March 09, 2013

Spacex Grasshopper flies and hovers at about 300 feet in the air

Elon Musk said SpaceX is testing of new rockets that would be reusable. That would provide a massive hundre times cheaper in the cost of space flight. Fuel and oxygen is only 0.3% of the cost of a rocket. With reusable rockets, space travel could be easier to attain for more people, he said.

SpaceX is currently working on a reusable rocket prototype, one that could “land safely anywhere on earth like a helicopter” after sending a given craft hurtling beyond our atmosphere to its destination. And damned if the company isn’t already part of the way there: Musk brought with him a video — set to Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” — of a successful test of one of its 10-storey-high Grasshopper rising from a launchpad, hovering in the air for a short time and then softly descending to the ground on a cushion of boosters and landing gears. The test apparently only occurred “about a day and a half ago.”

“Yeah, so it worked. You’re the first people to see that video — even including SpaceX — apart from the video editor who sent it to me half an hour before this,” said Musk. “So far I’ve not been very successful in that regard, but I think we’ve got a handle on it.”

Now, of course, the goal is to go “higher and further.” All in service, Musk says, of putting the prospect of establishing a human base on another planet — Mars is the dream — within our technological and economic reach.

The Video shows the rocket flying up to about 3 times its height which would be about 300 feet into the air. So it was a test that lasted longer and flew higher.

IBM CEO Predicts Three Technological Transformations

IBM CEO Rometty predicted that data will be the basis of competitive advantage going forward, calling it the “the next natural resource.” She believes it will change how decisions are made, how value is created and how value is delivered. Here’s a look at what the future may hold.

Data Analytics Will Revolutionize Decision-Making

“Many more decisions will be based on predictive elements versus gut instincts,” Rometty said. Even in the most scientifically oriented fields, she noted that decisions are still being made based on anchoring biases. In other words, leaders and managers interpret information through the lens of their subjective perspective and set of experiences.

However, with the incoming “tsunami of information,” Rometty believes that those companies that are able to use data to their advantage will make better, more objective calls. As an example, she cited IBM’s use of software analytics in its CRUSH (Criminal Reduction Utilizing Statistical History) initiative with the Memphis Police Department. Finding a correlation between rapes and outdoor pay phones, they decided to move the phones indoors, which ultimately contributed to a 30% reduction in crime.

Broad Group is famous worldwide for its factory mass produced skyscrapers but revenue from purifying China's polluted air will be multiplying

1. Forbes reports on the status of the China Broad Group 220 story SkyCity skyscraper project

Called ‘Sky City’, the proposed tower in Changsha is designed to house over 30,000 people in a structure with 104 elevators that tops out at 838 meters, taller than Dubai’s Burj Tower. And this giant, 9.0 earthquake-proof structure was to be put up in 90 days. Yes, days. The cost was reportedly a steal: $1,500 per square meter, compared to $15,000 for the Burj Tower.

So where is the world’s tallest building? Apparently still in the factory in pieces. According to Oriental Outlook magazine, authorities in Changsha have withheld permits for Sky City because of concerns over safety, congestion and environmental impact. Broad signed an agreement last June with Wangcheng district government that budgeted the project at up to RMB4 billion ($645 million). This plan was based on completion in January. Broad had already acquired the land for RMB389 million ($62 million) Now it seems that Broad needs to argue its case again to regulators. Oriental Outlook reports that local experts aren’t too convinced by the technology and concerned about traffic congestion in the area (those 30,000 residents). There’s also the copycat problem: other districts in Changsha (population: 7 million) may want their own skyscrapers, making it even harder for urban planners. Presumably Broad would be only too happy to oblige. After all, it’s a quick turnaround.

Based in Changsha, central China, Broad (‘Yuanda’) is known for making giant air-con systems; its founder and CEO Zhang Yue has built an estimated fortune of $860 million

2. Despite being relatively new to the air purifier market, Hunan-based Broad Group has ambitious plans to dominate the sector and counter health-threatening pollution with its heat-recovery technology.

Dynamical Casimir effect in a Josephson metamaterial

Researchers showed the dynamical Casimir effect using a Josephson metamaterial embedded in a microwave cavity. They showed that under certain conditions, real photons are generated in pairs, a The researchers also showed that photons at frequencies symmetric with respect to half the modulation frequency of the cavity are generated in pairs.

Lähteenmäki describes next steps in their research. "Instead of a continuous wave pump, we could have a straight flux line and feed it with a step-like flux pulse," Lähteenmäki says. "This would allow the creation of an analogue to a black hole event horizon. In fact," he adds, "we're hoping to create an artificial event horizon in a metamaterial similar to the one used in our current research and study Hawking radiation originating from it. Also, it would be nice to be able to run experiments on Bell's inequalities."

His personal interests, Lähteenmäki says, are fundamental quantum mechanics, quantum information and properties of the vacuum itself. "The obvious applications for these devices," he notes, "come from quantum computation, and in general they may serve as components for multitude of sensitive measurements. I believe the interest towards low loss metamaterials is high and the field is just getting started. Our results show that these devices have potential and can offer a fruitful platform for many experiments and perhaps practical devices as well. Improving such devices – especially eliminating the losses and making them function more robustly – would allow them to create a general purpose component suitable for creating entangled microwave photon pairs, low noise amplification, squeezed vacuum, and other functions that can be very useful for quantum computation and general experiments in the quantum mechanics and in studying the vacuum."

Another possibility, Lähteenmäki adds, is to create a metamaterial which would allow them to stop signal propagation in the material entirely and allow them to resume it later. "This would act as a kind of slow light memory that would store the photon for later use." Other areas of research might benefit from their study as well, Lähteenmäki says. "There are some connections to cosmology, the big bang, cosmic inflation, and other areas.

These metamaterials could possibly offer an analogy to such events and serve as a platform to simulate the evolution of such conditions. Who knows," he ponders, concluding that "perhaps we'd find clues to the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy or other fundamental questions from such systems."

The zero-point energy stored in the modes of an electromagnetic cavity has experimentally detectable effects, giving rise to an attractive interaction between the opposite walls, the static Casimir effect. A dynamical version of this effect was predicted to occur when the vacuum energy is changed either by moving the walls of the cavity or by changing the index of refraction, resulting in the conversion of vacuum fluctuations into real photons. Here, we demonstrate the dynamical Casimir effect using a Josephson metamaterial embedded in a microwave cavity at 5.4 GHz. We modulate the effective length of the cavity by flux-biasing the metamaterial based on superconducting quantum interference devices (SQUIDs), which results in variation of a few percentage points in the speed of light. We extract the full 4 × 4 covariance matrix of the emitted microwave radiation, demonstrating that photons at frequencies symmetrical with respect to half of the modulation frequency are generated in pairs. At large detunings of the cavity from half of the modulation frequency, we find power spectra that clearly show the theoretically predicted hallmark of the Casimir effect: a bimodal, “sparrow-tail” structure. The observed substantial photon flux cannot be assigned to parametric amplification of thermal fluctuations; its creation is a direct consequence of the noncommutativity structure of quantum field theory.

March 08, 2013

Lockheed Martin Talks about the humanity game changer that is Dwave Systems Quantum Computer

Lockheed Martin and scientists at USC think about D-Wave Quantum Computer technology.

Here is a quote from Greg Tallant, Research Engineering Manager, Flight Control & VMS Integration – FW, Advanced Development Programs, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company in the video -

It’s a game changer for the corporation, it’s a game changer for our customers, and ultimately it’s a game changer for humanity. Computationally this is the equivalent of the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk.

