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December 15, 2012

China starts new nuclear construction and makes nuclear deals with Russia

1. Construction of three new Chinese reactors has started since the country's announcement in October that it would approve only a 'small number' of projects in each of the coming five years.

First concrete has now been poured for Fuqing unit 4 in Fujian province and Yangjiang unit 4 in Guangdong province - both 1080 MWe CPR-1000 units. In addition, construction of the Shandong Shidaowan HTR-PM project - a demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor - has also started in Shandong province.

2. Baltiysky Zavod-Shipbuilding - the successor to the Baltiysky Zavod shipyard - will now complete the first floating nuclear reactor vessel for delivery to Rosenergoatom on 9 September 2016. The plant – dubbed the Akademik Lomonosov – will then be put into use in Vilyuchinsk, in the Kamchatka region in Russia's far east.


China increasing solar power installation target to 40 GW for 2015

China appears to be ready to lift their target for the deployment of solar power to 40 gigawatts by 2015, just weeks after the official target was raised to 21GW according to the China Daily.

China may almost double its upper limit for solar power installed capacity to 40 gigawatts by 2015 from the current 21 gW, an industry insider said.

The exact figure is yet to be finalized, said Meng Xiangan, deputy Board Chairman of the Chinese Renewable Energy Society.

Deutsche Bank analysts noted that the updated forecast suggests that more than 10GW of solar will be installed in China in each of the next three years. Assuming that solar deployment will continue to increase rather than slow; that suggests a cumulative total of well over 100GW by 2020.

Cleantechnica - Solar power by country at the end of 2011

1. Germany — 24.7 GW
2. Italy — 12.8 GW
3. Japan — 4.9 GW
4. Spain — 4.4 GW
5. USA — 4.4 GW
6. China — 3.1 GW


MeRAM is up to 1,000 times more energy-efficient than current technologies

UCLA - By using electric voltage instead of a flowing electric current, researchers from UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have made major improvements to an ultra-fast, high-capacity class of computer memory known as magnetoresistive random access memory, or MRAM.

The UCLA team's improved memory, which they call MeRAM for magnetoelectric random access memory, has great potential to be used in future memory chips for almost all electronic applications, including smart-phones, tablets, computers and microprocessors, as well as for data storage, like the solid-state disks used in computers and large data centers.

MeRAM's key advantage over existing technologies is that it combines extraordinary low energy with very high density, high-speed reading and writing times, and non-volatility — the ability to retain data when no power is applied, similar to hard disk drives and flash memory sticks, but MeRAM is much faster.



The lowest cost combination of wind, solar and storage for the northeast United States for all renewable option for 2030 but more costly than nuclear

Journal of Power Sources has a paper "Cost-minimized combinations of wind power, solar power and electrochemical storage, powering the grid up to 99.9% of the time".

NBF - This actually looks like a more credible and realistic plan. Tbhis is basing analysis upon the crappy plans by Stanford's Professor Jacobson. This plan looks like it could be worth some further consideration. General limitations are I doubt they consider any economic growth that would require more power (it assumes you stay at the current energy requirements). I would also like to see how they are handling the power grid costs and if the grid is in the right places. Usually renewables need more power grid extensions which are costly and time consuming.

UPDATE - Found a copy of the full report.

They propose building by 2030
124 GW of the needed power from inland wind.
89.7 GW of the needed power from offshore wind.
16.2 GW from solar
51.9 GW battery storage

Of 91.3 GW produced power average.
50.3 would be from the inland wind
38.3 would be from the offshore wind

This looks like it would cost a lot more than building nuclear power or some other mix of power generation. This is a link to the EIA levelized cost of energy.

It looks like this approach would cost about 2 to 3 times more than a mostly nuclear power approach.

They modeled wind, solar, and storage to meet demand for 1/5 of the USA electric grid.

► 28 billion combinations of wind, solar and storage were run, seeking least-cost.
► Least-cost combinations have excess generation (3 times the load), thus require less storage.
► 99.9% of hours of load can be met by renewables with only 9–72 h of storage.
► At 2030 technology costs, 90% of load hours are met at electric costs below today's.

They use widespread geographical distribution the intermittent sources (wind farms and photovoltaic installations) all parts of the grid would have enough power. (windy and sunny in come parts to make for calm and overcast areas in other parts)



A map showing the outlines of the current PJM system (blue line) and of the inland and offshore meteorological stations used for the wind data (pink asterisks). (For interpretation of the references to color in this figure legend, the reader is referred to the web or PDF version of this article.)

December 14, 2012

The USA Probably passed Saudi Arabia as the Number One Total Oil liquids Producing Country in the first week of December 2012

In Saudi Arabia's own direct communication to OPEC, the kingdom said November production was lower, at 9.49 million. The November Saudi amount was 550,000 barrels per day less than in August.

Therefore, Saudi Arabia appears to have cut back its oil production to 11.2 million barrels per day in the last week of November (in order to support a higher price for oil because of higher USA and Iraq production increases). The US increased oil (crude oil, natural gas liquids, ethanol and other liquids and refinery processing gains) production to pass Saudi Arabia in the first week of December (to 11.33 million bpd). The USA added 660,000 barrels per day since August.

11.33 million bpd for the USA and 11.2 million bpd for the Saudi Arabia swing producer. The USA became the number one oil (all liquids) producing nation in the first week of December. Based on simple math and what Saudi Arabia announced and what the USA reported via the Energy Information Administration.


Total Oil supply for the US for the days in the Week ending Dec 7 was 11.33 million barrels


Spacex President talks Air Force Launches and Says China will be the fiercest competitor in the next 5 to 10 years

The president of SpaceX said the U.S. domestic space launch market has “changed dramatically” in the last two weeks as a result of an Air Force decision to award the upstart company its first military contracts.

