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December 29, 2012

China generates power at the Ningde 1 reactor and starts work on the 30th under construction nuclear reactor

1. Construction of a new reactor was started this week in China. The Russian-designed model is the fourth to be inaugurated since China resumed approvals for new plants at the end of October

The new build is at the Tianwan site in Jiangsu province. An AES-91 VVER-1000 unit designed by Gidropress and supplied by Russian state firm Rosatom. Tianwan 3 is slated to begin power generation in 2018, with unit 4 expected to follow one year later, operated by China National Nuclear Corporation. Tianwan 3 is now the 30th large power reactor under construction in China - and the fourth to be approved and begin work since the Fukushima accident of March 2011.

2. Control room engineers at Ningde 1 sent power to the grid for the first time, in the Fujian province of China. Further tests remain before the reactor will reach the next official stage, commercial operation, in which it will generate power solidly for a lifespan expected to be 60 years.

Roadmap to Photon Propulsion for Interstellar Flight

Here are steps to Photon Propulsion for Interstellar Flight.

First we have to develop photonic laser thrusters (amplifying laser propulsion by bouncing between mirrors to recycle photons). Photonic laser thrusters are described in a previous nextbigfuture article. There has been experimental work that indicates that it is feasible.

The systems described here are an improvements by several orders of magnitude over regular power beaming. Recycling photons between mirrors reduces the energy requirements as does lightening the spacecraft and shortening the wavelength of the laser. There are other technological solutions to interstellar travel but this looks like one potential feasible technological solution.

Then we can develop a Photonic Railway, a permanent transport structure based on photon propulsion, has a potential to enable routine interstellar commutes via Spacetrains.

The Photonic Railway, as the transcontinental railway systems did, is projected to inspire sustainable economic interest and return investment, and to potentially achieve the goal: rountrip manned interstellar flight potentially within a century.

In this section, a four-phased developmental pathway of the Photonic Railway toward interstellar manned roundtrip is proposed:

1) Development of PLTs for satellite and NEO maneuvering,
2) Interlunar Photonic Railway,
3) Interplanetary Photonic Railway, and
4) Interstellar Photonic Railway.

It is projected that these developmental phases will result in systematic evolutionary applications, such as satellite formation flying, NEO mitigation, lunar mining, and Space Solar Power, which is projected to generate sufficient sustainable economic interest and return investment to the development pathway.

Direct Energy Momentum Beaming (DEMB) for Innovative Spacecraft Maneuvering and Basic Photonic Laser Thrusting

Traditionally, Direct Energy (DE), especially High Energy Laser (HEL), has mainly been considered for beaming energy or power, however, it can be exploited for beaming momentum as well. Dr. Y. K . Bae presents an innovative spacecraft maneuvering architecture, DE Momentum Beaming (DEMB), in which momentum is beamed between two spacecraft platforms via the pressure of circulating photons between them with the use of recently developed Photonic Laser Thruster (PLT). Many advanced DoD in-space missions need a wider range of dynamic spacecraft maneuvers than formation flying. Conventional spacecraft maneuvering is performed by momentum applied to a single vehicle by exhausting fuel in forms of plumb or ions, which limits lifetime and delta-V capability. Through momentum beaming, DEMB will drastically reduce the fuel consumption or separate the highly valuable mission vehicle from a lower-cost, replaceable resource vehicle (similar to aerial refueling) to lower the life-cycle cost significantly in a wide range of missions. Therefore, DEMB is projected to enable a wide range of next-generation DoD missions in space and provide ways to enhance existing mission architectures. Exemplary missions that can be enabled by DEMB include that involve orbit-raising or escape, drag compensation, and rendezvous and docking. In addition, the specific DE technologies required for developing DEMB are also discussed.




Efficient Energy Conversion of the 14MeV Neutrons in DT Inertial Confinement Fusion

1. Vixra - Efficient Energy Conversion of the 14MeV Neutrons in DT Inertial Confinement Fusion by Friedwardt Winterberg

In DT fusion 80% of the energy released goes into 14MeV neutrons, and only the remaining 20% into charged particles. Unlike the charged particles, the uncharged neutrons cannot be confined by a magnetic field, and for this reason cannot be used for a direct conversion into electric energy. Instead, the neutrons have to be slowed down in some medium, heating this medium to a temperature of less than 10^3K, with the heat removed fom this medium to drive a turbo-generator. This conversion of nuclear into electric energy has a Carnot efficiency of about 30%. For the 80% of the energy released into neutrons, the efficiency is therefore no more than 24%. While this low conversion efficiency cannot be overcome in magnetic confinement concepts, it can be overcome in inertial confinement concepts, by surrounding the inertial confinement fusion target with a sufficiently thick layer of liquid hydrogen and a thin outer layer of boron, to create a hot plasma fire ball. The hydrogen layer must be chosen just thick and dense enough to be heated by the neutrons to 100,000K. The thusly generated, fully ionized, and rapidly expanding fire ball can drive a pulsed magnetohydrodynamic generator at an almost 100% Carnot efficiency, or possibly be used to generate hydrocarbons.



