March 24, 2012

New cathode design for Dense Plasma Focus Fusion Project and reaching over 150 keV and 1.8 billion degrees

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics - LPP research team members Aaron Blake and Derek Shannon designed a more robust substitute for the pins—a serrated ring of tungsten, with the saw tooth points substituting for the points of the pins. We also have located a much larger machine shop which uses electrical discharge machining (EDM), a highly precise method of machining with intense electric current.

We now expect the new shop to complete the new cathode plate by early April, allowing us to resume firing, confident that we will have a highly symmetric set of electrodes. This symmetry is essential to achieving good compression of the plasma and producing higher fusion yields.

Mirrors in Space for Low-Cost Terrestrial Solar Electric Power at Night

A proposal to only launch ultra thin and light inflatable mirrors (no power conversion, no energy storage, no lasers or masers to transmit the power etc...) and have them redirect sunlight to ground based solar farms at night. Efficiency is the ground based systems efficiency. Can be done at lower orbit 600 miles up with 12 or more satellites. Helps ground based solar get around the storage issue at night. Again best to do it to desert locations without clouds. Also away from places that want to do astronomy or have other impacts of turning the night into day. Just need to get astronomy into space and away from the light. Again get past a critical mass of space based power capability and infrastructure so that it is easy to make 500 MW of lasers for boosting skylon space planes to drive down costs to get to space.

A constellation of 12 or more mirror satellites is proposed in a polar sun synchronous orbit at an altitude of approximately 1000 km above the earth. Each mirror satellite contains a multitude of 2 axis tracking mirror segments that collectively direct a sun beam down at a target solar electric field site delivering a solar intensity to said terrestrial site equivalent to the normal daylight sun intensity extending the sunlight hours at said site by about 2 hours at dawn and 2 hours at dusk each day. Each mirror satellite in the constellation has a diameter of approximately 10 km and each terrestrial solar electric field site has a similar diameter and can produce approximately 5 GW per terrestrial site. Assuming that approximately 50 terrestrial solar electric field sites are evening distributed in sunny locations near cities around the world, this system can produce more affordable solar electric power during the day and further into the morning and evening hours. The typical operating hours for a terrestrial solar electric field site can thus be extended from approximately 8 hours per day by 50% to approximately 12 hours per day. Assuming a cost of electricity of 10 cents per kWh and a projected launch cost to orbit of $1500/kg for the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle, the cost of this mirror constellation system should be recovered in approximately 2.7 years from the additional solar electricity sales.

The proposal looks at recent developments to improve upon a 2001 ISC SPS design that would achieve 1.2 GW. The 2001 design assumed use of 0.5 km diameter mirrors. There are recent developments related to mirrors in space. A Japanese Ikaros Solar Sail satellite is now en route to Venus and L’Garde is now developing lightweight inflatable reflectors.

The proposed system is cheaper because it does not convert to electricity. It is only mirrors that shown on ground based solar farms at night

Ikaros inflatable solar cells

Inflatable Reflector Development at L’Gaarde. Inflatable antenna design matures in the form of this new 7 meter rigidifiable inflatable antenna structure. The torus and struts on this spectacular configuration rigidify shortly after deployment. The resulting reflector is thermally stable, stiff, and well damped, with a low error for high gain space applications. The entire reflector assembly stows in the small round structure visible above the simulated hexagonal spacecraft. It inflates and rigidifies to the configuration seen.

Another promising recent development is the large and growing use of solar cells in terrestrial fields to generate electricity. As of 2011, the total world wide solar electricity generation reached 65 GW and this is growing at a rate of 30% per year. At this rate, in 10 years, there should be 65 exp(10x0.3) = 1300 GW of PV in fields world wide.

Furthermore, 5 GW terrestrial electric power stations are now already being built.
One problem for solar generated electricity is that the sun only shines on average for about 8 hours per day. With mirrors in space, sunlight can be potentially provided during night time hours. However, a challenge is to invent a method whereby mirrors are provided in space for night time solar electric power simply and affordably.

Simply activating a tiny number of neurons can conjure an entire memory

In a new MIT study, researchers used optogenetics to show that memories really do reside in very specific brain cells, and that simply activating a tiny fraction of brain cells can recall an entire memory — explaining, for example, how Marcel Proust could recapitulate his childhood from the aroma of a once-beloved madeleine cookie.

“We demonstrate that behavior based on high-level cognition, such as the expression of a specific memory, can be generated in a mammal by highly specific physical activation of a specific small subpopulation of brain cells, in this case by light,” says Susumu Tonegawa, the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience at MIT and lead author of the study reported online today in the journal Nature. “This is the rigorously designed 21st-century test of Canadian neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield’s early-1900s accidental observation suggesting that mind is based on matter.”

n that famous surgery, Penfield treated epilepsy patients by scooping out parts of the brain where seizures originated. To ensure that he destroyed only the problematic neurons, Penfield stimulated the brain with tiny jolts of electricity while patients, who were under local anesthesia, reported what they were experiencing. Remarkably, some vividly recalled entire complex events when Penfield stimulated just a few neurons in the hippocampus, a region now considered essential to the formation and recall of episodic memories.

Basic experimental protocols and selective labelling of DG cells by ChR2–EYFP.

Nature - Optogenetic stimulation of a hippocampal engram activates fear memory recall

James Cameron has Dived to Mariana Trench this Weekend - 5:52 Sunday EST March 25, 2012

After years of preparation, James Cameron now may be just hours from attempting his unprecedented solo dive to the ocean's deepest point, members of the National Geographic expedition confirmed Saturday.

UPDATE: AT 5:52 PM EST March 25, 2012. James Cameron has reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench on a solo dive

The National Geographic explorer and filmmaker's team left the tiny Pacific atoll of Ulithi (map) in two ships Saturday morning, local time, on the way to the waters above the Mariana Trench. If seas remain calm—a big if—the team may proceed with Cameron's submersible mission to the trench's Challenger Deep this weekend.

Cameron's "vertical torpedo" of a sub, as he calls it, has already made the nearly 7-mile (11-kilometer) trip to Challenger Deep and back, unmanned and unscathed, Cameron told National Geographic News

We did some test launches and recoveries, and we did an unpiloted dive of the vehicle," Cameron said in a phone interview Friday.

Simulation of ultrafast DNA graphene nanopore sequencing

Researchers at the University of Delaware have conducted high-performance computer modeling to investigate a new approach for ultrafast DNA sequencing based on tiny holes, called nanopores, drilled into a sheet of graphene.

A tiny hole a few nanometers in diameter is drilled into a sheet of graphene and DNA is threaded through that nanopore. Then, a current of ions flowing vertically through the pore or an electronic current flowing transversely through the graphene is used to detect the presence of different DNA bases within the nanopore. “Since graphene is only one atom thick, the nanopore through which DNA is threaded has contact with only a single DNA base,” Nikolic said.

In 2010, three experimental teams—led by Jene Golovchenko of Harvard, Cees Dekker of Delft and Drndić—demonstrated DNA detection using nanopores in large-area graphene. However, Nikolic said, the process moved too quickly for the existing electronics to detect single DNA bases.

The new device concept proposed by the UD researchers uses graphene nanoribbons—thin strips of graphene that are less than 10 nanometers wide—with a nanopore drilled in their interior. Chemists, engineers, materials scientists and physicists have devised various methods over the past three years to fabricate nanoribbons with a specific zigzag pattern of carbon atoms along their edges, Nikolic said. Nanoribbons could enable fast and low-cost (less than $1,000) DNA sequencing, he said, because of the quantum-mechanically generated electronic currents that flow along those edges.

