April 21, 2012

Regeneration repairs hair, eyes and heart cells in mice

Nature - Three studies published this week show that introducing new cells into mice can replace diseased cells — whether hair, eye or heart — and help to restore the normal function of those cells. These proof-of-principle studies now have researchers setting their sights on clinical trials to see if the procedures could work in humans.

In work published in Nature Communications, Japanese researchers grew different types of hair on nude mice, using stem cells from normal mice and balding humans to recreate the follicles from which hair normally emerges1. Takashi Tsuji, a regenerative-medicine specialist at Tokyo University of Science who led the study, says that the technique holds promise for treating male pattern baldness.

Transplanting bioengineered stem cells into nude mice enabled them to grow hair. Takashi Tsuji/Tokyo University of Science

The team used a specialized nylon sheath to guide the hair through the skin layers, enabling it to erupt from the skin of the mice in 94% of all grafts. The hairs took between 2 and 5 weeks to emerge, and behaved as normal: they underwent normal growth cycles and established connections to the muscles and nerves underneath the skin. The hairs also lifted up from the skin in response to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter known to cause hairs to stand on end.

120000 enroll in MITx online Circuits and Electronics course

A decade ago, MIT broke ground with its OpenCourseWare initiative, which made MIT course materials, such as syllabi and lecture notes, publicly accessible. But over the last five years, MIT Provost L. Rafael Reif has led an effort to move the complete MIT classroom experience online, with video lectures, homework assignments, lab work — and a grade at the end.

That project, called MITx, launched late last year. On March 16, Reif announced that Agarwal would step down as CSAIL director in order to lead MIT’s Open Learning Enterprise, which will oversee MITx’s development.

“Circuits and Electronics.” Co-taught by Agarwal, Panasonic Professor of Electrical Engineering Gerald Sussman, CSAIL co-director and Senior Lecturer Christopher Terman and CSAIL research scientist Piotr Mitros, the course — 6.002 in MIT’s course-numbering system, 6.002x in its MITx iteration — has more than 120,000 enrollees. Logged into the discussion forum as “aa,” Agarwal tests the MITx interface, gauges students’ reaction to online tools and sometimes answers their questions.

April 20, 2012

Computational Nanotechnology by Freitas confirms that nanoparts from 1-2 nm nanodiamond components will be structurally stable

The use of precisely applied mechanical forces to induce site-specific chemical transformations is called positional mechanosynthesis, and diamond is an important early target for achieving mechanosynthesis experimentally. The next major experimental milestone may be the mechanosynthetic fabrication of atomically precise 3D structures, creating readily accessible diamond-based nanomechanical components engineered to form desired architectures possessing superlative mechanical strength, stiffness, and strength-to-weight ratio. To help motivate this future experimental work, the present paper addresses the basic stability of nanoscale diamond structures with clean or hydrogenated surfaces that possess certain simple features including ledges, steps, and corners. Computational studies using Density Functional Theory (DFT) with the Car-Parrinello Molecular Dynamics (CPMD) code, consuming ∼2,284,108.97 CPU-hours of runtime on the IBM Blue Gene/P supercomputer (23 TFlops), confirm that fully hydrogenated nanodiamonds 1–2 nm in size possessing ledges with various combinations of convex or concave edgelines where any two of the three principal diamond faces meet will maintain stable sp3 hybridization.

Brillouin had Los Alamos and SRI validations

PESN had a 1.5-hour interview with Robert W. George II, who serves as CEO; as well as with the inventor, Robert Godes (pronounced "God" - "ez"), who serves as CTO. Since they are both named Robert, the way they distinguish between them is that Robert George goes by "Bob". And the inventor goes by "Robert."

Brillouin has had two significant independent validations of their scientific model and claims. One of those was by Los Alamos National Laboratories. The other was by Dr. Michael McKubre of Standford Research International (SRI), who subsequently joined their board of advisors. McKubre was especially impressed by the consistency of the results. This was the first time (in the LENR experimental arena) that he was able to repeat something every time, without exception.

One of the next development steps is going to involve a relationship with SRI to build and test the Brillouin New Hydrogen Boiler™ (NHB™) or "Hot Tube", entailing BEC's new dry boiler system, which will be capable of heats from 400ºC to 500ºC. This technology will be capable of running power plant turbines. Licensing this boiler technology is going to be the lowest hanging fruit because of the number of power plant systems that have been mothballed by increasingly stringent EPA regulations. By re-energizing these "stranded assets," the capital cost of building a system is dramatically reduced, since the only thing they have to add is the clean boiler.

BEC expects to be able to generate power at 1 cent per kilowatt-hour with no toxic emissions of any kind. The wholesale price for electricity is typically 4-15 cents per kilowatt-hour

Brillouin's other product, which is already developed and proven from thousands hours of focused testing, is called the Brillouin Boiler™. It is their original wet boiler system, containing distilled water and electrolyte. It is designed to produce heat between 100ºC and 150ºC. The prototype of this Boiler is continuing to run tests at the company's Berkeley lab.

With limitations in their budget, they had to use off-the-shelf components and cobble together something to prove the principle. Once with get adequate funding, they will be able to build a wet boiler system that is optimal to their design.

MIT Hagelstein Cold Fusion Demonstration has been producing excess heat for two months straight

Cold Fusion Times reports that Massachusetts Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr was hosted at MIT by Professor Peter Hagelstein and Dr. Mitchell Swartz who demonstrated their JET Energy cold fusion paladium-zirconium based NANOR system which has reportedly been able to show a continuous production of excess heat for over two months.

Scientists Identify 10 Breast Cancer Sub-types with DNA analysis

Technology Review - An international team of researchers has used a combination of genomic and gene expression analyses to identify 10 subtypes of breast cancer, each of which is typified by certain genetic aberrations. The classification of cancers can help researchers and doctors better understand patients’ responses to different therapeutics as well as prioritize drug design efforts for the most deadly of molecular disruptions.

The largely Canadian and UK team studied nearly 2000 breast tumor specimens from patients whose medical conditions were tracked for as many as 20 years after the specimens were taken. The researchers analyzed the genome sequences and gene expression levels of the tumors using DNA hybridization technology to examine changes in chromosomal architecture known as “copy number aberrations.” Breast cancer exhibits many of these structural changes--abnormal repetitions of chunks of chromosomes that can greatly alter the molecular landscape of a cell.

The researchers also identified molecular changes within some of the subtypes that could one day help doctors decide how to best treat an individual’s particular tumor type. Some clinics are already using DNA analysis to “personalize” cancer treatments and studies like this can focus doctors and drug companies on the most effective molecular targets for treatment or R&D.

Nature - The genomic and transcriptomic architecture of 2,000 breast tumours reveals novel subgroups

Ageing genes discovered

King's College London - Researchers identify key genes that switch off with ageing, highlighting them as potential targets for anti-ageing therapies

Researchers at King’s College London, in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, have identified a group of ‘ageing’ genes that are switched on and off by natural mechanisms called epigenetic factors, influencing the rate of healthy ageing and potential longevity.

The study also suggests these epigenetic processes – that can be caused by external factors such as diet, lifestyle and environment – are likely to be initiated from an early age and continue through a person’s life. The researchers say that the epigenetic changes they have identified could be used as potential ‘markers’ of biological ageing and in the future could be possible targets for anti-ageing therapies.

The study looked at 172 twins aged 32 to 80 from the TwinsUK cohort based at King’s College London and St Thomas’ Hospital, as part of King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre.

The researchers looked for epigenetic changes in the twins’ DNA, and performed epigenome-wide association scans to analyse these changes in relation to chronological age. They identified 490 age related epigenetic changes. They also analysed DNA modifications in age related traits and found that epigenetic changes in four genes relate to cholesterol, lung function and maternal longevity.

To try to identify when these epigenetic changes may be triggered, the researchers replicated the study in 44 younger twins, aged 22 to 61, and found that many of the 490 age related epigenetic changes were also present in this younger group. The researchers say these results suggest that while many age related epigenetic changes happen naturally with age throughout a person’s life, a proportion of these changes may be initiated early in life.

