April 06, 2013

Electric Bikes are triple the number of all other alternative fuel vehicles combined

In China, more than 200 million electric bikes have been sold and account for the single largest adoption of alternative fuel vehicles in history.

In 2011,there were more than one billion cars and trucks in use in the world, compared with around 70 million alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles that had been sold or converted worldwide as of December 2011.

* 27.1 million flexible-fuel vehicles mostly in Brazil
* 17.5 million LPG powered vehicles by December 2010
* 14.8 million natural gas vehicles by December 2011
* 5.7 million neat-ethanol only light-vehicles built in Brazil since 1979
* More than 5.2 million hybrid electric vehicles have been sold worldwide by the end of September 2012
* More than 530,000 plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) sold worldwide by December 2011

Carbon dioxide emissions for a Chinese e-bike are about one-tenth of what is emitted by a conventional electric car, when factoring in the electricity source needed to power the car's much larger batteries, according to research published recently by Cherry and colleague Shuguang Ji.

Adoption of electric bikes is strongest when there is more urban congestion, a lack of sufficient parking for cars and a cultural acceptance of two-wheeled vehicles as a viable form of daily transportation.

There will be about l of 25 million light duty NGVs on the road by 2019. Pike Research expects annual worldwide sales of pure electric, plug in hybrid and hybrid vehicles, collectively referred to as electric vehicles (EVs), will reach 3.8 million by 2020.

There will be about 450 million electric bikes worldwide by 2020. Electric bikes need twenty to one hundred times less battery than electric cars.

Compiling Shor's Algorithm to enable arbitrarily large numbers to be factored using constant-sized quantum circuit like factoring a 20000 bit number using two Qubits

Arxiv - Pretending to factor large numbers on a quantum computer - Shor’s algorithm for factoring in polynomial time on a quantum computer gives an enormous advantage over all known classical factoring algorithm. We demonstrate how to factor products of large prime numbers using a compiled version of Shor’s quantum factoring algorithm. Our technique can factor all products of p; q such that p; q are unequal primes greater than two, runs in constant time, and requires only two coherent qubits. This illustrates that the correct measure of difficulty when implementing Shor’s algorithm is not the size of number factored, but the length of the period found.

Regular Shor's algorithm needs roughly 3 log N qubits.

Qubit Recycling version of Shor's Algorithm reduces qubits down to exactly 2 + 3/(2 log N qubits). A significant part of the reduction is to replace the first “x” register with a single qubit. This was shown to be possible and uses the fact that the bits of the quantum Fourier transform can be read out one at a time . The use of this semi-classical Fourier transform has become known as qubit recycling.

Compiled version using 2 qubits. The circuit for the fully-compiled Shor’s algorithm. The modular exponentiation is the single controlled-NOT, and the quantum Fourier transform is a Hadamard gate.

The IBM researchers will be performing experiments data using two superconducting transmon qubits.

The second column is the qubit recycling which needs about 1 qubit for every two digits. I believe the authors are saying the compiled version is not fully valid.

April 05, 2013

Dwave sells 512 qubit adiabatic quantum computer system for ten million

Dwave has sold a Dwave Two 512 qubit system to Lockheed for about $10 million

Lockheed is a repeat customer who also paid ten million for the 128 qubit system in 2010.

Aluminum, Magnesium and Titanium Could be more important materials for future cars and planes

ARPA-E has a program to enable the development of transformative light metal (Al, Mg, Ti) processing technologies that significantly reduce the energy requirement to extract primary metal from ore, reduce emissions associated with primary light metal extraction, and increase the supply of high grade recycled light metal.

Expected Program Outcomes:
1. Energy savings on metals manufacturing of 0.6 Quad/yr
2. Life cycle energy savings from vehicle light weighting of a 2 Quad/yr
3. Emissions reduction of 250 Million Tons of CO2/yr
4. Reduced cost light metals to enable advanced energy technologies
5. Renaissance of U.S. light metal manufacturing

Bringing the costs down by 30-50% will enable Aluminum usage to increase by about 50%, Magnesium to go up 10 times and Titanium to more than double over the next 10-20 years.

