Pages

October 13, 2012

Singularity Summit - A History of Violence

A History of Violence by Steven Pinker.

Steven Pinker website

Here is link to a list of publications.




6 major declines of violence
their immediate causes

1. The pacification process

Until 6000 years ago people lived in anarchy. Life in a state of Nature.

Forensic archeology (CSI Palentology)
Looking at remains and 15% had violent trauma.
Europe and US had two thirds of one percent for the 20th century.

States created more peace. eg. Pax Brittanica.
Kings stamped out tribal violence because it caused problems.



Singularity Summit - Personal Genomics

Linda Avey is interviewed about Personal Genomics.

She was a founder of 23andme.

Linda has now co-founded wearecurio.us

The rise of personal analytics is going to bring us much greater clarity on our health decisions. Linda Avey’s new company, Curious, Inc., hopes to help quantify that data and tell us how to lead healthier lives.

Avey’s most recent mission: creating a personal data sharing and analytics platform through her new startup Curious, Inc.

She also works with Rock Health Incubator

Sano Intelligence has a microneedle patch to get real time information on what is happening in the body.

They are developing the API to the bloodstream — a powerful mobile health monitoring product (microneedle patch) that will reveal new insights about stage-zero care. The solution will include wearable patches that analyze blood chemistry, sending results to doctors at regular intervals. The hope is that what doctors are able to learn from the analysis can lead to cures for others suffering from blood diseases or abnormalities.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy Note 2

1. Techradar has an extensive and comprehensive review of the upgraded Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone.

The Samsung Galaxy Nexus was the world's first phone to run Android 4.0: Ice Cream Sandwich and now just under a year later it's the first phone to run Android 4.1: Jelly Bean. It's an upgrade that keeps it as relevant as ever and we've updated our review to reflect the changes.

Samsung Galaxy Nexus specs include a fantastic Super AMOLED HD screen, dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, 5MP camera and NFC support,

Continental Resources 5 year plan and their view of the Bakken

Continental resources had an investor presentation that describes how they plan to increase their production of oil (mostly in North Dakota Bakken). They also describe their view of the Bakken, total recoverable oil and new understanding of its geological potential.

They discuss how they are working quadruple their reserves.
Their target for the yearend of 2013 is to lower their per well cost from $9.2 million down to $8.2 million.
They discuss increasing their oil production for next year (35% more) by increasing their capital budget by about 13% and reducing cost per well.
The five year plan is to triple their oil production. This seems like a combination of continued increasing capital budget and further reductions in costs per well and other improvements.
They describe their new understanding of the geology of the Bakken.




China Exports Rise

NY Times - China’s exports to the United States and Southeast Asia rose last month while the country’s money supply expanded faster than expected, Chinese government agencies said on Saturday, in the first signs that the Chinese economy might be starting to bottom out.

But strengthening exports to the United States — up 5.5 percent in September compared with the same month a year ago — could also increase trade frictions at a politically touchy time for both countries. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, and President Obama have competed this autumn to present themselves as more willing to confront China on trade issues.

Forbes - China's third quarter GDP growth is expected to be 7.4 percent, with exports rising by a meager 4.5 percent and imports contracting by 1.2 percent. On the positive side, industrial production remains solid at 8.7 percent on the year and retail sales are buoyant from the Industrial Bank’s point of view, up 13 percent.

The Singularity: Promise and Peril

The Singularity: Promise and Peril by Luke Muehlhauser

Luke Muehlhauser has published dozens of articles on self-help, decision-making, and artificial intelligence, including peer-reviewed research on AI safety. He is currently the Executive Director of the Singularity Institute.

He wrote the online book Facing the Singularity

Technology is the only thing that matters for altering human development on the long term scale.

Singularity Summit - Rationality and the Future: Why a better world tomorrow requires better cognition today

Singularity Summit talk - Rationality and the Future: Why a better world tomorrow requires better cognition today by Julia Galef

Julia works at the Center for Applied Rationality.

People do need more rationality. They have biases like status quo bias.

Trying to get people to make easier change by applying it to things like their finances, career and education choices.

Four Thiel Fellows describe their work - Noor Siddiqui, Laura Deming, Christopher Olah, James Koppel

I think James Koppel and Laura Deming work looks the most interesting.

Noor Siddiqui describes that 4 billion people (earning less than $3000 per capita) are having talents that are undeveloped and having potential that is wasted.

We can learn and teach much faster.
Need to use better internet and information technology.
Did not discuss how to make a better specific solution. She outlined a problem and a potential but did not discuss how to make a better approach.



Laura Deming discusses how to cure aging
She has gotten the opportunity to be able to spend 6 years working on the problem of aging.

She is trying to find therapeutics against aging and find people who are willing to invest in anti aging and she is trying to match them up.

She is talking about Lyposomes.

In the Press conference, Laura indicates that she is working with companies that are working on lysosome therapeutics. However, she could not provide details.

This is one of the SENS projects, LysoSENS. Destroying junk inside cells.

Previous Laura Deming Video


Singularity Summit - Temple Grandin thinking differently

Dr. Grandin is a designer of livestock handling facilities and a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University. How Different People Think Differently talk by Temple Grandin.

Temple had a very dense talk.
There were several sections.

There was a section where she discussed the need to engineer systems that are hacker proof and proof against catastrophic failure.

A way to prevent centrifuges from spinning to fast would be to use mechnical engineering to have a cutoff that would prevent it from spinning at too high a speed. There can be some balls that would rise to a certain level that would trigger a cutoff beyond a certain speed.
This method could have been applied to the centrifuges in Iran and other design changes for the BP drilling rig or the Fukushima reactors.

There was also a rant against Wall Street and for building real things. This is correct but requires a different path to solution than ranting against it.