Guided Impact Fusion

Colin Bruce is a physicist and science writer living in Oxford. He is an expert in mathematical paradoxes and a lover of mysteries.

He has written books like the Einstein Paradox And Other Science Mysteries Solved By Sherlock Holmes.

He has a 30 page proposal for Guided Impact Fusion

ABSTRACT

There is a cheap, practicable way to generate energy from fusion. An input pulse of at least 20 MJ X-rays to the capsule is possible (two orders of magnitude greater than the National Ignition Facility achieved): this is known from both theory and experiment to be ample for fusion ignition.

The method is similar to the NIF: a fuel capsule implodes within a hohlraum. However the hohlraum is heated not by lasers, but by the impact of fast pellets. A related idea was proposed before powerful lasers existed, and charged microspheres have been fired at ultravelocity from modified particle accelerators since the 1960s. However, a key enabling technology did not exist at that time. It is now possible, using COTS (commercial off the shelf) available equipment, to track and adjust the position and orientation of many thousands of pellets individually as they fly down a long beamline. This is a multipotent enabler.

Better Infrared Imaging with nanomembranes

A researcher has developed curved night-vision goggles using germanium nanomembranes. It has a curved surface that allows a wider field of view for pilots. They solved a background noise problem.

Another DOD project for the same researcher is development of imagers for military surveillance that span multiple spectra, combining infrared and visible light into a single image. They will use a heterogeneous semiconductor nanomembrane, stacking the two incompatible materials in each pixel of the new imager to layer IR and visible images on top of one another in a single image.

December 28, 2012

Autodesk will help upgrade the software for 3d tissue printing machines

Autodesk, the industry leader in CAD software, has announced it is partnering with biological printer manufacturer Organovo to create 3-D design software for designing and printing living tissue.

This will be a dramatic development for Organovo. Their bioprinters allow scientists to deposit cells and grow functional human tissues for use in medical research. They’re amazingly powerful 21st-century tools, but run on software left over from the Apollo era. Every time a scientist wants to print something, they have to write a script from scratch and run it from the command line. Instead of dreaming up new experiments, biologists have been kept busy debugging code.

Keith Murphy, CEO of Organovo says “Having 3-D design software will help scientists get to experiments faster, as well as make it easier for external academic experts to approach the our systems.”

Crowlspace looks at Kardashev 2 and Kardashev 3 Intergalactic Worldships

Kardashev 2 Worldship

A worldship that would require the power level of a Kardashev 2 civilication.

In 1987 Burruss & Colwell proposed such an advanced worldship concept.

* 1,000 kilometer wide World-Ship
* 50 billion passengers
* cruise speed of 0.4c (40% of lightspeed).
* The antimatter fuel required would be the equivalent of several days worth of the Sun’s total luminosity, so it would require at least a Kardashev Type II Civilization dedicated to the task to achieve it.

Kardashev 3 sending planets via blackhole gravity slightshot

A Type III Civilization, with control over the Galaxy’s resources, could fling Intergalactic Planet-Ships outwards at 0.5c (50% of lightspeed). But what would it require to stop in the target Galaxy?

Given the right materials a magnetic-sail might do the job. We can slow an Earth-Ship from 0.5c to 0.005c in about 550,000 years (11% of the trip-time) over a braking distance of about 36,000 light-years.


Accelerator driven sub-critical reactor could burn nuclear waste and create diesel at less than $2 per gallon

Muons Inc is partnering with ADNA Corp to develop a game-changing application of accelerator technology – designing and building a new form of intrinsically safe nuclear power called GEM*STAR (Green Energy Multiplier*Subcritical Technology for Alternative Reactors).

Muons’ first commercial application of GEM*STAR Power can be to use the process heat generated from the accelerator-driven GEM*STAR reactor to convert natural gas and renewable carbon into feedstock for the Fischer-Tropsch generation of ultra-clean, high quality diesel fuel. The initial plant will produce 70 million gallons of diesel fuel per year at an estimated cost of production of $1.75 per gallon.

GEM*STAR could achieve the following :

1. Reduces Weapons-grade Plutonium (W-Pu) and Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF) Storage issues. GEM*STAR safely uses W-Pu or SNF (generated by traditional nuclear power plants and currently stored on a “temporary basis” around the country on the sites where it is generated with no permanent disposal plan presently available for it) to produce environmentally clean power. This technology can change unwanted nuclear materials into a valuable fuel for inexpensive carbon-neutral industrial processes and electricity production.

