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January 28, 2012

The Science of Antiaging Chat With Aubrey de Grey and S. Jay Olshansky

Science recently hosted a live chat event with researchers Aubrey de Grey and S. Jay Olshansky.

Jay Olshansky, a professor at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and Aubrey de Grey, a biomedical gerontologist based in Cambridge, U.K., and chief science officer of SENS Foundation, a California-based charity that is trying to combat the aging process.

Aubrey: We are NOT working to extend life for the sake of extending life. We are working to postpone the ill-health of old age, which will probably have the side-effect of extending life, but it's no more than that, a side-effect. I personally have no idea how long I want to live, and more than I have an opinion on what time I want to go to the toilet next Sunday. In both cases I know I'm going to have better information nearer the time, so it's idiotic to even think about it. However, I can tell you that I have at least 1000 years of backlog already (books to read, films to se...) - don't you? If not, why not?

S. Jay Olshansky: Based on technology that exists today, I think humans on average are capable of living about 85-90 years -- no matter how much we modify risk factors and improve lifestyles. It is certainly possible for this number to rise further with advances in technology that slow aging, but those don't exist yet. I don't see 500 year lifespans occurring any time soon.

S. Jay Olshansky: There have been some reductions in death rates at older ages as you know, but these are for more difficult to achieve than reductions in death rates at younger ages that occurred in the past. I see no reason why life expectancy at age 85 cannot increase -- it's just that the gains in life expectancy must be small because the overall risk of death that these later ages is extremely high. The longer we live, the harder it is to generate increases in life expectancy -- especially at older ages.



What are the near and long term advantages of a Permanent Moon Base

What are the advantages of a moon base ? It is a new beachhead for the initiation of space industrialization.

You can develop the billions of gallons of water that are on the moon and provide fuel for orbital and other space operations. (military and other wise). The fuel would be cheaper because it would be 22 times cheaper to bring it up from a gravity well that is one sixth the strength.

You can begin the industrialization and colonization of space. What was the advantage of Jamestown in America to England ? Not much. But the advantage of having colonized Canada and then the US made the difference in WW2. Canada provided vital supplies to sustain England and the US provided a lot of military support.

On the way to full space industrialization, if a country is in the lead in colonization then that likely translates to having more rockets and space capability. Those with the most colonies in the old world had stronger navies. A 13000 person moon base means hundreds of reusable Spacex falcon heavies and a lot of earth to moon space tugs. A nation now that has bases and people in islands tends to control the sea around and between those islands. If I have big moon base and all of the space infrastructure and transports that go with it, then I probably can control who has GPS or anything else in space. (Assuming that the other nations are behind.) I expect that Russia, China and India will step up if the US make this move.


Setting up an industrial village on the moon was described in an article here written by Joseph Friedlander

The plan takes advantage of the nuclear cannon concept that I have thought of as a variant of external pulse nuclear propulsion and which Joseph Friedlander developed further. However, the plan could be adapted to using reusable Spacex launch vehicles and fuel depots to bring costs to a more affordable level than today (My nuclear cannon launcher concept would be very cheap for supplies but I recognize that this will not gain support in spite if being safe and technically practical).


I have reviewed several technologies that would make a permanent moon base more affordable and enable it to be built sooner.



The key is to aggressively start to build up the energy available and the level of manufacturing and processing of resources.

There is uranium and thorium on the moon. Those resources could be extracted and it could be cheaper and circumvents political roadblocks to getting project Orion started in the solar system. Build the project Orion systems on the moon. The fact that it cost more to lunar uranium than it would have for earth uranium avoids the fact that the Earth is filled with people who do not understand that external pulse propulsion can be made safe. Presumably the moon would have mainly very good engineers and science and math literate people. People who are willing to do bold things would be self selecting.

Space technologies that would help enable a more affordable Permanent Moon Base

1. Fuel depots. 2-17 times more stuff to the moon or other space missions. Lowering costs for GTO closer to LEO orbit costs

Propellant fuel depot
Boeing Propellant fuel depot

2. Lunar concrete would reduce the amount of material needed to build things on the moon by ten times.


A 50 meter telescope could be built from lunar concrete, with the mirror covered with a thin layer of aluminum. It could directly image any potential continents on planets around nearby stars with no atmosphere on the moon to distort the massive light gathering area.

3. Successful Big and cheap rockets by Spacex or others

Spacex Falcon Heavy can bring launch costs below $1000 per pound.

Spacex is working achieve reusable rockets which would bring costs down to $50-100 per pound.




4. Bigelow - inflatable space stations
Bigelows planned habitable private space station


Bigelow Aerospace Lagrange point and lunar plans


If Bigelow Aerospace can get a full size inflatable station into orbit, then they can focus farther out into space. One of the key places in Bigelow's plan is a point about 200,000 miles (323,000 kilometers) out from Earth in the moon's direction, where the pulls of terrestrial and lunar gravity balance each other.


Bigelow would turn that region of space, called L1, into a construction zone. Inflatable modules would be linked up with propulsion/power systems and support structures, and then the completed base would be lowered down to the moon's surface, all in one piece.

Once the moon base has been set down, dirt would be piled on top, using a technique that Bigelow plans to start testing later this year at his Las Vegas headquarters. The moon dirt, more technically known as regolith, would serve to shield the base's occupants from the harsh radiation hitting the lunar surface.

Making a Permanent Lunar Base and Overcoming Political Roadblocks

Rand Simberg has noted - It is possible to withdraw from the 1967 Outer Space Treaty with one years notice. A president that wanted to do that would need to get Congressional support. Another method is suggested by the Space Settlement Institute. The U.S. can recognize private claims of non-state actors, which could accomplish the goal of allowing property on the moon without the need to withdraw from the Outer Space Treaty. It would also provide a tradable market in lunar real estate, allowing private settlement ventures to raise funds without the need for taxpayer money. It wouldn’t be a U.S. state, but it might be a settlement of Americans, with American values, which is probably what the former speaker’s goal is.

Rand Simberg also notes a problem for long term government prizes. There would be no guarantee that a future Congress wouldn’t rescind it, creating a great deal of uncertainty and risk for someone who wanted to pursue it. This can be overcome by crafting a series of shorter term prizes.

I would like readers can discuss in the comments, what would be the most efficient and effective series of space prizes to achieve a permanent lunar base. Try to stay in the budget of $2 billion per year from 2013-2020. $14 billion. Also, suggestions for re-allocating other parts of NASA budget can be suggested as well. Things like beefing up support for commercial launch systems.

January 27, 2012

Quantum Cryptography communication may not be secure for more than one use

Arxiv- Prisoners of their own device: Trojan attacks on device-independent quantum cryptography (7 pages)

Device-independent cryptographic schemes aim to guarantee security to users based only on the output statistics of any components used, and without the need to verify their internal functionality. Since this would protect users against untrustworthy or incompetent manufacturers, sabotage or device degradation, this idea has excited much interest, and many device-independent schemes have been proposed. We point out here a critical weakness of device-independent quantum cryptography for tasks, such as key distribution, that rely on public communication between secure laboratories. Untrusted devices may record their inputs and outputs and reveal encoded information about them in their outputs during later runs. Reusing devices thus compromises the security of a protocol and risks leaking secret data. Possible solutions include securely destroying used devices or isolating them until previously generated data need no longer be kept secret. However, such solutions are costly and impose severe constraints on the practicality of many device-independent quantum cryptographic schemes.

UK sets sights on gene therapy in embryos

Nature - Public consultation and safety assessment would pave the way for embryo manipulation to treat genetic diseases.

Britain has set out a road map towards the first clinical tests of reproductive techniques that combine parents’ genes with DNA from a third party. The approach raises ethical questions, but could spare children from inheriting some rare diseases, including forms of muscular dystrophy and neurodegenerative disorders that affect around 1 in 5,000 people.