Gwynn Shotwell also said SpaceX plans to grow its nascent military launch business.

After calling the market for commercial space launches “incredibly stable, if not growing,” Shotwell said her company was not worried about how sequestration could impact the industry.

“Frankly, I think it probably helps us with the Air Force,” Shotwell said. The cost efficiencies her company has achieved for commercial launches make them a “little bit safer in the world of sequestration.”

While generally positive on the state of commercial launches, Shotwell warned that the U.S. runs the risk of falling behind international competitors.

“The U.S. has definitely been complacent, I think, on launch,” Shotwell said, specifically mentioning that China is investing heavily in space technology. “I think it’s critically important not to write the Chinese off. I think they will be the fiercest competitor here in the next five to 10 years.”

Iraq oil production up 650,000 barrels per day to 3.35 million in 2012 and will average 3.7 million bpd in 2013

Iraq’s production surged 650,000 barrels a day this year to 3.35 million, the biggest annual gain in 14 years. Iraq plans to boost output to an average 3.7 million barrels a day in 2013 and at some point in the year match the 1979 record of 3.8 million, Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Al-Luaibi told reporters in Vienna on Dec. 9.

Saudi Arabia reduced its output to 9.67 million barrels a day last month, according to a monthly report from OPEC that cited secondary sources for its data. In its own direct communication to OPEC, the kingdom said November production was even lower, at 9.49 million.

Quantum Imaging Technique Heralds Unjammable Aircraft Detection

Arxiv - Quantum Secured Imaging (10 pages)

ABSTRACT - We have built an imaging system that uses a photon’s position or time-of-flight information to image an object, while using the photon’s polarization for security. This ability allows us to obtain an image which is secure against an attack in which the object being imaged intercepts and resends the imaging photons with modified information. Popularly known as “jamming,” this type of attack is commonly directed at active imaging systems such as radar. In order to jam our imaging system, the object must disturb the delicate quantum state of the imaging photons, thus introducing statistical errors that reveal its activity

Physicists have exploited the quantum properties of photons to create the first imaging system that is unjammable.

Robot mimics almost all the major muscles in a human

Kenshiro robot body mirrors almost all the major muscles in a human, with 160 pulley-like "muscles"—50 in the legs, 76 in the trunk, 12 in the shoulder, and 22 in the neck. It has the most muscles of any other bio-inspired humanoid out there.

The Japanese researchers decided to design a robot with the same weight ratios of a human. For example, a 55 kg boy would have about a 5 kg thigh and 2.5 kg calf. Kenshiro copies that ratio, with a 4 kg thigh and 2.76 kg calf. Balance is key.

Weight was one thing, but the researchers also tried to mimic the muscle torque and joint speeds. Kenshiro’s total power output is 5 times greater than Kojiro (an earlier robot), allowing it to do things like the gymnastics-like leg lift in the video. Kenshiro can get almost the same amount of joint torque as a human, with joint angular speed not quite at human level, at 70-100 degrees per second. It’s a trade-off in weight and power: bigger and stronger motors are often heavier.



December 13, 2012

Metamaterial shells should wirelessly transmit power and enable deeper transcranial magnetic stimulation of the brain

Physicists in Spain have calculated that substantial amounts of energy could be transmitted through air by using special materials to shape the magnetic fields around conductors. Although the concept has yet to be verified in the lab, the researchers say that it could lead to a viable method of transmitting electrical power, as well as applications in magnetic sensors and studies of the brain.

They have used the theory of transformation optics to propose a new way of concentrating and transmitting electrical energy.


This computer visualization shows the distribution of magnetic energy between two magnets held in separate metamaterial shells. (Courtesy: Alvar Sanchez and colleagues)

New quad core chip will enable low cost smartphones to have premium features

MediaTek, a leading fabless semiconductor company for wireless communications and digital multimedia solutions from Taiwan, announced the launch of the MT6589, the world’s first commercialized quad-core System on a Chip (SoC), available for mid to high-end Android smartphones and tablets worldwide. The chip combines the quad core processor with a graphics processor and will enable more energy efficient and low cost quad core power in much more affordable smartphones.

The new quad-core SoC integrates MediaTek’s advanced multi-mode UMTS Rel. 8/HSPA+/TD-SCDMA modem, a power-efficient quad-core Cortex™-A7 CPU subsystem from ARM, PowerVR™ Series5XT GPU from Imagination Technologies, and is delivered in 28nm process technology. As a leader in Dual-SIM technology, the MT6589 is also the world’s first HSPA+ smartphone platform supporting Dual-SIM, Dual-Active functionality to address increasing multi-SIM demand around the world. The integration of these compelling features makes the MT6589 a universal platform that delivers premium multimedia capabilities with extremely low power consumption for an outstanding user experience. It also enables handset makers to reduce time to market, simplify product development and manage product differentiation in a more cost effective way, for any market worldwide.

“The ARM Cortex™-A7 is the most power-efficient applications processor ever developed by ARM. We are pleased MediaTek is the first company to combine a quad-core Cortex-A7 and leading edge 28nm manufacturing with TrustZone® for system-level security. The MT6589 system-on-chip brings the performance and features associated with high-end mobile devices to mass-market smartphones and tablets,” said Laurence Bryant, director of mobile solutions, ARM.