PLos Genetics - Epigenome-Wide Scans Identify Differentially Methylated Regions for Age and Age-Related Phenotypes in a Healthy Ageing Population

Progress on compressed air power storage

Researchers at the University of Nottingham in the UK are currently testing the Energy Bag, a large inflatable energy storage device submerged in water's off Scotland's Orkney Islands.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology floated a similar idea last year using hollow concrete spheres instead of inflatable bags as a storage vessel. Now the idea of harnessing compressed air on the seafloor is going beyond the drawing board with the current testing off Orkney.

Nextbigfuture featured the 1000 foot tall wind turbines and underwater compressed air storage designs of Seamus Garvey back in 2010

A company Thin Red Line is making the inflatable energy storage bags. They also make the inflatable structure for the Bigelow Aerospace space stations.
Thin Red Line Aerospace Design Engineer and CEO Maxim de Jong inspects the Energy Bag during initial test inflation (photo Keith Thomson/Thin Red Line Aerospace)

At a depth of 600meters, a 20meter-diameter bag could store around 70 megawatt hours of energy, the equivalent of roughly 14 hours of energy generation from one of the world's largest offshore wind turbines.

Solar Power Efficiency Chart for Different Technologies

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has a chart of the efficiency of the best solar power conversion over time for different technologies.

Alta Devices Solar Everywhere Vision for 2020

The basic form factor of solar modules hasn’t changed in decades – they remain heavy, rectangular, glass-covered entities that impose expensive handling and mounting requirements. What if we could abandon this form-factor limitation and open the door to entirely new ways to innovate on form factor? The ideal technology would be free of the confines of the traditional “rectangular, glass module” form factor. It would be thin and flexible and environ- mentally robust, opening up the door to innovation that will fundamentally eliminate costs, and not just reduce them. With solar available in wholly new forms, we can imagine a plethora of new ways to capture and use the sun’s energy. Flexible solar cells, with sufficiently high energy density, can be incorporated directly into roofing materials, including asphalt shingles standing seam metal and stretched membrane roofs. That eliminates all of the extra hardware and labor needed to mount and install the solar cells, directly reducing the fixed area costs. There’s a virtuous cycle that begins how solar performs best. Providing energy when high-energy-density solar cells near the point of consumption, thereby become “throw-away cheap. Instead of glass and metal modules, just have a plastic tarp covering solar cells.

Technology Review - Alta researchers have found ways to create rugged films that aren't prone to cracking. And not only do the thin films use little of the semiconductor material, but the valuable gallium arsenide substrate can be reused multiple times, helping to make the process affordable.

Research by Alta's founding scientists has also led to techniques for increasing the performance of the solar cells. Photovoltaics work because the photons they absorb boost the energy levels of electrons in the semiconductor, freeing them up to flow to metal contacts and create a current. But the roaming electrons can be wasted in various ways, such as in heat. In gallium arsenide, however, the freed electrons frequently recombine with positively charged "holes" to re-create photons and start the process over again. Work done by ­Yablonovitch and Atwater to explain this process has helped Alta design cells to take advantage of this "photon recycling," providing many chances to recapture photons and turn them into electricity.

Flexible power: Alta’s solar cells can be made into bendable sheets. In this sample, a series of solar cells are encapsulated in a roofing material. Credit: Gabriela Hasbun

Luminescent 'LED-type' solar cell design breaks efficiency record

To produce the maximum amount of energy, solar cells are designed to absorb as much light from the Sun as possible. Now researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, have suggested – and demonstrated – a counterintuitive concept: solar cells should be designed to be more like LEDs, able to emit light as well as absorb it. (H/T Daniel Ravennest)

There is a limit to the amount of electrical energy that can be harvested from sunlight hitting a typical solar cell. This absolute limit is, theoretically, about 33.5 percent. That means that at most 33.5 percent of the energy from incoming photons will be absorbed and converted into useful electrical energy.

Yet for five decades, researchers were unable to come close to achieving this efficiency: as of 2010, the highest anyone had come was just more than 26 percent. (This is for flat-plate, "single junction" solar cells, which absorb light waves above a specific frequency. "Multi-junction" cells, which have multiple layers and absorb multiple frequencies, are able to achieve higher efficiencies.)

Recently, some are designing solar cells to emit light – so that photons do not become "lost" within a cell – has the natural effect of increasing the voltage produced by the solar cell. "If you have a solar cell that is a good emitter of light, it also makes it produce a higher voltage," which in turn increases the amount of electrical energy that can be harvested from the cell for each unit of sunlight, Miller says.

This past year, a Bay area-based company called Alta Devices, co-founded by Yablonovitch, used the new concept to create a prototype solar cell made of gallium arsenide (GaAs), a material often used to make solar cells in satellites. The prototype broke the record, jumping from 26 percent to 28.3 percent efficiency. The company achieved this milestone, in part, by designing the cell to allow light to escape as easily as possible from the cell – using techniques that include, for example, increasing the reflectivity of the rear mirror, which sends incoming photons back out through the front of the device.

Yablonovitch says he hopes researchers will be able to use this technique to achieve efficiencies close to 30 percent in the coming years. And since the work applies to all types of solar cells, the findings have implications throughout the field.

Caption: This is the high-efficiency Alta Devices solar cell. Credit: Joe Foster, Alta Devices

Revisiting the Potential Nuclear Century

This is a review of estimates for a nuclear energy century.

1000 reactors for 2030 would be the high-2030 scenario from the World Nuclear Association (WNA) - Nuclear Century. The WNA lists nuclear generation targets by country.

China is talking to Turkey and Vietnam about building nuclear reactors

Since October 2008, two reactors total 2000 MWe have been planned at Phuoc Dinh in the southern Ninh Thuan province. A further 2000 MWe was planned at Vinh Hai nearby, followed by a further 6000 MWe by 2030. Both locations are based particularly on geological suitability on the coast. A high demand scenario would give 8000 MWe in 2025 and 15,000 MWe (10% of total) in 2030 at up to eight sites in five provinces. Four more units would be added to the first two sites, then six more at three or four central sites in provinces of Quang Ngai (Duc Thang or Duc Chanh), Binh Dinh (Hoai My) and Phu Yen (Xuan Phuong). These, plus Ky Xuan in the northern Ha Tinh province, remained proposals in mid 2011.

Turkey looks likely to have more than 8 nuclear reactors

China talks with Turkey about $20 billion nuclear project

1. The Turkish government recently signed a $20 billion project with Russia to build nuclear power facilities in Akkuyu, Turkey. Now the Turkish government has set its sights on constructing a nuclear plant in Sinop, Turkey. The Financial Times recently reported that China is the primary contender for this contract due to its ability to secure financing without requiring guarantees from the Turkish government. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited China last week, confirming reports of the deal when Energy Minister Tanir Yildiz held talks with Chinese authorities. At these meetings, Chinese Energy authority Liu Tienan pledged full financial guarantees for the $20 billion project.

Not just financial guarantees - but half the price

Starting from French reactors imported in the 1980s, Chinese engineers have developed their own large reactor systems to the point that exports appear possible from 2013.

Having imported two 900 MWe pressurized water reactors for the Daya Bay nuclear power plant, CGNPC engineers embarked on a development program that led to the CPR-1000 design. The first of these began operation at Ling Ao Phase II in September, while 16 are under construction and many more planned. A domestic supply chain has been built up with each project and now only about ten percent of components need to be imported.

By 2013, Zhang said, a further design evolution will clear certain areas of intellectual property retained by Areva, resulting in a Generation III design called the ACPR-1000 that CGNPC could market in other countries.

The current CPR-1000 design sits roughly between today's mainstream Generation II reactors and the latest Generation III units, with digital instrumentation and control systems and a design life of 60 years. Standard construction time is 52 months, and the unit cost for Chinese units so far has been under CNY 10,000 ($1500) per kilowatt. This is less than half the price of US and European nuclear reactors.

