May 26, 2012

Egyptian Student Invents New Propulsion Method

Aisha Mustafa, a 19-year-old Egyptian physics student, patented a new type of propulsion system for spacecraft that uses cutting edge quantum physics instead of thrusters. Mustafa invented a way of tapping this quantum effect via what's known as the dynamic Casimir effect. This uses a "moving mirror" cavity, where two very reflective very flat plates are held close together, and then moved slightly to interact with the quantum particle sea. Mustafa's use of shaped silicon plates similar to those used in solar power cells results in a net force being delivered. A force, of course, means a push or a pull and in space this equates to a drive or engine.

Fast Company - Mustafa’s invention powers space vehicles by benefiting from the electric energy formed by Casimir-polder force which occurs between separate surfaces and objects in a vacuum and by the zero-point energy which is considered to be the lowest state of energy. Mustafa added that she used reflective panels for additional force which looks like photovoltaic solar cells. The invention is related to a hypothetical concept of a jet propulsion called “Differential Sail”, which was theoretically created by NASA’s retired professor Marc G. Millis who led NASA breakthrough propulsion physics project.

Stuntman jumps 2400 feet in a glider suit to land in 18600 cardboard boxes

Mr Connery, 42, of Henley-on-Thames, was in free fall for three seconds before the suit inflated, enabling him to glide, and eventually slowing to around 50mph. After a 1.4km flight lasting a mere 45 seconds, he landed on a stack of 18,600 cardboard boxes, 350ft long, 50ft wide and 12ft deep.

Astronauts say Spacex Dragon has new car smell

Astronauts have tweeted that the Spacex Dragon has a new car smell.

May 25, 2012

Key Gene Found Responsible for Chronic Inflammation, Accelerated Aging and Cancer

Researchers at NYU School of Medicine have, for the first time, identified a single gene that simultaneously controls inflammation, accelerated aging and cancer.

“This was certainly an unexpected finding,” said principal investigator Robert J. Schneider, PhD, the Albert Sabin Professor of Molecular Pathogenesis, associate director for translational research and co-director of the Breast Cancer Program at NYU Langone Medical Center. “It is rather uncommon for one gene to have two very different and very significant functions that tie together control of aging and inflammation. The two, if not regulated properly, can eventually lead to cancer development. It’s an exciting scientific find.”

For decades, the scientific community has known that inflammation, accelerated aging and cancer are somehow intertwined, but the connection between them has remained largely a mystery, Dr. Schneider said. What was known, due in part to past studies by Schneider and his team, was that a gene called AUF1 controls inflammation by turning off the inflammatory response to stop the onset of septic shock. But this finding, while significant, did not explain a connection to accelerated aging and cancer.

When the researchers deleted the AUF1 gene, accelerated aging occurred, so they continued to focus their research efforts on the gene. Now, more than a decade in the making, the mystery surrounding the connection between inflammation, advanced aging and cancer is finally being unraveled.

The current study reveals that AUF1, a family of four related genes, not only controls the inflammatory response, but also maintains the integrity of chromosomes by activating the enzyme telomerase to repair the ends of chromosomes, thereby simultaneously reducing inflammation, preventing rapid aging and the development of cancer, Dr. Schneider explained.

Molecular Cell - mRNA Decay Factor AUF1 Maintains Normal Aging, Telomere Maintenance, and Suppression of Senescence by Activation of Telomerase Transcription

DARPA invests $3.5 Million in TechShop for instant fabrication testbeds

Venture Beat - A fundamental tenet of the modern maker movement is that everyone wants to build something. Especially the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Today DARPA took a break from funding next-generation weapons systems, advanced hypersonic aircraft, and frickin’ laser beams to put $3.5 million into TechShop, the paradise for “inventors, makers, hackers, tinkerers, artists … and anyone else who wants to be able to make things that they dream up but don’t have the tools, space or skills.” TechShop currently operates 5 locations around the US, giving members access to a vast array of tools, building space, and lessons.

In authentic military tradition, the project has a funky acronym: iFAB. The Instant Foundry Adaptive through Bits partnership between TechShop, DARPA, and the Department of Veteran Affairs is intended to “create a foundry to rapidly design and reconfigure manufacturing capabilities to support the fabrication of a wide array of military vehicles.”

DARPA - part of the Adaptive Vehicle Make (AVM) portfolio, is called Instant Foundry Adaptive through Bits (iFAB). iFAB seeks to create a foundry to rapidly design and reconfigure manufacturing capabilities to support the fabrication of a wide array of military vehicles.

Now, thanks to a new collaboration between DARPA, the Department of Veterans Affairs and TechShop, a test-bed will exist to examine new methods and various approaches to creating an effective iFAB. At the same time, the facilities provide a space for innovators to access industrial tools, training and equipment needed to pursue their own ‘make’ ideas without the need for affiliation with a large manufacturer.

Interview: Elon Musk of Spacex talks reusable rockets and Mars missions

New Scientist had an interview with Elon Musk of Spacex discussing the reusable rocket work.

What kind of technology do you really want to advance, given the freedom you have to do it your own way?

EM: The really big advance, the fundamental breakthrough that's needed, is a fully reusable rocket system. There was an attempt at that with the space shuttle but it failed. The space shuttle was only ever going to be partially reusable as the main tank - the primary flight structure to which the orbiter and booster were attached was discarded on every mission. And the parts that were reused were so difficult to reuse that the shuttle ended up costing four times more to run than an expendable rocket of equivalent payload capacity. The space shuttle was often used as an example of why you shouldn't even attempt to make something reusable. But one failed experiment does not invalidate the greater goal. If that was the case we'd never have had the light bulb.

NS: Can you outline the economics?

EM: The fuel, oxidiser and pressurant on a Falcon 9 rocket accounts for about 0.3 per cent of the cost of the mission, about $200,000. But each mission costs $60 million because we have to make a new rocket every time.

Any reusable rocket would only last for a certain number of launches and would still have some maintenance costs. If a reusable rocket could last 200 launches then it would depreciate by $300,000 per launch and if there was $500,000 per launch in maintenance and service, then fuel + depreciation + maintenance would be $1 million. The reusable rocket would be 60 times cheaper than a single use rocket.

Euclideon continues to make progess with atom-based graphics

Euclideon is an Australian company that claims to have developed a new technology for rendering 3-d graphics. This technology, which Euclideon calls atomistic rendering, can render images in extremely high detail. Euclideon has recently released a demo that shows the extremely detailed objects which the engine is capable of rendering in real time. The technology of unlimited detail has been controversial within the gaming community, and Euclideon has received some criticism for among other things not showing an animation using atomistic rendering. In an interview with Sander Olson for Next Big Future, Euclideon founder and CEO Bruce Dell discusses the potential of this technology for both gaming and non-gaming applications, the next products that Euclideon will release, and the fundamental advantages of atoms over polygons.

Bruce Dell

Question: How did you initially start working on ways to improve 3-d graphics?

Euclideon invented a new way to run unlimited amounts of point cloud data in real time. Normally 3d graphics are made out of flat shapes called polygons. Point cloud data is where you make everything out of little atoms. Other systems have been made that can run 3D objects made from atoms, but our system is many times faster and can run atom based graphics in unlimited quantities, We have been using 64 atoms per cubic millimeter so our graphics are of a much higher detail than most people are used to.

Treating Amyloidosis could extend maximum human lifespan

Extreme Longevity - Supercentenarians and transthyretin amyloidosis: The next frontier of human life extension (Preventitive Medicine Journal, 3 pages)

Supercentenarians are persons who have lived beyond the age of 110. Currently there are only about 80 such known individuals in the world whose age is verified.

In a newly published review Drs. Stephen Coles and Thomas Young of the UCLA Gerontology Research Group point out what it may be that is killing supercentenarians: amyloidosis.

