March 23, 2013

New Uranium rush in Saskatchewan, Canada

There is a good old-fashioned staking rush going on in northern Saskatchewan’s uranium-rich Athabasca Basin. Although the market hasn’t fully caught on, companies are flocking into the area, drawn by the sensational Fission Energy TSXV:FIS and Alpha Minerals TSXV:AMW discovery at Patterson Lake South.

Among the driving forces are Saskatchewan’s new online staking system, an increasingly optimistic supply-demand scenario and an escalating stream of news from the Fission/Alpha 50/50 JV.

That started in July 2011, when boulder field samples brought assays as high as 39.6% triuranium octoxide (U3O8). By November 2012, drilling confirmed the discovery not only with high grades but—in glaring contrast to the Basin’s east side—shallow mineralization.

Skyharbour Resources TSXV:SYH snapped up five properties totalling nearly 80,000 hectares, one of the area’s largest packages according to a March 20 announcement. Two of the properties lie 27 kilometres and 35 kilometres north of the PLS discovery, another two 15 kilometres south and the fifth 90 kilometres east. They got that land package for about 30 cents an acre. Packages of land have been offered to me in the last few days in the same area, comparable properties for upwards of $10 an acre.

Building big Starshades and antennas and rectannas in space will boost

Robert Hoyt, Tethers Unlimited, Inc., SpiderFab: Process for On-Orbit Construction of Kilometer-Scale Apertures

By using 3D printing and robotics Spiderfab will be able to take raw material and extrude tethers, rods and cylinders and connectors that look like the connectors for assembling a tent. This kind of system can be used to launch a larger starshade than one that is just built and packed into a rocket.

The largest starshade that can go into a Delta shroud is 64 meters across. The SpiderFab would have twice the diameter. It would enable a telescope to look closer to a star for exoplanets and would enable the James Webb telescope to effectively look for exoplanets. So the Terrestrial planet finder telescope would not be needed. The system would enable the same cost and launches to find 16 times the exoplanets for the $.

SpiderFab would also enable far larger space based solar power.

Currently, a significant fraction of the engineering cost and launch mass of space systems is required exclusively to enable the system to survive launch. This is particularly true for systems with physically large components, such as antennas, booms, and panels, which must be designed to stow for launch and then reliably deploy on orbit. Furthermore, the sizes of apertures and spacecraft structures are limited by the requirement to stow them within available launch fairings. Deployable structures and inflatable/rigidizable components have enabled construction of systems with scales of several dozen meters, but their packing efficiency is not sufficient to enable scaling to the kilometer-size baselines desired for applications such as long-baseline interferometry and sparse aperture sensing.

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Spacex May try to "land / recover" the first stage of it next Falcon 9 v1.1 launch this summer

NASA Spaceflight forum has notes from a Spacex presentation.

- Falcon 9 v1.1 qualification tank is on a structural stand in Texas and will be rebuilt as the next Grasshopper (reusable test rocket), with flight-like landing legs
- the next Grasshopper will be tested only at White Sands, and will go up to approximately 300,000 ft.
- The first Falcon 9 v1.1 vehicle ships from Hawthorne to Texas in late March
- After separation during its first launch, the 1.1 first stage will flip around using cold gas thrusters, and relight its engine to reenter more slowly. Then it will try to "land" on the ocean as practice for eventually landing back near the pad.
- Underground test stand in Texas is currently for FH only, but could change

I find the attempt to recover the first stage credible because Spacex has already tried to recover a first stage using parachutes. However, Spacex failed because the first stage starting burning up before the parachutes provided any help.

Rocketeers UK had coverage (H/T to nextbigfuture reader Duncan)

March 22, 2013

Fall 2012 Interview with John Slough on Direct Fusion Powered Rocket

Speculation on the Future of Quantum Computers

Geordie Rose has recently discussed Computional Universality and the Dwave Quantum computers.

There’s another concept that has been recently introduced which is called a universal quantum computer. Such a machine is capable of simulating all quantum physics, which presumably includes as a subset all of classical physics.

D-Wave’s current processor architecture is classically universal (can do anything a classical computer can do), but not quantumly universal, although it’s really easy to make it so (just add a new coupling device) if some day it turns out there’s a good reason to do this.

If someone were to plop down a perfect universal quantum computer with a hundred trillion logical qubits on my desk right now, there’s only one useful thing we would know what to use it for — quantum annealing. Faster and better optimization and lightning quick Boltzmann machines A Boltzmann machine is a type of stochastic recurrent neural network).

Dwave is on track to ten thousand qubits by about 2017.