Steve Jurvetson (venture capitalist funder of Dwave Systems) explained what doulbing the qubits in a scalable quantum computing architecture would mean.

Seven Next-Generation Energy Technologies like silicon carbide switches that would make transformers 80 times smaller

Companies showed off their latest clean energy innovations at the ARPA-E Summit.

1. This is a model of a generator being developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology that looks to take advantage of natural air movements in hot areas. When the sun’s heat hits the ground, a layer of hot air forms at ground level. If that ground-level air is hotter than the air above, it can create upwardly moving whirlwind. In nature, this columnar vortex phenomenon creates “dust devils,” or spinning whirlwinds that lift dirt off the ground. In the device, hot air rises through the turbine, generating electricity.

Flip of a single molecular switch makes an old brain youn

The flip of a single molecular switch helps create the mature neuronal connections that allow the brain to bridge the gap between adolescent impressionability and adult stability. Now Yale School of Medicine researchers have reversed the process, recreating a youthful brain that facilitated both learning and healing in the adult mouse.

Scientists have long known that the young and old brains are very different. Adolescent brains are more malleable or plastic, which allows them to learn languages more quickly than adults and speeds recovery from brain injuries. The comparative rigidity of the adult brain results in part from the function of a single gene that slows the rapid change in synaptic connections between neurons.

A cultured neuron with projecting dendrites studded with sites of communication between neurons, known as dendritic spines.

Journal Neuron - Anatomical Plasticity of Adult Brain Is Titrated by Nogo Receptor 1

Industry 4.0 for Large scale customization and other technology enhanced efficiency

Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the internet startup ResearchGate yesterday. ResearchGate was founded in 2008 by the physicians Dr. Ijad Madisch and Dr. Sören Hofmayer along with computer specialist Horst Fickenscher. Four years later, more than 2.5 million researchers publish their findings, distribute them worldwide, and make a name for themselves on ResearchGate. The company has completed two rounds of financing, led by Founders Fund partner Luke Nosek, co-founder of PayPal, and Matt Cohler of Benchmark Capital, co-founder of LinkedIn and early employee of Facebook.

Germany is now seeking to position itself for the coming revolution, "industry 4.0", powered by Internet.

German firms at the CeBIT show were scrambling not to get left behind by the global competition when it comes to making industrial processes smarter and more interconnected.

The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) showcased its "smart factory", showing how industrial processes can be made more efficient when connected by Internet.

As an example, the DFKI demonstrated how a plastic badge installed with a tiny RFID identification chip instructs the machines involved in its production. The chip can tell other machines what to engrave on its surface, what colour to paint it or whether to stick on instructions in French, German or Portuguese.

The idea of the project, which should be rolled out on an industrial scale in Germany next year, is to allow a production process that is both large-scale and highly specific.

China latest GDP and other statistics for the end of 2012

China's GDP increased from 26.6 trillion yuan to 51.9 trillion yuan (end of 2012) over the past five years. Those are the national statistics bureau information which are disputed.

China's GDP grew by 7.8 percent in 2012.
China's inflation was 2.6 percent in 2012.
China's government tax revenue went up from 5.1 trillion yuan (5 years ago) to 11.7 trillion yuan.

Prior Nextbigfuture GDP forecast for China

Nextbigfuture had a forecast of China's GDP which was off by about 2% for end of 2012 on yuan GDP and slightly off on exchange rate.

Year GDP(yuan) GDP growth USD/CNY China GDP China+HK US GDP   

2011     47.2   9.2        6.3     7.5        7.8       15.2
2012     53     8.0        6.1     8.7        9.0       15.9
2013     59     8.5        5.8    10.2       10.5       16.5
2014     66     8.5        5.5    11.9       12.2       17.2
2015     73     8.5        5.2    14         14.3       18
2016     80     8          4.9    16.3       16.7       18.8
2017     88     8          4.6    19.1       19.5       19.6
2018     97     8          4.3    22.6       23         20.5
2019    107     8          4.1    26         26.5       21.5
2020    115     7.5        3.9    29.6       30         22.4
2021    125     7.5        3.7    33.7       34.2       23.4
2022    135     7.5        3.5    38.5       39         24.5
2023    145     7          3.3    44         44.5       25.6
2024    157     7          3.1    50.6       51         26.7
2025    170     7          3      56.5       57         27.9
2026    183     7          3      61         61.5       29.2
2027    198     7          3      66         66.4       30.5
2028    214     7          3      71.2       72         31.9
2029    235     7          3      78.4       79         33.3
2030    259     7          3      86.4       87         34.8

Dwave quantum computer has experimental evidence of quantum entanglement and will publish papers showing 512 qubit system is ten thousand times faster than best classical algorithms for some problems

The chips, made by D-Wave Systems of Burnaby, Canada, have passed two tests that suggest that the bits in their machines have the quantum property of entanglement. That doesn't end the controversy, but it strengthens D-Wave's claim that a revolution in computing is a lot closer than we thought.

D-Wave uses adiabatic quantum computing, in which an array of chilled, superconducting niobium loops – the qubits in this system – very quickly find the lowest point in what can be thought of as an energy "landscape" of hills and valleys. The trick is to use this landscape to answer a variety of questions. For example, D-wave has arranged the qubits so that when they reach their lowest-energy state , they reveal the lowest-energy arrangement for folding a simple protein – thought to be its preferred state.

Entanglement cannot be directly measured while the D-Wave computer is operating. However, it will have an effect on the qubits' energy distribution. So D-Wave has developed a technique called qubit tunnelling spectroscopy that measures the energies of the qubits and uses this to determine whether it corresponds to what you would expect from an entangled system.

On 6 March, at the Adiabatic Quantum Computing workshop at the Institute of Physics in London, they reported that they had found this entanglement signature in experiments with systems of two and eight qubits within their computer. The indirect nature of the measurement means the calculations rely on an assumption about the energy spectrum – which could turn out to be wrong, invalidating that conclusion. But D-Wave's results aren't the only evidence that their system is entangled.

At the same workshop, Federico Spedalieri of the Information Sciences Institute in Marina Del Rey, California, presented additional evidence of entanglement, using data provided by D-Wave but employing a different methodology.

Spedalieri and colleagues applied a mathematical test that determines whether there are any ways for non-entangled qubits to arrange themselves to be compatible with the data. If not, the system must be entangled.

Using this test, they found evidence for entanglement.

MIT ‘cheetah’ robot as efficient as real cheetahs and will soon be more efficient and running at 35 mph

A 70-pound “cheetah” robot designed by MIT researchers may soon outpace its animal counterparts in running efficiency: In treadmill tests, the researchers have found that the robot — about the size and weight of an actual cheetah — wastes very little energy as it trots continuously for up to an hour and a half at 5 mph. The key to the robot’s streamlined stride: lightweight electric motors, set into its shoulders, that produce high torque with very little heat wasted.

The MIT cheetahbot is a separate cheetahbot than the previously reported Boston Dynamic cheetahbot. This is the 21st century where you have to specify which cheetahbot model you are discussing. Boston Dynamics has a heavier cheetahbot that is using more bigger engines to get faster.

The motors can be programmed to quickly adjust the robot’s leg stiffness and damping ratio — or cushioning — in response to outside forces such as a push, or a change in terrain. The researchers will present the efficiency results and design principles for their electric motor at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in May.