Amyloidosis is a disease state hallmarked by the deposition of fibers of abnormally clumped masses of transthyretin. The protein transthyretin normally acts to carry thyroid and other hormones. Mutations in the gene make the fibers abnormally sticky and they tend to clump into long fibers which are deposited in multiple organs.

Through early onset amyloidosis leads to disease, it is of interests that supercentanarians all seem to have significant amounts of it. Though not proven it is possible the amyloid is killing them.

These persons have already escaped the typical causes of death however they have lived for so long, the normally innocuous amounts of amyloid that increase with age may actually become toxic to them because they have lived so many years.

Where this line of reasoning gets exciting is that experimental drugs exists which may eliminate amyloid.

These drugs are being studied for young persons with pathological amyloidosis. If they work, what would happen if they were adminstered to persons over age 95? Perhaps it is possible they could become the first drugs to extend human lifespan beyond current theoretical limits.

Is amyloidosis a part of the aging process, or is it merely one more chronic disease that can be treated? Will treating amyloidosis lead to increases in human lifespan? Both first-generation and second-generation drugs, such as Diltiazem, Verapamil, Celastrol, 4-PDA, taurine-conjugated ursodeoxycholic acid, and CHPHC, are under development for the management of the disease (Coelho et
al., 2008; Balch et al., 2008). It seems to us that these questions may lead us to the next frontier in the extension of human lifespan. At the very least, the recognition that amyloidosis is a common and treatable condition in the oldest old should lead supercentenarians to having a better quality of life in the future, a further confirmation of what has been called the “Compression of Morbidity”

May 24, 2012

Spacex Dragon has been captured by the space arm of the Space Station

SpaceX is planning to webcast Dragon's historic attempt to visit the space station live Friday morning starting at approximately 4:30 AM PT / 7:30 AM ET.

NASA TV should have a webcast

Spacex should have a webcast

6:50 AM PST. The SpaceX Dragon capsule has arrived at the 10-meter hold point. The International Space Station crew has received the "go" for capture.
Capture complete 7:00 am PST the space station arm has the Dragon

Experimental realization of an array of broadband 20% invisibility cloaks that operates in the visible frequency

A group of American researchers has created 25 000 individual "invisibility" cloaks. They are just 30 micrometres in diameter and are laid out together on a 25 millimetre gold sheet.

We report the first experimental realization of an array of broadband invisibility cloaks that operates in the visible frequency range. Such an array is capable of cloaking ~20% of an unlimited surface area. The wavelength and angular dependences of the cloak array performance have been studied.

Wider implications.
Building and studying the arrays of invisibility cloaks offers more refined experimental tools to test cloak performance. Compared to the characterization of individual cloaks, the angular performance of cloak arrays appears to be more sensitive to cloak imperfections. These findings may be useful in such related areas as acoustic and surface-wave cloaking, as well as in the potential practical applications listed above.

They could be used to slow down, or even stop, light, creating what is known as a "trapped rainbow".

The trapped rainbow could be utilised in tiny biosensors to identify biological materials based on the amount of light they absorb and then subsequently emit, which is known as fluorescence spectroscopy. Slowed-down light has a stronger interaction with molecules than light travelling at normal speeds, so it enables a more detailed analysis.

Lead author of the study, Dr Vera Smolyaninova, said: "The benefit of a biochip array is that you have a large number of small sensors, meaning you can perform many tests at once. For example, you could test for multiple genetic conditions in a person's DNA in just one go.

"In our array, light is stopped at the boundary of each of the cloaks, meaning we observe the trapped rainbow at the edge of each cloak. This means we could do 'spectroscopy on-a-chip' and examine fluorescence at thousands of points all in one go."

The 25 000 invisibility cloaks are uniformly laid out on a gold sheet, with each having a microlens that bends light around itself, effectively hiding an area in its middle. As the light squeezes through the gaps between each of the cloaks, the different components of light, or colours, are made to stop at ever narrower points, creating the rainbow.

Nine Ways to Bias Open-Source AGI Toward Friendliness

Ben Goertzel and Joel Pitt of Novamente LLC have written Nine Ways to Bias Open-Source AGI Toward Friendliness

While it seems unlikely that any method of guaranteeing human-friendliness (“Friendliness”) on the part of advanced Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) systems will be possible, this doesn’t mean the only alternatives are throttling AGI development to safeguard humanity, or plunging recklessly into the complete unknown. Without denying the presence of a certain irreducible uncertainty in such matters, it is still sensible to explore ways of biasing the odds in a favorable way, such that newly created AI systems are significantly more likely than not to be Friendly. Several potential methods of effecting such biasing are explored here, with a particular but non-exclusive focus on those that are relevant to open-source AGI projects, and with illustrative examples drawn from the OpenCog open-source AGI project. Issues regarding the relative safety of open versus closed approaches to AGI are discussed and then nine techniques for biasing AGIs in favor of Friendliness are presented:

1. Engineer the capability to acquire integrated ethical knowledge.
2. Provide rich ethical interaction and instruction, respecting developmental stages.
3. Develop stable, hierarchical goal systems.
4. Ensure that the early stages of recursive self-improvement occur relatively slowly and with rich human involvement.
5. Tightly link AGI with the Global Brain.
6. Foster deep, consensus-building interactions between divergent viewpoints.
7. Create a mutually supportive community of AGIs.
8. Encourage measured co-advancement of AGI software and AGI ethics theory.
9. Develop advanced AGI sooner not later.

Stem-cell-growing surface enables bone repair

Eurekalert - University of Michigan researchers have proven that a special surface, free of biological contaminants, allows adult-derived stem cells to thrive and transform into multiple cell types. Their success brings stem cell therapies another step closer.

To prove the cells' regenerative powers, bone cells grown on this surface were then transplanted into holes in the skulls of mice, producing four times as much new bone growth as in the mice without the extra bone cells.

An embryo's cells really can be anything they want to be when they grow up: organs, nerves, skin, bone, any type of human cell. Adult-derived "induced" stem cells can do this and better. Because the source cells can come from the patient, they are perfectly compatible for medical treatments.

Researchers find a way to delay aging of stem cells

Salk scientists say their findings may lead to strategies to treat age-related diseases and improve regenerative medicine.

Stem cells are essential building blocks for all organisms, from plants to humans. They can divide and renew themselves throughout life, differentiating into the specialized tissues needed during development, as well as cells necessary to repair adult tissue.

Therefore, they can be considered immortal, in that they recreate themselves and regenerate tissues throughout a person's lifetime, but that doesn't mean they don't age. They do, gradually losing their ability to effectively maintain tissues and organs.

Now, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have uncovered a series of biological events that implicate the stem cells' surroundings, known as their "niche," as the culprit in loss of stem cells due to aging. Their findings, published May 23rd in Nature, have implications for treatment of age-related diseases and for the effectiveness of regenerative medicine.

These fluorescent microscope images of testes from young (left) and old(right) fruit flies show the effect of aging on the stem cell niche (top center). The hub cells (red) that function as part of the stem cells' supporting niche express more of a microRNA known as let-7 (green) in aged flies, which changes the signaling properties of hub cells, leading to fewer stem cells surrounding the hub that are available for tissue maintenance. Image: Courtesy of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies

Nature - The let-7–Imp axis regulates ageing of the Drosophila testis stem-cell niche

Bioengineers Make DNA Into a Living Computer Memory

Spectrum IEEE - Bioengineers looking to turn microbes into manufacturers have longed for a kit of components as regular and predictable as those used by electrical engineers. But biology is a lot messier. Now a group of engineers at Stanford University say they’ve managed to make one such component—the genetic equivalent of a reliable memory device.

DNA memory already exists but has been limited to write-once versions that can record only as many cellular events (such as cellular divisions) as there are bits. But the reversible storage system the Stanford researchers have ginned up is capable of being expanded to record a potentially huge number of events—2n events, where n is the number of bits.