A chart seems to show that as qubits are added the solving time stays at about 1 second

So it will be best to feed future quantum computers with hard problems that scale rapidly to times over one hour to years to impossible solve with classical computers. Even if quantum computers prove to be able to solve any problem that can be expressed and loaded into 8000 qubits or so faster than any computational system.

IBM Discovers New Atomic Technique to Charge Memory Chips

IBM today announced a materials science breakthrough at the atomic level that could pave the way for a new class of non-volatile memory and logic chips that would use less power than today’s silicon based devices. Rather than using conventional electrical means that operate today’s semiconducting devices, IBM’s scientists discovered a new way to operate chips using tiny ionic currents, which are streams of charged atoms that could mimic the event-driven way in which the human brain operates.

Optical image of a typical ionic liquid (IL) gated device with a droplet of IL on top of the gate electrode and the oxide channel. The gold squares are pads used to make contact to the device via wire-bonding. On right is the magnified image of the device showing the channel (brownish yellow) and the gold electrical contacts (bright yellow). The contacts on the right and left of the channel are the source and drain contacts. The four other contact are used for 4-wire resistance & Hall measurements. (Credit: IBM)

Science - Suppression of Metal-Insulator Transition in VO2 by Electric Field–Induced Oxygen Vacancy Formation

Upgraded Spacex Falcon 9.1.1 will launch 25% more than old Falcon 9 and bring price down to $4109 per kilogram to LEO

SpaceX's new engine, the Merlin 1D, has been qualified for spaceflight in advance of its first launch. The engine, a heavily modified version of the Merlin 1C that powers SpaceX's standard Falcon 9, will be utilised on what SpaceX dubs the "Falcon 9 version 1.1", scheduled for its first launch in June. The Merlin series uses rocket propellant (RP-1) and liquid oxygen. The Falcon 9.1.1 will be able to launch 25.8% more payload to low earth orbit than the Falcon 9. The Falcon 9.1.1 will reduce the price to LEO to $4109 per kilogram ($1870 per pound).

The Spacex Falcon Heavy will also use the Merlin 1D and will bring costs down below $1000 per pound to LEO.

Full success with reusable rockets would bring costs down by 100 times.

The Merlin 1D puts out 147,000lb (654kN) of thrust to the 1C's 110,000lb. Nine of the engines power the first stage, and a single vacuum-capable engine powers the upper stage.
Chart adapted form exrocketman.

Moderate cooling saving thousands after heart attacks and safe rapid cooling could enable hours of safe surgery without concerns over oxygen deprivation

Rapid cooling and controlling how blood flow and temperature is restored could allow people to be safely oxygen deprived for hours instead of four minutes. In pigs they have restored after 30 minutes. It is not oxygen deprivation which kills cells it is the uncontrolled restoration of oxygen. It can also be used to solve the transplant shortage in 9 months with these techniques. People could be placed into a suspended state.

There are several new inventions for more effective rapid cooling without the downsides of current cooling techniques.

Medical ice slurry protective cooling is based on the premise that the ability of organs and tissue to survive ischemia, reperfusion damage, and surgical insults is improved by cooling rapidly in 5–15 minutes 4–15°C (depending on the organ) below the normal temperature of 37°C. Cooling slows metabolism and reduces the need for oxygen, which slows cell death—providing more time for medical treatment.

Argonne scientists have developed a portable and fully automated prototype for medical slurry production and delivery. The system makes sterile medical ice slurry that is of uniform consistency and is deliverable through narrow catheters. The device not only delivers slurry as needed and tracks the amounts of slurry used and remaining, but it also monitors the temperature of the target organ.

Veti-Gel Instantly Stops Bleeding and Closes Wounds of Any Size it Can Cover

Joe Landolina of the company Suneris and his colleagues were able to seal deep cuts into rats’ livers and carotid arteries in tests. Veti-Gel is said to dramatically speed the body’s natural clotting, closing wounds in seconds. It instantly tells the body, 'OK, stop the bleeding,' but also it starts the healing process.

"I have seen (Veti-Gel) close any size wound that it is applied to," said Landolina. "As long as you can cover it, it can close it,” he added.

The substance, a plant-based synthetic form of a compound in blood that triggers clotting, imitates the body's own healing chemistry to rapidly close punctures to soft tissue.

Dwave Systems covered in the New York Times

The New York Times has an article with positive coverage of Dwave Systems.

Lockheed Martin — which bought an early version of such a computer from the Canadian company D-Wave Systems two years ago — is confident enough in the technology to upgrade it to commercial scale, becoming the first company to use quantum computing as part of its business.

