October 20, 2012

Superconductoring Wire Could Improve by Four Times

Superpower inc - Progress in development of MOCVD based coated conductors.

New improvements in coating of superconductors is expected to achieve a four times improvement in the price of superconducting wire for the level of performance.

iPad Mini, iPad 3.5, $99 Nexus Tablet and 10 Inch Samsung Google Nexus Tablet

1. 9to5mac - Apple’s entry price for its upcoming smaller iPad is between the base model of the new, fifth-generation iPod touch ($299) and the currently shipping WiFi-only 16GB iPad 2 ($399). According to our sources, the base model of the smaller iPad will likely be priced at a minimum of $329 in the United States.

Numerous reports have pinpointed that this new iPad variant will feature a 7.85-inch display, the new Lightning connector, front and rear cameras, and an ultra-thin and light design.

We, and others, have also heard that Apple is currently planning on making the smaller iPad available on Friday, November 2nd.

2. Digitimes - Google is currently working with Taiwan-based Quanta Computer to produce a $99 Nexus tablet boasting a single-core processor that will launch by the end of this year. Asus was the partner for the Google Nexus 7. The cheaper tablet is, at least right now, separate from the Nexus 7 lineup.

The US$99 Nexus tablet is equipped with an ARM-architecture single-core processor 8950 developed by China-based WonderMedia Technologies, and a HUVA TN panel made by Taiwan-based HannStar Display

CNET - Google's Nexus 7, which launched earlier this year, is currently only available in 8GB and 16GB versions. The 8GB option retails for $199, while the 16GB option sells for $249.

There is also a 32GB Nexus 7 being sold for $248.

Starvation hormone extends mouse life span by thirty to forty percent

A study by UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers finds that a starvation hormone markedly extends life span in mice without the need for calorie restriction.

“Restricting food intake has been shown to extend lifespan in several different kinds of animals. In our study, we found transgenic mice that produced more of the hormone fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21) got the benefits of dieting without having to limit their food intake. Male mice that overproduced the hormone had about a 30 percent increase in average life span and female mice had about a 40 percent increase in average life span,” said senior author Dr. Steven Kliewer, professor of molecular biology and pharmacology.

eLife journal - The starvation hormone, fibroblast growth factor-21, extends lifespan in mice

Boys starting puberty up to two years earlier at the age of nine

Previous studies have shown that girls have begun starting puberty as early as the age of nine.

Journal Pediatrics - Secondary Sexual Characteristics in Boys: Data From the Pediatric Research in Office Settings Network

Observed mean ages of beginning genital and pubic hair growth and early testicular volumes were 6 months to 2 years earlier than in past studies, depending on the characteristic and race/ethnicity. The causes and public health implications of this apparent shift in US boys to a lower age of onset for the development of secondary sexual characteristics in US boys needs further exploration. The earliest mean ages being 9.6 and 9.7 for Hispanic and African boys.

9-20 percent of boys could begin showing signs of puberty at the age of six

10 to 23 percent of girls show signs of puberty at the age of 7

Zuckerberg claims there is a Social Media Moore's Law Where Sharing Doubles Every Year

CNET - Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg addressed an adoring crowd at Y Combinator's startup school today, speaking confidently about Facebook's future and describing a world in which people will share a whole lot more than they do now via Facebook and other social companies.

"It's sort of a social-networking version of Moore's Law," said Zuckerberg, who was interviewed by Y Combinator co-founder Paul Graham. "We expect this rate [of sharing] will double every 10 years. So in 10 years from now, people will be sharing about 1,000 times as many things as they do today."

That, of course, is what Zuckerberg and the newly public Facebook are banking on: That the company's 1 billion plus users will keep using Facebook for not just keeping in touch with friends but for interacting with brands as well.

Zuckerberg also thinks entrepreneurs need to focus on big, meaningful problems that they're passionate about. And while he didn't take a shot at Silicon Valley, as he did last year, he did complain that startups are generally tackling small issues.

Zuckerberg law - Facebook Share Price Halves Every Year?

Facebook shares have halved their value in six months

Average Life Expectancy in China should be 75.8 years in 2015

People's Daily - The average life expectancy for the Chinese will reach 75.8 years by 2015, one year longer than the 2010 level, according to a health care development plan issued on Friday.

The plan also calls for increasing the number of beds in non-public medical institutions to an amount equal to 20 percent of the total number of hospital beds in China.

To encourage more people to obtain medical insurance, China will raise annual subsidies for urban and rural residents from about 240 yuan (38 U.S. dollars) to 360 yuan by 2015, the plan says.

The government will train another 150,000 general medical practitioners for local communities by the end of 2015.

Twenty years of the Great California Exodus

California is a far more populous state than it was in 1960, when it was second to New York in population size, with 15,717,204 people. Since then, the state has grown 137 percent, to 37,253,956 in 2010. For comparison, consider New York, which grew by only 15 percent during that same period. On the other hand, Texas has grown faster over these 50 years—by 262 percent.

Since 1990, domestic migration to California has flipped to a deficit. In the last two decades, the state lost nearly 3.4 million residents through migration to other states. In other words, it lost about four-fifths of what it had gained through domestic migration in the previous 30 years. Foreign immigration filled the gap only partially. Inflows from overseas peaked at 291,191 in 2002 and sank to just 164,445 in 2011. Meanwhile, net domestic out-migration has averaged 225,000 a year over the past ten years.

In 2005, foreign immigration ceased to make up for the drop in domestic migration to California. Since that year, California’s annual net migration has been negative—more people leave the state than come to live in it. Natural increase in the resident population—births minus deaths—cushions the blow of this out-migration, but that, too, is falling. It peaked at 397,000 in 1992 and had dropped to 271,000 by 2011.

Part of the migration out of California is related to the aging population. The biggest gaining state was Florida which is a popular retirement destination.

California had a higher unemployment levels than the US average.

California had become a more crowded state and the infrastructure did not keep up and homes prices went up.

Quantum Bus to enable connections between quantum processors

In yet another step toward the realization of a practical quantum computer, scientists working at Princeton and the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) have shown how a major hurdle in transferring information from one quantum bit, or qubit, to another might be overcome. Their so-called "quantum bus" provides the link that would enable quantum processors to perform complex computations.

The finding, by a team led by Princeton physicist Jason Petta, could eventually allow engineers to build quantum computers consisting of millions of quantum bits, or qubits. So far, quantum researchers have only been able to manipulate small numbers of qubits, not enough for a practical machine.

Qubits are unlike a classical bit because they can be not only a 1 or 0 but also both, simultaneously. This property of qubits, called superposition, helps give quantum computers a tremendous advantage over conventional computers when doing certain types of calculations. But these quantum states are fragile and short-lived, which makes designing ways for them to perform basic functions, such as getting qubits to talk to one another—or "coupling"—difficult.