2. Nuclear construction projects in China have moved forward with the dome of unit 1 of the Fangchenggang plant being lowered into place and heavy components for the primary reactor coolant system of the first EPR at Taishan have being delivered from France.

Solar Electric Sail for Asteroid Movement and Capture

We had previously looked at an asteroid capture analysis using solar electric power. The analysis involved a 40 KW solar electric system using an ion thruster (2.4 Newton of power for up to 10,000 hours). They described capturing a 10 ton asteroid to low earth orbit or a 508 ton asteroid to high earth orbit. A near term increase in the ion system can get to 400 KW and 24 Newtons which would enable capturing asteroids ten times as large.

Here is an eight page analysis of Moving an asteroid with electric solar wind sail. The analysis is mainly for deflecting a 3 million ton asteroid over 5 to 10 years.

The E-Sail mass is expected to only weigh in the range of hundreds of kilograms, hence the E-Sail is 100 – 1000 times more efficient than traditional techniques. To produce the same total impulse one would need 100 tons of chemical fuel (specific impulse 300 s) or 10 tons of ion engine propellant (specific impulse 3000 s). Instead of a 13 ton launch of one solar electric propulsion system, one could launch fifty or one hundred of the E-Sails which could combine towing to provide 50 Newtons of towing capacity. The E-Sails would be able to capture 20 to 40 times the mass of asteroids for equivalent launches. Also, the E-Sails can be used repeatedly if there is a long term power source for the electron gun, they would not have other consumables and could keep capturing the solar wind.

The electric solar wind sail (E-Sail) is a new propulsion method for interplanetary travel which was invented in 2006 and is currently under development. The E-Sail uses charged tethers to extract momentum from the solar wind particles to obtain propulsive thrust. According to current estimates, the E-Sail is 2-3 orders of magnitude better than traditional propulsion methods (chemical rockets and ion engines) in terms of produced lifetime-integrated impulse per propulsion system mass.

A number of positively charged tethers are radially deployed from a rotating spacecraft and stretched by the centrifugal force. Because the tethers are charged, they deflect charged particles of the streaming solar wind (from here also referred to as SW), thus producing a Coulomb drag interaction which transfers momentum from the particles to the tethers. Most of the momentum comes from the protons, where the majority of the solar wind momentum flux is. Solar wind electrons will continuously impact the positively charged tethers, making it necessary to maintain the tether charging by actively pumping out electrons from the system. The onboard electron gun, typically of few hundred watts of power, is used to keep the spacecraft and the wires in a high (typically 20 kV) positive potential.

Upcoming solar electric sail projects

ESTCube-1 student satellite project - There will be a 10 meter long test tether onboard the ESTCube-1 satellite, to be launched in 2012.

Aalto-1 student satellite project - There will be a 100 meter long test tether onboard the Aalto-1 satellite, to be launched in 2013 or 2014.

SWEST (Solar Wind Electric Sail Test) is a proposal to the EU whose purpose is to build a flight-ready 60 kg satellite which is able to measure the E-sail effect in the solar wind with four 1 km long tethers. The satellite is mainly built by the Alta space company in Italy. It would have 25 milliNewtons of thrust.

Competing systems for wearable solar power

Business Week - Miles Barr wants to make curtains, cell-phone cases, and even shirtsleeves that generate electricity from the sun.

Chemical vapor deposition changes the quality of a surface without using extreme temperatures or solvents that might cause damage. When Barr’s team at MIT figured out how to use the process to make solar cells, he says, they went to an office supply store and loaded up on stuff to test it on: “Saran Wrap, copy paper, tissue paper, almost anything you can imagine,” he says. Barr maintains the technique could be adapted for mass production. Because it relies on abundant organic molecules, rather than heavy metals or rare elements, it could be cheap, too. Right now, Barr’s solar cells convert only about 2 percent of the energy in light into electric power, compared with 10 percent to 20 percent for conventional photovoltaic panels, though he thinks he can eventually raise the efficiency to 10 percent.

Last year, Barr co-founded Ubiquitous Energy to embed solar technology into everyday objects such as windows or cell phones, which could be particularly suited to people living off the grid. Ubiquitous Energy has gotten $1 million in Angel funding.

The cost of installing panels keeps many people from adopting solar power, Barr says. By integrating it into ordinary materials, he thinks he can clear that hurdle. “You’re already hanging a curtain in your house,” he says. “Why not add some energy to that?”

Miles C. Barr received the prestigious $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for his innovative solar technologies and creativity.

To succeed it must promise low enough cost and low enough sensitivity to humidity. Other attempts to create printable solar cells have been criticized for failing to meet these criteria.

Competing solar technology

There are many competing technologies and companies trying to develop cheap and wearable solar power.

Researchers have developed flexible, stretchable polymer-based solar cells on plastic foil substrates thinner than spider silk and able to generate 10 watts per gram.

Cooperation between scientists at the Johannes Kepler University Linz (JKU) in Austria and the University of Tokyo led to the development of the cells, which are over ten times thinner, lighter and more flexible than any other solar cell of any technology to date.

The new cells can attain a 4.2% power conversion efficiency and tensile strains of more than 300% on an elastomeric support.

The substrate used for the cell is a commercially available form of Mylar 1.4 CW02, a form of PET film. The total device is only 1.9 microns thick and around one-quarter of the thickness is the active solar cell.

Majorana Fermion particle may have been discovered and it could explain Dark Matter and enable quantum computers

Scientists at TU Delft's Kavli Institute and the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM Foundation) have succeeded for the first time in detecting a Majorana particle. In the 1930s, the brilliant Italian physicist Ettore Majorana deduced from quantum theory the possibility of the existence of a very special particle, a particle that is its own anti-particle: the Majorana fermion. That 'Majorana' would be right on the border between matter and anti-matter.

Other researchers believe that more evidence needs to be produced to confirm the results.

Quantum computer and dark matter
Majorana fermions are very interesting – not only because their discovery opens up a new and uncharted chapter of fundamental physics; they may also play a role in cosmology. A proposed theory assumes that the mysterious 'dark matter, which forms the greatest part of the universe, is composed of Majorana fermions. Furthermore, scientists view the particles as fundamental building blocks for the quantum computer. Such a computer is far more powerful than the best supercomputer, but only exists in theory so far. Contrary to an 'ordinary' quantum computer, a quantum computer based on Majorana fermions is exceptionally stable and barely sensitive to external influences.

For the first time, scientists in Leo Kouwenhoven's research group managed to create a nanoscale electronic device in which a pair of Majorana fermions 'appear' at either end of a nanowire. They did this by combining an extremely small nanowire, made by colleagues from Eindhoven University of Technology, with a superconducting material and a strong magnetic field. 'The measurements of the particle at the ends of the nanowire cannot otherwise be explained than through the presence of a pair of Majorana fermions', says Leo Kouwenhoven.

Other say more evidence is needed before the claim of Majorana Fermions can be confimed

Journal Science - Signatures of Majorana Fermions in Hybrid Superconductor-Semiconductor Nanowire Devices

Majorana fermions are particles identical to their own antiparticles. They have been theoretically predicted to exist in topological superconductors. We report electrical measurements on InSb nanowires contacted with one normal (Au) and one superconducting electrode (NbTiN). Gate voltages vary electron density and define a tunnel barrier between normal and superconducting contacts. In the presence of magnetic fields of order 100 mT, we observe bound, mid-gap states at zero bias voltage. These bound states remain fixed to zero bias even when magnetic fields and gate voltages are changed over considerable ranges. Our observations support the hypothesis of Majorana fermions in nanowires coupled to superconductors.

Kouwenhoven’s team hopes to use a scheme called “topological quantum computation” that could evade decoherence at the hardware level by storing quantum information non-locally.