China will spend $6 trillion over ten years to urbanize 400 million more people but will destroy current cheap urban villages housing 130 million migrants

China aims to spend an estimated $6 trillion on infrastructure, including housing, as a projected 400 million people become urban residents over the next decade.

About 130 million Chinese migrants live in tiny, sub-divided rooms rented out by former farmers whose villages have been swallowed by sprawl.

Policies to provide government-built housing while razing these shabby "villages within cities" result in a net loss of housing units, according to urban planners and academics, while choking off the private rental market that for decades has enabled China's massive urban migration.

Local officials put muscle behind a policy of clearing such sites, often declaring these dwellings illegal by noting non-agricultural land allocated to villagers cannot be used for commercial purposes. Land reclassified as "urban" can be sold at a huge profit.

"Not everyone can live in a high rise. Especially those of us who work in the recycling business," Zhang Baofa, who rented out the used shipping containers in one of the more creative solutions to Shanghai's shortage of cheap housing.

Google Fiber and Austin could announce a new gigabit deployment next week

Venturebeat reports that Google and the City of Austin have announced a major announcement for next week. Multiple sources tell VentureBeat that the announcement could involve expanding Google’s gigabit broadband Internet service Google Fiber to Austin. Alternately, the city could announce plans for a new Austin-based Google campus, or even some partnership to involve the city with a new Google service.

Google Fiber offers download and upload speeds that are 100 times faster than the average consumer broadband Internet connection, and at a much cheaper price. The service launched in the Kansas City area back in July, which instantly prompted competing services from Time Warner Cable to boost their own offerings. Currently, Kansas City is the only Google Fiber location, but Google chairman Eric Schmidt has previously stated that this is not a side project for the company — implying that Google Fiber could launch elsewhere in the future.

Austin is a logical place for Google to expand its highly sought-after gigabit internet service. Not only did the city wage a campaign to be Google's test city for the service (Kansas City ultimately won that competition), but it's a tech-centric city. Companies like Dell, Texas Instruments, Samsung, IBM, AMD, Intel, and others have offices there, and multiple startups are based in the city as well

April 04, 2013

DARPA shows off Dextrous Robotic Hands that cost less than $3000 each

Using some low-cost (sub-$3,000) hands from iRobot and Sandia National Labs, a DARPA robot can now autonomously use tools to mostly change a car tire.

The DARPA Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) program is creating manipulators with a high degree of autonomy capable of serving multiple military purposes across a wide variety of application domains. Current robotic manipulation systems save lives and reduce casualties, but are limited when adapting to multiple mission environments and need burdensome human interaction and lengthy time durations for completing tasks.

ARM seeks to enable autonomous manipulation systems to surpass the performance level of remote manipulation systems that are controlled directly by a human operator. The program will attempt to reach this goal by developing software and hardware that enables robots to autonomously grasp and manipulate objects in unstructured environments, with humans providing only high-level direction.

The ARM program consists of three tracks: software, hardware and outreach. The hardware track focuses on design and development of low-cost dexterous multi-fingered hands taking advantage of recent manufacturing advancements. The software track focuses on developing new algorithms and approaches for grasping and manipulation using local sensors for perception. The outreach track engages a larger community by placing robotic systems in public museums (presently the National Air and Space Museum) and also encouraging unfunded participants to develop algorithms robot autonomy through the web to a real system.

The robot in the video is actually an old model. The robot can now properly thread a nut onto a bolt. DARPA has its sights set on more complex tasks, such as being able to identify an improvised explosive device by touch.

