February 18, 2012

A short rebuttal to the proponents and protagonists of Widom Larson Theory

Guest posting by Goat Guy.

Widom-Larson theory relies on

• 1. Local electric-field strengths from tera-volts/meter to 1000× that, on small scales

• 2. Two forms of "physics magic" that have no prior physics to support

• 3. A third form of "physics magic" that depends critically on geometric anisotropy

It further ends up predicting

• 4. That all materials are susceptible to "special-neutron" absorption

Self-Driving Technology for Mid-Range Cars

Technology Review - Fully autonomous self-driving cars are still far from the market, but a wide range of features—including sensor systems that warn of lane departures and imminent crashes, and can even apply the brakes if you don't—are rapidly showing up in midmarket cars.

The 2013 Ford Taurus and Fusion have a radar rear end collision warning system. It flashes red warning LEDs in the windshield, and even preprimes the brakes, building up pressure so that when you do tap the brakes, you'll get full stopping power.

Beyond crash warnings and the related technology of adaptive cruise-control—which keeps you locked at a fixed distance behind the car in front of you when you've got cruise control switched on—there are ultrasonic systems that allow the car to sense a parking space and park itself, and cameras that keep track of lane markings, keep an eye on blind spots, and warn if you are about to bump into something while backing up.

Blind spotting: This wing-mirror-mounted camera is part of a system that warns when you are veering from the lane, or about to crash. GM

Oxford Nanopore is commercializing a USB-sized sequencing machine

Oxford Nanopore Technologies is developing the GridION system, a new generation of electronic molecular analysis system for use in scientific research, personalised medicine, crop science, security/defence and more. The platform technology uses nanopores to analyse single molecules including DNA/RNA and proteins.

New generation of sequencing technology uses nanopores to deliver ultra long read length single molecule sequence data, at competitive accuracy, on scalable electronic GridION platform. Miniaturised version of technology, MinION, will make nanopore sequencing universally accessible. Oxford Nanopore intends to commercialise GridION and MinION directly to customers within 2012.

Technology Review - Oxford Nanopore says it will begin selling by the end of the year a disposable DNA sequencer about the size of a USB memory stick that can be plugged directly into a laptop or desktop computer and used to perform a single-molecule sensing experiment. The device is expected to sell for $900,

$170 Billion Bailout Deal for Greece Expected Next Week

After months of negotiations, European leaders are voicing new optimism that a $170-billion bailout for Greece will be approved Monday.

Greece last weekend complied with the far-reaching demands of the lenders to impose more austerity measures on top of earlier ones. Parliament approved the spending cuts, even as Greek workers staged violent protests in the streets of Athens in protest of the international demands.

The austerity measures have imposed hardship on many Greeks as the country has cut social spending, trimmed the country's minimum wage and agreed to eliminate thousands of government jobs.

The government says it needs the bailout to avoid defaulting next month on $19 billion in financial obligations. As part of its rescue, Greece is also completing negotiations with large financial institutions to cut in half the debt it owes them, a $132-billion reduction.

France, US, China, Ukraine, UK nuclear generation in 2011

World nuclear news - EDF's nuclear power plants in France and the UK generated 421.1 TWh and 55.8 TWh respectively, beating targets and up on 2010 performance by 13 TWh. The UK's Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor fleet posted its best performance for six years.

One factor in the year-on-year increase in nuclear generation was the reduction of unplanned outages by a total of 594 days. The ending of long outages at Heysham and Sizewell B also helped, and the company noted "the positive impact of the large component replacement program" for the French fleet.

France had generated 381TWh up to November 2011. So France generated 40 TWh in December.

Areva Anteres prismatic modular reactor selected for Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP)

An Areva prismatic steam-cycle high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (SC-HTGR) concept has been selected by the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) Industry Alliance as the optimum design for next generation nuclear power plants. In addition to generating electricity, these modular plants could produce process heat for use by industry.

Three companies were selected to conduct design and engineering studies for the NGNP: General Atomics, Areva and Westinghouse/PBMR. General Atomics submitted conceptual plant configurations based on its Gas-Turbine Modular Helium Reactor (GT-MHR), while Areva put forward concepts based on its similar Antares HTGR design. Meanwhile, Westinghouse and PBMR submitted conceptual configurations based on the pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR)

Areva's Antares HTGR desig

February 17, 2012

Positive and Negative views of US and China Economy

Two mainstream articles and then a couple of articles recommended by commenter Dave Narby.

1. Reuters - Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping said on Friday the Chinese economy would experience stable growth and avoid a hard landing this year, discounting a scenario economists fear may upset the global economy.

2. The Economist discusses the impact of US over-regulation

A study for the Small Business Administration, a government body, found that regulations in general add $10,585 in costs per employee.

Sarbanes-Oxley, a law aimed at preventing Enron-style frauds, has made it so difficult to list shares on an American stockmarket that firms increasingly look elsewhere or stay private. America’s share of initial public offerings fell from 67% in 2002 (when Sarbox passed) to 16% last year, despite some benign tweaks to the law.