"In order to couple qubits, we need to be able to move information about one to the other," says NIST physicist Jacob Taylor. "There are a few ways that this can be done and they usually involve moving around the particles themselves, which is very difficult to do quickly without destabilizing their spins—which are carrying the information—or transferring information about the spins to light. While this is easier than moving the particles themselves, the interaction between light and matter is generally very weak.

Micrograph of a quantum bus device similar to the one measured for this experiment. Note the Princeton tiger is 1 mm from head to tail. The spin-orbit qubits are located at the nexus of the seven gate electrodes.
Credit: K. Petersson/Princeton

Nature - Circuit quantum electrodynamics with a spin qubit

Progress to Engineered Organs

The research, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, sheds light on the mechanics of cell, tissue and organ formation. The research revealed basic mechanisms about how a group of bacterial cells can form large three-dimensional structures.

“If you want to create an organism, the geometry of how a group of cells self-organizes is crucial,” said Dr. Hongbing Lu, professor of mechanical engineering and holder of the Louis Beecherl Jr. Chair at UT Dallas and an author of the study. “We found that cell death leads to wrinkles, and the stiffer the cell the fewer wrinkles.”

Organ formation is the result of individual cells teaming with others. The aggregate of the cells and their environment form a thin layer of what is known as a biofilm. These biofilms form 3-D wrinkled patterns.

Wrinkle formation that occurred on a four-day-old subtilis biofilm was preceded by cell death.

Developing the Next Generation of Microsensors

Caltech - Imagine navigating through a grocery store with your cell phone. you turn down the bread aisle, ads and coupons for hot dog buns and English muffins pop up on your screen. The electronics industry would like to make such personal navigators a reality, but, to do so, they need the next generation of microsensors.

Thanks to an ultrasensitive accelerometer—a type of motion detector—developed by researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the University of Rochester, this new class of microsensors is a step closer to reality. Beyond consumer electronics, such sensors could help with oil and gas exploration deep within the earth, could improve the stabilization systems of fighter jets, and could even be used in some biomedical applications where more traditional sensors cannot operate.

Caltech professor of applied physics Oskar Painter and his team describe the new device and its capabilities in an advance online publication of the journal Nature Photonics.

Rather than using an electrical circuit to gauge movements, their accelerometer uses laser light. And despite the device's tiny size, it is an extremely sensitive probe of motion. Thanks to its low mass, it can also operate at a large range of frequencies, meaning that it is sensitive to motions that occur in tens of microseconds, thousands of times faster than the motions that the most sensitive sensors used today can detect.

New Five-Year Effort to Develop Post-CMOS Next Generation Nanoelectronics

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced today the selection of the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI), a collaboration of several key firms in the semiconductor industry, to support university-centered research for the development of after-the-next-generation “nanoelectronics” technology. NRI is made up of participants from the semiconductor industry, including GLOBALFOUNDRIES, IBM, Intel, Micron Technology and Texas Instruments.

NIST will provide $2.6 million to the effort for up to five years, matched by $870 thousand each year from NRI. The program funds research at university centers around the country that are working to develop the fundamental nanoscale technologies that will be needed in the future to replace the aging CMOS (“complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor”) transistor technologies at the heart of today’s state-of-the-art electronics. Over the past few decades, silicon-based CMOS circuits have relentlessly followed a path of getting smaller and more complex and powerful. However, the basic underlying transistor technology is approaching physical limits.
One nanoelectronics approach studied by the NRI MIND center is nanomagnet logic (NML)--logic circuits that work by magnetic coupling between neighboring nanoscale magnets. Here, SEM (l) and magnetic force microscope (r) images show an NML circuit that adds binary numbers.
Credit: Courtesy SRC-NRI Midwest Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery (MIND)

October 19, 2012

New $249 Samsung Google Chromebook

Google and Samsung have introduced a new $249 Chromebook.

It weighs under 2.5 pounds, is less than 0.8 inches thin, and has more than 6.5 hours of battery life. And wherever you are, all your things are safely stored online. It has an 11.6 inch screen.

Google provides two years of 100 Gb of cloud storage with the purchase of the device.

It boots in ten seconds.

The Chromebook features dual band Wi-Fi, 12 free Gogo Inflight passes, and offline apps for the rare times when you’re disconnected from the web.

Aeros Rigid Airship in Final Stages of Assembly

Aviation Week - A revolutionary aircraft prototype is now in the final stages of assembly and integration in a World War II airship hangar in Tustin, Calif. Developed by Aeros Corp., a California start-up, and funded by the Defense Department as a potential long-range transportation technology, the Pelican combines buoyant and aerodynamic lift in a different way from other lighter-than-air and hybrid vehicles, and is designed to be more efficient, more flexible and easier to handle on the ground. Its designers think that it could be evolved quickly into a vehicle with a C-17-like payload and range, combined with vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) capability.

Pelican is 230 ft. long and has a hull volume of 600,000 cu. ft. The primary structure comprises triangular-section carbon-fiber trusses that carry the engines—automotive diesels with thrust-vectoring propellers—the control surfaces and cockpit, and carry the lift loads from the gas cells. Curved secondary frames support an airfoil-contoured outer shell.

The next step, Pasternak says, is a vehicle with approximately twice the Pelican's overall dimensions and eight times the volume—about 450 ft. long and 3.8 million cu. ft.—capable of carrying a 66-ton payload over a 3,000-nm unrefueled range, and with combined diesel and turboprop propulsion. It could also incorporate the ability to superheat helium gas for takeoff—after takeoff, the helium would be allowed to cool to ambient temperatures and the vehicle would use a combination of aerodynamic and buoyant lift in the cruise, at speeds up to 80-100 kt. and up to 10,000 ft. Aeros has also experimented with techniques for extracting water from the engine exhaust to compensate for fuel use. “We could complete the design-build cycle on that vehicle in 28-30 months,” he tells Aviation Week.

Larger vehicles are possible in the future, says Pasternak, “but we strongly understand the need to test an operational vehicle before going to 100 or 200 tons.” So far, the 66-ton vehicle is unfunded.

17 months ago Nextbigfuture covered Aeros funding by the Pentagon for test rig.

The airship will be over three times as efficient as a C17 cargo ship but three times less efficient than a truck. It will be about three times faster than a truck (especially being able to fly in a straight line and over rough terrain).

C17 plane ton-mile per gallon                         7
Aeros Airship Ton-Mile per Gallon of Fuel            23
Rail fuel efficiency (Ton-mile per gallon)    156 to 512
Trucks                                         68 to 133

LA Times - The Aeroscraft is being built under a contract of around $35 million from the Pentagon and NASA

Ningde nuclear reactor is being loaded with fuel

Fuel is being loaded into the new Ningde reactor in China. The reactor is on track to begin operations in December of this year.