April 19, 2012

Broadcom BCM4752 pinpoints your location to a few centimeters and provides vertical position

The Broadcom BCM4752 GNSS chip provides the industry's most advanced multi-constellation support by simultaneously collecting data from four satellite constellations (GPS, GLONASS, QZSS and SBAS) and using the best received signals, resulting in faster searches and more accurate real-time navigation. Building on the success of previous GNSS chips, Broadcom's multi-constellation technology, coupled with advanced signal processing, provides faster positioning performance for improved user experience, especially in challenging urban environments where buildings and obstructions can dramatically impact accuracy and time-to-fix.

Singularity Hub - The chip integrates information from a bunch of sensors and wireless protocols in addition to using 50% less power, delivering 10 times the performance, and taking up nearly half the size of comparable chips. It can pinpoint your location down to a few centimeters, even indoors. On top of that, it will track your vertical position too, whether you’re on the second floor of a mall or the 20th floor of an office building.

Why some countries succeed and others fail?

Why some countries succeed and others fail? by Credit Suisse (63 pages). It is all about productivity; lessons for China.

We start by asking what makes countries successful.

■ The key message is that progression from low to middle and high income is not automatic and most emerging markets fail to progress beyond exploiting cheap labour and resources. Regressions are just as common as failure to progress and more common than successes.

■ We identify five key factors that, in our view, enhance the chances of success. We believe that it is the interaction between the quality of human capital, innovation, physical infrastructure, business climate and demographics that tends to drive ‘graduates’, whether the US in the 19th century or Japan and Korea in the 20th. Perhaps the most important lesson is consistency. Progress depends on productivity growth at 4%-plus p.a. for at least 30 years. Occasional growth spurts are indicative of long-term failure.

■ In our view, China and Malaysia are arguably the best-positioned large APAC countries to progress towards developed market status over the next decade. China, in particular, satisfies most of the key requirements, even though we believe probability of success, is still not much more than 50%, with re-balancing and overinvestment being the biggest hurdles. Either a success or a failure, China is likely to turn from an opportunity to a threat, and in our review we have identified several global sectors that are likely to come under attack as well as China’s key beneficiaries.

NOTE - this comparison of PPP GDP per capita is using World Bank PPP (purchasing power parity)

There are new calculations that China PPP is 70% higher than what the World Bank calculates.

Based on the work of Angus Deaton and Alan Heston, Arvind argued that the International Monetary Fund’s GDP estimate for China for 2005 was understated by 27 percent.

And between 2005 and 2010, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had overstated the increase in the relevant PPP prices in China, and hence understated the increase in GDP between these dates by 20 percent. Conceptually, the “mistake” that the IMF made (and continues to make) is to project these PPP prices based on the evolution of the macroeconomic real exchange rate (changes in a country’s nominal exchange rate vis-à-vis the dollar deflated by changes in aggregate prices between that country and the US dollar). But the computation of the relevant price index for the PPP calculations requires the evolution in the internal real exchange rate, measured as the change in domestic prices of tradable goods to non-tradable goods

Combining these two factors, China's GDP (in PPP dollars) estimate for 2010 for China was greater than that of the IMF by 47 percent.

Based on the work of Angus Deaton and Alan Heston, Arvind argued that the International Monetary Fund’s GDP estimate for China for 2005 was understated by 27 percent. In fact, I used for 2005 the number in the Penn World Table (series China, version 2 in PWT 7; available online since June 2011).

* And between 2005 and 2010, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had overstated the increase in the relevant PPP prices in China, and hence understated the increase in GDP between these dates by 20 percent. Conceptually, the “mistake” that the IMF made (and continues to make) is to project these PPP prices based on the evolution of the macroeconomic real exchange rate (changes in a country’s nominal exchange rate vis-à-vis the dollar deflated by changes in aggregate prices between that country and the US dollar). But the computation of the relevant price index for the PPP calculations requires the evolution in the internal real exchange rate, measured as the change in domestic prices of tradable goods to non-tradable goods

Combining these two factors, China's GDP (in PPP dollars) estimate for 2010 for China was greater than that of the IMF by 47 percent. This implies China’s 2010 GDP PPP exceeded $17 trillion and in 2012 will reach $20 trillion. By the end of 2012, China would have PPP GDP per capita of about $14,800.

The adjusted per capita PPP GDP would put China at 29% of US per capita GDP.

By 2015, China could be at 35% of US GDP PPP (If China maintains about 8% GDP growth and the US maintains 2.5% growth). By 2018, China would be at 40% of US GDP PPP.

Credit Suisse has surveyed and determined that China has a 30% shadow economy. This is an underground economy of bribes and other hidden money. The US has about 16% shadow economy. Adding both the US and China shadow economy would mean that China is at about 34% of US per capita GDP PPP in 2012.

DNA origami puts a smart lid on solid-state nanopore sensors

The latest advance in solid-state nanopore sensors – devices that are made with standard tools of the semiconductor industry yet can offer single-molecule sensitivity for label-free protein screening – expands their bag of tricks through bionanotechnology. Researchers at the Technische Universität München have enhanced the capabilities of solid-state nanopores by fitting them with cover plates made of DNA.

The nanoscale cover plates, with central apertures tailored to various "gatekeeper" functions, are formed by so-called DNA origami – the art of programming strands of DNA to fold into custom-designed structures with specified chemical properties. Over the past few years, Prof. Hendrik Dietz's research group at TUM has been refining control over DNA origami techniques and demonstrating how structures made in this way can enable scientific investigations in diverse fields. Meanwhile, Dr. Ulrich Rant's research group has been doing the same for solid-state nanopore sensors, where the basic working principle is to urge biomolecules of interest, one at a time, through a nanometer-scale hole in a thin slab of semiconductor material. When biomolecules pass through or linger in such a sensor, minute changes in electrical current flowing through the nanopore translate into information about their identity and physical properties. Now Dietz and Rant, who are both Fellows of the TUM Institute for Advanced Study, have begun to explore what these two technologies can accomplish together.

This illustration shows how a DNA origami nanoplate with a central aperture can serve as a smart lid or "gatekeeper" for a solid-state nanopore sensor.

Angewandte Chemie International Edition - DNA Origami Gatekeepers for Solid-State Nanopores

Nanodot memory 10 to 100 times faster than todays memory

A team of researchers from Taiwan and the University of California, Berkeley, has harnessed nanodots to create a new electronic memory technology that can write and erase data 10-100 times faster than today’s mainstream charge-storage memory products. The new system uses a layer of non-conducting material embedded with discrete (non-overlapping) silicon nanodots, each approximately 3 nanometers across. Each nanodot functions as a single memory bit. To control the memory operation, this layer is then covered with a thin metallic layer, which functions as a “metal gate.” The metal gate controls the “on” and “off” states of the transistor.

Applied Physics Letters - Fast programming metal-gate Si quantum dot nonvolatile memory using green nanosecond laser spike annealing

The ultrafast metal-gate silicon quantum-dot (Si-QD) nonvolatile memory (NVM) with program/erase speed of 1 μs under low operating voltages of ± 7 V is achieved by thin tunneling oxide, in situ Si-QD-embedded dielectrics, and metal gate. Selective source/drain activation by green nanosecond laser spike annealing, due to metal-gate as light-blocking layer, responds to low thermal damage on gate structures and, therefore, suppresses re-crystallization/deformation/diffusion of embedded Si-QDs. Accordingly, it greatly sustains efficient charge trapping/de-trapping in numerous deep charge-trapping sites in discrete Si-QDs. Such a gate nanostructure also ensures excellent endurance and retention in the microsecond-operation Si-QD NVM.

Researchers Boost Efficiency of Multi-Hop Wireless Networks Could boost bandwidth by 80%

Multi-hop wireless networks can provide data access for large and unconventional spaces, but they have long faced significant limits on the amount of data they can transmit. Now researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a more efficient data transmission approach that can boost the amount of data the networks can transmit by 20 to 80 percent.

“Our approach increases the average amount of data that can be transmitted within the network by at least 20 percent for networks with randomly placed nodes – and up to 80 percent if the nodes are positioned in clusters within the network,” says Dr. Rudra Dutta, an associate professor of computer science at NC State and co-author of a paper on the research. The approach also makes the network more energy efficient, which can extend the lifetime of the network if the nodes are battery-powered.