But if it performs as Lockheed and D-Wave expect, the design could be used to supercharge even the most powerful systems, solving some science and business problems millions of times faster than can be done today.

Ray Johnson, Lockheed’s chief technical officer, said his company would use the quantum computer to create and test complex radar, space and aircraft systems. It could be possible, for example, to tell instantly how the millions of lines of software running a network of satellites would react to a solar burst or a pulse from a nuclear explosion — something that can now take weeks, if ever, to determine.

Vern Brownell, D-Wave’s chief executive, who joined D-Wave in 2009, was until 2000 the chief technical officer at Goldman Sachs. “In those days, we had 50,000 servers just doing simulations” to figure out trading strategies, he said. “I’m sure there is a lot more than that now, but we’ll be able to do that with one machine, for far less money.”

The processor of a quantum computer at D-Wave Systems' lab in Burnaby, British Columbia.

Nextbigfuture has had extensive coverage for years of Dwave Systems and the adiabatic quantum computers that they make.

There is an article and podcast discussion at Physics World with Geordie Rose, CTO of Dwave and other researchers who are working on different quantum computer systems. Participants include John Martinis of the University of California, Santa Barbara; Raymond Laflamme of the University of Waterloo in Canada; John Preskill of the California Institute of Technology; and Charles Marcus – who was at Harvard when the recording was made but who is now at the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark.

While most experts agree that practical quantum computers are some way off in the future, I also spoke to Geordie Rose, who is co-founder of Canada's D-Wave Systems, which claims to have already built – and sold – quantum processors. While Rose says that the firm's processors are currently being used to develop practical commercial applications, he also thinks that ultimately they may even have more artistic uses.

Breakthroughs with Dwave quantum computing systems also seem likely to result in a major boost to artificial intelligence, machine learning and brain simulation.

BMW and international automotive supplier Continental Partnering on Fully Self Driving Cars by 2025 and Partial Self Driving by 2016

The international automotive supplier Continental, based in Hanover, and the Munich-based BMW Group are pooling their development capacities to define the long-term prerequisites for seriesintroduction of highly automated driving on European freeways. In January 2013, the two companies signed an agreement to jointly develop an electronic co-pilot for this purpose. The overarching aim of the research partnership is to pave the way to highly automated driving functions beyond the year 2020.

Today, more than 1,300 specialists at Continental are already working on the basics of automated driving. They deal specifically with driver assistance systems, such as adaptive cruise control and emergency brake assistance. These make use of sophisticated technology like cameras and infrared and radar systems to record the vehicle environment in various driving situations, thereby alerting, assisting, and relieving the driver. In 2013, Continental is investing more than EUR100 million in R and D.

BMW predicts and plans for vehicle automation is set to be rolled out in stages, starting with partially automated driving from 2016, high levels of automation from 2020 and – ultimately – fully automated systems available from 2025.

March 21, 2013

Stewart Brand: The dawn of de-extinction

Throughout humankind's history, we've driven species after species extinct: the passenger pigeon, the Eastern mountain lion, the dodo .... But now, says Stewart Brand, we have the technology (and the biology) to bring back species that humanity wiped out. So -- should we? Which ones? He asks a big question whose answer is closer than you may think.

Passenger pigeons went from 5 billion to zero in twenty years

Using George Church's synthetic biology we can take the nearest genetic relatives DNA and synthetically evolve it to the desired genome sequence

March 20, 2013

Elon Musk at TED Video

Entrepreneur Elon Musk is a man with many plans. The founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX sits down with TED curator Chris Anderson to share details about his visionary projects, which include a mass-marketed electric car, a solar energy leasing company and a fully reusable rocket.

He discusses the need for electric cars.

* we must solve sustainable energy any way
* electric cars are twice as efficient using the same source fuel
* Tesla car has an aluminum frame and lowest drag coefficient in order to get 250 mile range
* They will have a $30,000 electric car in 3-4 years.
* The Model S is the mid-market car.
* When you have really new technology you will really need to go through three major versions to get a compelling mass market product

DNA Nano-Assembly can be scaled up and also assemble inorganic materials

An 18 page presentation on Nano-Assembly using DNA bricks by Peng Yin of Harvard.

This is a plan for scaling up DNA Brick Nanoassembly and to enable the use of DNA nanotechnology as scaffolding for other inorganic molecular nanatechnology.