Simulated graphene nanopore design

Nano Letters - DNA Base-Specific Modulation of Microampere Transverse Edge Currents through a Metallic Graphene Nanoribbon with a Nanopore

March 23, 2012

Cassini Sees Saturn Stressing out its moon Enceladus

NASA finding suggests that a large reservoir of liquid water – a global or local ocean – would be necessary to allow Enceladus to flex enough to generate stresses great enough to deform the surface, Hurford said. That process would control the timing of the jet eruptions. The finding also suggests that Saturn's tides create an enormous amount of heat in the area.

These images, based on ones obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, show how the pull of Saturn's gravity can deform the surface of Saturn's moon Enceladus in the south polar region crisscrossed by fissures known as "tiger stripes." Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/
Images from NASA's Cassini spacecraft have, for the first time, enabled scientists to correlate the spraying of jets of water vapor from fissures on Saturn's moon Enceladus with the way Saturn's gravity stretches and stresses the fissures. The result is among the Cassini findings presented today at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference at The Woodlands, Texas.

"This new work gives scientists insight into the mechanics of these picturesque jets at Enceladus and shows that Saturn really stresses Enceladus," said Terry Hurford, a Cassini associate based at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Enceladus is unique in the Saturn system in having jets of water vapor and organic particles spray from long fissures in its south polar region. The long fissures have been nicknamed the "tiger stripes."

Hurford and colleagues suggested a few years ago that tidal pulls from Saturn's gravity could explain the existence of the jets, but they had not been able to correlate specific jets with calculated stresses until now. They studied the jets emerging from the warmest regions within the tiger stripes Baghdad Sulcus and Damascus Sulcus.

Magnetic field researchers reach Hundred-Tesla goal

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s biggest magnet facility today met the grand challenge of producing magnetic fields in excess of 100 tesla while conducting six different experiments. The hundred-tesla level is roughly equivalent to 2 million times Earth’s magnetic field.

This is our moon shot, we’ve worked toward this for a decade and a half,” said Chuck Mielke, director of the Pulsed Field Facility at Los Alamos.

The team used the 100-tesla pulsed, multi-shot magnet, a combination of seven coils sets weighing nearly 18,000 pounds and powered by a massive 1,200-megajoule motor generator. There are higher magnetic fields produced elsewhere, but the magnets that create such fields blow themselves to bits in the process. The system at Los Alamos is instead designed to work nondestructively, in the intense 100-tesla realm, on a regular basis. The Los Alamos facility is one of three campuses forming the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL).

The 1,200-megajoule motor generator that powers the magnetic pulse.

Russian plans first SVBR-100 lead bismuth modular fast reactor for 2017

World Nuclear News -Russia is also pushing ahead with a small modular fast reactor cooled by lead-bismuth eutectic, the SVBR-100. The plan is to complete the design development and put on line a 100 MWe demonstration plant by the end of 2017, with total investment of RUR16 billion ($585 million). The site is to be the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors at Dimitrovgrad - Russia's largest nuclear research centre.

The SVBR-100 could be the first reactor cooled by heavy metal to generate electricity. It is described as a multi-function reactor for power, heat or desalination and a power station with 16 such modules would be expected to supply electricity at lower cost than any other new Russian technology, said AKME, while achieving inherent safety and high proliferation resistance.

James Cameron will join other exploration firsts

James Cameron’s dive to the deepest point of the Marianna Trench will join other exploration “firsts” in world history. They still have not announced the actual dive.

Twitter feed from the deep challenge team

Permission to Restart refurbished Point Lepreau nuclear reactor in Canada

World Nuclear News - NB Power has received permission from the Canadian nuclear regulator to load fuel into the refurbished single-unit Point Lepreau plant in New Brunswick. The Candu reactor is expected to restart later this year, having been offline for over four years.

The single unit Point Lepreau plant is a 680 MWe Candu 6 pressurized heavy-water plant, which began commercial operation in 1983. It was taken off line in March 2008 for a major refurbishment including the replacement of all 380 fuel channels, calandria tubes and feeder tubes. Originally anticipated to take 16 months to complete, the C$1.4 billion ($1.4 billion) refurbishment was further extended by the need to remove and replace all the calandria tubes for a second time after problems with seal tightness.

Under the terms of its licence, the company must seek permission to remove the reactor from a guaranteed shutdown state, approval to raise power output over 0.1% of capacity and further approval to exceed 35% of full capacity. NB Power expects Point Lepreau to return to service during the second half of 2012.

Blogger and IEET Fellow Mike Treder is Safe and in Canada

Previously that we had reported that friend of Nextbigfuture Mike Treder (worked together on some Center for Responsible Nanotechnology projects) was missing.

It has now been determined by Mike's family and police that Mike is safe in Canada

Treder's sister said Thursday that the family believes he is safe. Mary Treder, 55, said from her home in Cedaredge, Colo., that her family doesn't believe Michael Treder came to Detroit for the science fair and called that an excuse for disappearing.

"Police have confirmation Mike has left Detroit and is in Canada," the family said in a statement. "We believe he went on his own volition and is safe. So there is no longer a need for an investigation into his whereabouts. The family would like to thank everyone for their concern."

Overview of Theoretical and Experimental Progress in Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR)

CERN Colloquium had several presentations on Low Energy Nuclear Reactions (LENR) and this link has several of the powerpoint presentations that were made

Mitsubishi described nuclear transmutations made with LENR

D2 gas permeation through nano-structured Pd multilayer film makes it possible to induce nuclear transmutation under low pressure and low temperature condition.

NVIDIA Launches First Kepler GPUs at Gamers; HPC Version Waiting in the Wings

HPCWire - NVIDIA debuted its much-talked-about Kepler GPU this week, promising much better performance and energy efficiency than its previous generation Fermi-based products. The first offerings are mid-range graphics cards targeted at the heart of the desktop and notebook market, but the more powerful second-generation Kepler GPU for high performance computing is already in the pipeline.

The two new products introduced this week, the GeForce GTX 680 for desktop systems and the GeForce 600M GPUs for notebooks, are twice as energy efficient as their Fermi-based counterparts, according to NVIDIA. And although they represent more powerful graphics processors than the previous generation, the overriding design theme of the new architecture is performance per watt, rather than performance per square millimeter. According to Sumit Gupta, NVIDIA's senior director of the Tesla GPU Computing business unit, that's a fundamental change in the company's architectural strategy. "This is the first time that power is a higher order concern than area," he says.

That's because, like nearly every chipmaker on the planet, NVIDIA's fastest growing market segment is the mobile and notebook/ultrabook space

Test being developed to detect that a heart attack will soon happen

LA Times - Doctors are one step closer to a simple test that could predict whether a patient is about to have a heart attack — by using a blood sample to detect cells that have sloughed off of damaged blood vessel walls.

The finding, published Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine, could potentially address "the greatest unmet need" facing cardiologists, said lead author Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist at the Scripps Translational Science Institute in San Diego. Though physicians can easily detect a heart attack that's already underway, every year tens of thousands of patients walk away from the doctor's office after having passed a stress test, only to suffer a devastating heart attack within a few weeks.

A heart attack occurs when an area of plaque ruptures in an artery, forming a blood clot that blocks blood flow to the heart, resulting in heart tissue damage.