This would be the 10th out of 14 reactors that were expected to start operations in 2012.

There are two others that are also expected to start operations. The Kudankulam 1 reactor in India and the Hongyanhe 1 reactor in China.

October 18, 2012

Current and Future Batteries

Cost and performance of EV batteries (March 2012, 100 pages)

Currently, cells suitable for transport applications typically have an energy density of 100-180Wh/kg, are available at a capacity of 40 Ah/cell, and (with careful thermal and operational management) may achieve 10 years of life in automotive operation. Automotive cells cost ca. $400/kWh but the actual cost of the battery system is higher due to the need for electronic and thermal management. The whole battery system including cells, structural support, thermal management and electronic balance, is called the battery pack. The cost of a battery pack for a pure EV is approximately $800/kWh, i.e. double the cost of the cells alone.

Automotive cells represent only a marginal share (less than 5%) of the rechargeable lithium-ion cells market. The largest market is consumer electronics, such as batteries for laptops and phones. Consumer cells are smaller and have less stringent performance specifications than automotive cells in terms of power, battery life and safety. Small consumer cells cost under 250$/kWh, but these figures do not translate directly to automotive cells because of their more stringent requirements and the engineering challenge of manufacturing large cells.

The United States Advanced Battery Consortium, a collaboration between major U.S. automakers, has a goal of bringing costs down to under $150 per kilowatt-hour to achieve large-scale commercialization of electric vehicles. Battery makers have driven costs down over the last several years, from about $1,000 per kilowatt-hour to $500 per kilowatt-hour for car batteries.

Sakti3 is developing solid-state batteries that do away with the bulky and dangerous liquid electrolytes used in conventional lithium-ion batteries, potentially doubling energy storage. Toyota, which has a joint venture with battery maker Panasonic, is developing solid-state batteries similar to the ones Sakti3 is pursuing.

Genetically Modified Mice Sniff Out Landmines

Technology Review - Researchers have created mice that are 500 times more sensitive than usual to TNT. They could provide a cheap, fast way to find buried explosives.

Genetically engineered mice could be created as cheap methods to detect anything that releases molecules into the air. (drug detection, some kinds of cancers and disease)

Scientists are engineering a real-life Mighty Mouse that will scurry through fields sniffing out hidden landmines thanks to olfactory superpowers.

The researchers, at Hunter College of the City University of New York, have genetically engineered the animals to be 500 times better equipped than their normal counterparts to sniff out landmine explosives. They hope that these "hero mice" could warn of buried bombs.

Hidden landmines are a deadly reality in nearly 70 countries globally, and detection and removal are expensive and dangerous. Currently, metal detectors, radar, magnetometers, and sniffer dogs are used to search for them.

A Belgian organization called APOPO already uses giant African pouched rats as a cheaper way to sniff out landmines. The rats are not genetically modified, but their sense of smell is sharp enough to detect TNT. The bomb-sniffing rats are taught to scratch the ground when they detect a hidden mine (fortunately, they are small enough not to set off the explosives). While the furry minesweepers are effective (with two handlers, they can cover a field in one hour that would take two full days for metal detectors), they need nine months of training to become reliable, a process that costs around 6,000 euros per rat.

APOPO has stepped up its war on landmines and aims to spread the use of its unique rat detection and land release methodology through its Mine Action Programs. APOPO continues to develop combined approaches using existing demining technology as well as its innovative Mine Detection Rats (MDRs), leading to greater land release rates. In addition to the current use of these HeroRATs in clearance procedures, the role of rats in technical survey is also being explored, which will have a positive effect on overall efficiency of releasing land.

Keck observations reveal Uranus in more detail than Voyager

The planet Uranus, known since Voyager’s 1986 flyby as a bland, featureless blue-green orb, is beginning to show its face. By using a new technique with the telescopes of the Keck Observatory, astronomers have created the most richly detailed, highest-resolution images ever taken of the giant ice planet in the near infrared, revealing an incredible array of atmospheric detail and more complex weather.

The planet, in fact, looks like many of the solar system’s other large planets — the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn, and the ice giant Neptune — said Imke de Pater, professor and chair of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, and one of the team members. The planet has bands of circulating clouds, massive swirling hurricanes and an unusual swarm of convective features at its north pole.

The two faces of Uranus as seen through the adaptive optics on the near-infrared camera of the Keck II telescope in Hawaii. The white features are high altitude clouds like Earth’s cumulous clouds, while the bright blue-green features are thinner high-altitude clouds akin to cirrus clouds. Reddish tints indicate deeper cloud layers. In each image, the north pole is at the right and is highlighted by small convective spots highly reminiscent of features seen on Saturn’s pole. Just south of the equator is a never-before-seen scalloped wave pattern similar to instabilities that develop in regions of horizontal wind shear. Click here for more detail on how image was created. Image courtesy of Lawrence Sromovsky, Pat Fry, Heidi Hammel, Imke de Pater.

Reviewing the New or Restarted Nuclear Reactors for 2012

1. Bruce Power’s Unit 2 sent power to Ontario’s electricity grid, for the first time in 17 years earlier today marking a major milestone in the Bruce Power revitalization program.

With first synchronization now complete, final planned commissioning activities will be carried-out on Unit 2 including safety system shutdown testing. Once the units are at high power, they will produce enough electricity to power cities the size of Ottawa and London, ON, combined.

“Ontario is building a modern, clean, reliable electricity system and nuclear energy is a critical part of our energy supply. Bruce Power’s revitalization program is an important step towards eliminating the use of coal fired electricity by the end of 2014,” said Chris Bentley, Ontario Minister of Energy.

The return to service of Units 1 and 2 bring the Bruce Power site back to its eight-unit capacity, doubling the number of operational units from 10 years ago when the company began its multi-year revitalization program to make it the largest nuclear generating facility in the world. Prior to this investment, half of the units on the site were laid up.

Samsung GALAXY Note II With LTE Available Oct. 25 from Sprint

1. The Samsung GALAXY Note II will be available Oct. 25 for $299.99 from Sprint with a new line or eligible upgrade and two-year service agreement (excludes taxes and surcharges).

For Sprint, this marks the first smartphone screen at larger than five inches. Te Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has HD Super AMOLED™ screen technology powering the device’s 5.5-inch 720p display. The GALAXY Note II offers a whole new level of innovation and is available in two color options – Marble White or Titanium Gray.

