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August 10, 2012

"Theranostic' Imaging Offers Means of Killing Prostate Cancer Cells Without Harming Other Healthy Cells

Johns Hopkins University - Experimenting with human prostate cancer cells and mice, cancer imaging experts at Johns Hopkins say they have developed a method for finding and killing malignant cells while sparing healthy ones.

The method, called theranostic imaging, targets and tracks potent drug therapies directly and only to cancer cells. It relies on binding an originally inactive form of drug chemotherapy, with an enzyme, to specific proteins on tumor cell surfaces and detecting the drug’s absorption into the tumor. The binding of the highly specific drug-protein complex, or nanoplex, to the cell surface allows it to get inside the cancerous cell, where the enzyme slowly activates the tumor-killing drug.

This is the first work to show that chemotherapies can be precisely controlled at the molecular level to maximize their effectiveness against tumors, while also minimizing their side effects.



ACS Nano - PSMA-Targeted Theranostic Nanoplex for Prostate Cancer Therapy

Soft autonomous robot inches along like an earthworm

Researchers at MIT, Harvard University and Seoul National University have engineered a soft autonomous robot that moves via peristalsis, crawling across surfaces by contracting segments of its body, much like an earthworm. The robot, made almost entirely of soft materials, is remarkably resilient: Even when stepped upon or bludgeoned with a hammer, the robot is able to inch away, unscathed. This is another DARPA supported project.

The robot is named “Meshworm” for the flexible, meshlike tube that makes up its body. Researchers created “artificial muscle” from wire made of nickel and titanium — a shape-memory alloy that stretches and contracts with heat. They wound the wire around the tube, creating segments along its length, much like the segments of an earthworm. They then applied a small current to the segments of wire, squeezing the mesh tube and propelling the robot forward.


EU nanostructured metamaterials

EU report on nanostructured metamaterials (76 pages). Four projects have results which could be used by other groups (technology partnership and collaboration)

1. MAGNONICS aims to realise, on one hand, new nanotechnologies and, on the other hand, a new class of metamaterials, i.e., magnonic metamaterials, and thereby to prove the concept of magnonics. In other words, the consortium aims to explore metamaterials that can be viewed as obtained by integration of magnetic materials into conventional metamaterial structures and by a full exploitation of scientific and technological opportunities resulting from the tailored magnonic band spectrum.

This project produces exploitable intellectual property concerning:
* Top-down and bottom-up nanotechnologies for fabrication of periodic magnetic nanostructures.

* Advanced experimental and theoretical techniques for characterisation of magnonic and electromagnetic properties of magnonic metamaterials.

* Functional nanomaterials for and concepts of non-volatile logic architectures and devices for microwave signal processing.



Photovoltaics from Any Semiconductor

Berkeley Labs - A technology that would enable low-cost, high efficiency solar cells to be made from virtually any semiconductor material has been developed by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley. This technology opens the door to the use of plentiful, relatively inexpensive semiconductors, such as the promising metal oxides, sulfides and phosphides, that have been considered unsuitable for solar cells because it is so difficult to tailor their properties by chemical means.

What’s next? “This research opens up scores of new semiconductors (many metal oxides, sulfides, and phosphides) for practical photovoltaic applications, so we are currently identifying the ones with the greatest potential for low-cost, high-efficiency solar cells,” says Will Regan the lead author


Extremetech - In theory, you can dope any semiconductor — but cheaper, more-readily-available semiconductors, such as copper oxide, don’t retain dopants very well, eventually leading to the breakdown of the p-n junctions. Silicon holds dopants very well, but it isn’t cheap.

To get around this problem, the Californian researchers have developed a new type of solar cell called screening-engineered field-effect photovoltaics, or SFPV for short. Instead of physical doping, SFPVs use a minute electric field to achieve the same doping effect. While this electric field is present, the p-n junction remains and the photovoltaic cell continues to produce a lot of electricity. The energy required to produce this electric field is apparently a lot less than the energy produced by the photovoltaic effect.

Nanoletters - Screening-Engineered Field-Effect Solar Cells

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 117

1. ANS Nuclear Cafe - Converting heat into electricity without moving parts.

Rod Adams has been fascinated by nuclear batteries -- also known as radioisotope thermal generators or RTGs -- since he first saw a plutonium-238 pacemaker battery in a museum exhibit. On the occasion of the successful landing of the Mars rover Curiosity, powered by a Plutonium-238 RTG, he notes the technology remains virtually unknown outside of a few high profile space missions. This is the case in spite of a myriad of potential applications in which a small amount of long-lived, reliable power would be very valuable -- including a thought-provoking potential application in nuclear power stations.

Also a very interesting and informative comment thread.




Technical Details of the Shweeb human powered monorail

Shweeb is an innovative integration of two existing technologies - the monorail and the recumbent bicycle.

With the use of new technologies, interest in the next generation of small scale monorails (Personal Rapid Transport - PRT) has begun to resurge with the construction of a new, driverless system to replace bus transport at Heathrow Airport.

Recumbent cycles have made great advances in the last decade primarily due to improved comfort, greater efficiency, higher speeds and no carbon emissions. However, the low aerodynamic profile does create significant issues as they are too low to be clearly visible by other road users, their riders have poor visibility, and a modest side wind will destabilise and topple an velomobile. These issues have severely inhibited the adoption of HPVs in urban environments.

Google (project 10 to the 100) allocated $1 million to fund research and development to test Shweeb’s technology for an urban setting.


Fully roll-to-roll gravure printed rectenna on plastic foils

IOP Science - Wireless power transmission to inexpensive and disposable smart electronic devices is one of the key issues for the realization of a ubiquitous society where sensor networks such as RFID tags, price tags, smart logos, signage and sensors could be fully interconnected and utilized by DC power of less than 0.3 W. This DC power can be provided by inductively coupled AC from a 13.56 MHz power transmitter through a rectenna, consisting of an antenna, a diode and a capacitor, which would be cheap to integrate with inexpensive smart electronic devices. To integrate the rectenna with a minimum cost, a roll-to-roll (R2R) gravure printing process has been considered to print the rectenna on plastic foils. In this paper, R2R gravure printing systems including printing condition and four different nanoparticle based inks will be reported to print the rectenna (antenna, diode and capacitor) on plastic foils at a printing speed of 8 meter per minute and more than 90% device yield for a wireless power transmission of 0.3 W using a standard 13.56 MHz power transmitter.

This will enable wireless power for less than a penny per device.

Technology Review - it’s a type of near-field communication (NFC). The team envisions using rectennas not as an element of a digital wallet, but more in the vein of QR codes.


(a) Circuit layout and (b) image of the R2R gravure printed rectenna on PET foil with descriptive schemes of each device (printed capacitor, printed diode, printed bottom Ag electrode).

Says study co-author Gyojin Cho: “Our advantage over current technology is lower cost, since we can produce a roll-to-roll printing process with high throughput in an environmentally friendly manner. Furthermore, we can integrate many extra functions without huge extra cost in the printing process. The application of NFC technology with the smartphone will be limitless in the near future. The medical, automotive, military and aerospace industries will benefit greatly.”


Medvedev Expresses concern about Chinese migrants to Siberia

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday issued a veiled warning about China's rising influence in Russia's resource-rich Far East, saying it was essential to defend the area against "excessive expansion by bordering states".