Sangbae Kim, the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Assistant Professor in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, says achieving energy-efficiency in legged robots has proven extremely difficult. Robots such as Boston Dynamic’s “Big Dog” carry heavy gasoline engines and hydraulic transmissions, while other electrically powered robots require large battery packs, gears, force sensors and springs to coordinate the joints in a robot’s leg. All this weighty machinery can add up to significant wasted energy, particularly when a robot’s legs need to make frequent contact with the ground in order to trot or gallop.

After digging through the literature on animal locomotion, the researchers plotted the cost of transport of various running, flying and swimming animals. They found that, not surprisingly, fliers were more efficient than runners, although swimmers were the most efficient movers. The cheetah robot, according to Kim’s calculations, falls around the efficiency range of humans, cheetahs and hunting dogs.

Currently the team is assembling a set of new motors, designed by Jeffrey Lang, a professor of electrical engineering at MIT. Kim expects that once the group outfits the robot with improved motors, the cheetah robot will be able to gallop at speeds of up to 35 mph, with an efficiency that rivals even fliers. The researchers are convinced that this approach can exceed biological muscle in many aspects, including power, torque and responsiveness.

Assistant Professor Sangbae Kim works on the 70-pound 'cheetah' robot designed at MIT.

Cameco will start up World second largest high grade uranium mine at Cigar Lake in a few months

Cameco Corp. is just months away from opening its Cigar Lake uranium project, the world’s second-largest high-grade uranium deposit, more than thirty years after it was discovered and just as global prices for the nuclear fuel show promise of a rebound.

“We’re on track with Cigar Lake. We said we’d be starting the mining in mid-2013 and we will and we’ll have first production from the mill in 2013,” said Tim Gitzel, chief executive officer of the Saskatchewan-based owner of uranium projects in Canada, the United States, Australia and Kazakhstan.

Cigar Lake will supply uranium for some 20 or 30 years. Cameco, the world’s biggest publicly traded uranium producer, is the 50 per cent owner of the northern Saskatchewan mine, which has ore grades that are among the world’s highest, at 100 times the world average.

China may start exporting AP1400 nuclear reactors this year and use cheap credit to lure customers

Officials behind China's self-developed nuclear reactor, known as the CAP1400, expect to sign its first overseas orders for the technology this year, most likely from South America or Asia.

Sun Qin, the chairman of China National Nuclear Corp told China Daily in an exclusive interview, that the deals could seal should the construction of a CAP1400 reactor in China begin by the end of this year, after approval from the State Council.

The Chinese technology is attractive because of the “favorable and unconditional” credit conditions offered to other nations.

The construction site of the Tianwan Nuclear Power Plant in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province. China's nuclear plant construction, after a 20-month halt due to the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan, gradually resumed by the second half of last year. Geng Yuhe / For China Daily

March 07, 2013

Weak technological superpowers now versus real superpowers later

I had several articles about the only enhancements that matter are ones for better health and business productivity.

- Enhancement of health and longevity
- increased lifespan
- reduced frailty
- increased healthspan
- improved immune system (disease immunity)
- regeneration and fast healig
- tissue engineering
- intelligence and economic productivity boosting

-radiation immunity and adaptations to make living and working in space have no health impacts.

Stronger muscles and bones for reduced frailty

Myostatin inhibition will happen for athletes (hundreds of thousands to millions. About 7-10 million steroid users for athlete performance but mainly for vanity looks. Guys want the muscles for the chicks.

The main benefit is for safely and boosting muscle for the elderly. Less frailty/ combat sarcopenia (muscle version of osteoporosis.

Bone density genetic treatment. Fight osteoporosis.

Wearable enhancement

There are all kinds of wearable tech for superhuman powers. But almost no one buys infrared goggles or constantly carries binoculars or microscopes. Although addons to iphones and android are making it easier to have microscope and lab analysis add-ons.

More "wearable powers" are coming with terahertz style vision to see through objects like the old x-ray vision powers.

Japanese researchers have improved cloning for over 25 generations of cloning and normal lifespans

Using the technique that created Dolly the sheep, researchers from the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan have identified a way to produce healthy mouse clones that live a normal lifespan and can be sequentially cloned indefinitely.

In an experiment that started in 2005, the team led by Dr. Teruhiko Wakayama has used a technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SNCT) to produce 581 clones of one original 'donor' mouse, through 25 consecutive rounds of cloning.

By improving each step of the SCNT procedure, they were able to clone the mice repeatedly 25 times without seeing a reduction in the success rate. The 581 healthy mice obtained in this way were all fertile, they gave birth to healthy pups and lived a normal lifespan of about two years, similar to normally conceived mice.

“Our results show that there were no accumulations of epigenetic or genetic abnormalities in the mice, even after repeated cloning,” conclude the authors.

Dr. Wakayama adds, “This technique could be very useful for the large-scale production of superior-quality animals, for farming or conservation purposes.”

Successful Serial Recloning in the Mouse over Multiple Generations

Scaling Ion Trap Quantum Computers to Thousands of Qubits

Ion trap technology are a scalable option for quantum computers.

Trapped atomic ions are a promising architecture that satisfies many of the critical requirements for constructing a quantum computer. At the heart of quantum computers are qubits, systems maintained in two or more quantum states simultaneously. Here, the qubits are manifested in the internal energy levels of the ions, and are manipulated through laser and microwave radiation. These technologies are a key factor in the success of atomic ions: scientists can set the frequency of the radiation to match that of the ion’s energy level spacings with extreme precision.

The qubits have long coherence time -- meaning they can be placed in quantum states and remain that way long enough to perform calculations. The qubit’s states are not sensitive to ambient disturbances like magnetic fields, giving them inherent protection from the destructive environment.

Monroe and Kim are part of a larger collaboration called MUSIQC, which stands for Modular Universal Scalable Ion-trap Quantum Computer, and is supported by the Intelligence Advance Research Projects Activity (IARPA).

Surface trap fabricated by Sandia National Labs, supported by IARPA. This type of trap has been used to capture ions at JQI and Duke University, as well as other institutions. The image shown here appears on the cover of this week's issue of Science Magazine. Credit and permissions, contact JQI

Science - Scaling the Ion Trap Quantum Processor

Scientists Can More Precisely Turn Off Genes, A Major Goal of Cancer Treatment and may reprogram cells for regeneration

Scientists at UC San Francisco have found a more precise way to turn off genes, a finding that will speed research discoveries and biotech advances and may eventually prove useful in reprogramming cells to regenerate organs and tissues.

The strategy borrows from the molecular toolbox of bacteria, using a protein employed by microbes to fight off viruses, according to the researchers, who describe the technique in the current issue of Cell.

Turning off genes is a major goal of treatments that target cancer and other diseases. In addition, the ability to turn genes off to learn more about how cells work is a key to unlocking the mysteries of biochemical pathways and interactions that drive normal development as well as disease progression.

Journal Cell - Repurposing CRISPR as an RNA-Guided Platform for Sequence-Specific Control of Gene Expression

Results of study genetics of super-genius will be ready in two months time

A 20-year-old wunderkind named Zhao Bowen has embarked on a challenging and potentially controversial quest: uncovering the genetics of intelligence. Mr. Zhao is a high-school dropout who has been described as China's Bill Gates. He oversees the cognitive genomics lab at BGI (Beijing Genomics Institute), a private company that is partly funded by the Chinese government.

At the Hong Kong facility, more than 100 powerful gene-sequencing machines are deciphering about 2,200 DNA samples, reading off their 3.2 billion chemical base pairs one letter at a time. These are no ordinary DNA samples. Most come from some of America's brightest people—extreme outliers in the intelligence sweepstakes.