Computer Communications - Centrality-based power control for hot-spot mitigation in multi-hop wireless networks

Moving Asteroids by leveraging Gravitational Manifolds

IDEA for Asteroid Retrieval. Low-delta V Trajectories to move a small asteroid to a Lagrange point

The Lagrangian points are the five positions in an orbital configuration where a small object affected only by gravity can theoretically be stationary relative to two larger objects (such as a satellite with respect to the Earth and Moon).

NEA (near earth asteroid) -> thrustarc-> stablemanifold-> target Lagrange point(SE [Sun Earth) L1/L2)
Why study SE (Sun Earth) L1/L2 first? Because if the NEA is in SE L1/L2 then it can be moved to EM (Earth Moon) L1/L2 through invariant manifolds (EM CR3BP)
If the final destination is a Lagrange point, low-thrust+ invariant manifolds might be more energy efficient than pure low-thrust. Thus, for a selected NEA, we might need smaller SEP (solar electric propulsion)

CR3BOP -The Circular Restricted 3-Body Problem describes the motion of a massless particle under the gravitational influence of two point masses m1 and m2, called primaries, in circular motion around their common centre of mass.

SE L1/L2: about 1.5 million km from the Earth
EM L1/L2: about 60,000 km from the Moon
1 AU: about 150 million km
1 LD: 384,403 km

Saudi Arabia investing hundreds of billions on upstream and downstream oil production

1. Business Week - Saudi Arabian Oil Co. plans to build refineries in China and Indonesia as part of a $200 billion spending program to double refining capacity and explore for oil and natural gas during the next decade.

Aramco, the world’s largest crude exporter, is expanding refining and petrochemical production to meet domestic demand and export refined products that can fetch higher prices than oil. The company plans to boost its global refining capacity to 8 million barrels a day in 10 years, including projects yet to be announce.

The company is exploring for unconventional gas, including shale and tight gas, in the nation’s northwestern region, al- Falih said on Jan. 14. Low gas prices are a “challenge” to developing these hard-to-reach deposits, he said. Aramco’s capital spending will probably rise to more than $20 billion a year if it develops unconventional gas, he said in the interview.

Aramco will invest $90 billion in the next five years to increase refining capacity by 50 percent to 6 million barrels a day in projects “that more or less have been identified,” al- Falih said. Refining capacity in Saudi Arabia itself will rise to 3.46 million barrels a day in 2016 from 2.26 million barrels, according to a presentation Aramco officials made at an October conference in Bahrain

Details around Asteroid Retrieval plans and what is in the Near Earth Asteroids

Wired - In 2011, there was a four-day workshop dedicated to investigating the feasibility and requirements of capturing a near-Earth asteroid, bringing it closer to our planet and using it as a base for future manned spaceflight missions.

Asteroid retrieval mission study workshop website

An Asteroid Retrieval Mission Study is being conducted to investigate the feasibility of finding, characterizing, robotically capturing, and returning an entire Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) to the vicinity of the Earth for scientific investigation, evaluation of its resource potential, determination of its internal structure and other aspects important for planetary defense activities, and to serve as a possible testbed for human operations at an asteroid. The study team will evaluate different mission concepts and destinations for the Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) including the Lagrange points (Earth-Moon L1/L2/L4/L5 or Sun-Earth L2) as well as other Earth orbits. The asteroid will be 2-5 meter in diameter.

Moving an asteroid is a huge idea – never has a celestial object been moved by humans. It is a huge idea, but not an impossible one. A recent study at JPL has already shown possible feasibility to move a small asteroid, with a mass of ~10,000 kg, deep into the Earth's gravity well – even to the orbit of the International Space Station.

Asteroid Return Feasibility Study (2010, 29 page presentation)

Self Imposed Rules
1. Launch by the end of this decade
2. Require only a single Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV)
3. Total round-­‐trip flight time of ~5 years
4. Select an asteroid that has an unrestricted Earth return Planetary Protection categorization
5. Return asteroid to the ISS

Use 40 kilowatt Solar Electric Propulsion system (launch mass of 13.7 tons)
Return a 10 ton asteroid to low earth orbit
But if return to high earth orbit can return 50 times more. 508 tons.

Professor John Lewis discusses the resource potential of near earth asteroids. (28 pages)

• About 1000 one-kilometer-sized NEAs
• About 400,000 100-meter sized NEAs
• Periods generally 0.9 to 7 years
• Orbital inclinations generally 10-20o
• Eccentricities 0 to 0.9; mostly near 0.5
• About 30% will eventually hit Earth
• About 20% are easier to land on than the Moon

Printable Spacecraft

A printable spacecraft project is running as part of the NASA NIAC (NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts)

Printable Spacecraft: Flexible Electronic Platforms for NASA Missions (21 pages, by Kendra Short and Dr. David Van Buren.

Flexible printed electronics have revolutionized consumer products such as cellular phones and PDAs, allowing greater functionality with decreasing size and weight. We think the same can be done for spacecraft.

We propose to investigate the feasibility of implementing a complete end to end spacecraft - science measurement through data downlink – based purely on flexible substrate “printed” electronics.

The benefits would be decreased design/fabrication cycle time, reduced unit level mass and volume, and decreased unit level cost.

Contour Crafting printing structures on the moon

Contour Crafting Simulation plan for planetary infrastructure buildup (29 pages, 121 megabytes) Contour Crafting is a system for printing with cement like a very large ink jet printer. It has made 1 story structures here on earth.

Basic infrastructure elements:
– Landing pad
– Blast protection wall
– Roads
– Shade walls
– Hangars

Other structures:
–Human habitat
–Green house
–Fuel vessels

ISRU Materials:
• Sulfur concrete
• Molten regolith
• Tensile reinforcement

•Layered without formwork

Additive Manufacturing for space

Made in Space, Inc. is a space manufacturing company that leverages the rapid advancements in 3D printing and additive manufacturing to offer unique solutions for the aerospace industry.

Additive manufacturing is the process of building (or “3D printing”) a product layer by layer. A wide range of materials can be printed with additive manufacturing machines, from hard plastics to Aluminum and Titanium. Example spacecraft components that can be built include more efficient rocket nozzles and lighter miniaturized satellite parts

A new space mining venture involve Peter Diamandis appears to be launching with the backing of several billionaires. The initial press release discusses leveraging additive manufacturing.

3d printers were tested in Zero G

New Polyurethane system can reduce weight of components in cars by 30%

Demand for lightweight construction systems in the automotive industry is now at an all-time high, with the aim being to cut fuel consumption, costs and CO2 emissions. According to VCD Verkehrsclub Deutschland, reducing the weight of a vehicle by 100 kilograms lowers fuel consumption by 0.5 liters over a distance of 100 kilometers and cuts carbon dioxide emissions by 1.2 kilograms over the same distance. Lightweight structures are now more important than ever given the trend toward future-oriented drive technologies such as electric mobility.

Bayer MaterialScience has already developed a wide range of energy-efficient polyurethane materials for the automotive sector. At UTECH 2012, it is going one step further with the presentation of the Bayflex® RIM Light Weight polyurethane system that can be used to further reducing the weight of finished components by up to 30 percent. With a density of just 0.9 kilograms per liter, this material is even lighter than water.

This solution owes its lightweight design to the high-grade Bayflex® polyurethane system in tandem with a clever combination of fillers that replace the usual mineral fibers,” explained Dr. Birgit Meyer zu Berstenhorst, who was responsible for developing the material. “The excellent mechanical properties remain intact,” she added. The material enables a considerable reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions and, with certain vehicle models, also improves driving dynamics. In electric cars, this better compensates for the still considerable weight of the battery and helps extend the vehicle's range.

Near term it seems the Polyurethane system and new lighter and stronger metals will lead the way in terms of materials that can be produced in the mass quantities needed to have a major impact on making lighter cars.