Speaking days after Russia's first deputy defense minister said two new nuclear submarines would be sent to the Pacific Fleet, Medvedev also said it was "important not to allow negative manifestations ... including the formation of enclaves made up of foreign citizens."

His comments, some of the strongest on the subject yet, underlined the Kremlin's suspicions that a steady influx of Chinese migrants may ultimately pose a threat to Russian hegemony in the remote and sparsely populated territories of Siberia and the Far East.

According to the Joint Operating Environment 2010 (JOE) report issued March 15, 2010 by U.S. Joint Forces Command, there were between 480,000 and 1 million ethnic Chinese in western Siberia, roughly 6 percent to 12 percent of the population. There are 34 million people in all of Siberia.

But Vassily Kashin, a researcher with the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said the Chinese migration issue is “overblown” and that current Russian “estimates put the number of Chinese migrants to Russia at about half a million for the whole country” — not just the region.



Korea develops flexible solid state battery which will enable bendable displays and all flexible electronics

Eurekalert - The team of Professor Keon Jae Lee from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, KAIST has developed a high performance flexible all-solid-state battery, an essential energy source for flexible displays.

The technological advance of thin and light flexible display has encouraged the development of flexible batteries with a high power density and thermal stability. Although rechargeable lithium-ion batteries (LIB) have been regarded as a strong candidate for a high-performance flexible energy source, compliant electrodes for bendable LIBs are restricted to only a few materials (e.g., organic materials or nano/micro structured inorganic materials mixed with polymer binders). The performance of LIBs has not been sufficient either, thereby difficult to apply to flexible consumer electronics including rollable displays.

In addition, lithium transition metal oxides used as a cathode electrode have to be treated in high temperature (e.g., ~ 700 degrees for lithium cobalt oxide). However, it is not possible to anneal the metal oxides, an active material, at this high temperature on flexible polymer substrates.

Recently, Professor Lee's research team has developed a high performance flexible LIB structured with high density inorganic thin films by using a universal transfer approach. The thin film LIB fabricated on a mica substrate with high annealing temperature is transferred onto polymer substrates through a simple physical delamination of sacrificial substrates.

Professor Lee said, "The advent of a high performance flexible thin film battery will accelerate the development of next-generation fully flexible electronic systems in combination with existing flexible components such as display, memory, and LED."

The research team is currently investigating a laser lift-off technology to facilitate the mass production of flexible LIBs and 3D stacking structures to enhance charge density of batteries.


Nanoletters - Bendable Inorganic Thin-Film Battery for Fully Flexible Electronic Systems


Nvidia and AMD battle with multi-teraflop GPUs

HPCWire - NVIDIA today launched the second generation of its breakthrough workstation platform, NVIDIA® Maximus™, featuring Kepler™, the fastest, most efficient GPU architecture.

The Maximus platform, introduced in November, gives workstation users the ability to simultaneously perform complex analysis and visualization on a single machine. Now supported by Kepler-based GPUs, Maximus delivers unparalleled performance and efficiency to professionals in fields as varied as manufacturing, visual effects and oil exploration.

Second generation NVIDIA Maximus-powered desktop workstations featuring the new NVIDIA Quadro K5000 ($2,249 MSRP, USD) plus the new NVIDIA Tesla K20 GPU ($3,199 MSRP, USD) will be available starting in December 2012. The NVIDIA Quadro K5000 will be available as a separate discrete desktop GPU starting in October 2012.

The first Quadro workstation graphics card based on the Kepler K10 GPU was shown at the SIGGRAPH trade show. The K5000 card has one Kepler K10 GPU, which has 1,536 CUDA cores and which delivers 2.1 teraflops of single-precision floating point math.

Comprised of 7.1 billion transistors, the Kepler GK110 GPU is an engineering marvel created to address the most daunting challenges in HPC. Hyper-Q is a flexible solution that allows connections for both CUDA streams and Message Passing Interface (MPI) processes, or even threads from within a process. Existing applications that were previously limited by false dependencies can see up to a 32x performance increase without changing any existing code.

Quantum Technologies soon - quantum discord is more robust and easier to use than entanglement

Cordis - Quantum technologies just round the corner? New studies say it's likely!

Until recently scientists thought that quantum entanglement, when particles such as photons and electrons interact physically and then become separated, was required to run a quantum computer. But although entanglement, a phenomenon famously derided by Einstein as 'spooky action at a distance', can be facilitated in the laboratory in near ideal conditions, outside the laboratory the process is fragile and transient, and therefore not ideal.

Now, researchers have realised that entanglement may not always be necessary, and new examples of technologies that can gain a quantum advantage without entanglement have been discovered over the past few years.

A new study, published in the journal Nature Physics, from researchers in Australia, Singapore and the United Kingdom, has focused on a technology called quantum discord. This phenomenon, far more robust and easily accessible than entanglement, can also deliver a quantum advantage: it could be harnessed to bring quantum technologies within easier reach than expected.



By encoding information onto laser light to demonstrate the unlocking of this quantum resource, they showed that it is possible to retrieve more information by using quantum discord than by not accessing the discord.

Another study author, Ping Koy Lam from the Australian National University (ANU), likened their experiment to 'decoding music from a AM/FM radio simulcast that is badly affected by static'.

They found that discord is similar to shared quantum static, and that more 'music' can be extracted from this simulcast with the right quantum tools.

Quantum discord has been shown to be present in many systems, and might previously have been characterised as unwanted noise, making some scientists sceptical about its potential usefulness, but these new findings suggest otherwise. The experiment carried out isn't considered a quantum computation, but it shows that discord has potential that can be unlocked for quantum technologies.

Researchers are now looking for other tasks that could be enhanced by quantum discord. The hope is that discord could prove an easier path to future quantum technologies than entanglement.

Their study 'hints towards the possibility that the requirements on certain quantum technologies could be relaxed'.

August 09, 2012

GM and Envia System claim 400 Wh/kg batteries wil be commercial in 2014 to 2016

Envia is a high energy density leader in the lithium-ion battery space, having developed intellectual property and cell prototypes using Envia cathode, anode and electrolyte. Envia is engaged with automotive OEMs around the world – developing custom cathode material, electrolyte and cell designs for these OEMs automotive applications. As a proof of technical leadership, Envia has also demonstrated the world’s first 400Wh/kg in large format pouch cells.


Business Week - Envia is backed by General Motors. They are working on batteries that could power an electric car 100 or even 200 miles on a single charge in the next two-to-four years, GM's CEO said Thursday.

GM is sure that the battery will be able to take a car 100 miles within a couple of years, he said. It could be double that with some luck, he said.

"I think we've got better than a 50-50 chance," Akerson said, "to develop a car that will go to 200 miles on a charge," he said. "That would be a game changer."

Thorium Fueled Molten Salt Reactor Research in Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics

In January 2011, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) launched a Strategic Priority Research Program named “Advanced Fission Energy Program” to confront two grand challenges in the nuclear energy world – long-term nuclear fuel supply and permanent disposal of spent nuclear fuel. The program consists of two projects, the TMSR (Thorium Molten Salt Reactor) and the ADS. The TMSR project is to utilize the thorium energy via the development of molten salt and molten salt-cooled reactor technologies, in order to secure the long-term nuclear fuel supply by diversifying the sources of the fuel. By around 2035, the TMSR project shall build a 1000MWe molten salt-cooled demonstration reactor and a 100MWe molten salt demonstration reactor (liquid fuel), as well as possess the technologies that pave the road to commercialization of the thorium-fueled nuclear energy systems. The Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics is leading the efforts to build a 2 MW molten salt research reactor in five years. A center dedicated to TMSR research (TMSR Center) has already been established.