Other US release dates for the Galaxy Note 2 -

T-Mobile, which recently released the original Galaxy Note, only to opt for the Galaxy Note 2, is rumored to be launching the Galaxy Note 2 on October 24th

Amazon has an unlocked Samsung Galaxy Note 2 available now for $686

2. The LG Optimus G will be available from Sprint on November 11, 2012. It has a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, LG Optimus G will be available for $199.99 with a new two-year service agreement. It has a 4.7 inch screen

New technique for nanostructure assembly

A team of researchers from the University of Florida department of chemistry has developed a new technique for growing new materials from nanorods.

Materials with enhanced properties engineered from nanostructures have the potential to revolutionize the marketplace in everything from data processing to human medicine. However, attempts to assemble nanoscale objects into sophisticated structures have been largely unsuccessful. The UF study represents a major breakthrough in the field, showing how thermodynamic forces can be used to manipulate growth of nanoparticles into superparticles with unprecedented precision.

Proposed DDC (Double Domed Cylinder) model: radius of cylinder (R), the height of top dome (Ht), and the bottom dome (Hb)

Science - Self-Assembled Colloidal Superparticles from Nanorods

Japanese emergency crews will wear robotic exoskeletons

Translation - In the "unmanned disaster systems research and development project" of NEDO, and a group of mobile robots, Ltd. and Institute, Chiba Institute of Technology, CYBERDYNE Corporation has developed a robot disaster response exoskeleton.

CYBERDYNE has developed a robot suit HAL ® for the most recent disaster recovery difficult even under harsh environments, intrusiveness of workers while ensuring the safety and health of workers, can work more safely manned.

The suit has tungsten shielding which reduces radiation exposure by about 50 percent, as well as a cooling system to prevent heatstroke. Much of the weight of the suit is supported by the exoskeleton's legs. Vital signs such as heart rate and body temperature will also be measured in real-time. It has tools for repairing damaged pipes.

Cyberdyne previously had exoskeletons for helping senior citizens and for nurses and workers who were helping senior citizens.

The $9 Cardboard bike could enable billions of bikes to fight poverty and improve the environment

FastCo Design - Izhar Gafni has designed award winning industrial machines for peeling pomegranates and sewing shoes. He’s also a bike enthusiast who’s designed a lot of carbon fiber rigs. But one day, he’d heard about someone who’d built a cardboard canoe.

Izhar created the Alfa cardboard bike. The Alfa weighs 20lbs, yet supports riders up to 24 times its weight. It’s mostly cardboard and 100% recycled materials, yet uses a belt-driven pedal system that makes it maintenance free. And, maybe best of all, it’s project designed to be manufactured at about $9 to $12 per unit (and just $5 for a kids version)

LA Times - Izhar hopes to put the bike into mass production in the next three months.
Water proof and strong as wood

Gafni says the bike is strong, durable, fireproof and waterproof. And because it is made of cardboard, it will also be cheap. Gafni's business partner Nimrod Elmis told Reuters that he expects the bike to sell at retail stores for $20.

The trick to make it strong was bending and gluing the cardboard in such a way that it becomes strong like a piece of wood. In a video about Gafni and his cardboard bike, Gafni describes the process as a type of origami, and demonstrates how his cardboard is strong enough to support a car.

If you fold cardboard once, and it’s not just twice the strength, it’s three times the strength.

Rejuvenation of senescent cells-the road to postponing human aging and age-related disease

Rejuvenation of senescent cells-the road to postponing human aging and age-related disease

Making old cells younger either by making old cells into young stem cells or by effecting the TOR pathway for cells inside of old patients.

Cellular senescence is the state of permanent inhibition of cell proliferation. Replicative senescence occurs due to the end replication problem and shortening telomeres with each cell division leading to DNA damage response (DDR). The number of short telomeres increases with age and age-related pathologies. Stress induced senescence, although not accompanied by attrition of telomeres, is also attributed to DDR induced by irreparable DNA lesions in telomeric DNA. Senescent cells characterized by the presence of γH2AX, the common marker of double DNA strand breaks, and other senescence markers including activity of SA-β-gal, accumulate in tissues of aged animals and humans as well as at sites of pathology. It is believed that cellular senescence evolved as a cancer barrier since non-proliferating senescent cells cannot be transformed to neoplastic cells. On the other hand senescent cells favor cancer development, just like other age-related pathologies, by creating a low grade inflammatory state due to senescence associated secretory phenotype (SASP). Reversal/inhibition of cellular senescence could prolong healthy life span, thus many attempts have been undertaken to influence cellular senescence. The two main approaches are genetic and pharmacological/nutritional modification of cell fate. The first one concerns cell reprogramming by induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), which in vitro is effective even in cells undergoing senescence, or derived from very old or progeroid patients. The second approach concerns modification of senescence signaling pathways just like TOR-induced by pharmacological or with natural agents. However, knowing that aging is unavoidable we cannot expect its elimination, but prolonging healthy life span is a goal worth serious consideration.

Fightaging discusses this work

Young blood reverses age-related cognitive impairments

Last year, Saul Villeda, then at Stanford University in California, and colleagues showed they could boost the growth of new cells in the brains of old mice by giving them a blood infusion from young mice. New work presented at Neuroscience 2012 showed that old mice that had received young blood plasma performed better in tests of memory.

New Scientist - Tissue from the hippocampus of old mice given young blood showed changes in the expression of 200 to 300 genes, particularly in those involved in synaptic plasticity, which underpins learning and memory. They also found changes in some proteins involved in nerve growth. Old mice that had received young blood plasma performed better in tests of memory (memorizing a maze and remembering fear associated locations).

Nature - The ageing systemic milieu negatively regulates neurogenesis and cognitive function (the study from last year)

October 17, 2012

Nanopore sequencing will be the winning approach to DNA Sequencing

I spoke with Michael Andregg, co-founder of Halcyon Molecular at the recent Singularity Summit.

Michael indicated that Halcyon is continuing but with as several companies that focus on leveraging the different capabilities that have been developed.

He indicated that the Oxford Nanopore Technology development earlier this year shows that DNA nanopore sequencing will be the winner in the DNA sequencing wars. Oxford may or may not win. Other companies and countries could converge on nanopore methods but that nanopore is the winning approach to DNA Sequencing.

Although ultimately DNA nanopore sequencing will drive the cost for genome sequencing down to $10-100 or even less, the actual price that different users will have to pay will vary depending upon the market and situation.

Some Background on Halcyon
Founded by Andregg brothers in 2008, their plan "developing a way to sequence the human genome...faster and cheaper than ever before" as a step to "turning biology into an information science".