Dodd-Frank is far too complex, and becoming more so. At 848 pages, it is 23 times longer than Glass-Steagall, the reform that followed the Wall Street crash of 1929. Worse, every other page demands that regulators fill in further detail. Some of these clarifications are hundreds of pages long. Just one bit, the “Volcker rule”, which aims to curb risky proprietary trading by banks, includes 383 questions that break down into 1,420 subquestions.

Hardly anyone has actually read Dodd-Frank, besides the Chinese government and our correspondent in New York. Those who have struggle to make sense of it, not least because so much detail has yet to be filled in: of the 400 rules it mandates, only 93 have been finalised. So financial firms in America must prepare to comply with a law that is partly unintelligible and partly unknowable.

Google may launch Android 5.0 in second quarter

Digitimes - Viewing that the adoption of Android 4.0 has fallen short of original expectations and Microsoft will launch Windows 8 in the third quarter of 2012, Google is likely to launch Android 5.0 (Jelly Bean) in the second quarter and appeal for adopting Android 5.0 and Windows 8 in the same tablet PC, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers.

Android 5.0 will be further optimized for tablet PCs, while Google will also integrate its Chrome system functions to push dual-operating system designs. Brand vendors can either choose to adopt only Android 5.0 or add Android 5.0 to Windows 8 devices with the ability to switch between the two OSes without the need to shut down the computer.

Technical details of the China Broad Group Factory Mass Produced 30 story building that was assembled in 15 days

Here are details from a 12 page technical specification

We have been closely tracking China's Broad Group and their prefabricated factory mass produced 'Can be Built' skyscraper technology. Six months ago they had earthquake certified a scale model of their 30 story building. now they have built an actual 30 story building in 15 days at the end of 2011.

February 16, 2012

Tata Flat Packed $720 House should have broader deployment soon

Economic Times of India - This is a follow up on the Tata Group flat-pack house that costs just $700 and can be built in a week.

The Tata group, maker of the $2,500 Nano car, said that the 20-square-metre (215-square-foot) home comes from a pre-fabricated kit that includes doors, windows and a roof.

"We have already prepared two-three different designs based on discussions with users and are gathering more feedback," Sumitesh Das, the head of the project at Tata.

The basic model of a so-called "Nano" house will cost 32,000 rupees ($720) and will use coconut fibre or jute for wall cladding and interiors. It has a life expectancy of 20 years.

The house, which is being tested in the state of West Bengal, will also be available in a larger 30-square-metre version and with additional features such as a solar panel for the roof and a verandah.

Tata hopes to sell the house to private buyers who have a plot of land available and also to state governments planning mass residential schemes for India's millions of destitute and homeless.

Nobel prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek predicts Time Crystals

Techology Review - If crystals exist in spatial dimensions, then they ought to exist in the dimension of time too, says Nobel prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek

An reddit commenter with the most voted comment. He tries to explain the limited number of three dimensional cr
ystals and low energy states and how time crystals are like repeating oscillations and that this paper describes putting them into lower energy repetitions.

There is a low energy solution associated with the precipitation of a solid from a solution—the formation of crystals, which have a spatial periodicity. In this case the spatial symmetry breaks down.

Spatial crystals are well studied and well understood. But they raise an interesting question: does the universe allow the formation of similar periodicities in time?

Today, Frank Wilczek at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Al Shapere at the University of Kentucky, discuss this question and conclude that time symmetry seems just as breakable as spatial symmetry at low energies.

This process should lead to periodicities that they call time crystals. What's more, time crystals ought to exist, probably under our very noses.

Let's explore this idea in a bit more detail. First, what does it mean for a system to break time symmetry? Wilczek and Shapere think of it like this. They imagine a system in its lowest energy state that is completely described, independently of time.

Because it is in its lowest energy state, this system ought to be frozen in space. Therefore, if the system moves, it must break time symmetry. This is equivalent tot he idea that the lowest energy state has a minimum value on a curve on space rather than at a single isolated point

Arxiv - Quantum Time Crystals (6 pages)

Difficulties around the idea of spontaneous breaking of time translation symmetry in a closed quantum mechanical system are identified, and then overcome in a simple model. The possibility of ordering in imaginary time is also discussed.

Arxiv - Classical Time Crystals (5 pages)

We consider the possibility that classical dynamical systems display motion in their lowest energy state, forming a time analogue of crystalline spatial order. Challenges facing that idea are identified and overcome. We display arbitrary orbits of an angular variable as lowest-energy trajectories for nonsingular Lagrangian systems. Dynamics within orbits of broken symmetry provide a natural arena for formation of time crystals. We exhibit models of that kind, including a model with traveling density waves.