Diagram: Drew Endy Rewritable DNA Memory: When patches of DNA whose endpoints are the attachment sites attB and attP encounter the integrase protein [Int, in the red box], they’re flipped upside down, changing the DNA memory's state from the equivalent of a "0" to a "1". When they subsequently encounter integrase plus another type of protein called excisionase [Xis, white box], the DNA patches reset to "0".

PNAS - Rewritable digital data storage in live cells via engineered control of recombination directionality

Blueseed seastead has applications from 800 entrepreneurs for offshore incubator

In 2013, Blueseed, will be the first-ever sea-based tech incubator.

After struggling with visa issues to come to Silicon Valley and start his own company, Dascalescu said he was inspired by the notion of creating ocean communities in international waters, so that entrepreneurs wouldn’t need a visa to essentially startup 12 miles off the California coast.

Dascalescu, who is an ambassador for nonprofit organization The Seasteading Institute, and his co-founders Max Marty and Dario Mutabdzija, have so far received 240 applications from 800 entrepreneurs hailing from 52 countries. Venture capital firms and angel investors can also recommend startups to Blueseed.

Africa's Positive Economic Growth Scenario to 2060

A recent report by the African Development Bank projected that, by 2030, much of Africa will attain lower-middle- and middle-class majorities, and that consumer spending will explode from $680 billion in 2008 to $2.2 trillion.

Bank estimates suggest that Africa’s GDP could increase to over US$15.7 trillion in 2060, from a base of US$1.7 trillion in 2010. Consequently, income per capita expressed in current US dollar terms should grow from US$1,667 in 2010 to over US$5,600 by 2060. While this would represent a major leap forward in standard of living, it is still less than the current South Korean per capita GDP of US$17,000. However, a less optimistic scenario sees real GDP growth accelerating up to 2020, before decelerating to around 5% per annum. The total GDP would then be $12.2 trillion in 2060 and per capita GDP about US$4600.

Africa is projecting to be about where China is now on a per capita GDP basis in 50 years.

Seven of the world's 10 fastest-growing economies are African. The continent is famously resource rich, which has surely helped, but some recent studies suggest that the biggest drivers are far less customary for Africa, and far more encouraging for its future: wholesale and retail commerce, transportation, telecommunications, and manufacturing.

China plans to boost Private Investment in Energy and other Infrastructure

China signaled on Wednesday it wanted to ramp up private investment in its energy sector, in line with recently unveiled government plans to fast-track infrastructure investment to help combat a protracted economic slowdown.

That followed the announced plan to allow private investment into the vast railway sector, which is struggling with mounting debts and a corruption scandal while attempting to resolve infrastructure bottlenecks.

Allowing private firms to pour money into the railways, banking, energy and healthcare sectors will give a boost to the world's second-largest economy as the government shuns fresh fiscal stimulus.

The moves seem to be designed to avoid stimulus that would increase imbalanced investment and attempt to make more efficient investments.

Engineered materials: Custom-made metamaterial magnets

A novel approach to designing artificial materials could enable magnetic devices with a wider range of properties than those now available.

Luk'yanchuk and the team mathematically modelled a two-dimensional array of metamolecules comprising a silicon sphere next to a partially incomplete copper ring. They studied the influence of both the sphere and the split ring on the magnetic component of an incident electromagnetic wave — a property known as magnetization.

"When the two structures were more than one micrometer apart, they both acted to increase the local magnetic field," says Luk’yanchuk. However, they started to interact when moved closer together, and the researchers observed that the magnetization of the split ring decreases and even becomes negative for separations smaller than 0.5 micrometers.

This situation is somewhat analogous to the magnetic ordering in ‘natural’ materials. When all the atoms contribute in a positive way to a material’s magnetic properties, the material becomes a ferromagnet. However, when alternating regions of the material have opposite magnetization, the material is said to be antiferromagnetic.

"We demonstrate that our hybrid lattices of metamolecule exhibit distance-dependent magnetic interaction, opening new ways for manipulating artificial antiferromagnetism with low-loss materials," explains Luk'yanchuk.

An array of metamolecules comprising silicon spheres and copper split-rings can be used to control magnetization waves. © 2012 American Chemical Society

Intensive Training and Other Methods to Boost IQ

NY Times -

PNAS - Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory

In the Jaeggi (2008) study, the researchers began by having participants complete a test of reasoning to measure their “fluid” intelligence — the ability to draw connections between things, solve novel problems and adapt to new situations. Then some of the participants received up to eight hours of training in a difficult cognitive task that required paying careful attention to two streams of information (a version of this task is now marketed by Lumosity); others were assigned to a control group and received no such training. Then all of the participants took a different version of the reasoning test.

The results were startling. The authors reported that the trained participants showed a larger gain in the reasoning test than the control group did, and despite the relatively brief period of training, this gain was large enough that it would be expected to substantially improve performance in everyday life.

A University of North Carolina study known as the Abecedarian Early Intervention Project, children received an intensive educational intervention from infancy to age 5 designed to increase intelligence. In follow-up tests, these children showed an advantage of six I.Q. points over a control group (and as adults, they were four times more likely to graduate from college). By contrast, the increase implied by the findings of the Jaeggi study was six I.Q. points after only six hours of training — an I.Q. point an hour.

Controlled NOT gate could be scaled for photonic quantum computing

Arxiv - Controlled-NOT gate operating with single photons (10 pages) Technology Review - Cambridge physicists have built a quantum logic gate that combines a quantum dot that fires photons with a photonic circuit that processes them.

The initial proposal for scalable optical quantum computing required single photon sources, linear optical elements such as beamsplitters and phaseshifters, and photon detection. Here we demonstrate a two qubit gate using indistinguishable photons from a quantum dot in a pillar microcavity. As the emitter, the optical circuitry, and the detectors are all semiconductor, this is a promising approach towards creating a fully integrated device for scalable quantum computing.

Nuclear Famine Fears based on Faulty Assumptions

There is a 19 page study that predicts a nuclear famine if a previous study of a nuclear autumn is correct. The nuclear autumn article is not correct.

1. I will repeat my case on why nuclear winter does not happen
2. They then try to build upon a slight drop in temperature (that will not happen) in order to say their will be a 10% drop in agricultural production
3. The agricultural production drop is assumed to hit everyone who gets marginal food by 10% so that they all drop into starvation and die.

Looking at the unique conditions in Hiroshima

I have examined the case for climate effects of an exchange of nuclear weapons in detail.

A nuclear winter is predicated on current cities all reacting to nuclear weapons the Hiroshima did and having a firestorm in order to put a lot of soot into the stratosphere. I will summarize the case I made then in the next section. there is significant additions based on my further research and email exchanges that I had with Prof Alan Robock and Brian Toon who wrote the nuclear winter research.

The Steps needed to prove nuclear winter:
1. Prove that enough cities will have firestorms or big enough fires (the claim here is that does not happen)
2. Prove that when enough cities in a sufficient area have big fire that enough smoke and soot gets into the stratosphere (trouble with this claim because of the Kuwait fires)
3. Prove that condition persists and effects climate as per models (others have questioned that but this issue is not addressed here

The nuclear winter case is predictated on getting 150 million tons (150 teragram case) of soot, smoke into the stratosphere and having it stay there. The assumption seemed to be that the cities will be targeted and the cities will burn in massive firestorms. Alan Robock indicated that they only included a fire based on the radius of ignition from the atmospheric blasts. However, in the scientific american article and in their 2007 paper the stated assumptions are:

assuming each fire would burn the same area that actually did burn in Hiroshima and assuming an amount of burnable material per person based on various studies.

The implicit assumption is that all buildings react the way the buildings in Hiroshima reacted on that day.

Therefore, the results of Hiroshima are assumed in the Nuclear Winter models.
* 27 days without rain
* with breakfast burners that overturned in the blast and set fires
* mostly wood and paper buildings
* Hiroshima had a firestorm and burned five times more than Nagasaki. Nagasaki was not the best fire resistant city. Nagasaki had the same wood and paper buildings and high population density.