These conditions are caused by defects in the mitochondria, the ‘power packs’ of the cell, which are inherited from a child’s mother through the egg. Experiments on primates, and with defective human eggs, have already shown that genetic material can be removed from an egg that has faulty mitochondria and transferred to a healthy donor ovum, leaving the flawed mitochondrial DNA behind. In principle, the resulting egg could then develop into a healthy child carrying both the parents’ nuclear genes and mitochondrial DNA from the donor. But the work amounts to genetic modification of embryos — which is currently illegal in the United Kingdom — and also involves destroying fertilized eggs.


Cool Nano Loudspeakers Could Make for Better MRIs, Quantum Computers

NIST - A team of physicists from the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), the Neils Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Harvard University has developed a theory describing how to both detect weak electrical signals and cool electrical circuits using light and something very like a nanosized loudspeaker.* If demonstrated through experiment, the work could have a tremendous impact on detection of low-power radio signals, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and the developing field of quantum information science.

"We envision coupling a nanomechanical membrane to an electrical circuit so that an electrical signal, even if exceedingly faint, will cause the membrane to quiver slightly as a function of the strength of that signal," says JQI physicist Jake Taylor. "We can then bounce photons from a laser off that membrane and read the signal by measuring the modulation of the reflected light as it is shifted by the motion of the membrane. This leads to a change in the wavelength of the light."


JQI researchers think they have discovered a way to amplify faint electrical signals using the motion of a nanomechanical membrane, or loudspeaker. If shown in experiments, the scheme could prove a boon to magnetic resonance imaging and quantum information science. This schematic of the proposed device shows its use in detecting--in this example--a signal produced by the quantum-mechanical "spin" of a group of atoms. The atoms generate a faint radiofrequency signal in a coil (L) which is connected to microscale wires that form an electrical capacitor. This vibrates the 'nanomembrane' which in turn affects the resonant frequency of a laser optical cavity. The output is light at frequency that is the sum of the original laser frequency plus the signal from the atoms.
Credit: Taylor/NIST


Physical Review Letters - Laser Cooling and Optical Detection of Excitations in a LC Electrical Circuit

1000 times less energy to produce the microbubbles which can be used in Algae Biofuel Production

A solution to the difficult issue of harvesting algae for use as a biofuel has been developed using microbubble technology pioneered at the University of Sheffield. The technique builds on previous research in which microbubbles were used to improve the way algae is cultivated.

Algae produce an oil which can be processed to create a useful biofuel. Biofuels, made from plant material, are considered an important alternative to fossil fuels and algae, in particular, has the potential to be a very efficient biofuel producer. Until now, however, there has been no cost-effective method of harvesting and removing the water from the algae for it to be processed effectively.

Now, a team led by Professor Will Zimmerman in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Sheffield, believe they have solved the problem. They have developed an inexpensive way of producing microbubbles that can float algae particles to the surface of the water, making harvesting easier, and saving biofuel-producing companies time and money. The research is set to be published in Biotechnology and Bioengineering on 26 January 2012.

The system developed by Professor Zimmerman´s team uses up to 1000 times less energy to produce the microbubbles and, in addition, the cost of installing the Sheffield microbubble system is predicted to be much less than existing flotation systems.

Cardiac muscle cells have been loaded onto a 3D silk scaffold

Damaged human heart muscle cannot be regenerated. Scar tissue grows in place of the damaged muscle cells. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim are seeking to restore complete cardiac function with the help of artificial cardiac tissue. They have succeeded in loading cardiac muscle cells onto a three-dimensional scaffold, created using the silk produced by a tropical silkworm. It is a step down a long road towards creating a tissue for repairing damaged hearts.

At the university there, coin-sized disks are being produced from the cocoon of the tasar silkworm (Antheraea mylitta). According to Chinmoy Patra, an Indian scientist who now works in Engel’s laboratory, the fibre produced by the tasar silkworm displays several advantages over the other substances tested. “The surface has protein structures that facilitate the adhesion of heart muscle cells. It’s also coarser than other silk fibres.” This is the reason why the muscle cells grow well on it and can form a three-dimensional tissue structure. “The communication between the cells was intact and they beat synchronously over a period of 20 days, just like real heart muscle,” says Engel.

Despite these promising results, clinical application of the fibre is not currently on the agenda. “Unlike in our study, which we carried out using rat cells, the problem of obtaining sufficient human cardiac cells as starting material has not yet been solved,” says Engel. It is thought that the patient’s own stem cells could be used as starting material to avoid triggering an immune reaction. However, exactly how the conversion of the stem cells into cardiac muscle cells works remains a mystery.


Disks cut from the cocoon of the tasar silkworm grub provide a basic scaffold for heart muscle

Physicists Measure Propagation Velocity of Quantum Signals in a Many-Body System

Science Daily - Physicists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have measured the propagation velocity of quantum signals in a many-body system. A quantum computer based on quantum particles instead of classical bits, can in principle outperform any classical computer. However, it still remains an open question, how fast and how efficient quantum computers really may be able to work. A critical limitation will be given by the velocity with which a quantum signal can spread within a processing unit.

The communication and processing of information in a quantum computer is based on concepts that are inherently different from those used in classical computers. This is due to the fundamental differences between quantum particles and classical objects. Whereas the latter are, for example, either black or white, quantum particles can take on both colours at the same time. It is only at the process of measurement that the particles decide on one of the two possible properties. As a consequence of this peculiar behaviour, two quantum objects can form one entangled state in which their properties are strictly connected, i.e. quantum correlated. At present there is no general model for predicting how fast a quantum correlation can travel after it is generated.


Propagation of quantum correlations in an optical lattice. Left: artist’s view (Graphic by woogie works animation studio). Right: a) In the initial state, each lattice site is filled by exactly one atom. The height of the barrier between the sites is then abruptly lowered, bringing the system out of equilibrium. b) After the barrier has been lowered, an entangled doublon-holon pair is formed. The correlated doublons and holons move across the system with opposite momenta. (Credit: MPQ)


Nature - Light-cone-like spreading of correlations in a quantum many-body system


China’s Provincial GDP Figures in 2011 and forecasts for 2012 through 2015

China Briefing - 2011 Provincial GDP figures

Wikipedia GDP per capita by province in China.

Jiangsu Province’s GDP grew 9.2 percent to RMB4.8 trillion (US$759 billion) in 2011, according to the provincial government’s report. Jiangsu’s GDP per capita reached US$9,500.

In 2012, Jiangsu (80 million), Zhejiang (56 million), Inner Mongolia (25 million) should be over US$10,000 GDP per capita. They will join Shanghai (23 million), Beijing (20 million), and Tianjin (13 million) with GDP per capita over US$10,000.

Liaoning (44 million) and Guangdong (105 million) should get over the US$10,000 per capita level in 2013. Shandong (96 million) and Fujian (37 million) should get over the US$10,000 per capita level in 2013 or 2014.

Getting over US$12,000 per person in 2010 dollars is the level where a country is believed to exceeded the level of a middle income trap.

Shanghai, Beijing and Tianjin are all over the US$12,000 per capita level as of the end of 2011. The other provinces should clear the US$12,000 per capita levels 1 to 2 years after they clear the US$10,000 per capita levels.

By 2015, China should have provinces with a combined population of about 500 million with per capita GDP over US$12,000. I am projecting all of China to have a per capita GDP of about $9000-10000 in 2010 US dollars in 2015



DARPA Power Efficiency Revolution Project targets 75 gigaflops per watt

DARPA’s Power Efficiency Revolution for Embedded Computing Technologies (PERFECT) program seeks to improve power efficiency for embedded computer systems, providing more computing per watt of electrical power. To increase awareness of this program and attract potential researchers, DARPA has scheduled a Proposers’ Day workshop Feb. 15 in Arlington, Virginia.