Defkalion would accept Dick Smith test challenge and other independent tests start February 24th, 2012

Defkalion energy has indicated that they would accept any $1 million challenge to test their Hyperion energy catalyzer from Dick Smith

So far we have not officially received (through a telephone, letter, fax or e-mail) any such offer published in different sites. If the offer and the "donor" are real, we will accept the challenge, performing a test under the protocol we have announced in our last Press Release (viewtopic.php?f=4&t=926&start=210).

In case this is a real proposal, we will accept an official letter and a proof of donated funds from a prime bank before any such testing.

Also note that our first independent official tests are starting on 24th of February 2012. No "donations" or any money where required or offered for these independent tests.

New system allows robots to continuously map their environment

Robots could one day navigate through constantly changing surroundings with virtually no input from humans, thanks to a system that allows them to build and continuously update a three-dimensional map of their environment using a low-cost camera such as Microsoft’s Kinect

The system, being developed by researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), could also allow blind people to make their way unaided through crowded buildings such as hospitals and shopping malls.

To explore unknown environments, robots need to be able to map them as they move around — estimating the distance between themselves and nearby walls, for example — and to plan a route around any obstacles, says Maurice Fallon, a research scientist at CSAIL who is developing these systems alongside John J. Leonard, professor of mechanical and ocean engineering, and graduate student Hordur Johannsson.

The researchers used at PR2 robot, developed by Willow Garage, with a Microsoft's Kinect sensor to test their system.
Image: Hordur Johannsson

GPS enhanced with cheap cameras and cheap computers

Australian researcher are making more reliable Global Positioning Systems (GPS) using camera technology and mathematical algorithms would make navigating a far cheaper and simpler task.

"At the moment you need three satellites in order to get a decent GPS signal and even then it can take a minute or more to get a lock on your location," he said.

"There are some places geographically, where you just can't get satellite signals and even in big cities we have issues with signals being scrambled because of tall buildings or losing them altogether in tunnels."

The world-first approach to visual navigation algorithms, which has been dubbed SeqSLAM (Sequence Simultaneous Localisation and Mapping), uses local best match and sequence recognition components to lock in locations.

"SeqSLAM uses the assumption that you are already in a specific location and tests that assumption over and over again.

Lower Cost carrier grade Wireless Backhaul communication technology

In the developing world, 96 percent of all households have no internet access. Even in Germany, many regions are still without broadband connectivity. But in future, a revolutionary new technology for wireless networks will allow the gaps in rural internet provision to be closed at significantly less cost.

WiBACK (wireless backhaul) provides the technology to connect infrastructure edge nodes to (many) user access points.

Examples for this deployment include temporary wireless networks for large events, fast network deployment in disaster areas, broadband Internet services for rural areas, and wireless wide-area infrastructures in emerging regions.
A researcher positions a WiBACK network antenna. © Fraunhofer FOKUS

Key features that make Fraunhofer’s WiBACK unique are the combination of

* a wireless network that can span huge distances (several hundred km);
* provisioning of carrier-grade (guaranteed) service qualities for voice and data traffic;
* low capital expenditure (CAPEX) due to the use of commercial off-the-shelf hardware (typically IEEE 802.11 mass-market components);
* low operational cost (OPEX) due to auto-configuration and self-management capabilities, as well as low energy consumption;
* the possibility to run most nodes in the network on solar energy due to their energy efficient hardware and software, and the integrated solar charger.

WiBACK is not an alternative to a mobile operator network. It provides a transport infrastructure and complements existing technology, rather than replacing it. While WiBACK supports different types of access technologies (including GSM) at the user front-end, it expects an IP-based network at the back-end. Typical mobile-operator services such as roaming or hand-over need to be implemented on-top of WiBACK.

York researchers create ‘tornados’ inside electron microscopes

Researchers from the University of York are pioneering the development of electron microscopes which will allow scientists to examine a greater variety of materials in new revolutionary ways.
The team, headed by Professor Jun Yuan and Professor Mohamed Babiker, from the University’s Department of Physics has created electron beams with orbital angular momentum – electron vortex beams – which will open the way to many novel applications including the more efficient examining of magnetic materials.

Electron microscopes use a beam of electrons to illuminate a specimen and produce a magnified image, allowing scientists to investigate atomic arrangements. Compared to conventional electron beams, electron vortex beams improve the resolution and sensitivity of imaging, which is key when determining the structure of biological specimens such as proteins. They also have applications in the manipulation of nano-scale objects such as atoms and molecules.

As the electron vortex consists of moving charged particles, there is a magnetic field associated with the vortex. This magnetic field will be invaluable in examining magnetic materials, enabling the nanoscale magnetic structure to be imaged.

The York team has created a design for a holographic mask to generate an electron vortex beam and now plans to use this to improve the imaging capabilities of the electron microscope in its York-JEOL nanocentre.