Ruptures resulting from mild cholesterol buildups can lead to particularly deadly heart attacks, said Dr. Douglas Zipes, a cardiologist at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, because patients with such blockages are often asymptomatic, and — unlike people with larger blockages — are unlikely to have developed new blood vessels that can help bypass the obstruction.

Knowing that the endothelial lining has been damaged before a blood clot grows might allow physicians to predict onset of a heart attack or stroke, said Zipes, who was not involved in the study.

One key detail yet unknown is how long before a heart attack the circulating endothelial cells appear.

"Is it a day before? A week before? That would be good to understand," Harrington said.

It could become possible to develop a wearable device for constantly monitoring the blood for endoteliel cells that indicate earlier damage of blood vessels.

Researchers find too much Prostaglandin D2 in the bald scalp of men with male pattern baldness

Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have identified an abnormal amount a protein called Prostaglandin D2 in the bald scalp of men with male pattern baldness, a discovery that may lead directly to new treatments for the most common cause of hair loss in men. In both human and animal models, researchers found that a prostaglandin known as PGD2 and its derivative, 15-dPGJ2, inhibit hair growth. The PGD2-related inhibition occurred through a receptor called GPR44, which is a promising therapeutic target for androgenetic alopecia in both men and women with hair loss and thinning. The study is published in Science Translational Medicine.

Male pattern baldness strikes 8 of 10 men under 70 years old, and causes hair follicles to shrink and produce microscopic hairs, which grow for a shorter duration of time than normal follicles.

Researchers took an unbiased approach when scanning for potential biological causes of baldness, looking in scalp tissue from balding and non-bald spots from men with male pattern baldness and then corroborating findings in mouse models. They found that levels of PGD2 were elevated in bald scalp tissue at levels 3 times greater than what was found in comparative haired scalp of men with androgenetic alopecia. When PGD2 was added to cultured hair follicles, PGD2-treated hair was significantly shortened, while PGD2's derivative, 15-dPGJ2, completely inhibited hair growth.

Science Translational Medicine - Prostaglandin D2 Inhibits Hair Growth and Is Elevated in Bald Scalp of Men with Androgenetic Alopecia

March 22, 2012

Researchers create underwater Jelly fish robot that does not need batteries or electricity

Researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas and Virginia Tech have created an undersea vehicle inspired by the common jellyfish that runs on renewable energy and could be used in ocean dives for rescue and surveillance missions.

The robotic jellyfish, dubbed RoboJelly, feeds off hydrogen and oxygen gases found in water.

“We’ve created an underwater robot that doesn’t need batteries or electricity,” said Dr. Yonas Tadesse, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at UT Dallas and lead author of the study. “It feeds off hydrogen and oxygen gasses, and the only waste released as it travels is more water.”

Fabrication of fuel-powered jellyfish. (a) Computer-aided design of molding set-up, A = cope, B = distributor, C = vehicle internal support structure, D = drag and E = bottom plate. Parts A and D are the mold used for forming the silicone bell. (b) Hydrogen-fuel-powered Robojelly shown out of water (one fuel pipe is shown). The pins with reflective discs used for deformation tracking can be seen on the bell.

James Cameron might have embarked on his historic solo dive to the Ocean's Deepest Point

The National Geographic Deep Sea Challenge site proclaims This is the New Age of Exploration.

National Geographic Explorer James Cameron Embarks on a Dive to the Ocean's Deepest Point.

The latest news is here but there is not yet an official announcement of a dive to the bottom of the Mariana Trench

So far there are two videos with background information.

Summarizing how Space Based Solar Power fits into the Big Energy Picture

So there are plans proposed by Al Globus to achieve results with a few hundred million. There is already a megawatt(s) or so of space solar power for satellites in space. 200 kw or so on the space station.

Japan is willing to spend a few billion on it. Planning 2 megawatt demo around 2020. 200 MW around 2025. Trying to get 1GW in 2030s.

Al Globus is working out ways to get 6-30 MWe in one launch for about $20-100 million or so.

How does this compare with nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion has had decades of funding around the billion dollar per year level (all nations added up). No commercial power generation yet.

I support nuclear fusion research and space based solar power research.

Energy infrastructure is a multi-trillion per year effort.

It is wrong to try to disqualify space based solar power because an incorrect first order analysis determines it is 4 times more expensive. The same reasoning would be that we should not have ground based solar because it is still over 4 times more expensive than coal and nuclear power.

Australian Outlook for World Economy and Energy until 2017

Australia's Resources and Energy Quarterly (March 2012 Quarterly, 182 pages forecasts the world economy and energy out to 2017.

The world economy has entered a challenging period with increased vulnerabilities and a moderation of global growth in 2012 relative to 2010 and 2011. Global economic growth in 2012 is assumed to be around 3.3 per cent (see Figure 1), which is 0.75 percentage points down from the forecast in the September 2011 World Economic Outlook (WEO) by the IMF. The expected slower growth rate is attributed largely to intensifying strains in the euro zone and economic fragilities in some other large economies. Within most of Western Europe short- to medium-term economic growth prospects have diminished. Despite a strengthening of economic activity in the US, global growth and world trade have slowed

Paul G. Allen commits $300 million for more Brain Science study

The Allen Institute for Brain Science announced today that, given its achievements to date, Paul G. Allen has committed an additional $300 million to the Institute to significantly expand its scientific programs. Bringing his total commitment to date to $500 million, Allen has charged the Institute with tackling some of the most fundamental and complex questions in brain science today. The answers to these questions are essential for achieving a complete understanding of how the brain works, what goes wrong in brain-related diseases and disorders, and how best to treat them. (H/T KurzweilAI)

Bolstered by new funding and new scientific talent, the Allen Institute for Brain Science is further pushing the frontiers of neuroscience with new initiatives and historic aims to accelerate understanding of the human brain in health and disease.

Allen's significant new contribution will support the first four years of an ambitious 10-year plan developed by the Allen Institute for Brain Science. The plan calls for a doubling of the Institute's staff to launch three new and complementary scientific initiatives that address critical questions that are central to understanding how the brain works:

* How does the brain store, encode and process information?
* What are the cellular building blocks that underlie all brain function, and are often targets of disease?
* How do those cells develop, and then create the circuits that drive behavior, thought and brain dysfunction?

These three complementary initiatives are designed to yield knowledge of fundamental principles governing brain function, publicly sharable data, and new tools and technologies that will further accelerate progress across the global research community.

Sandia may be working to add nuclear power source for ultra-persistent drones

A Sandia Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) Ultra-Persistence Research project summary refers to “propulsion and power technologies that [go] well beyond existing hydrocarbon technologies,” does not actually use the word “nuclear.” But with unmistakable references to “safeguards,” “decommissioning and disposal,” and those unfavorable “political conditions,” there is little doubt about the topic under discussion.

The objective was “to increase UAV sortie duration from days to months while increasing available electrical power at least two-fold". They concluded regretfully that “current political conditions will not allow use of the results.”

So they likely have a nuclear radio-thermal system that allows for UAVs to fly non-stop for months. Will they not use it or will they say there will not use and then use it where they want to ?

The effort contrasted and compared eight heat sources technologies, three power conversion, two dual cycle propulsion system configurations, and a single electrical power generation scheme. Overall performance, specific power parameters, technical complexities, security, safety, and other operational features were successfully investigated. Large and medium sized UAV systems were envisioned and operational flight profiles were developed for each concept. Heat source creation and support challenges for domestic and expeditionary operations were considered. Fundamental cost driver analysis was also performed. System development plans were drafted in order to determine where the technological and programmatic critical paths lay.