2. No Possibility for Large Volatile releases. GEM*STAR uses Molten-Salt fuel, derived safely and easily from W-Pu or SNF, which permits dangerous volatile radioactive elements to be continuously purged and safely stored.

3. GEM*STAR reactors never contain the critical mass of material needed for an uncontrolled self-sustaining chain reaction.

4. Major Nuclear Weapons Proliferation Impact! Nuclear proliferation issues are avoided since the molten-salt fuel does not need to be enriched or reprocessed.

5. GEM*STAR Adds Tremendously to U.S. Energy Independence and does not emit CO2. Using this technology, the 75,000 tons of U.S. stored SNF can be reburned without reprocessing, MOX fuel preparation, or danger of future weapons use, and with delayed and reduced storage requirements. This SNF is sufficient to provide all (500 GW) U.S. electrical power for over a hundred years.

The components exist and are proven technology

While GEM*STAR Power facilities do not currently exist, all of their distinct main components not only exist, but are, individually, proven technologies:



Recipe book for the creation of materials with new properties

Physicists at the University of Colorado Boulder have opened the door for the creation of a host of new materials with properties that do not exist in nature.

The findings show that researchers can create a "recipe book" to build new materials of sorts using topology, a major mathematical field that describes the properties that do not change when an object is stretched, bent or otherwise “continuously deformed.” Published online Dec. 23 in the journal Nature, the study also is the first to experimentally show that some of the most important topological theorems hold up in the real material world, said CU-Boulder physics department Assistant Professor Ivan Smalyukh, a study senior author.

The research could lead to upgrades in liquid crystal displays, like those used in laptops and television screens, to allow them to interact with light in new and different ways. One possibility is to create liquid crystal displays that are even more energy efficient, Smalyukh said, extending the battery life for the devices they’re attached to.

Is China Over-Investing and Does it Matter?

There is an IMF paper - Is China Over-Investing and Does it Matter?

China over investing by about 10% of GDP

China’s capital-to-output ratio is within the range of other emerging markets, but its economic growth rates stand out, partly due to a surge in investment over the last decade. Moreover, its investment is significantly higher than suggested by cross-country panel estimation. This deviation has been accumulating over the last decade, and at nearly 10 percent of GDP is now larger and more persistent than experienced by other Asian economies leading up to the Asian crisis.

Investment financed by domestic savings and a 4% of GDP transfer from households to corporations

China's investment is predominantly financed by domestic savings, a crisis appears unlikely when assessed against dependency on external funding. But this does not mean that the cost is absent. Rather, it is distributed to other sectors of the economy through a hidden transfer of resources, estimated at an average of 4 percent of GDP per year.


US crude oil production at 6.984 million barrels per day

The second last week of USA oil production was reported. Crude oil production was at 6.984 million barrels per day.


This was 121 thousand barrels per day more than the prioer week.

October, 2012 crude oil production for Texas was 2.1 million bpd (65.1 million barrels in the month) This was a 50,000 bpd increase from September, 2012.



US EPA highest mileage car rankings

Here is the US EPA list of best mileage cars for 2013 by class of car. If the electric cars are excluded then the Toyota Prius models are the best with about 50 mpg combined. The best truck is the Lexus 450h with 30 mpg combined. The best minivan is the Mazda 5 with 24 mpg combined.



Car pollution killing millions in China and India

An explosion of car use has made fast-growing Asian cities the epicentre of global air pollution and become, along with obesity, the world's fastest growing cause of death according to a major study of global diseases.

In 2010, more than 2.1m people in Asia died prematurely from air pollution, mostly from the minute particles of diesel soot and gasses emitted from cars and lorries. Other causes of air pollution include construction and industry. Of these deaths, says the study published in The Lancet, 1.2 million were in east Asia and China, and 712,000 in south Asia, including India.

Worldwide, a record 3.2m people a year died from air pollution in 2010, compared with 800,000 in 2000. It now ranks for the first time in the world's top 10 list of killer diseases, says the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study.