Path to 14-nm with directed self-assembly

Researchers sponsored by Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), the world's leading university-research consortium for semiconductors and related technologies, today announced that they have successfully created contact hole patterns for a wide variety of practical logic and memory devices using a next-generation directed self-assembly (DSA) process. Applying a relatively simple combination of chemical and thermal processes to create their DSA method for making circuits at 22 nanometers (nm), the research team at Stanford University projects that the nanofabrication technique will enable pattern etching for next-generation chips down to 14nm.

In contrast to the current state-of-art lithography methods that rely on increasingly less-accurate steps to shrink transistor and circuit sizes, the achievement at Stanford provides both a more affordable and more environmentally friendly path to fabricating smaller semiconductor devices. The advancement can be utilized for enhancements not only to the electronics industry, but possibly for other nanoscale devices as well.

“This is the first time that the critical contact holes have been placed with DSA for standard cell libraries of VLSI chips. The result is a composed pattern of real circuits, not just test structures,” said H.-S. Philip Wong, lead researcher at Stanford for the SRC-guided research. “This irregular solution for DSA also allows you to heal imperfections in the pattern and maintain higher resolution and finer features on the wafer than by any other viable alternative.”

EETimes - By solving one of the outstanding lithographic problems facing further scaling—the tiny contact holes that connect semiconductors to their substrate—researchers at Stanford University have demonstrated working circuits at 22-nanometer and a clear path to 14-nanometers, as well as a bee-line on the chemistry developments needed to scale to single digit sizes.

Advanced Materials - Flexible Control of Block Copolymer Directed Self-Assembly using Small, Topographical Templates: Potential Lithography Solution for Integrated Circuit Contact Hole Patterning

NASA's Marshall Center Concludes Wind Tunnel Testing to Aid in SpaceX Reusable Launch System Design

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., completed wind tunnel testing for Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorn, Calif., to provide Falcon 9 first stage re-entry data for the company's advanced reusable launch vehicle system.

If Spacex gets a reusable (with insignificant maintenance) first stage they could lower the costs of their launches by about half. If they get all stages reusable with very low maintenance costs they could lower costs by one hundred times.

Tests were conducted at several orientations and speeds ranging from Mach numbers 0.3, or 228 miles per hour at sea level, to Mach 5, or 3,811 miles per hour at sea level, to gage how the first stage reacts during the descent phase of flight.

In addition to wind tunnel testing, Marshall is providing propulsion engineering support to SpaceX in the development of the SuperDraco Launch Abort System (LAS) and on-orbit propulsion systems. Marshall is supplying SpaceX with Reaction Control Systems lessons learned that will be incorporated into the Dragon spacecraft's design for steering and attitude control. Marshall engineers also are providing technical insight in the development of materials and processes to support future improvements of the Falcon 9 and Dragon to be used in the SpaceX Commercial Crew Development Program.

The reusable first stage is shown on the left after landing

Spacex clears last tests and ready to dock with International Space Station on Friday

NASA - SpaceX completed a final height adjustment burn of the Dragon capsule at 8:09 a.m. EDT to depart the vicinity of the International Space Station. Dragon now begins its “racetrack” trajectory to re-approach the station for grapple and berthing attempts on Friday

WSJ - The Spacex Dragon capsule appeared to flawlessly complete a series of maneuvers around the international space station Thursday, clearing the last major hurdle before a historic docking attempt planned for Friday.

The tests demonstrated that sensors, navigation equipment, communications links and computer-controlled propulsion systems aboard the Dragon capsule were all working properly.

The so-called fly-under maneuver commanded the cone-shaped capsule—built and operated by Space Exploration Technologies Corp.—to catch up to and then pass the space station. The highlight of the test, occurring before 7:30 a.m. Eastern time, had the spacecraft float by about 1.5 miles below the station.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration officials said preliminary indications were that Dragon's thrusters, laser-assisted sensors and thermal imaging instruments seemed to pass the preliminary rendezvous tests with flying colors, but analysis of the data was expected to continue through the day.

Video of SpaceX Dragon Closing in on Space Station

Dragon as seen by the space station

DARPA Living Foundries plans to make Synthetic Biology ten times faster and cheaper

Wired Danger Room - DARPAs Living Foundries project was first announced by the agency last year. Darpa has handed out seven research awards worth $15.5 million to six different companies and institutions including the University of Texas at Austin and the California Institute of Technology. Two contracts were also issued to the J. Craig Venter Institute. Dr. Venter was among the first scientists to sequence a human genome, and his institute was, in 2010, the first to create a cell with entirely synthetic genome.

“Living Foundries” aspires to turn the slow, messy process of genetic engineering into a streamlined and standardized one. Of course, the field is already a burgeoning one: Scientists have tweaked cells in order to develop renewable petroleum and spider silk that’s tough as steel. And a host of companies are investigating the pharmaceutical and agricultural promise lurking — with some tinkering, of course — inside living cells.

May 23, 2012

Google wins, Android smartphones and tablets aresafe from Oracle lawsuit

Google wins Oracle Java lawsuit. A jury determined that Google did not violate Oracle patents. The damage phase of the trial was canceled. Instead of Google having to owe Oracle billions and have the Android software threatened, Google will owe about $150,000.

HULC Exoskeleton a Revolution in Rapid Deployment Forces and Mobile Mechanized Infantry

Lockheed appears to be on track for deploying combat versions of the HULC exoskeleton into Afghanistan in early 2013 or even late in 2012.

The Deployment of exoskeletons in commercial sectors will probably remain quite limited for another decade or so, due to their high cost (more than $25,000 per suit). There should be about 11,000 exoskeletons by 2020.

The HULC can assist speed marching at up to 7 mph reduces this somewhat; a battery-draining "burst" at 10mph is the maximum speed

A soldier with a pack would normally go at 3 mph maximum and cover 10-12 miles in a day. Exoskeleton Soldiers could also carry lightweight foldable electric scooters on their exoskeleton that would enable 60-100 mph on roads. If the bike had motocross like capabilities it could still go about 30-60 mph on rougher terrain.

* Lockheed Martin’s (LM) Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) has passed a final round of tests at Fort Riley, Kansas, before scheduled deployment to Afghanistan in 2011. The system, which turns a six-wheeled amphibious ATV into a robotic packhorse and charging station, has been subjected to a variety of simulated warzone environments in both remote controlled and fully autonomous modes"

The SMSS can carry a squad's food supplies, water, batteries, heavy weapons, ammunition, survival gear and can even accommodate casualties. Besides transporting up to 600lbs (272 kg) of gear, the SMSS also provides two to four kilowatts of power, and is capable of charging 146 batteries within ten hours.

The HULC exoskeletoned soldiers can carry foldable dirtbikes to enable speeds of 80mph. They would be better served with squad mission systems that could operate up to 80 mph and with several times the cargo capacity. The exoskeleton soldiers could swap out different mission modules for their 200 pound capacity from a faster and larger exo-squad SMSS.

Lockheed could deploy Combat HULC Exoskeleton in Afghanistan in 2013

Wired Dangerroom - Lockheed Martin’s has a new improved combat version of the Human Universal Load Carrier exoskeleton. It could be headed to Afghanistan for combat trials within a few months.

Lockheed rep indicated today at a Special Forces trade show in Tampa. Asked if there were plans to deploy the HULC exoskeleton overseas following its next round of Army testing, Lockheed’s special operation program manager Keith Maxwell nodded yes and said, “after that.”

Maxwell was wearing what he described as a “smaller, lighter, more energy-efficient” version of the battery-powered external skeleton, complete with an unloaded machine gun on a pivoting mechanical arm. He asked us not to photograph the exoskeleton, but he was happy to discuss it.

In essence, HULC adds an artificial, external spine, hips, legs and the aforementioned pivoting arm to a soldier’s flesh and bones. The machine extremities, powered by a lithium-ion battery, redistribute and transfer up to 200 pounds of weight down and off the wearer’s body, allowing him to carry more, longer. “There’s a 10 percent metabolic cost for the benefit of a heavy load removed,” Maxwell says.