Candence and ARM making first Cortex-A57 64 bit processor on 16 nanometer process

1. Fulfilling the promise of performance and power scaling at 16 nanometers, ARM and Cadence today announced details behind their collaboration to implement the first ARM® Cortex®-A57 processor on TSMC’s 16-nanometer (nm) FinFET manufacturing process The Cortex-A57 processor is ARM’s highest-performing processor to date, and is based on the new ARMv8 architecture, designed for computing, networking and mobile applications that require high performance at a low-power budget. TSMC’s 16nm FinFET technology is a significant breakthrough that enables continued scaling of process technology to feature sizes below 20nm. It is the first Cortex-A57 64-bit Processor on TSMC 16nm FinFET Process.

Boron neutron capture therapy kills cancer cells without harming normal cells

Cancer painfully ends more than 500,000 lives in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The scientific crusade against cancer recently achieved a victory under the leadership of University of Missouri Curators’ Professor M. Frederick Hawthorne. Hawthorne’s team has developed a new form of radiation therapy that successfully put cancer into remission in mice. This innovative treatment produced none of the harmful side-effects of conventional chemo and radiation cancer therapies. Clinical trials in humans could begin soon after Hawthorne secures funding.

Cancer cells grow faster than normal cells and in the process absorb more materials than normal cells. Hawthorne’s team took advantage of that fact by getting cancer cells to take in and store a boron chemical designed by Hawthorne. When those boron-infused cancer cells were exposed to neutrons, a subatomic particle, the boron atom shattered and selectively tore apart the cancer cells, sparing neighboring healthy cells.

PNAS - Boron neutron capture therapy demonstrated in mice bearing EMT6 tumors following selective delivery of boron by rationally designed liposomes

North Korea's Leadership Forcing New Calculations for the US, South Korea and China

The imperative now is to face down Mr Kim in North Korea. He has ruled out the only promise worth having (suspending his nuclear programme again). North Korea—and other rogue regimes and would-be nuclear proliferators, such as Iran—need to know that actions have consequences. That is why President Park Geun-hye of South Korea, in turn, was right to make it clear that sneak attacks will be met with a much firmer response than in 2010. America is right to move missile defences to Guam. When it sent two nuclear-capable B-2 bombers to fly over the peninsula it was a warning not only to North Korea, but also a gesture of support to the South. If Ms Park doubts American backing, she will be tempted to seek nuclear weapons herself.

What should the West do? In the long term, the best way to destabilise Mr Kim is from within. A new merchant class is emerging—the only prospering bit of the economy. The world must redouble its efforts to engage with these and other possible agents of change. This includes teaching more mid-ranking officials how societies work when they are organised around market economies and underpinned by laws; and funding defector radio stations beaming news back into the North.

Full nuclear fusion tests this summer which would enable propulsion for 30 day trips to Mars

University of Washington researchers and scientists at a Redmond-based space-propulsion company (John Slough and MSNW) are building components of a fusion-powered rocket aimed to clear many of the hurdles that block deep space travel, including long times in transit, exorbitant costs and health risks.

John Slough and his team have published papers calculating the potential for 30- and 90-day expeditions to Mars using a rocket powered by fusion, which would make the trip more practical and less costly.

Is this really feasible? Slough and his colleagues at MSNW have demonstrated successful lab tests of all portions of the process. Now, the key will be combining each isolated test into a final experiment that produces fusion using this technology. The research team has developed a type of plasma that is encased in its own magnetic field. Nuclear fusion occurs when this plasma is compressed to high pressure with a magnetic field. The team has successfully tested this technique in the lab.

The team is working to bring it all together by using the technology to compress the plasma and create nuclear fusion. Slough hopes to have everything ready for a first full test at the end of the summer.

To power a rocket, the team has devised a system in which a powerful magnetic field causes large metal rings to implode around this plasma, compressing it to a fusion state. The converging rings merge to form a shell that ignites the fusion, but only for a few microseconds. Even though the compression time is very short, enough energy is released from the fusion reactions to quickly heat and ionize the shell. This super-heated, ionized metal is ejected out of the rocket nozzle at a high velocity. This process is repeated every minute or so, propelling the spacecraft.