Cambridge University has formed a consortium with Nokia Research Centre (UK); ST Microelectronics (Switzerland); International Copper Association(USA); Nexans (France); Bosch (Germany); Oxford Instruments (UK) and Codelco (Chile) to commercialize various Nano-Carbon Enhanced Materials.

Nanomaterials for transportation applications.

To truly impact the weight of cars the amount of materials has to get up to about 10 million tons per year. This would provide 100 kg of material for each of about 100 million cars and trucks. It would also be good to have material for after market components to enable older cars to be made lighter.

There was an article about unlimiting energy growth by using smart materials for energy harvesting under roads and to use carbon nanotubes to make superlight vehicles.

April 18, 2012

Peter Diamandis of the Xprize gets big billionaire backing for asteroid mining

Back in Feb, 2012, Peter Diamandis was talking about asteroid mining. In about 5 days, he and his co-founders will make an announcement where he has the financial backing of several billionaires.

UPDATE - The Near Earth Asteroids have thousands of trillions in metals. One asteroid Amun has over thirty times all of the metal that has ever be mined in human history

Join visionary Peter H. Diamandis, M.D.; leading commercial space entrepreneur Eric Anderson; former NASA Mars mission manager Chris Lewicki; and planetary scientist & veteran NASA astronaut Tom Jones, Ph.D. on Tuesday, April 24 at 10:30 a.m. PDT in Seattle, or via webcast, as they unveil a new space venture with a mission to help ensure humanity's prosperity.

Supported by an impressive investor and advisor group, including Google’s Larry Page & Eric Schmidt, Ph.D.; film maker & explorer James Cameron; Chairman of Intentional Software Corporation and Microsoft’s former Chief Software Architect Charles Simonyi, Ph.D.; Founder of Sherpalo and Google Board of Directors founding member K. Ram Shriram; and Chairman of Hillwood and The Perot Group Ross Perot, Jr., the company will overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP. This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of ‘natural resources’.

Peter Diamandis created the Xprize and it appears he gained the support of many of his Xprize board of trustees for his asteroid mining venture.

The X Prize Foundation is a ­mini-industry, with 50 employees. It is ­holding competitions in education, global development, energy and the ­environment, life sciences and space and undersea exploration (see box, p. 76). Its board of trustees crackles with ­celebrities: director James Cameron; Huffington Post cofounder Arianna Huffington; inventors Dean Kamen and Kurzweil; Craig Venter, the entrepreneur and biologist who raced the U.S. government to decode the human genome; Indian billionaire Ratan Tata, who ­presides over the world’s fifth-largest steel empire; Larry Page; Tesla Auto’s Elon Musk.

The website should have information starting on April 24, 2012

Google founders and others appear to be putting together an Asteroid mining venture

Technology Review - There will soon be an announcement of a new space resources venture involving Ross Perot, the Google founders, James Cameron and other wealthy backers. It seems like it will be an asteroid mining businesses.The press release teaser talks about trillions in resources. The time seems ripe with Spacex likely to bring down the costs for space launch over the next few years and solar electric sails and other new technology that would enable new capabilities in space. A well funded group could leverage bootstrapping systems to rapidly lower costs by building incremental infrastructure. Take things into space that lower the costs of the trips that follow.

Android has 35% of U.S. tablet market

Forbes - Javelin Strategy and Research of Pleasanton, California published a paid report today on tablets and their impact on mobile consumer banking.

Javelin’s findings and predictions are based on two surveys of more than 5,000 consumers each last October and December.

It found that among the 16 million U.S. tablet owners, 42% owned an Android tablet. While iPads still led (55%), the lead was far smaller than every other estimate I’ve seen. Forrester Research, for instance, found last September that the top 3 Android tablet makers at the time – Samsung, Motorola and Acer – combined held only 12% of the U.S. market.

Respondents could indicate if they owned more than one tablet, Javelin’s total added up to 119%. Dividing 42 by 119, Android really had closer to 35% of the U.S. tablet market.

Although Apple is clearly the innovator, the sheer number of Google Android tablets, price ranges, and carriers will soon prove overwhelming,” according to the report.

Meanwhile, Windows tablets also held a surprisingly high 10% of the market as of December.

For future purchases, iPads still lead (36%). Android, including the Kindle, ranked 2nd (27%), followed by perhaps surprising interest in Windows tablets (21%).

Nanosponges soak up oil again and again

Researchers at Rice University and Penn State University have discovered that adding a dash of boron to carbon while creating nanotubes turns them into solid, spongy, reusable blocks that have an astounding ability to absorb oil spilled in water.

That’s one of a range of potential innovations for the material created in a single step. The team found for the first time that boron puts kinks and elbows into the nanotubes as they grow and promotes the formation of covalent bonds, which give the sponges their robust qualities.

Nature open access Scientific Reports - Covalently bonded three-dimensional carbon nanotube solids via boron induced nanojunctions

Upconverting Spectrum could lead to 40% efficient solar power

Low cost solar cells suitable for rooftop panels could reach a record-breaking 40 percent efficiency following an early stage breakthrough by a University of Sydney researcher and his German partners.

"We are able to boost efficiency by forcing two energy-poor red photons in the cell to join and make one energy-rich yellow photon that can capture light, which is then turned into electricity," Professor Schmidt said.

"We now have a benchmark for the performance of an upconverting solar cell. We need to improve this several times, but the pathway is now clear."

Energy and Environmental Science journal - Improving the light-harvesting of amorphous silicon solar cells with photochemical upconversion

April 17, 2012

ORNL process improves catalytic rate of enzymes by 3,000 percent

ight of specific wavelengths can be used to boost an enzyme's function by as much as 30 fold, potentially establishing a path to less expensive biofuels, detergents and a host of other products.

"When light enters the eye and hits the pigment known as rhodopsin, it causes a complex chemical reaction to occur, including a conformational change," Agarwal said. "This change is detected by the associated protein and through a rather involved chain of reactions is converted into an electrical signal for the brain."

With this as a model, Agarwal's team theorized that it should be possible to improve the catalytic efficiency of enzyme reactions by attaching chemical elements on the surface of an enzyme and manipulating them with the use of tuned light.

The researchers introduced a light-activated molecular switch across two regions of the enzyme Candida antarctica lipase B, or CALB - which breaks down fat molecules -- identified through modeling performed on DOE's Jaguar supercomputer.

The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters - Engineering a Hyper-catalytic Enzyme by Photoactivated Conformation Modulation

Enzyme engineering for improved catalysis has wide implications. We describe a novel chemical modification of Candida antarctica lipase B that allows modulation of the enzyme conformation to promote catalysis. Computational modeling was used to identify dynamical enzyme regions that impact the catalytic mechanism. Surface loop regions located distal to active site but showing dynamical coupling to the reaction were connected by a chemical bridge between Lys136 and Pro192, containing a derivative of azobenzene. The conformational modulation of the enzyme was achieved using two sources of light that alternated the azobenzene moiety in cis and trans conformations. Computational model predicted that mechanical energy from the conformational fluctuations facilitate the reaction in the active-site. The results were consistent with predictions as the activity of the engineered enzyme was found to be enhanced with photoactivation. Preliminary estimations indicate that the engineered enzyme achieved 8–52 fold better catalytic activity than the unmodulated enzyme.

Affordable, Rapid Bootstrapping of Space Industry and Solar System Civilization

Journal of Aerospace engineering - Affordable, Rapid Bootstrapping of Space Industry and Solar System Civilization

Advances in robotics and additive manufacturing have become game‐changing for the prospects of space industry. It has become feasible to bootstrap a self‐sustaining, self‐expanding industry at reasonably low cost. Simple modeling was developed to identify the main parameters of successful bootstrapping. This indicates that bootstrapping can be achieved with as little as 12 metric tons (MT) landed on the Moon during a period of about 20 years. The equipment will be teleoperated and then transitioned to full autonomy so the industry can spread to the asteroid belt and beyond. The strategy begins with a sub‐replicating system and evolves it toward full self‐sustainability (full closure) via an in situ technology spiral. The industry grows exponentially due to the free real estate, energy, and material resources of space. The mass of industrial assets at the end of bootstrapping will be 156 MT with 60 humanoid robots, or as high as 40,000 MT with as many as 100,000 humanoid robots if faster manufacturing is supported by launching a total of 41 MT to the Moon. Within another few decades with no further investment, it can have millions of times the industrial capacity of the United States. Modeling over wide parameter ranges indicates this is reasonable, but further analysis is needed. This industry promises to revolutionize the human condition.