Add loads of food, water, batteries and other supplies, and you become a human pack mule for your squadmates. Swap them out for a heavy machine gun and you transform into what Maxwell calls a “one-man crew-served weapon.” Maxwell says he live-fired his machine gun just before the trade show and “felt the recoil eliminated down to one-third.”

As I have previously observed, with 200 pounds of carrying capacity 50 to 100 pounds could be used for a foldable offroad dirtbike that could go 60 to 80 mph. The soldier could hike in exoskeleton over any terrain and then switch to the bike if they needed to rapidly cover sffome distance. Being able to carry that much weight without tiring would allow for a lot of novel equipment packages and capabilities.
I think the greatest advantage will come not from mixing one exoskleton enabled soldier in with a regular squad but having a dedicated all exoskeleton platoon. If they all had the folding bikes they could have rapid strike deployment with 80 mph even after getting dropped from helicopters. They would have a lot of mission flexibility. If they were supporting tanks they would be able to move at the full attack speeds of the tanks while still be able to get into other terrain.
The exoskeleton squads would enable new strategies and tactics

Wearable Electronics

Berkeley Science Review - advances in materials science and electrical engineering have paved the way for a new type of electronic device: one that can bend and fold just like a piece of paper. From flexible displays to disposable RFID tags, these new materials have enabled electronics to end up in places they never have before.

Although we may be far from wearing electronics as a fashion fad, the applications of such technologies range from dynamic displays woven right into our shirts to embedded mechanical and ambient atmospheric sensors to obtain and store data about human movement and biological signals. These smart devices could change the way we use clothing. Professor Arias is already in the process of modifying her wearable electronics to fit a multitude of uses. Her previous work focused on defense applications, and she has branched into developing flexible magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) coils and wearable medical sensors. While there are still challenges involving performance, stability, and scalability, in Professor Arias’ words, “This is just the beginning; wearable sensors that measure environmental and biological signals can open up many applications for people who play sports, are in the hospital, or just want to monitor their daily health.” Flexible electronics can even be art; in collaboration with Professor Elad Alon and John Wawrzynek at the Berkeley Wireless Research Center, Professor Arias is also working on creating electronic wallpaper that will, she notes, cover walls with “electronics instead of flowers.”

Will the Global Middle Class Define Lower Cost Consumption

Forbes - global consumption patterns (and hence growth and production) will increasingly be defined by the needs and wants of a new global middle class. In the past, global consumption (and hence production) was defined by America’s middle earners. We face a complex series of changes.

Nextbigfuture has covered the emergence of the global middle class for a number of years.

Smith Barney - Asian Affluence: The Emerging 21st Century Middle Class, June 2011 (27 pages)

Global spending by the global middle class will rise from $21 trillion in 2011 to $56 trillion in 2030. 80% of the demand growth will come from Asia.

1.8 billion global middle class in 2009. 3.2 billion estimated for 2020 and 4.9 billion in 2030.

China expected to Stimulate Economy, Still in Economic Catch Up Mode and India expected to have 7% growth

China is expected to Moderatly Stimulate Economy

1. China's economic growth is likely to rebound some time this year due to government stimulus policies and a restocking of inventories, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development said Tuesday.

"As the inventory cycle turns, and fiscal and monetary policy become more expansionary, growth should pick up in the course of 2012 and stabilize at over 9% in 2013," the OECD said in its May 2012 Economic Outlook.

In response to slowing growth, authorities in recent weeks have unveiled support measures, including a cut in the reserve requirement ratio of banks and rolling out subsidies for purchases of some household appliances.

"Going forward, monetary easing should support activity, especially in the housing area, where prices have become more affordable," the OECD said in its report. "Fiscal policy will also boost consumption, with increased outlays being directed to social spending."

The OECD added that China should accelerate some planned infrastructure projects if growth weakens further in the second quarter of this year.

Iran Caspian Sea oil discovery about 8 to 10 billion barrels

Iranian oil officials announced that the in-place reserves of a newly found oil field in the Caspian Sea are much bigger than early estimates. The National Iranian Oil Company has discovered oil reserves in its territorial waters in the Caspian Sea, which, according to preliminary estimates, amount to 8-10 billion barrels.

The reserves have been found at a depth of 2,460 meters. Early reports indicated that the newly-discovered oil field contains 8 to 10 billion barrels of oil.

Russia and Japan reconfirm plans for permanent orbital moonbase 2025 and lunar surface 2035

Russia-IC (2011 statements)- Officials from Russia’s Space Agency, Roscosmos, are reportedly in talks with Europe’s ESA and NASA over possibly establishing a collective an orbital station around the moon, or a manned lunar research base. According to Russian news site RIA Novosti, while the country intends on making the moon its focal point, Russia’s plans calls for more than merely putting boots on the lunar surface. Russia has been talking about lunar bases since at least 2007.

According to Roscosmos chief, Vladimir Popovkin, that leaves only two options: “setup a base on the Moon, or launch a station to orbit around it. We don’t want the man to just step on the Moon,” Popovkin stated in an interview with Russian radio station Vesti FM.

Nature - At the Global Space Exploration Conference 2012, Vladimir Popovkin, the head of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, said that Russia will pursue extensive, long-lived operations at the Moon’s surface. JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency, issued a clear pronouncement about targeting the Moon. “We are looking at the Moon as our next target for human exploration,” said Yuichi Yamaura, an associate executive director at JAXA.

Japan has previously talked about a $2 billion robotic lunar base in 2020.

Russian researchers have planned on starting a 12-year-long moon exploration programme (2025-2036), which will have several stages with first being a placement of an orbital station on a near-moon orbit, and the last – construction of a permanent base on the surface of the Earth’s natural satellite.

Lunar orbital station can be built within two years of 2025 and 2026. The facility can shelter a crew of four cosmonauts. Later on a first-stage base will be built at the Moon’s surface, which is aimed at hosting two-week-long manned missions to the satellite.

A second-stage lunar base is scheduled to appear in 2035-2036 – this facility will help start using lunar resources and prepare for industrial use of natural treasures of Earth’s natural satellite.

Tin Anode could triple lithium ion battery capacity and should be on the market next year

Washington State University researchers have developed a new technology that could triple the capacity of lithium-ion batteries, which as anyone who owns a cell phone or laptop knows, can be frustratingly limiting.

The researchers have filed patents on the nanoscale-based technology, which also allows the batteries to re-charge many more times and more quickly than current models. They expect to bring it to the market within a year.

In particular, the researchers have developed an anode made of tin, rather than the carbon used currently. Rechargeable lithium ion batteries are made up of two electrodes, the cathode and an anode. During charging, the lithium ions move from the cathode to the anode. The anode holds the lithium ions and stores the battery’s energy. When the battery is used, the ions move from the anode to the cathode, discharging electrons and creating an electric circuit.

The new tin anode has the potential to store almost three times the energy of graphite.

Atomic force microscope brings together two RNA to assemble a functional molecular complex

Using an atomic force microscope as a “crane”, LMU (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München) researchers have succeeded in bringing two biomolecules together to form an active complex – with nanometer precision and built-in quality control.

The business end of the atomic force microscope (AFM) is its needle-sharp tip. It can be used to pick single molecules from a substrate and move them to specific positions with the precision of a few nanometers. This “single-molecule cut-and-paste” procedure was developed by LMU physicist Professor Hermann Gaub, and he and his colleagues have now used it to assemble a functional molecular complex from inactive, single-molecule building blocks.

They built the complex from two short strands of RNA, picking one from a depot with the AFM, and placing it close to the second strand deposited elsewhere on the substrate. When the two RNA segments come into contact, they spontaneously form what is called an “aptamer”, a three-dimensional binding pocket for a target molecule – in this case the fluorescent dye malachite green. The binding interaction amplifies the fluorescence emitted by the target more than 1000-fold - and signals that the two parts of the aptamer have assembled correctly.