The majority of the DNA samples come from people with IQs of 160 or higher. By comparison, average IQ in any population is set at 100. The average Nobel laureate registers at around 145. Only one in every 30,000 people is as smart as most of the participants in the Hong Kong project—and finding them was a quest of its own.

The genetic intelligence project has been in progress for three years.

The plan, to compare the genomes of geniuses and people of ordinary intelligence, is scientifically risky (it’s likely that thousands of genes are involved) and somewhat controversial. For those reasons it would be very hard to find the $15 or $20 million needed to carry out the project in the West. “Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t,” Plomin says. “But BGI is doing it basically for free.”

Today only about 10 percent of BGI’s revenue comes from government projects—and that’s largely from local municipalities, not from Beijing. The rest is a mix of grants, some anonymous donations, and fees from clients, including as little as $3,000 to $4,000 to sequence a human genome.

Evidence from mice human hybrids shows that Glial support cells may enhance people’s thinking prowess

Transplanting human brain cells into mice makes the mice smarter, a new study shows.

But the smart-making brain cells are not the nerve cells most people think of as controlling thoughts. Instead, they are part of the supporting cast of brain cells known as glia (Greek for “glue”).

Scientists have long seen glia, including a subset known as astrocytes, as support cells that feed neurons, mop up excess neurotransmitters and generally help hold the brain together. The new study, published March 7 in Cell Stem Cell, shows that glial cells also influence memory formation and could change how scientists think the brain works, says R. Douglas Fields of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “It’s a paradigm-shifting paper,” says Fields, who was not involved in the work.

Scientists improve transgenic 'Enviropigs'

A research team at the University of Guelph has developed a new line of transgenic "Enviropigs." The new line of pigs is called the Cassie line, and it is known for passing genes on more reliably.

Enviropigs have genetically modified salivary glands, which help them digest phosphorus in feedstuffs and reduce phosphorus pollution in the environment. After developing the initial line of Enviropigs, researchers found that the line had certain genes that could be unstable during reproduction or impractical in commercial use.

Scientists at the University of Guelph created the Cassie line to address these problems. In their paper for the Journal of Animal Science, they explain that the Cassie line has the same ability to digest high levels of phosphorus in plant matter.

Phosphorus is crucial for healthy growth in pigs. Unfortunately, 50 to 70 percent of the phosphorus in grain is in the form of phytic acid, a compound indigestible by pigs. Because of this, many farmers have to supplement pig diets with an enzyme called phytase. Phytase breaks down phytic acid and helps pigs digest more of the nutrient. The phytase enzyme has a hefty price tag for farmers, and the enzyme can be accidentally damaged or destroyed when farmers mix feed.

Would Christopher Dorner and the Mexican Drug Cartel Situation Foreshadow a Future With Rogue Supersoldiers

Recently there was the problem of Christopher Dorner who was a former LAPD police officer and ex-United States Navy reservist who went rogue and killed police and innocent civilians. Dorner had small arms training, demolition, ordnance and survival training.

The technology will soon exist to routinely enhance people’s minds and bodies using a wide range of chemical, neurological, genetic and behavioral techniques.

* Greater strength and endurance.
* Enhanced thinking.
* Better teamwork.
* New classes of genetic weaponry, able to subvert DNA.

There will also be different kinds of exoskeletons and other gear that amplifies the capabilities of soldiers.

Containing and managing one rogue super-soldier

Containing and managing one rogue super-soldier would be more difficult than the Dorner situation.

Drones are being introduced to law enforcement in the United States.

The pieces are coming together for hunter killer laser armed drones.

* Super high resolution drone mounted cameras
* Laser armed drones
* 150 kilowatt or more powerful lasers
* An open ended legal policy for the use of drones for targeted killing

So it seems the civilian and police response to supersoldiers would have to mirror military combat by calling in precision airstrikes. Lasers and weapons with more precision and less collateral damage would be needed to minimize societal disruption.

Then there would be the issue of managing the surveillance and drone weapons.

I believe there are the fables about cat eats a mouse, a dog eats a cat, a tiger eats a dog, and that would apply to the escalating weapon management problem.

Four Main Challenges for the 2018 Mars Flyby Mission

New Scientist reports on four challenges the Inspiration team must resolve for the Mars Flyby Mission in 2018.

1. Launch vehicle

The vehicle of choice is the Falcon Heavy rocket, which SpaceX has designed to carry about 30,000 pounds to the vicinity of Mars. The Falcon Heavy’s first demonstration flight is planned for later this year.

NBF - The Mars mission can also use two or more launches of smaller rockets which already exist. Using more smaller rockets would increase cost and complexity

March 06, 2013

Quantum Fridge cools object a million times heavier

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated a solid-state refrigerator that uses quantum physics in micro- and nanostructures to cool a much larger object to extremely low temperatures.

What's more, the prototype NIST refrigerator, which measures a few inches in outer dimensions, enables researchers to place any suitable object in the cooling zone and later remove and replace it, similar to an all-purpose kitchen refrigerator. The cooling power is the equivalent of a window-mounted air conditioner cooling a building the size of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

"It's one of the most flabbergasting results I've seen," project leader Joel Ullom says. "We used quantum mechanics in a nanostructure to cool a block of copper. The copper is about a million times heavier than the refrigerating elements. This is a rare example of a nano- or microelectromechanical machine that can manipulate the macroscopic world."

The technology may offer a compact, convenient means of chilling advanced sensors below standard cryogenic temperatures—300 milliKelvin (mK), typically achieved by use of liquid helium—to enhance their performance in quantum information systems, telescope cameras, and searches for mysterious dark matter and dark energy.

The NIST refrigerator's cooling elements, consisting of 48 tiny sandwiches of specific materials, chilled a plate of copper, 2.5 centimeters on a side and 3 millimeters thick, from 290 mK to 256 mK. The cooling process took about 18 hours. NIST researchers expect that minor improvements will enable faster and further cooling to about 100 mK.Quantum

NIST's prototype solid-state refrigerator uses quantum physics in the square chip mounted on the green circuit board to cool the much larger copper platform (in the middle of the photo) below standard cryogenic temperatures. Other objects can also be attached to the platform for cooling.
Credit: Schmidt/NIST

Applied Physics Letters - Macroscale refrigeration by nanoscale electron transport

Google's systems send out alerts when they are down to their last few petabytes

One of the best-kept secrets of Google’s rapid evolution into the most dominant force on the web is a software called Borg. Google has been using the system for a good nine or 10 years and John Wilkes and his team are now building a new version of the tool, codenamed Omega.

Borg is a way of efficiently parceling work across Google’s vast fleet of computer servers, and according to Wilkes, the system is so effective, it has probably saved Google the cost of building an extra data center. Yes, an entire data center. That may seem like something from another world — and in a way, it is — but the new-age hardware and software that Google builds to run its enormous online empire usually trickles down to the rest of the web. And Borg is no exception.

Google's systems are big. Google engineers might receive an emergency alert because a system that stores data is down to its last few petabytes of space. In other words, billions of megabytes can flood a fleet of Google machines in a matter of hours.

Google’s system provides a central brain for controlling tasks across the company’s data centers. Rather than building a separate cluster of servers for each software system — one for Google Search, one for Gmail, one for Google Maps, etc. — Google can erect a cluster that does several different types of work at the same time. All this work is divided into tiny tasks, and Borg sends these tasks wherever it can find free computing resources, such as processing power or computer memory or storage space.

Wilkes says it’s like taking a massive pile of wooden blocks — blocks of all different shapes and sizes — and finding a way to pack all those blocks into buckets. The blocks are the computer tasks. And the buckets are the servers. The trick is to make sure you never waste any of the extra space in the buckets.