Plans for Quantum Vacuum Thruster project discussed at the NASA Space Forum

Plans for Quantum Vacuum Thruster project discussed at the NASA Space Forum

Dr. White and Paul March hope to have at least two Q-Thruster test articles run through their paces by the end of September. We also hope to have started the warp-field interferometer work as well, but Sonny keeps getting dragged off to work on other more pressing NASA projects at the moment, so we will see how far that Eagleworks project gets when September, 2012 shows up.

Possible Breakthroughs to over 250,000 Specific Impulse Propulsion

Recently we have reviewed several space propulsion technologies which could breakthrough to specific impulse of over 250,000 seconds. One pound of fuel would provide over one pound of thrust for over 250,000 seconds. The best ion drives are currently at about 5000 seconds and an advanced VASIMIR propulsion system (which is still in development) could get to 20,000 ISP.

1. A light-weight propulsion system called HIIPER (Helicon Injected Inertial Plasma Electrostatic Rocket) employs one of the highest density plasma sources (Helicon source) for plasma production and one of the most erosion-resistant accelerators (Inertial Electrostatic Confinement (IEC)) for plasma acceleration.

HIIPER allows for improved variable specific impulses and high thrust to power ratio by decoupling the ionization (helicon) and acceleration (IEC) stages of the plasma thruster. While VASIMR uses decoupling with ICRH antenna heating, the IEC heating section allows unmatchable ion energies, power scaling and efficiency, with the added advantage of being simple and light-weight. The current 500-Watt HIIPER lab experiment is capable of specific impulses around 3,000 s, with a final multi-kilowatt device capable of around 276,000 s.

This is technology readiness 4 with components demonstrated in the lab, but it apprears they could rapidly advance to technology readiness 6 with a prototype demonstrated on the ground.

IMF Has new World Economic Outlook

The IMF has released a new world economic outlook. They have increased their forecasted global GDP growth by 0.2% for 2012 and 2013. They have indicated that the world economic recovery is fragile and problems in Europe or a sharp increase in oil prices could reduce the forecasted growth.

The new IMF global economy forecast is 3.5% GDP growth in 2012 and by 4.1% in 2013, up slightly from 3.3 percent and 3.9 per cent GDP output respectively that the IMF had forecast in January, when market concern was rampant that Greece could default and Italy and Spain were facing budget crises. India is forecast to expand 6.9 per cent in 2012 and 7.3 per cent next year, growing slightly below the revised forecasts of January as a result of weak demand and higher interest rates. China growth forecasts made by the IMF are unchanged at 8.2 per cent this year and 8.8 per cent in 2013.

Should the euro zone crisis erupt once more, it could trigger a widespread dumping of risky assets and rob 2 percent from global growth over two years and 3.5 percent from the euro zone, the IMF warned.

Additionally, a 50 per cent increase in the price of oil on would lower global output by 1.25 percent, the IMF said.

They have new nominal GDP forecasts out to 2017.

Purchasing Power Parity GDP forecast to 2017

Repeated Oral doses of C60 fullerene increased the lifespan of rats by 60 to 73% in a small study

Biomaterials journal - The prolongation of the lifespan of rats by repeated oral administration of [60] fullerene (11 pages)

Countless studies showed that [60]fullerene (C60) and derivatives could have many potential biomedical applications. However, while several independent research groups showed that C60 has no acute or subacute toxicity in various experimental models, more than 25 years after its discovery the in vivo fate and the chronic effects of this fullerene remain unknown. If the potential of C60 and derivatives in the biomedical field have to be fulfilled these issues must be addressed. Here we show that oral administration of C60 dissolved in olive oil (0.8 mg/ml) at reiterated doses (1.7 mg/kg of body weight) to rats not only does not entail chronic toxicity but it almost doubles their lifespan. The effects of C60-olive oil solutions in an experimental model of CCl4 intoxication in rat strongly suggest that the effect on lifespan is mainly due to the attenuation of age-associated increases in oxidative stress. Pharmacokinetic studies show that dissolved C60 is absorbed by the gastro-intestinal tract and eliminated in a few tens of hours. These results of importance in the fields of medicine and toxicology should open the way for the many possible -and waited for- biomedical applications of C60 including cancer therapy, neurodegenerative disorders, and ageing.

The study involved about 60 rats. Six sets of ten rat groups. The weight of the treated rats did not go down so it would suggest they did not severely calorie restrict the rats, although there could have been some intermittent fasting.

Piantelli Presents Nickel-Hydrogen LENR Research 20 Watts In and 71 Watts Out

10th International Workshop on Anomalies in Hydrogen Loaded Metals, presentation by Piantelli (43 pages)

Ecatworld provides a summary

At The International Society for Condensed Matter Nuclear Science (ISCMNS) in Siena Italy, Italian biohysicist Francesco Piantelli of the University of Siena, and researcher in the field of Nickel-Hydrogen reactions presented some of his research data to the conference.

Piantelli was involved with nickel-hydrogen LENR long before Andrea Rossi, and for a time Sergio Focardi worked with him. The data presented at the conference shows a reaction in which a significant amount of excess energy is produced from his reaction.

We are very close to the auto-sustenance (less than 20W introduced and 71W produced = 91 W)(t=260 C)=> We want to evaluate the possibility to increase the produced power to 100W

“**We have seen that the energy produced can be obtained between 200 degrees C and 400 degrees C.=> We want to evaluate the best temperature interval inside that region.

Coldfusionnow notes from the of the Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space conference

On Friday, March 23 Ruby Carat of Coldfusionnow attended Session 462 Advanced Concepts: LENR, Anti-Matter, and New Physics of the Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space conference, one day after speaking with George H. Miley who would be presenting A Game-Changing Power Source for Spacecraft at the session. Here is his review of the talks that were presented.

1. Y. E. Kim gave his talk on Cryogenic Ignition of Deuteron Fusion in Micro/Nano-Scale Metal Particles which described a Bose-Einstein Condensate Nuclear Fusion theory for cold fusion and suggested experiments to test his hypothesis.

He calls for three experiments to be conducted to test his hypothesis.

The first experiment would determine whether or not a BEC can indeed form inside a metal at room-temperature. If a BEC forms, you can then measure the velocity distribution of the deuterons with low-energy neutron scattering or high-energy x-ray scattering off the deuterium in the metal, as was done in the atomic case.

As a second experiment, Professor Kim would like to know if the rate of deuterium diffusion occurs faster than protons when a condensate forms. He expects that to occur.

Experiments number 1 and number 2, if confirmed, with be a new discovery. The third experiment Professor Kim calls for is a little more ‘practical’.

April 16, 2012

Real Life Humanoid Robot Battles

ROBO-ONE is a tournament with small humanoid robots resembling robots from a toy store in gladiator battles for a $12,000 top prize.

Here is the translation of the japanese language Robo-one site

ROBO-ONE is by biped robot fighting competitions. On the ring of one, proceed by martial arts under the two-legged robot (system 3 round knock down a 3 minutes) the same rules as human martial arts. We aim to robot competitions and robot can enjoy the game the audience, arouse the enthusiasm of the participants. Therefore, an emphasis on technical excellence, and entertainment than winning or losing of the game. In addition, since the aim to spread and healthy development of robot technology, technical information will be published as much as possible.