DARPA Ultrafast Pulsed Lasers

DARPA is developing ultrafast laser science applications, including microwave generation, optical time-transfer, laser-driven secondary radiation generation and attosecond science.

1. A Navy ship at sea is surrounded by water, with nothing but its carrier group in site, and searches the skies for activity overhead. Isolated radars on each ship in the group scan independently of each other with limited effectiveness. But consider if all of the ships’ radars could be coherently linked to function as one. Such a capability would improve the range and resolution of each radar system, making it possible to identify and characterize objects further away and with greater fidelity.

2. Conventional X-ray machines provide images of bones and organs that help doctors make crucial decisions regarding patient care. They cannot, however, resolve structures at the cellular level. Imagine having access to a table-top x-ray imager that could not only image a single cell, but also the nucleus, ribosomes and other components that make it up; and not only as a flat image, but in 3-D. Such information would be invaluable for testing responses to candidate drugs and discovering new treatments.

These two very different applications are not science fiction and could be enabled by the same basic technology: ultrafast, pulsed lasers operating at optical wavelengths.

Cheap, Pressure-Sensing ‘Electronic Skin’

IEEE Spectrum - scientists at Seoul National University’s Multiscale Biomimetic Systems Laboratory showed off a pressure-sensing membrane that is sensitive enough to feel the fall of water droplets, a human pulse in the wrist, and even the whisper-light tread of a lady-bug walking across the “electronic skin.”

True to its “biomimetic” creed, the group took its cue from the signal transduction systems found in the ear, intestines, and kidney—nanoscopic hairs that interlock and produce signals by rubbing one another when their base membranes dent, ripple, or twist. They also added a self-assembly feature inspired by the locking mechanism on a beetle’s wing.

The device features two sheets of polyurethane acrylate. The sheets, which can be as big as 9 by 13 centimeters, are molded onto dense arrays of minute polymer hairs, each 100 nanometers in diameter and 1000 nm tall. Each of the hairs is coated with a 20 nm layer of platinum and bonded to a basement membrane (polydimethylsiloxane treated to enhance conductivity).


Nature Materials - A flexible and highly sensitive strain-gauge sensor using reversible interlocking of nanofibres

Climate Change questions do not need to be conclusively answered to determine global actions for the next 30 years

The following questions do not need to be answered to determine energy and transportation policies for the next thirty years.

Is the world warming ?
How much might the world be warming ?
Is there climate change ?
Is human created carbon dioxide the primary impactor on the climate ?

The reason they do not need to be answered.
Adverse impacts of Air pollution are sufficiently bad (killing millions) and putting more people in the hospital and increasing medical costs that the actions which would be taken in the case that there was global warming are the same.

We should do the same things even if global warming is not real.

Do not try to force purity of thought as a starting point, when there can be agreement on actions for different reasons. (economic reasons, other health or business reasons etc...) Have a bigger tent for those who would be willing to support actions.

We would do it to save many lives that are lost to pollution.
We would do it to improve the finances of national and regional governments by lowering health costs.
We would do it for improved quality of life.
We would do it for stronger economies.
China and Russia will be pushing ahead with advancing nuclear fission technology so the western nations can follow later if they want.

UN recommended actions against soot and methane would save 2.5 million lives each year when fully implemented.



Graphene coating makes carbon nanotube aerogels superelastic and resistant to fatigue

Nature Nanotechnology - Graphene coating makes carbon nanotube aerogels superelastic and resistant to fatigue

Lightweight materials that are both highly compressible and resilient under large cyclic strains can be used in a variety of applications. Carbon nanotubes offer a combination of elasticity, mechanical resilience and low density, and these properties have been exploited in nanotube-based foams and aerogels. However, all nanotube-based foams and aerogels developed so far undergo structural collapse or significant plastic deformation with a reduction in compressive strength when they are subjected to cyclic strain. Here, we show that an inelastic aerogel made of single-walled carbon nanotubes can be transformed into a superelastic material by coating it with between one and five layers of graphene nanoplates. The graphene-coated aerogel exhibits no change in mechanical properties after more than 1 million compressive cycles, and its original shape can be recovered quickly after compression release. Moreover, the coating does not affect the structural integrity of the nanotubes or the compressibility and porosity of the nanotube network. The coating also increases Young's modulus and energy storage modulus by a factor of ~6, and the loss modulus by a factor of ~3. We attribute the superelasticity and complete fatigue resistance to the graphene coating strengthening the existing crosslinking points or ‘nodes’ in the aerogel.



Mechanical properties of graphene-coated aerogels. a, Macroscopic visualization, showing that nanotube aerogels collapse and graphene-coated aerogels recover their original shape after compression by over 90%. b, s versus 1 curves for nanotube aerogels along the loading direction and for graphene-coated aerogels during loading–unloading cycles. The hysteresis increases at larger 1 for the graphene-coated aerogels. Insets: photographs of aerogels after graphene coating at 1 ¼ 0% (left) and 60% (right). c,d, Fatigue resistance of graphene-coated nanotube aerogel at 60% strain, 1Hz, for the 1st and 2,000th cycles (c) and at 2% strain, 100 Hz, for the 1st and 106th cycles (d).

Full 5 page paper

New Metamaterials Device Focuses Sound Waves Like a Camera Lens

A team of Penn State researchers has designed and computationally tested a type of humanmade metamaterial capable for the first time of manipulating a variety of acoustic waves with one simple device. This invention will benefit almost all current sonic and ultrasonic applications, such as ultrasonic nondestructive evaluations and ultrasonic imaging. The device should also provide more accurate and efficient high-intensity focused ultrasound(HIFU) therapies, a non-invasive heat-based technique targeted at a variety of cancers and neurological disorders.

Their version of a sound focusing devices would be smaller and more energy efficient.



The acoustic beam aperture modifier can effectively shrink or expand the aperture of an acoustic beam with minimum energy loss and waveform distortion. With such an acoustic lens, the need for a series of expensive transducers of different sizes is eliminated. (Credit: Sz-Chin Steven Lin, Penn State)

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics Raising Another Investment Round

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, Inc. (LPP) is a research and development corporation whose primary goal is the scientific demonstration and commercialization of a compact nuclear fusion generator that will provide cheap, clean, safe and abundant energy for the world.

The LPP approach uses a device called a dense plasma focus (DPF) to burn aneutronic fusion fuels that make no radioactive waste, a combination LPP calls “Focus Fusion.” LPP has taken major strides towards their goal. On March 23rd, 2012, they published in the peer-reviewed journal Physics of Plasmas a record- breaking report on their confinement of plasma with energies equivalent to 1.8 billion degrees C in their Focus Fusion-1 (FF-1) machine. They collaborate with plasma focus researchers around the world, including Iran’s Plasma Physics Research Center, Kansas State University, and the University of Utah, while the intellectual property of Focus Fusion is protected by our US Patent #7,482,607, “Method and apparatus for producing X-rays, ion beams and nuclear fusion energy,” with international patents filed.