Bolonkin’s hypersonic linear electric engine (HABE) explained and why it could enable cheaper than maglev hypersonic travel and space launch

A guest post by Joseph Friedlander

The Bolonkin’s hypersonic linear electric engine (HABE) was described recently from a paper by Alexander Bolonkin. There was a concern that the hypersonic sliding of contacts could be a design flaw or problem.

Working hypersonic sliding contacts have been done but I am sure shoe life is short. Below is proof it can be done— this is the fastest pair of rocket sled records --about Mach 10 (2.5 km/s +) in 2003.

Note that lunar escape velocity is on the order of 2.38 km/s (5324 MPH) so even the 1982 test could have done that. I have not seen anyone mention in an an article about using a rocket sled for export of passive payloads from Moon to Earth—so consider this a first!

Wikipedia has land speed records for railed rocket sleds

Reading the paper it is clear that the HABE train is hard to visualize. The carrier is railroad like to suspend the thing before sufficient lift is generated. From 200 m/s and onward the tracks are left behind and the ship detaches from the ground engine. There is sliding electrical contact between sacrificial shoes and the electrical bus of the launcher. This is not a coilgun. There is a similarity to a railgun but it is not exact.

The ground track installation is usable as a ground railway, a ground railway launched aircraft and as the initial boost part of a space launch system. The difference is in the final speed and separate compatible hardware may be needed for each class of vehicle.

Professor Bolonkin believes the US Navy has solved (how economically is unclear) the problem of sliding hypersonic railgun contacts because they are moving to sea trials of a 4 km/sec railgun. Just twice that velocity puts us into orbital boost velocity. (More may be needed to compensate for gravity and drag loss, etc)

Note that disposable iron electrical contact "shoes" that are sacrificial (worn out) with which make actual hypersonic contact at each launch with very spectacular display are expensive but are not the worst alternative. They will cost $1000 per set of contact points and be a small part of the expense of a 10 ton launch ($100/ ton additional cost)--compare to routine cost of a helicopter at $8000 per flight hour.

All-optical switching promises terahertz-speed hard drive and RAM memory

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, and the University of Crete in Greece have found a new way to switch magnetism that is at least 1000 times faster than currently used in magnetic memory technologies. Magnetic switching is used to encode information in hard drives, magnetic random access memory and other computing devices. The discovery, reported in the April 4 issue of Nature, potentially opens the door to terahertz (10^12 hertz) and faster memory speeds.

Ames Laboratory physicist Jigang Wang and his team used short laser pulses to create ultra-fast changes in the magnetic structure, within quadrillionths of a second (femtosecond), from anti-ferromagnetic to ferromagnetic ordering in colossal magnetoresistive materials, which are promising for use in next-generation memory and logic device.

Magnetic structure in a colossal magneto-resistive manganite is switched from antiferromagnetic to ferromagnetic ordering during about 100 femtosecond (10^-15 s) laser pulse photo-excitation. With time so short and the laser pulses still interacting with magnetic moments, the magnetic switching is driven quantum mechanically– not thermally. This potentially opens the door to terahertz (10^12 hertz) and faster memory writing/reading speeds.

Robotic Jelly fish for long duration ocean monitoring

Virginia Tech College of Engineering researchers have unveiled a life-like, autonomous robotic jellyfish the size and weight of a grown man, 5 foot 7 inches in length and weighing 170 pounds, as part of a U.S. Navy-funded project. The prototype robot, nicknamed Cyro, is a larger model of a robotic jellyfish the same team – headed by Shashank Priya of Blacksburg, Va., and professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech – unveiled in 2012. The earlier robot, dubbed RoboJelly, is roughly the size of a man’s hand, and typical of jellyfish found along beaches.