There is also a rant about better education and how to help the slightly autistic with different style of education.

She discussed how people with Autism and other conditions needed to have different methods of education.
Visual, verbal, patterns

There is TED talk online that Temple gave


Liveblogging the Singularity Summit

I liveblogging the Singularity Summit in San Francisco. The program is here

9 – 9:10am      Opening and Introduction                Nathan Labenz
9:10 – 10:10pm  How Different People Think Differently  Temple Grandin
10:10 – 10:30am Thiel Fellow Lightning Talks            Noor Siddiqui, Laura Deming, Christopher Olah, James Koppel

October 12, 2012

Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini and Apple IPad Mini

1. Apple plans to unveil the “iPad mini” on Oct. 23 at an invitation-only event.

The Apple iPad Mini will feature a 7.85-inch liquid-crystal display and a Lightning connector. It will also probably be thinner.

2. Today Samsung globally launched the rumored Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini, a smaller version of the Samsung Galaxy S3 that has its initial debut in May, and arrived in the U.S. this summer on five separate carriers.

From the outside, the S3 Mini looks much look its larger sibling, but that's largely where the similarities end. It's not just that it has a more petite 4-inch screen and build, the S3 Mini also scales back the specs -- most notably, it packs a slower CPU and it lacks 4G LTE capability. And that makes its connection to Samsung's flagship model tenuous at best.

Comet in late 2013 could become brighter than the full moon

A newly discovered comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) is projected to make a close pass by the sun and then a close pass by the earth at the end of 2013

Sky and Telescope - , the geometry could make C/2012 S1 a "dream comet," as one eager skywatcher has commented, because it will swing just 40 million miles (0.4 astronomical unit) from Earth a few weeks after perihelion, when it will be high in moonless, northern skies after sunset. Initial predictions by the IAU's Minor Planet Center suggest that Comet ISON could peak at magnitude –10 or brighter at perihelion (when it will be just 1° from the Sun), and that it could remain visible to the unaided eye from early November to the first weeks of 2014.

Brighter than the Full Moon but far smaller

Astronomy Now -With a perihelion passage of less than two million kilometres from the Sun on 28 November 2013, current predictions are of an object that will dazzle the eye at up to magnitude —16. That's far brighter than the full Moon. If predictions hold true then C/2012 S1 will certainly be one of the greatest comets in human history, far outshining the memorable Comet Hale-Bopp of 1997 and very likely to outdo the long-awaited Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4) which is set to stun in March 2013.

Skirting our star means that, to viewers on Earth, the comet will appear close to the horizon and to the sun's glare, making it difficult to see at first. ISON will fade but become easier to spot as it heads back towards the outer solar system. By 9 December it should be about as bright as Polaris, the North Star, according to Remanzacco Observatory astronomers. ISON should continue to be visible to the unaided eye until mid-January 2014.


As plotted by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's "Horizons" system, Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) will pass very close to the Sun — but not crash into it — in late November 2013. At that time it might be at least magnitude –10 — bright enough to be spotted despite very strong solar glare. NASA / JPL

US Oil Shale Future is Drilling Faster and Cheaper

I do not think that North Dakota Bakken oil production will plateau at 600,000 to 700,000 barrels per day for an annualized average.

I think the oil companies will drill fast enough and keep the wells productive enough that they increase production. I already summarized that work in May 2012.

Boils down to they will drill faster and lower the cost of wells by about 3 times.



Oil Production Potential of the North Dakota Bakken (James Mason, Feb 2012, 12 pages). Article accepted for publication in the Oil and Gas Journal

Continental Resources has laid out a 5 year plan to increase from about 100,000 barrels per day of oil equivalent up to 300,000 barrels per day of oil equivalent by 2017 and it will mostly be increases in the Bakken.

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics still wrestling with arcing problem

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics is working to achieve commercial dense plasma focus nuclear fusion. They have been trying to prevent arcing for the past few months and are still wrestling with that problem. If they can solve that issue then they should get about ten times more current.

Their model for nuclear fusion can be thought of as a dense plasma spark plug approach to nuclear fusion.

They have gotten some more improvements and validation of their scientific understanding in the past few months.

LPP’s research team is convinced the arcing can be cured, since our colleagues in other facilities, with similar currents, have licked this problem. It is a question of our learning and applying the best techniques to do this right. In our small field, the answers are not in textbooks, but we believe we have enough insights to provide the answers after a little more experimenting.

This plasma writing gives us greater confidence that as soon as the arcing is fixed, better filamentation, higher densities and higher yield will be produced.

Metal-Organic Frameworks Commercialization

Greatly increasing the storage capacity of gas tanks is just one of the applications being made possible because of a revolutionary nanomaterial being manufactured by MOF Technologies, a new Queen’s spin-out company.

A cylinder filled with this material, known as MOFs or Metal-Organic Frameworks, can store much more gas than an empty cylinder of the same size, but until now MOF manufacturing techniques have been limited as they are costly, slow and require large quantities of solvents which can be toxic and harmful to the environment.

Now, a new technique devised by the company allows the simple, environmentally friendly production of these incredible materials, which have the potential to revolutionise applications including hazardous gas storage, natural gas vehicles, carbon capture and drug delivery.

MOF Technologies website is here

October 11, 2012

Futurist Magazine predictions

The Futurist magazine has ten predictions for 2013 and beyond (but mainly up to about 2020) Most of the predictions will not be very impactful even if they are true other than the one on space access and robots to help the elderly.

1. Neuroscientists may soon be able to predict what you’ll do before you do it.
NBF - too difficult to apply broadly and easily

2. Future cars will become producers of power rather than merely consumers.
NBF - slow to deploy. Electric cars have had trouble getting a toe hold in the market. More light hybriding seems more likely. Maybe ten to twenty million natural gas cars out of 2 billion cars by 2020.

