventions include:

* Manage maternal anemia with iron;
* Prevent and manage post-partum hemorrhage;
* Immediate thermal care for newborns;
* Extra support for feeding small and preterm babies;
* Antibiotics for the treatment of pneumonia in children.

Oil Prices and economic impact and pipeline alternatives to the Straits of Hormuz

1. US Energy Information Administration analysis indicates that a $20 increase in the cost of a barrel of oil — roughly what we saw last year — is estimated to shave roughly 0.4 points off GDP growth in the first year alone and boost unemployment by 0.1 percentage points.

2. NY Times - The United Arab Emirates has nearly completed an oil export pipeline from Abu Dhabi, on the Gulf, to the Gulf of Oman, bypassing the Strait of Hormuz.

January 15, 2012

Universal flu vaccine human clinical trials for 2013

Universal flu vaccine could be ready for human clinical trials in 2013

In late 2011, two research groups created a strain of H5N1 bird flu that could be passed from human to human, leading the World Health Organization to issue a statement that said they were "deeply concerned about the potential negative consequences" that publishing their research could cause. Some news outlets have called the new strain "engineered doomsday" and wondered whether terrorist organizations could createand distribute a similar virus.Kim saysnot to worry.

"I am very certain our vaccine can already neutralize that newly made virus," he says. "We're trying to get our hands on it."

Inovio is working on vaccines that'll protect against other strains, such as H3N2, which is seen in a newly-emerged swine flu virus. Those vaccines will becombined with the already-developed H1N1 and H5N1 vaccines to be delivered in one shot by the 2013 flu season. Researchers are taking a similar approach to HIV vaccine development, but working on the flu might be easier.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 87

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 87 is up at the ANS Nuclear Cafe

Atomic Insights - Rod Adams writes that David Owen’s book, “The Conundrum” comes to the conclusion that there is no way for people to sustain a high energy consumption life-style. He ignores the incredible store of energy inside of uranium and thorium.

Nuke Power Talk - Gail Marcus writes that we have long known about the radioactivity of emissions from coal-fired plants. Now, Gail Marcus comments on radioactive emissions from yet another fossil fuel. Among the other problems identified with the process of “fracking” to extract natural gas, they have now been identified with increased releases of radioactive emissions.