The MediaTek MT6589 quad-core solution supports 1080p 30fps/30fps low-power video playback and recording, a 13MP Camera with Integrated ISP, up to FHD (1920x1080) LCD displays, and enhanced picture processing for DTV-grade image quality. In addition, the MT6589 also supports MediaTek’s “Cool 3D” suite, which includes support for stereo 3D cameras and displays, real-time 2D-to-3D conversion and an optimal 3D user interface. Leveraging MediaTek’s established 3D technologies from the DTV and Digital Home markets, this suite helps create an optimal stereo 3D display with a custom-tailored 3D interface, providing an extremely flexible platform for product differentiation.

Gene therapy shows promise in eradicating some blood cancers

Out of 10 patients, only two patients have not gotten better on the T cell therapy, even though all had stopped responding to conventional treatments. Four patients have had a complete response - their leukemia was eradicated - with the longest so far lasting 28 months. In four other patients, leukemia diminished dramatically.

This is the same treatment that was described in a Nextbigfuture article yesterday. Novartis has the rights to this and is developing it.

"We believe we know why the two patients didn't respond," said Penn physician David L. Porter, a cancer and blood specialist. "If we're right, it's something we can fix."

The therapy, culminating 20 years of research, involves genetically engineering T cells - the immune system's big guns - to attack B cells, the blood component that turns malignant in chronic lymphocytic leukemia and acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Interfering with the immune system, however, is dicey. From the start, it was clear the designer T cells had side effects that caused flulike symptoms.

UAV Industry could become a trillion dollar business by 2032

New Scientist - The US Congress has charged the Federal Aviation Administration with opening airspace to UAVs by the end of 2015. Personal drones will be given a boost in the next year, when the FAA is due to pass a rule that will allow bigger UAVs, weighing up to 25 kilograms, to fly. It's a good start, says Jerry LeMieux, founder of the web-based Unmanned Vehicle University, which trains UAV pilots and engineers. The market for small drones will expand fastest, he says, with the new rules enabling all kinds of commercial applications such as aerial photography. "My prediction," he says, "is that the UAV industry will grow to a trillion dollar business over the next 20 years."

By law, in the US, Europe and Australia, drones can only fly up to an altitude of 120 metres or so, away from buildings and people, and within line of sight of their operators. It's a highly restrictive scenario, but there is growing pressure for the rules to change. Demand is rising for UAVs to be deployed in search-and-rescue operations, for monitoring crowds at sporting events and for traffic surveillance.

Many of the software algorithms that control these advanced drones are openly available so hobbyists can use and, in some cases, improve them. "The best open source UAVs are now near feature parity with military UAVs," says Chris Anderson, who runs two companies that help amateurs access the latest in drone technology. One of these firms, DIY Drones, specialises in open source aircraft - the most famous of which is the Arducopter, built around the Arduino processor beloved by thousands of geeks. Hobbyist drones are not quite as sophisticated or tough as military UAVs, of course - but then they cost one-hundredth as much.

Wheelchairs, Power Wheelchairs, Exoskeletons and Enabling the Disabled

About 10% of the global population, i.e. about 710 million people, have disabilities according to a World Health report. Studies indicate that, of these, some 10% require a wheelchair. It is thus estimated that about 1% of a total population – or 10% of a disabled population – need wheelchairs, i.e. about 71 million people worldwide. In 2003, it was estimated that 20 million of those requiring a wheelchair for mobility did not have one.

About 7% of persons older than 65 years are frail, and that the occurrence of frailty increases with age and may exceed 45% after age 85. By 2050, one in six people will be over the age of 65. This will be about 1.5 billion people. If 7% of them were frail that would be 105 million people. There are other causes of disability (a chart below goes over some of the causes and an older frequency of occurence).

Even if radical life extension and rejuvenation is not developed we will have to aggressively treat frailty, muscle wasting and Sarcopenia (half to 1% muscle loss for each year after age 25. Sarcopenia is to aging muscles like Osteoporosis is to aging bones.

Osteoporosis is an age-related disease of bone that leads to an increased risk of fracture.

The frailty syndrome is a collection of symptoms or markers, primarily due to the aging-related loss and dysfunction of skeletal muscle and bone, that place (mostly) older adults at increased risk of adverse events such as death, disability, and institutionalization.

There is a lot of work with myostatin inhibitors and SARM steroids to increase muscle mass and strength in the elderly.

Time for DNA Manufacturing reduced from weeks to minutes and process for validation of the manufactured DNA structures enabled

Eurekalert - Two major barriers to the advancement of DNA nanotechnology beyond the research lab have been knocked down. This emerging technology employs DNA as a programmable building material for self-assembled, nanometer-scale structures. Many practical applications have been envisioned, and researchers recently demonstrated a synthetic membrane channel made from DNA. Until now, however, design processes were hobbled by a lack of structural feedback. Assembly was slow and often of poor quality. Now researchers led by Prof. Hendrik Dietz of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) have removed these obstacles.

One barrier holding the field back was an unproven assumption. Researchers were able to design a wide variety of discrete objects and specify exactly how DNA strands should zip together and fold into the desired shapes. They could show that the resulting nanostructures closely matched the designs. Still lacking, though, was the validation of the assumed subnanometer-scale precise positional control. This has been confirmed for the first time through analysis of a test object designed specifically for the purpose. A technical breakthrough based on advances in fundamental understanding, this demonstration has provided a crucial reality check for DNA nanotechnology.

In a separate set of experiments, the researchers discovered that the time it takes to make a batch of complex DNA-based objects can be cut from a week to a matter of minutes, and that the yield can be nearly 100%. They showed for the first time that at a constant temperature, hundreds of DNA strands can fold cooperatively to form an object — correctly, as designed — within minutes. Surprisingly, they say, the process is similar to protein folding, despite significant chemical and structural differences. "Seeing this combination of rapid folding and high yield," Dietz says, "we have a stronger sense than ever that DNA nanotechnology could lead to a new kind of manufacturing, with a commercial, even industrial future." And there are immediate benefits, he adds: "Now we don't have to wait a week for feedback on an experimental design, and multi-step assembly processes have suddenly become so much more practical."


