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January 19, 2013

Achates Power developing an improved Opposes Piston Engine

Opposed-piston engines can be much more efficient than todays gas and diesel engines. With two pistons per cylinder, working in opposite reciprocating action, these engines do not need cylinder heads which are a major contributor to heat losses in conventional engines. Ports in the cylinder walls replace the complex poppet valves and friction-creating valve trains of conventional engines. The intake ports at one end of the cylinder and exhaust ports at the other are activated by the piston motion and enable efficient uniflow air scavenging.

Two-stroke combustion cycle: A two-stroke engine produces twice as many power strokes per revolution as its four-stroke equivalent. This advantage leads to smaller displacement engines for similar performance, and lower in-cylinder pressure to lower emissions compared to four-stroke conventional engines.

In the past, these advantages were balanced by some well-documented shortcomings of two-stroke engines, which limited their scope of use. High hydrocarbon emissions (due to carburetion and over-scavenging) and excessive oil consumption (due to oil-fuel mixing in spark-ignition engines and port oil ejection in compression ignition, direct fuel injection engines) are difficult issues to tackle in these type of engines.

To improve emissions and reduce fuel consumption, Achates Power has made dozens of changes to the original design, including altering the shape of the combustion chamber and improving fuel injection. But so far, its fuel-efficiency claims are based on data from a single-cylinder engine, extrapolated using computer simulations to estimate the performance of a multi-cylinder engine. (Multiple cylinders would be needed for most applications.) The design also hasn’t been tested under all the conditions the engine would see in ordinary driving, such as transitioning from acceleration to cruising or decelerating.

Johnson contends the differences between single-cylinder and multi-cylinder engines are well known and can be accurately modeled.

Major step toward an Alzheimer's vaccine

A team of researchers from Université Laval, CHU de Québec, and pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has discovered a way to stimulate the brain's natural defense mechanisms in people with Alzheimer's disease. This major breakthrough, details of which are presented today in an early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), opens the door to the development of a treatment for Alzheimer's disease and a vaccine to prevent the illness.

One of the main characteristics of Alzheimer's disease is the production in the brain of a toxic molecule known as amyloid beta. Microglial cells, the nervous system's defenders, are unable to eliminate this substance, which forms deposits called senile plaques.

The team led by Dr. Serge Rivest, professor at Université Laval's Faculty of Medicine and researcher at the CHU de Québec research center, identified a molecule that stimulates the activity of the brain's immune cells. The molecule, known as MPL (monophosphoryl lipid A), has been used extensively as a vaccine adjuvant by GSK for many years, and its safety is well established.

In mice with Alzheimer's symptoms, weekly injections of MPL over a twelve-week period eliminated up to 80% of senile plaques. In addition, tests measuring the mice's ability to learn new tasks showed significant improvement in cognitive function over the same period.

PNAS - Toll-like receptor 4 stimulation with the detoxified ligand monophosphoryl lipid A improves Alzheimer’s disease-related pathology

New 2-D optical phased array technology to enable advanced LADAR

Most people are familiar with the concept of RADAR. Radio frequency (RF) waves travel through the atmosphere, reflect off of a target, and return to the RADAR system to be processed. The amount of time it takes to return correlates to the object’s distance. In recent decades, this technology has been revolutionized by electronically scanned (phased) arrays (ESAs), which transmit the RF waves in a particular direction without mechanical movement. Each emitter varies its phase and amplitude to form a RADAR beam in a particular direction through constructive and destructive interference with other emitters.

Nextbigfuture covered this work on January 10, 2013

Similar to RADAR, laser detection and ranging, or LADAR, scans a field of view to determine distance and other information, but it uses optical beams instead of RF waves. LADAR provides a more detailed level of information that can be used for applications such as rapid 3-D mapping. However, current optical beam steering methods needed for LADAR, most of which are based on simple mechanical rotation, are simply too bulky, slow or inaccurate to meet the full potential of LADAR.

DARPA researchers have recently demonstrated the most complex 2-D optical phased array ever. The array, which has dimensions of only 576µm x 576µm, roughly the size of the head of a pin, is composed of 4,096 (64 x 64) nanoantennas integrated onto a silicon chip. Key to this breakthrough was developing a design that is scalable to a large number of nanoantennas, developing new microfabrication techniques, and integrating the electronic and photonic components onto a single chip.

Nature - Large-scale nanophotonic phased array

Technologies will make the world better

Peter Diamandis (Planetary Resources cofounder, Singularity University cofounder, Space University founder) has a list of eight technologies that he expects to make the world better.