Net fusion energy is like a tripod, and needs three conditions to stand (or in the LPP case, get more energy out than is lost). Despite FF-1’s low cost of less than $1M, the results LPP published showed FF-1 has achieved two out of three conditions—temperature and confinement time—needed for net fusion energy. If they were able to achieve the third net fusion energy condition, density, they could be within four years of beginning mass manufacture of 5 Megawatt electric Focus Fusion generators that would scale to meet all global energy demands at a projected cost 10 times less than coal. While we still must demonstrate full scientific feasibility, FF-1 already achieves well over 100 billion fusion reactions in a few microseconds.



DNA can shape gold nanoparticle growth

DNA holds the genetic code for all sorts of biological molecules and traits. But University of Illinois researchers have found that DNA’s code can similarly shape metallic structures. The team found that DNA segments can direct the shape of gold nanoparticles – tiny gold crystals that have many applications in medicine, electronics and catalysis.

“DNA-encoded nanoparticle synthesis can provide us a facile but novel way to produce nanoparticles with predictable shape and properties,” Lu said. “Such a discovery has potential impacts in bio-nanotechnology and applications in our everyday lives such as catalysis, sensing, imaging and medicine.”

Gold nanoparticles have wide applications in both biology and materials science thanks to their unique physicochemical properties. Properties of a gold nanoparticle are largely determined by its shape and size, so it is critical to be able to tailor the properties of a nanoparticle for a specific application.

Angewandte Chemie - Discovery of the DNA “Genetic Code” for Abiological Gold Nanoparticle Morphologies

August 08, 2012

Richard Muller is a fake climate convert

Here is translation from the German Der Spiegel

It was a media trick: "Call me a skeptic converted," the climate scientist Richard Muller writes in a much publicized article in the "New York Times". Numerous articles have cited the New York Times article around the world. The alleged conversion of the scientist offered an easily digestible argument instead of numbers-heavy psychological studies - the text lent itself seems to bring the complex subject of climate change on the point.

Muller says in his essay that he was convinced by new data to give up his position as a skeptic on climate change: Contrary to his previous view, he was now convinced that carbon dioxide from flue gases would have caused mainly global warming.

But the trick turns out on closer inspection to be a deception: If Muller is by no means a former climate skeptics, who had just changed his mind. In 2003 he wrote in "MIT Technology Review" , he believed that "carbon dioxide from flue gases of fossil energy sources, the greatest pollution in the human history." It is likely that CO2 "serious and damaging effects on the global climate" will have.



Nextbigfuture had cited the Muller NY Times article.

It is interesting that the climate scientists have to fudge and exaggerate data and also exaggerate about being "converted" skeptics.

US Battery Maker A123 will get up to $450 million Wanxiang Group Corporation for up to 80% of the shares

A123 Systems, a developer and manufacturer of advanced lithium-iron phosphate batteries and systems, signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Wanxiang Group Corporation establishing the framework for a strategic investment through which Wanxiang would invest up to $450 million in A123.

A123 announced the Wanxiang deal along with its financial results for the second quarter ended 30 June 2012 in which the company reported a net loss of $82.9 million (a 50% increase in loss compared to a net loss of $55.4 in 2Q 2011) on total 2Q 2012 revenue of $17.0 million (a decrease of 53% from $36.4 million in the second quarter of 2011).

Wanxiang is China’s largest automotive components manufacturer and one of China’s largest non-government-owned companies.

A123 systems received US$249 million in grant from the Department of Energy for building battery production facility. As of June 2012, $129M of the grant has been used to build the 550 MWh Livonia plant and the Romulus plant. Remaining untapped $120M grant's expiry date has been extended from end of 2012 to end of 2014

Nanodisk Magnetic Vortices are asymmetric

The phenomenon in ferromagnetic nanodisks of magnetic vortices – hurricanes of magnetism only a few atoms across – has generated intense interest in the high-tech community because of the potential application of these vortices in non-volatile Random Access Memory (RAM) data storage systems. New findings from scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) indicate that the road to magnetic vortex RAM might be more difficult to navigate than previously supposed, but there might be unexpected rewards as well.

In an experiment made possible by the unique X-ray beams at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS), a team of researchers led by Peter Fischer and Mi-Young Im of the Center for X-Ray Optics (CXRO), in collaboration with scientists in Japan, discovered that contrary to what was previously believed, the formation of magnetic vortices in ferromagnetic nanodisks is an asymmetric phenomenon. It is possible that this breaking of symmetry would lead to failure in a data storage device during its initialization process.

“Our experimental demonstration that the vortex state in a single magnetic nanodisk experiences symmetry breaking during formation means that for data storage purposes, there would probably need to be a lengthy verification process to correct for errors,” Im says. “On the plus side, non-symmetric behavior creates a biasing effect that could be applied to a sensor or a logic device.”


MTXM images of in-plane (a) and out-of-plane (b) magnetic components in an array of permalloy nanodisks. In-plane magnetic rotation is shown by white arrow (a). Core polarization is marked by black (up) and white (down) spots. Image (c) shows the complete vortex configuration of each nanodisk in the array. (Images courtesy of Im and Fischer)

Journal Nature Communications - Symmetry breaking in the formation of magnetic vortex states in a permalloy nanodisk.

Human Brain Project Awaiting February 2013 EU decision on 1 billion euro funding

The Blue Brain Project (BBP) and the Human Brain Project (HBP) are unique projects that overlap in some clear ways. This is not to say that the HBP will be a mere extension of the BBP but rather that the proposed HBP will be a large-scale project offering a solid opportunity to coordinate the work of around 150 international scientific groups (of which BBP will be just one) towards a unifying goal.

What is the HBP?

The HBP is a European Future and Emerging Technologies (FET) Flagship candidate, which means that it is one of six pilot projects that were launched to ‘compete’ to become full-scale FET Flagship initiatives.

Siemens Fibersim reduced Spacex time needed to design and manufacture composite parts by over 70 percent

SpaceX decided to enhance the performance of its Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule was by adopting advanced composite materials. Once that decision was made, SpaceX conducted an evaluation of available composites engineering solutions and decided that Siemens PLM Software’s Fibersim™ software was the best fit for its design and manufacturing environment. “Based on our comparison, there was no question that Fibersim was definitely the best choice on the market for designing and manufacturing composite components to suit our needs,” says Kirk Matthes, SpaceX’s design manager.

Fibersim is now being employed from the outset on all new composites projects and has enabled SpaceX to reduce the design-to-manufacturing time on composite parts, such as the 5-meter fairing boat tail panel, by 71 percent (from seven days to two days). For other designs, the generation of manufacturing data was reduced by 86 percent (from seven days to one day) with Fibersim. These dramatic time savings mean that changes are processed more quickly, designs are updated more reliably and the overall process flows more smoothly.

Low-Power Chips to Model a Billion Neurons

IEEE Spectrum - A miniature, massively parallel computer, powered by a million ARM processors, could produce the best brain simulations yet.

The average human brain packs a hundred billion or so neurons—connected by a quadrillion (10^15) constantly changing synapses—into a space the size of a cantaloupe. It consumes a paltry 20 watts, much less than a typical incandescent lightbulb. But simulating this mess of wetware with traditional digital circuits would require a supercomputer that’s a good 1000 times as powerful as the best ones we have available today. And we’d need the output of an entire nuclear power plant to run it.

SpiNNaker, for Spiking Neural Network Architecture, is a machine that will look a lot like a conventional parallel computer, but it boasts some significant changes to the way chips communicate. We expect it will let us model brain activity with speeds matching those of biological systems but with all the flexibility of a supercomputer.