The goal is to place self-powering, autonomous machines in waters for the purposes of surveillance and monitoring the environment, in addition to other uses such as studying aquatic life, mapping ocean floors, and monitoring ocean currents.

The new robotic jellyfish is untethered (battery powered for four hours)

April 03, 2013

Microfluidic device that captures circulating tumor cells could give doctors a noninvasive way to diagnose and track cancers

Doctors typically diagnose cancer via a biopsy, which can be invasive and expensive. A better way to diagnose the disease would be to detect telltale tumor cells floating in the bloodstream, but such a test has proved difficult to develop because stray cancer cells are rare, and it’s difficult to separate them from the mélange of cells in circulation.

Now researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School say they’ve built a microfluidic device that can quickly grab nearly any type of tumor cell, an advance that may one day lead to simple blood tests for detecting or tracking cancer.

In a given blood sample, circulating tumor cells are rare—there may be only one tumor cell for every billion cells. The device combines existing microfluidic techniques of cell sorting into a single device, he says. The result is that the tumor cells can be pulled out of a blood sample quicker, and without prior knowledge of their molecular characteristics.

Their latest chip can isolate circulating-tumor cells in the blood, and could apply to all types of cancer in one or two hours.

Cheap and efficient Hydrogen Extraction from Biomass appears to be a gamechanger

Virginia Tech researchers liberates high-purity hydrogen under mild reaction conditions at 122 degree Fahrenheit and normal atmospheric pressure. The biocatalysts used to release the hydrogen are a group of enzymes artificially isolated from different microorganisms that thrive at extreme temperatures, some of which could grow at around the boiling point of water. This discovery is a game-changer in the world of alternative energy.

Hydrogen is conventionally produced by steam reforming natural gas, a process that wastes some of the energy stored in the gas while releasing large amounts of CO2. Zhang’s discovery is endorsed by Jonathan R. Mielenz, the group leader of the bioscience division at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory:

“The key to this exciting development is that Zhang is using the second most prevalent sugar in plants to produce this hydrogen,” Mielenz told VT. “This amounts to a significant additional benefit to hydrogen production and it reduces the overall cost of producing hydrogen from biomass.”

Mielenz predicts Zhang’s process could reach the existing $100 billion hydrogen marketplace in three year. It could achieve a potential of a trillion dollar market in the US alone.

The researchers chose to use xylose, which comprises as much as 30 percent of plant cell walls.

North American Oil and Gas Boom Could Cause Global Power Shift -OPEC troubles and Mexico Could become more BRIC-like than Brazil

A dramatic expansion of U.S. production could push global spare capacity to exceed 8 million barrels per day, at which point OPEC could lose price control and crude oil prices would drop, possibly sharply," the U.S. intelligence community's internal think tank, the National Intelligence Council, said in its “Global Trends 2030” report in December. "Such a drop would take a heavy toll on many energy producers who are increasingly dependent on relatively high energy prices to balance their budgets."

With some analysts predicting that oil prices could drop as low as $70 to $90 a barrel – down from the current price of nearly $110 per barrel of Brent crude oil – a “scramble” among OPEC members for market share could ensue, said Edward Morse, an energy analyst with Citigroup and co-author of a recent report on titled “Energy 2020: Independence Day.”

OPEC professes to be not unduly alarmed by the U.S. oil and natural gas boom. It highlights the "considerable uncertainties" surrounding wells drilled using hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and associated technologies.

Retired US Admiral suggest railguns with Mach 5 shotgun pellets for anti aircraft and anti-missile steel cloud

China is about 30 years from catching up to US miltary spending and about 40-50 years from catching up with a comparable military capability. Even after catching up on budgets, China would lag in training and other factors that would take time to mature. China currently has developed some anti-ship missiles which pose a possible threat to US carriers and other navy ships.

Retired Adm. James A. Lyons was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations. Admiral Lyons is playing up China's military as justification for further modernization and buildup of US military capability. This is in spite of the fact that it seems virtually certain that China, USA, Europe and Russia are not getting into any kind of shooting war.