Diamandis' eight areas:

Biotech. Now, even some high school students have displayed an ability to sequence DNA, and life is looking less like a fixed condition, and more like a manufacturing process.

NBF - Synthetic Biology and Genetic Engineering are and will be very important

Computational systems. Computers that can model almost anything are now cheaply and widely available to more and more people, who can lease them by the minute via cloud-based services.

NBF - This has been happening for 60 some years and still has many decades-centuries to go.

* Artificial Intelligence. AI is creating a new generation of personal digital assistants that are so smart they can tell people where they need to go next, without even being asked or prompted.

NBF - another aspect of computational systems. AI has already had a lot of impact in financial systems. IBM's Watsons and really good voice recognition are having growing impact

* Networks and sensors. Wireless devices embedded in objects are gathering huge amounts of data that can be modeled by people who are able to “ask the right questions.”

NBF - Various aspects of sensors and sensing. From satellite imaging to terapixel cameras. New lenless systems. Millimeter and microwave sensing. LIDAR (laser imaging). Dew drop sized and sand sized sensors.

* Robotics. The robots are coming and they are going to be everywhere, performing all sorts of tasks that people once did. “Jobs are going from China to India to robots,” Mr. Diamandis said.

NBF -
Robotic cars and planes will transform transportation and cities over the next few decades.
More efficient designs.
Modular systems.
Fewer components.
More efficient processes.
All will combine with new mass market robotics and new generation industrial systems.

* Digital manufacturing. Lego won’t be a toy manufacturer. It will be an information company that creates blueprints for toys. Consumers will produce the parts at home using 3D printers that spit out Legos—along with all sorts of other objects, Mr. Diamandis.

NBF - Additive manufacturing will scale up to print airplanes, buildings and also will go down to the desktop and smaller.

* Medical technology. Modern medicine is information technology, according to Mr. Diamandis, who predicted that small mobile devices will allow people to self-diagnose their own health conditions.

NBF - The gadget aspect of medicine will have less importance than the synthetic biology, nanomedicine, and treatments that can boost immune systems to prevent cancer, Aids, cardiovascular disease and brain diseases and all viruses.

* Nano technology. Nano technology won’t stop with warmer and lighter pairs of shoes. Mr. Diamandis envisions high strength, light weight fabrics that enable personal air flight.

NBF - DNA nanotechnology is here and getting better and commercializing. Full diamondiod molecular nanotech will come.

Samsung 8-Inch Galaxy Note Tablet to Challenge iPad Mini

SamMobile received specifications for Samsung’s new upcoming Note device the GT-N5100.

The Samsung GT-N5100 will come in 2 versions

1) GT-N5100 3G / Wi-Fi version
2) the GT-N5110 Wi-Fi only version.

The name of GT-N5100 will be the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0.

Samsung’s new upcoming Galaxy Note 8.0 will use a 8.0” 1280×800 TFT (Super Clear LCD) display, 5 megapixel back camera, 1.3 megapixel front camera, 2 GB RAM, 16/32 internal + Micro SD slot. The battery of the Galaxy Note 8.0 will be a 4600 Mah one. The Galaxy Note 8.0 will also have many ways of connectivity like Bluetooth version 4.0, USB 2.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n and A-GPS. The dimensions of the tablet will be 211.3×136.3×7.95 mm and the weight is around the 330g. Samsung’s new Note device will run on Android 4.2 called Jelly Bean.

Samsung want to introduce this new tablet at MWC 2013 in Barcelona

Gene therapy for Douchenne muscular dystrophy shows success in Dogs

Usually, results from a new study help scientists inch their way toward an answer whether they are battling a health problem or are on the verge of a technological breakthrough. Once in a while, those results give them a giant leap forward. In a preliminary study in a canine model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), University of Missouri scientists showed exactly such a leap using gene therapy to treat muscular dystrophy. The results of the study will be published in the journal Molecular Therapy on Jan. 15, 2013.

Muscular dystrophy occurs when damaged muscle tissue is replaced with fibrous, bony or fatty tissue and loses function. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common type of muscular dystrophy predominantly affecting boys. Patients with DMD have a gene mutation that disrupts the production of dystrophin, a protein essential for muscle cell survival and function. Absence of dystrophin starts a chain reaction that eventually leads to muscle cell degeneration and death. For years, scientists have been working to find the key to restoring dystrophin, but they have faced many challenges.

Estimate - A few years from whole body dog treatments and, then develop human treatment, then human clinical trials. 10-15 years total probably.