Lancet - A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990—2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010

A Collection of Predictions for 2013

1. Technology Review - Five Technologies to Watch in 2013

* Wireless charging - Around five million devices using wireless charging were sold in 2012, but we might see numbers closer to 100 million in the coming two to three years

* 3-D printing - 3d printing grew in a few unexpected ways in 2012. In New York, Shapeways presented a 25,000-square-foot facility that it intends to stock with 50 industrial-scale printers capable of cranking out five million products a year

* Killer Stylus - Tablets need a killer stylus and it has not been developed yet, but one company should get it right soon

* Leap 3D - Leap 3d is 200 times as accurate than the XBox Kinect and will be delivered in 2013

* Nook - as a last stand for Barnes and Noble and physical bookstores

2. In 2012, there were many Euro and EU doom-mongers. Many were the world's leading economists and investors (Paul Krugman - NY Times Nobel winning Economist, billionaire George Soros, Willem Buiter, chief economist at Citigroup).

December 27, 2012

Quantum techniques to improve broadband and encryption are closer to market

The Quantum Wave Fund has raised over $30 million to invest and aims to collect $100 million.

Quantum physics does indeed offer some intriguing ideas about how fiber optic data links, the Internet’s backbone, could be made more capacious and secure. New ways to handle individual or small groups of photons could allow existing fiber optics to carry more data, for example (see “A Quantum Communications Switch”). Prototype systems that use quantum properties of light to create unbreakably secure communications links (see “Quantum Cryptography for the Masses”) might be made more practical, allowing them to become widespread.


Laser Motion Control of Maglev Graphite

Graphite has been known as a typical diamagnetic material and can be levitated in the strong magnetic field. Researchers have shown that the magnetically levitating pyrolytic graphite can be moved in the arbitrary place by simple photoirradiation. It is notable that the optical motion control system described in this paper requires only NdFeB permanent magnets and light source. The optical movement is driven by photothermally induced changes in the magnetic susceptibility of the graphite. Moreover, we demonstrate that light energy can be converted into rotational kinetic energy by means of the photothermal property. We find that the levitating graphite disk rotates at over 200 rpm under the sunlight, making it possible to develop a new class of light energy conversion system.

The researchers predict that the ability to control maglev-based motion with a laser could lead to the development of maglev-based actuators and photothermal solar energy conversion systems. Applications could include a low-cost, environmentally friendly power generation system and a new type of light-driven transportation system.

"At this moment, we are planning to develop a maglev turbine blade suitable for this system," Abe said. "In this case, it is predicted that friction disrupts the rotation of the maglev turbine. Therefore, we would like to develop a light energy conversion system with a high energy conversion efficiency with reference to the so-called MEMS (Microelectromechanical Systems) technique.

"As for the actuator, the maglev graphite can convey anything that has almost the same weight as the levitating graphite disk. So, if the scale expansion of the photo-actuator system is achieved, it is not a dream that a human on the maglev graphite can drive himself."

The technique is very simple and fundamental, it is expected to apply to various daily living techniques, such as transportation systems and amusement, as well as photo-actuators and light energy conversion systems



Ford Fiesta ECOnetic Van can get 85.6 mpg

A new Ford Fiesta Van offers businesses an agile and good looking vehicle with class-leading fuel-efficiency – all diesel engines achieve sub-100 g/km CO2 emissions and 3.7 l/100 km (76.4 mpg) or better.

The Fiesta Van offers new 75 PS 1.5-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel for the first time; Fiesta ECOnetic Van variant features enhanced fuel-saving technologies to deliver best-in-class 87 g/km and 3.3 l/100 km (85.6 mpg)

Fiesta Van offers key segment-first technologies including in-car connectivity system SYNC with Emergency Assistance, Active City Stop, and MyKey system to encourage safer driving, plus practical features like Easy Fuel and Rear View Camera.





A prototype glove recognizes pen strokes formed in thin air

A team at the Cognitive Systems lab put together inertial sensors, an accelerometer and a gyroscope on a knit glove. The retooled mitt recognizes letter and words and even sentences as its wearer draws them in the air.

Airwriting: Hands-free Mobile Text Input by Spotting and Continuous Recognition of 3d-Space Handwriting with Inertial Sensors

We present an input method which enables complex hands-free interaction through 3d handwriting recognition. Users can write text in the air as if they were using an imaginary blackboard. Motion sensing is done wirelessly by accelerometers and gyroscopes which are attached to the back of the hand. We propose a two-stage approach for spotting and recognition of handwriting gestures. The spotting stage uses a Support Vector Machine to identify data segments which contain handwriting. The recognition stage uses Hidden Markov Models (HMM) to generate the text representation from the motion sensor data. Individual characters are modeled by HMMs and concatenated to word models. Our system can continuously recognize arbitrary sentences, based on a freely definable vocabulary with over 8000 words. A statistical language model is used to enhance recognition performance and restrict the search space. We report the results from a nine-user experiment on sentence recognition for person dependent and person independent setups on 3d-space handwriting data. For the person independent setup, a word error rate of 11% is achieved, for the person dependent setup 3% are achieved. We evaluate the spotting algorithm in a second experiment on a realistic dataset including everyday activities and achieve a sample based recall of 99% and a precision of 25%. We show that additional filtering in the recognition stage can detect up to 99% of the false positive segments.



NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) Project has developed a 7 kilowatt thruster

NASA Glenn has been developing the next generation of ion thrusters for future missions. NASA's Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) Project has developed a 7-kilowatt ion thruster that can provide the capabilities needed in the future.

An ion thruster produces small levels of thrust relative to chemical thrusters, but does so at higher specific impulse (or higher exhaust velocities), which means that an ion thruster has a fuel efficiency of 10-12 times greater than a chemical thruster. The higher the rocket's specific impulse (fuel efficiency), the farther the spacecraft can go with a given amount of fuel. Given that an ion thruster produces small levels of thrust relative to chemical thrusters, it needs to operate in excess of 10,000 hours to slowly accelerate the spacecraft to speeds necessary to reach the asteroid belt or beyond.

The NEXT ion thruster has been operated for over 43,000 hours, which for rocket scientists means that the thruster has processed over 770 kilograms of xenon propellant and can provide 30 million-newton-seconds of total impulse to the spacecraft. This demonstrated performance permits future science spacecraft to travel to varied destinations, such as extended tours of multi-asteroids, comets, and outer planets and their moons.


December 26, 2012

Smartphones, led lighting and 50 watts of solar power for everyone

In the past, Henry IV of France and President Hoover made promises of a chicken in every pot.

Even in the best-case scenarios, the number of people without electricity will tick up to 1.5 billion by 2030, as population growth outstrips electrification. According to a recent study by the International Finance Corporation, an arm of the World Bank, $10 billion a year is spent on kerosene in sub-Saharan Africa alone to illuminate homes, workplaces and community areas. Globally, the figure has been put at $36 billion. Flexiway, an Australian-Argentine maker of solar lamps, found in its trials in Tanzania that households often spent more than 10% of their income on kerosene, and other studies have put the figure as high as 25%. And kerosene does not merely eat up household income that could be spent on other things. It is also dangerous. Kerosene lanterns, a century-old technology, are fire hazards. The wicks smoke, the glass cracks, and the light may be too weak to read by. The World Health Organisation says the fine particles in kerosene fumes cause chronic pulmonary disease. Burning kerosene also produces climate-changing carbon-dioxide emissions.

There are now LED lights for $10-27 each with lumens 5-30 lumens of light.

Technological improvements in

* lowering the cost of LED lights
* lowering the cost of solar power
* increasing the brightness of LED lights
* increasing the power from solar power
* increasing the production of portable solar and LED lights

By 2017-2020, the $5-20 per person could provide lighting and electrical charging and basic electrical needs for every person in the world.

$30 billion to provide $20 of LED lighting and solar power to the 1.5 billion who would not have basic electrification through other means.
Fairly full featured smartphones cost under $100 in China now. By 2017, a $20 smartphone will be more capable that that $100 phone now.

$72 billion would be the cost of two years of kerosene spending to fill the basic electrification, lighting and communication gap.

The IEA (International Energy Agency) estimated that for 2009 there were 1.3 billion without electricity (about 20% of the world population).

By 2025 bring world extreme poverty below 3% and double global middle class to 4 billion

The United Nations Millenium Development goals have been part of important changes over the last 12 years. Governments, the United Nations
family, the private sector and civil society have succeeded in saving many lives and improving conditions in the developing world. If the economies in the developing countries (China, Indonesia, India, Vietnam, African countries, South American countries) can continue and the gains against poverty, dirty water, public health, education and slum cities can continue then 30 million unnecessary deaths every year could be avoided. There must also be more gains against air pollution and traffic deaths.

Brookings Institute analysis of poverty has better numbers than the World Bank. Brookings institute indicated the 2015 the extreme poverty should be down to 10% or less of the world's population. Down from 47 per cent in 1990 and 24 percent in 2008. It seems that a goal of getting extreme poverty down below 5% is easily possible for 2025. This would leave about 350 million people living with less than $1.25/day mainly in Africa. Nigeria is actually doing pretty well economically and is expected to account for 90-100 million of the extremely poor in 2015. If Nigeria continues to do well then they could make a lot of progress against poverty by 2020. A reachable positive scenario is to have less than 200 million living with less than $1.25/day. An extreme poverty rate of 2.5%.

Illiteracy a big problem for rapid progress against $2/day poverty

It is also conceivable to have less than 1 billion living on less than $2/day in 2020. However, this is a tougher area to make a lot of progress. The reason being is that there are high levels of illiteracy in India and Africa. Someone who is 15 or over now and is illiterate will be 25 or older in 2020 and will be illiterate. India likely has 30-40% illiteracy. Some who are considered literate only have to be able to write their name. This is not true literacy.