Mechanically assembled molecule

Nanoletters - Functional Assembly of Aptamer Binding Sites by Single-Molecule Cut-and-Paste

This is precursor work to more advanced mechanical nanotechnology where atoms are placed for atomically precise reactions. Here the placement is about one hundred times less precise than what is needed for atomically precise reactions.

US Crude Weekly Crude Oil Production Increases 395,000 barrels per day from the beginning of 2012

US Crude oil production has increased 90,000 barrels per day from the previous week and is up 395,000 bpd from the beginning of 2012.

US Crude oil production was at 6.239 million barrels per day.
US Oil Liquid Production was 10.79 million barrels per day.
US Crude oil production is up nearly 10% from the same 2011.

May 22, 2012

They're Baaack - Blacklight Power

BlackLight Power, Inc. (BLP) today announced a major breakthrough in clean energy technology, which experts agree holds tremendous promise for a wide range of commercial applications. The announcement comes on the heels of BlackLight’s recent completion of a $5 million round of financing to support commercial development of its new process for producing affordable, reliable energy from water vapor.

Back in 2008,Blacklight power claimed to have a 50kw prototype device.

Now in 2012, Dr. Mills says that BlackLight has achieved critical milestones in scaling its new technology with typical electrical gain of more than ten times that which initiates the process, operating over long duration at the 10 Watt (W) scale. A 100 W unit is planned for completion by the end of 2012, and a 1.5 kiloWatt (kW) pilot unit that can serve the residential power market, as an initial target commercial application, is expected to be operational by 2013. (One kW is equal to 1000 W, and 1.5 kW is the typical, average power consumption of a US home.)

In six separate, independent studies, leading scientists from academia and industry with PhDs from prestigious universities including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology, confirm that BlackLight has achieved a technological breakthrough with its CIHT (Catalyst-Induced-Hydrino-Transition) clean energy generating process and cell. The Process is fueled by water vapor that is a gaseous component of air and present wherever there is any source of water. The CIHT cell harnesses this energy as electrical power output and is suitable for essentially all power applications including transportation applications and electrical power production completely autonomous of fuels and grid infrastructure at a small fraction of the current capital costs.

So far lower power levels are claimed now.

Nextbigfuture had a lot of coverage of Blacklight Power claims from 2008 to 2010

Blacklight Power was supposed to have large scale commercial power deployed 2 years ago.

Now they are shooting for 2013. They have raised $5 million for commercialization. Previously they had raised $70 million.

Microbots Made of Bubbles with Laser Engines

IEEE Spectrum - Aaron Ohta's lab at the University of Hawaii at Manoa has come up with a novel new way of creating non-mechanical microbots quite literally out of thin air, using robots made of bubbles with engines made of lasers.

This project involves the manipulation and the assembly of micro-objects using an optically controlled bubble microrobot. This allows light patterns to control the movement of the microrobot. Objectives include the micro-assembly of objects, including live cells, and the parallel, independent control of multiple microrobots in one system.

The UH microrobot (visible in the top center of the image) was used to position these 100-µm-diameter glass beads to form "UH".

Tesla Model S electric car deliveries start June 22, 2012

Elon Musk has been making news with the successful Spacex launch. One of Elon Musks other companies is the Tesla Electric car company. They will be delivering Tesla Model S sedans starting June 22, 2012 The Model S sedan is priced as low as $49,900 (40 kwh battery option) up to $97,900 (85 kwh signature performance version).

There will be a model X SUV that will start production in late 2013 and will have deliveries in early 2014.

Advances in Recombineering

Recombineering (recombination-mediated genetic engineering) is a genetic and molecular biology technique based on homologous recombination systems, as opposed to the older/more common method of using restriction enzymes and ligases to cut and glue DNA sequences. It has been developed in E. coli and now is expanding to other bacteria species and is used to modify DNA in a precise and simple manner.

Benefits of recombineering vs other genetic engineering techniques
The biggest advantage of recombineering is that it obviates the need for conveniently positioned restriction sites, whereas in conventional genetic engineering, DNA modification is often compromised by the availability of unique restriction sites. In engineering large constructs of over 100 kb, such as the Bacterial Artificial Chromosomes (BACs), or chromosomes, recombineering has become a necessity. Recombineering can generate the desired modifications without leaving any 'footprints' behind. It also forgoes multiple cloning stages for generating intermediate vectors and therefore is used to modify DNA constructs in a relatively short time-frame. The homology required is short enough that it can be generated in synthetic oligonucleotides and recombination with short oligonucleotides themselves is incredibly efficient. Recently, recombineering has been developed for high throughput DNA engineering applications termed 'recombineering pipelines'. Recombineering pipelines support the large scale production of BAC transgenes and gene targeting constructs for functional genomics programs such as EUCOMM (European Conditional Mouse Mutagenesis Consortium) and KOMP (Knock-Out Mouse Program). Recombineering has also been automated, a process called "MAGE" -Multiplex Automated Genome Engineering, in the Church lab.

New Research

1. High efficiency recombineering in lactic acid bacteria

Supercomputers model the complexities of hypersonic flight

The Stanford Predictive Science Academic Alliance Program (PSAAP) is using computers to model the physical complexities of the hypersonic environment –specifically, how fuel and air flow through a hypersonic aircraft engine, known as a scramjet engine. They have a five-year, $20 million U.S. Department of Energy grant.

The program focuses on what is known as the scramjet's 'unstart' problem. "If you put too much fuel in the engine when you try to start it, you get a phenomenon called 'thermal choking,' where shock waves propagate back through the engine," he explained. "Essentially, the engine doesn't get enough oxygen and it dies. It's like trying to light a match in a hurricane."

Modeling the unstart phenomenon requires a clear understanding of the physics and then reproducing mathematically the immensely complex interactions that occur at hypersonic speeds.

New $74 Android thumb drive sized computer

CNX Software - Chinese retailers have started selling a miniature Linux computer that is housed in a 3.5-inch plastic case slightly larger than a USB thumb drive. Individual units are available online for $74.

The small computer has an AllWinner A10 single-core 1.5GHz ARM CPU, a Mali 400 GPU, and 512MB of RAM. An HDMI port on the exterior allows users to plug the computer into a television. It outputs at 1080p and is said to be capable of playing high-definition video.

Another USB computer option

Valueplus, a Korean company specialized in “media application products”, had the Valueplus Tizzbird N1 at CeBit 2012, in Hanover, Germany on March 6-10 2012.

Rapamycin Slows Aging in Mice

Aging Cell - Rapamycin Slows Aging in Mice.

Rapamycin increases lifespan in mice, but whether this represents merely inhibition of lethal neoplastic diseases, or an overall slowing in multiple aspects of aging is currently unclear. We report here that many forms of age-dependent change, including alterations in heart, liver, adrenal glands, endometrium, and tendon, as well as age-dependent decline in spontaneous activity, occur more slowly in rapamycin-treated mice, suggesting strongly that rapamycin retards multiple aspects of aging in mice, in addition to any beneficial effects it may have on neoplastic disease. We also note, however, that mice treated with rapamycin starting at 9 months of age have significantly higher incidence of testicular degeneration and cataracts; harmful effects of this kind will guide further studies on timing, dosage, and tissue-specific actions of rapamycin relevant to the development of clinically useful inhibitors of TOR action

Eurekalert [other research to separate out the good effects of Rapamycin from the bad side effects] - Rapamycin-induced longevity in mice can be uncoupled from diabetes-inducing side effects.

Being able to have the life extending benefits of Rapamycin without the downsides would mean people might be able to live perhaps up to 10 years longer if people were taking the only good effects Rapamycin. Although if someone only started taking it when they were already middle age or older would get less benefit.

Planned Spacex Mission

This mornings launch was SpaceX's second demonstration flight under a 2006 Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) agreement with NASA to develop the capability to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station. Demonstration launches are conducted to determine potential issues so that they might be addressed; by their very nature, they carry a significant risk. If any aspect of the mission is not successful, SpaceX will learn from the experience and try again.