As a result of this effort, UAVs were to be able to provide far more surveillance time and intelligence information per mission while reducing the high cost of support activities. This technology was intended to create unmatched global capabilities to observe and preempt terrorist and weapon of mass destruction (WMD) activities. Various DOE laboratory and contractor personnel and facilities could have been used to perform detailed engineering, fabrication, assembly and test operations including follow-on operational support. Unfortunately, none of the results will be used in the near-term or mid-term future. NGIS UMS and SNL felt that the technical goals for the project were accomplished. NGIS UMS was quite pleased with the results of analysis and design although it was disappointing to all that the political realities would not allow use of the results. Technology and system designs evaluated under this CRADA had previously never been applied to unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). Based upon logistic support cost predictions, because the UAVs would not have had to refuel as often, forward basing support costs could have been reduced due to

Better lensless microscope with up to 100 times better magnification and could lead to 50 picometer resolution

In a recent paper published in Nature on March 6, 2012 under the daunting title of “Ptychographic electron microscopy using high-angle dark-field scattering for sub-nanometre resolution imaging," University of Sheffield scientists M.J. Humphry, B. Kraus, A.C. Hurst, A.M. Maiden and principal investigator John M. Rodenburg outlined their achievements in overcoming some of the limitations that have held back the potential of the electron microscope

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have created what sounds impossible - even nonsensical: an experimental electron microscope without lenses that not only works, but is orders of magnitude more powerful than current models. By means of a new form of mathematical analysis, scientists can take the meaningless patterns of dots and circles created by the lens-less microscope and create images that are of high resolution and contrast and, potentially, up to 100 times greater magnification.
The full field-of-view is shown in the inset image (scale bar, 15 nm); the main image is a blow up of the region indicated by the yellow box, showing 0.236 nm atomic plane fringes (scale bar, 5 nm). The modulus and phase of the reconstructions are combined in these images, with phase represented by colour and modulus by brightness, as indicated on the colour wheel scale.

Gizmag has coverage

Schematic of the experimental arrangement. Experiments were carried out on an FEI Quanta 600 SEM fitted with a thermally assisted Schottky field emission gun and operating at 30 keV. The probe wavefront was formed using the microscope condenser and objective lenses and was scanned across the specimen using the microscope scanning coils. The specimen was mounted on a compact rig attached to the objective lens pole piece assembly. The door of the microscope was replaced in order to accommodate a flange for a Gatan Orius SC200 CDD camera that was cantilevered into a position below the specimen plane

Diffractive imaging, in which image-forming optics are replaced by an inverse computation using scattered intensity data, could, in principle, realize wavelength-scale resolution in a transmission electron microscope. However, to date all implementations of this approach have suffered from various experimental restrictions. Here we demonstrate a form of diffractive imaging that unshackles the image formation process from the constraints of electron optics, improving resolution over that of the lens used by a factor of five and showing for the first time that it is possible to recover the complex exit wave (in modulus and phase) at atomic resolution, over an unlimited field of view, using low-energy (30 keV) electrons. Our method, called electron ptychography, has no fundamental experimental boundaries: further development of this proof-of-principle could revolutionize sub-atomic scale transmission imaging.

March 21, 2012

Al Globus updated Plans for a Profitable Space Based Solar Power System

"Towards an Early Profitable PowerSat, Part II" Al Globus, Ion Bararu, and Mihai Radu Popescu (16 pages)

We investigate technologies and designs that, following a reasonable R and D effort, may be able to deliver small, operational, single launch PowerSats suitable for niche markets. Part I of this series described an SSP design based on low-mass, thin-film solar cells such as those already proven in space combined with infra-red power beaming. Since infra-red wavelengths are approximately 30,000x shorter than microwave and the product of the diameters of the transmitting and receiving systems is a linear function of wavelength, the on-orbit power beam radius can be a few meters, making small PowerSats practical. This paper, Part II, contains a design sketch of a power beaming system using fiber lasers integrated into the power-collection system. Based on this design sketch, we quantify some of the improvements in the state-of-the-art necessary to develop a 120 meter radius PowerSat, launched by a single Falcon 9, that delivers up to 6.2 MW to the grid.

A Spacex Heavy could launch five (in one launch) of the space based power systems proposed for the Falcon 9.

Japans Space Based Solar Power Schedule

Japan has a target for a large scale 1 gigawatt space based solar power system in 2030

Currently, four major research activities associated with the SSPS are conducted by JAXA. The first floor is the demonstration of wireless power transmission by microwave and laser. JAXA will test technologies including training and pointing of a beam of microwaves (on the order of kW) over a distance of 50m. Research will also be conducted to develop a technology to directly convert sunlight into laser beam. The second research topic is the development of technologies for building structures of a few hundred meters for both a panel with a thickness of 0.1 m and a lightweight mirror with a density of 300g/m2. These technologies will be built at first experienced on the ground. The third line of research is the preparation of experiments demonstrating wireless power transmission in orbit. Experiments transmission power of the order of kilowatts from space to ground and will be carried out. A small scientific satellite currently under development at the JAXA module or JEM (Japanese Experiment Module) of the International Space Station will serve as a platform for these tests. The fourth area of study is to establish a realistic roadmap for a market an SSPS in the 2030s.

JAXA has started the development of demonstration systems on the ground of the wireless transmission of energy of 1 kW, both microwave and laser. These experiences should be completed late 2013. Based on the design of the demonstration system on the ground, experience power transmission by microwaves from space will be made ​​around 2015. If the technologies needed to release a laser are ready for that time, they will also be tested from space. When the experiences of power transmission to the ground and in orbit are completed, the choice between microwave and laser will be made. Following this selection, JAXA will embark on a demonstration of about 100 kW in space. At this stage, all the core technologies have been verified and the system configuration is selected commercial SSPS. The estimated cost of energy production and acceptance of this new technology by the public will be important factors in this decision.

Testing for commercial SSPS will be done with facilities capable of producing
* first a 2 megawatt system in 2020
* 200 megawatts in 2025
* The construction of an SSPS for commercial production of 1GW of electricity would have to start in the 2030s.

Japan next solar sail targets are Jupiter and Trojan Asteroids

Japan Space agency had the successful solar sail IKAROS. IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun) was launched on May 21, 2010 together with the Venus Climate Orbiter, AKATSUKI And IKAROS becomes the world's first solar powered sail craft employing both photon propulsion and thin film solar power generation during its interplanetary cruise.

Future Solar Power Sail Demonstrator planned in the late 2010s will involve a large sized solar power sail with a diameter of 50 meters, and will have integrated ion-propulsion engines. The destinations of the spacecraft will be Jupiter and the Trojan asteroids. Though Solar sail missions are also being studied in the United States and in European countries, Japan will lead future solar system exploration using solar power sails with continuing this kind of mission.And, our missions will lead to lower cost in the solar cells market, whose growth is a key factor for global warming prevention. Those low-cost solar cells are also the foundation of future solar power satellite systems.

Growing Replacement hands and organs

BBC News - A shortage of available organs means many die on waiting lists and those that get an organ must spend a lifetime on immunosuppressant drugs to avoid rejection.

The idea is that using a patient's own stem cells to grow new body parts avoids the whole issue of rejection as well as waiting for a donor.

Dr Anthony Atala, director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina, US, has made breakthroughs in building bladders and urethras.

He breaks tissue-building into four levels of complexity.

1. Flat structures, such as the skin, are the simplest to engineer as they are generally made up of just the one type of cell.