Extreme poverty is falling in every region

For the first time since poverty trends began to be monitored, the number of people living in extreme poverty and poverty rates fell in every developing region—including in sub-Saharan Africa, where rates are highest. The proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day fell from 47 per cent in 1990 to 24 per cent in 2008—a reduction from over 2 billion to less than 1.4 billion.

Global Middle class at $10/day PPP could double from 2 billion to 4 billion by 2025


Continue progress on Child survival

The number of under-five deaths worldwide fell from more than 12.0 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010. The goal should be to bring this down below 1 million by 2025.

Big progress has been made against extreme poverty, dirty water, slums, disease, basic education, basic public health

The progress in these areas is detailed in the MGD document and highlighted in the rest of this article. This work needs to continue and great achievements are possible as has been seen with the success that have already been produced.

Halving the 1990 poverty are target was met

Preliminary estimates indicate that the global poverty rate at $1.25 a day fell in 2010 to less than half the 1990 rate. If these results are confirmed, the first target of the MDGs—cutting the extreme poverty rate to half its 1990 level—will have been achieved at the global level well ahead of 2015.

Clean Water Target was met

The world has met the target of halving the proportion of people without access to improved sources of water. The target of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water was also met by 2010, with the proportion of people using an improved water source rising from 76 per cent in 1990 to 89 per cent in 2010. Between 1990 and 2010, over two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources, such as piped supplies and protected wells.

Improvements in the lives of 200 million slum dwellers exceeded the slum target

The share of urban residents in the developing world living in slums declined from 39 per cent in 2000 to 33 per cent in 2012. More than 200 million gained access to either improved water sources, improved sanitation facilities, or durable or less crowded housing. This achievement exceeds the target of significantly improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers, well ahead of the 2020 deadline

December 25, 2012

Wireless charging smartphones, flexible displays and low cost smartphones

Accenture recently researched and identified three new trends in the smartphone market that are likely to have big business, technological and consumer impacts during the next several years:

1. The growth in the wireless charging market for smartphones and other types of cell phones

There are two leading wireless charging standards.

1A. Qi, part of the Wireless Power Consortium. (Qi is built into a number of devices now)

1B. Power Matters Alliance

2. The development of flexible smartphone displays.

Samsung could start introducing smartphones with flexible displays next year.

3. And the fast-growing demand for smartphone features in emerging markets such as China and India.

Progress to Universal Flu Vaccines

Every year, between 250,000 and 500,000 people of all ages die worldwide after getting seasonal flu, partly because few people are vaccinated for it. Flu comes back every year because when you catch it or are vaccinated, your immune system is only trained to identify the flu's large surface proteins. These proteins change from year to year, allowing flu to strike again if you haven't had an updated vaccine.

Most attempts for universal flu vaccines are designed to make us produce antibodies, aimed not at flu's surface proteins, but at internal proteins that are the same in all flu viruses.

Researchers have equipped the smallpox vaccine virus used in the smallpox vaccine with two proteins common to all flu viruses. They reported that this vaccine prevented symptoms in some people experimentally infected with flu, and those that did get sick had milder symptoms.

Vaccines tested in chickens provided a strong T-cells response and less of the virus was passed on.

Combining these vaccines that boost t-cells with the classic vaccines that create antibodies could be more than the sum of its parts. In chickens, for example, antibodies could knock out the main virus, while T-cells mop up the variants that evade the antibodies and allow the virus to keep spreading - and evolving. "We could finally get vaccines that stop viral spread completely," says Butter.

Two Different Higgs Bosons may have been found

Researchers at the Atlas experiment finally updated the two-photon results. Observation and study of the Higgs boson candidate in the two photon decay channel with the ATLAS detector at the LHC.

What they seem to have found is bizarre—so bizarre, in fact, that physicists assume something must be wrong with it. Instead of one clean peak in the data, they have found two an additional peak. There seems to be a Higgs boson with a mass of 123.5 GeV (gigaelectron volts, the measuring unit that particle physicists most often use for mass), and another Higgs boson at 126.6 GeV—a statistically significant difference of nearly 3 GeV. Apparently, the Atlas scientists have spent the past month trying to figure out if they could be making a mistake in the data analysis but they have found no mistake.

A Low-Cost Route to Ultrathin Platinum Films that is 1000 times faster than molecular beam epitaxy

A research group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed a relatively simple, fast and effective method of depositing uniform, ultrathin layers of platinum atoms on a surface. The new process exploits an unexpected feature of electrodeposition of platinum—if you drive the reaction much more strongly than usual, a new reaction steps in to shuts down the metal deposition process, allowing an unprecedented level of control of the film thickness.