Mission Highlights: During the mission, Dragon must perform a series of complex tasks, each presenting significant technical challenges (dates subject to change):

May 22/Launch Day: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket launches a Dragon spacecraft into orbit from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

May 23: Dragon orbits Earth as it travels toward the International Space Station.

May 24: Dragon’s sensors and flight systems are subjected to a series of complicated tests to determine if the vehicle is ready to berth with the space station; these tests include maneuvers and systems checks in which the vehicle comes within 1.5 miles of the station.

May 25: NASA decides if Dragon is allowed to attempt berthing with the station. If so, Dragon approaches. It is captured by station’s robotic arm and attached to the station, a feat that requires extreme precision.

May 25 - 31: Astronauts open Dragon’s hatch, unload supplies and fill Dragon with return cargo.

May 31: After approximately two weeks, Dragon is detached from the station and returns to Earth, landing in the Pacific, hundreds of miles west of Southern California.

Leap 3D motion control with hundredths of a millimeter accuracy

Leap Motion, a San Francisco-based startup, has the Leap 3D motion control system. Leap Motion is like Kinect but far more accurate. The technology can detect motion with up to a hundredth of a millimeter accuracy; it’s nuanced enough to detect fingers, for instance, enabling the possibility of touch-free pinch-to-.

When the device is available for commercial release, it’s expected to retail for around $70, reportedly. The device itself is fairly simple--a USB input device (plus an advanced software platform).

Leap represents an entirely new way to interact with your computers. It’s more accurate than a mouse, as reliable as a keyboard and more sensitive than a touchscreen. For the first time, you can control a computer in three dimensions with your natural hand and finger movements.

This isn’t a game system that roughly maps your hand movements. The Leap technology is 200 times more accurate than anything else on the market — at any price point. Just about the size of a flash drive, the Leap can distinguish your individual fingers and track your movements down to a 1/100th of a millimeter.

May 21, 2012

Spacex has a successful launch, Dragon in orbit with solar arrays deployed

Spacex started the launch webcast at midnight PST (3AM EST). If all goes as planned the launch will occur 44 minutes later

Launch appears to be successful. 300 kilometers altitude after T + 8 minutes. Already passed stage separation.

The Dragon capsule's nose cone has been jettisoned and the Falcon 9 is performing well.

Spacex twitterfeed

After T + 9:30 engine shutdown as planned.

Falcon 9 is in orbit.

Dragon separation at T + 10:00.

Dragon is freeflying in orbit and will soon deploy solar arrays.

Solar Arrays have deployed. T + 12:00

There are several more days of testing before Dragon can go to the space station.

The planned mission is for two weeks.

Congratulations to Spacex and NASA.

Frost Forecasts Big increase in Namibia Uranium Production

Frost & Sullivan’s mining report states that Namibia is currently the world’s fourth-largest uranium producer and Africa’s largest uranium exporter, with uranium production in the country expected to quadruple in the near term, owing to increased exploration and expansion activities taking place in the Erongo region.

“About four new uranium mines in the Erongo region are expected to become operational by 2014,” adds Frost & Sullivan mining research analyst Christy Tawii.

Rio Tinto has invested about $285- million in the expansion of the Rössing Uranium Reserve Development project and the construction of a heap-leach processing facility.

China Guandong Nuclear Power Corporation subsidiary Taurus Minerals’ Husab uranium mine expansion project, which Frost & Sullivan says is worth about $1.6-billion, is the highest- value project in Namibia’s uranium mining industry, accounting for 32% of total capital expenditure (capex) invested in the country.

Multinational mining business Areva’s Trekkopje uranium mine, which is expected to start production by 2013, accounts for 19% of the total capex invested in uranium projects in Namibia.

Seven pre-feasibility and three construction stage projects will increase Namibia’s projected uranium production to about 12 000 tons of uranium in 2013

Once fully operational the Trekkopje mine will process 100,000 tonnes of crushed ore per day, with an expected output of 3 000 tonnes of yellow cake per year. The plan is for the ore to be processed using an on-off heap leach methodology, whereby the spent ore is removed from the pad on completion of the leaching cycle. The leach pad facility will extend over 3 kilometers in length and 810 meters wide, making it one of the biggest alkali heap leach operations in the world. Full-scale production at Trekkopje Mine is planned for the last quarter of 2013.

Nanocomposite aluminum alloys shops increased ductility and strength

Abakan portfolio company Powdermet, Inc. ( announces it has made significant advancements in the performance levels of forged nanocomposite aluminum alloys. Working with the U.S. Army, Powdermet’s nano/micro-aluminum composites have achieved 30-50% higher ductility than traditional high strength aluminum alloys such as aluminum-lithium. Powdermet has devised a powder metallurgy process allowing the retention of nano-crystallites and ductile phases throughout the powder forging process, resulting in near-net shape, high strength aluminum materials having over 16% elongation to failure strengths, exceeding 350MPa (50KSI). Competing aluminum-lithium high strength alloys have tensile strengths of 50-70ksi at 8-12% elongation, whereas the nanocomposite materials are showing 50-72ksi with 7-16% elongation depending on forging conditions. Powdermet has also shown nanocomposite aluminum alloys with up to 200ksi strengths with 1-2% elongation. Current product development goals are to continue process development to achieve a 100ksi, 8% ductility system that is cost-effective and utilizes no costly strategic or rare-earth alloying additions, and to demonstrate repeatable large cross-section part manufacturing using Powdermet’s unique small footprint 5000-ton press and related equipment in its newly acquired and refurbished multimillion dollar Deformation Processing Center.

Carnival of Space 250

The Carnival of Space 250 is up at Vintage Space

The public emergence of the 100 Year Starship organization prompts thoughts from Paul Gilster at Centauri Dreams.

"Universe Today - With the recent announcement of the asteroid mining company, Planetary Resources, some of the most-asked questions about this enticing but complex endeavor include, what asteroids do we mine? Which are the easiest asteroids to get to? Could it really be profitable? A new website called Asterank, uses available data from multiple scientific sources on asteroid mass and composition to try and compute which asteroids would be the best targets for mining operations. "

New 'metamaterial' practical for optical advances

Researchers have taken a step toward overcoming a key obstacle in commercializing "hyperbolic metamaterials," structures that could bring optical advances including ultrapowerful microscopes, computers and solar cells.

The researchers have shown how to create the metamaterials without the traditional silver or gold previously required, said Alexandra Boltasseva, a Purdue University assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Using the metals is impractical for industry because of high cost and incompatibility with semiconductor manufacturing processes. The metals also do not transmit light efficiently, causing much of it to be lost. The Purdue researchers replaced the metals with an "aluminum-doped zinc oxide," or AZO.

The novel metamaterial can easily be integrated into semiconductor electronics, which could advance sensors, solar collectors, quantum computing and optical cloaks, and could lead to devices that make optical microscopes 10 times more powerful.

PNAS - Demonstration of Al:ZnO as a plasmonic component for near-infrared metamaterials

UCL Resistive RAM Memristor Compared to Flash Memory

This is a follow up on the University College of London work on memristors (Resistive RAM)

A memristor is a device whose resistance depends on its past history - more precisely, it depends on the flux of electric charge through the device. In this sense, a RRAM is a device that shows memristive behaviour, and can be thought of as a specific type of memristor.

Why are RRAMs and memristors of interest?

RRAM devices may help overcome some of the bottlenecks that we are currently facing in microelectronics. As we shrink the size of the transistors that make up semiconductor memories further and further we run into problems of fabrication difficulty, power dissipation and switching speed. RRAM devices can be packed much more densely. fabricated in 3D arrays, and have very low switching energies and fast switching speeds.

In addition, devices whose state depends on their past history behave in some ways similarly to neurons - RRAMs and memristors can thus be used to fabricate very high density neural networks.