2. Tubes, such as blood vessels and urethras, which have two types of cells and act as a conduit.

3. Hollow non-tubular organs like the bladder and the stomach, which have more complex structures and functions.

4. Solid organs, such as the kidney, heart and liver, are the most complex to engineer. They are exponentially more complex, have many different cell types, and more challenges in the blood supply.

"We've been able to implant the first three in humans. We don't have any examples yet of solid organs in humans because its much more complex," Dr Atala told the BBC.

Previously we had reported that an injection of stem cells given alongside a kidney transplant could remove the need for a lifetime of drugs to suppress the immune system

List of those with the most Employees

BBC News looks at who has the most employees

The US Department of Defense has most then the Chinese army and then Walmart and MacDonalds.

Foxconn became notorious in 2010 when news spread that 10 of its workers had committed suicide.

Although these deaths were tragic, an understanding of how massive an employer the company is makes you realise that this isn't the shockingly high number it seemed.

Suicide rates in China have been put at 15 per 100,000 people per year. The controversial Foxconn factory employed around 400,000 people.

Ten suicides per 400,000 people isn't unusually high. It's unusually low for China.

A new imaging system could use opaque walls, doors or floors as 'mirrors' to gather information

MIT Media Lab researchers caused a stir by releasing a slow-motion video of a burst of light traveling the length of a plastic bottle. But the experimental setup that enabled that video was designed for a much different application: a camera that can see around corners.

The researchers describe using their system to produce recognizable 3-D images of a wooden figurine and of foam cutouts outside their camera’s line of sight. The research could ultimately lead to imaging systems that allow emergency responders to evaluate dangerous environments or vehicle navigation systems that can negotiate blind turns, among other applications.

The principle behind the system is essentially that of the periscope. But instead of using angled mirrors to redirect light, the system uses ordinary walls, doors or floors — surfaces that aren’t generally thought of as reflective.

The system exploits a device called a femtosecond laser, which emits bursts of light so short that their duration is measured in quadrillionths of a second. To peer into a room that’s outside its line of sight, the system might fire femtosecond bursts of laser light at the wall opposite the doorway. The light would reflect off the wall and into the room, then bounce around and re-emerge, ultimately striking a detector that can take measurements every few picoseconds, or trillionths of a second. Because the light bursts are so short, the system can gauge how far they’ve traveled by measuring the time it takes them to reach the detector.

Experimental set-up.

Nature Communications - Recovering three-dimensional shape around a corner using ultrafast time-of-flight imaging

Continued Progress on Stem Cells for Heart Repair and Regeneration

Stem cells were used to heal heart damage in 2011

ABC News reports on research from the Lancet - Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and The Johns Hopkins University harvested stem cells from the hearts of 17 heart attack patients and after prepping the cells, infused them back into the patients' hearts.

The patients received the stem cell infusions about three months after their heart attacks.

Researchers found that six months after treatment, patients had significantly less scarring of the heart muscle and also showed a considerable increase the amount of healthy heart muscle, compared to eight post-heart attack patients studied who did not receive the stem cell infusions. One year after, scar size was reduced by about 50 percent.

"The damaged tissue of the heart was replaced by what looks like healthy myocardium," said Dr. Peter Johnston, a study co-author and an assistant professor of medicine at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "It's functioning better than the damaged myocardium in the control subjects, and there's evidence it's starting to contract and generate electrical signals the way healthy heart tissue does."

High estimate of 100 excess cancer deaths from Fukushima if all 2 million in the area stood outside during each radiation release event

In May, 2011 the Natural Resources Defense Council estimated that there would be 100 excess cases of cancer among the population of 2 million from the Fukushima nuclear reactors. That was portrayed as a high-end estimate, because it assumed that everyone in the Fukushima area stood outside during the release events and did not take shelter.

Richard Harris, science reporter, talked to Robert Gale and John Boice about the two workers who got reddening on their legs after exposure to excess radiation. (Contaminated water got into their boots). Gale had examined the workers and said the dose caused a localized reaction but is not high enough to pose an ongoing health risk to the workers.

The nuclear fuel in one reactor has probably melted through its vessel and is now apparently sitting on a concrete-and-steel outer containment building. There is no evidence [Richard Harris] knows of that says significant radiation is currently making its way into the environment.

Under ordinary circumstances 40 percent of the Japanese population gets cancer, so a population of 2 million would expect to see 800,000 cases. An excess of 100 deaths over a lifetime would mean an extra one hundreds of one percent or one part in ten thousand.

Heads of 4 municipalities favor restarting Nuclear reactors

1. The heads of four municipalities hosting nuclear power plants are in favor of allowing reactors currently idle for safety checkups or other reasons to be restarted if the central government approves their reactivation

The four who said they would "respect" the central government's judgment were the mayors of three villages--Tomari in Hokkaido, Higashidori in Aomori Prefecture and Kariwa in Niigata Prefecture--and the mayor of the town of Genkai, Saga Prefecture.

2. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda suggested approval may be given to operate the nearly completed No. 3 reactor of a nuclear power plant in Shimane Prefecture.

Vernor Vinge is interviewed about the Singularity, rebooting civilization and living to 100,000

Wired - futurist Vernor Vinge is surprisingly optimistic when it comes to the prospect of civilization collapsing.

Rebooting Civilization from the rich carcass

Could humanity really claw its way back after a complete collapse? Haven’t we plundered the planet’s resources in ways that would be impossible to repeat?

“I disagree with that,” says Vinge. “With one exception — fossil fuels. But the stuff that we mine otherwise? We have concentrated that. I imagine that ruins of cities are richer ore fields than most of the natural ore fields we have used historically.”

That’s not to say the collapse of civilization is no big deal. The human cost would be horrendous, and there would be no comeback at all if the crash leaves no survivors. A ravaged ecosphere could stymie any hope of rebuilding, as could a disaster that destroys even the ruins of cities.

India's national and local authorities approve the completion of the Kudankulam Nuclear plant

Nuclear Power Daily - Tamil Nadu Monday gave the green signal for the Kudankulam nuclear plant, with an activist saying that 10 people opposing the project have been arrested.

The state cabinet met Monday under Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and decided in favour of the Kudankulam plant.

LA Times - The plan to build six Russian reactors in Kudankulam was concocted in the late 1980s, but the Soviet Union's collapse stalled the start of construction until 1997. Protests have delayed commissioning of the first reactor, which is 99% complete, and a second reactor that is 94% done.

The postponements have added $500 million to the now-$3.3-billion project, which is partly financed by aid from Russia. Under the deal, the Russian government is to supply uranium for the life of the plant, with India allowed to keep and reprocess the spent fuel, a provision not generally allowed in U.S. agreements.

Even ardent anti-nuclear activists acknowledge that India has a huge energy shortfall, producing 12% less electricity than it needs at peak times, resulting in frequent, extended blackouts.

Global Black Market Economy is estimated at $10 trillion

Foreign Policy - the $10 trillion global black market is the world's fastest growing economy.

Shadow Economies and Corruption all over the World: New Estimates for 145 Countries by Friedrich Schneider (63 pages) The average size of the shadow economy (as a percent of "official" GDP) in 2004/05 in 96 developing countries is 36.7%, in 25 transition countries 38.8% and in 21 OECD countries 14.8%. Developing countries are making up a growing part of the overall world economy.