The goal of 75 GFLOPS/watt would enable a 15 megawatt supercomputer to achieve an EXAFlop of processing.

In the past, computing systems could rely on increasing computing performance with each processor generation. Following Moore’s Law, each generation brought with it double the number of transistors. And according to Dennard’s Scaling, clock speed could increase 40 percent each generation without increasing power density. This allowed increased performance without the penalty of increased power.

Why there has been no rush for over 15 billion barrels of recoverable oil in Monterey California

Argus Media - California's Monterey formation, which the EIA estimates holds 15.4 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil, cannot even attract new investment from the oil major in its home state, Chevron.

Other than Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum (Oxy), no major or large independent is earmarking drilling capital for the Monterey.

The reticence to invest stems from a combination of factors, from geology to the high cost of doing business in California.

Oxy, which produces about 45,000 b/d of oil equivalent (boe/d) from California shale, said its Monterey wells have average initial production rates of about 370 boe/d. Some wells in other shale resource plays, such as the Granite Wash of Texas and Oklahoma, start up with output more than five times that high.

But one economic plus of the Monterey is that California oil sells at prices in the same range as Brent crude, rather than West Texas Intermediate (WTI). Another plus: some wells can be drilled vertically and stimulated with hydrofluoric acid, which is cheaper than horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Monterey oil deposits are 6,000-12,000ft below ground.

“If we went back to what we said roughly a year ago or a little more than a year ago, I think we are a little more optimistic on the verticals and a little more pessimistic on the horizontals,” Oxy chief executive Stephen Chazen said.

Oxy's pace of development may be slowed by California's permitting process, which would become even more difficult under proposed state legislation. A bill seeks to impose additional reporting and record keeping requirements designed to protect groundwater, even in desert areas where no groundwater is present.

The company's California shale-drilling program, including 150-175 wells this year, will yield “more predictable production growth going forward.” While Oxy has permits in hand to continue its current pace of drilling through the end of 2011, Chazen acknowledges “some uncertainty around future permits, particularly related to injection wells.”

“If we can get the permitting issues worked out in the next six months, you will see significantly higher rig counts in California,” he said. “Right now, I just do not have a basis to raise that rig count in California. I do not have enough confidence in the permitting process.”

Companies are not only slow to move because of politics. Major producers have tied up much of the land in the Monterey, but they have little incentive to exploit the formation when shallower deposits in the same region offer lower costs and potentially higher returns, according to Mike Edwards, vice-president at US independent Venoco.


The oil boom will happen when aggressive oil players like Hess and Continental Resources buy out positions of the oil majors and overcome any regulations in California.

Transcript and Video Newt Talking about Space and Moon colonization

There is a seven page transcript about Newt Gingrich talking about his passion for space and colonizing the moon.



Spider silk for artificial corneas and brain implants

New Scientist - Spider silk has a big future in technologies from artificial corneas to brain implants.

Weight for weight, a typical spider silk is 20 times as strong as steel and four times as tough as Kevlar. It is also extremely flexible, stretching up to 50 per cent of its length without breaking. And it's not just the silk's physical properties that are impressive. It elicits no immune reaction in our bodies, it is biodegradable, and it is produced at low temperatures and pressures relative to other polymers.

The most enticing aspects of silk are its optical and biological properties.

Researchers have laser-cut a film of artificial silk to create synthetic corneas.

They have developed ways to pattern silk films and has made holograms, lenses, sensors and diffraction gratings from the stuff.

Nature Photonics - A new route for silk

California high speed rail audit about $215 billion

The cost estimates for phase one of California High Speed rail increased to between $98.1 billion and $117.6 billion—of which approximately $12.5 billion has been secured. Although the Authority identifies the federal government as its largest potential funding source, the plan provides few details about how it expects to secure this money. The cost estimates do not include phase one's operating and maintenance costs, yet based on data in the plan these costs could total approximately $96.8 billion from 2025 through 2060.

The State will only be receiving profits for the first two years of operation in 2022 and 2023, and will potentially not receive profits again until 2060 in exchange for the almost $11 billion it assumes it will receive from the private sector.

The 800 mile system could end up costing over $260 million per mile, if there are no cost overruns through 2033 and ridership does not disappoint from 2025 through 2060.

January 26, 2012

Graphene oxide membrane is 10 billion times more permeable to water than to helium

Eurekalert - A new finding at the University of Manchester gives graphene's potential a most surprising dimension – graphene can also be used for distilling alcohol.

A team led by Professor Sir Andre Geim shows that graphene-based membranes are impermeable to all gases and liquids (vacuum-tight). However, water evaporates through them as quickly as if the membranes were not there at all.

This newly-found property can now be added to the already long list of superlatives describing graphene. It is the thinnest known material in the universe and the strongest ever measured. It conducts electricity and heat better than any other material. It is the stiffest one too and, at the same time, it is the most ductile.

Chemistry World - UK researchers have created a graphene-based membrane that allows water through but not helium. The discovery of such membranes might ultimately have applications in a whole range of industries including effective separation of hydrogen from liquid or gaseous mixtures for fuel production.

They have developed a graphene oxide membrane that is 10 billion times more water permeable than it is to helium.

Newt plans for moon base and using ten percent of NASA budget fo spaceflight milestone prizes

There are many supposed "space experts" who say that Newt Gingrich's proposal for a permanent manned base on the moon by 2020 cannot be done.

They claim that the technology is there but not the money to do it.

Washington Post - Newt has said that he’d use 10 percent of the NASA budget — which would amount to nearly $2 billion a year — to create prizes, incentives for entrepreneurs to achieve spaceflight milestones.

Gingrich said his program would be “90 percent private sector” and he’d like to see space flight become so common that there would be “six or seven launches a day.” He added: “I’d like to have an American on the moon before the Chinese get there.”
Inflatable moon bases proposed by Bigelow Aerospace

System to deliver organ transplant drug- without harmful side effects

A new system for delivering a drug to organ transplant patients, which could avoid the risk of harmful side effects, is being developed by scientists at Strathclyde. The drug, cyclosporine (CsA), is widely used in transplant operations and helps prevent the patient’s body rejecting the organ but it can cause adverse drug reactions, of which the most serious problems are kidney and liver damage, in the doses which are currently administered in the long term.

The gap between a safe, effective dose of the treatment and a toxic dose is extremely narrow but the Strathclyde scientists have found a way of capturing CsA in very small amounts. The new system, developed in laboratory tests, enables nanoparticles of the drug to be delivered orally so that the strength of the dose can be maintained, but at a level and in a form which spares kidneys from damage.

AVA iRobot Video

iRobot CEO Colin Angle shows off the company's latest robot designed to help people with home health care needs. AVA is a robot with a tablet for head. Tablet provides cameras, sensors and compute power.



Reason features the key players in New Commercial Space

Reason has a feature on the key people driving New Space

Elon Musk of Spacex
Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic
Jeff Greason of XCOR
Peter Diamandis of the Xprize
Charles Simonyi who has paid twice to be a passenger to the Space Station
Robert Bigelow of Bigelow Aerospace who is making inflatable space stations
John Carmack of Armadillo Aerospace
Dana Rohrabacher is a Congressman who helped enact the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act
George Nield associate administrator for commercial space transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)


Three-dimensional plasmonic cloak hides a cylinder from microwaves

New Journal of Physics - Experimental verification of three-dimensional plasmonic cloaking in free-space (14 pages) They optimized the cloak design for the 3 GHz range. They have hidden a cylinder from microwaves, demonstrating cloaking of an object in free space, rather than a two-dimensional image. The group has not been able to scatter visible light, but it expects that cloaking small objects is possible. The results pave the way to realistic, practical applications of 3D stand-alone cloaks for radar evasion and non-invasive radio frequency probing.