What is the UCL Resistive RAM?

We have developed, and filed a patent on, a RRAM device based wholly on the Si/SiO2 system. Unlike competing technologies, it does not rely on the diffusion of metal ions, can be fabricated only from n- and p- type silicon and silicon oxide, and operates in ambient conditions. Resistance contrast is up to 5 orders of magnitude, switching time 90ns or shorter, and switching energy is 1pJ/bit or lower. Scanning Tunneling Microscopy suggests that the individual switching elements may be as small as 10nm

How does the UCL RRAM compare to existing technologies?

The UCL RRAM devices switch 100 times faster than Flash memory, but need to be made in an area that is 1 million to 8 million times smaller.

Rossi Energy Catalyzer, Defkalion and other LENR Updates

Ecat World reports that the most recent issue of the American Chemical Society’s Chemical and Engineering News magazine includes an article entitled, “Reviving Cold Fusion.” written by Steven K. Ritter. The brief summary reads, “After 20-plus years of outcast status, unconventional heat-producing nuclear reactions still seem plausible”.

The article is really a review of the history and current state of LENR, much of its content is what people following recent developments in LENR research already know. Ritter contacted a number of people involved in the field, including Dennis Bushnell of NASA, Robert Duncan of the University of Missouri, Steven B. Krivit of New Energy Times, and Andrea Rossi. Quite a bit of the article is devoted to describing Rossi’s E-Cat, and emphasizes that as yet it is unproven.

Bushnell maintains that, “From more than two decades of experiments producing heat and transmutations, ‘something’ is real and happening.”

Krivit says of the E-Cat, ““Rossi has no credible evidence for his extraordinary claims, I have stopped paying attention to him.”

Duncan states, ” “I don’t need to have an opinion about the E-Cat. Nobody does. Rossi is claiming to be going commercial with it. If he does deliver to the marketplace, then the marketplace will decide the efficacy of the technology.

PESN has an update on the LENR to Market for May 17. has the main Rossi ecat update

ECAT Licensees to be revealed October, 2012

Leonardo Corp have a number of Licensees for its products for various regions around the world including its northern Europe Licensee Hydro Fusion Ltd, which also attended the E-Cat 1MW October test. All E-Cat Licensees have attended demos of operating E-Cat units.

A convention will be held for all E-Cat Licensees and is set for October. An official list of all licensees will then be published online at

ECAT 1 MW Updates

One ECAT 1 MW plant has been delivered and is working in a military facility. Andrea Rossi recently made the following statement:

“The 1 MW plant has been delivered and is working in a military concern. It has been made in the USA, after the October test of the prototype made in Italy; such prototype will be delivered, with the modifications which we will complete based on what we learnt from the model at work, to a European Customer in July. ”

The ECAT 1 MW plant in USA is now stable at very high temperatures.
The industrial plants will get the necessary certification within weeks.
The price for an E-Cat 1 MW plant is still $1.5M; orders can be made from the inquiry form on the right side at this website.

Home ECAT-units will not be available until 2012-2013 due to rigid testing, certification and regulation procedures.

Rossi has stated that the ecat (Energy Catalyzer) works at 600 degrees celsius which is a high enough temperature to power generation of electricity

Google Chrome is the World's Top Browser - leverages speed and HTML advantages

Google Chrome is the top browser in the world according to Stat Counter

ZD NEt - Google’s Chrome appears to be the most used browser as it passed Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, according to StatCounter. The larger question about the browser war revolves around whether there is a platform benefit to being top dog.

StatCounter’s stats are based on a sample of 15 billion page views in the company’s network. StatCounter’s browser usage data is notable, but I’d like to see a few others call the Chrome win before accepting the stats as gospel.

Venture Beat - A month after Google introduced its multi-browser tab opening functionality for Chrome Beta, the new feature already set to make its debut in the stable release of the browser.

The new feature lets you manage open tabs across different computers and mobile devices running Android OS 4.0 and higher.

Tab sharing works by connecting all the open tabs in Chrome on several different computers. So long as you’re signed into Google via Chrome on each computer, a new menu — aptly named “Other devices” – lets you view all the tabs open on every install of the browser across multiple platforms.

Symposium on Telerobotics for Space

Here is a NASA site for a recent Symposium on Telerobotics for Space

Top Three Fallacies of Telerobotics from Dave Akin (University of Maryland Space Systems Lab)

* Cylon Fallacy – Humans are the competition!
The best way to maximize accomplishments in space is a collaboration of humans and robots at the work site

* Highlander Fallacy – There can be only one!
Like all ecosystems, a robust robotic ecosystem is highly diverse - one size does not fit all

* Yeager Fallacy – Time delay is an insurmountable barrier!
Time delay mitigation has been studied for half a century, and excellent mitigation strategies are known for 6-10 seconds of latency (at least)

David Akin presentation from a 2010 NASA Workshop

HERRO Missions to Mars and Venus using Telerobotic Surface Exploration from Orbit (12 pages)

Telerobotics lets one orbital manned mission to Mars match several manned missions to the surface by leveraging real time telerobotics.

Plasmonics Used to Create an Invisible Photodetector

A team of engineers at Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania has for the first time used “plasmonic cloaking” to create a device that can see without being seen – an invisible machine that detects light. It is the first example of what the researchers describe as a new class of devices that controls the flow of light at the nanoscale to produce both optical and electronic functions.

At the heart of the device are silicon nanowires covered by a thin cap of gold. By adjusting the ratio of metal to silicon – a technique the engineers refer to as tuning the geometries – they capitalize on favorable nanoscale physics in which the reflected light from the two materials cancel each other to make the device invisible.

An image showing light scattering from a silicon nanowire running diagonally from bottom left to top right. The brighter areas are bare silicon while the dimmer sections are coated with gold demonstrating how plasmonic cloaking reduces light scattering in the gold-coated sections. Photo: Stanford Nanocharacterization Lab.

Nature Photonics - An invisible metal–semiconductor photodetector

Production of low-defect single-walled carbon nanotubes in large quantities at the Fraunhofer IWS

Researchers at the Fraunhofer IWS Dresden inexpensively produce single-walled carbon nanotubes for industrial applications using a process that is worldwide unique.

Fraunhofer IWS Dresden has developed a process suitable especially for the mass production of single-walled carbon nanotubes. The single-walled carbon nanotubes are produced inside a reactor during a pulsed arc evaporation of carbon.

The diameters of the produced carbon nanotubes are between 1.0 and 1.6 nm. This corresponds to about 1 / 10 000 of the human hair. After the production the tube length lies in the range of several micrometers. Carbon nanotubes then show a metallic conductivity or semiconductivity depending on their diameter. The proportion of semiconducting to metallic conducting carbon nanotubes is in general between two thirds and one third. This proportion, however, can be specifically varied with the process developed at the Fraunhofer IWS and is yet another characteristic feature of the process. Moreover, the carbon nanotubes have a very low defect density. So there are hardly any defects with the hexagonal arrangement of the atoms.

The Fraunhofer IWS is currently one of the few institutes worldwide which is able to produce the single-walled carbon nanotubes on a kg-scale. The process seems to be very promising for the industrial mass production. It allows for the development of attractive applications based on the excellent electrical, thermal and mechanical properties of the single-walled carbon tubes.

SWCNT synthesis based on pulsed arc process

SWCNT synthesis is possible via physical vapor deposition (PVD) processes. In contrast to the commonly used continuous arc process, IWS engineers use a unique pulsed arc process. A pilot line was set up, which includes numerous in-house developments.

The manufacturing process is continuous and shows the greatest potential for SWCNT mass production compared to alternative approaches (PVD: continuous arc process, laser ablation and chemical vapor deposition (CVD): thermal CVD, high pressure carbon monoxide (HiPCO)-process).

Principle design of the IWS SWCNT manufacturing line based on pulsed arc technology. Right: synthesis reactor with anode and cathode, left: second part of the reactor for functionalization processes.