Deepsea Challenger will first go unmanned to the bottom of the Mariana Trench and then with James Cameron to film 3D Documentary

BBC News - The DEEPSEA CHALLENGER team has set off from Guam, friends, family and colleagues wave and cheer until their ship fades into the distance.

If they can get a few days of good weather on their side, the team hopes to first make an unmanned 11km dive with the sub, to check it works properly at this deepest of ocean depths - and then it will be time for James Cameron to enter the craft and take the reins.

The craft, which is housed on the ship's deck in a large, air-conditioned hangar, is bright green, weighs 11 tonnes and is more than 7m (23ft) long.

Once in the ocean, it flips on its end, and descends vertically through the water column.

Ways to make Space Solar Power Work

Tom Murphy a UCSD professor has put out an article that argues against space based solar power.

This is similar to an argument made in 2004 by Steve Fetter

Tom makes the arguments that launch costs are too high and it will be too expensive to make the space based solar power to justify about 3 times gain from being in orbit.

Tom uses the weight of ground based solar panels as a starting point of a standard rooftop panel delivers about 10 W per kilogram of mass (slightly better than this, but I will stick to round numbers). Let’s say a light-weighted version for space achieves an impressive factor-of-100 improvement: same power for 1% the mass. This gives 1 kW/kg.

Space has no gravity so you do not need the supporting structure of a ground based system. Al Globus provides the case for space based solar power in "Towards an Early Pro fitable PowerSat"

The Japanese Ikaros satellite, a solar sail, is producing power at about 0.8 kg/kw for the power production system. This extremely low value is accomplished by using a heliogyro thin film solar sail design, which has no structure, and thin film solar cells on part of the surface. Given reasonable improvements in thin film solar cells this figure could be 0.16 kg/kw for power production, not including other parts of the satellite.
A JPL Heliogyro design

This paper examines three technologies:
1. Power transmission in one of the atmospheric windows near 1 to 2 microns, reducing the minimum product of the power transmission emitter and receiver radius by a factor of up to 120,000 over traditional designs

2. Thin-film solar-to-electric conversion systems that can be made in large sheets, rolled up, launched, unrolled, and function in the space environment.

3. Heliogyro design for PowerSats, eliminating most of the structural mass associated with energy collection.

While there are substantial uncertainties and many unknowns, reasonable assumptions regarding improvements in these areas suggest that it may be possible to deploy a 5MW operational SSP system with a single launch of an existing vehicle. Furthermore, it may be possible to pay for this launch within one or a few years by selling power in high-priced niche markets.

How low can costs go using chemical propulsion?

Elon Musk claims that, using fully reusable hardware, the cost of launching payloads to space could eventually go as low as $10 per pound. Other low-cost proposals for putting payloads into orbit have been covered by Next Big Future, including airships to orbit as well as laser propulsion and startram. Aerospace engineer Dr. Ajay Kothari of the Astrox corporation has spent the past decade thoroughly studying various concepts for reducing space costs. In an interview with Sander Olson for Next Big Future, Kothari argues that vertically launched scramjet vehicles may be the best way in the short run to inexpensively launch payloads into space. Kothari believes that scramjet or fully reusable rockets could eventually bring the cost to Low Earth Orbit down to $100 per pound.

Ajay Kothari

Question: You founded the Astrox corporation in order to study, analyze, and create spacecraft and propulsion designs. How many designs have you examined?

I have been studying various propulsion and spacecraft designs since 1987. This research has included detailed theoretical studies of Single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) vehicles, Two-stage-to-orbit (TSTO) vehicles, trans-atmospheric vehicles, various rocket-engines, and missiles. Astrox has developed a series of software programs, called HySIDE, SpaceSIDE and SuperSIDE, designed to allow the user to determine which designs are viable and which will never fly. We at Astrox have studied about 50 different designs and looked at more than 200 different concepts

March 20, 2012

SENS5 - The impact of PNPASE on the therapeutic potential of mitochondrial RNA import

Researchers have found a mechanism that can be hijacked in order to import RNA into the mitochondria as desired. This work was described as a potential game changer by Aubrey de Grey

A decline in the function of mitochondria may contribute to the aging process and age-related disorders. A functional decline could arise from accumulated mtDNA mutations over time, leading to reduced oxidative phosphorylation and other untoward effects on mitochondrial activities. Strategies that restore mitochondrial function could potentially offset key aspects of aging decline. RNA import into mammalian mitochondria is considered essential for replication, transcription, and translation of the mitochondrial genome but the pathway(s) and factors that control this import are poorly understood.

In recent studies we have shown a role for polynucleotide phosphorylase (PNPASE) in regulating the import of nuclear-encoded RNAs into the mitochondrial matrix. ... A mitochondrial RNA targeting signal was identified that enables the import of heterologous RNAs in a PNPASE-dependent manner. Combined, our studies show an unanticipated role for PNPASE in mediating the translocation of RNAs into mitochondria and provide a potential therapeutic route for halting or reversing the decline in mitochondrial function with aging.

Romney has solid win in Illinois with 50% of the vote

Mitt Romney had a solid win in Illinois with about 50% of the vote.

Santorum had about 33%
Ron Paul had 9%
Newt Gingrich had 7%

Volvo 2020 Vision - Totally Safe Cars and Reduced Emissions

Here is Volvo Vision to achieve totally safe cars and reduced emissions.

Our Vision is that no one is killed or injured in a Volvo in the year 2020.

* We cannot solve this on our own. Co-operation is necessary!

To Reach the Visions we need -
Co-operation between different stakeholders:
• Vehicle manufacturers
• Governments/ authorities
• Standardization organizations
• Interest organizations
• Researchers

What causes accidents ?

The four D’s:
Driving while intoxicated
Driver capabilities

SARTRE autonomous road-train enters final phase with three Volvos

The Safe Road Trains for the Environment (SARTRE) is adding a few more vehicles to the rolling procession of autonomous cars.

Utilizing a combination of cameras and radar-based sensors, the vehicles in the platoon can travel up to 55 miles per hour while maintaining a 20-foot gap between each other. An electronics-packed truck takes the lead and handles driving for all the vehicles in the group, meaning there's still at least one driver in control.

By the end of this year, the SARTRE team hopes to have up to six vehicles rolling in line, with the potential to reduce fuel consumption, congestion and – naturally – driver error in the future.

The test fleet included a lead truck followed by three cars driven entirely autonomously at speeds of up to 90 km/h - with no more than 6 metres gap between the vehicles.

"The aim is for the entire road train to be completed in autumn 2012. By then we will have four vehicles after one lead vehicle driving at 90 km/h," says Erik Coelingh, technical project manager at the Volvo Car Corporation.

The main advantage of road trains is that the car driver has time over to do other things. Road trains promote safer transport since the vehicle platoons are led by a professional driver in e.g. a truck and inter-vehicle reaction response times are much quicker. Environmental impact is reduced since the cars follow close behind each other and benefit from the lower air drag. The energy saving is expected to be in the region of up to 20 percent. Road capacity will also be able to be utilised more efficiently.

China making a practical Eco-city as a testbed for technology that other cities can adopt

UK Telegraph - the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco City, just over an hour from Beijing by train, is not supposed to be a whizzy vision of the future. It is far more practical - a model for how Chinese cities could develop and solve some of the enormous problems facing them: permanent gridlock, a lack of water and ruinous electricity bills.

In Tianjin, the residents will not be expected to make any particular effort to be green. "If they take the bus and sort their rubbish for recycling, they will be making their contribution," said a spokesman for the city.