BBC News - The approach used is unlikely to work at the visible light part of the spectrum. Prof Alu explained that the approach could be applied to the tips of scanning microscopes - the most high-resolution microscopes science has - to yield an improved view of even smaller wavelengths of light.

In future applications, plasmonic materials could be combined with the structured metamaterials idea already in development elsewhere. Light can be channelled where it needs to go, or its effects undone, as need be.

Prof Apu said that if he had to bet in five years what kind of cloaking technique might be used for applications, for practical purposes, then he would say plasmonic cloaking is a good bet.

We report the experimental verification of metamaterial cloaking for a 3D object in free space. We apply the plasmonic cloaking technique, based on scattering cancellation, to suppress microwave scattering from a finite-length dielectric cylinder. We verify that scattering suppression is obtained all around the object in the near- and far-field and for different incidence angles, validating our measurements with analytical results and full-wave simulations. Our nearfield and far-field measurements confirm that realistic and robust plasmonic metamaterial cloaks may be realized for elongated 3D objects with moderate transverse cross-section at microwave frequencies.
Photographs of: (top) the assembled cloak on the test cylinder with end caps; (bottom left) a cross-sectional view of the assembly with end cap removed; (bottom right) a shell segment edge with copper tape used to form the metallic strip for the metamaterial cloak.

Asthma rate and costs from traffic-related air pollution are much higher than once believed

Eurekalert University of Massachusetts Amherst - The total cost of asthma due to pollution is much higher than past traditional risk assessments have indicated and there is growing evidence that exposure to traffic-related air pollution is a cause of asthma and a trigger for attacks, so it should be included.

They conducted the study in Long Beach and Riverside, Calif., communities with high regional air pollution levels and large roads near residential neighborhoods. Total additional asthma-specific costs there due to traffic-related pollution is about $18 million per year, almost half of which is due to new asthma cases caused by pollution.

Using updated techniques that count asthma cases attributable to air pollution for the first time and including a broader range of health care costs such as parents' missed work days, extra doctor visits and travel time along with prescriptions, the researchers found that a single episode of bronchitic symptoms cost an average $972 in Riverside and $915 in Long Beach. Bronchitic symptoms (daily cough, congestion or phlegm, or bronchitis for three months in a row) are a critical outcome for children with asthma.

European Respiratory Journal - Costs of childhood asthma due to traffic-related pollution in two california communities

Pac Man Video Game is NP Hard

Arxiv - Gaming is a hard job, but someone has to do it! (12 pages)

We establish some general schemes relating the computational complexity of a video game to the presence of certain common elements or mechanics, such as destroyable paths, collecting items, doors activated by switches or pressure plates, etc.. Then we apply such \metatheorems" to several video games published between 1980 and 1998, including Pac-Man, Tron, Lode Runner, Boulder Dash, Deektor, Mindbender, Pipe Mania, Skweek, Prince of Persia, Lemmings, Doom, Puzzle Bobble 3, and Starcraft. We obtain both new results, and improvements or alternative proofs of previously known results.

A game is said to exhibit the location traversal feature if the level designer can somehow force the player's avatar to visit several specifi c game locations, arbitrarily connected together, in order to beat the level. Locations may be visited multiple times in any order, but the first one is usually fi xed (starting location), and sometimes also the last one is (exit location).

Metatheorem 1. Any game exhibiting both location traversal and single-
use paths is NP-hard.

Department of Energy will fund up to Two Small Modular Nuclear Reactors for 2022

World Nuclear News - The US Department of Energy (DoE) is to help push forward the manufacture of small modular nuclear reactors through new cost-sharing arrangements with private industry to support design and licensing activities. The DoE intends ultimately to fund up to two designs for small modular reactors (SMRs) through a cost-shared partnership which will support first-of-a-kind engineering, design certification and licensing. To that end, it has issued a draft Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to solicit inputs from industry in advance of the full FOA, aiming at a deployment date for the reactors of 2022.

Platts - The US Department of Energy is seeking applications for two grants, estimated to total $452 million over five years. The funds will pay up to half the cost of developing and deploying up to two small modular reactor designs.

Pittsburgh-based engineering company Westinghouse Friday said it will apply for government funding to advance nuclear technology that would produce a new type of small reactors.


First for accelerator-driven nuclear reactor

A first-of-a-kind reactor system has been set up in Belgium by coupling a subcritical assembly with a particle accelerator. The equipment, known as Guinevere, is a demonstration model that supports the project for a larger version that will be called Myrrha (Multipurpose Hybrid Research Reactor for High-tech Applications). The overall project is supported by 12 other European laboratories and the European Commission.

Guinevere is designed to be subcritical if it were not for an accelerator system that sends a constant stream of protons to a target that emits neutrons to trigger fission. SCK-CEN said, "This type of reactor is very safe because the reactor section relies on a particle accelerator: when it is turned off, the reactor will stop immediately."

As well as this kind of accelerator-driven operation, Guinevere is also capable of 'classic' criticality triggered by a neutron source in the reactor core and maintained by the reactor geometry and operation of its lead cooling system. This mode of operation was 'inaugurated' in February 2011.

Guinevere has "very limited power" and is being used to learn more about the operation and control of this kind of reactor arrangement. The knowledge will be put to use at Guinevere's larger relation, Myhrra, which should begin operation in 2023.

MYRRHA: Multi-purpose hybrid research reactor for high-tech applications project pages

Elon Musk indicates design for bringing a rocket back to launchpad

Elon Musk announces a milestone towards a reusable rocket

Twitter - Design completed for bringing rocket back to launchpad using only thrusters.



Nuclear Katyusha Launching

The Nextbigfuture nuclear launch gun has been described several times. It is a one pulse variant of a project orion external pulse propulsion system. It is simple though dramatic: Dig a kilometers deep shaft—a salt layer would be easiest to penetrate (some exist 3.5 kilometers thick) —build at the bottom a giant shell, from components lowered into place, layer by layer enclosing its internal payloads with external structures (such as a supporting sabot) and sealing the unit to flight-ready status. Place sets of guide rails around the perimeter of the shaft with ‘slippers’—metal contact shoes—touching the rails from the edges of the Shell. Finally, after all is in readiness, pump reaction mass through an access shaft under the sabot into a prepared chamber and place a thermonuclear explosive device in the midst of the reaction mass. A 150 kiloton version would not violate the nuclear test ban treaties which permit underground nuclear explosions up to 150 kilotons. About 85% of heat energy of the nuclear explosion should be converted into kinetic energy to launch the roughly 3500 ton shell to over escape velocity.

Pictured are project Orion nuclear pulsed propulsion, this system is variant with only one charge instead of hundreds and where the explosion is underground with all fallout and electromagnetic effects contained like hundreds of previous underground nuclear tests performed throughout the 1950s-1980s.

Consider Mass Launching of Nuclear Cannons - Nuclear Katyusha

There are over 6000 nuclear bombs are about 150 kilotons. The yield can be adjusted with the amount of tritium. So there are enough bombs for six thousand 150 kiloton launches without starting production of more bombs.

W80 mod 1 (cruise missile warhead) 1450 active, 361 inactive
384 inactive W84 cruise missile warheads. They would need a full load of tritium added to get them to their 150 kiloton yield and back to active status.
B61 -mod 3 (170 kilotons) could have some reduction in tritium to reduce it to 150 kilotons. (200 active, 186 inactive)
W62-Mk-12 (170 kilotons, 580 active or inactive)
W76-Mk4 (100 kilotons, 3030 active or inactive)

January 25, 2012

More Details on Super fracking

New Energy and Fuel - “super fracking” as its becoming named is based on three basic improvements.