NO TREATMENT- In the absence of any treatment, the muscle structure is severely damaged. Muscle cell death (rounded cells) and muscle inflammation (blue staining) is abundant.

TREATED: The contralateral muscle of the same dystrophic dog received gene therapy. Treatment greatly reduced muscle cell death and inflammation.

January 18, 2013

Holland makes EFTE domed floating buildings that cover 4 tennis court area and plans 13000 floating buildings by 2040

In the Rijnhaven in Rotterdam, a new, eye-catching structure has been erected: a complex consisting of three floating half-spheres. The structure is 12 metres tall, with a total floor area the size of four tennis courts, and is fully relocatable.

The floating pavilion is remarkable not only because of the spheres floating on the water, but also because of its climate-proof, innovative, sustainable and flexible qualities. The floating pavilion is a pilot and a catalyst for floating construction in Rotterdam. The pavilion consists of three connected spheres, the largest of which has a radius of 12 meters. The floor area of the pavilion island is over 46 by 24 meters. It will be moored in the Rijnhaven until 2015: after that, it will be shipped off to another part of Stadshavens. The Rijnhaven is a suitable location for the pavilion due to the limited beating of the waves. Furthermore, fewer and fewer inland vessels will use the harbour. Moreover, the Rijnhaven is easily accessible by public transport, also over water.

The innovative pavilion responds to the objectives of Rotterdam to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas CO2 by 50% and to ensure that the city remains climate-proof also in the future.

The round canopy, built by Dura Vermeer, is made up of dozens of hexagonal panels made of corrosion-resistant ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) plastic, which is 100 times lighter than glass. The weight savings from the ETFE allowed the designers to reduce the materials needed for the buoyant foundation, which is only about 7 feet thick and made of sandwiched expanded polystyrene sheets and concrete slabs.


Rotterdam plans to build floating urban districts. The blueprint calls for 13,000 climate-proof houses in the Stadshavens area by 2040 – of which around 1,200 would be built on top of the water. People will live, shop, work and recreate on the water.

January 17, 2013

Thin Metamaterial Cloaking of static electric and magnetic fields

Scientists at Southeast University in Nanjing have developed a “nearly perfect” cloaking device for hiding DC current, a building block toward optical invisibility. The DC cloak is also ultrathin — only 1 cm thick, which is the absolute limit for thinness of this type of practical demonstration. It is a network of resistors, common parts of electrical circuits that are used to reduce voltage, which act in this case as a type of metamaterial, an artificial material that exhibits properties such as bending current or electromagnetic waves, including visible light.

The cloak in this case does not affect visible light, instead just hides the static fields produced by direct current and magnetic fields.



Applied Physics Letters - An ultrathin but nearly perfect direct current electric cloak

Simpler metamaterial scanners with no moving parts and no lens could help self driving cars and make airport scanning convenient

A small, millimeter and microwave-detecting camera that can see through solid materials in real time has been developed. Soon, the device could be adapted and used in law enforcement and security where, among other uses, its inventors envision airport scanners that screen passengers for weapons or explosives as they walk by.

The camera features a one-dimensional aperture made from a copper-based metamaterial. Fashioned from plastics or metals, metamaterials behave in ways that ordinary materials naturally do not. Some can cloak objects. Others can reveal them. Here, scientists used the copper-based metamaterial as an aperture for microwaves, the telecommunications workhorses that populate the longer end of the electromagnetic spectrum. By connecting the aperture to an image-reconstructing computer, the researchers can capture information from a scene in real time, with no moving parts.

This new microwave- and millimeter-wave-imaging technology could cut the cost, size, and speed scanners and open them up to other applications. The technologyrelies on metamaterials and computational-imaging techniques. The researchers send microwaves at different frequencies, ranging from 18 to 26 gigahertz, one at a time into one end of the waveguide. As light of a certain frequency travels down the structure, it encounters resonator elements, some of which are designed to resonate at that frequency. So the light radiates out of the metal strip at those resonator spots. The emerging light waves interfere constructively and destructively and create beams that point at a variety of angles. “What propagates away from the structure is a set of beams pointing in different directions,” Hunt says.


Science - Metamaterial Apertures for Computational Imaging

Russia's newest nuclear submarine

Yury Dolgoruky is a new-generation nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine built by Sevmash shipyard for the Russian Navy. Constructed as the lead-submarine of the Project 955 Borei Class, Yury Dolgoruky is the first submarine launched by Russia after the Soviet era. In May 2012, the Russian Ministry of Defence placed a contract for the delivery of five new Project 955A Borei Class nuclear submarines. The Russian Navy plans to acquire ten new Borei Class submarines by 2020.