3. An aquaponic recycling system in every kitchen?
NBF - not for a long time and not important

Graphene: A patterned template for molecular packing

Simulations of atomic-scale processes show how to trap and pack molecules in patterned graphene sheets that may have molecular storage applications.

Graphene’s versatile electronic, chemical and mechanical properties have placed it center stage in physical sciences research, with attention currently focused on its potential applications. Computational experts are contributing unique insights by investigating graphene-based structures in silico. By exploring the structure and properties of graphone — graphene that is hydrogenated on one side — a research team from Singapore and the USA has provided a potential template for packing molecules. These structures could be useful for trapping molecules for energy storage or biological applications.

Led by Chilla Damodara Reddy of the A*STAR Institute of High Performance Computing, Singapore, the research team computationally constructed a large square graphene sheet with hydrogen atoms covalently bonded above every other carbon atom to form a graphone domain. Depending on the size of the domain, the graphone regions distorted into three distinct three-dimensional architectures. Small domains morphed into a cap shape, while larger domains resulted in interfacing graphene and graphone segments curving in opposite directions with the center of the graphone patch remaining flat. A third, intermediate, morphology showed undulations both at the graphone - graphene interface and in the center of the hydrogenated graphone. A 5% lattice mismatch between graphene and graphone caused the three-dimensional distortions.

All of the structures were stable well above room temperature.

An array of graphone domains (blue), containing trapped fullerene molecules (red), distributed in a graphene matrix. © 2012 IOP Publishing


A thin film made of graphene and a charge-inducing polymer could replace Indium Tin Oxide in displays

A thin film made of graphene and a charge-inducing polymer shows promise as a replacement for transparent electrical conductors in displays. Flatscreen televisions, computers and mobile phone displays all require transparent electrical conductors to connect embedded electrical devices without obstructing back illumination. Indium tin oxide (ITO) is currently used for this purpose, but it is expensive and fragile. A low-cost alternative, based on a composite film made of graphene and a ferroelectric polymer, is now available thanks to an international research team, including researchers from the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) in Singapore1.

Graphene is transparent since it consists only of a single layer of carbon atoms. “Graphene can show a high electrical conductivity and is also stronger and much more flexible than indium tin oxide, and thus could even be used for foldable displays and thin solar cells,” explains Guangxin Ni, a PhD candidate in the research team

EIA Energy Costs Estimate for Different Energy Generation brought online for 2017

The EIA paper presents average levelized costs for generating technologies that are brought on line in 2017 as represented in the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS) for the Annual Energy Outlook 2012 (AEO2012) reference case. Natural gas is the cheapest (if there is no carbon capture and storage) and then hydroelectric. There are also regional variances.

Most of the new energy plants in the world will be built in China, India, South Korea and Russia. Costs in those countries are far lower. China and South Korea are about half the cost of the US for nuclear power generation.

Levelized cost is often cited as a convenient summary measure of the overall competiveness of different generating technologies. It represents the per-kilowatthour cost (in real dollars) of building and operating a generating plant over an assumed financial life and duty cycle. Key inputs to calculating levelized costs include overnight capital costs, fuel costs, fixed and variable operations and maintenance (O and M) costs, financing costs, and an assumed utilization rate for each plant type. The importance of the factors varies among the technologies. For technologies such as solar and wind generation that have no fuel costs and relatively small O and M costs, the levelized cost changes in rough proportion to the estimated overnight capital cost of generation capacity. For technologies with significant fuel cost, both fuel cost and overnight cost estimates significantly affect the levelized cost.

Researchers have ultra smooth surface to enable making cheap data storage with 15 times more data density

Researchers from A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) have discovered that an ultra-smooth surface is the key factor for “self-assembly” – a cheap, high-volume, high-density patterning technique.

This allows manufacturers to use the method on a variety of different surfaces. This discovery paves the way for the development of next generation data storage devices, with capacities of up to 10 Terabits/in^2 which could lead to significantly greater storage on much smaller data devices.

Common hard disk drives today have a density of about 600 Gigabits/in2. The current industry goal is to increase this by more than 15 times to 10 Terabits/in2. The lucrative disk storage systems market posted $8.1 billion in sales for Q2, 2012. The disk storage systems market posted US$8.1 billion in sales for Q2, 2012 (according to the International Data Corporation’s press release in September 2012).

Nature Scientific Reports - Effect of angstrom-scale surface roughness on the self-assembly of polystyrene-polydimethylsiloxane block copolymer


SEM and AFM images of the magnetic media with and without the TranSpin layer.

Continental Resources says Oklahoma discovery may add 1.8 billion barrels

Continental Resources Inc. says a shale-oil discovery in Oklahoma may add the equivalent of 1.8 billion barrels of crude to the company's reserves as it drills more than 2,000 wells in coming years.

The South Central Oklahoma Oil Province, or SCOOP, lies beneath oilfields that began producing crude as early as 1905.

The geology of the discovery is similar to the Bakken Shale region in North Dakota and Montana, where Continental is the largest holder of drilling rights, according to the presentation.

The company has been quietly amassing drilling leases in the SCOOP since at least 2010 and now holds 170,600 acres. The wells Continental has so far drilled in the SCOOP have cost about $9 million apiece.

Continental is exploring for crude in two other "stealth" prospects in the U.S., company President Rick Bott said during the presentation. He declined to identify the location or estimated size of the fields.

The company plans to spend $136 million to explore those prospects in 2013, or about 4 percent of Continental's capital budget.