Arxiv - Quantised orbital angular momentum transfer and magnetic dichroism in the interaction of electron vortices with matter

Major breakthrough in Nanosurgery and the fight against cancer:

Researchers at Polytechnique Montréal have succeeded in changing the genetic material of cancer cells using a brand-new transfection method. This major breakthrough in nanosurgery opens the door to new medical applications, among others for the treatment of cancers.

A light scalpel to treat cancerous cells

The unique method developed by Professor Michel Meunier and his team uses a femtosecond laser (a laser with ultra-short pulses) along with gold nanoparticles. Deposited on the cells, these nanoparticles concentrate the laser's energy and make it possible to perform nanometric-scale surgery in an extremely precise and non-invasive fashion. The technique allows to change the expression of genes in the cancer cells and could be used to slow their migration and prevent the formation of metastases.

Biomaterials journal - Off-resonance plasmonic enhanced femtosecond laser optoporation and transfection of cancer cells

Is Commercial space transportation reaching a tipping point?

NASA’s budget during the next decade will either be flat or decline. Moreover, NASA is no longer planning on using Russian rockets to service the space station. As a result, the commercial space industry may be reaching a “tipping point” whereby the commercial space industry will need to take over the heavy lifting of supplying the space station and getting payloads into orbit. The 15th annual commercial space transportation conference, which took place on February 15-16 in Washington DC, grappled with the myriad issues associated with attracting private investment into commercial space exploration. There are numerous commercial space startups, such as SpaceX, Armadillo Aerospace, Bigelow, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin, but most of these corporations are currently dependent on Government financing. The question now is whether new technologies or new markets alone are sufficient to jumpstart the long-term exploration of space. Although long term visions exist, such as lunar or asteroid mining, in the short term the sub-orbital tourist markets may represent the best way to develop a self-sustaining industry. A number of promising new technologies are being developed, including space solar power satellites, active orbital debris removal, and orbital propellant storage.

The most surprising objective stated during the conference came from Steven Davis, the Director of Advanced Projects at SpaceX. Davis stated that SpaceX’s ultimate goal was to have fully reusable rockets, which he claimed might ultimately reduce launch costs to LEO to $10 per pound. Dr. Ajay Kothari, the President and CEO of Astrox corporation spoke about employing reusable winged rockets and planes for satellite servicing, debris removal, and orbital tourism. There is currently a debate within the aerospace community regarding whether reusable craft should contain wings or not. Armadillo aerospace and SpaceX have eschewed wings, whereas Astrox and Boeing plan to use them. The concept of space solar power also garnered attention. Unfortunately, the best current solar cells offer 30% efficiency, so removing the 70% waste heat would be problematic. Getting the huge amount of mass into orbit also presents a non-trivial challenge. Perhaps the most intriguing concept during the conference came from Jerome Pearson of Star Technology. Mr. Pearson proposed a concept for placing a propellantless, electrodynamically powered one ton motor into orbit. The motor would be able to shift its orbit to capture space debris with nets. The debris would be sent to lower orbits where they would soon re-enter the atmosphere. Pearson argued that by using such a scheme, the vast majority of large space debris could be safely removed from orbit within seven years of the launch of the motor. Pearson even claimed that high-grade aluminum structures could be sent to predetermined orbits, where the aluminum could be recycled.

World Economic Forum Lists their Top Ten Emerging Technologies for 2012

The Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies presents the technological trends expected to have major social, economic and environmental impacts worldwide in 2012. They are listed in order of greatest potential to provide solutions to global challenges:

1. Informatics for adding value to information

The quantity of information now available to individuals and organizations is unprecedented in human history, and the rate of information generation continues to grow exponentially. Yet, the sheer volume of information is in danger of creating more noise than value, and as a result limiting its effective use. Innovations in how information is organized, mined and processed hold the key to filtering out the noise and using the growing wealth of global information to address emerging challenges.

2. Synthetic biology and metabolic engineering

The natural world is a testament to the vast potential inherent in the genetic code at the core of all living organisms. Rapid advances in synthetic biology and metabolic engineering are allowing biologists and engineers to tap into this potential in unprecedented ways, enabling the development of new biological processes and organisms that are designed to serve specific purposes – whether converting biomass to chemicals, fuels and materials, producing new therapeutic drugs or protecting the body against harm.

February 15, 2012

Estimate of 100,000 objects heavier than Pluto per Star

There may be up to 100,000 compact objects per main sequence star in the galaxy that are greater than the mass of Pluto. The mass function of the lowest-mass nomads is modeled from what we see in the Kuiper Belt and the distribution of diameters in KBOs (Kuiper Belt Objects), while at the higher end (corresponding to masses several times that of Jupiter), evidence exists that nomads in open clusters follow a smooth continuation of the brown dwarf mass function. The larger Earth and larger size objects would also likely have their own moons.