Once it was in the water, the SSBN Yury Dolgoruky easily passed its sea trials. It entered active duty last July, at 557 feet long, with a 44 foot beam and 32-foot draught. Submerged, it displaces 24,000 tons and keep its 130-member crew underwater for up to 100 days.

The sub costs $890-million which is about ten times less than US submarines. Although the US is trying to halve the costs down to about 5 times as much($4.5 billion). The US Ohio class nuclear submarines cost $2 billion each and the new replacement had been estimated at about $9 billion but the US navy is trying to bring the new sub costs down to $4.5 billion. The US built the Ohio submarines from 1976-1997.

The design incorporates a hydro-dynamically efficient hull. The outer hull is covered with anechoic coating to reduce the acoustic signature. This reduces the sub's acoustic signature much the same way that the skin of a Stealth Fighter reduces the plane's radar signature.

Next generation US submarines will refuel once every 50 years and have quieter electric drive

The heart of the planned ballistic missile Ohio Replacement (OR) program will be built around a drive that will not need to be refueled for the 50-year life of the boats and cuts out potentially noisy direct mechanical connection to the drive train. In other words, the Navy’s next-gen subs could be almost silent, and keep running for a half-century straight. The Navy is developing an innovation that attempts to give OR boomers the quietest nuclear engine yet by going to an electric drive.

The Navy wants to use the power from the reactor to create an elaborate electrical grid inside of the submarine. The reactor power would feed the grid and in turn the electric motors that would drive the boats. Eliminating the mechanical connection would mean less noise under water. The set up would also free up power previously devoted to driving the ship. Currently anywhere from 75 to 80 percent of the power from a nuclear submarine is devoted to driving the ship through the water. Extra power could be routed to other systems like sonars and potentially unmanned underwater vehicles.

January 16, 2013

Genetically Engineered Bacteria May Lead to Better Vaccines

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a menu of 61 new strains of genetically engineered bacteria that may improve the efficacy of vaccines for diseases such as flu, pertussis, cholera and HPV.

“For 70 years the only adjuvants being used were aluminum salts,” said Stephen Trent, associate professor of biology in the College of Natural Sciences. “They worked, but we didn’t fully understand why, and there were limitations. Then four years ago the first biological adjuvant was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. I think what we’re doing is a step forward from that. It’s going to allow us to design vaccines in a much more intentional way.”

Adjuvants were discovered in the early years of commercial vaccine production, when it was noticed that batches of vaccine that were accidentally contaminated often seemed to be more effective than those that were pure.

“They’re called the ‘dirty little secret’ of immunology,” said Trent. “If the vials were dirty, they elicited a better immune response.”

PNAS - Modulating the innate immune response by combinatorial engineering of endotoxin

Magneto-resistance up to 60 Tesla in Topological Insulator Bi2Te3 Thin Films

Los Alamos research on magneto-resistance in thin films is reported in Arxiv.

We report magneto-transport studies of topological insulator Bi2Te3 thin films grown by pulsed laser deposition. A non-saturating linear-like magneto-resistance (MR) is observed at low temperatures in the magnetic field range from a few Tesla up to 60 Tesla. We demonstrate that the strong linear-like MR at high field can be well understood as the weak antilocalization phenomena described by Hikami-Larkin-Nagaoka theory. Our analysis suggests that in our system, a topological insulator, the elastic scattering time can be longer than the spin-orbit scattering time. We briefly discuss our results in the context of Dirac Fermion physics and ‘quantum linear magnetoresistance’.

Optical-fiber design for faster and more efficient communication

Yu and her team based the design of their device on a new type of photonic-crystal fiber (PCF). PCFs include spaces in the glass that run along the entire length of the fiber. When examined in cross-section (see image), these ‘air holes’ have a honeycomb-like arrangement. Reflection of the incoming light at the numerous air–glass interfaces confines the light to the center of the fiber.

In a theoretical modeling study, Yu and co-workers showed that the addition of a metal wire through the center of the fiber improved device efficiency. The incoming light couples to the electrons in the metal wire, and this forms matter–light hybrid particles called surface plasmons, Yu explains.

The researchers simulated the optical confinement of infrared light in a structure with air holes 2 micrometers in diameter. They then divided the light-carrying core of the fiber with a silver wire. Their calculations indicated that the best design has a hole-to-hole distance of 4 micrometers: it enabled a coupling efficiency of nearly 82%.