In a Feb. 11 Wall Street Journal article by Bret Stephens, Gen. Victor Esin, former chief of staff of Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces, highlighted the “stealthy” rise of China to a position of nuclear parity with the United States and Russia. He stated that China may have 850 warheads ready to launch, and he estimated China’s inventory of nuclear weapons at between 1,600 and 1,800 warheads, as compared with the current U.S. estimate of China having 200 to 400. Many reports note the administration wants to reduce U.S. warheads to 1,000 or fewer.Gen. Esin went on to state that he has solid evidence that China conducted a multiple-warhead test in July 2012, and a month later, launched a new, long-range multiple-warhead-capable missile from a submarine.

Lyons suggests

1. putting anti-ship ballistic missiles on U.S. ships, submarines and aircraft. Such a capability could be accomplished in the near term as a relatively inexpensive option, while posing a risk to China’s ever-expanding surface navy.

Russia is selling China non-nuclear submarines and tells China not to copy the technology

1. Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport has signed a framework agreement with China on the joint development and construction of four non-nuclear Amur-1650 conventional submarines for the Chinese Navy.

The contract, worth $2 billion, is expected to be finalized by the parties around 2015. Russian media and experts predicted the two countries may go much further on cooperation in the field of submarines.

According to the agreement, two of the submarines will be built in Russia and two in China.

The contract includes special provisions which stipulate "China cannot copy Russian technology."

Analysts say introducing Russia’s state-of-the-art submarine technology through joint design and production will help enhance the combat effectiveness of the Chinese Navy submarine force. The Amur class submarine will hopefully provide the Chinese Navy with a powerful platform for waging undersea warfare.

China increases defense spending by 10.7% and is 30 years from catching up the USA

China's defense spending will expand by 10.7 percent this year, reaching an official figure of $115.7 billion in 2013. The Pentagon adjusts China's military budget to about $130-190 billion (an average of $160 billion).

China is about 30 years from catching up the USA on military spending but was double the spending of the number three country Russia.

Close to Meeting the 2015 target of Halving the 1990 Percent Malnourished

Economic growth is necessary but not sufficient to accelerate reduction of hunger and malnutrition. Progress has been made against world hunger. However, the number of people suffering from chronic undernourishment is still unacceptably high, and eradication of hunger remains a major global challenge. Economic growth takes time to reach the poor, and may not reach the poorest of the poor. Therefore, social protection is crucial for eliminating hunger as rapidly as possible. Finally, rapid progress in reducing hunger requires government action to provide key public goods and services within a governance system based on transparency, participation, accountability, rule of law and human rights.

World food production is increasing. With current agricultural technology the world can feed about 15 billion people. We can feed them and we can house them.

* Not cleaning off your plate and wasting food is irrelevant to feeding the poor in Africa and India. Cleaning off your plate (in the developed world) all the time means you get fat and the hungry still are hungry.
* There is millions of tons of grain rotting in India. Food production is not the problem. The problem has been an inefficient and corruption-prone distribution system. Eighteen months ago investigators said millions of dollars worth of grain meant for poor families had been siphoned off and sold locally and abroad in a scam involving hundreds of government officials.
* If there were radical life extension, this would not cause people to starve. The maximum increase in population would be about 1% per year. 1% of the population that did not die. It would not get to that level that quickly. It would take decades to deploy radical life extension throughout the worlds medical systems. It would be about 2100 before we get to about 15 billion people and would need to have developed more than current technology. We would have 50-70 years to scale up the next green revolution using synthetic biology and scaling up ocean agriculture. Again even if people in the developed world did not get lives extended to 100 years, 110 years, or more this would not mean more food for the hungry in Africa or India.

“Nowadays people don’t eat not because there isn’t any food available. We produce enough food for all. We throw out a third of the food we produce. We have hunger because people cannot buy the food or produce it themselves,” FAO Director-General Graziano da Silva said.