“If you just throw the blocks in the buckets, you’ll either have a lot of building blocks left over — because they didn’t fit very well — or you’ll have a bunch of buckets that are full and a bunch that are empty, and that’s wasteful,” Wilkes says.

Rather than run separate software systems on separate server clusters, Google can run everything on one cluster — thanks to Borg and its successor, Omega. Illustration: Ross Patton

The US may lag behind Russia and China in Biomodification for Supersoldiers

Not long from now, the technology could exist to routinely enhance — and undermine — people’s minds and bodies using a wide range of chemical, neurological, genetic and behavioral techniques.

* Greater strength and endurance.
* Enhanced thinking.
* Better teamwork.
* New classes of genetic weaponry, able to subvert DNA.

According to the futurists at the U.S. National Intelligence Council, by 2030, “neuro-enhancements could provide superior memory recall or speed of thought. Brain-machine interfaces could provide ‘superhuman‘ abilities, enhancing strength and speed, as well as providing functions not previously available.”

Soldiers may be able to eat grass, communicate telepathically, resist stress, climb walls like a lizard, and much more. Impossible? We only need to look at nature for proofs of concept. For instance, dolphins don't sleep (or they'd drown); Alaskan sled-dogs can run for days without rest or food; bats navigate with echolocation; and goats will eat pretty much anything. Find out how they work, and maybe we can replicate that in humans.

Andrew Herr is a leading researcher into biomodification. Andrew Herr says, "The U.S. is still likely to move more slowly on biomods than say, China or Russia. “Other countries are probably much more likely to take advantage of these [technologies]. The question will be how they do it.”

NOTE - China has a large scale study of the genetic basis of super-intelligence.

Steve Rogers before becoming Captain America

Ivan Danko

Germany Shift to Renewables will cost at least $1.3 trillion and increased CO2 emissions now and for many years with more coal usage

1. Germany's plan to transform its energy system to one reliant on renewable power as it phases out nuclear energy could cost up to €1 trillion, German energy and environment minister Peter Altmaier has publicly admitted. Feed-in tariffs supporting renewable energy could account for over two-thirds of the cost.

In an in-depth interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine, Altmaier said that costs for the plans to reform and restructure the country's energy sector by the end of the 2030s could reach €1 trillion ($1.3 trillion). Feed-in tariffs - guaranteed electricity prices designed to support the adoption of renewables such as wind and photovoltaics - would alone cost some €680 billion ($910 billion) by 2020. That figure could increase further if the market price of electricity fell, he warned.

The shift to renewables is lagging the phase out of nuclear energy and that is being made up by increased coal usage. Increased coal usage is increasing pollution. The current pace of renewable addition will last for many years.

2. Germany saw increased emissions in greenhouse gases last year due to more coal and gas usage while the country seeks to develop its renewable energy sources, according to the Federal Environment Agency.

Germany, which has committed to phase out nuclear power, emitted the equivalent of around 931 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2012, or 14 million tonnes more than a year earlier, the agency said on Monday.

German Federal Environment Agency has statistics for emissions seem to indicate a sharp rise in emissions from a low in 2009.

Germany had a big rise in emissions in 2010

Moore's and Wright's Law are the best approximations for the pace of technological progress

Moore’s Law and Wright’s Law — offer superior approximations of the pace of technological progress. The new research is the first to directly compare the different approaches in a quantitative way, using an extensive database of past performance from many different industries.

Some of the results were surprising, says Jessika Trancik, an assistant professor of engineering systems at MIT. The findings could help industries to assess where to focus their research efforts, investors to pick high-growth sectors, and regulators to more accurately predict the economic impacts of policy changes.

The analysis indicates that Moore’s Law is one of two formulas that best match actual technological progress over past decades. The top performer, called Wright’s Law, was first formulated in 1936: It holds that progress increases with experience — specifically, that each percent increase in cumulative production in a given industry results in a fixed percentage improvement in production efficiency.

To carry out the analysis, the researchers amassed an extensive set of data on actual costs and production levels over time for 62 different industry sectors; these ranged from commodities such as aluminum, manganese and beer to more advanced products like computers, communications systems, solar cells, aircraft and cars.

“There are lots of proposals out there,” Trancik says, for predicting the rate of advances in technologies. “But the data to test the hypotheses is hard to come by.”

The rates of change vary greatly among different technologies, the team found.

“Information technologies improve the fastest,” Trancik says, “but you also see the sustained exponential improvement in many energy technologies. Photovoltaics improve very quickly. … One of our main interests is in examining the data to gain insight into how we can accelerate the improvement of technology.”

PLOS One - Statistical Basis for Predicting Technological Progress

Toward multijunction solar cell with efficiency over 50%

An approach for an all lattice-matched multijunction solar cell optimized design is presented, together with a detailed analysis of its performance by means of full device modeling. The simulations shows over 50% efficiency under 100 suns of concentration. As a key proof of concept, an equivalent 3-junction solar cell lattice-matched to InP was fabricated and tested. The independently connected single junction solar cells were also tested in a spectrum splitting configuration, showing similar performance to a monolithic tandem device

MIT has Solar-to-fuel roadmap for crystalline silicon

Bringing the concept of an “artificial leaf” closer to reality, a team of researchers at MIT has published a detailed analysis of all the factors that could limit the efficiency of such a system. The new analysis lays out a roadmap for a research program to improve the efficiency of these systems, and could quickly lead to the production of a practical, inexpensive and commercially viable prototype.

Such a system would use sunlight to produce a storable fuel, such as hydrogen, instead of electricity for immediate use. This fuel could then be used on demand to generate electricity through a fuel cell or other device. This process would liberate solar energy for use when the sun isn’t shining, and open up a host of potential new applications.

PNAS - Modeling integrated photovoltaic–electrochemical devices using steady-state equivalent circuits

Solve for X: Sustainable, scalable 3D printed meat

Problem: 8% of the world''s water supply and one third of the world's non-ice landmass is used for raising livestock for meat and leather. At least 18% of the greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere are from the livestock industry.

Solution: Fundamentally change the way meat is produced by growing the meat directly instead of raising the entire animal.

Technology: 3D printing and tissue engineering now allow bioprinting: the design and fabrication of three-dimesional tissues. The meat created in this process could be carefully designed to have the same mouth feel, texture and flavor as traditional meat.

More at

Global Challenge of extending and sustaining sanitation services

A speech by Philip D. O’Brien, Regional Director for the UNICEF Regional Office for Geneva in 2008 explains the need for toilets in the developing world

Why "Sanitation Matters" for children is obvious: some 2.6 billion people in the World live without access to proper toilet facilities among them some 980 million young people under 18's. 280 million children under five live in homes without access to basic sanitation. Half of the (120 million) children born in the developing world each year will be born into homes without basic sanitation. They will be born but they don’t all live. As His Royal Highness said, more than 5000 children under 5-years-old die each day from inadequate water sanitation-diarrhea related causes.

And this has a devastating impact on their lives:

While the correlation between Under-five mortality and sanitation coverage is abundantly clear --- the damage does not stop there. Diarrhea launches a cause and effect chain with tragic results, diarrhea is closely linked to under-nutrition, and under-nutrition is associated with more than half of all under-five deaths. Undernourished children, in turn, have compromised immune systems and are at a higher risk for developing pneumonia – a disease that kills more children than any other disease. This chain reaction illustrates that sanitation and hygiene improvements are the bedrock for children’s health. Without them, the children are vulnerable to a host of fatal and debilitating diseases.

UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (2012 report)

The case for even greater efforts is undeniable. even if the rate of progress cited in the JMP report (UNicef/Who, 2012) were to continue until the end of the MDG period, universal water and sanitation coverage would still be far off—in 2015, 605 million people would remain without access to an improved drinking-water source, and 2.4 billion people would be without access to improved sanitation facilities. Given this scenario, billions will remain at risk of WASh-related diseases such as diarrhoea, which in 2011 killed 2 million people and caused 4 billion episodes of illness

The Gates Foundation is trying to improve water saniation and hygeine by reinventing the toilet.

March 05, 2013

Toshiba Develops Intelligent Wearable Vital Signs Sensor Module

Toshiba Corporation today announced that it has developed an intelligent vital signs sensor module, Smart healthcare Intelligent Monitor Engine and Ecosystem; Silmee, that simultaneously senses information on key vital signs: Electric Cardio Gram, pulse, body temperature and movements, and that can deliver the data to smartphones and tablet PCs with wireless technology. Toshiba has fabricated a prototype of the sensor module that is small enough to wear, and will present and demonstrate it at the International Symposium on Medical ICT 2013, to be held at Meiji University, Tokyo, Japan on March 7.

Toshiba Corporation developed an intelligent vital signs sensor module, Smart healthcare Intelligent Monitor Engine & Ecosystem; Silmee, that simultaneously senses information on key vital signs: Electric Cardio Gram, pulse, body temperature and movements, and that can deliver the data to smartphones and tablet PCs with wireless technology

Multilayer superconductors with tailored properties like improved current carrying capacity

Researchers have engineered a unique multilayer material that could lead to breakthroughs in both superconductivity research and in real-world applications. The researchers can tailor the material, which seamlessly alternates between metal and oxide layers, to achieve extraordinary superconducting properties — in particular, the ability to transport much more electrical current than non-engineered materials.

The new material also has improved current-carrying capabilities. As they grew the superlattice, the researchers also added a tiny bit of oxygen to intentionally insert defects every few nanometers in the material. These defects act as pinning centers to immobilize tiny magnetic vortices that, as they grow in strength in large magnetic fields, can limit current flow through the superconductor. "If the vortices move around freely, the energy dissipates, and the superconductor is no longer lossless," says Eom. "We have engineered both vertical and planar pinning centers, because vortices created by magnetic fields can be in many different orientations."

Eom sees possibilities for researchers to expand upon his team's success in engineering man-made superconducting structures. "There's a need to engineer superlattices for understanding fundamental superconductivity, for potential use in high-field and electronic devices, and to achieve extraordinary properties in the system," says Eom. "And, there is indication that interfaces can be a new area of discovery in high-temperature superconductors. This material offers those possibilities."

Nature Materials - Artificially engineered superlattices of pnictide superconductors

For UK to Meet Legally Binding Greenhouse Gas Targets They will need to Triple Nuclear Power by 2050

A report calls for huge expansion of experimental nuclear plants in the UK. The UK will need to develop a huge fleet of currently experimental nuclear reactors by the middle of the century, to generate around two-thirds of the country's electricity supply if it is to meet the most nuclear-intensive scenario for moving away from fossil fuels, according to a report by three of the government's most senior scientific advisers.

The expansion would involve developing nuclear generation technologies that are not currently used commercially anywhere in the world, and would also entail a huge expansion from the current electricity contribution of nuclear power to the UK grid. In 2011, nuclear supplied 18% of electricity demand.

This would mean at least tripling the current number of reactors (16 reactors now). The eventual number could be much higher because the new unconventional reactors are expected to have a smaller generating capacity.

Here is the Science and Technology Committee - Third Report, Nuclear Research and Development Capabilities

Half of Americas largest companies are bringing manufacturing back from China and China is quickly moving to Robotic manufacturing

The advent of truly sophisticated and relatively cheap industrial robotics and automation technology is beginning to change the global economic landscape.

Nextbigfuture covered a 60 Minutes segment which looked at the jobless recovery and the replacement of workers with automation and robotics.

Nextbigfuture looked at distribution warehouse automation which are several times more efficient and productive than older warehouses.

A little over two years ago Terry Gou the CEO of Foxconn announced that over the next three years his company was going to begin phasing in up to 3 million industrial robots with an eye towards increasing efficiency and reducing labor costs. This announcement, from the world's largest electronics contract manufacturer, sent waves through the media and business community. Foxconn employs over 1.5 million people in China, in hundreds of plants and facilities, scattered around the country.

Foxconn has managed to deploy significant numbers of its new robotic workers. Over the course of last year, Foxconn managed to install 30,000-50,000 new robots in its factories, and is aiming for 300,000 more by 2014.

In 2011, Foxconn was targeting 1 million robots by 2014, so Foxconn's schedule has slipped.

What is astounding about this information is the impact it already has had. According to Liu Kun, a spokesman for Foxconn, "We have canceled hiring entry level workers, a decision that is partly associated with our efforts in production automation." Moreover according to the International Federation of Robotics the growth of industrial robotics in China has been exceeding 40% to 50% a year, an unprecedented level of growth. The question that springs to mind is: What would happen if Foxconn actually had 3 million robots?

March 04, 2013

Graphene Antenna for terabit per second transfers and even 100 terabits per second at centimeter ranges

Researchers at Georgia Tech have drawn up blueprints for a wireless antenna made from atom-thin sheets of carbon, or graphene, that could allow terabit-per-second transfer speeds at short ranges.

A terabit per second could be done at a range of about one meter using a graphene antenna, which would make it possible to obtain 10 high-definition movies by waving your phone past another device for one second. Akyildiz and colleagues have also calculated that at even shorter ranges, such as a few centimeters, data rates of up to 100 terabits per second are theoretically possible.

USC Researchers Discuss their Dwave Adiabatic Quantum Computer Experiences

1. USC researchers discuss their experiences using, testing and experimenting with the Dwave Adiabatic quantum computer.

* Experimental results are consistent with quantum system and not classical system
* Scaling looks promising
* System is surprising robust against noise

Dwave Scaling
128 qubits (2010)
512 qubits (first produced late in 2011, but commercializing now)
1024 qubits (estimate 2013)
2048 qubits (estimate 2014)
4096 qubits (estimate 2015)
8192 qubits (estimate 2016)
64000 qubits 2020 estimate
1 million qubits 2025 estimate
64 million qubits 2030 estimate

Besides Logistics some of the biggest potential problems that Dwave's Adiabatic Quantum system can address are artificial intelligence and machine learning. DWAve quantum systems with millions of qubits could be very useful in accelerating machine learning and artificial intelligence

2. Silicon Valley corporate technology leader, Steven M. Cakebread has accepted key roles with the company, as chief financial officer and chief administrative officer.

DNA 3D Nand Gate Bricks Would Be Able to Make a Computer with 1 million times the transistors of Intel Itanium Poulson Computers

Harvard researchers have used single strand DNA, to self assemble custom designed nano scale structures. Each of the bricks shown to the left is, 25-nanometers on a side, they are composed of ~1,000 voxels (I think it is 500 DNA strand, 2 voxels per strand) unique single strands of DNA, each with 32 nucleotides. Each strand is like a jigsaw puzzle piece and can only bind in one location. This is due to the fact that nucleotides only bind to their opposites, A to T and G to C. These DNA strands can be designed to self assemble into pretty much any shape, as shown in the image.

David Fuchs at Hephastus Project outlines what kind of computing would be possible with 25 nanometer 3D Nand bricks.