“The next step is to fabricate the device,” says Yu. “The structure can be easily realized by replacing the center air hole with a metal wire during fiber production, or by pumping molten metal into the center air hole post fabrication.”

Theoretical Study of Dual-Core Photonic Crystal Fibers With Metal Wire

Ultrafast photodetector could lead to increased fiber optical broadband speeds

Photodiodes, or photodetectors, are key components of fiber-optical broadband networks: they convert light to electrical signals. The inability to efficiently fabricate these detectors directly onto silicon chips has hindered faster broadband speeds thus far. Using thin films of germanium and silicon, a research team at the A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics has developed an ultrafast photodetector that may overcome this problem1. This detector can be deposited on a chip using a cost-efficient thin-film deposition, or ‘growth’, process that is compatible with electronic components, according to Ning Duan from the team. The realization of such detectors is a key step towards processing fiber-optical signals on a silicon chip.

Duan and his co-workers developed their photodetector — known as an avalanche photodiode — using one of the fastest photodetector designs available. The device is made from semiconductors that operate under an applied electrical field at high voltage. In this field, arriving light excites electrons. They gain so much energy that it leads to an ‘avalanche’ of electrons, which can be easily detected. Since silicon is not suitable for infrared light detection, the related element germanium is typically used instead.


An electron microscope image of the avalanche photodetector developed at A*STAR. The device measures 30 micrometers in diameter.
© 2012 A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics


Optics Express - 310 GHz gain-bandwidth product Ge/Si avalanche photodetector for 1550 nm light detection

GDP growth rates for India and China to 2015

The World Bank had yesterday released its latest issue of Global Economic Prospects 2013, in which the economies of developing countries like India, China and Brazil are projected to be recovering and higher growth rate.

The World Bank estimates global GDP grew 2.3 percent in 2012. Growth is expected to remain broadly unchanged at 2.4 percent growth in 2013, before gradually strengthening to 3.1 percent in 2014 and 3.3 percent in 2015.

Growth in high-income countries remains weak, with their GDP expanding only 1.3 percent in 2012 and expected to remain slow at an identical 1.3 percent in 2013. Growth should gradually firm to 2 percent in 2014 and 2.3 percent by 2015. In the Euro Area, growth is now projected to only return to positive territory in 2014, with GDP expected to contract by 0.1 percent in 2013, before edging up to 0.9 percent in 2014 and 1.4 percent in 2015.

China’s economy is expected to expand at 8.4 percent in 2013, before easing to 7.9 percent by 2015.

The World Bank expects that by 2015, the growth rate of China would be 7.9% and that of India 7%, World Bank Chief Economist Kaushik Basu told reporters during a conference call.

United States continuing oil boom

The most recent estimate for US daily crude oil production for the week ended Jan 1, 2013 was 7.041 million bpd.

The more precise October, 2012 monthly results were 211,434,000 crude oil barrels produced in the US in the month of October. This value means 6.82 million barrels per day in October, 2012. The weekly crude oil production estimates for October were averaging 6.62 million barrels per day.

September monthly results were also higher than the early estimates.

Winter weather contributed to lower oil production from North Dakota in November. However, overall US production still went up in November and December and is still going up in January. Texas or some other state is contributing to the increased production.

The 7.04 to 7.3 million bpd range of crude oil production was last seen in 1992.

Quantum Computers will be faster and more powerful than Classical computers for optimization problems and quantum simulations by 2025

A new technological prediction

Quantum Computers will be faster and more powerful than Classical computers for optimization problems and quantum simulations by 2025


There are several possibilities for quantum computers with many thousands of qubits.

There is Dwave Systems and their superconducting adiabatic quantum computer. They have had a 512 qubit superconducting chip for over one year.

Quantum dots, lasers and several other methods are being developed now and look promising for making quantum computing systems with hundreds to thousands of qubits in the 2-8 year timeframe. Some of these systems will be able to perform quantum simulations of molecular processes.


50 Tesla and Other Superconducting Possibilities

1. Charging superconductors will get a lot more efficient and cost effective
2. Superconducting magnets could achieve 50 tesla in about 5 years
3. Superconducting wire should cost about 4 times less on a price performance basis in three years
4. Superconducting motors should be in a few hundred or a few thousand vehicles by 2020
5. 50 tesla magnets should enable a muon collider in the 2020s

The Department of Energy recently funded Fermilab scientist Tengming Shen $2,500,000 to develop Bi2Sr2CaCu2Ox superconductors. He expects he could use this material to build magnets with a reach of up to 50 Tesla. Shen's magnets could potentially be cooled with a simpler refrigeration unit. The superconducting material that has magnetic field upper limits surpassing 100 Tesla at 4.2 K and can be fabricated into a multifilamentary round wire, to practical magnet conductors that can be used to generate fields above 20 Tesla for the next generation of accelerators.