This is a follow up from this article

1. Schlumberger’s “HIWAY” idea is an innovation in the material forced into the rock. (The linked page has a good animation to explain the process in detail.)
Schlumberger's Flow-Channel Fracturing Illustrated

Advantage of China's Fast GDP Growth - They can Outgrow Debt Problems

Wall Street Journal - In 2011, China's gross domestic product came in at 47.1 trillion yuan ($7.11 trillion). That represented nominal growth of 17.5 per cent from 2010, a blistering pace that makes many of the problems of debt and credit that trouble investors, and which hang over valuations for Chinese stocks, appear a little more manageable.

Take local-government debt. The government's auditor put the number at 10.7 trillion yuan at the end of 2010. That was equal to 26% of China's GDP. In 2011, it shrank to 22%. Even if weaker demand and lower inflation mean a slightly lower nominal growth rate in 2012, by the end of the year local-government debt could shrink to 19% of GDP. Debt may be creeping up, but not enough to push the ratio in the wrong direction.

Investors also worry about China's credit binge, which saw the ratio of loans to GDP soar from 96% at the end of 2008 to 119% at the end of 2010, as the pace of new loans ran far ahead of GDP growth. An expanding economy means that ratio was down to 116% in 2011. That reduction reflects the fact that banks' loan books are expanding, though not as fast as GDP.

Slow growth in the US, Europe and Japan mean there is almost no room for error managing issues like real estate and debt.

China can overbuild real estate and then absorb the capacity with 30 million people moving to cities every year.

China can run up debt but easily have GDP/Debt ratio shrink by pulling back so that debts grows less than the nominal GDP growth rate. China's nominal 17% in 2011 and which should still be 12% or more in 2012 through 2020.

World’s Most Powerful X-ray Laser Creates 2-Million-Degree Matter

Researchers working at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have used the world’s most powerful X-ray laser to create and probe a 2-million-degree piece of matter in a controlled way for the first time. This feat, reported today in Nature, takes scientists a significant step forward in understanding the most extreme matter found in the hearts of stars and giant planets, and could help experiments aimed at recreating the nuclear fusion process that powers the sun.

The experiments were carried out at SLAC’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), whose rapid-fire laser pulses are a billion times brighter than those of any X-ray source before it. Scientists used those pulses to flash-heat a tiny piece of aluminum foil, creating what is known as “hot dense matter,” and took the temperature of this solid plasma – about 2 million degrees Celsius. The whole process took less than a trillionth of a second.
This photograph shows the interior of a Linac Coherent Light Source SXR experimental chamber, set up for an investigation to create and measure a form of extreme, 2-million-degree matter known as... (Photo courtesy University of Oxford/Sam Vinko

Green Wall of China and plans for the Great Green Wall of the Sahara

Wikipedia - The Green Wall of China, also known as the Green Great Wall or Great Green Wall will be a series of human-planted forest strips in the People's Republic of China, designed to hold back the expansion of the Gobi Desert. It is planned to be completed around 2050, at which point it is planned to be 2,800 miles (4,500 km) long. China has seen 3,600 square km (1,390 square miles) of grassland overtaken every year by the Gobi Desert. Each year dust storms blow off as much as 900 square miles (2,000 square km) of topsoil, and the storms are increasing in severity each year. The Green Wall project was begun in 1978 with the proposed end result of raising northern China’s forest cover from 5 to 15 percent and thereby reducing desertification.

As of 2009 China’s planted forest covered more than 500,000 square kilometers (increasing tree cover from 12% to 18%) – the largest artificial forest in the world. However, of the 53,000 hectares planted that year, a quarter died and of the remaining many are dwarf trees, which lack the capacity to protect the soil. In 2008 winter storms destroyed 10% of the new forest stock, causing the World Bank to advise China to focus more on quality rather than quantity in its stock species


Yale University - in an extensive analysis of such “afforestation” efforts published last year in Earth Science Reviews, Beijing Forestry University scientist Shixiong Cao and five co-authors say that on-the-ground surveys have shown that, over time, as many as 85 percent of the plantings fail.

Seawater Greenhouses

Seawater greenhouse technology is described here

The greenhouses produce more than five times the fresh water needed to water the plants, some of it can be released into the local environment to grow other plants.

Seawater is evaporated at the front of the greenhouse to create cool humid conditions inside. A proportion of the evaporated seawater is then condensed as fresh water that can be used to irrigate the crops. Excess freshwater created in the Seawater Greenhouse can be used to irrigate additional crops grown outside the greenhouse.

The air going into the greenhouse is first cooled and humidified by seawater, which trickles over the first evaporator. This provides good climate conditions for the crops. As the air leaves the growing area, it passes through the second evaporator over which seawater is flowing. This seawater has been heated by the sun in a network of pipes above the growing area, making the air much hotter and more humid. It then meets a series of vertical pipes through which cool seawater passes. When the hot humid air meets the cool surfaces, fresh water will condense as droplets that run down to the base where they can be collected.

The cool and humid conditions in the greenhouse enable crops to grow with very little water. When crops are not stressed by excessive transpiration, both the yield and the quality are higher.

The simplicity of the process imitates the hydrological cycle where seawater heated by the sun evaporates, cools down to form clouds, and returns to the earth as rain, fog or dew.


Environmental Benefits of lab-grown meat and genetically engineered fish

UK Guardian - a recent study calculates that cultured meat has 80-95% lower greenhouse gas emissions, 99% lower land use and 80-90% lower water use compared to conventionally produced meat in Europe. Every kilo of conventionally produced meat requires 4kg-10kg of feed, whereas cultured meat significantly increases efficiency by using only 2kg of feed. Based on our results, if cultured meat constituted half of all meat consumed we could halve the greenhouse emissions, and increase the forest cover by 50%, which is equivalent to four times of Brazil's current forest area.

The measurement of feed for kilogram of meat is for beef.

Cattle require 8-10 kilograms of feed per kilogram of live weight. Poultry require 3 kilograms of feed per kilogram of live weight. Fish, because they are poikilothermic ("cold-blooded"), only require 1.2 to 2 kilograms or less of feed per kilogram of live weight. No energy is required to maintain body temperature.

The first versions of genetically engineered fish are 10-30% more efficient at converting feed into body mass. Genetically engineered fish are more efficient than lab grown beef in converting feed into body mass.

Feed conversion ratio (FCR) at wikipedia

Sheep and cattle FCR 8 kg of feed to put on 1 kg of live weight
Pork (pigs) FCR of 3.4-3.6
Farm raised Atlantic salmon FCR of about 1.2
Tilapia, typically, 1.6 to 1.8
Poultry (chicken) has a feed conversion ratio of 2 to 1

Autophagy is one of the Mechanism of Longevity Activated by Exercise

Fightaging - Exercise extends healthy life in laboratory animals, but not maximum life span as is the case for calorie restriction. Present evidence suggests exercise and calorie restriction to have broadly similar - though very different in detail - effects on life expectancy. There is as yet no study on exercise that reproduces similar eye-opening changes in underlying biomarkers of health to those found in human calorie restriction practitioners. Exercise is "merely" great for health, as opposed to amazingly superb for health.

The Economist - exercise protects against a host of illnesses, from heart attacks and dementia to diabetes and infection.

Autophagy could the mechanism for the benefits of exercise. Autophagy is the process by which cells break down damaged components, the first step in recycling and replacement: fewer damaged components at any given time is a good thing, and so more autophagy should also be a good thing.

Autophagy is an ancient mechanism, shared by all eukaryotic organisms (those which, unlike bacteria, keep their DNA in a membrane-bound nucleus within their cells). It probably arose as an adaptation to scarcity of nutrients.