Caption: This 3-D print shows a DNA-based structure designed to test a critical assumption -- that such objects could be realized, as designed, with subnanometer precision. This object is a relatively large, three-dimensional DNA-based structure, asymmetrical to help determine the orientation, and incorporating distinctive design motifs. Subnanometer-resolution imaging with low-temperature electron microscopy enabled researchers to map the object -- which comprises more than 460,000 atoms -- with subnanometer-scale detail. Credit: Dietz Lab, TU Muenchen

Three research papers detail the work

Science - Rapid Folding of DNA into Nanoscale Shapes at Constant Temperature

Successful White House Petition that requests funding for a Death Star Project

The Whitehouse has a petition site "We the People". Any petition that gets 25,000 signatures will be given a formal response from the White House.

Successful Petition - Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.

Those who sign here petition the United States government to secure funding and resources, and begin construction on a Death Star by 2016.

By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense.

Of course the response will be a White House staffer, writing why they will not do it.

Laser Enhanced Drilling will speed drilling up to 4 to ten times and increase all kinds of mining, geothermal projects and tunneling for high speed rail and other applications

High power lasers from Foro Energy can increase the speed and efficiency of drilling through hard rock by two to four times. Being able to more quickly, cheaply and efficiently dig holes is very useful for oil and gas, geothermal, telecommunications, transportation and other applications.

ARPA-E - Foro Energy is developing a unique capability and hardware system to transmit high power lasers over long distances via fiber optic cables.potential to be up to 10 times more economical than conventional hard-rock drilling technologies, making them an effective way to access the U.S. energy resources currently locked under hard rock formations.


A high-power laser beam leaving Foro Energy’s drill bit and striking a hard rock formation.

Conventional mechanical drill bits cut softer rocks with stresses created by rotating a cutting surface with high weight-on-bit (WOB). Unfortunately, ultra-hard (i.e. high compressive strength) rocks inherently do not yield efficiently to even the most advanced mechanical cutters. The resulting slow drilling and short bit lifetimes result in poor performance and high expense.

Foro Energy developed a process that uses the laser to destroy rock and conventional mechanical bit components to remove the rock. This laser-mechanical drilling process enables

* Step change in drilling rate (2-4x)
* Extremely low WOB (less than 1000 lbs)
* Extremely low torque (less than 300 ft-lbs)
* Longer bit life
* Lower drilling cost per foot

First Day of Solar City IPO going well

WSJ - SolarCity's shares opened at $9.25 on the Nasdaq Stock Market NDAQ -0.29% on Thursday, up 16% from their $8 IPO price. The stock continued its climb minutes after its first trade, rising 28% to $10.23 in recent action.

SolarCity, in San Mateo, Calif., made it to market after pushing back its debut by a day and cutting its share-price target. The firm sold 11.5 million shares at $8, well under an initial $13-to-$15 range outlined in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In total, the $92 million deal brought in 40% less than the most-optimistic numbers provided in the company's prospectus.

Elon Musk owns 31.9% of Solar City and reportedly did not sell any shares in the IPO. Elon stake in Solar City is now worth about $400 million.

Johnny Depp to Play Supercomputer in a Singularity Movie with Christopher Nolan Involved

Johnny Depp will play a scientist whose brain is uploaded into a supercomputer in the highly anticipated film, “Transcendence,” the movie's producer told TheWrap exclusively.

“Transcendence,” plot details of which have been shrouded in secrecy, comes from the team behind the time-bending thriller “Inception”: Christopher Nolan is executive producing, and his longtime cinematographer, Oscar-winner Wally Pfister, will direct "Transcendence" as his first feature. The story is by Jack Paglen.

According to a recent script summary obtained by TheWrap, the plot involves a scientist whose brain is uploaded into a supercomputer with the aim of creating the world’s first machine that can think for itself.

The film's producer, Andrew Kosove, confirmed in an interview with TheWrap on Tuesday: “It is true Johnny Depp’s brain is uploaded into a computer."

Kosove also confirmed that singularity, nanotechnology and artificial intelligence are important to the script.

I would note that Hollywood artificial intelligence movies have a difficult time to explore any of these ideas in a serious way. A primary example would the the Will Smith movie "I Robot". The closest they came was the Spielberg "AI". Two or three hours is not enough to explore new aspects of these ideas. However, Christopher Nolan did interesting explorations in "Inception."

Exploring Singularity, nanotechnology and AI worlds would take something like an HBO series where the audience gets entertained enough to make an investment of time and energy to figure out what is going on. As much effort on the audience and creators part as "Game of Thrones" or "Fringe".

Fabric windmill turbine blades could lower cost and weight

Technology Review - GE hopes to make wind turbines far cheaper, and open up new ways to design them, by ditching the stiff fiberglass blades it uses now in favor of turbine blades made out of fabric. GE says the project, which recently received nearly $4 million from the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, could lower wind turbine blade costs by 40 percent.


This illustration shows what a cross section of GE’s fabric blades might look like. The fabric will be stretched over a composite frame (light gray) and central spar (yellow and green).

December 12, 2012

China can sustain 7% GDP growth for 12 years if the tier 2 and tier 3 cities catch up the tier 1

1.
Business Week - This week, both China bears and China bulls can point to numbers that seem to prove their cases. For those downbeat about China’s chances, the grim export figures for November are the latest piece of evidence. Export growth fell to just 2.9 percent year-on-year last month, down from 11.6 percent in October. The November results were much lower than what many economists had expected: Barclays, for instance, had thought the number would come in at 11 percent; Daiwa was expecting 9.2 percent.