If there were one million planet sized compact objects in a 100,000 AU on a side cube, and they were evenly distributed then each would occupy its own 1000 AU (about 30 times the distance from the Sun to Pluto) on a side cube. 100,000 objects evenly distributed would be in cubes with about 2200 AU on a side. 253000 AU is equal to 4 light years. 2200 AU is about 2 light weeks

Oort cloud at wikipedia
The Oort cloud is thought to occupy a vast space from somewhere between 2,000 and 5,000 AU (0.03 and 0.08 ly) to as far as 50,000 AU (0.79 ly) from the Sun. Some estimates place the outer edge at between 100,000 and 200,000 AU (1.58 and 3.16 ly). The region can be subdivided into a spherical outer Oort cloud of 20,000–50,000 AU (0.32–0.79 ly), and a doughnut-shaped inner Oort cloud of 2,000–20,000 AU (0.03–0.32 ly). The outer cloud is only weakly bound to the Sun and supplies the long-period (and possibly Halley-type) comets to inside the orbit of Neptune. Models predict that the inner cloud should have tens or hundreds of times as many cometary nuclei as the outer halo.

The outer Oort cloud is believed to contain several trillion individual objects larger than approximately 1 km (0.62 mi) (with many billions with absolute magnitudes brighter than 11—corresponding to approximately 20 km (12 mi) diameter), with neighboring objects typically tens of millions of kilometres apart. Its total mass is not known with certainty, but, assuming that Halley's comet is a suitable prototype for all comets within the outer Oort cloud, the estimated combined mass is 3×10^25 kg (7×10^25 lb or roughly five times the mass of the Earth). Earlier it was thought to be more massive (up to 380 Earth masses), but improved knowledge of the size distribution of long-period comets has led to much lower estimates.

The new theory is that there a lot more bigger wandering planets.

Arxiv - Nomads of the Galaxy (10 pages) (H/T Centauri Dreams)

We estimate that there may be up to 100,000 compact objects in the mass range 10^−8 − 10^−2 M per main sequence star that are unbound to a host star in the Galaxy. We refer to these objects as nomads; in the literature a subset of these are sometimes called free-floating or rogue planets. Our estimate for the number of Galactic nomads is consistent with a smooth extrapolation of the mass function of unbound objects above the Jupiter-mass scale, the stellar mass density limit, and the metallicity of the interstellar medium. We analyze the prospects for detecting nomads via Galactic microlensing. The Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) will measure the number of nomads per main sequence star greater than the mass of Jupiter to ∼ 13%, and the corresponding number greater than the mass of Mars to ∼ 25%. All-sky surveys such as Gaia and LSST can identify nomads greater than about the mass of Jupiter. We suggest a dedicated drift scanning telescope that covers approximately 100 square degrees in the Southern hemisphere could identify nomads as small as 10−8M via microlensing of bright stars with characteristic lightcurve timescales of a few seconds.

Injecting liquid metal into channels for soft artificial skin

Liquid metal (EGaIn) is injected into curved channels for artificial skin used for strain and pressure sensing.

Yong-Lae Park and Robert J. Wood
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering
Harvard Microrobotics Lab

Pop Up MEMS for mass production of robots by the sheet

Harvard - A new technique inspired by elegant pop-up books and origami will soon allow clones of robotic insects to be mass-produced by the sheet.

Devised by engineers at Harvard, the ingenious layering and folding process enables the rapid fabrication of not just microrobots, but a broad range of electromechanical devices.

In prototypes, 18 layers of carbon fiber, Kapton (a plastic film), titanium, brass, ceramic, and adhesive sheets have been laminated together in a complex, laser-cut design. The structure incorporates flexible hinges that allow the three-dimensional product—just 2.4 millimeters tall—to assemble in one movement, like a pop-up book.

The Harvard Monolithic Bee (or "Mobee") pops up within an assembly scaffold, which performs more than 20 origami assembly folds. Photos courtesy of Pratheev Sreetharan.

Cancer Breath Test with 83% accuracy Enters Clinical Trials and next generation system is 100 times more sensitive

Metabolomx, has developed technology enabling the identification of lung cancer from breath. Using the first generation of our breath analysis system, the Cleveland Clinic announced the results of a 237 subject trial at the American College of Chest Physicians conference in November 2010, reporting 81%, accuracy of lung cancer detection, comparable to CT scan, the present gold standard. This study, further reported that lung cancer subtype (small cell, adenocarcinoma, and squamous cell) is identified by the breath exam. The Cleveland Clinic has now commenced testing of the current generation Metabolomx sensor, over 100 times more sensitive than the version used in the study

February 14, 2012

Rossi and Defkalion Energy Catalyzer Making Progress to Commercialization

1. Defkalion Visited by PESN

Pure Energy Systems - Defkalion's 5-45 kilowatt modular heat reactor is not yet a product you can go out and purchase, but it is getting close to the market. It will provide competitively-priced thermal energy, but with very low fuel costs for the nickel and hydrogen used in the reaction chambers that will last for six months of continuous output without refuelling.