DNA can already be assembled into many structures as shown below

Scaling up DNA Bricks
Hierarchical assembly
NanoAssembler: iterative, solid phase synthesis of geometry

DNA can become scaffolds for functional materials
Fluorescent barcodes for multiplexed imaging
DNA “nanorobot” for targeted delivery
Chiral gold arrays for “Carving light"

Dragon Tyrant Video Explains in a Fable the Mistake in How People Think About Aging

Nick Bostom's philosophical parable about death, recounts the tale of the most vicious dragon that ate thousands of people everyday, and of the actions of the king, the people and an assembly of Dragonolgists to destroy this ancient threat.
Out situation with regards to human senescence is similar to the situation of the people in the fable in regard to the dragon. Therefore, we have compelling reasons to get rid of human senescence.

A link to Professor Bostrom's original text

Periodic heating Can Double the Efficiency of Materials to Convert Heat to Electricity from 15% to 30% and Other Advances to Capturing 50% of all Wasted Heat and Tens of Billions in Market Potential

1. Researchers have shows that the use of a periodic heat source, instead of a constant heat source, can improve the conversion efficiency of a thermoelectric power generator (TPG). A periodic heat source drives a periodic temperature difference across the thermoelectric with an amplitude ΔT. While the time average of ΔT is identical to the temperature difference under a constant heat source with equivalent energy input, the time average of (ΔT)2 is larger, resulting in improved conversion efficiency. Here we present experimental measurements on a commercial thermoelectric device (bismuth telluride based) to validate analytical and numerical models. These models show that maximum efficiency is achieved when the period of the heat source is much larger than the thermal time constant of the TPG. Under this quasi-steady condition, the thermoelectric figure of merit ZT is still the relevant parameter for material optimization. A conventional thermoelectric material with ZT = 1, operated with sinusoidal and square-wave heat sources (ΔT = 100 K, TCold = 300 K), can achieve 140% and 180% of the constant heat source efficiency; or otherwise stated, can perform like advanced materials with ZT of 1.6 and 2.8. Even greater improvement, inaccessible through materials-based ZT enhancements, can be achieved with low duty cycle heat sources.

Ray Kurzweil's Goal at Google is to enable true natural language understanding

Ray Kurzweil has explained that his project is to get the Google computers to understand natural language, not just do search and answer questions based on links and words, but actually understand the semantic content. That’s feasible now. To successfully do this will involve employing technologies that are already at Google like the Knowledge Graph, which has 700 million different concepts and billions of relationships between them. His team will also develop software as part of a system that will be “biological inspired” and can learn in a way analogous to the way the human brain is designed, that is, in a hierarchical structure.

Google Expands Gigabit Fiber and a UK community has its own gigabit internet

Olathe, Kansas approved an agreement to bring Google Fiber to their city.

Olathe has a population of 125000.

In the UK, Arkholme a village in rural Lancashire is a community that is working together to install gigabit internet. B4RN (Broadband for the Rural North) is a community fibre network offering fibre to every home providing 1000 megabit (1 gigabit) futureproof connection for £30 (US$45/month) a month.

Farmers in rural After installing the network on the property, which is estimated to be around $1,500 (much less than what ISPs would charge).

Optical trickery lets a modified LCD produce hologram-like still images and videos at 127 dots per inch and appears to be a path to practical nearterm commercial 3D displays

A new kind of three-dimensional display developed at HP Labs plays hologram-like videos without the need for any moving parts or glasses. Videos displayed on the HP system hover above the screen, and viewers can walk around them and experience an image or video from as many 200 different viewpoints—like walking around a real object.

The screen is made by modifying a conventional liquid-crystal display (LCD), the same kind of display found in most phones, laptops, tablets, and televisions. Researchers hope these 3-D systems will enable new kinds of user interfaces for portable electronics, gaming, and data visualization. The work, carried out at HP Labs in Palo Alto, California, relies on complex physics to make 3-D displays that are as thin as half a millimeter.

Nature - A multi-directional backlight for a wide-angle, glasses-free three-dimensional display

Data driven eugenics, Genetic Enhancement, computer cloud AI via devices and Memristor Neuromorphic Devices over the next ten years

Recently, various indicators point to China starting widespread embryo screening for higher intelligence which will allow parents to pick their brightest zygote and potentially bump up every generation's intelligence by five to 15 IQ points. There is a big cultural difference. In China, 95 percent of an audience would say, “Obviously you should make babies genetically healthier, happier, and brighter!”. At BGI Shenzhen, scientists have collected DNA samples from 2,000 of the world’s smartest people and are sequencing their entire genomes in an attempt to identify the alleles which determine human intelligence. They are about two months from having the results of that work.

A specialized set of 23andMe-like tests ($99 to check for 200 genetic markers) would look for the set of intelligence markers that are found could be used like we now screen for Downs Syndrome. This seems like it will takeoff in China.