Researchers Create ‘Nanoflowers’ for Energy Storage, Solar Cells

Researchers from North Carolina State University have created flower-like structures out of germanium sulfide (GeS) – a semiconductor material – that have extremely thin petals with an enormous surface area. The GeS flower holds promise for next-generation energy storage devices and solar cells.

“Creating these GeS nanoflowers is exciting because it gives us a huge surface area in a small amount of space,” says Dr. Linyou Cao, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper on the research. “This could significantly increase the capacity of lithium-ion batteries, for instance, since the thinner structure with larger surface area can hold more lithium ions. By the same token, this GeS flower structure could lead to increased capacity for supercapacitors, which are also used for energy storage.”

To create the flower structures, researchers first heat GeS powder in a furnace until it begins to vaporize. The vapor is then blown into a cooler region of the furnace, where the GeS settles out of the air into a layered sheet that is only 20 to 30 nanometers thick, and up to 100 micrometers long. As additional layers are added, the sheets branch out from one another, creating a floral pattern similar to a marigold or carnation.


The GeS "nanoflowers" have petals only 20-30 nanometers thick, and provide a large surface area in a small amount of space.

ACS Nano - Role of Boundary Layer Diffusion in Vapor Deposition Growth of Chalcogenide Nanosheets: The Case of GeS

US Daily Crude Oil Increases to 6.598 million barrels per day

US Daily Crude oil production is at 6.598 million barrels per day This is the highest level since the first half of 1995. This is 750,000 barrels per day more than in 2011.

The daily production of oil liquids is 10.866 million barrels per day (this includes natural gas liquids, ethanol and refinery gains).



6 billion mobile subscriptions and US$1.5 trillion global telecommunications revenue

New figures released today by ITU (International Telecommunications Union) show that information and communication technology (ICT) uptake continues to grow worldwide, spurred by a steady fall in the price of telephone and broadband Internet services.

The new data, released in ITU’s flagship annual report Measuring the Information Society 2012, rank the Republic of Korea as the world’s most advanced ICT economy, followed by Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland.

Mobile broadband continues to be the ICT service displaying the sharpest growth rates. Over the past year, growth in mobile-broadband services continued at 40% globally and 78% in developing countries. There are now twice as many mobile-broadband subscriptions as fixed-broadband subscriptions worldwide.

Global revenues from telecommunication services reached USD 1.5 trillion in 2010, corresponding to 2.4 % of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). In the same year, investment (measured by capital expenditure) in telecommunications amounted to more than USD 241 billion, or an estimated 2% of the world’s total gross fixed capital formation.

There were about 6 billion mobile subscriptions by the end of 2011 — roughly one for 86 of every 100 people.

* The International Telecommunication Union said China alone accounted for 1 billion subscriptions, and India is expected to hit the 1-billion mark this year.

* 2.3 billion people — or about one in three of the world's 7 billion inhabitants — were Internet users by the end of 2011, but there's a strong disparity between rich and developing countries.

China nuclear plant construction progressing and on track for 27 new reactors by the end of 2015

World Nuclear News - China installed the dome of the reactor containment building has been achieved at two more units - Fuqing 3 and Changjiang 2.

The reactor dome of unit 3 at the Fuqing nuclear power plant in Fujian Province was successfully lowered into place on top of the containment building at 5.48am on 9 October. Plant constructor China Nuclear Engineering and Construction Corporation (CNECC) said that the operation to install the reactor dome - with a diameter of 37 metres, a height of 11 metres and weighing 160 tonnes - took just 30 minutes.

Fuqing is to be a six-reactor plant, based on Chinese-designed CPR-1000 pressurized water reactors. The overall 6000 MWe project is expected to cost 100 billion yuan ($15.9 billion). Construction of Fuqing units 1 and 2 started in November 2008 and June 2009, respectively. Those units are scheduled to begin operating in October 2013 and August 2014.

Two weeks earlier, the reactor dome was also installed at unit 2 of the Changjiang plant in China's southern island province of Hainan.

The installation of the reactor building dome marks the end of the major civil engineering works on the reactor buildings. Changjiang 2 and Fuqing 3 are the fifth and sixth Chinese units, respectively, to have had their reactor domes installed since the start of 2012. The others include Taishan 2, Yangjiang 3, Ningde 4 and Fangchenggang 1.

Construction projects already underway should see China bring online some 27 new reactors by the end of 2015 - in addition to the 15 units currently in operation.
Fuqing 3 reactor dome installation


October 10, 2012

North Dakota August Daily Oil Production is at another record 701,134 barrels

North Dakota's August oil production was 701,134 bbls per day.

This was about 25,000 barrel per day more than the prior month



EIA shows that US oil production was about 250,000 barrels per day higher in September than in August. The dip in the last week of August and first week of September was a weather disruption in the Gulf of Mexico



Testing if the universe is particular type of computer simulation

Researchers will test if the universe is a simulation with a grid of one trillionth of a femtometer (10**-27 meters)

The lattice spacing imposes a fundamental limit on the energy that particles can have. That's because nothing can exist that is smaller than the lattice itself.

So if our cosmos is merely a simulation, there ought to be a cut off in the spectrum of high energy particles.

It turns out there is exactly this kind of cut off in the energy of cosmic ray particles, a limit known as the Greisen–Zatsepin–Kuzmin or GZK cut off.

This cut-off has been well studied and comes about because high energy particles interact with the cosmic microwave background and so lose energy as they travel long distances.

But Beane and co calculate that the lattice spacing imposes some additional features on the spectrum. "The most striking feature...is that the angular distribution of the highest energy components would exhibit cubic symmetry in the rest frame of the lattice, deviating significantly from isotropy," they say.

In other words, the cosmic rays would travel preferentially along the axes of the lattice, so we wouldn't see them equally in all directions.