In the coming few weeks, they will be having at least seven different groups come in to test their device, beginning with the Greek government next week. The results from each group will be published. Each group will have 48 hours to test the device and a control to which they can compare it.

They showed me the experimental set-up -- running, producing heat. It includes a control chamber and an active reaction chamber. After the two are run simultaneously -- one with the low energy nuclear reaction (aka cold fusion), and one without -- showing that the low energy nuclear reaction (LENR) system produces at least 20 times more heat; they will then switch the reaction chambers, removing the nickel and hydrogen from one (cleaning it out to make sure there are no residual elements), and adding these ingredients to the other chamber, which previously was the 'control' or 'blank' chamber; to prove that the data remain the same. They will also show that some gamma radiation comes from the reaction chamber of the LENR system, as evidence that a low level nuclear reaction of some kind is indeed taking place (though not on a dangerous level to those operating the test). The final product will be fully shielded to prevent emission of stray radiation.

RFID tags made on paper could be five times cheaper which is as cheap as barcodes

Eurekalert- Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags are an essential component of modern shopping, logistics, warehouse, and stock control for toll roads, casino chips and much more. They provide a simple way to track the item to which the tag is attached. Now, researchers in France have developed a way to deposit a thin aluminum RFID tag on to paper that not only reduces the amount of metal needed for the tag, and so the cost, but could open up RFID tagging to many more systems, even allowing a single printed sheet or flyer to be tagged.

RFID tags are an alternative technology to printed barcodes, which provide an automatic means of delivering product data without direct contact between the tag, or transponder, and the reader device. Indeed, unlike barcodes there is no requirement for the tag to be in the line of sight of the reader. RFID tags are, unfortunately, relatively expensive compared to barcodes and their uses are not as widespread. The ability to produce RFID tags at a fraction of the present cost could change that.

Elon Musk wants a Spacex IPO in 2013

Business Week - Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Space Exploration Technologies Corp., wants the private rocket-launch business to have an initial public offering in 2013, the entrepreneur’s third such sale in about three years.

SolarCity, based in San Mateo, California, may file with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as early as next month, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The IPO may value the company at more than $1.5 billion, the person said.

The offerings could catapult Musk into the ranks of the world’s billionaires. He owns a 26 percent stake in Tesla valued at more than $650 million, after adjusting for collateralized shares. His 25 percent of SolarCity would be valued at $375 million at the valuation the company is seeking.

Musk owns more than 70 million shares of closely held rocket maker SpaceX.

Recent transactions in the private market have pegged his stake in SpaceX at about $875 million.

Spray on Antenna double cellphone transmission range for the same power

Chamtech Enterprises has tested a spray on antenna on a tree, among other tests, and the team was able to send a VHF signal up to 14 miles away using only the treated tree. Rhett Spencer, chief technology officer of Chamtech, said the company’s spray-on technology could make cell phones work with 10 percent better efficiency.

Non-magnetic materials can be magnetically doped in high concentrations in a highly controlled way

Nanotechnologists from the University of Twente’s MESA+ and MIRA research institutes have developed a method for incorporating magnetic elements into non-magnetic materials in a highly controlled way. Using this technique, it is possible to drastically change the electrical behaviour of metals and even to give semiconductors magnetic properties.

University of Twente researchers were able to incorporate magnetic elements into a non-magnetic layer of gold in a highly controlled manner. They did so by coating the gold layer with a single layer of organic molecules, each containing a single metal ion: some containing cobalt and some containing zinc. The cobalt ions have an unpaired electron spin and therefore behave as an elementary magnet, while zinc ions do not have magnetic properties. By adjusting the relative concentration of cobalt and zinc ions, it is possible to fine tune the magnetic properties of the final material. Molecular self-assembly causes the metal compounds to spread homogenously over the layer of gold.

Unprecedentedly high concentrations

What makes the method so special is that it produces unprecedentedly high concentrations of magnetic "doping" without causing the magnetic elements to cluster. In the methods used to date, it was very difficult to spread the magnetic elements homogenously over the final material, particularly at high concentrations.

It is possible to create materials with completely new properties. This paves the way for semi-conductors with magnetic properties: one of the holy grails of physics. Semi-conductors of this kind could be used for both memory storage (magnetic) and data processing (electrical) in a new generation of computers

Nature Nanotechnology - Tunable doping of a metal with molecular spins

DARPA's budget and projects for Fiscal year 2013

Wired Danger Room - In its new budget, unveiled on Monday, Darpa introduced a new $4 million investigation into technologies that will “manage the adversary’s sensory perception” in order to “confuse, delay, inhibit, or misdirect his actions.” Darpa calls the project “Battlefield Illusion.”