It also seems that the genetic engineering services would also have wide usage in China as they become available. The CRISPR technique for genetic engineering is about 10-15% accurate and a lot better than Zinc fingers and TALEN methods

A prospective process for neuronal rejuvenation was outlined by George Church and George noted that 80 gene therapies are in clinical trial now.

This will not be beyond anything human until George Church and others starts pulling in genes from non-human sources. At first it will begin massively skewing towards the maximum of human capabilities or 1 in a million mutations (like mutations for myostatin inhibited muscles - four times better than steroids or very strong bones). China's move would mean tens of millions of people with data driven eugenics and perhaps a few million with various forms of genetic engineering within ten years. There will also be tens of thousands of athletes who will be pushing the frontier of genetic engineering to try to get a performance advantage. There will also be experimentation by DARPA and the militaries of the world.

A unique new cancer treatment uses gene therapy to induce a cancer-fighting immune response whose intensity can then be controlled with a pill.

Voyager One spacecraft 'exits' Solar System or at least new transition boundaries

The Voyager-1 probe has left the Solar System, according to some scientists.

If confirmed, it would be the first man-made object to do so.

Launched in September 1977, the probe was sent initially to study the outer planets, but then just kept on going.

Researchers who have studied its data indicate it has now entered a realm of space beyond the influence of our Sun.

But the US space agency (Nasa) says there is still some doubt about this.

Voyager is currently moving more than 18 billion km from Earth, or 123 times the distance between our planet and the Sun.

The findings have been accepted for publication in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

"Within just a few days, the heliospheric intensity of trapped radiation decreased, and the cosmic ray intensity went up as you would expect if it exited the heliosphere," said Bill Webber, professor emeritus of astronomy at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. He calls this transition boundary the "heliocliff."

In the GRL article, the authors state: "It appears that [Voyager 1] has exited the main solar modulation region, revealing [hydrogen] and [helium] spectra characteristic of those to be expected in the local interstellar medium."

However, Webber notes, scientists are continuing to debate whether Voyager 1 has reached interstellar space or entered a separate, undefined region beyond the solar system.

"It's outside the normal heliosphere, I would say that," Webber said. "We're in a new region. And everything we're measuring is different and exciting."

Wireless power, wireless data, no mice and no keyboards

We are not quite to a world of wireless and plugless devices. We have Wifi and cellphones but the devices must still be plugged in and a lot of devices still have to be plugged in for high speed data or for power. We still need a wide range of power adapters.

It may not ever (or not for a long time) make sense to go completely wireless and plugless. The tradeoffs may not be worthwhile to not have plugs or connections for many appliances.

However, wireless should be used to make things more convenient, seamless and reliable. Current voice recognition and gesture control of devices in cars and other applications needs to be made more convenient and seamless. Software and design need to be improved.

Below we look at the technology and devices which will take us further down the road to more convenient and widespread world of wireless and plugless devices.

Wireless Power

The new Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone is using the Wireless Power Consortium-backed Qi standard for wireless charging.

Following the steps of Nokia, LG Electronics and HTC, Samsung Electronics and Apple are expected to add wireless charging capability to their flagship models in 2013 Apple is likely to adopt the wireless charging technology developed internally, but it remains unknown if the next-generation iPhone will come with built-in wireless charging capability or with other attached accessories, said the sources.

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is working with the industry's leading technological companies and standardisation bodies to expand the scope of application of wireless charging technology to other, smaller portable devices, such as mobile phone accessories, wrist devices, wireless mice and sensors. This can be done by combining wireless power transmission with NFC connectivity technology, which enables cost-effective and compact design.

In the near future, NFC devices will be able to receive electrical power wirelessly, as well as acting as charging platforms capable of transmitting wireless electrical power.

The challenges include, among others, current NFC antenna circuits which have not been optimised for efficient, wireless energy transfer. In addition to technological development, introducing NFC-based charging to commercial products requires amendments to the NFC standards so that they also support the design of open interfaces, both in the device to be charged and the wireless charger devices. This work is under way at the NFC Forum.

Smartphone Screens Will be Made out of Sapphire

Manufactured sapphire—a material that’s used as transparent armor on military vehicles—could become cheap enough to replace the glass display covers on mobile phones. That could mean smartphone screens that don’t crack when you drop them and can’t be scratched with keys, or even by a concrete sidewalk.

Sapphire, a crystalline form of aluminum oxide, probably won’t ever be as cheap as Gorilla Glass, the durable material from Corning that’s used to make screens on iPhones and other smartphones. A Gorilla Glass display costs less than $3, while a sapphire display would cost about $30. But that could fall below $20 in a couple of years thanks to increased competition and improving technology, says Eric Virey, an analyst for the market research firm Yole Développement. And since sapphire performs better than glass, that price could make it cheap enough to compete.