Even with the poor export picture, though, the Daiwa economists expect China’s economy to rebound in the fourth quarter of 2012. They point to a 10.1 percent increase in industrial production last month, an improvement over 9.6 percent growth in October. “This suggests to us that real [gross domestic product] growth should have rebounded strongly in 4Q12,” Sun and Sun write.

Other good signs include lower inflation for the non-food consumer price index, which fell to 1.6 percent in November from 1.7 percent the previous month. Daiwa expects Chinese GDP, which grew at 7.4 percent in the third quarter and 7.6 percent in the second, to bounce back above the 8 percent threshold this quarter, with growth coming in at 8.2 percent.

The growth isn’t coming from the export sector. And it’s not coming from domestic consumption either, according to Bloomberg economist Michael McDonough. Rather, China is rebounding largely thanks to state spending on infrastructure projects.

Guangdong province in southern China plans on spending more than 1 trillion yuan on rail and other transportation projects between 2011 and 2015, the government announced on Nov. 16. That’s more than double what the province spent in the five years ending in 2010.

Leukemia Patients Remain in Remission More Than Two Years After Receiving Genetically Engineered T Cell Therapy

Nine of twelve leukemia patients who received infusions of their own T cells after the cells had been genetically engineered to attack the patients’ tumors responded to the therapy, which was pioneered by scientists in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Penn Medicine researchers will present the latest results of the trial today at the American Society of Hematology’s Annual Meeting and Exposition.

The clinical trial participants, all of whom had advanced cancers, included 10 adult patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia treated at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) and two children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia treated at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Two of the first three patients treated with the protocol at HUP – whose cases were detailed in the New England Journal of Medicine and Science Translational Medicine in August 2011 – remain healthy and in full remissions more than two years after their treatment, with the engineered cells still circulating in their bodies. The findings reveal the first successful and sustained demonstration of the use of gene transfer therapy to turn the body’s own immune cells into weapons aimed at cancerous tumors.

US All Liquids Oil Production Increased by 125,000 barrels per day to 11.33 million barrels per day

US daily crude oil production added 35,000 barrels per day and natural gas liquids and renewable fuel added 99,000 barrels per day in the most recently reported week. Crude oil production is at the highest level in 18 years. Crude oil production is up nearly 1 million bpd since the same time last year.

Saudi Arabia produces 11.6 million bpd, but almost all of it is crude oil.



Triple lithography will make the 14nm node more expensive and compromise expected 14nm performance

Chips made at the 14-nm process node may deliver as little as half the typical 30 percent performance increase—and still carry a hefty cost premium--due to the lack of next-generation lithography needed to make them efficiently, according to experts speaking at the International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) here on Monday (Dec. 10)

Chip makers must choose lithography options now for 14-nm node, two generation away from the 28-nm node in wide production for today’s smallest devices. But it will not be until 2014 that extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography tools will be available for limited commercial use, said Luc van den Hove, chief executive of the IMEC research center in Belgium, speaking to EE Times after a keynote talk here.The cost of 14-nm wafers made with today’s 193-nm immersion lithography systems will be more than 90 percent greater than the cost of today’s 28-nm wafers. EUV would shave that increase to just under 60 percent, van den Hove estimated in his talk.




Middle-income Trap - Which countries are in it and why ?

There is a working paper from the Levy Institute which provides a clear definition of the middle income trap and a systematic analysis.

ABSTRACT -This paper provides a working definition of what the middle-income trap is. We start by defining four income groups of GDP per capita in 1990 PPP dollars: low-income below $2,000; lower-middle-income between $2,000 and $7,250; upper-middle-income between $7,250 and $11,750; and high-income above $11,750. We then classify 124 countries for which we have consistent data for 1950–2010. In 2010, there were 40 low-income countries in the world, 38 lower-middle-income, 14 upper-middle-income, and 32 high-income countries. Then we calculate the threshold number of years for a country to be in the middle-income trap: a country that becomes lower-middle-income (i.e., that reaches $2,000 per capita income) has to attain an average growth rate of per capita income of at least 4.7 percent per annum to avoid falling into the lower-middle-income trap (i.e., to reach $7,250, the upper-middle-income threshold); and a country that becomes upper-middle-income (i.e., that reaches $7,250 per capita income) has to attain an average growth rate of per capita income of at least 3.5 percent per annum to avoid falling into the upper-middle-income trap (i.e., to reach $11,750, the high-income level threshold). Avoiding the middle-income trap is, therefore, a question of how to grow fast enough so as to cross the lower-middle-income segment in at most 28 years, and the upper middle-income segment in at most 14 years. Finally, the paper proposes and analyzes one possible reason why some countries get stuck in the middle-income trap: the role played by the changing structure of the economy (from low-productivity activities into high-productivity activities), the types of products exported (not all products have the same consequences for growth and development), and the diversification of the economy. We compare the exports of countries in the middle-income trap with those of countries that graduated from it, across eight dimensions that capture different aspects of a country’s capabilities to undergo structural transformation, and test whether they are different. Results indicate that, in general, they are different. We also compare Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines according to the number of products that each exports with revealed comparative advantage. We find that while Korea was able to gain comparative advantage in a significant number of sophisticated products and was well connected, Malaysia and the Philippines were able to gain comparative advantage in electronics only.