January 24, 2012

Weaving electronics into the fabric of our physical world

University of Cambridge - The integration of electronics with materials opens up a world of possibilities, the surface of which is just being scratched. Professor Arokia Nathan has joined the University to take up a new Chair in Engineering, where he will be exploring the application of research that allows us to glimpse a world rivalling our wildest dreams of the future.

The potential applications for nanophotonics and nanoelectronics are truly startling, suggesting the brink of a revolution in human–machine interfaces that could turn science fiction into a reality. From interactive paper to clothing that generates energy and light-weight material with X-ray capabilities, weaving electronics into the building blocks of everyday materials will undoubtedly impact how we live in the future.

DARPA's Instant Fire Suppression

A Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency research team at Harvard University created a handheld electrode that puts out fire with no water, chemicals, or smothering.

While water primarily cools a flame, carbon dioxide suffocates it by diluting the surrounding oxygen. Chemical suppressants such as halons work to disrupt the combustion process. These technologies suffer from limitations such as collateral damage to valuable property, environmental toxicity and limited effectiveness in different types of fire. All existing suppressants are composed of matter and must be physically delivered and dispersed throughout the fire. This limits the rate at which fires can be extinguished and the ability to combat fires in confined spaces or behind obstacles.

According to Matthew Goodman, DARPA program manager, “we successfully suppressed small flames and limited re-ignition of those flames, as well as exhibited the ability to bend flames. These effects, to date are very local—scaling is a challenge that remains to be overcome.”

DARPA's Instant Fire Suppression (IFS) program, which ended recently, sought to establish the feasibility of a novel flame-suppression system based on destabilization of flame plasma with electromagnetic fields and acoustics techniques. The DARPA research team at Harvard University has demonstrated suppression of small methane and related fuel fires by using a hand-held electrode, or wand.

“We’ve made scientific breakthroughs in our understanding and quantification of the interaction between electromagnetic and acoustic waves with flame plasma,” said Goodman. “Our goal was to advance understanding of this interaction and its applicability to flame plasma for suppressing flames.”



Phase I clinical trials for dendritic cell vaccine designed to both eradicate cancer cells and prevent disease relapse

The Center for Immunotherapy at Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI) has launched a phase I clinical research study of a dendritic cell vaccine designed to both eradicate cancer cells and prevent disease relapse. Developed at RPCI, the NY-ESO-1 dendritic cell vaccine will be manufactured in the Institute’s new Therapeutic Cell Production Facility using a unique FDA-approved process — making RPCI the first research facility in the U.S. to use a custom-made barrier isolator for vaccine cell production, and the first in the world to use this system in an approved, government-regulated study.

Raytheon has quantum dot system that mimics the radiation profile of a satellite as an anti-missile decoy

US Patent - Raytheon has a countermeasure system for protecting a satellite from a missile attack, the system comprising:

* a decoy comprising a plurality of quantum dots,
* the quantum dots being selected, responsive to excitation radiation, to emit radiation having an emission profile similar to a profile of a blackbody radiation signature of the satellite in space,
* the emitted radiation diverting the missile attack from the satellite onto the decoy.

2012 is the time for Gene Therapy to Start to get Disruptive

The time for commercial development of gene therapy has come according to James Wilson, MD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of Human Gene Therapy.

Until recently, gene therapy has been reserved for severe diseases with few treatment options. But the recent report of its successful use to treat hemophilia B, which would offer patients a therapeutic alternative that could replace the need for regular, lifelong protein replacement infusions, has brought gene therapy to the forefront as a technology capable of competing with and disrupting traditional forms of treatment. Although gene therapy for hemophilia B is still in early-stage clinical testing, a similar approach is in development to treat hemophilia A, and together these life-threatening diseases represent a $6.5 billion market for current protein replacement therapies.

The hemophilia B study was a phase 1 trial; more clinical data are needed before commercial sales and distribution can be considered. For this to happen, however, we need the participation of the biopharmaceutical industry. Christensen's research suggests there may be impediments to this happening, based on what he calls the “Innovator's Dilemma,” which is best described by the following question: “How [can] executives…simultaneously do what is right for the near-term health of their established businesses, while focusing adequate resources on the disruptive technologies that ultimately could lead to their downfall?”

Targeting HSP90 protein fights both breast cancers and leukemias

Eurekalert - Targeting a single protein (HSP90) can help fight both breast cancers and leukemias

A team led by Ute Moll at the University of Göttingen in Germany found that blocking HSP90 activity rendered normally protected proteins vulnerable to attack and destruction. One of these proteins—called migration inhibitory factor—drives the growth of breast tumors. HSP90 inhibitors slowed the growth of MIF-expressing breast tumors in mice but had little effect on tumors lacking MIF.

HSP90 inhibitors also look promising for certain forms of leukemia, according to a study by David Weinstock and coworkers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. They showed that HSP90 inhibitors slowed the growth of leukemias driven by hyperactive versions of the enzyme JAK2, many of which become resistant to JAK2-blocking drugs. The HSP90 inhibitors delayed the growth of resistant leukemia cells in mice.

Together these studies suggest that HSP90 may represent a therapeutic target in many cancers.

Journal of Experimental medicine - Inhibiting the HSP90 chaperone destabilizes macrophage migration inhibitory factor and thereby inhibits breast tumor progression

Car Platooning successfully demonstrated for four vehicles

The SARTRE project (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) has recently completed the first successful test demonstration of a multiple vehicle platoon, with Volvo Car Corporation as the only participating car manufacturer. The test fleet included a lead truck followed by three cars driven entirely autonomously at speeds of up to 90 km/h (56 mph), with no more than a 6-meter (20-foot) gap between the vehicles.

The benefit of car platoons is that cars behind the lead car can save 30-60 on fuel usage, there is potential for increased traffic without traffic jams.


Cars platooned into a road train would not cause less traffic issues than long trucks today.

Platooned cars would be the quickest way and lowest infrastructure method to rapidly enable

* partial hands free automated driving
* enable the fastest fuel savings using software and sensors
* enable more traffic on roads and highways while increasing speed with computers and software into existing cars without building more roads (most economical method)

Automated nanomanipulation for nanodevice construction

Journal Nanotechnology - Automated nanomanipulation for nanodevice construction [Free account required]

Nanowire field-effect transistors (nano-FETs) are nanodevices capable of highly sensitive, label-free sensing of molecules. However, significant variations in sensitivity across devices can result from poor control over device parameters, such as nanowire diameter and the number of electrode-bridging nanowires. This paper presents a fabrication approach that uses wafer-scale nanowire contact printing for throughput and uses automated nanomanipulation for precision control of nanowire number and diameter. The process requires only one photolithography mask. Using nanowire contact printing and post-processing (i.e. nanomanipulation inside a scanning electron microscope), we are able to produce devices all with a single-nanowire and similar diameters at a speed of about 1 min per device with a success rate of 95% (n = 500). This technology represents a seamless integration of wafer-scale microfabrication and automated nanorobotic manipulation for producing nano-FET sensors with consistent response across devices.


(a) Nanomanipulation system: (1) nanomanipulator-1, (2) nanomanipulator-2, (3) nanoprobe, (4) patterned electrodes pinning nanowires. (b) The system is mounted onto and demounted from the SEM through the specimen exchange chamber. (c) Eight electrode pairs with bridging nanowires underneath.

Defkalion appear to invite truly independent third party tests of their multi stage LENR reaction device

Praxen Defkalion Green Technologies Global Ltd. (PDGT) is ready to further allow third parties to evaluate its core technology: a multi stage LENR reaction between Nickel and Hydrogen. (4 pages)

PDGT has successfully completed its scientific, technological and engineering steps necessary to sustain such a reaction with results exceeding a COP of 20 (20 times more energy out than what is put in) and with temperatures capable to exceed 650 degrees Celsius.