Battlefield Illusion” is one of several new Darpa programs that attempt to manipulate the electromagnetic spectrum to the American military’s advantage. The $3.5 million “Electro-Optical Warfare” effort will look for ways to jam laser-based communications and sensor systems — just like today’s radio frequency jammers mess with cell phones and radars. As adversaries move from old-school radars to newer-school infrared and laser systems to target our planes, these enemies get harder to track; there’s no sonic “ping” to trace back. The goal of the $8.5 million “Multi-Function Optical Sensor” is designed to fill this gap, giving U.S. aircraft “an alternative approach to detecting, tracking, and performing non-cooperative target identification.”

Israel and Iran Shadow War - More attempted bombings

Washington Post - A series of blasts in Bangkok wounded four Thai civilians and blew off the leg of an Iranian who had fled a house carrying what looked like grenades after a cache of explosives ignited there, apparently by mistake.

When police searched the Iranians’ home, the bomb squad found and defused two explosives, each made of three or four pounds of C-4 explosives inside a pair of radios, and National Police Chief Gen. Prewpan Damapong said the bombs were “magnetic” and could be stuck on vehicles.

The wounded Iranian was in police custody at a Bangkok hospital and immigration police detained a second Iranian as he tried to board a flight for Malaysia. Security forces hunted for a third Iranian suspect.

Startup Soraa thinks it can make LEDs cheap enough to replace regular bulbs

Soraa, a startup based in Fremont, California, has developed a new type of LED that it says generates 10 times more light from the same quantity of active material used in other LEDs. (Technology Review) The company's first product is a 12-watt bulb that uses 75 percent less energy than a similarly illuminating 50-watt halogen bulb. Company officials would not disclose the cost of the bulb, but say it will pay for itself in less than one year through energy savings.

Moderate 2.5 micron Particulate exposure increases stroke risk by 34% within 12-14 hours

Air pollution, even at levels generally considered safe by federal regulations, increases the risk of stroke by 34 percent, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center researchers have found.

Writing in the Feb. 14, 2012 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers who studied more than 1,700 stroke patients in the Boston area over a 10-year period found exposure to ambient fine particulate matter, generally from vehicle traffic, was associated with a significantly higher risk of ischemic strokes on days when the EPA’s air quality index for particulate matter was yellow instead of green.

Researchers focused on particles with a diameter of 2.5 millionths of a meter, referred to as PM2.5. These particles come from a variety of sources, including power plants, factories, trucks and automobiles and the burning of wood. They can travel deeply into the lungs and have been associated in other studies with increased numbers of hospital visits for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks.

The team was able to calculate that the peak risk to patients from pollution exposure occurs 12-14 hours before a stroke. That information may be useful to researchers who want to trace how PM2.5 might be working in the body to increase the likelihood of stroke.

They also found that black carbon and nitrogen dioxide, two pollutants associated with vehicle traffic, were closely linked with stroke risk, suggesting that pollution from cars and trucks may be particularly important.

Researchers estimate reducing PM2.5 pollution by about 20 percent could have prevented 6,100 of the 184,000 stroke hospitalizations in the northeastern United States in 2007.

Archives of Internal Medicine - Ambient Air Pollution and the Risk of Acute Ischemic Stroke

February 13, 2012

OECD Electricity in 2011

IEA Monthly Electricity Statistics for November 2011

In December 2011, the United States had 70.2 TWh of generation to end the year with 789.3 billion kWh and capacity factor was 88.9 percent in 2011.

Large Hadron Collider will take risks to run at 8 trillion electron volts instead of 7 to increases chances to find Higgs and SUSY

CERN1 today announced that the LHC will run with a beam energy of 4 TeV this year, 0.5 TeV higher than in 2010 and 2011. This decision was taken by CERN management following the annual performance workshop held in Chamonix last week and a report delivered today by the external CERN Machine Advisory Committee (CMAC).

The Large Hadron Collider managers have decided to increase the energy of collisions to 4 TeV per beam, for a total energy of 8 TeV. Last year, the LHC smashed two beams of protons together at an energy of 3.5 teraelectronvolts (TeV) each, resulting in collisions with a total energy of 7 TeV.

Running at 8 instead of 7 TeV should boost the machine's sensitivity to Higgs particles – assuming they are really there – by 30 to 40 per cent, says Greg Landsberg of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, who is involved in CMS, one of the LHC's two main detectors.

The decision is described in this 61 page powerpoint

Israel blames Iran, Hezbollah for bomb targeting Israeli officials

Washington Post - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran on Monday for twin attempts to bomb people affiliated with the Israeli embassies in New Delhi and Tbilisi, Georgia.

The wife of an Israeli official in New Delhi and her driver were injured in a blast from explosives slapped on their car by a passing motorcyclist, authorities said. Around the same time, a grenade-type device was found duct-taped to the bottom of a car affiliated with the embassy in Tbilisi. It was defused without anyone being injured.

Iran had vowed revenge for recent assassinations of scientists involved in its nuclear program. Hezbollah, a terrorist group sponsored by Iran had pledged to avenge the assassination four years ago of one of its leaders.