Platinum is a widely used industrial catalyst—in automobile catalytic converters and hydrogen fuel cells—as well as a key component in microelectronics, so the discovery may have widespread application in the design and manufacture of platinum-based devices.

The metal is rare, and hence very pricey, so materials engineers try to use it sparingly as a thin layer on a substrate. They'd like to be able to control the deposition process down to uniform, single layers of atoms. Unfortunately, platinum doesn't always cooperate.

DOE study shows at Least 2,400 Billion Metric Tons of U.S. CO2 Storage Resource

1. The United States has at least 2,400 billion metric tons of possible carbon dioxide (CO2) storage resource in saline formations, oil and gas reservoirs, and unmineable coal seams, according to a new U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) publication.

This resource could potentially store hundreds of years’ worth of industrial greenhouse gas emissions, permanently preventing their release into the atmosphere, says the 2012 edition of the Carbon Utilization and Storage Atlas (Atlas IV). Capturing CO2 emissions from large power and industrial plants and putting it to beneficial use or storing it in deep geologic formations is a key element in national efforts to mitigate climate change.

Of particular importance is that over 280 billion metric tons of storage capacity has been identified in depleted oil and gas fields (including unconventional gas sources) which could accommodate storage of several decades of emission from stationary sources while simultaneously improving the energy security of the United States by enhancing oil and gas recovery.

2. Nov, 2012, A promising post combustion membrane technology that can separate and capture 90 percent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) from a pulverized coal plant has been successfully demonstrated and received Department of Energy (DOE) approval to advance to a larger-scale field test.

NASA Asteroid Capture Study

Caltech has an asteroid capture feasibility study. The feasibility of an asteroid retrieval mission hinges on finding an overlap between the smallest NEAs (Near Earth Asteroids) that could be reasonably discovered and characterized and the largest NEAs that could be captured and transported in a reasonable flight time. This overlap appears to be centered on NEAs roughly 7 meter in diameter corresponding to masses in the range of 250,000 kg to 1,000,000 kg. To put this in perspective, the Apollo program returned 382 kg of Moon rocks in six missions and the OSIRIS-REx mission proposes to return at least 60 grams of surface material from a NEA by 2023. The present study indicates that it would be possible to return a ~500,000-kg NEA to high lunar orbit by around 2025.

The Planetary Resources asteroid mining company, should have a more economical plan than this NASA study

The White House's Office of Science and technology will consider the $2.6 billion plan in the coming weeks as it prepares to set its space exploration agenda for the next decade. [Daily Mail UK]

Illustration of an asteroid retrieval spacecraft in the process of capturing a 7-meter, 500-ton asteroid. (Image Credit: Rick Sternbach / KISS)

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 136

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 136 is up at Atomic Power Review

ANS Nuclear discusses nuclear energy information sources

Nextbigfuture - India Kudankulam 1 will be delayed into January and Russia indicates costs for Kudankulam 3 and 4 could double if India's new nuclear liability law is applied. Japan is looking to allow new nuclear construction and reconsiders nuclear phaseout.

December 24, 2012

Latest Stem Cell Research from the World Stem Cell Summit 2012

Here are the abstracts from the World Stem Cell Summit 2012

3 A safe and efficient method to produce neuronal cells from human bone marrow derived adult mesenchymal stem cells by modulators of chromatin modifying enzymes and SMAD signaling proteins

They increasd the efficiency of turning bone marrow stem cells into neurons by
adding to a previous neural induction recipe two specific inhibitors of SMAD signaling pathway.

5. Adipose Derived Mesenchymal Stem cells and their efficacy in Skin Injury

20 patients were injected with SVF (synovial vascular fractions) and/ or AD-MSC (adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cell) for the following indications: 4 patients for scar reduction, 6 for wound healings, 8 for stretch mark and 2 for hair growth. After 40 days of follow up, all the patients were satisfied with the results and consented to be followed for 12 months. 10 patients out of 12 had their stretch marks and scars significantly improved in size, color, and texture. The average recovery volume of wounds and scars was 75% at 12 weeks. The patients with skin scleroderma had hair growth on their eyebrows as early as 3 weeks. No immediate or delayed adverse effects were seen in any of the patients.

Conclusions: The use of AD-MSCs can be a safe and effective treatment for soft tissue injury and hold a promising future in regenerative medicine.

Spacex Reusable rocket flies to a height of 131 feet

Elon Musk of Spacex has tweeted out some videos and photos of the latest reusable rocket tests. There is a six foot all mannequin dresses as a cowboy on the rocket.