There is a recent analysis, which describes continuing technical hurdles for Nanopore sequencing

The claim that nanopore technology is on the verge of making DNA analysis so fast and cheap that a person’s entire genome could be sequenced in just minutes and at a fraction of the cost of available commercial methods, has resulted in overwhelming academic, industrial, and global interest. But a review by Northeastern University physicist Meni Wanunu, published in a special issue on nanopore sequencing in Physics of Life Reviews, questions whether the remaining technical hurdles can be overcome to create a workable, easily produced commercial device.

Earlier this year Oxford Nanopore Technologies, one of the pioneering companies of sequencing discoveries, announced that they expect nanopore strand sequencing to achieve a 15-minute genome by 2014 at a cost of $1,500. This is a far cry from the $10 million it cost to sequence an entire genome just 5 years ago.

October 16, 2012

Blue Origin Tests Rocket Engine Thrust Chamber

NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP) partner Blue Origin has successfully fired the thrust chamber assembly for its new 100,000 pound thrust BE-3 liquid oxygen, liquid hydrogen rocket engine. As part of Blue's Reusable Booster System (RBS), the engines are designed eventually to launch the biconic-shaped Space Vehicle the company is developing.

Blue Origin is a reusable rocket being developed by Jeff Bezos CEO of Amazon.

Blue Origin successfully test fires its BE-3 high-performance liquid hydrogen engine thrust chamber at NASA's Stennis Space Center.
Image credit: Blue Origin

China completes more high speed rail and an estimate of China's corruption is 3 to 4% of GDP

Xinhuanet - new high-speed railway was put into operation in east China on Tuesday, integrating local cities into the country's high-speed rail network that covers developed coastal regions. The 132-km new railway links Hefei and Bengbu, two cities in the inland Anhui Province, cutting the journey between them by at least one hour to 38 minutes on train traveling at a maximum speed of 350 km per hour.

The section also connects with the high-speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai, and is part of the special passenger lines that link Shanghai, Wuhan and Chengdu, and connect Beijing and coastal Fuzhou.

The integration greatly shortens trips from the Anhui cities of Hefei, Bengbu and Huainan to the Yangtze Delta in the east, Pearl River Delta in the south and Bohai Sea Rim in the north, all national economic engines.

The shortest trip from Hefei to Beijing has been cut to less than four hours after the new railway entered service. Previously, traveling by train from the capital city of Anhui to Beijing took about 10 hours or more.

Water locked in glass of lunar regolith

Researchers presented infrared spectroscopy and mass spectrometry analyses of Apollo samples that reveal the presence of significant amounts of hydroxyl inside glasses formed in the lunar regolith by micrometeorite impacts.

When combined, the techniques of Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and secondary ion mass spectrometry can be used to determine the chemical form of the hydrogen in a substance, as well as its abundance and its isotopic composition. Most of the infrared spectroscopy work was done at Zhang's U-M lab, and the mass spectroscopy was conducted at Caltech.

"We found that the 'water' component, the hydroxyl, in the lunar regolith is mostly from solar wind implantation of protons, which locally combined with oxygen to form hydroxyls that moved into the interior of glasses by impact melting," said Zhang, the James R. O'Neil Collegiate Professor of Geological Sciences.

"Lunar regolith is everywhere on the lunar surface, and glasses make up about half of lunar regolith. So our work shows that the 'water' component, the hydroxyl, is widespread in lunar materials, although not in the form of ice or liquid water that can easily be used in a future manned lunar base.

This microscope image shows a grain of agglutinate glass similar to those analyzed in the lunar surface-water study reported in Nature Geoscience. The specimen in this image, which comes from samples returned by Apollo astronauts, is smaller than a typical dust grain. Image by Yang Liu.

Nature Geoscience - Direct measurement of hydroxyl in the lunar regolith and the origin of lunar surface water

Earth sized ExoPlanet Found in Nearest Star System to Earth - Alpha Centauri B

European astronomers have discovered a planet with about the mass of the Earth orbiting a star in the Alpha Centauri system — the nearest to Earth. It is also the lightest exoplanet ever discovered around a star like the Sun. The planet was detected using the HARPS instrument on the 3.6-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile. The results will appear online in the journal Nature on 17 October 2012.

Alpha Centauri is one of the brightest stars in the southern skies and is the nearest stellar system to our Solar System — only 4.3 light-years away. It is actually a triple star — a system consisting of two stars similar to the Sun orbiting close to each other, designated Alpha Centauri A and B, and a more distant and faint red component known as Proxima Centauri. Since the nineteenth century astronomers have speculated about planets orbiting these bodies, the closest possible abodes for life beyond the Solar System, but searches of increasing precision had revealed nothing. Until now.

“Our observations extended over more than four years using the HARPS instrument and have revealed a tiny, but real, signal from a planet orbiting Alpha Centauri B every 3.2 days,” says Xavier Dumusque (Geneva Observatory, Switzerland and Centro de Astrofisica da Universidade do Porto, Portugal), lead author of the paper. “It’s an extraordinary discovery and it has pushed our technique to the limit!”

Nature - The exoplanet next door

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 126

The Carnival of Space 126 is up at Entrprenuclear

Atomic Insights - Rod Adams covered the discussion about nuclear energy between Theo Simon and George Monbiot.

I have no desire to put words into the mouths of either man, but here is my summary of their current arguments. Both of them start with the perspective that corporate power is often destructive, that concentrated wealth can corrupt government, and that human development is best when people work locally, individually and in cooperation with their immediate communities. Both of them have spent their lives trying to resist over development, destructive technologies, and concentrated power.

However, in the past few years, Monbiot has shifted his position on nuclear energy from strong opposition to reluctant support. He has done a thorough job of explaining that positional shift on his blog and in his columns. Just in case you have not taken the time to read the many words he has written on the topic, I think it would be fair to say that his strongest motivation was a recognition that nuclear energy is an indispensable tool in the battle against global climate change.

He has taken a road similar to that traveled by Mark Lynas, Stewart Brand, James Hansen, Patrick Moore, Gwyneth Cravens and Barry Brook; he has listened carefully, read deeply and “done the math” to realize that we will have a far better chance of reducing CO2 emissions in time to avert catastrophe if we use both nuclear and renewable energy to replace fossil fuel energy. Monbiot has, on several occasions, indicated that he still does not “like” nuclear energy, but he accepts that it provides enough benefits to accept the associated costs.

Sumitomo prototype superconductor motor for buses in 2013 and mass production by 2020

Greencarcongress - Sumitomo Electric Industries (SEI) Ltd. hopes to have a prototype of a superconducting motor for electric buses ready by next spring to present to OEMs. SEI hopes to start mass-producing the motors by 2020 and envisions applications in not only buses, but also forklifts and small trucks.

In 2008, SEI unveiled an electric vehicle equipped with a prototype superconducting motor cooled by liquid nitrogen and built using SEI’s high-temperature superconducting (HTS) wires. The Sumitomo motor developed around 30kW with 120 N·m torque.