In January, 2012, Israeli sources confirmed that the terrorist attack which killed a senior Iranian scientist in Tehran was a joint operation carried out by the agents of the Israeli spy agency, Mossad, and the anti-Iran terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO).

Obama's Budget Proposal NASA impacts and overall debt levels

AFP - Phys Org - President Obama's budget proposal give NASA $17.7 billion, a decrease of 0.3 percent or $59 million less than 2012, the steepest cuts -- a near 39 percent decline -- hit plans for robotic exploration of Mars.

The James Webb Space Telescope which will be 100 times more sensitive than its predecessor the Hubble space telescope, was on track to launch in 2018 at a total project cost of $8.8 billion, NASA said in December after a series of delays and cost overruns.

NASA would also get three billion dollars for developing new spacecraft and rockets to take the next generation of astronauts to space, after the space shuttle program ended last year leaving Russia as the sole taxi to the International Space Station.

Big projects include $1.86 billion for the continued development of a Space Launch System (SLS) heavy lift rocket and $1.2 billion for the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle to "with a key initial goal of visiting an asteroid next decade."

The Space Launch System will have starting costs of $62 billion to get to the beginning of main rocket development in 2015. The first rocket will launch in 2019 if it is on schedule. The first 130 ton capable rocket is scheduled for 2021. Given the history of this kind of rocket development costs to 2032 are more likely to be $120-250 billion and there would be delays to 2035-2045.

Less than $1 trillion deficits have been a year or two away for two years

President Obama is proposing a budget with a $1.3 trillion deficit this year. The deficits have been tracking more closely (and sometimes worse) than the Concord Coalition forecast of 2010. President Obama keeps promising deficits will shrink back to sub-trillion dollar per year levels. But those levels are always two years away.

MSNBC - As part of his $3.8 trillion spending plan for 2013, the president included an economic forecast that shows the nation’s gross domestic product moving ahead by 3.6 percent this year and 4.4 percent in 2013. Obama and his advisors also see the unemployment rate falling to 7.5 percent next year, with an inflation rate holding steady at about 2 percent through the rest of the decade.

Under Obama's plan, the deficit would fall to $901 billion in 2013 and continue to shrink to $575 billion in 2018. Those numbers only happen if the GDP growth and employment numbers of the forecast happen.

Air pollution costs versus the price of fixing the air pollution

There were some errors that have been identified in a prior version of this article

1) needed to apply sources of particulates (Done)
2) construction dust and road dust are major sources. Factory built buildings can be a major reduction of building dust
3) Collecting the full economic justification for the costs from air pollution. (Will be adding data on acid rain damage to buildings and crops and haze that causes delays for planes etc...)

It costs $50 million per gigawatt to put 99% effective particulate air pollution control onto coal plants. China has about 650 GWe of coal power installed in 2011. It would probably be cheaper for China to do the particulate retrofits (say $30 million per GWe). Therefore $20 billion would enable a 99.5% reduction in particulates. The United States has 315 GWe of coal power installed in 2011. It would cost about $16 billion for electrostatic precipitators on all coal plants in the United States. There needs to be combination of mitigation devices to achieve 2-5 times better pollution control. The controls also need to be applied to industrial boilers and other pollution sources.

Emissions of Hazardous Air Pollutants from Coal-fired Power Plants, 2011 (46 pages)

386,000 tons of air pollutants annually. 40% of all hazardous air pollutants from point sources.

The National Research Council (Hidden Costs of energy: Unpriced consequences of Energy Production and Use, 2010) estimated that the PM2.5 emitted from 406 US coal plants caused $3.6 billion per year in health damage.

Multiple control technologies can reduce the emissions of particulates and other pollutants by 2-5 times.

Mobile sources are cars, planes, trains and boats and other diesel engines. Fuel combustion is coal, oil, biofuel and natural gas. Dust is commercial construction and unpaved and paved road sources.

Source categories are discussed here

It appears that the methods of further controlling coal PM2.5 and mobile sources like cars and trucks (planes, ships, rail) would fix about 40% of the US PM2.5 sources. I still that would be worthwhile.

February 12, 2012

Tyler Cowen's 'Great Stagnation'-- Joseph Friedlander Perspective and Thoughts on Related Subjects

A guest post by Joseph Friedlander

An awful lot of people have weighed in on Tyler Cowen's 'Great Stagnation' ebook,

including Brian Wang

Tyler Cowen's 'Great Stagnation' (explaining the rather disappointing future we live in compared to projections of where we would be by now) makes (most famously) the ‘we ate the low-hanging fruit’ argument that the easy things have been invented and the high yield moves made, and thus the economy faces the point of diminishing returns--

It makes many other points as well, as Chuck Crane’s excellent review (summarized in Brian’s link above) outlines.

I am going to investigate in this article what it is that in the modern world has made rapid advances in new tech difficult, what it is that systematically eats up capital that could have financed the development and deployment of new technologies.