Studies suggest that reducing the present cost of the superconductor by a factor of two would bring the cost of 10-GW, 1200-mile-long, superconducting cables to within range of that of conventional overhead lines. Since underground dc cables also offer substantial environmental, siting, and aesthetic benefits over conventional overhead transmission lines, they may become an attractive alternative option in some situations. Superpower Inc, is on track to improving price performance of its superconducting wire by 4 times.



January 15, 2013

New study shows that Soot is twice as bad for the Environment

A new study indicates that the role in climate change for soot is twice as large as previous estimates. Soot has 66% of the impact of carbon dioxide. Mitigating soot would cost about $6 per ton of CO2 equivalent. CO2 mitigation costs about $100 per ton. Nextbigfuture has frequently written that soot is the most cost effective emission target for managing climate. It is also the one with the fastest results. Carbon dioxide mitigation does not impact temperatures for 50-80 years. Fully mitigating soot can also save 1-2 million lives by avoiding the disease from soot pollution.

Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres - Bounding the role of black carbon in the climate system: A scientific assessment

The full 242 pages is available for free.

Black carbon aerosol plays a unique and important role in Earth's climate system. Black carbon is a type of carbonaceous material with a unique combination of physical properties. This assessment provides an evaluation of black-carbon climate forcing that is comprehensive in its inclusion of all known and relevant processes and that is quantitative in providing best estimates and uncertainties of the main forcing terms: direct solar absorption, influence on liquid, mixed-phase, and ice clouds, and deposition on snow and ice. These effects are calculated with climate models, but when possible, they are evaluated with both microphysical measurements and field observations. Predominant sources are combustion related; namely, fossil fuels for transportation, solid fuels for industrial and residential uses, and open burning of biomass. Total global emissions of black carbon using bottom-up inventory methods are 7500 Gg yr-1 in the year 2000 with an uncertainty range of 2000 to 29000. However, global atmospheric absorption attributable to black carbon is too low in many models, and should be increased by a factor of almost three. After this scaling, the best estimate for the industrial-era (1750 to 2005) direct radiative forcing of atmospheric black carbon is +0.71 W m-2 with 90% uncertainty bounds of (+0.08, +1.27) W m-2. Total direct forcing by all black carbon sources, without subtracting the pre-industrial background, is estimated as +0.88 (+0.17, +1.48) W m-2. Direct radiative forcing alone does not capture important rapid adjustment mechanisms. A framework is described and used for quantifying climate forcings, including rapid adjustments. The best estimate of industrial-era climate forcing of black carbon through all forcing mechanisms, including clouds and cryosphere forcing, is +1.1 W m-2 with 90% uncertainty bounds of +0.17 to +2.1 W m-2. Thus, there is a very high probability that black carbon emissions, independent of co-emitted species, have a positive forcing and warm the climate. We estimate that black carbon, with a total climate forcing of +1.1 W m-2, is the second most important human emission in terms of its climate-forcing in the present-day atmosphere; only carbon dioxide is estimated to have a greater forcing. Sources that emit black carbon also emit other short-lived species that may either cool or warm climate. Climate forcings from co-emitted species are estimated and used in the framework described herein. When the principal effects of co-emissions, including cooling agents such as sulfur dioxide, are included in net forcing, energy-related sources (fossil-fuel and biofuel) have an industrial-era climate forcing of +0.22 (-0.50 to +1.08) W m-2 during the first year after emission. For a few of these sources, such as diesel engines and possibly residential biofuels, warming is strong enough that eliminating all emissions from these sources would reduce net climate forcing (i.e., produce cooling). When open burning emissions, which emit high levels of organic matter, are included in the total, the best estimate of net industrial-era climate forcing by all black-carbon-rich sources becomes slightly negative (-0.06 W m-2 with 90% uncertainty bounds of -1.45 to +1.29 W m-2). The uncertainties in net climate forcing from black-carbon-rich sources are substantial, largely due to lack of knowledge about cloud interactions with both black carbon and co-emitted organic carbon. In prioritizing potential black-carbon mitigation actions, non-science factors, such as technical feasibility, costs, policy design, and implementation feasibility play important roles. The major sources of black carbon are presently in different stages with regard to the feasibility for near-term mitigation. This assessment, by evaluating the large number and complexity of the associated physical and radiative processes in black-carbon climate forcing, sets a baseline from which to improve future climate forcing estimates.