By some measures, Sapphire is three times stronger than Gorilla Glass, and it is also about three times more scratch resistant. That’s why Apple uses it now to protect the camera on its iPhone 5. Virey says that all major mobile-phone makers are considering using sapphire to replace glass. Some high-end smartphones should be using sapphire in 2013.

Crystal clear: These unpolished, uncut boules of manufactured-sapphire crystal weigh 130 kilograms (left) and 100 kilograms (right).

March 19, 2013

Phasers work but you have to step inside the gun

Using a nanoscale drum, scientists have built a laser that uses sound waves instead of light like a conventional laser. They call it a Phaser. Because laser is an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation,” these new contraptions – which exploit particles of sound called phonons – should properly be called phasers. Such devices could one day be used in ultrasound medical imaging, computer parts, high-precision measurements, and many other places.

Sound lasers work on a similar principle. For Mahboob and his team’s phaser, a mechanical oscillator jiggles and excites a bunch of phonons, which relax and release their energy back into the device. The confined energy causes the phaser to vibrate at its fundamental frequency but with at a very narrow wavelength. The sound laser produces phonons at 170 kilohertz, far above human hearing range, which peters out around 20 kilohertz. The entire device is etched onto an integrated circuit that’s about 1 cm by 0.5 cm.

Phonons require a medium to travel through, which means the phaser waves are confined to their device for the time being.

Physical Review Letters - Phonon Lasing in an Electromechanical Resonator

RF chip at 10 Gbps will enable wireless high definition video connections between devices

South Korea's government-backed R&D agency has developed an RF chip that can transmit at 10Gbps, claiming to be the world's fastest commercially viable wireless technology. The frequency will support WiGig, the next extension of the Wi-Fi platform (802.11ad), and other protocols targeted at high speed, short range links. Applications are likely to include in-home video networks, small cell backhaul, and cable replacement in connecting PCs, peripherals and consumer electronics.

Its speed would allow a 4.7Gbytes file to be sent in 3.76 seconds, said the report, compared to over three minutes over current fast Wi-Fi.

New flash memory combines graphene and molybdenite

EPFL scientists have combined two materials with advantageous electronic properties -- graphene and molybdenite -- into a flash memory prototype that is very promising in terms of performance, size, flexibility and energy consumption.

After the molybdenite chip, we now have molybdenite flash memory, a significant step forward in the use of this new material in electronics applications. The news is even more impressive because scientists from EPFL's Laboratory of Nanometer Electronics and Structures (LANES) came up with a truly original idea: they combined the advantages of this semiconducting material with those of another amazing material – graphene.

EPFL scientists have combined two materials with advantageous electronic properties -- graphene and molybdenite -- into a flash memory prototype that is promising in terms of performance, size, flexibility and energy consumption.

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Spring Symposium Videos of All Days and Sessions

Day 1-

Keynote Address

Jorge Arinez, Manager, Sustainable Manufacturing Systems, General Motors Global Research & Development
Strategy and Innovation at GM Manufacturing Research

Phase 2 overview

Watch live streaming video from niac2013 at

Solve for X Malaria Eradication

Problem: Malaria has killed over 10 million people in the last decade in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Solution: Eliminate the malaria's vectors, a handful of species of mosquitoes, by developing and disseminating infertile male mosquitoes.

Breakthrough technology that might make this possible: Inject male mosquitoes with a inhibitor that stops sperm formation. Female mosquitoes can only mate once; when the infertile males mate with females it stops reproduction and reduces the mosquito population and malaria along with it.

More at

March 18, 2013

China Could Start treating non-Genius Intelligence as a Birth Defect Starting later this year

Geoffrey Miller, Evolutionary psychologist, Evolutionary psychologist,attended a debate in New York a few weeks ago about whether or not we should outlaw genetic engineering in babies and the audience was pretty split. In China, 95 percent of an audience would say, “Obviously you should make babies genetically healthier, happier, and brighter!”. There’s a big cultural difference.

At BGI Shenzhen, scientists have collected DNA samples from 2,000 of the world’s smartest people and are sequencing their entire genomes in an attempt to identify the alleles which determine human intelligence. Apparently they’re not far from finding them, and when they do, embryo screening will allow parents to pick their brightest zygote and potentially bump up every generation's intelligence by five to 15 IQ points.

In the 90s, China started to do widespread prenatal testing for birth defects with ultrasound, and more recently, they've spent a lot of money researching human genetics to figure out which genes make people smarter.