In September, 2007, a Japanese research group coordinated by IHI Corporation and including SEI unveiled a 365 kW HTS motor cooled by liquid nitrogen and using SEI’s DI-BSCCO superconducting wire. SEI’s bismuth-based superconducting material is made of bismuth - strontium - calcium - copper - oxygen (Bi-Sr-Ca-Cu-O).

Superconductors have zero resistance to the flow of electricity, so a vehicle with such a motor could consume 20-30% less energy than a conventional electric car using copper wire, according to the company

Sumitomo sees eventual widespread use of superconducting wires in the field of transport technology Superconducting wires can be used for electric vehicles, linear motor cars, and railroad vehicles one-half of which operate on DC. Furthermore, superconducting cables are thinner and weigh only one-fourth as much compared to traditional copper cables. These advantages make it possible to lay them along highways and other pathways, thereby opening up the possibility for new road services. Though I cannot predict when the above ideas will be put into practice, it is undeniable that superconducting technology will support our everyday lives in the future.

Spacex developing larger engine to enable a rocket with 200 tons of low earth orbit payload

FlightGlobal Spacex is developing a new more powerful engine that will enable a rocket to take 200 tons of payload to low earth orbit. Musk said the new rocket, which he calls MCT, will be "several times" as powerful as the 1 Merlin series, and won't use Merlin's RP-1 fuel. Beyond adding that it will have "a very big core size", he declined to elaborate, promising more details in "between one and three years".

This seems like a rocket that would be used for launching missions to Mars or large space stationary in one piece or new supersized spy satellitesbor other new space capabilities.

Shotwell said a possible payload range of the new rocket is 150-200t to low Earth orbit (LEO). A vehicle of that size would easily eclipse NASA's proposed Space Launch System, which will eventually be capable of launching 130t to LEO.

Musk declined to say what 'MCT' stands for, and declined to answer further questions on the project.

During an April interview, SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell discussed a project with similar characteristics, describing engines with "more than 1.5 million pounds" of thrust.

"We've looked at a number of different architectures, we haven't honed in on one just yet," said Shotwell. "I think we're still considering vehicle diameter. But the vehicle diameter is large, 7m minimum, multiple engines. These are big rockets."

She further noted that the company was examining grouping several of the engines together, as SpaceX has done with the current Falcon 9 rocket

Visual ‘cloaking’ applied to enable more efficient transfer of electrons

MIT - a new approach that allows objects to become “invisible” has now been applied to an entirely different area: letting particles “hide” from passing electrons, which could lead to more efficient thermoelectric devices and new kinds of electronics.

Normally, electrons travel through a material in a way that is similar to the motion of electromagnetic waves, including light; their behavior can be described by wave equations. That led the MIT researchers to the idea of harnessing the cloaking mechanisms developed to shield objects from view — but applying it to the movement of electrons, which is key to electronic and thermoelectric devices.

Diagram shows the 'probability flux' of electrons, a representation of the paths of electrons as they pass through an 'invisible' nanoparticle. While the paths are bent as they enter the particle, they are subsequently bent back so that they re-emerge from the other side on the same trajectory they started with — just as if the particle wasn't there. Image courtesy Bolin Liao et al.

Physical Review Letters - Cloaking Core-Shell Nanoparticles from Conducting Electrons in Solids

Nanowire solar cells could theoretically convert 60% of power and have a practical target of 38%

Bandgap Engineering's nanowire-enhanced solar cell designs combine low-cost processing with crystalline silicon to yield high-efficiency products. Our highly tunable silicon nanowires make these designs possible, leading to solar power cost-competitive with the grid.

Technology Review - The nanowire-based solar cell could eventually generate twice as much power as conventional solar cells.

That's a long-term project, but meanwhile the company is about to start selling a simpler version of the technology, using silicon nanowires that can improve the performance and lower the cost of conventional silicon solar cells. Bandgap says its nanowires, which can be built using existing manufacturing tools, boost the power output of solar cells by increasing the amount of light the cells can absorb.

Right now most solar-panel manufacturers aren't building new factories because the market for their product is glutted. But if market conditions improve and manufacturers do start building, they'll be able to introduce larger changes to production lines. In that case the Bandgap technology could make it possible to change solar cells more significantly. For example, by increasing light absorption, it could allow manufacturers to use far thinner wafers of silicon, reducing the largest part of a solar cell's cost. It could also enable manufacturers to use copper wires instead of more expensive silver wires to collect charge from the solar panels.

These changes could lead to solar panels that convert over 20 percent of the energy in sunlight into electricity (compared with about 15 percent for most solar cells now) yet cost only $1 per watt to produce and install, says Richard Chleboski, Bandgap's CEO.

New Techniques Stretch Carbon Nanotubes, Make Stronger Composites

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed new techniques for stretching carbon nanotubes (CNT) and using them to create carbon composites that can be used as stronger, lighter materials in everything from airplanes to bicycles.

By stretching the CNT material before incorporating it into a composite for use in finished products, the researchers straighten the CNTs in the material, which significantly improves its tensile strength – and enhances the stiffness of the composite material and its electrical and thermal conductivity.

State-of-the-art carbon fiber composites are currently used to build airplanes and other products where strong, lightweight materials are desirable. Lighter airplanes, for example, are more fuel efficient. However, researchers have long thought that if these composites could be made with CNTs they could be just as strong, but 10 times lighter. Or they could be the same weight, but 10 times stronger.

Creating a strong CNT composite requires four features. First, it needs long CNTs, which are more effective at carrying loads. Second, the CNTs need to be aligned in rows. Third, the CNTs in the material are held together by a polymer or resin, and you need to have a high ratio of CNTs to polymer in the finished composite material. Fourth, you need the CNTs to be as straight as possible, so that the material bears weight evenly.

Researchers used a rotating spool to create ribbon-like composite material that have a high percentage of carbon nanotubes, for use in products from airplanes to bicycles.

Materials Research Letters - Ultrastrong, Stiff and Multifunctional Carbon Nanotube Composites

Carnival of Space 271

The Carnival of Space 271 is up at Tranquility Base

Stephen Ashworth sits in at Centauri Dreams to riff on a big question: How are we going to build the Solar System-wide infrastructure we need to launch an eventual interstellar mission?

Water likely on any airless asteroid, moon or planet with oxygen on its surface

Hydrogen ions in the solar wind likely combine with oxygen on any asteroid or moon on or near the surface to make water.