A scalable way to make nanodiamond arrays with nitrogen vacancies for large quantum computing system

Arxiv - Self-assembling hybrid diamond-biological quantum devices

Scalable arrangements of nitrogen vacancy centers (NV) in diamond remain an open key challenge on the way to e cient quantum information processing, quantum simulation and magnetic sensing applications at the quantum limit. Although technologies based on implanting NV centers in bulk diamond or hybrid device approaches have been developed, they are limited in the achievable spatial resolution or by the
intricate complexity, respectively. Here we provide an alternative solution for creating a scalable system of individually addressable NV centers based on the self-assembling capabilities of biological systems. By using surface functionalized nanodiamonds we propose a new avenue to bridging the bio-nano interface. Taking benefit of the outstanding nanometer resolution of the bio self-assembling techniques together with the controlled creation even of 3-D spatial structures paves the way towards numerous multiqubit applications. We provide a detailed theoretical analysis on the feasibility of multiqubit quantum operations in one and two dimensional nanodiamond arrays, exploiting the signi cant dipolar coupling on the nanometer scale and address the problems of decoherence, imperfect couplings and the randomness of the relative orientations of the NV center symmetry axes. We show that our scheme allows for the high-fi delity creation of entanglement, cluster states and quantum simulation applications. In addition we present first experimental demonstrations of interconnecting nanodiamonds using biological protein complexes.

US Navy's Newest Ships are $670 million Pinatas

Wired Danger Room provides an update on the deployment of the first US Navy Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) around Singpore. The ships costs $670 million each and the Navy plans to get 55 of them.

The ship currently has some big problems related to operating after taking one good hit, shooting accurately and performing the missions that they were purchased to accomplish:

Problem taking damage

* The Navy's own assessment is that LCS is not expected to be survivable in a hostile combat environment. It is not expected to maintain mission capability after taking a significant hit in a hostile combat environment

Problems Shooting

* The 30mm gun on board the Freedom “exhibit[s] reliability problems.” The 57mm gun on both the Freedom and its sister ship, the differently-designed USS Independence, is apparently worse: “Ship operations at high speeds cause vibrations that make accurate use of the 57 mm gun very difficult,” Gilmore finds. Worse news for the Freedom: its integrated weapons systems and air/surface search radar have “performance deficiencies” that affect the ship’s “tracking and engagement of contacts.”

Genetic modification and stem cell treatment costs

Sangamo may have a "functional cure" for HIV. It is currently in two Phase 2 studies designed to maximize the engraftment of CCR5-disrupted T-cells. The two studies, which will focus on reduction or elimination of detectable virus in treated patients, are expected to have preliminary data in the first half of 2013 and final data later that year.

If successful in clinical trials the Sangamo treatment would be a once- or twice-a-year genetic-modification (modified T-cells) treatment. It might be more acceptable to patients than the current best treatment (a cocktail of drugs therapy, which can cost up to $40,000 per year and cause toxic side effects).

Sangamo places about 10 billion T-Cells into the patient. Both CCR5 genes are mutated in 5-10 percent of the cells.

New CRISPR genetic modification would be cheaper, faster and more effective than the zinc finger method.

Sangamo's gene-modifications are so precise and nontoxic that the company and researchers worldwide are working not only to optimize ZFN (zinc finger) therapies for HIV, but also for hemophilia, Huntington's disease and hemoglobinopathies such as sickle cell anemia and beta-thalassemia.

January 14, 2013

Carnival of Space 284

The Carnival of Space 284 is up at Tranquility Base blog

Supernova condensate - Just how Earth-like was Mars in days long past? A 2 billion year old martian meteorite found in Morocco suggests that in ancient times, Mars was likely a much wetter planet than it is now.

Weirdwarp talks about the X-37B. After a delay of almost two months caused by a technical glitch, the Air Force’s secretive X-37B space plane blasted off again from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on its secret, undisclosed mission.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 139

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 139 is up at Yes Vermont Yankee

James Conca's article at Forbes: Like We've Been Saying, Radiation is Not a Big Deal.

Conca describes the very recent United Nations (UNSCEAR) report on radiation risk, which paid special attention to the consequences of Fukushima. Here's a quote from the Conca article: "UNSCEAR also found no observable health effects from last year’s nuclear accident in Fukushima. No effects."