Over the next year and half, we will create SpiNNaker by connecting more than a million ARM processors, the same kind of basic, energy-efficient chips that ship in most of today’s mobile phones. When it’s finished, SpiNNaker will be able to simulate the behavior of 1 billion neurons. That’s just 1 percent as many as are in a human brain but more than 10 times as many as are in the brain of one of neuroscience’s most popular test subjects, the mouse. With any luck, the machine will help show how our brains do all the incredible things that they do, providing insights into brain diseases and ideas for how to treat them. It should also accelerate progress toward a promising new way of computing.


Stacked Deck: SpiNNaker’s machine architecture is divided into three fundamental layers. Each chip contains 18 cores that act like neurons, sending and receiving signals. All information on the connections’ delays and strengths is stored in a layer of synchronous dynamic RAM (SDRAM) on each chip, and all signals pass through a separate router layer.

Android Smartphones Outshipped Apple iPhones by 4 times and China will soon double the US in number of smartphones shipped

1. IDC - Android and iOS powered 85% of all smartphones shipped in the second quarter of 2012 (2Q12), establishing a new combined high for the mobile operating systems from Google and Apple. Meanwhile, BlackBerry and Symbian, two pioneers and former leaders of the smartphone market, both saw their market shares fall below five percent.

Android smartphones outshipped Apple iPhone by 4 to 1.

Android's success in the market can be traced directly to Samsung, which accounted for 44.0% of all Android smartphones shipped in 2Q12 and totaled more than the next seven Android vendors' volumes combined. Meanwhile, the next seven vendors were a mix of companies re-establishing their strategies or growing volumes within key markets. Also not to be overlooked was the growing relevance of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with the release of numerous models worldwide.



2. Canalys - China had 27% of the global smartphone shipments.

Canalys published its final Q2 2012 country-level shipment estimates to clients yesterday. Results show that China saw phenomenal growth of 199% year-on-year and 32% over the previous quarter. In total, more than 42 million smart phones were shipped into the channel in China in Q2 2012, representing the second consecutive quarter of record breaking volumes in a single country market. China accounted for 27% of the 158 million global smart phone shipments, compared to 16% for the United States.

EU Mycopter project to develop a personal air transportation system

The myCopter project aims to pave the way for PAVs to be used by the general public within the context of a personal air transport system (PATS)

PAVs will be designed and implemented on unmanned aerial vehicles, motion simulators, and a manned helicopter. In addition, an investigation into the human capability of flying a PAV will be conducted, resulting in a user-centred design of a suitable human-machine interface (HMI). Furthermore, the project will introduce new automation technologies for obstacle avoidance, path planning and formation flying, which also have excellent potential for other aerospace applications. This project is a unique integration of technological advancements and social investigations that are necessary to move public transportation into the third dimension.

The myCopterproject will investigate
* User-centered design of human-machine interface for PAVs
* Novel training techniques for the inexperienced 3D driver (PAV pilots)
* New technologies for vehicle automation and control
* Social and technological impact of a PATS




Tyrannos Personal Aerial Vehicle for Civilians

Economist - Trek Aerospace is adapting a “personal aerial vehicle” concept originally developed for DARPA (DARPA TX Transformer Program.), the research-funding agency of America's Department of Defence, to create a civilian vehicle. This two-seater, the Tyrannos, has ducted propellers powered by petrol engines, with a battery backup. Although it has been possible to make such vehicles for decades, they are notoriously difficult to fly. “It's just basic physics,” says Mr Bulaga. “Any vehicle that takes off and lands vertically is unstable.” To make it practical, computers are needed to make the constant tweaks required to achieve stable flight. Without them, even just hovering is like trying to stand on a beachball, he says.



Logi Aerospace worked with Trek Aerospace on the DARPA version of the Tyrannos (3 pages).

The employees of logi AeroSpace have been working with Trek Aerospace on manned roadable air vehicles for over a decade and have enlisted ZAP and SWRI to help them refine a four person version for DARPA and the Marines.

Hover Bike Prototypes available for purchase now and Commercially Soon

Chris Malloy is installing a new computerised control system on his Hoverbike, an aircraft which is ridden like a motorbike but has ducted fans at the front and back instead of wheels. “Originally I wanted the roll to be controlled by the rider shifting their body weight, like a motorbike,” he says, but he has had to revise this design. So far both Trek Aerospace and Mr Malloy have only carried out tethered flight tests, but they believe they can have their vehicles in production within a few years.

Prototypes of the hoverbike can be purchased for $80,000 (Australian dollars)

The bike was built over 2 1/2 years by one person in his car garage after work and studies, and building it is only 10% of the way there. Testing testing and testing needs to be done and we need collective help from you!

If you would like to buy a prototype now, and do your own testing, please feel free to contact us to discuss.



The hoverbike was designed with safety as the over-riding factor in all design. If you have ever flown and pre-flight checked a helicopter you will appreciate the simplicity of this design. With so many parts on a helicopter - and a large number of single parts that could alone cause catastrophic disaster if they should fail - it is just a matter of time. The hoverbike has as many components as possible with triple redundancy which requires at least 2 other components to fail before you might have a serious airborne failure. This combined with a massive reduction in total parts (compared to a helicopter) and the hoverbike becomes safer and cheaper.

China Targeting Huge Shale Gas Reserves Amid Challenges

National Geographic - challenges lie ahead in China's effort to replicate the U.S. shale gas revolution. Early indications are that China's shale geology is different. And above ground, China lacks the extensive pipeline network that has enabled the United States to so quickly bring its new natural gas bounty to market. A daunting issue is whether water-intensive energy development can flourish in China given the strains the nation already faces on water and irrigation-dependent agriculture.

There has been new shale gas techniques (propane gel) that does not use water for fracking and other techniques that use a lot less water.

A planned shale gas drilling project in New York state has drawn global attention for its aim to make use of a waterless form of hydraulic fracking – a new technique designed to reduce the pollution associated with controversial natural gas drilling processes. The project (in the Marcellus Shale) is focused on using a technology that pumps a thick gel made from propane into the ground as opposed to using traditional methods of hydraulic fracking that make use of a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals to extract natural gas reserves from deep shale formations. Unlike traditional technologies, the gel from the new liquefied propane gas (LPG) fracking method reverts to vapor while still underground, and as a result returns to the surface in a recoverable form.

Propane/butane gel could very well become the shale 'treatment of choice' in all countries because of its many technical and environmental benefits relative to large volume 'slick' water fracking techniques.

On June 9, state-owned oil giant Sinopec started drilling the first of nine planned shale gas wells in Chongqing, expecting by year's end to produce 11 billion to 18 billion cubic feet (300 to 500 million cubic meters) of natural gas—about the amount China consumes in a single day. It's a small start, but China's ambitions are large; by 2020, the nation's goal is for shale gas to provide 6 percent of its massive energy needs.

The flood of new natural gas onto the U.S. energy market has been a key factor in displacing coal. Coal's share of U.S. electricity production has dropped from almost 50 percent to 34 percent in just three years. Largely as a result of that trend, the United States is on track for its energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2012 to be 11 percent lower than in 2005.


James Cameron has a joint venture with Tianjin North Film Group for 3D film and TV

James Cameron's 3D movie company is launching a joint venture in China to market its 3-D technical wizardry to the country's fast-developing film and television industries.