As it was announced in our November 30th Press Release, a series of third party tests on Hyperion products have been scheduled to be performed within the first months of 2012, immediately after our product’s certification. This announcement does not refer to such product tests.

Independent tests have already been scheduled. With this announcement, PDGT welcomes further requests from internationally recognized and reputable scientific and business organizations interested to conduct their independent tests on “bare” Hyperion Reactors.

This announcement is being discussed on the Defkalion energy forum.

Summary of what successful independent tests and commercialization means

Defkalion has announced that they will commercialize low energy nuclear reactions.
An energy catalyzer that produces over 20 times the power that is put into it. Just before commercialization later this year, Defkalion is inviting what appears to be truly independent third party tests.

This relates to the buzz about the Rossi energy catalyzer. Defkalion and Rossi were partners but then they split.

If this is proved and the commercial devices work as promised then the world will be massively changed. Over the next few years as factories spring up around the world, the basic energy technology will be transformed.

It would also mean access to space would be transformed with the energy source being millions of times more energy dense than chemicals. Energy prices over the next several years could fall by ten to one hundred times. This would cause a global economic boom. Concerns about air pollution, peak oil, resource limitations would fade as energy capacity and availability would increase by thousands of times. The air pollution issues would go away as coal and natural gas plants and engines for cars are all replaced.


Hyperion C pre-industrial prototype (Casing, isolations and security components omitted)

Hyperion 21 page spec sheet from November 2011

Defkalion Green Technologies s.a. was established for the purpose to manufacture and release to the market products based on the Andrea Rossi E-Cat invention; essentially undertaking the path from invention to industrialization on a global scale. There is no government financing involved. Defkalion and Rossi then split and Defkalion developed their own low energy nuclear reaction process.


One in ten million neutrons could disappear into other universe and matter swapping between universes might be induced using lasers

One in ten million neutrons could disappear into another universe and matter swapping between universes could be initiated with a laser induced system. Technology Review - Their conclusion is that the probability of a neutron jumping ship is smaller than about one in a million. According to their theoretical work, a change in the gravitational potential should also influence the rate of matter swapping. So one idea is to carry out a neutron trapping experiment that lasts for a year or more, allowing the Earth to complete at least one orbit of the Sun. In that time, the gravitational potential changes in a way that should influence the rate of matter swapping. Indeed, there ought to be an annual cycle. “If one can detect such a modulation it would be a strong indication that matter swapping really occurs,” they say.

Arxiv - Experimental limits on neutron disappearance into another braneworld

Recent theoretical works have shown that matter swapping between two parallel braneworlds could occur under the influence of magnetic vector potentials. In our visible world, galactic magnetism possibly produces a huge magnetic potential. As a consequence, this paper discusses the possibility to observe neutron disappearance into another braneworld in certain circumstances. The setup under consideration involves stored ultracold neutrons - in a vessel - which should exhibit a non zero probability p to disappear into an invisible brane at each wall collision. An upper limit of p is assessed based on available experimental results. This value is then used to constrain the parameters of the theoretical model. Possible improvements of the experiments are discussed.

Wireless router for the brain for untethered optogenetics

Technology Review - Optogenetics has been hailed as a breakthrough in biomedical science—it promises to use light to precisely control cells in the brain to manipulate behavior, model disease processes, or even someday to deliver treatments. Kendall Research, a startup in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is trying to free optogenetics from constraints. It has developed several prototype devices that are small and light and powered wirelessly. The devices would allow mice and other small animals to move freely. The company is also developing systems to control experiments automatically and remotely, making it possible to use the technique for high-throughput studies.

The device, which weighs only three grams, is powered wirelessly by supercapacitors stationed below the animal's cage or testing area. Such supercapacitors are ideal for applications that need occasional bursts of power rather than a continuous source. The setup also includes a wirelessly connected controller that plugs into a computer through a USB. "It's essentially a wireless router for the brain," says Wentz.


Mind control: This optogenetics system makes it possible to control brain cells with light in freely moving animals. The prototype plugs in to an implant in an animal's brain. Kendall Research



January 23, 2012

Further Analysis and plans for ET3 Vacuum high speed trains

Evacuated tube transport technologies (ET3):a maximum value global transportation network for passengers and cargo, published in Journal of Modern Transportation, Volume 19, Number 1, March 2011, Page 42-50 Journal homepage: jmt.swjtu.edu.cn

Evacuated Tube Transport Technologies (ET3) offers the potential for more than an order of magnitude improvement in transportation efficiency, speed, cost, and effectiveness. An ET3 network may be optimized to sustainably displace most global transportation by car, ship, truck, train, and jet aircraft. To do this, ET3 standards should adhere to certain key principals: maximum value through efficiency, reliability, and simplicity; equal consideration for passenger and cargo loads; optimum size; high speed/high frequency operation; demand oriented; random accessibility; scalability; high granularity; automated control; full speed passive switching; open standards of implementation; and maximum use of existing capacities, materials, and processes.

Yaoping Zhang one of the authors is at Xijing University.

Research conducted by the Traction Power State Key Laboratory at the Southwest Jiaotong University, successfully developed a vacuum magnetic suspension train model able to run at between 600 (372.8 mph) and 1,200 (745.6 mph) kilometers per hour, equal to the speed of a plane, according to Shuai Bin, vice dean of the university's Traffic School.

* ET3 can provide 50 times more transportation per kWh of electricity than the most efficient electric cars or trains.

* ET3 is networked like freeways, except the capsules are automatically routed from origin to destination.

* Speed in initial ET3 systems is 600 km/h (370 mph) for local trips.

A chinese very low pressure maglev train is supposed to cost $1.5-2.95 million more per kilometer. So more than doubling the speed might add as little as 10% to the cost.

ET3 claims that they can be built for 1/10 the cost of High Speed Rail (HSR), or 1/4 the cost of a freeway.

* This will be developed to 6 500 km/h (4 000 mph) for international travel that will allow passenger or cargo travel from New York to Beijing in 2 hours.

* Velocity may even extend to that of a rocket in future


Project Bifrost is a new study of nuclear thermal propulsion rockets and other emerging technologies

Discovery News - Project Bifrost is an ambitious study examining emerging space technologies that could lay the foundation for future interstellar flights and investigates the utility of fission for future space missions.

Project Bifrost was initiated by Research Lead Tabitha Smith (Strategic Officer of General Propulsion Science) and Brad Appel (Program Manager of Nuclear Propulsion at General Propulsion Science), working in collaboration with Icarus Interstellar Inc. a nonprofit foundation dedicated to achieving interstellar flight by the year 2100.

According to Richard Obousy, senior scientist for Icarus, "the technology roadmap to antimatter, or even fusion rockets could easily be decades in the making, but there is one technology that we have available today that represents the critical first step in the long road to the stars, namely fission."

The fission rocket being referred to here is the Nuclear Thermal Rocket, or NTR. An NTR uses nuclear fission as an energy source instead of chemical combustion, and uses just hydrogen as a propellant, allowing it to achieve a very high exhaust velocity and high thrust. That's the kind of mind-boggling technology upgrade that means piloted missions to deep space, which are beyond the pale for chemical rockets, suddenly become very feasible.


Ultracapacitors for Innovative Rail Transit Braking Energy Recuperation System can save up to 30% on electricity

Maxwell Technologies, Inc. announced today that Bombardier Transportation, a leading producer of rail vehicles and rail transportation equipment, systems and services, has selected Maxwell ultracapacitors as the energy storage element of the BOMBARDIER* EnerGstor*® braking energy recuperation system.