That's a measurement we could be done with current technology.

Navy evaluating Second Railgun Prototype

The Navy is evaluating a second Railgun prototype

The EM Railgun launcher is a long-range naval weapon that fires projectiles using electricity instead of traditional gun propellants such as explosive chemicals. Magnetic fields created by high electrical currents accelerate a sliding metal conductor, or armature, between two rails to launch projectiles at 4,500-5,600 mph.

The Navy is pursuing development of the launcher system through two industry teams—General Atomics and BAE Systems—to reduce risk in the program and to foster innovation in next-generation shipboard weapons.

“It’s exciting to see how two different teams are both delivering very relevant but unique launcher solutions,” said Roger Ellis, EM Railgun program manager.

Thinning a microchip to a flexible 30 microns without impairing performance

Technology Review - IMEC has developed a way to put integrated circuits into flexible and stretchable materials without impairing the microchip's functionality. The technique could lead to more sophisticated biomedical implants or electronics embedded in clothing.

Jan Vanfleteren, an electrical engineer at the Interuniversity Micro Electronics Centre at the University of Ghent, in Belgium, has developed a new approach. It involves "thinning" an off-the-shelf microchip from 725 micrometers down to just 30 micrometers using a conventional grinding process. Vanfleteren says the process does not impair the performance of the microchip.


Wrap around: This “thinned-down” flexible microprocessor is connected via stretchable copper interconnects, all using conventional materials.
IMEC

Thin Film Solar Might be a winner when solar demand increases

Technology Review - Chinese energy giant Hanergy bought Miasole, a Silicon Valley-based thin-film solar company, at less than a tenth the amount venture capitalists had invested in the firm. Thin-film solar panels cannot competing with conventional silicon ones under today's market conditions. Thin film solar might still have a strong future.

The poor market conditions that have kept thin-film companies from competing may not last: when demand increases and it comes time to start building solar-panel factories again, the argument goes, the technology might have a significant advantage, because for comparably sized plants, it could cost far less to build a new thin-film factory than a conventional one.

A gigawatt-scale thin-film plant would cost $350 to 450 million, versus $1 billion for a conventional silicon plant.

Nvidia's 2009 GPU compute power predictions and recent chips

Back in 2009, Nvidia's CEO Huang predicted that GPU (Graphical Processing Units) will increase in power by 570 times over six years (up to 2016) from current levels. This would require tripling the speed of the GPU every year.

William J. Dally, Chief scientist at Nvidia Corp, predicted Nvidia GPUs in 2015 will be implemented on 11 nm process technology that feature roughly 5,000 cores and 20 teraflops of performance. The 2009 Nvidia GPUs had 500 gigaflops of performance in single precision. 20 teraflops would be 40 times faster. 570 times faster in 2016 would be 285 teraflops. However, if Huang was referring to double precision then the increase would be from the current 100 gigaflops going up to 57 teraflops of double precision performance.

In September, 2012 GK110 GPU chip, sometimes called the Kepler2, has over 7.1 billion transistors etched on a die by foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp using its much-sought 28 nanometer processes. It sports 15 SMX (streaming multiprocessor extreme) processing units, each with 192 single-precision CUDA cores and 64 double-precision floating point units tacked on to every triplet of CUDA cores. That gives you 960 DP floating point units across a maximum of 2,880 CUDA cores on the GK110 chip.

Nvidia has been vague about absolute performance, but the GK110 to deliver just under 2 teraflops of raw DP floating point performance at 1GHz clock speeds on the cores and maybe 3.5 teraflops at single precision. That's around three times the oomph – and three times the performance per watt of the thermals are about the same – of the existing Fermi GF110 GPUs used in the Tesla M20 series of GPU coprocessors.

The Tesla K10 GPU coprocessor puts two GK104 chips on a PCI-Express card and delivers 4.58 teraflops of SP number-crunching in a 225 watt thermal envelope – a staggering 3.5X the performance of the Fermi M2090 coprocessor.

The GK110 should have 20 times the double precision performance of the 2009 chip and 7 tunes the single precision performance. The GK110 is close to the tripling every year pace in double precision improvement.

October 09, 2012

Superconducting Magnet Researchers Develop Exciting New HTS Technology

Brookhaven Lab researchers have explored a new class of superconductors called high temperature superconductors (HTS) that can operate at temperatures as high as 77 K, achieved by cooling with cheap, plentiful liquid nitrogen, or can create very high magnetic fields — more than 20 Tesla — when cooled to about 5 K.

Muon Collider

Since 1969, scientists have been interested in the idea of colliding muon particles, which because of their unique properties, could reveal new physics. With the discoveries of a Higgs-like particle at the LHC, there has been renewed interest in a collider using muons because they would be well-suited to detailed studies of these particles.

However, several required technologies for muon colliders are not yet developed, according to Robert Palmer of the BNL Physics Department, who has been working on a muon collider for many years. One challenge has been to develop extremely high field superconducting magnets — 30 T or more — that are essential for achieving high luminosity, a term related to having a sufficient number of collisions.

For this purpose, the past achievements of Gupta’s group developing solenoid coils of 9 T and 16 T peak fields are very promising.

“In the next step,” said Gupta, “we will put the two record-breaking solenoids together and add a few more coils. If all goes well, we will reach more than 20 T.”

These magnets are being developed as a part of a collaboration with Particle Beam Lasers, Inc. through the Small Business Innovative Research program. The high performance conductor material is provided by SuperPower, Inc.

Gupta explained that reaching 20 T with HTS alone will be an important milestone in the technology. This, when combined with a solenoid of about 10 T made with conventional superconductors, offers a clear path to 30 T.