CAMERON | PACE Group (CPG) is the industry leader in 3D technologies and production services -- from SLATE² SCREEN. Led by co-founders James Cameron and Vince Pace, CPG is advancing the future of 3D through the development of products, solutions and creative tools for use across all media channels. Supporting networks, studios, broadcasters, filmmakers and creative teams globally, the company's unparalleled expertise helps content producers realize the full potential of 3D as a new, immersive and powerful storytelling medium. CPG's easy, efficient and cost-effective 3D solutions have supported productions generating more than $7.5 billion in box office, and have played a key role in 9 concert films, 27 features and more than 140 sports broadcasts worldwide.



The venture with two Chinese partners will supply 3-D filming technology and production services.

They said they are discussing possible collaboration with state broadcaster China Central Television on developing 3-D TV. "This is an enormous untapped market that is right on the verge of the transition from 2-D to 3-D," said Cameron in an interview. "This is the best place for us to create a kind of second home." The Chinese partners are Tianjin North Film Group, a state-owned film and television production company, and Tianjing Binhai Hi-Tech Development Group, which operates a technology park in Tianjin, a port city east of Beijing where the venture will be based.

Los Alamos has created Uranium Nitride which could enable advanced reactor fuel and

For the first time ever, scientists have used light energy to create a rare molecular uranium nitride (U-N) complex containing a discrete terminal U-N unit, where the nitrogen atom is bonded only to the one uranium atom, versus prior work where the nitrogen atom has always been bonded to two or more uranium atoms.

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory used photolysis on a uranium azide–a molecule containing one uranium atom and three nitrogen atoms–exposing it to ultraviolet light and using the energy from a photon to break off nitrogen gas, resulting in a molecule with a single uranium nitride group.

This breakthrough is important because uranium nitride materials show promise as advanced nuclear fuels due to their high density, high stability, and high thermal conductivity–enabling them to run cooler in advanced reactors.

Discovery News - uranium nitride can also break carbon-hydrogen bonds, which are very strong. Unfortunately the new molecule is destroyed when it rips hydrogen atoms off a carbon atom. For uranium nitride to become commercially viable for fossil fuel cars, it would have to knock one hydrogen atom after another and not destroy itself in the process. The scientists would, in other words, have to turn uranium nitride into a catalyst. That should be possible, said Kiplinger, but right now it is not.

August 07, 2012

Consumption is better predictor of Poverty than Income

University of Notre Dame research shows that consumption appears to be a better predictor of deprivation (poverty) than income; in particular, material hardship and other adverse family outcomes are more severe for those with low consumption than for those with low income. Consumption also appears to be more accurately reported than income for the most disadvantaged families.

In the most recent Current Population Survey data (Census bureau) for 2010, only 36 percent of food stamp dollars paid out to families are directly reported in the survey. Another 20 percent of the dollars paid out are imputed to those who did not report receiving food stamps, leaving 44 percent neither reported nor imputed

Journal of Economic Perspectives - Identifying the Disadvantaged: Official Poverty, Consumption Poverty, and the New Supplemental Poverty Measure

The full 26 page paper

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Seems to enable a new level of productivity

Technology Review gives a positive review to the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet

Tablets are predominantly media consumption devices, rather than productivity devices, has been something of a stance of mine on this blog. Increasingly, it’s a stance from which I’m willing to back off somewhat. And with a video like that one, I’m almost sold.

For me, this is the first time I’ve seen a tablet do something I really want, but haven’t quite found elsewhere--that moment where hand-written text is converted into type. I love writing by hand (mostly on paper...but I suppose I could learn a new medium), but the piles of notebooks I’ve accumulated are, to put it mildly, impractical. Which notebook’s from my trip to Paris? And which page did I record that funny anecdote a friend told me? Handwriting simply isn’t searchable--except when it is, and that’s what the Galaxy Note 10.1 promises to do.

Other features I find especially impressive are an apparent ability to run two apps side-by-side in tandem. Also, towards the end of the video, my imagination is piqued by the AllShare Play GroupCast--the power to collaborate across multiple tablets, more or less at the same time.



Ten years from now, video game graphics are going to be indistinguishable from reality

Visual effects company Industrial Light & Magic expects game graphics to become "indistinguishable from reality" within 10 years.

In an interview with CVG, visual effects supervisor Kim Libreri shared his view that it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between live action and rendered footage.

"The way its going, it's gonna be pretty hard to tell the difference between something that is interactive and rendered in real-time, and something that was done for an animated TV show, or even a live action thing," he said.

"Ten years from now, I'm pretty sure, if you extrapolate where we've gone with the console generations and the changes in video and ATI hardware... We're getting to the point right now [with real-time rendered graphics] where we're matching the quality of an animated movie seven or eight years ago, and another ten years from now, it's just going to be indistinguishable from reality."

Without the Pesky Daily Bombing and Ethnic Politics Iraq Oil Production might double by 2015

Iraq has boosted oil production to its highest level in 20 years -- thanks to the foreign companies -- to some 3 million bpd and hopes to double that by 2015. But there are growing doubts it will be able to.

There are good reasons to doubt these projections," observed analyst Ben Val Heuvelen writing in Foreign Policy.

"For one thing the current political crisis has underscored Iraq's failure to build the kind of institutions -- a credible judiciary, non-politicized security forces -- that support a stable, functioning, democratic state.

"Even if Iraq weren't plagued by daily bombings and political dysfunction, it would be hard pressed to achieve what would be the most rapid oil expansion in world history."

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-dominated government wants to boost oil production higher than Saudi Arabian levels to 10 million-12 million barrels per day within the next seven years. That depends on investment of some $150 billion by major international oil companies over the next decade under 20-year production contracts first awarded in 2009.

North Dakota Oil Production Expected to Increase 15000 to 20000 barrels per day every month

1. Platts - North Dakota is the US' No. 2 oil-producing state, having leapfrogged over Alaska in March and California a few months before that. And while North Dakota is not expected to vault ahead of No. 1 Texas anytime soon, the oil and natural gas boom that's currently underway in the Roughrider State is promising to get even bigger in the coming years, according to a key state official.
Lynn Helms, the director of North Dakota's mineral resources department, said on the "Platts Energy Week" television show Sunday that the Bakken Shale formation in the Western part of his state produced about 640,000 barrels of oil per day in May, second only to Texas' 1.7 million b/d. But Helms emphasized that oil production in the Bakken is consistently increasing by 15,000 to 20,000 b/d every month, and that thousands of additional wells will be drilled there in the coming years.

"We're seeing back-to-back 5% increases in production," Helms said. "And we've got 35,000 wells left to drill in this Bakken reserve."

Helms said it will take 16 to 18 more years to fully develop the Bakken Shale formation.

Celani demonstrates excess power at a conference

1. New Energy Times covers the Celani demonstration of excess heat at Austin conference.

For this demonstration, Celani loaded the nickel wire for three days in Rome before bringing it to Texas. Because he and Letts could not bring cylinders of pressurized gas into the convention center, they took the wire that had been pre-loaded in Rome and loaded it a little more in Letts’ lab on Sunday night.

“We tested it, saw that it produced excess heat, shut it off and went home at midnight,” Letts said. “On Monday morning, we came back to my lab, disassembled it, brought the reactor into the convention center and reassembled it there.

“As soon as we applied the electrical power to the internal nichrome-wire heater (48 Watts DC), we began to see excess heat. There was no incubation period. Celani has eight thermocouples in the reactor, and he measured between 58 and 68 Watts heat output. So, conservatively, it produced an average of 10 Watts of excess heat continuously from the time we started, at 1 p.m., until we left, at 7 p.m. – for six hours.”