Each stationary "wayside" EnerGstor unit incorporates an ultracapacitor array that is capable of storing up to two kilowatt hours of electrical energy generated by a rail vehicle's braking energy recuperation system. Recuperative braking is accomplished by running the vehicle's electric motor backwards to stop the vehicle with the motor's resistance. An electric motor running backwards also acts as an electric energy generator or dynamo that converts kinetic energy into electrical energy that can be stored for future use. The EnerGstor system offers multiple benefits to rail system operators, including:

* A 20 to 30 percent reduction in grid power consumption;
* Improved regulation of line voltage across a multi-stop rail system;
* Significant reduction in brake maintenance expense, and
* Backup power to enable vehicles to reach a station in the event of a grid power failure.

Bombardier EnerGstor system (4 pages)

Tablet and E-book reader Ownership Nearly Doubled to 29%

Pew Internet - The share of adults in the United States who own tablet computers nearly doubled from 10% to 19% between mid-December and early January and the same surge in growth also applied to e-book readers, which also jumped from 10% to 19% over the same time period. The number of Americans owning at least one of these digital reading devices jumped from 18% in December to 29% in January.

New Discoveries in Cell Aging

A group of researchers led by the Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine (IBB) and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) have achieved to quantify with precision the effect of protein aggregation on cell aging processes using as models the Escherichia coli bacteria and the molecule which triggers Alzheimer's disease. Scientists demonstrated that the effect can be predicted before it occurs. Protein aggregation is related to several diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases.

Journal of Molecular Biology - The Effect of Amyloidogenic Peptides on Bacterial Aging Correlates with Their Intrinsic Aggregation Propensity

Graphene enhances many materials, but leaves them wettable

Graphene is largely transparent to the eye and, as it turns out, largely transparent to water. A new study by scientists at Rice University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) has determined that gold, copper and silicon get just as wet when clad by a single continuous layer of graphene as they would without.

"The extreme thinness of graphene makes it a totally non-invasive coating," said Pulickel Ajayan, Rice's Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and of chemistry. "A drop of water sitting on a surface 'sees through' the graphene layers and conforms to the wetting forces dictated by the surface beneath. It's quite an interesting phenomenon unseen in any other coatings and once again proves that graphene is really unique in many different ways."

Nature Materials - Wetting transparency of graphene



European Banks have unlimited borrowing from the European Central Bank

Businessweek - European banks may borrow as much next month from the European Central Bank as they did in a record offering in December as they seek refuge from frozen funding markets. Basically Germany agreed to open up the printing presses to fund the ECB and thus the banks of Europe. This should prevent/limit any contagion. Greece can still fall out of Euro, but they are tiny and do not matter so long as they do not trigger any other problems. Germany is getting guarantees and other controls that they want put in place that will limit the financial behavior of the rest of the Eurozone.

The ECB last month lent banks an unprecedented 489 billion euros ($637 billion) for three years. The ECB is flooding the banking system with cheap money in a bid to avert a credit crunch after the market for unsecured bank debt seized up and funding from U.S. money markets dries up. Politicians, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, are pushing the banks to use the loans, which carry an interest rate of 1 percent, to buy higher-yielding southern European sovereign debt, thereby forcing down borrowing costs in the region.

The ECB is offering banks unlimited cash as lenders try to refinance more than $765 billion of debt that matures this year, just as institutional investors remain reluctant to buy debt from all but the safest banks.

Zambia begins administrering vaccine against diarrhoea for children under the age of five

Daily Mail of Zambia - A vaccine against diarrhoea for children under the age of five has been introduced in Zambia. The vaccine, rotavirus, will be administered by the Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia and Absolute Return for Kids under the auspices of the Programme for Awareness and Elimination of Diarrhoea (PAED) over a period of three years. About 84,000 infants have been targeted for vaccination by the end of this year in Lusaka alone, while more than 700,000 children will be vaccinated countrywide by 2015. About 40 children under the age of five in Zambia die from diarrhoea every day.

The United States has 7 to 9 trillion barrels of oil in place and possibly over 1 trillion barrels could be recoverable

Seeking Alpha - assigning estimated barrels of oil to various basins and shale oil plays plus including an estimate of yet to be discovered shale oil, I came to an estimate of oil in place. Oil in place in the continental US is from about 3 trillion to 5 trillion barrels of oil not including the 4.5 trillion barrels of oil shale.

1.53 trillion barrels Piceance Basin of Colorado (USGS, June 2011 oil shale)
1.44 trillion barrels Green River formation (USGS, June 2011 oil shale)
1.32 trillion barrels for the Uinta Basin of Utah and Colorado. (USGS, June 2011 oil shale)
260-500 billion barrels Monterey Formation (tight oil)
271-503 billion barrels Bakken Formation (tight oil)
etc...

Aggressive use of new fracking technology and combined with fire flooding and water flooding could enable 20-30% recovery rates. Large amounts of the Oil shale is likely recoverable with fire flooding. So 6.5 trillion to 9.5 trillion barrels of oil, with 20-30% recovery rates is 1.3 to 2.8 trillion barrels of oil. Oil Shale like in the Green River Formation cannot be recovered with horizontal drilling. It will require fire flooding or some other likely insitu method.

USGS Assessment of In-Place Oil Shale Resources of the Green River Formation, Greater Green River Basin in Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah

The three units of the Green River Formation assessed here, in ascending order, are the Tipton Shale Member, the Wilkins Peak Member, and the LaClede Bed of the Laney Member (fig. 2). Note that the boundaries of the assessment units, particularly those for LaClede Bed and Wilkins Peak assessment units vary stratigraphically across the basin. Total in-place resources are estimated at 1.44 trillion barrels of oil divided among the three assessed units as follows: (1) Tipton Shale Member, 362,816 million barrels of oil (MMBO); (2) Wilkins Peak Member, 704,991 MMBO; and (3) LaClede Bed of the Laney Member, 377,184 MMBO.

This result compares with in-place resource estimates of 1.53 trillion barrels for the Piceance Basin of Colorado and of 1.32 trillion barrels for the Uinta Basin of Utah and Colorado.

Oil and Shale formation website.

North Dakota's Bakken has estimates of 271 and 503 billion barrels of oil with an average of 413 billion barrels of oil. This does not include other oil formations in North Dakota like Spearfish and others.

California's Monterey Formation has estimates from 260 billion barrels of oil in place to 500 billion barrels

The Permian Basin in Texas could have 65 billion barrels of oil left

Texas Eagle Ford formation has tens of billions of barrels of oil in place.

The Green River oil formation has 1.2 to 1.8 trillion barrels of oil in place

The Department of Petroleum has an estimate that America’s total oil shale resources could exceed
6 trillion barrels of oil equivalent.
Previously there was the belief that the the formations that were too thin (like the Bakken, Eagle Ford and Monterey) could not be developed but those are now rapidly heading to 1 million barrels of oil per day for the Bakken, 420,000 barrels of oil per day for Eagle Ford.


The US could be able to produce at least 150 billion barrels of oil (5% of oil in place) to maybe 1.0 trillion barrels (20% of oil in place) of oil if the majority of these plays can be water flooded and CO2 injected as in the Canadian Bakken.

* 5% for the low estimate of 3 trillion barrels is 150 billion barrels
* 20% of the high estimate 5 trillion barrels figuring they could do some water flood and CO2 tertiary treatment to a large part of this land.

For this oil to be recovered, it will require that the oil price stays above $70 a barrel so the economics are in place to fully develop these areas.

Going all in on the "Drill baby drill" approach and using fire flooding, water flooding and other types of drilling innovation will drive down the cost of oil recovery while increasing the speed and expanding the amount of oil that is recoverable.