When does Geoffrey think the embryo analysis might be implemented on a large scale?
Actual use of the technology to do embryo screening might take five to ten years, but it could be just a few years. It depends on how motivated they are.

The results of the super-genius genetic analysis will be ready in about two months. Embryo screening for intelligence could begin shortly thereafter and then scale to widespread adoption over the next few years. The cost will drop from a few thousand dollars for the screening now to hundreds of dollars in two year and tens of dollars in five years.

23andme is a startup that charges $99 to screen for 200 genetic factors.

(H/T to Futurepundit)

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 148

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 148 is up at Hiroshima syndrome.

This week’s topics include (but are not limited to) – numerous Fukushima second anniversary blogs, correcting the rumor that the Vermont Yankee cooling tower was never repaired, a rational look at the comparative risks of energy sources, Uranium miners are healthier than average, and how risk is a natural part of life.

Fukushima: The Second Anniversary - Meredith Angwin says no deaths occurred due to radiation or explosion at the plant, and very few premature deaths from cancer are presumed. However, fear of radiation and a badly-handled evacuation led to hundreds of deaths among old and sick people in the Fukushima area.

Blueseed Seasteading has a new tighter budget and a second quarter of 2014 launch

Blueseed will station a ship 12 nautical miles from the coast of San Francisco, in international waters. The location will allow startup entrepreneurs from anywhere in the world to start or grow their company near Silicon Valley, without the need for a U.S. work visa. The ship will be converted into a coworking and co-living space, and will have high-speed Internet access and daily transportation to the mainland via ferry boat. So far, over 1000 entrepreneurs from 60+ countries expressed interest in living on the ship.

* Comfortable living quarters accommodating one to four individuals per room
* Catering and food services at cafes and 24-hour venues around the ship
* Recreational facilities including a full service gym, game rooms, and other entertainment venues
* A comfortable and inspiring environment enriched by international experiences and lifestyles

Blueseed is now trying to lease a ship and not buy one. They are looking to raise $27 million instead of $50 million.

March 17, 2013

Graphene with nanometer holes could be super efficient for desalination and drop in replacement at existing desal plants by the end of 2013

Lockheed's new Perforene membranes, made of graphene (sheets of pure carbon only one atom thick), are 500 times thinner than filters currently on the market. This means less energy is required to push water through the membrane, making reverse osmosis more efficient. John Stetson, head engineer for the project, told Reuters that it would require approximately 100 times less energy than other membranes.

But working with such a thin material presents new problems, and engineers are still trying to find the best way to produce nanometer-wide holes in the membranes quickly and on a large scale without tearing the product. The added difficulties of manufacturing will probably factor into cost, but Lockheed says desalination plants wouldn't need to change their infrastructure to use Perforene. The prototype expected by the end of this year will be a drop-in replacement for filters currently in use.

A 2012 patent by Lockheed for Perforated Graphene Deionization or Desalination

A separation arrangement isolates chlorine, sodium and possibly other ions from water. The ion-laden water is applied to at least one graphene sheet perforated with apertures dimensioned to pass water molecules and to not pass the smallest relevant ion. The deionized water flowing through the perforated graphene sheet is collected. The ions which are not passed can be purged. In another embodiment, the ion-laden water is applied to a first graphene sheet perforated with apertures dimensioned to block chlorine ions and through a second graphene sheet perforated with apertures dimensioned to block sodium ions. The concentrated chlorine and sodium ions accumulating at the first and second perforated graphene sheets can be separately harvested.

Data driven Personalized Medicine Metamed when you cannot afford misdiagnosis

Accelerating Future reports on Metamed.

For someone with a persistent medical problem, going to their usual doctor may not be enough. They need to know more than their physician can tell them, and they need to know it soon. That is the idea behind the new company MetaMed, a personalized medical research service backed by Peter Thiel and Jaan Tallinn. In an interview with VentureBeat, CEO Michael Vassar aims to improve the U.S. medical system by demonstrating a “product that works better than the system.” By using doctors and researchers who understand statistics and how to evaluate the relative importance of research findings, MetaMed provides a diagnosis, treatment recommendations, and referrals to doctors in their network who can provide the treatments best for a specific patient. MetaMed provides “evidence based medicine” rather than vague suggestions solely based on domain-general knowledge.

For some problems, our health care system doesn’t cut it. 1 out of 3 patients are actually harmed during their hospital stay, and 7% are harmed permanently or even die as a result of medical errors. Autopsies have proven that doctors misdiagnose fatal illnesses as much as 20% of the time. Given all this uncertainty and error, it’s clear that there’s a market for personalized medical advice based on serious research and statistical understanding.