In short, the Linear No Threshold (LNT) model is simply....wrong.

NOTE - there are still studies that have the different conclusion. University of South Carolina Cambridge Philosophical Society’s journal Biological Reviews has such.

Monseau contradicts UNSCEAR and ICRP (among others) who say extrapolating tiny LNT risk factors out to large populations is wrong because the numbers show health effects that are not indicative of what's really happening. LNT-based assumptions should be used only for setting regulatory standards, and should not be used to estimate actual morbidity. Second, Monseau has always used "cherry-picked" evidence that supports his philosophical agenda, and continually avoids the things that challenge. The referenced paper out of the college where he's tenured is yet another cherry-picker. Finally, he is writing correlative papers, which are by their nature non-conclusive. He's merely re-shuffling the statistical deck to draw pre-existing conclusions by applying the numbers to populations of sufficient size to glean out what he's looking to "prove".

The conclusion that Monseau had - Even the very lowest levels of radiation are harmful to life, scientists have concluded in the Cambridge Philosophical Society’s journal Biological Reviews. Reporting the results of a wide-ranging analysis of 46 peer-reviewed studies published over the past 40 years, researchers from the University of South Carolina and the University of Paris-Sud found that variation in low-level, natural background radiation had small, but highly statistically significant, negative effects on DNA as well as several measures of health

NBF- So 46 studies were selected out of hundreds of studies from a 40 year range. This goes to the argument that there was "cherry picking".

There is a lot of argument in the comments at the Forbes article.

January 13, 2013

Large scale genetic modification for healthier people and longer lives with significant impact over the next 3 to 15 years

Beneficial gene therapy for HIV cure in phase 2 human trials

There is a phase 2 clinical trial to genetically modify t-cells to create immunity to HIV. Tim Brown, the famous "Berlin patient" and first person cured of HIV. Brown's visit and Sangamo's clinical trial results draw attention to human gene therapy with beneficial mutations. In Sangamo's case, its scientists generate mutations in the CCR5 gene in human CD4 T cells that conferred resistance to HIV-1, the most common strain of the virus. Brown was cured when he received donated CD4 T cells with a naturally occurring CCR5 mutation. The company Sangamo has touted results at the one-year clinical trial endpoint: in five of nine subjects, CD4 T cell counts persisted a year after infusion at greater than 500 cells/mm3, the accepted threshold for initiation of HAART therapy. It might be three years to get past the clinical trial phase for this approach.

CRISPR will allow large scale genetic editing for a lot of beneficial mutations.
Mutations for viral immunity, longevity and other mass changes to stem cells extracted and modified and then reintroduced to the body.

Thousands of changes could be made and then copied for millions of stem cells.

This method could be used for a transhuman future with radical life extension and other genetic and epigenetic changes.

George Church described these goals in his latest book Regenesis and a Discovery Magazine article.

Some people are almost transhuman now

* Rare double mutants in the myostatin gene have more lean muscle and less body fat
* those with the LRP5 gene have extra strong bones (like the real version of the Bruce Willis movie Unbreakable character
* Those with the PCSK5 gene have 88 percent lower coronary disease
* Those with double CCR5 genes are HIV resistant
* Those with double FUT2 are resistant to stomach flu

More muscle and stronger bones can be used to counter frailty in the elderly.

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.

Coronary disease is the cause of about 25% of deaths in developed countries.

A Dopamine gene might be a factor in longevity (seems to have 5-9% boost for longevity of mice

Identifying all of the unambiguously beneficial genetic changes for people and applying them to different tissue / stem cells and introducing them into people should definitely

- radically improve immune systems (easy to access immune systems, white blood cells, t-cells). Genetic engineering supercharged equivalent of vaccination. Vaccines alter and educate our immune system.
- easy to access blood
- could alter some of the 6 pounds of bacteria in our guts to alter out internal ecosystem

Electric, Hybrid, Natural Gas and Regular Cars in 2019 and 2020

1. PwC's automotive analyst group, Autofacts, today announced that it expects 2013 global light vehicle assembly will exceed 83 million units, an increase of 5.1 percent from 2012's total. Autofacts expects the global market to remain positive overall, while the European Union and Japan will continue to be areas of concern. Car sales are projected to be over 107 million in 2019.

2. Pike Research annual worldwide sales of pure electric, plug in hybrid and hybrid vehicles, collectively referred to as electric vehicles (EVs), will reach 3.8 million by 2020.