Different rates of progress have led to significant changes in the distribution of the undernourished in the world between 1990–92 and 2010–12. The share of the world’s undernourished people has declined most rapidly in South-Eastern Asia and Eastern Asia (from 13.4 to 7.5 percent and from 26.1 to 19.2 percent, respectively), while declining from 6.5 to 5.6 percent in Latin America. Meanwhile, the share has increased from 32.7 to 35.0 percent in Southern Asia, from 17.0 to 27.0 percent in sub-Saharan Africa and from 1.3 to 2.9 percent in Western Asia and Northern Africa.

About 870 million people are estimated to have been undernourished (in terms of dietary energy supply) in the period 2010–12. This figure represents 12.5 percent of the global population, or one in eight people. The vast majority of these, 852 million, live in developing countries, where the prevalence of undernourishment is now estimated at 14.9 percent of the population.

Improved undernourishment estimates, from 1990, suggest that progress in reducing hunger has been more pronounced than previously believed.
• Most of the progress, however, was achieved before 2007–08. Since then, global progress in reducing hunger has slowed and levelled off.
• The revised results imply that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving the prevalence of undernourishment in the developing world by 2015 is within reach, if appropriate actions are taken to reverse the slowdown since 2007–08

World Bank President Adopts Nextbigfuture Poverty Target

In December 2012, Nextbigfuture proposed bringing world extreme poverty below 3% by 2025.

Yesterday (April 2, 2013) World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim outlined a bold agenda for the global community toward ending extreme poverty by 2030 and promoting shared prosperity to boost the incomes of the poorest 40 percent of the population in each country.

The World Bank President outlined a plan to reduce extreme poverty to less than 3% of the world's population by 2030. This is pretty much the same poverty target suggested by Nextbigfuture.

You are welcome World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.

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

The Future and Economics of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

A comparison of the global small modular (SMR) projects that are under development in the United States, South Korea, Russia and China.

The economics of SMRs challenges the widely held belief that nuclear reactors are characterized by significant economies of scale.

According to the standard scaling function, the hypothetical overnight cost (per unit of installed capacity) of the SMR-based power station will be 74 percent higher compared to a single large-scale reactor. Based on various studies in the literature, the authors posit that the combined impact of multiple units and learning effects is a 22 percent reduction in specific capital costs for the SMR-based station. To quantify the impact of construction schedule, the authors assume that the construction times of the large reactor and the SMR units are five and three years respectively. The shorter construction duration results in a 5 percent savings for the SMRs. Temporal flexibility (four sequentially deployed SMRs with the first going into operation at the same time as the large reactor and the rest every 9 months thereafter) and design simplification led to 5 and 15 percent reductions in specific capital costs respectively for the SMRs. When all these factors are combined, the SMR-based station suffers a specific capital cost disadvantage of only 4 percent as compared to the single large reactor of the same capacity.

For the plants below 300 MW(e) the overnight capital costs are below US$ 1 billion. Small absolute overnight capital costs make the SMRs attractive to a broader range of investors, including a variety of private companies (not necessarily affiliated with nuclear sector) and the utilities whose own funds are insufficient to finance a large reactor project. China's HTR-PM has estimated overnight capital costs of less than $317 million. China's large reactors are at or below the cost that is provided for the South Korean nuclear reactors. The $4.2 billion quote for the Korean reactors were for two large 1.34 GWe reactors.

HTR-PM High Temperature Pebble - bed Module Reactor Status in China March 2013

First concrete was poured for China's commercial scale HTR-PM 210 MWe pebble bed reactor on December, 2012 This is scheduled to be completed in 2017 and China is planning factory mass production and further technology refinement for later versions.