National Instruments, a major U.S. company that produces tools for engineers and scientists, sponsored a demonstration of a nickel-hydrogen gas low-energy nuclear reaction reactor on Monday at its annual NI Week trade show at the Austin Convention Center in Texas. National Instruments is also sponsoring talks there on LENR research.

Summarizing a cornucopian case for oil

Someone on reddit asked if there was a cornucopian counterpart to the www.oildrum.com

About 20% (2400 out of 11,300 articles) of this site are focused on energy with a more cornucopian view. I have also had articles published at theoildrum.

Here is a sample of articles from this site that form what the Oildrum would consider a cornucopian case for oil. I am more positive about nuclear energy (deep burn nuclear, uprating and then nuclear fusion as well as space based solar.) However, the next couole

1. Using halophytes to grow fuel. Dr. Bilial Bomani, the head of NASA's greenlab research facility

Sample of articles tagged oil

Fear of Radiation (unnecessarily hasty evacuation and other measures) has killed 761 and radiation has killed none from Fukushima and there is shortage of counselling to deal with the continuing fear problems

Economist - according to health experts, fear of radiation may be more harmful than the radiation itself. This is an issue of deep controversy. Many anti-nuclear accidents argue that there are not enough studies of low-level radiation to judge the risks accurately. But Shunichi Yamashita, son of a hibakusha, or atomic-bomb survivor, and vice-president of Fukushima Medical University, is adamant. Recently returned from a trip to Chernobyl, he insists the fallout in Fukushima is far less severe than the Soviet Union’s nuclear accident of 1986, despite having reached the same technical status (Level 7) because a majority of the radioisotopes were blown out to sea. Also the government quickly stopped consumption of contaminated food and milk, which reduced the potential of thyroid problems, such as those suffered by children around Chernobyl.

Several studies bear out his views. A fortnight after the disaster, the authorities screened the thyroids of 1,149 children exposed to radiation and found that the maximum equivalent thyroid dose was 35 millisieverts (mSv). This is much less than at Chernobyl. Researchers from Japan’s Hirosaki University followed up the study a few weeks later. Their findings, published recently, showed iodine-131 active in the thyroids of 46 out of 62 evacuees. The average dose was about 3.5mSv in adults and the equivalent of 4.2mSv in children—which is better than 100 times less than the average for Chernobyl evacuees, 490mSv.

Some claim the MRAP did not save more lives than Medium Armored Vehicles

Foreign Affairs - Last summer, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that the Pentagon's Joint Program Office for Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles (JPO-MRAP), a $45 billion program to design, manufacture, and deploy 27,000 heavily protected vehicles into Iraq and Afghanistan, had saved "thousands and thousands of lives." The Joint Program Office drilled down a more specific figure: MRAPs, as they're known in military jargon, saved the lives of 40,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. In other words, without MRAPs, the number of combat deaths from those wars would be comparable to the number killed in Korea or Vietnam.

US News - Two academics compared fatality rates among units that saw similar levels and combat, some got MRAPs while others kept their lighter vehicles.

"However, tactical wheeled vehicles with 'heavy' amounts of protection, such as the MRAP, (which has higher quality armor and a V-shaped hull designed to improve resistance to IEDs)," Rohlfs and Sullivan conclude, "did not save more lives than medium armored vehicles did, despite their cost of $600,000 apiece—roughly three times as much as the medium-protected vehicles."

If this is the case then $200,000 vehicles (that cost less to operate - use less fuel and are lighter) would work as well. And the overall program might be $15 billion and save $30 billion.

NanoSteel has new high strength, light weight steel and gets GM Ventures Investment

NanoSteel has created a new class of steel that allows automotive engineers and designers to reduce weight through the use of thinner, higher strength gauges while maintaining the structural integrity needed for safety. NanoSteel’s new steel design is an alternative to other light-weighting materials which may cost more, require new investment in parts production and have performance limitations.

“GM Ventures investment in NanoSteel demonstrates its confidence in our company’s potential to achieve widespread impact on the auto industry through our proprietary steel designs,” said Dave Paratore, president and CEO of NanoSteel. “With the support of General Motors’ automotive expertise and technology leadership, we can accelerate the final phases of development of our nano-structured AHSS in the quest to economically lightweight vehicles.”

The new advanced high-strength steels (AHSS) offer exceptional combinations of strength and ductility for automotive structures, with measured strength/elongation performance of 950 MPa/35%, 1200 MPa/30% and 1600 MPa/15% respectively.


The automotive industry has identified a future generation of Advanced High Strength Steels (AHSS) materials for lightweighting vehicles across all lines, with an availability target of 2017-2025 for integration into vehicle structural designs and production. NanoSteel’s new AHSS sheet designs are the first to arrive inside the automotive industry’s desired material target. NanoSteel’s designs belongs to a new class of cold formable steels with combinations of strength and ductility properties outside known material boundaries.


Micron-Scale Swimming Robots Could Deliver Drugs & Carry Cargo Using Simple Motion

A team of researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology has used complex computational models to design swimming micro-robots that could overcome the challenges to carry cargo and navigate in response to stimuli such as light. When you’re just a few microns long, swimming can be difficult. At that size scale, the viscosity of water is more like that of honey, and momentum can’t be relied upon to maintain forward motion.

Ultimately, the researchers hope to work with an experimental team to actually build the micro-swimmers. Combining their theoretical work with actual experiments could be a powerful approach to building robots on this size scale.

“This is a simulation that we hope to see in real life one day,” Alexeev said. “We have learned how experimentalists can pursue fabrication of these devices without extensive trial-and-error. We can use the simulations to look inside what will happen by using the laws of physics to explain it.”

The researchers envision groups of micro-swimmers carrying cargo through microfluidic chips or other devices. Swarms of them could one day work together as tiny construction robots moving materials to desired locations for assembly.

But the micro-swimmers won’t win any Olympic competitions. Alexeev estimates that their top speed could be on the order of a few micrometers per second – which should be enough to accomplish their mission.

August 06, 2012

Carnival of Space 261

1. Centauri Dreams asks whether a white dwarf star could sustain planets with life, after reading an intriguing new study that makes the case for an 8-billion year habitable 'window.'


2. Nextbigfuture - The HiRISE camera is onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) photographed the landing of the Mars Science Laboratory which contained the Curiosty Rover.


Global Graphene Research and Funding

Nature - Britain's big bet on Graphene. Manchester institute will focus on commercial applications of atom-thick carbon sheets.

The UK government is hoping that Novoselov and Geim can make money from graphene. In February, the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) announced £50 million (US$78 million) in funding for a National Graphene Institute at the university. Scheduled to open in 2015, the centre will be a hub for translating basic research into industrial applications. Researchers at Manchester will mingle with industrial scientists loaned by domestic and overseas technology firms. Spin-off companies will flourish in off-campus research parks, sparking a technology revolution in a city that was once at the centre of the Industrial Revolution. That’s the vision, at least.

The University of Manchester is a microcosm of a global boom in graphene research (see ‘Graphene goes global’). More than 20 academics from its chemistry, biology, materials science and engineering departments participate in weekly meetings about the material. The discussions are not only about electronics: some colleagues are studying graphene for use in biosensors, and others want to incorporate it into advanced materials


Sample of Other Graphene Funding

South Korea has approved a roadmap for graphene commercialization with $200 million budget for the next 6 years. They are also looking at a research institute that they would fund with $200-300 million per year.