Holding back the implementation of ideal medical treatments is a lack of knowledge. More than half a million medical articles are published annually

Metamed has the top seven questions you will ever ask

Nuclear power Generation by country in 2012

The United States remains the leading country in nuclear energy generation.

The IAEA has 2012 generation statistics.

The Nuclear Energy Institute reports that the US generated 770 TWh in 2012.

France generated 405 TWh in 2012.

Russia generated 165.6 TWh in 2012

South Korea generated 143.5 TWh in 2012

China generated 98.5 TWh in 2012 China passed Germany for the fifth spot in nuclear generation. China has just completed two more reactors and should complete another 4-6 reactors this year. By 2015 China should be third in nuclear generation (unless Japan turned on all of their operational reactors and had a high capacity factor).

Germany generated 94 TWh in 2012 from nuclear energy

Monitoring the Top 300 Global Cities

Launched in Los Angeles in March 2012, the Global Cities Initiative is a $10 million, five-year project of Brookings and JPMorgan Chase aimed at helping the leaders of metropolitan America strengthen their regional economies by becoming more competitive in the global marketplace. GCI is built on the concept that the global economy is a network of metropolitan economies which are home to most of the world’s population, production, finance, and sources of innovation.

In most countries around the globe, metropolitan areas generate the majority of economic activity. Metropolitan areas are regional economies defined by cities and their surrounding, economically integrated areas. For example, the largest 100 metropolitan areas in the united states produce three-quarters of the nation’s gross domestic product. In other countries with less urban diversity, one or two metropolitan areas generate most of the national product. The Lima metropolitan area, for instance, accounts for 53 percent of Peru’s economy, while housing only 30 percent of the country’s population.

An analysis of gdp per capita and employment changes from 2011 to 2012 for the largest 300 metropolitan economies worldwide, which account for nearly one-half (48 percent) of global output but contain only 19 percent of world population, shows that:

➤ Three-quarters of the fastest-growing metropolitan economies in 2012 were located in developing Asia, Latin America, and the Middle east and Africa. By contrast, almost 90 percent of the slowest-growing metro economies were in western europe and north america. These recent trends reflect the accelerating shift of economic growth from developed metro areas in the global west towards developing metropolitan areas in the global south and east.

➤ Compared to their countries, more than half of metro areas outperformed on employment growth in 2012, but only 40 percent achieved faster gDP per capita growth. Fifty-six (56) metro areas were pockets of growth in their countries, with both gdp per capita and employment expanding at a faster pace than national averages.

➤ Almost three-quarters of the 300 metro areas had higher levels of employment and/or gDP per capita in 2012 than in 2007. Most metro areas in the developing asia- pacific and latin america regions suffered no recession in the last five years or fully recovered to pre-recession levels, while only five north american metro areas managed to recover in both employment and gdp per capita. About 46 percent of metro areas, mostly in north america and asia-pacific, achieved higher employment and/or gdp per capita growth rates in 2011-12 than before the worldwide downturn.

Google using artificial intelligence to improve image and video classification

Google bought DNNresearch, a young startup founded by professor Geoffrey Hinton and two of his grad students at the University of Toronto, Alex Krizhevsky and Ilya Sutskever. Google was eager to acquire the startup’s research on neural networks — as well as the talent behind it — to help it go beyond traditional search algorithms in its ability to identify pieces of content, images, voice, text and so on.

Hinton is world-renowned for his work with neural nets, and this research has profound implications for areas such as speech recognition, computer vision and language understanding.

“Geoffrey Hinton’s research is a magnificent example of disruptive innovation with roots in basic research,” said U of T’s president, Professor David Naylor. “The discoveries of brilliant researchers, guided freely by their expertise, curiosity, and intuition, lead eventually to practical applications no one could have imagined, much less requisitioned.

Recently, Krizhevsky and Sutskever, who will both be moving to Google, developed a system that dramatically improved the state of the art in object recognition.

The Google deal will support Prof. Hinton’s graduate students housed in the department’s machine learning group, while protecting their research autonomy under academic freedom. It will also allow Prof. Hinton himself to divide his time between his university research and his work at Google.

“I am extremely excited about this fantastic opportunity to keep my research here in Toronto and, at the same time, help Google apply new developments in deep learning to make systems that help people,” said Professor Hinton.

Professor Hinton will spend time at Google’s Toronto office and several months of the year at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA.

This announcement comes on the heels of a $600,000 gift Google awarded Professor Hinton’s research group to support further work in the area of neural nets.