December 11, 2012

Precise autonomous payload placement using a UAV with giant robotic arm and low cost depth perception vision

A DARPA-funded technology demonstration recently finished a successful testing of vision-driven robotic-arm payload emplacement using MLB Company’s tail-sitter UAV, V-Bat. This UAV is capable of both hover and wing-borne flight, making the delivery and precision emplacement of a payload possible. A special robotic arm was designed with the capability of carrying up to 1 pound.

The research team designed and developed a low-cost vision system to estimate the target’s position relative to the hovering vehicle in real time. This vision system enables the UAV to search and find the target for the emplacement autonomously and then perform the action.

DARPA’s precision emplacement technology demonstration paves the way for precise long-range delivery of small payloads into difficult-to-reach environments.




Intel has 6 watt Atom chip with 64 bit server capabilities

Intel Atom S1200 server system on-chip hits lower-power levels (6 watts), and includes key features such as error code correction, 64-bit support, and virtualization technologies required for use inside data centers. The Intel Atom processor S1200 is shipping today to customers with recommended customer price starting at $54 in quantities of 1,000 units. Intel introduced three processors within new Intel Atom S1200 product family with actual TDP as follows: Intel Atom S1260 (8.5Watts), Intel Atom S1240 (6.1Watts) and Intel Atom S1220 (8.1 Watts)

More from Intel in 2013
Intel is working on the next generation of Intel Atom processors for extreme energy efficiency codenamed "Avoton." Available in 2013, Avoton will further extend Intel's SoC capabilities and use the company's leading 3-D Tri-gate 22 nm transistors, delivering world-class power consumption and performance levels.

For customers interested in low-voltage Intel® Xeon® processor models for low-power servers, storage and networking, Intel will introduce the new Intel Xeon processor E3 v3 product family based on the "Haswell" microarchitecture next year. These new processors will take advantage of new energy-saving features in Haswell and provide balanced performance-per-watt, giving customers even more options.

Why Denser Cities Are Smarter and More Productive

The Atlantic Cities - It's clear that density plays an important role in economic growth. Density brings people and firms closer together which makes it easier to share and exchange information, invent new technologies, and launch new firms.

But the question remains: How exactly — in what ways and through which channels — does density make our cities more productive?

Journal of Regional Science - Productivity and the Density of Human Capital Detailed statistical models are used to gauge more precisely the effects of density and human capital, separately and together, on productivity of more than 350 metro areas.

1. Doubling density increases productivity by an average of two to four percent.

2. Density plays a bigger role in cities where levels of skill and human capital are higher. Metro areas with below average levels of human capital realize no productivity gains from density, the study finds, while doubling density in metros with above average human capital gain productivity benefits that are roughly twice the average.

3. The effects of density to be even more substantial in industries with high levels of knowledge and creativity. The authors find clear evidence that both the effects of density per se and the density of skilled people are highest in knowledge-based and creative industries. This is particularly true in the information, arts and entertainment, professional services, and finance industries where "the exchange of information and sharing of ideas are important parts of the production process.


December 10, 2012

Cheap Tiny Terahertz detection chips developed

Tiny inexpensive silicon microchips developed by a pair of electrical engineers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The chips generate and radiate high-frequency electromagnetic waves, called terahertz (THz) waves, that fall into a largely untapped region of the electromagnetic spectrum—between microwaves and far-infrared radiation—and that can penetrate a host of materials without the ionizing damage of X-rays.

When incorporated into handheld devices, the new microchips could enable a broad range of applications in fields ranging from homeland security to wireless communications to health care, and even touchless gaming. In the future, the technology may lead to noninvasive cancer diagnosis, among other applications.

"Using the same low-cost, integrated-circuit technology that's used to make the microchips found in our cell phones and notepads today, we have made a silicon chip that can operate at nearly 300 times their speed," says Ali Hajimiri, the Thomas G. Myers Professor of Electrical Engineering at Caltech. "These chips will enable a new generation of extremely versatile sensors."
New Terahertz chips.


Japan Likely heading for a pro-nuclear LDP win in National Election this week

World News Australia - Japan has a national election this week. The LDP is the party that is likely to win. The LDP is most pro-nuclear party

Opinion polls have suggested the LDP is on course to return to government as the biggest party, but not with an outright majority.

Its leader, Shinzo Abe, has been Prime Minister before - for one year between 2006 and 2007.

On the sensitive issue of nuclear power, Shinzo Abe told a recent debate audience it's not as simple as shutting down the plants.

"Assume that places like China continue with nuclear power, and only Japan stops. Then at that point if there's an accident would Japan really be all right? Or for instance how to deal with spent nuclear fuel, this is a world-wide issue. In order for us to contribute to those issues, it's necessary to preserve those with knowledge in Japan as well".

The current ruling party, the DPJ, and the minor parties such as the Japan Future Party and Japan Restoration Party are all talking about phasing out nuclear energy. But not the LDP.

Accurate genetic test for TB a step to eliminating killer disease

Technology Review - GeneXpert resembles a high-end espresso maker. The device is simple to use. A technician squirts a sputum ­sample from a patient into what looks like a printer cartridge and then clicks that into the machine, which performs a reaction that amplifies specific bits of M. tuberculosis DNA if they are present. Fluorescent molecules light up when they come in contact with the targeted DNA, and the machine detects the fluorescence, sending the information to a computer. The entire process takes a mere two hours. Not only can GeneXpert detect the presence of the TB-causing bacteria, but it can accurately determine whether the bacterial DNA has the mutations known to make the disease resistant to the most commonly used drug.

In 2011, an estimated 8.7 million people became sick from M. tuberculosis. Roughly 1.4 million people die of TB each year; HIV is the only infectious agent that kills more.