The robots are usually built with RC Servos as actuators and mounted together with sheet metal shapes. The most common frame material is aluminum. However, there have been entries constructed with steel, plastic, and even wood. Different sensors are used by the robot for balance and to perceive its surroundings. A small onboard micro controller or equivalent is used to control the robots movements and if the robot is autonomous it is also programmed to adjust the robots behavior in response to sensor input

3D printing process developed at the University of Glasgow could enable DIY Drugstore

A new 3D printing process developed at the University of Glasgow could revolutionise the way scientists, doctors and even the general public create chemical products.

Professor Lee Cronin, Gardiner Chair of Chemistry at the University, believes his research could lead to the development of home chemical fabricators which consumers could use to design and create medicine at home.

Using a commercially-available 3D printer operated by open-source computer-aided design software, Professor Cronin and his team have built what they call ‘reactionware’, special vessels for chemical reactions which are made from a polymer gel which sets at room temperature.

By adding other chemicals to the gel deposited by the printer, the team have been able to make the vessel itself part of the reaction process. While this is common in large-scale chemical engineering, the development of reactionware makes it possible for the first time for custom vessels to be fabricated on a laboratory scale.

Nature Chemistry - Integrated 3D-printed reactionware for chemical synthesis and analysis

The Fab@Home Version 0.24 RC6 freeform fabricator.

Note - Vastly cheaper, faster and more effective chemistry in the home would also mean easier production of explosives and other products.

Coverage Set for NASA/SpaceX Launch and Mission to Space Station

Following the completion of NASA's flight readiness review, the second SpaceX demonstration launch for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program is scheduled for Monday, April 30. A Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon capsule will liftoff from Space Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. There is a single instantaneous launch opportunity at 12:22 p.m. EDT.

"Everything looks good as we head toward the April 30 launch date," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, but cautioned more work remains before the launch can be finalized.

"There is a good chance to make the 30th," said Gerstenmaier, adding that a final decision is expected by April 23.

The main goals of SpaceX's flight include a fly-by of the ISS and a berthing operation in which the company's reusable space craft, the Dragon, will approach the ISS and the crew aboard the orbiting outpost will use the ISS robotic arm to help it latch on.

The gumdrop-shaped Dragon capsule will carry 521 kilograms (1,148 pounds) of cargo for the space lab and will also aim to return a 660 kg (1,455 lb) load to Earth, said Michael Suffredini, International Space Station program manager.

Suffredini added that the remaining work includes some verification procedures and coordination of hardware and software, in what he described as "the last little bit of testing."

Researchers Solve Scaling Challenge for Multi-Core Chips, Enabling Chips with thousands of Cores While Preserving Software Investment

Researchers sponsored by Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), the world's leading university-research consortium for semiconductors and related technologies, today announced that they have identified a path to overcome challenges for scaling multi-core semiconductors by successfully addressing how to scale memory communications among the cores. The results can lead to continued design of ever-smaller integrated circuits (ICs) into computer hardware without expensive writing of all new software from scratch to accommodate the increased capabilities.

The SRC-guided research significantly extends the path for cores to communicate by reading and writing to a shared space – known as cache-coherent shared memory. In each core, one or more caches hold the subset of memory locations that most recently have been written and read by the core.

Cache coherence protocols are built into hardware in order to guarantee that each cache and memory controller can access shared data at high performance. As computational demands on the cores increase, so do concerns that the protocol will be slow or energy-inefficient when there are multiple cores.

“We have refuted calls for a radical design change by showing that, using already existing techniques, we can create cache coherence protocols that scale to hundreds and perhaps even thousands of cores,” said Sorin.

“Our results allow us to confidently predict that, with these new protocols, on-chip coherence is here to stay. Computer systems don’t need to abandon current compatibilities to accommodate even hundreds of cores,” Sorin added. “Chip area and energy consumption may limit future multi-core chips, but our research refutes conventional wisdom that multi-core scalability of the memory system would be the primary scaling bottleneck.”

Hologram of Tupac performs

A hologram of deceased rapper Tupac Shakur stole the show at Coachella 2012, capturing the fascination of more than 100,000 fans at the annual music festival, and sparking a wave of reactions across Twitter and other social media.

The lifelike hologram captured the dead performers movements.

AV Concepts is the production company that created the hologram of Tupac.

The technology uses uncompressed high-definition video that can be projected as holograms or as 3D imagery on building exteriors, interior walls, stage sets and other structures.

If companies can deliver a convincing live hologram performance for less what it costs to send a band on tour, this could change live entertainment. A comparable event would cost between $100,000 to more than $400,000.

SENS Annual reports increased funding and research progress for antiaging

SENS is a antiaging project. They report an increase in funding of about 40% from 2010 to 2011. They were able to double internal research levels. The funding would ideally be at levels that are 12 to 60 times higher ($20-100 million per year).

Here is a link for donating online to SENS

SENS Foundation annual report for 2011 (12 pages)

SENS foundation research report for 2011 (20 pages)

SENS Foundation had income of $1,507,000 in 2011. We greatly appreciate the support of the many individuals who contributed to our mission. We would like to thank Peter Thiel, Jason Hope, the Methuselah Foundation, and all of our contributors and volunteers for their on-going generosity. We expect a significant increase in both revenues and expenses for 2012, as we begin to see distributions from a de Grey family trust, under a grant from SENSF-UK. This support will be in addition to the contributions we receive from other sources.

SENS Foundation was able to make expenditures of $1,518,000 in 2011. This was an increase of over $400,000 from 2010, overwhelmingly in support of direct research and conference projects. We doubled our investment in our internal research capabilities, expanding the facility itself, adding capital equipment available for performing research, and increasing staff. With the 2011 addition of four new collaborations, we also laid the groundwork for a similar expansion of our extramural research programs in 2012.

Thirteen proteins critical to the respiratory chain are encoded only in mitochondrial DNA. However, nuclear DNA is much less susceptible to damage and is more easily repaired. The goal of this project is to test whether these thirteen genes, when encoded in the nucleus, can successfully be expressed and integrated into the mitochondria.

In 2011, in-house researchers Dr. Matthew “Oki” O’Connor and Dr. Gayathri Swaminathan successfully established multiple stable cell lines for each of the five modified mitochondrial genes with which they are working.

Heading into 2012, the team is beginning rigorous testing of the nuclear expression they observed in their five targeted mitochondrial genes.

Following that, they will analyze the complexes of the respiratory chain, which should demonstrate and confirm that the proteins encoded by these five genes have been integrated properly into the complexes.

If protein integration is confirmed, the team will move on to testing ways to functionally rejuvenate aged or otherwise damaged respiratory chain complexes. If successful, this approach could ultimately lead to novel ways of treating mitochondrial dysfunction -- which has positive implications both for age-related disease and other mitochondrial disorders that can occur at any point in life.

Graphene monoxide an advance toward graphene based electronics

Scientists and engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) have discovered an entirely new carbon-based material that is synthesized from the “wonder kid” of the carbon family, graphene. The discovery, which the researchers are calling “graphene monoxide (GMO),” pushes carbon materials closer to ushering in next-generation electronics.

Graphene, a one-atom-thick layer of carbon that resembles a flat sheet of chicken wire at nanoscale, has the potential to revolutionize electronics because it conducts electricity much better than the gold and copper wires used in current devices. Transistors made of silicon are approaching the minimum size at which they can be effective, meaning the speed of devices will soon bottom out.

Graphene could also enable terahertz processor speed, so even if the size is larger graphene electronics should still be faster than silicon electronics.

Graphene monoxide exhibits characteristics that will make it easier to scale up than graphene. And, like silicon in the current generation of electronics, GMO is semiconducting, necessary for controlling the electrical current in such a strong conductor as graphene. Now all three characteristics of electrical conductivity – conducting, insulating and semiconducting – are found in the carbon family, offering needed compatibility for use in future electronics.
Physics Professor Michael Weinert and engineering graduate student Haihui Pu display the atomic structure on GMO. (Photos by Alan Magayne-Roshak)

ACS Nano - Evidence of Nanocrystalline Semiconducting Graphene Monoxide during Thermal Reduction of Graphene Oxide in Vacuum