Nature Geoscience - Direct measurement of hydroxyl in the lunar regolith and the origin of lunar surface water

Remote sensing discoveries of hydroxyl and water on the lunar surface have reshaped our view of the distribution of water and related compounds on airless bodies such as the Moon. The origin of this surface water is unclear, but it has been suggested that hydroxyl in the lunar regolith can result from the implantation of hydrogen ions by the solar wind. Here we present Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and secondary ion mass spectrometry analyses of Apollo samples that reveal the presence of significant amounts of hydroxyl in glasses formed in the lunar regolith by micrometeorite impacts. Hydrogen isotope compositions of these glasses suggest that some of the observed hydroxyl is derived from solar wind sources. Our findings imply that ice in polar cold traps could contain hydrogen atoms ultimately derived from the solar wind, as predicted by early theoretical models of water stability on the lunar surface. We suggest that a similar mechanism may contribute to hydroxyl on the surfaces of other airless terrestrial bodies where the solar wind directly interacts with the surface, such as Mercury and the asteroid 4-Vesta.

October 15, 2012

Softbank Boss Masayoshi Son is Speed Maniac

Softbank Boss Masayoshi Son has complained about the molasses-speed wireless connections in the USA. In Japan, the newest and fastest cellular signals are nearly everywhere, and their capacity to channel huge vats of data means sluggish downloads are rare.

The Softbank deal should mean
* Aggressive pricing
* Likely Faster conversion to LTE
* Faster speed wireless a priority

SoftBank’s rise in Japan — despite the name, it’s primarily a wireless phone company — came from being the first to sell Apple’s iPhone there and from undercutting the competition on price. Already, Sprint generally sells the least-expensive wireless service and is the only major carrier to offer unlimited data plans for smartphones.

“If history is any guide,” wrote analyst Craig Moffett of Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., “Sprint will be an aggressive pricer.”

Analysts say none of that is a promise to transform America’s wireless landscape, or even that Sprint will be able to markedly quicken its rollout of a better, faster network.

For starters, he’s likely to push Sprint to make faster connections a priority.

“I am a speed maniac,” Son has said, adding he “cannot stand the slowness of the speed” in the United States.

Yet the Japanese use the same LTE, or long term evolution technology, that U.S. companies are rolling out. It’s just that the Japanese are ahead. It’s part of the reason consumers there don’t blink an eye about using their phones to get soda from vending machines, to board subways, to buy plane tickets or to watch television.

CNET - Softbank uses a variant of LTE called TD-LTE, which is similar to the technology that Clearwire is using. Sprint has already committed to Clearwire as its largest customer and shareholder, and plans to use Clearwire's network to augment its own coverage in big and crowded markets.

WSJ - SoftBank has deployed more than 200,000 base stations alone on its LTE network, while all the U.S. operators combined have only deployed approximately 285,000 cell sites on their LTE networks.

Singularity Summit - Peter Norvig Director of Research at Google #SS12

Peter Norvig (Director of Research Google)

He went over the last part of his 2007 Singularity Summit talk

Probabilistic First Order Logic (thought he needed it in 2007 but upon review not needed)
Hierarchical Representation and Problem Solving (yes, progress made and needed it)
Learning over the above (yes)
Lots of data (yes, used 10 million videos and photos from Youtube)
Online (yes, this is partial – they loaded it offline and used it online)
Efficiently (yes)

Important research for the automatic image categorization work

Google trained a picture identifying system with 10 million youtube videos
Tens of thousands of nodes. Each node identified a particular thing.
Cats, people, yellow flowers etc..

Sparse Coding (Olhauser and Field 1996)

Deep Belief Networks (Hinton, Osindero and Teh, 2006, 16 pages)

Hinton tutorial on Deep belief networks (100 pages)

Peter Norvig answered questions about AI on Reddit back in 2010

Google Nexus 7 reviews and rumors and Kindle Fire HD and the new IPad

1. UK Telegraph - Carphone Warehouse said that, since going on sale on 27 July, the Google Nexus 7 tablet has become the best selling Android tablet in its history. It still lags considerably behind any of Apple's three iPad models, it means that devices such as the Asus Transformer Prime and the Samsung Galaxy Tab have already been eclipsed by a device whose main selling point has been its affordable £159 (US$249) price tag.

2. Wirelessandmobilenews- There are rumors of a cheaper 7″ Nexus 7 for $99 in time for the holidays. There will be some great tablet deals starting on Black Friday (thanksgiving in the US) and cyberdeals during that week and into the holidays.

There have been reports that Google and Asus will offer a 32 GB Nexus 7 tablet. Although the Nexus 7 has gotten great reviews, it lacks a microSD slot for increasing storage. 32GB models were seen in inventory systems. The estimated price for the 32GB Nexus 7 is around $249.99, the current price for the Nexus 7 16GB model.

The $99 Nexus 7 will likely have somewhat compromised features. I personally will be looking at the Black Friday and Cyberdeals around Thanksgiving.

Singularity Summit - Jaan Tallinn on Hard Takeoff Singularity and a Simulation Universe #SS12

Why Now ? A Quest in Metaphysics by Jaan Tallinn

Jaan is one of the founders of Kazaa and Skype
He is a member of the Lifeboat Foundation
He is now with Ambient Sound Investments

He had a presentation which outlined a hard takeoff to the Singularity.
He makes the case that the beginning of the Singularity is a special moment in the universe.

He discusses why it could make sense for superintelligences (of computronium) would communicate to each other with simulations of the Singularity where they are looking for similar superintelligences.

The presentation considers the programmer Fred whose program initiates a hard takeoff singularity.

My notes on the presentation are limited. There should be a copy of the presentation on Prezi but I have not been able to find it yet. It is a series of cartoon drawings.

You should be able to use search terms of parts of "Why Now ? A Quest in Metaphysics by Jaan Tallinn". If anyone can find it please let me know.

Special moment
Simulations in multiverse
Superintelligences vs physics
Simulations to communicate between superintelligences
Mindspace search

Here are other videos with Jaan

Singularity Summit - A Tsunami of Life #SS12

Robin Hanson talks about A tsunami of Life

Robin is detailing the scenario where there are many whole brain emulations.
He is using the conventional economics to work from the assumption to detail how that society would look. He does not look at intermediate situations and does not debate any other philosophical or ethical implications.

He is writing a book about this detailed scenario.
Some people could be troubled by aspects of it but he feels that people need to consider the whole situation.

These are the rough notes of a dense talk.