A one inch cube could hold 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 of these 25 nm bricks.

Using two simple techniques, you can build much larger structures out of smaller ones. The first technique is to create binding sites, on each of the six sides of the brick. The second technique is to create a spacer-binder with matching but opposite nucleotides to bind to.

NOTE - Limiting factors.
* cost to produce this much DNA is still out of reach
It costs $2 billion to synthesize the billions of base pairs for the human genome. There are some approaches which could lower the cost by 10,000 to 100,000 times but that is still $20,000 for a human genome. Even if short sequence DNA brick synthesis is a lot cheaper in massively parallel production that has to be very cheap synthesis of 260 billion billion 25 nanometer bricks.

* connecting it and making the structure and logic for useful work and providing the skeleton for massive number of bricks seems to pretty much need full blown molecular nanotechnology.

* there is also the heat management issues

Long-term wireless, implantable brain-computer interface in Pigs and Monkeys

Researchers at Brown University have succeeded in creating the first wireless, implantable, rechargeable, long-term brain-computer interface. The wireless BCIs have been implanted in pigs and monkeys for over 13 months without issue, and human subjects are next.

Inside there’s a li-ion battery, an inductive (wireless) charging loop, a chip that digitizes the signals from your brain, and an antenna for transmitting those neural spikes to a nearby computer. The BCI is connected to a small chip with 100 electrodes protruding from it, which, in this study, was embedded in the somatosensory cortex or motor cortex. These 100 electrodes produce a lot of data, which the BCI transmits at 24Mbps over the 3.2 and 3.8GHz bands to a receiver that is one meter away. The BCI’s battery takes two hours to charge via wireless inductive charging, and then has enough juice to last for six hours of use.

One of the features that the Brown researchers seem most excited about is the device’s power consumption, which is just 100 milliwatts. For a device that might eventually find its way into humans, frugal power consumption is a key factor that will enable all-day, highly mobile usage.

They are working on reducing the device’s size, improving its safety and reliability, and increasing the amount of data it can transmit — for the eventual goal of equipping those with movement disabilities, or elective transhumanists, with a wireless brain-computer interface.

Brown’s wireless BCI, fashioned out of hermetically sealed titanium, looks a lot like a pacemaker

Journal of Neural Engineering - An implantable wireless neural interface for recording cortical circuit dynamics in moving primates

918 Million Smartphones Expected to Ship in 2013 and 1.5 billion expected in 2017

More smartphones are forecast to be shipped globally than feature phones in 2013, the first such occurrence in the mobile phone market on an annual basis. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, vendors will ship 918.6 million smartphones this year, or 50.1% of the total mobile phone shipments worldwide.

By the end of 2017, IDC forecasts 1.5 billion smartphones will be shipped worldwide, which equates to just over two-thirds of the total mobile phone forecast for the year due to these primary factors.

Laser in CMOS for datacenter interconnects and long-haul systems at data rates of 100-Gbits per second

Skorpios Technologies, Inc., an innovator in silicon photonic technology, announced a demonstration of a full C-band tunable CMOS photonic laser manufactured in a commercial foundry utilizing its proprietary STAB process. The application of this wafer scale integration process results in a photonic CMOS Integrated Circuit (IC) that is planar and hermetically encapsulated. Additionally, the Skorpios CMOS laser IC does not require any costly post-fabrication assembly processes such as flip-chip bonding, turning mirrors, lenses or active alignments. Characterization of the initial devices demonstrates that the laser performance is appropriate for applications from datacenter interconnects to the highest performance coherent long-haul systems supporting data rates exceeding 100 Gbps. Performance benefits of the laser include narrow linewidth, high side mode suppression, wide tuning range and no requirement for active cooling or hermetic packaging.

Areva Says Japan will restart 6 reactors before the end of 2013

The head of French nuclear group Areva, a major supplier to Japan, said today six reactors would reopen in the country before the end of the year and that most of the country’s nuclear plants would eventually be put back on line.

“We think that there could be a half dozen reactors that will restart by the end of the year”, in addition to two reactors already put back into operation, Luc Oursel said at a news conference.

He said the company projection was based on what they expected Japan to decide in new regulation set for July and on the preparedness of Japanese engineers.

The forecast is much more optimistic than a report published yesterday forecasting no new reactors put into operation before the end of the year.

The Kyodo press agency said Japan’s major electricity providers believed that nuclear power would remain frozen in 2013.

Orsel said a newly created nuclear agency would “take years” to greenlight all of Japan’s reactors for activity, and that some, including those in Fukushima, would remain shut.

Detecting extraterrestrial life on planets around white dwarfs

A new study finds that researchers can detect oxygen in the atmosphere of a habitable planet orbiting a white dwarf.

Arxiv - Detecting bio-markers in habitable-zone earths transiting white dwarfs

The characterization of the atmospheres of habitable-zone Earth-mass exoplanets that transit across main-sequence stars, let alone the detection of bio-markers in their atmospheres, will be challenging even with future facilities. It has been noted that white dwarfs (WDs) have long-lived habitable zones and that a large fraction of WDs may host planets. We point out that during a transit of an Earth-mass planet across a WD, the planet's atmospheric transmission spectrum obtains a much higher contrast over the stellar background compared to a main-sequence host, because of the small surface area of the WD. The most prominent bio-marker in the present-day terrestrial atmosphere, molecular oxygen, is readily detectable in a WD transit via its A-band absorption at ~0.76 micron. A potentially life-sustaining Earth-like planet transiting a WD can be found by assembling a suitable sample of ~500 WDs and then surveying them for transits using small telescopes. If and when such a transiting case is found, the O_2 absorption in the planetary atmospheric transmission spectrum would be detectable with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) in about 5 hours of total exposure time, integrated over 160 2-minute transits. Characterization of the planet atmosphere using other tracers such as water vapour and CO_2 will be considerably easier. We demonstrate this future discovery space by simulating a possible transmission spectrum that would be obtained with JWST.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Rumored to have 4.99 inch High definition AMOLED screen

The Samsung Galaxy S4 will feature a 4.99-inch, 1080p screen capable of displaying 440 pixels per inch.

Previous rumors suggested that the Galaxy S4 will feature a powerful quad-core processor and 13-megapixel camera

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 146

1. Atomic Insights - Cure climate crisis by shifting to Fission, Fast!

Randy Olson, author of "Don't be Such a Scientist, recently wrote about the contribution of a short, alliterative slogan to the mass attraction of the No Nukes movement. That post inspired Rod Adams to create a new pronuclear slogan: Fission Fast!

Olson has responded to that proposal with his own idea in a post titled Curb Carbon or Fission Fast?.

Pro-nuker Rod Adams correctly pointed out that I know nuttin’ when it comes to the issue of nuclear power today, but more importantly, he offered up a simple slogan (Fission Fast!) just as I was thinking of a similar simple slogan (Curb Carbon), neither of which are much use in a world so fractious and leaderless that nobody’s listening to any leaders. Oh, well.

Rod responded, hoping to continue the dialog with a well-educated, nuclear-curious communications specialist.

March 03, 2013

Solve for X - Alzheimers Diagnostics Could Save trillions of public health dollars and improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people

Problem: 1/3 Americans born today will live to 100. That's really great but cognitive decline begins at 30 and it's just a matter of time before dementia develops. Alzheimer's specifically accounts for 70% of dementia cases and has no treatment. Alzheimer's costs the US healthcare system $200 Billion dollars today and if no treatment is developed will bankrupt the healthcare system in a short period of time.