Europe is currently in a pilot project for graphene which could become a 1 billion euro over ten year flagship project.

Curiosity Landing Photographed from HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

A NASA satellite in orbit around Mars was able to capture this picture of the split second when Curiosity fell from the skies to its successful landing on the surface of the red planet.

In the amazing photograph, the rover's parachute is fully deployed and the spacecraft is slowing from the screaming speeds of approach -- as Mars tugged on the spacecraft, it accelerated from 8,000 mph to as much as 13,200 mph -- to a gentle, 2 mph plunkdown on the planet.

“If HiRISE took the image one second before or one second after, we probably would be looking at an empty Martian landscape,” said Sarah Milkovich, HiRISE investigation scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

The HiRISE camera is onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).


Hypersonic Engines - Reaction Sabre and Airbus Continuous Detonation Wave Engines

New Scientist - Reaction Engines UK is developing the Sabre hydrogen-and-air-burning engine. It is designed to reach orbit in a future satellite-launching spaceplane called Skylon, and may be used suborbitally in a point-to-point Mach 5 passenger aircraft.

These hypersonic planes for commercial aviation would be about 25-40 years away. They could appear earlier for unmanned, space and military purposes. It would be easier (less certification and testing) to make them work for missiles. Missiles are one time use. Next would be hypersonic (but reusable) UAVs.



There is also a continuous detonation wave engine (16 pages) that is being developed in a joint venture between MBDA Missile Systems, the aerospace firm EADS, which owns Airbus, and the Lavrentyev Institute of Hydrodynamics in Novosibirsk, Russia.

Detonation wave engines, thanks to their more efficient thermodynamic properties, are expected to exhibit a higher level of performance than more conventional propulsion system that rely on constant-pressure combustion processes. Nevertheless, it still has to be proved that this advantage is not superseded by the difficulties which could be encountered to practically define a real engine and to implement it in an operational flying system. In that respect, continuous detonation wave principle appears less challenging than the pulsed detonation process and should lead to the development of more efficient propulsion systems, even if such radical adaptation of the overall engine concept and of the vehicle architecture would be necessary. During past years, MBDA performed some theoretical and experimental works, mainly in cooperation with the Lavrentyev Institute of Hydrodynamics in Novosibirsk. These studies aimed at obtaining a preliminary demonstration of the feasibility of a Continuous Detonation Wave Engine for air-breathing and rocket application. Compared to a Pulsed Detonation Engine,this design allows an easier operation in reduced-pressure environment and an increase in engine mass flow rate and thrust-to weight ratio.

August 05, 2012

Robotic, Self-Sustaining Architecture to Utilize Resources and Enable Human Expansion Throughout the Solar System

Robotic, Self-Sustaining Architecture to Utilize Resources and Enable Human Expansion Throughout the Solar System (36 pages)

UPDATE - 24 page preprint copy of the paper.

Nextbigfuture looked at the paper before when only the abstract was available.

ABSTRACT- 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.

Key Ideas
• Don't launch it; evolve it
• Not a simplistic "self-replicator"
-The biosphere and industry are not self-replicators
• Use "Appropriate Technology" at each step
- It doesn't need to be low mass or high tech
- It needs to be easy to make in space
• The technologies are already being developed
-Simply "spin them in"
• The technologies are advancing exponentially


Curiosity has landed . . . safely on Mars

Curiosity Lands on Mars

August 5, 2012 10:32 PM
NASA's Curiosity rover has landed on Mars! Its descent-stage retrorockets fired, guiding it to the surface. Nylon cords lowered the rover to the ground in the "sky crane" maneuver. When the spacecraft sensed touchdown, the connecting cords were severed, and the descent stage flew out of the way. The time of day at the landing site is mid-afternoon -- about 3 p.m. local Mars time at Gale Crater. The time at JPL's mission control is about 10:31 p.m. Aug. 5 PDT (early morning EDT).


Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research Considers LENR and other Energy for Planes

Boeing and NASA seriously considered LENR ("cold fusion") for planes in case the technology pans out.

Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research Phase II: N+4 Advanced Concept Development (148 pages)

This final report documents the work of the Boeing Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research (SUGAR) team on Task 1 of the Phase II effort. The team consisted of Boeing Research and Technology, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, General Electric, and Georgia Tech. Using a quantitative workshop process, the following technologies, appropriate to aircraft operational in the N+4 2040 timeframe, were identified: Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Hydrogen, fuel cell hybrids, battery electric hybrids, Low Energy Nuclear (LENR), boundary layer ingestion propulsion (BLI), unducted fans and advanced propellers, and combinations. Technology development plans were developed.

The team generated a series of configurations with different combinations of some of these technologies. The higher heating value of LNG reduces the weight of fuel burned, but because of heavier aircraft systems, more energy is used for a given flight. LNG fueled aircraft have the potential for significant emissions advantages and LNG enhances the integration of fuel cells into the aircraft propulsion and power system.

An unducted fan increases propulsive efficiency and reduces fuel burn. Adding a fuel cell and electric motor into the propulsion system also leads to improvements in emissions and fuel burn. An aft fuselage boundary layer propulsor also resulted in a fuel burn benefit.

New desalination technique uses flow-through electrodes for faster desalination and lower cost

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have developed a new capacitive desalination technique that could ultimately lower the cost and time of desalinating seawater.

- removes salt five to 10 times faster than previous CD systems, and can be further optimized for increased speed.
-It also reduces the concentration of the feed up to three times as much per charge

In capacitive desalination (CD), a voltage is applied between two porous electrodes to adsorb ions onto the electrode surface and thus remove them from the feed stream. Traditionally, due to the small pore sizes of the electrodes, the feed stream flows between the electrodes and through a dielectric porous separator.

The new technique, called flow-through electrode capacitive desalination (FTE CD), uses new porous carbon materials with a hierarchical pore structure, which allows the saltwater to easily flow through the electrodes themselves. Flowing through the electrode allows for several significant advantages relative to traditional flow between systems, including faster desalination, more salt removed for each charge of the capacitor, and more energy efficient desalination. Finally, flow-through can be used with a thinner separator as the separator is no longer a flow channel, therefore reducing the overall and electrical resistance of the device, which further decreases costs.
Flow-through electrode capacitive desalination uses a new hierarchical porous carbon material to create a new device geometry in which the feed stream passes directly through the electrodes, resulting in significant improvements to salt removal and desalination rate.


Carnival of Nuclear energy 116

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 116 is up at Idaho Samizdat.

Canadian Energy Issues – Steve Aplin looks at the SILEX (laser enrichment process) and how the opponents of it are really opponents to improved economics for nuclear energy.

Nuclear Supplier Group rules already ensure that no other rule-respecting countries than the ones already hosting isotope separation facilities will host the first SILEX plant. So the whole issue is already moot.

As for the countries that don’t respect NSG rules, well they’re beyond our control anyway, aren’t they. If they’re bent on getting a nuclear bomb, chances are they won’t wait around for the latest greatest way to enrich uranium. They’ll use electromagnetic calutrons if they have to. Who cares about the physical footprint—Saddam, with every U.S. spy satellite pointed at Iraq, did exactly that.

SILEX changes absolutely nothing, other than—possibly, if its proponents are correct—the economics of enrichment.

Its opponents just don’t want to see any improvement in the economics of light water reactor (LWR) nuclear energy.