December 23, 2012

New Limited Forms of Quantum Computation could beat classical systems for some computation

Four separate teams have taken a step toward achieving such "quantum speed-up" by demonstrating a simpler, more limited form of quantum computing that, if it can be improved, might soon give classical computers a run for their money. But don't get your hopes up for a full-fledged quantum computer. The gizmos may not be good for much beyond one particular calculation.

The four groups have now demonstrated a more-limited type of quantum computation that might be developed more quickly. They all use photons, quantum particles of light, that run through a maze of crisscrossing optical channels. At the intersections, the photons can change paths with certain probabilities. In all of the experiments, three photons enter and exit through either five or six ports. The task is to calculate the probabilities for the photons to come out various combinations of output ports.

"The question is, does this give you a first step to doing a hard calculation quantum mechanically, and it looks like it might," says Scott Aaronson, a theoretical computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge and an author on one of the papers.

The Computational Complexity of Linear Optics [Theory of Computation journal]

Gold Nanorods against cancer and Protein- and peptide-based therapeutics

Launched in November 2011, Breakout Labs provides early-stage companies with the means to pursue their most radical goals in science and technology. To date Breakout Labs has awarded a total of twelve grants of up to $350,000 each.

Breakout Labs grants were recently awarded to General Genomics and Siva Therapeutics. General Genomics uses ancestral DNA sequence reconstruction to radically improve the efficiency with which protein- and peptide-based therapeutics, as well as industrially-relevant enzymes, can be developed. Siva Therapeutics is developing therapies with the potential to be more effective, safer, less expensive, and less invasive by exploiting the biophysical properties of gold nanorods engineered to capture infrared light and emit heat that destroys diseased tissue.

Siva Therapeutics

Siva’s approach will be to use SivaRodsTM - engineered gold nanorods - and infrared light with the goal of destroying solid tumors and improving patient health and outcome.



Electron micrographs of SivaRods™ (each rod is approximately 12 x 50 nm).

Peter Thiel Funds Atmospheric Vortex Engine for controlled tornado power

The Thiel Foundation announced today three new grants awarded through Breakout Labs, its revolutionary revolving fund to promote innovation in science and technology. The most recent award takes the program into clean energy, with a bold new proposal to harness the power of atmospheric vortexes. Breakout Labs has awarded a total of twelve grants of up to $350,000 each.

AVEtec is the brainchild of Canadian engineer, Louis Michaud. His Atmospheric Vortex Engine (AVE) harnesses the physics of tornados to produce extremely cheap and clean energy. In his design, warm or humid air is introduced into a circular station, where it takes the form of a rising vortex, i.e. a controlled tornado. The temperature difference between this heated air and the atmosphere above it supports the vortex and drives multiple turbines. The vortex can be shut down at any time by turning off the source of warm air.

Among its advantages over other sources of energy, AVE power generation neither produces carbon emissions nor needs energy storage. AVEtec projects that the cost of the energy it generates could be as low as 3 cents per kilowatt hour, making it one of the least expensive forms of energy production. An AVE power station could have a diameter of 100 meters and generate 200 megawatts of electrical power, the same order of magnitude as conventional coal power stations.

“We started with bench-top models and then did a CFD computer modeling study at the University of Western Ontario with Ontario Centres of Excellence funding. That led to the construction of a 4meter diameter outdoor prototype which we built and tested successfully in Petrolia Ontario in 2009.”

The 8 meter diameter prototype at Lambton College will produce a 40meter tall vortex with a diameter of 30cm. It will power a 1meter diameter turbine for testing purposes. “Power output increases geometrically with size, so commercialization will become economically viable when we build a 40meter diameter prototype in 2015” says Michaud.

The AVE uses low-temperature waste heat to create a tornado-like atmospheric vortex. In contrast with a real tornado, the vortex can’t go anywhere because it is anchored to its heat source. So it is really more like a dust devil or waterspout, and it serves as a low-cost virtual chimney. A leading cooling tower engineering firm in Germany is discussing applications with its major clients. With the addition of a virtual chimney, a $15 million mechanical draft cooling tower would work even better than a $60 million natural draft cooling tower.

“The real prize will be using a large scale AVE to drive turbines”, says Michaud. “Using the low temperature waste heat from a 500MW thermal power plant could generate an additional 200MW of power, increasing capacity by 40% and producing perfectly green electricity at less than three cents per kilowatt hour.”

The AVE is able to transfer ground-level heat up and reject it to the much colder upper atmosphere (-60 °C), it becomes feasible to use existing low-temperature heat sources and extract additional energy from them.


Tornado Vortex Chimney

There are many AVE designs