Solution: Keith has developed an early diagnostic test for Alzheimer's that could catch the disease 20 years before it begins damaging cognitive function. The simple test could be widely used at eye exams, allowing 50 or 60 year olds to know if they're developing Alzheimer's and to take simple actions that will delay the onset of the disease by 10 to 15 years.

Stop Streaming America

There are a series of ads that talk about the media streaming device Roku. Roku, the maker of set-top boxes that stream TV.

Here is the text of the ad about Keep Streaming America.

America, a majestic land made even more magnificent by the tenacity of our compatriots. And because we entrust this great country to these great Americans, you can just sort of take it easy, and watch Roku. Roku is a tiny box that streams your favorite shows on Hulu Plus, HBO Go, and hundreds of other channels straight to your TV. You want to watch episodes of ‘Glee’ for hours on end? Great! Someone else will successfully transplant a dolphin heart into a human being. Stream a ridiculous amount of ‘Modern Family.’ Let some other American create a battery-powered battery charger. Watch ‘New Girl’ till your eyes swell. Another American is testing a prototype engine that runs on compost. Let’s face it TV lovers, you weren’t the leading candidate to patch the ozone anyway. So get a Roku, and keep streaming America.

Can do attitude and Ask Not What Your Country Can do for you

This attitude of satisfaction with a good enough life and expecting others to solve problems is a contributing factor to the economic stagnation and stagnated progress to solving solvable problems.

MBAs and Quarterly Profit Focus are the Cause of the Great Economic Stagnation

Economist Tyler Cowen makes the case that the pace of innovation has slowed, and that we are now on a "technological plateau" that makes further growth challenging. There is a detailed review by Chuck Crane.

The USA has eaten low hanging economic fruit since the 1700s.

1. Free land (Homestead Act, etc.)
2. Technological breakthroughs (electricity, motor vehicles, telephone, radio, television, computers etc.)
3. Smart, uneducated kids (who were made productive through excellent public education).
4. Cheap fossil fuels.

The fault is not in our technology the fault is in our MBAs and focus on quarterly profits.

The business mentality that focuses on short terms profits is what is preventing the rollout of radical technology.

Some would say that the fault is regulation and regulators. If a company was truly innovating, then that company would outpace the regulators. If a company is moving so slow that they have not escaped the regulatory paradigm then they have not achieved a true moon shot technology.

Masses of people with MBAs are managing companies for the last several decades. They focus on milking the profit of existing technology. They can milk a cow but they cannot generate a truly new cow.

An example is one that Nextbigfuture noted recently. The cable distribution giants like Time Warner Cable and Comcast are already making a 97 percent margin on their “almost comically profitable” Internet services, according to Craig Moffet, an analyst at the Wall Street firm Bernstein Research. As Levin points out, “If you are making that kind of margin, it’s hard to improve it.” And most Americans have no choice but to deal with their local cable company.

Time Warner Cable chief technology officer Irene Esteves says you don’t really want the gigabit speeds offered by Google Fiber and other high speed providers.

This is MBA Marketing spin (BS).

High Impact Super-Technologies

In his book The Great Stagnation Cowen says Tyler says his grandmother saw greater changes.

I would note that there has to be a specified lifespan range for grandma versus the current individual. Also, technically in my life I have seen the birth of mass market success of certain technologies which were still emerging for grandma. Also the Great Stagnation is a stagnation of economic growth so the period of success of a emergent technology is not until it matures enough to effect GDP growth.

- airplanes (1903 invented but not mass transportation until 1950s and 1960s)
- skyscrapers (1884, first ten story buildings, needed cheaper steel and elevators)
- suspension bridges
- radio (1907 first broadcasts but not mass media until 1932)
- television (1930s but not mass media until 1952)
- antibiotics,
- atomic bombs (1945)
- Nuclear energy (1970s-1980s)
- interstate highways (not majorly impactful until 1950s),
- jet travel (starting major impact in 1960s) and a
- moon landing (1969).

In contrast, a child born in 1970, a year after the first moon landing and the Boeing 747’s first flight, has seen the personal computer, biotechnology, cellphones, Web browsers, search engines and nanotechnology (the current weak version of nanotechnology and not full blown molecular nanotechnology).

The USA has eaten low hanging economic fruit since the 1700s.

1. Free land (Homestead Act, etc.)
2. Technological breakthroughs (electricity, motor vehicles, telephone, radio, television, computers etc.)
3. Smart, uneducated kids (who were made productive through excellent public education).
4. Cheap fossil fuels.

What are the new or reborn super-technologies which could have the scale of impact of those technologies ?

- skyscrapers reborn (China Broad Group factory mass produced skyscrapers. Make them 3-20 times cheaper, cost efficient to build 10 times taller, built ten times faster)
- superconductors (when fully mature engines 3 to ten times lighter, 100 times more powerful engines and magnets and will transform planes, energy and space capabilities.)

Natural Gas at $2.30 a gallon versus $4 per gallon for gas is Driving Shift to Natural gas Vehicles

In 2012, Clean Energy Fuels completed the first 70 stations of America’s Natural Gas Highway, and with gasoline and diesel prices at near historic high levels, they are seeing significant interest and movement by the long-haul trucking industry to make the switch to natural gas. Clean Energy also saw growth in their core businesses of refuse (garbage trucks), transit (buses) and airports with a total of 127 new station projects completed in 2012, an 87% increase in overall station construction over 2011.

The network of compressed natural gas stations is getting fairly complete.

UPDATE - Brad Templeton information

Brad Templeton provides some useful information on natural gas vehicles.

CNG is indeed the cheapest fuel available, and it’s actually even cheaper than $2.30/gallon. In fact the price at the wellhead, uncompressed is just 43 cents per gallon equivalent, but you must pay to ship it to your car, and for the equipment and energy to compress it. A large fleet pays about 75 cents/gge for the gas, and ends up about $1.20/gge with all the other costs. Retail it’s around $2/gge. You can buy it in your house for about $1.20/gge and the compressed cost depends on how much use you get out of the $5,000 home compressor. If you have a 30mpg car you average 400 gge a year so that’s a tough slog to compete with the retail (also add electrical cost of compression.) Home compression is also an overnight thing, but retail fill-up is fast.

But the other kicker on CNG is the tank. Today’s tank is large and eats up a lot of your trunk. The CNG Honda Civic, the only CNG car on the market, costs $5K more than the other civic and has a very small trunk. (One thing the Tesla Model S shines at is trunk space, fore and aft.) And the range is not great — the tanks only hold about 8 gge — but the refill is fast unlike electric.

However, you need to travel a lot of miles to justify the extra $5K for the car, especially if you want to also justify a compression station. However, for fleet ops (where all vehicles come home each night) it’s easy to justify, and the main push now is trucks for long haul.

Some Links To My Work, And Interesting Works Of Others, March 2013

Some Links To My Work, And Interesting Works Of Others, March 2013
A Guest Post On Next Big Future by Joseph Friedlander

This is just a collection of links to my work and brief comments to aid indexing. I did not write everything linked here but am collecting the links here to aid easy finding of things.

Economics of large payloads –two published, two on the way in a 4 part series. Thanks to reader Kai Hiwatari for jogging my elbow on this subject—

The future of Computer Aided Design in 2019 and the idea of virtual wealth in a library of premade designs, which theoretically could be 3d printed into reality

A discussion (among other things) of idea of a user community of mutual inventors assisting each other (at the end, warning, very long)

My contribution to Jeff Harrow discussion about 300 mile line of sight  radius obtainable at 60000 feet from a tower or aircraft