Polaris Robotic Lunar Rover to dig for Water on the Moon

Biz Journals - Carnegie Mellon University and Astrobotic Technology Inc. are one step closer to the moon with the unveiling on Monday of a new lunar rover that will land on the surface sometime in 2015.

Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic is shooting for the moon and the $20 million Google Lunar X prize. It developed the solar-powered Griffin landing module and a smaller Red Rover wheeled explorer as one of a handful of entities hoping to win the prize. But Astrobotic developed the larger, heavier Polaris lunar rover to explore one of the moon's poles and to drill for water.

The Polaris rover, which when it lifts off aboard the Spacex Falcon 9 rocket will weigh about 518 pounds and carry sophisticated imaging equipment, carbon-fiber and composite material, other payload and a drill to search for the water that scientists believe is buried in the lunar surface.


Polaris, the Astrobotic Technology, is rolled out of a lab in Carnegie Mellon University.

October 08, 2012

Clinical Trials in Canada for stem cells to heal hearts

Vancouver Sun - Canadian heart-attack survivors will get first crack at an experimental therapy that's moving into clinical trials early next year.

The treatment is believed to be the first in the world to test the ability of a patient's own stem cells, genetically engineered to have extra-strong healing powers, to repair damaged tissue caused by a heart attack.

Starting in February, as many as 100 patients in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal will be enrolled in the study led by researchers at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute.

The trial marks a pivotal step in the uncertain science of growing new heart cells.

If the treatment works and is eventually approved for clinical use, it would not replace existing therapies such as drugs to break up blood clots and angioplasty to widen coronary arteries

Graphene tunnel barrier

Physics World - Researchers in the US have found yet another use for the "wonder material" graphene. Instead of exploiting the material's exceptional ability as an electrical conductor, the team has found a way to use graphene as an extremely thin "tunnel barrier" to conduction. The team says that this new application is particularly suited to developing spintronics – a relatively new technology that exploits the spin of an electron as well as its charge.

Graphene is a sheet of carbon just one atom thick and ever since the material was first isolated in 2004, researchers have been trying to create electronics devices that make use of its unique properties. Most of this effort has focused on how electrons flow in the plane of the sheet – which can behave both as a conductor and semiconductor. But now Berry Jonker and colleagues at the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have shown that graphene can serve as an excellent tunnel barrier when current is directed perpendicular to the plane of carbon atoms. The spin polarization of the current is also preserved by the tunnel barrier, a finding that could have important implications for spintronics.

Building 3D Microstructures from a 2D Template

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology - A new etching method produces three-dimensional microstructures in silicon for the processing of light signals in telecommunications.

In modern telecommunications, light carries digital information over kilometers within seconds. Adapted optical materials con-trol the light signals. In the AFM journal, researchers from Ber-lin, Louvain, and from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology present a method to produce photonic crystals. Their optical properties are adjusted by structures of micrometer size. The method is rapid, cheap, and simple and partly uses the self-organization principle.

“Optical properties of materials can be influenced decisively by spe-cific structurization,” explains Andreas Frölich from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Silicon is used in components, e.g. filters or deflectors, for telecommunications. So far, however, all these com-ponents have been flat, i.e. two-dimensional. Entirely novel concepts might be feasible using three-dimensional components. The ex-penditure required to structure the silicon is very high. The structure has to be very regular in all three spatial directions and details are to have the size of about one micrometer, which corresponds to one hundredth of the thickness of a hair.

“Our new SPRIE fabrication methods uses established technologies, such as etching and innovative methods like self-organization and combines them in a very creative manner,” says Martin Wegener, Professor of the Institute of Applied Physics and Institute of Nano-technology of KIT and coordinator of the DFG Center for Functional Nanostructures (CFN). The SPRIE method is applied to structure silicon on large areas in a simple and three-dimensional manner. First, a solution with micrometer-sized spheres of polystyrene is applied to the silicon surface. After drying, these spheres automati-cally form in a dense monolayer on the silicon. Upon metal coating and the removal of the spheres, a honeycomb etching mask remains on the silicon surface.


Deep below the silicon surface, the SPRIE method produces regular structures in the micrometer range that refract light. (Photo: KIT/CFN)

Advanced Functional Materials journal - Direct Transcription of Two-Dimensional Colloidal Crystal Arrays into Three-Dimensional Photonic Crystals

North Dakota Bakken Oil Wells have Improving Economics

In part one of a Seeking Alpha series by Michael Filloon, he addressed some issues with the Oildrum article Is Shale Oil Headed for a Run with "The Red Queen"? Its author, Rune Likvern, has a bearish view of Bakken production. He believes Bakken production is close to hitting a plateau.

Seeking Alpha - the Red Queen article stated an oil price of $80-$90/barrel was needed for Bakken wells to make commercial sense. Using an $80/barrel oil price we see that the majority of middle Bakken wells produce enough revenue to pay back costs in the first year of production. The author also made the mistake of not including natural gas, as he stated the potential contribution is marginal at $3 per Mcf. It is obvious the author is not familiar with Bakken production as wells in NE McKenzie County can produce up to 11% NGLs. Using a $40 per barrel price, in the first year revenues from NGLs are over $730,000. The author made another mistake in using what he believes to be the average Bakken well production for the first twelve months. I believe he found these average wells using old well information. Using current EURs, we see that average production numbers are far higher than those used in his research. Mr. Likvern also believes that Bakken well productivity is decreasing, and stated from 2010 to 2011 this has decreased by 25%. This could be from increased development of the upper Three Forks. This pay zone is less productive than the middle Bakken in the 20% to 25% range. Also, less productive areas are being drilled to get acreage held by production.