Their main contribution, in fact, is to be guinea pigs as planners experiment with the city around them. General Motors, for example, is using Tianjin to work out if electric driverless cars can function in a normal traffic system.

Electric Networked Vehicle

The award-winning Chevrolet EN-V, short for Electric Networked-Vehicle, is a two-seat, electric urban mobility concept that maintains the basic principle of personal mobility – freedom.

One of the stars of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, EN-V was designed to address environmental issues and help alleviate traffic congestion, parking, safety concerns and energy consumption.

The next-generation Chevrolet EN-V concept will add new features that customers need, such as climate control, personal storage space and all-weather and road condition operation while preserving key elements of the original EN-V, such as the small footprint and maneuverability. It will also retain its battery electric propulsion, connectivity and autonomous driving capabilities.

In April, 2011, GM and the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Investment and Development Co. Ltd. (SSTEC) signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on integrating the next-generation EN-V into the Tianjin Eco-City from a power, communications and physical infrastructure perspective.

Borroni-Bird said Chevrolet will explore other locations around the world – including the United States – for potential pilot programs.

The EN-V is a zero-emissions vehicle powered by lithium-ion batteries. Recharging from a conventional wall outlet using standard household power allows EN-V to travel at least 40 kilometers on a single charge, an acceptable range for most urban trips.

By combining GPS with vehicle-to-vehicle communications and distance-sensing technologies, the EN-V can be driven manually or autonomously. In autonomous mode, EN-V offers mobility to people who may not otherwise operate a vehicle. By leveraging wireless communications, it allows drivers and occupants to communicate hands-free with friends or business associates while on the go.

James Cameron Team Prepare the Deep Sea Challenger sub for a dive to the Mariana Trench when the Weather allows

One week ago the James Cameron Deep sea challenge expedition had driven to within 100 miles of their target of Challenger Deep Mariana Trench

30-knot winds and big seas have kept the Mermaid Sapphire in port at Apra Harbor, Guam.

People are working and preparing the sub for the dive when there is a window in the weather

Nuclear fusion simulation shows high-gain energy output of 100 to 1000 times input current

High-gain nuclear fusion could be achieved in a preheated cylindrical container immersed in strong magnetic fields, according to a series of computer simulations performed at Sandia National Laboratories.

The simulations show the release of output energy that was, remarkably, many times greater than the energy fed into the container’s liner. The method appears to be 50 times more efficient than using X-rays — a previous favorite at Sandia — to drive implosions of targeted materials to create fusion conditions.

In the simulations, the output demonstrated was 100 times that of a 60 million amperes (MA) input current. The output rose steeply as the current increased: 1,000 times input was achieved from an incoming pulse of 70 MA.

Since Sandia’s Z machine can bring a maximum of only 26 MA to bear upon a target, the researchers would be happy with a proof-of-principle result called scientific break-even, in which the amount of energy leaving the target equals the amount of energy put into the deuterium-tritium fuel.

Prototype assembly of MagLIF system - the top and bottom coils enclose the lit target. (Photo by Derek Lamppa)
Z machine

Fusion Power’s Road Not Yet Taken (Inertial confinement fusion)

With ignition as a starting gun they could have a pilot plant—dubbed LIFE, for Laser Inertial Fusion Energy running in 12 years.

Instead of NIF’s single giant laser split into 192 beamlets, LIFE would have twice as many beamlets, each produced by a replaceable 8-kilojoule (kJ) laser unit. The laser units, each housed in a box big enough to accommodate a torpedo or two, would be built in a factory and delivered to the plant ready to use. If one or two of them failed, they could be replaced without stopping the power plant.

The key technology here is the pulsed current source. Sandia has a huge device called the Z machine, which stores up enormous amounts of electrical energy and then produces intense current pulses. Researchers use these pulses—up to 27 mega-amps (MA) for 100 nanoseconds—to produce x-rays and for other experiments. Although the Z machine can be used to test the feasibility of doing fusion with such pulsed power, Sandia’s Cuneo says a new machine able to generate 60 MA will be needed to really put the theory to the test.

As with other drivers, the key challenge is repetition rate. Researchers at Sandia are testing a new technology called linear transformer drivers (LTDs). They have a
couple of LTD modules rigged up, and each is producing 1-MA pulses at a rate of 1 every 10 seconds.

China Home Prices Fall in 45 of 70 Cities Tracked

Business Week - China’s February home prices fell in more than half of the 70 cities monitored by the government with only three cities recording gains as the country maintained curbs on the property market.

Prices fell in 45 cities last month as compared with January, while 22 cities were unchanged, the National Statistics Bureau said in a statement on its website today.

That compares with 47 cities recording a decline in January. New home prices in the cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou dropped for a fifth month.

Premier Wen Jiabao said last week China’s home prices remain far from a reasonable level and called on the government not to slacken efforts to regulate the housing sector. Relaxing the curbs could cause “chaos” in the market, Wen said. China’s two-year campaign to rein in home prices has included measures such as higher down payments and mortgage rates, and home purchase restrictions in 40 cities.

Here is the link to the National Statistics Bureau release of home price tracking

Price Indices of Second-Hand Residential Buildings by Floor Space in 70 Large and Medium-Sized Cities (2012.02)

There were similar numbers for newly constructed homes

Seagate Demonstrates 1 terabit per square inch hard drive

Seagate has become the first hard drive maker to achieve the milestone storage density of 1 terabit (1 trillion bits) per square inch, producing a demonstration of the technology that promises to double the storage capacity of today’s hard drives upon its introduction later this decade and give rise to 3.5-inch hard drives with an extraordinary capacity of up to 60 terabytes over the 10 years that follow.

Seagate reached the landmark data density with heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), the next- generation recording technology. The current hard drive technology, Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR), is used to record the spectrum of digitized data – from music, photos, and video stored on home desktop and laptop PCs to business information housed in sprawling data centers – on the spinning platters inside every hard drive. PMR technology was introduced in 2006 to replace longitudinal recording, a method in place since the advent of hard drives for computer storage in 1956, and is expected to reach its capacity limit near 1 terabit per square inch in the next few years.

The maximum capacity of today’s 3.5-inch hard drives is 3 terabytes (TB), at about 620 gigabits per square inch, while 2.5-inch drives top out at 750 gigabytes (GB), or roughly 500 gigabits per square inch. The first generation of HAMR drives, at just over 1 terabit per square inch, will likely more than double these capacities – to 6TB for 3.5-inch drives and 2TB for 2.5-inch models. The technology offers a scale of capacity growth never before possible, with a theoretical areal density limit ranging from 5 to 10 terabits per square inch – 30TB to 60TB for 3.5-inch drives and 10TB to 20TB for 2.5-inch drives.

A Seagate document about solid state hybrid drives mentions 2014 to 2015 for HAMR drives.

Capacity has been growing at a steady clip, but even that is threatened by the areal density limitations of perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR). It won’t pick up again until heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) becomes feasible in the 2014 to 2015 timeframe.

Elon Musk and Spacex work put $500,000 per person trips to Mars for 2023 to 2028

BBC News interviews Elon Musk of Spacex. "My vision is for a fully reusable rocket transport system between Earth and Mars that is able to re-fuel on Mars - this is very important - so you don't have to carry the return fuel when you go there," he said.

"The whole system [must be] reusable - nothing is thrown away. That's very important because then you're just down to the cost of the propellant.

"We will probably unveil the overall strategy later this year in a little more detail, but I'm quite confident that it could work and that ultimately we could offer a round trip to Mars that the average person could afford -let's say the average person after they've made some savings."