China has more Shale Gas than the US but it will be harder to mine

Technology Review - The discovery of vast amounts of shale gas in the United States has already had a big impact on the country’s energy use—prompting a shift away from coal and helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. By some estimates, China has even more shale gas. But it will be difficult for China to access these resources, which are bound up in shale rock, without significant advances in extraction technologies—including the use of powerful computer simulations of the physical properties of shale deposits.

China has set itself an ambitious goal of obtaining 60 billion cubic meters of shale gas by 2020, enough to produce about 6 percent of all of its energy, up from almost none today. But China faces a number of challenges in developing these resources. Most of the gas is found in arid areas, and the current approach for freeing the gas—hydraulic fracturing—requires a lot of water. What’s more, the geology is different in China than in the United States, which could make hydraulic fracturing more difficult.

1994 compared to 2012 and projections to 2030

There was a recent projection by the National Intelligence Council for the world in 2030.

I think that the NIC forecast is underestimating the growth of China by 2030. I think China's economy will be more than double the US GDP in 2030

I also think that there will be more technological impact over the next 18 years.

Nextbigfuture has detailed technologies of the mundane singularity that will have a large impact over the next 18 years.

Factory mass produced skyscrapers and robotic cars will have a significant impact on the world economy. The factory mass produced skyscrapers could have about 30% of the world commercial construction market by 2020. Taller and vastly more affordable buildings will increase the productivity of cities and increase the rate of world urbanization.

I see the impact of Sky Cities and Broad Factory mass produced skyscrapers like the move from 3 to 4 story buildings to cities with 30 story buildings. Average skyscrapers are now 30 to 50 stories tall. This factory mass production will make 100 to 300 story buildings affordable and common.

Eight times the density would be a 45% boost to productivity.

Road capacity could be boosted by 4 times using robotic cars. This could be another 30% boost to productivity.

The Sky Cities are also designed to reduce pollution (99% less construction dust) and use 5 times less material than a regular skyscraper. They would also house homes, offices and stores which will enable more in building commuting. This will boost productivity and reduce commuting times.


NIC projects China's economy to be just larger than or just smaller than the USA.

Wikipedia has a history of nominal GDP from 1994 and GDP for 2012. This is the same 18 year gap from 2012 to 2030.


China moved up from 7.9% of the US economy to 55%


DARPA Foam Could Increase Survival Rate for Victims of Internal Hemorrhaging

echnology developed under DARPA’s Wound Stasis System program resulted in 72 percent survival rate at three hours post-injury in testing.

The Department of Defense’s medical system aspires to a standard known as the “Golden Hour” that dictates that troops wounded on the battlefield are moved to advanced-level treatment facilities within the first 60 minutes of being wounded. In advance of transport, initial battlefield medical care administered by first responders is often critical to injured servicemembers’ survival. In the case of internal abdominal injuries and resulting internal hemorrhaging, however, there is currently little that can be done to stanch bleeding before the patients reach necessary treatment facilities; internal wounds cannot be compressed the same way external wounds can, and tourniquets or hemostatic dressings are unsuitable because of the need to visualize the injury. The resulting blood loss often leads to death from what would otherwise be potentially survivable wounds.

DARPA launched its Wound Stasis System program in 2010 in the hopes of finding a technological solution that could mitigate damage from internal hemorrhaging. The program sought to identify a biological mechanism that could discriminate between wounded and healthy tissue, and bind to the wounded tissue. As the program evolved, an even better solution emerged: Wound Stasis performer Arsenal Medical, Inc. developed a foam-based product that can control hemorrhaging in a patient’s intact abdominal cavity for at least one hour, based on swine injury model data. The foam is designed to be administered on the battlefield by a combat medic, and is easily removable by doctors during surgical intervention at an appropriate facility, as demonstrated in testing.


The foam-based product developed by Arsenal Medical for DARPA can be injected into a wounded servicemember on the battlefield to slow blood loss until the patient can be transported to an appropriate medical facility.

Composites for large-scale manufacturing

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft -Continuous fiber-reinforced composites with thermoplastic matrix resins are very well suited for use in automotive manufacturing. However, to manufacture them is complicated. A new approach now makes it possible to use the injection molding process.

To date, it has been very laborious to manufacture fiber-reinforced composites with a thermoplastic matrix in large quantities.

Researchers have for the first time, brought a technology to production readiness that allows the series production of such continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites with an injection molding process. So far, it has only been possible to use the injection molding process for fiber-reinforced composites made of short fibers or long fibers. “Continuous fiber-reinforced composite structures with a thermoplastic matrix are becoming increasingly popular, and will be used increasingly in the automotive industry”, states Dr.-Ing. Lars Fredrik Berg, scientist and project manager at the ICT. “With the injection molding process, components that have high fiber contents by volume and therefore outstanding mechanical characteristics can be produced efficiently in high volume series”.



Carnival of Nuclear Energy 134

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 134 is up at Things worse than Nuclear

Atomic Power Review - Argentina's Atucha Unit 2 to be on line mid-2013.
Between February and April 2013 the plant will be tested at normal operating temperature and pressure. Finally, the light water will be removed, the system shall be dried, and loaded with 600 tons of heavy water produced at the plant Arroyito, Neuquén Province.These tests may commence in June 2013 to the first criticality of the plant, and then synchronize with the network. Thus, in the middle of next year, Atucha II is providing power to the national grid.

National Intelligence Council Predicts there will be no superpower nations by 2030

USA Today - A report by the National Intelligence Council predicts that the United States will lose its superpower status by 2030, but that no country -- including China -- will be a hegemonic power.

Instead, the report says, power will shift to "networks and coalitions in a multipolar world."