Economics of whole brain emulation
Need to emulate brains - uploads
Computers very parallel
Scan – fix slice 2d scan
Model each brain cell type
Emulation of the brain does the same as the original brain

Combine usual results in economics, brain science
Assume mostly opaque emulations
No merges, slices, partials
Next big eras, not eras after
Look first at
Low regulation competitive scenario
Post transition equilibrium
Use supply and demand

Singularity Summit - Our Viral Future #SS12

Carl Zimmer who Writes the blog TheLoon, and science fiction and for major magazines talks about Our Viral Future

He talks about Ramses V (pharaoh)
Died of Smallpox, earliest identified case, determined by examining the mummy

Virus – Medawar Virus a piece of bad news wrapped up in a protein

Vaccinate with cow pox and other attenuated or weaker viruses
Smallpox - first virus eliminated
Rinderpest – second virus eliminated (deadly for cows)

Japan's Softbank will buy 70% of Sprint

(Reuters) Japanese mobile operator Softbank Corp said it will buy about 70 percent of Sprint Nextel Corp, the third-largest U.S. carrier, for $20.1 billion - the most a Japanese firm has spent on an overseas acquisition.

The deal, announced by Softbank's billionaire founder and chief Masayoshi Son and Sprint Chief Executive Dan Hesse at a packed news conference in Tokyo on Monday, gives Softbank entry into a U.S. market that is still growing, while Japan's market is stagnating.

It also gives Sprint the firepower to buy peers and build out its 4G network to compete in a market dominated by AT&T Inc and Verizon Wireless.

Sprint owns 48 percent of Clearwire. While Softbank said no action was required, most analysts and investors see a Sprint-Clearwire tie-up as an inevitable consequence of the Softbank deal.

One way or another, analysts have long said the U.S. telecommunications industry needs to consolidate, but few looked to Japan as a catalyst.

October 14, 2012

Singularity Summit - Vernor Vinge - Who is Afraid of First Movers #SS12

Vernor Vinge talks about Who is afraid of first movers

5 kinds of superintelligences.
He thinks they will all happen, resulting in different styles of mind.
He discusses differences risks and precedents

1. Computer based path to AGI
Classical Artificial intelligence

2. Intelligence Amplification

Extreme UIs
Get answers from wikipedia as fast as you can

Intelligence amplification
Hans Moravec
ride the curve of improved cognition

Singularity summit - how good at we at predicting AGI #SS12

stewart armstrong talked about how we are predicting AGI (he worked with Kaj Sotala)

Bottom line - we are bad at predicting AGI. (artificial general intelligence)
He just says we should expand error bars. instead of 2040 say 2017 to 2113.

I think we need to work better at defining what we mean by AGI. Decompose more sub-goals and parts of the problem. Decompose the benefits and downsides that we can and should expect. Do the same thing for other large scale technological possibilities.

what performance should we expect?
what do we get?

Fields arranged by predictions

Less pure to more pure

AGI Predictors, historians, sociologists, economist, psychologists, biologists, chemists, physics, math

Expert Opinion, Past Examples, scientific method, deductive

Singularity Summit - Your Health and your data

John Wilbanks spoke about Your health, your data

He argues for getting health data out into the public domain so that it can be used for research and for everyones benefit to enable better health.

1. Doppler shifts

There are apps where people can take pictures of food
People annote it with whether they think what they are eating is healthy or not
People think pizza is 2.5 X less healthy if someone else is eating instead of them personally eating it

Science services market place provides public source of information.

Health records are not a good metaphor

Medical record are like a giant earhorn (how they listened for planes coming over the english channel)

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 Reviews

I am planning to buy the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. Here are some reviews of that smartphone.

1. Android Central - The original Galaxy Note wasn't a mainstream device, and neither is its successor. Nevertheless, the Galaxy Note 2 is the best large-screen smartphone available by a considerably wide margin.

The S Pen, though still not a required in everyday use, has become more useful -- and usable -- in the Note 2. And then there's the latest version of Android, as well as the wealth of extra features offered by TouchWiz. Great screen and camera.

The Bad - TouchWiz remains visually and structurally chaotic.

Singularity Summit Liveblogging - AI Crashing through the barrier of meaning

AI Crashing through the barrier of meaning by Melanie Mitchell

Analogy as source of everyday label for situations

That sounds like Mozart
Its another Vietnam
That’s a coverup
Pot calling the kettle black
Stones at glass houses

Been there, done that
The same thing happened to me
If I were in your shoes

Copycat Software

Processing strings and sequences

The Copycat project by Melanie Mitchell sought to develop FARG architectural ideas in the Copycat domain of letter-string analogy problems (and see more from Mitchell) e.g. "if abc goes to abd, what does ijk go to?", or "aqc -> abc, pqc -> ?" For obtaining the old code or a Java clone of Copycat, go to Melanie's own page and also Metacat.

Singularity Summit - How to Create a mind

Ray Kurzweil has written a new book - How to Create a Mind

Usual start with exponential progress

Reverse engineering the brain

The ultimate source of the template of intelligence

The essence of the human brain is pattern recognition

Pattern recognition happens in the neocortex

Neocortex is 10 times thicker than a piece of paper

discuss the first mammals that had the neocortex

Create a hierarchy of ideas

Felix Baumgartner successfully making his 128,097 foot skydive now

Felix Baumgartner will make his 128,097 foot supersonic skydive now.

Another livecast source

BBC News - Austrian Felix Baumgartner has broken the record for the highest ever skydive by jumping out of a balloon 128,000ft (39km) above New Mexico.

The 43-year-old was hoping also to break the sound barrier during his descent - although that mark awaits confirmation.

Video cameras relayed the moment Baumgartner stepped from his balloon capsule to begin his fall to Earth.

It took 10 minutes for him to reach the desert surface below.

Only the last few thousand feet were negotiated by parachute.

Washington Post Live blogging

2:30 p.m.: It now appears Baumgartner is NOT — repeat — NOT on Twitter. Thanks to Guardian’s @JonathanHaynes via our own @MrButterworth. Still waiting for official word from Red Bull myself, however.

2:28 p.m.: The live feed has gone silent for now, and my hands have stopped shaking, hopefully for good. A press conference is scheduled to begin shortly, according to the slate on the screen. I’ll be sticking with it until then. But tweet me your reactions and

2:22 p.m.: According to the indicators provided by the Stratos team, Baumgartner surpassed the speed of sound, but we’re still awaiting official confirmation.

2:19 p.m.: Unofficially Baumgartner has achieved a 4 minute and 22 second freefall, which does not break Kittinger’s record for elapsed time of a free fall, although Baumgartner has broken the record for the highest manned balloon jump. There has been no confirmation yet that Baumgartner achieved Mach 1.

2:18 p.m.: Baumgartner has landed safely with recovery crew nearby. The balloon has been cut from the capsule and is beginning its descent.

2:12 p.m.: Baumgartner says, “My visor is fogging up.” But his chute has successfully deployed as he approaches warmer temperatures.

“’Couldn’t have done it any better myself,” said Kittinger over the radio. Baumgartner’s mother, Eva,ß appears stunned, elated with joyful tears in her eyes.