The entrepreneur described this as about half a million dollars. He conceded the figure was unlikely to be the opening price - rather, the cost of a ticket on a mature system that had been operating for about a decade. Nonetheless, Musk thought such an offering could be introduced in 10 years at best, and 15 at worst.

Spacex Falcon Heavy

* Fly the Spacex heavy rocket
* Make the Spacex Heavy totally reusable
* Develop systems for making fuel on Mars

Some details of the Spacex Mars plan will be revealed later this year and full details in 2013.

China boosts government healthcare spending by 16.4%, social security by 21.9% and guaranteed housing by 23.1%

China has its 2012 local and federal budgets online.

The appropriation for medical and health care is 203.505 billion yuan (US$32.2 billion), an increase of 16.4%. This figure consists of 8.331 billion yuan of central government spending and 195.174 billion yuan in transfer payments to local governments. We plan to allocate 105 billion yuan in subsidies, up 37%, to raise government subsidies for the new rural cooperative medical care system and basic medical insurance for non-working urban residents to 240 yuan per person per year, and appropriately increase the proportion of costs that are reimbursable. We will improve the national system of basic drugs, and deepen the comprehensive reform of community-level medical and health care institutions. We will allocate 35.8 billion yuan to improve the mechanism for ensuring funding for delivering basic public health services to rural and urban residents, and continue to implement basic public health programs and prevent and control major communicable diseases such as AIDS and tuberculosis. We will accelerate trial reforms in public hospitals, with particular focus on county-level hospitals. We will support the work of providing medical assistance to rural and urban residents with an appropriation of 11.483 billion yuan.

WSJ - the 2011 increase also was 16.3%

Price Waterhouse Coopers had a projection of healthcare spending by country to 2020

March 19, 2012

Neil deGrasse Tyson makes the case for doubling the NASA budget

Neil deGrasse Tyson makes the case for doubling the NASA budget

The 2008 bank bailout of $750 billion was greater than all the money NASA had received in its half-century history; two years’ U.S. military spending exceeds it as well. Right now, NASA’s annual budget is half a penny on your tax dollar. For twice that–a penny on a dollar–we can transform the country from a sullen, dispirited nation, weary of economic struggle, to one where it has reclaimed its 20th century birthright to dream of tomorrow.

I can agree with more spending for space, but I think it would be better to provide more budget directly to Spacex.

Nextbigfuture clearly still dreams of a better tomorrow. However, you cannot just put it into an agency that is labeled space. You have to have bolder plans for what will be done. The plan should not be to spend hundreds of billions on a space shuttle or a space station or a new space launch system. We have to spend the money to reduce the cost of getting into space to less than $10 per pound. This can be done with the

Spacex fully reusable space launch systems,

making Startram magnetic launch,

Nuclear cannon launch

Creating a space pier

California Lithium Battery To Commercialize Lowest Cost Lithium Battery

California Lithium Battery Inc. (CalBattery) announced at last week’s Department of Energy’s ARPA-e Energy Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C. that they have entered into a Work for Others (WFO) agreement with Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) to commercialize a breakthrough low cost “GEN3” lithium battery. This new transformational battery will offer the highest energy density and longest cycle life of any lithium battery made today. CalBattery believes that it will be able manufacture this GEN3 lithium-ion battery in the US at a comparable cost reduction up to 70%.
VLF (Very Large Format) battery

This novel “GEN3” lithium-ion battery will combine Argonne’s silicon-graphene battery anode process with other advanced battery materials into the lowest lifecycle cost per watt lithium-ion battery ideally suited for energy storage and EV applications. The key technology advancement is CalBattery will become the first US battery manufacturer to be able to successfully use silicon in its battery anode. Silicon which has the ability to absorb lithium by a factor of 10X has until now not yet proven to be stable enough for battery anode use. While much research today is focused on ways to improve silicon stability, ANL tests indicate this newly patented process that embeds nano-silicon into graphene through a novel chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process will dramatically improve silicon stability by protecting the silicon material as it charges and discharges, extending battery cycle life by 3X.

G-20 Internet Economy to Expand at 10 Percent a Year Through 2016 to $4.2 trillion

Boston Consulting Group - In the G-20 nations, the Internet economy will grow more than 10 percent a year through 2016, according to a new report published by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) as part of its Connected World series.

In the developed markets of the G-20, the Internet economy will grow approximately 8 percent annually; in the developing markets, it will grow more than twice as fast—at an average annual rate of 18 percent. Argentina and India will grow the fastest, at 24 percent and 23 percent a year, respectively. The leading developed markets—Italy and the U.K.—will grow about 12 percent and 11 percent a year, respectively.

BCG projects that the Internet economy will contribute a total of $4.2 trillion to the G-20’s total GDP in 2016. “If it were a national economy, it would rank in the world’s top five, behind only the U.S., China, India, and Japan, and ahead of Germany,” said David Dean, BCG senior partner and a coauthor of the report.

i-Limb Bionic Hand

Better all the Time has an article which has a video that shows the current effectiveness and quality of cybernetic limb replacement.

Touch Bionics is the company that makes the i-Limb ultra, which is more advanced than the i-Limb Pulse shown in the first video.

With the i-limb ultra, your prosthesis looks and moves more like a natural hand than any other powered prosthetic hand. Each finger moves independently and bends at the natural joints so that it can accurately adapt to fit around the shape of the object you want to grasp.

Powered by Touch Bionics' unique biosim software, the i-limb ultra is the most versatile prosthetic hand available, providing you with the ability to customize the hand for your daily needs.

Choose from a wide selection of automated grips and gestures to help you complete your daily tasks, such as index point for typing, precision pinch mode for gripping small objects or natural hand position for walking or while at rest.

Utilizing its pulsing and vari-grip features, the i-limb ultra is the only prosthetic hand with the ability to gradually increase the strength of its grip on an object. This can be very useful in situations where a firmer grasp is required, such as tying shoelaces tightly or holding a heavy bag more securely.

The i-limb ultra is based on the reliable design of our i-LIMB Pulse product, but with some new upgraded features.

Growing a blood vessel fro transplant inside your own body

Wall Street Journal - Doctors at Yale University here implanted in Angela's chest in August a bioabsorbable tube that is designed to dissolve over time. The tube was seeded with cells, including stem cells, that had been harvested from Angela's bone marrow. Since then, the doctors say, the tube has disappeared, leaving in its place a conduit produced by Angela's cells that functions like a normal blood vessel.

"We're making a blood vessel where there wasn't one," says Christopher Breuer, the Yale pediatric surgeon who led the 12-hour procedure to implant the device. "We're inducing regeneration."

Angela, who had little stamina before the operation, now has the energy of a regular kid. She is on several medications, but Dr. Breuer and her parents think she'll be able to start school in the fall.

Amazon ec2 may have nearly half a million servers

Amazon began renting CPU time by the hour in 2006. Since then, Amazon's cloud computing service, known as EC2, rapidly became popular with pharmaceutical corporations, digital design centers, and myriad other organizations requiring quick access to prodigious amounts of computer power. Since 2006, Amazon has reduced the price for its server time 19 times, and operates with razor thin margins. Although Amazon has never revealed how many servers they have in operation, a recent analysis suggested that Amazon ec2 may have nearly half a million servers in operation. The total number of servers employed by Amazon may be much higher. As impressive as Amazon's computational capacity is, Google is estimated to have 900,000 servers. Each of these servers is roughly as fast as the fastest supercomputer in the world in 1993.