This development, the report finds, will largely reverse the historic rise of the West since 1750, "restoring Asia's weight in the global economy and ushering in a new era of 'democratization' at the international and domestic level."

The report further expects the rapid aging of the world population to continue as well as a growing demand on resources, which might lead to scarcities of food and water.

A snapshot of the Global Trends 2030 report

The key “looming” challenges that our reviewers cited for GT 2030 were to develop:

A better grasp of time and speed. Past Global Trends works, “correctly foresaw the direction of the vectors: China up, Russia down. But China’s power has consistently increased faster than expected . . . A comprehensive reading of the four reports leaves a strong impression that [we] tend toward underestimation of the rates of change . . . ”

USA probably developing stealth drones

Wired Danger Room - The United States is probably developing stealth unmanned drones


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Ace aviation reporter Bill Sweetman has gathered evidence of new stealth drones under development by Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman — the latter potentially armed, and both drawing on classified funds. If these robots are real, the Air Force’s drone era is not onlynot ending — it’s barely begun.To be clear, no one thinks unmanned aircraft are becoming any less vital to Washington’s shadowy counter-terrorism campaigns in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and, possibly soon, Mali. Missile-armed Predators, the larger Reapers carrying bombs and missiles, and stealthy, unarmed Sentinel spy drones, operated jointly by the CIA and the military, are still America’s weapon of choice for hunting terrorist leaders. Three years ago then-CIA director Leon Panetta, now the defense secretary, called UAVs the “only game in town” for disrupting the core of al-Qaida.







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IBM makes 25 gbps onchip photonic link using commercial CMOS fabrication

IBM announced a major advance in the ability to use light instead of electrical signals to transmit information for future computing. The breakthrough technology – called “silicon nanophotonics” – allows the integration of different optical components side-by-side with electrical circuits on a single silicon chip using, for the first time, sub-100nm semiconductor technology.

Silicon nanophotonics takes advantage of pulses of light for communication and provides a super highway for large volumes of data to move at rapid speeds between computer chips in servers, large datacenters, and supercomputers, thus alleviating the limitations of congested data traffic and high-cost traditional interconnects.

IBM has solved the key challenges of transferring the silicon nanophotonics technology into the commercial foundry. By adding a few processing modules into a high-performance 90nm CMOS fabrication line, a variety of silicon nanophotonics components such as wavelength division multiplexers (WDM), modulators, and detectors are integrated side-by-side with a CMOS electrical circuitry. As a result, single-chip optical communications transceivers can be manufactured in a conventional semiconductor foundry, providing significant cost reduction over traditional approaches.

IBM’s CMOS nanophotonics technology demonstrates transceivers to exceed the data rate of 25Gbps per channel. In addition, the technology is capable of feeding a number of parallel optical data streams into a single fiber by utilizing compact on-chip wavelength-division multiplexing devices. The ability to multiplex large data streams at high data rates will allow future scaling of optical communications capable of delivering terabytes of data between distant parts of computer systems.

Further details will be presented this week by Dr. Solomon Assefa at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) in the talk titled, “A 90nm CMOS Integrated Nano-Photonics Technology for 25Gbps WDM Optical Communications Applications.” Additional papers being presented by IBM at IEDM can be seen here.





December 09, 2012

India's Property Shortage, Corruption and Bureaucracy

BBC News - India's property sector is at the center of its corruption and bureaucracy problems.

The BBC article points to two interesting references.

1. A white paper on Black Money in India (98 pages, May 2012) It estimates that the size of India's shadow economy may vary from 25% to 50% of the country's annual gross domestic product (GDP).

2. India's housing shortage is detailed in another report (30 pages)

The shortage of residential houses in urban India would rise from 24.71 million in 2007 to 26.53 million in 2012.

Carnival of Space 279

1. Amy Shira Teitel (Vintage Spa ce) Building off the success and public response to Curiosity, NASA has renewed its commitment to exploring Mars. But the new plan is really a rehashed, lesser version of the old plan he agency abandoned 10 months ago because it was too expensive.

Yesterday, NASA announced a bold new plan of exploration for the coming decade on Mars. It’s exciting. I love plans that include a methodical exploration of other worlds that will help answer the bigger questions out there, like why Mars developed into such a different world than the other inner bodies. But looking a little closer at what few details the agency’s released, it looks less like a concrete plan with a goal and more of a bid to capitalize on Curiosity’s unexpected fame. Which isn’t a bad thing. It’s just sort of an odd thing.

In brief, the new Mars plan will see a series of smaller missions launch in the next eight years culminating in a flagship mission in 2020. In 2013, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) orbiter will reach the Red Planet. The Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport – InSIGHT – mission will follow in 2016 and take the first look into Mars’ interior. NASA will also support the European Space Agency’s (ESA) ExoMars missions – it will provide the “Electra” telecommunication radios to its 2016 orbiter and an astrobiology instrument on its 2018 rover. The climax will be another science-heavy rover akin to Curiosity launched in 2020.

2. Air and Space magazine blog - Reflecting on the ice of Mercury and the Moon by Dr Paul Spudis

Both the Moon and Mercury have similar polar environments and processes. The long debate – a scientific controversy for over 50 years – about water at the poles of these objects has been resolved. The next steps will be to characterize these deposits in situ using a soft lander and selected instruments to measure the amounts, states and distributions of water in the polar areas. Because of the great difficulty in even getting into orbit around Mercury (let alone landing there), doing this first on the Moon will mostly likely happen first. So, here again is another rationale for sending a robotic surveying lander and rover mission to the poles of the Moon – in addition to characterizing these areas for our future presence there, by inference, we will also learn about the polar processes on and environment of Mercury.