The “zipper frac” technique helps operators optimize treatment effectiveness on adjacent wells in Oklahoma’s Arkoma Basin. (Image courtesy of Schlumberger)

Graphene membranes may lead to enhanced natural gas production, less CO2 pollution

Engineering faculty and students at the University of Colorado Boulder have produced the first experimental results showing that atomically thin graphene membranes with tiny pores can effectively and efficiently separate gas molecules through size-selective sieving.

The findings are a significant step toward the realization of more energy-efficient membranes for natural gas production and for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plant exhaust pipes.

The research team introduced nanoscale pores into graphene sheets through ultraviolet light-induced oxidative “etching,” and then measured the permeability of various gases across the porous graphene membranes. Experiments were done with a range of gases including hydrogen, carbon dioxide, argon, nitrogen, methane and sulphur hexaflouride -- which range in size from 0.29 to 0.49 nanometers -- to demonstrate the potential for separation based on molecular size. One nanometer is one billionth of a meter.

“These atomically thin, porous graphene membranes represent a new class of ideal molecular sieves, where gas transport occurs through pores which have a thickness and diameter on the atomic scale,” said Bunch.



Nature Nanotechnology - Selective molecular sieving through porous graphene

MIT team builds most complex synthetic biology circuit yet

MIT researchers have created a new synthetic biology sensor that can detect four different molecules and could be used to program cells to precisely monitor their environments.

Using genes as interchangeable parts, synthetic biologists design cellular circuits that can perform new functions, such as sensing environmental conditions. However, the complexity that can be achieved in such circuits has been limited by a critical bottleneck: the difficulty in assembling genetic components that don’t interfere with each other.

Unlike electronic circuits on a silicon chip, biological circuits inside a cell cannot be physically isolated from one another. “The cell is sort of a burrito. It has everything mixed together,” says Christopher Voigt, an associate professor of biological engineering at MIT.


Mining circuits from genomic islands.


Nature - Genetic programs constructed from layered logic gates in single cells

Synthetic Biologists make Biological Internet

Stanford researchers, Monica Ortiz, a doctoral candidate in bioengineering, and Drew Endy, PhD, an assistant professor of bioengineering, have parasitized the parasite and harnessed M13’s key attributes — its non-lethality and its ability to package and broadcast arbitrary DNA strands — to create what might be termed the biological Internet, or “Bi-Fi.”

Using the virus, Ortiz and Endy have created a biological mechanism to send genetic messages from cell to cell. The system greatly increases the complexity and amount of data that can be communicated between cells and could lead to greater control of biological functions within cell communities. The advance could prove a boon to bioengineers looking to create complex, multicellular communities that work in concert to accomplish important biological functions.

Journal of Biological Engineering - Engineered cell-cell communication via DNA messaging



23 page pdf of the paper

IMF Sees a One in Six Chance of a Deep Global Slump to 2% GDP Growth, Hopes for EU and US to be Proactive

Bloomberg - The International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecasts as the euro area’s debt crisis intensifies and warned of even slower expansion unless officials in the U.S. and Europe address threats to their economies.

The world economy will grow 3.3 percent this year, the slowest since the 2009 recession, and 3.6 percent next year, the IMF said today, compared with July predictions of 3.5 percent in 2012 and 3.9 percent in 2013. The IMF now sees “alarmingly high” risks of a steeper slowdown, with a one-in-six chance of growth slipping below 2 percent.

“A key issue is whether the global economy is just hitting another bout of turbulence in what was always expected to be a slow and bumpy recovery or whether the current slowdown has a more lasting component,” the IMF said in its World Economic Outlook report. “The answer depends on whether European and U.S. policy makers deal proactively with their major short-term economic challenges.”

So the hope for a better world economy is proactive steps by the EU and the USA. Sounds like the IMF is saying that the world economy is doomed.

Moore's Law threatened by EUV lithography problems

EETimes - Moore's Law, the engine of semiconductor innovation for decades, is losing steam due to delayed introduction of next-generation extreme ultraviolet lithography. That was the verdict of experts at the 2012 International Symposium on Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography.

EUV systems need light sources that are nearly 20 times more powerful than the ones used today to lay down patterns on next-generation chips that target sizes as small as 14 nm, Following a global symposium on the topic here, a group of lithography experts said that they hope to have the 200W EUV light sources by 2014—but it may take more time

October 07, 2012

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 125

1. ANS Nuclear Cafe has "Uranium 233 is a valuable resource, no matter what Robert Alvarez believes"

Robert Alvarez has issued a misleading report that portrays Uranium 233 as a hazardous stockpile, somehow putting the world at risk of a rogue group obtaining a nuclear weapons capability. And the US Department of Energy is currently planning to spend nearly half a billion dollars to get rid of the United States’ carefully protected U-233 resources.

Rod Adams at the ANS Nuclear Cafe explains that Uranium 233 is actually a potent energy resource, and a resource that could become even more valuable the more it is used -- if put to its highest and best purpose as the seed for an expansive program of thermal spectrum breeder reactors. Uranium 233 is also a life-saving resource for medical isotopes, as related in the article's comment thread. Uranium 233 is
definitely not just an expensive "waste product".

EIA Forecasts 2.5 Million bpd in Texas and 1 million bpd in North Dakota by January 2014

Texas oil production has increased about 770,000 bbl/d since January 2009, and in July 2012 averaged 1.925 million bbl/d. Texas has seen the largest volumetric increase of any state. The Permian Basin, which was already producing significant quantities of conventional oil, has experienced increases in oil production from both conventional and shale plays. EIA forecasts Western Gulf Basin production to rise to almost 930,000 bbl/d and Permian Basin production to reach 1.55 million bbl/d by January 2014.

EIA is thus forecasting Texas to have almost 2.5 million bbl/d by January, 2014.

The EIA forecast is currently here

The Bakken tight oil formation has accounted for nearly all of the new production in North Dakota. EIA forecasts total Williston Basin production, including North Dakota and Montana, will approach 1.1 million bbl/d by January 2014.



Supersonic skydive set for Tuesday

Felix Baumgartner record breaking 120,000 foot skydive is currently scheduled for Tuesday morning (about 32 hours from now). Weather problems delayed the original Monday schedule.

Felix Baumgartner plans to ascend to 120,000 feet in a 55-story-tall helium-filled balloon and then jump back to earth. During the first few minutes of his descent, his free fall is expected to break the speed of sound—about 690 miles per hour in those atmospheric conditions. As air density increases, the speed of his descent will gradually decrease. The 43-year-old will then deploy his parachute, returning to earth hopefully within a few miles of the balloon's liftoff location.

The previous record for skydiving is held by Joe Kittinger, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel, who dived from 102,800 feet in 1960. To prepare for the jump, Mr. Baumgartner jumped from 97,146 feet in June, eclipsing the second-highest skydive mark held by Yevgeny Andreyev, a member of the former Soviet Union's Air Force.

Spacex has a successful launch to start Space Station Resupply mission

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) today successfully launched its Dragon spacecraft aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on the first official cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The launch went off on schedule at 8:35 p.m. ET from Launch Complex 40 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The SpaceX CRS-1 mission marks the first of at least 12 SpaceX missions to the space station under the company’s cargo resupply contract with NASA. On board the Dragon spacecraft are materials to support investigations planned for the station’s Expedition 33 crew, as well as crew supplies and space station hardware.

Dragon – the only space station cargo craft capable of returning a significant amount of supplies back to Earth -- will return with scientific materials and space station hardware.



Making Connections At 45,000 Feet: Future UAVs May Fuel Up In Flight

DARPA completes close-proximity flight tests of two modified RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles, demonstrates technology enabling autonomous aerial refueling.

Currently global military aviation relies on a key enabler – aerial refueling. Fighters, bombers, reconnaissance and transport aircraft use “flying gas stations” to go the extra mile. Increasingly, UAVs are conducting combat and ISR operations, but UAVs aren’t designed to be refueled in flight. In 2007, DARPA teamed up with NASA to show that high-performance aircraft can easily perform automated refueling from conventional tankers, yet many unmanned aircraft can’t match the speed, altitude and performance of the current tanker fleet. The 2007 demonstration also required a pilot on board to set conditions and monitor safety during autonomous refueling operations.

Today DARPA has addressed this capability gap. DARPA’s two-year Autonomous High-Altitude Refueling (AHR) program, which concluded Sep. 30, explored the ability to safely conduct fully autonomous refueling of UAVs in challenging high-altitude flight conditions. During its final test flight, two modified Global Hawk aircraft flew in close formation, 100 feet or less between refueling probe and receiver drogue, for the majority of a 2.5-hour engagement at 44,800 feet. This demonstrated for the first time that High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) class aircraft can safely and autonomously operate under in-flight refueling conditions. The flight was the ninth test and the first time the aircraft flew close enough to measure the full aerodynamic and control interactions. Flight data was analyzed over the past few months and fed back into simulations to verify system safety and performance through contact and fuel transfer–including the effects of turns and gusts up to 20 knots.

Nvidia Kepler GPUs on the way to make 20 Petaflop Titan Supercoputer

Sept 2, 2012, Oak Ridge National lab has received its initial complement of Nvidia's next-generation Kepler GPUs and has installed them in the "development platform" -- which is a segment of the former Cray "Jaguar" supercomputer that's being transformed to a 20-petaflops machine (to be renamed "Titan") and could even be the world's fastest computer if things work out.

ORNL received thousands of Kepler GPUs in September.

National Ignition Facility Funding is at Risk

NY Times - the National Ignition Facility, uses 192 lasers to fire light beams at tiny targets, smaller than peppercorns, filled with hydrogen atoms. After spending more than $5 billion to build and operate a giant laser installation the size of a football stadium, the Energy Department has not achieved its goal of igniting a fusion reaction that could produce energy to generate power or simulate what happens in a nuclear weapon.

The latest deadline for achieving ignition was last Sunday, Sept. 30, the end of fiscal year 2012, but it passed amid mounting concerns that the technical challenges were too great to be mastered on a tight time schedule.

There is a sharp split among experts on whether the project — one of the most expensive federally financed projects ever — is worth the money. Just operating it costs roughly $290 million a year.

NBF - There seem to be other more cost effective options for achieving abundant clean energy.

I would increase funds Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, EMC2 Fusion, Helion Energy, an ultrahigh frequency laser option proposed by Chapman of NASA, various options for deep burn nuclear fission.

There should be underground nuclear bomb tests and nuclear bombs can be used for underground nuclear cannons for launching unmanned payloads into space.

Carnival of Space 270

1. The Meridiani Journal - Boating on Titan: new mission proposal for exploring an alien lake

The Lake on Saturn's moon Titan

2. Nextbigfuture - Europe is proposing a space boat to explore Saturn's moon Titan. The new plans, called the Titan Lake In-situ Sampling Propelled Explorer, proposes a boat-probe, propelled by wheels, paddles or screws. The probe would land in the middle of Ligeia Mare (the biggest lake, near Titan’s north pole), then set sail for the coast, taking scientific measurements along the way. The mission would last around six months to a year.

"The main innovation in TALISE is the propulsion system," says Igone Urdampilleta (SENER) of the TALISE team. "This allows the probe to move, under control, from the landing site in the lake, to the closest shore.

This rendering of the proposed TALISE probe shows one possible means of propulsion: paddle wheels on either side of the probe.