Future of HTR Development

* Duplication, mass production

Next project steps:
* Super critical steam turbine, co-generation

R and D on future technologies:
* Higher temperature,
* Hydrogen Production,
* Process heat application,
* Gas turbine

World Bank President Outlines Plan to Reduce Extreme Poverty to less than 3% of the World's Population

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim outlined a bold agenda for the global community toward ending extreme poverty by 2030 and promoting shared prosperity to boost the incomes of the poorest 40 percent of the population in each country.

Kim noted that the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG), to halve extreme poverty, was achieved in 2010, five years ahead of time, after developing countries spent years investing in social safety nets and working hard to build the fiscal space and create the macroeconomic buffers to respond effectively if a crisis hit.

To achieve the more difficult goal of virtually eliminating extreme poverty, Kim described three factors necessary:

1. to reach the goal by 2030 will require an acceleration of the growth rate observed over the past 15 years, and in particular sustained high growth in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

2. it will require efforts to enhance inclusiveness and curb inequality, and ensure that growth translates into poverty reduction, most importantly through job creation.

3. it will require that potential shocks – such as new food, fuel, or financial crises and climatic disasters – be averted or mitigated.

The date of 2030 is highly ambitious. If anyone doubts it, consider that the first Millennium Development Goal was to halve absolute poverty over a period of 25 years. To reach the 2030 goal, we must halve global poverty once, then halve it again, and then nearly halve it a third time—all in less than one generation. If countries can achieve this, then absolute poverty will be brought below 3 percent. Our economists set the goal line here, because below 3 percent the nature of the poverty challenge will change fundamentally in most parts of the world. The focus will shift from broad structural measures to tackling sporadic poverty among specific vulnerable groups.

April 02, 2013

Economics rather than the engineering Marks the Beginning of the end of Moore's Law or it the end of AMD ?

Is it the beginning of the end of Moore's law or the beginning of the end of AMD ?

AMD claims that the delay in transitioning from 28nm to 20nm highlights the beginning of the end for Moore's Law. John Gustafson, chief graphics product architect at AMD, has said that Moore's Law is ending because it actually refers to a doubling of transistors that are economically viable to produce.

Gustafson said, "You can see how Moore's Law is slowing down. The original statement of Moore's Law is the number of transistors that is more economical to produce will double every two years. It has become warped into all these other forms but that is what he originally said."

According to Gustafson, the transistor density afforded by a process node defines the chip's economic viability. He said, "We [AMD] want to also look for the sweet spot, because if you print too few transistors your chip will cost too much per transistor and if you put too many it will cost too much per transistor. We've been waiting for that transistion from 28nm to 20nm to happen and it's taking longer than Moore's Law would have predicted."

Gustafson was pretty clear in his view of transistor density, saying, "I'm saying you are seeing the beginning of the end of Moore's law."

Nuclear power has prevented 1.84 million air pollution deaths and could save millions more in the coming decades

Using nuclear power in place of fossil-fuel energy sources, such as coal, has prevented some 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths globally and could save millions of more lives in coming decades, concludes a study. The researchers also find that nuclear energy prevents emissions of huge quantities of greenhouse gases. These estimates help make the case that policymakers should continue to rely on and expand nuclear power in place of fossil fuels to mitigate climate change.

Environmental Science and Technology Journal - Prevented mortality and greenhouse gas emissions from historical and projected nuclear power by Pushker A. Kharecha and James E Hansen. Hansen is a famous NASA scientist who is well known for his position to stop climate change.

Nextbigfuture has a lot of coverage of air pollution and deaths per terawatt hour by energy source

Deaths per twh by energy source in 2012.

A Nextbigfuture article from 2011.

A look at lowering the deaths per terawatt hour by reducing pollution and making energy safer.

A review of peer reviewed studies of air pollution deaths.

Several dozen other articles going back to 2008

April 01, 2013

Artificial intelligence related Sparse coding on D-Wave quantum computer hardware

Sparse coding provides a class of algorithms for finding succinct representations of stimuli; given only unlabeled input data, it discovers basis functions that capture higher-level features in the data. However, finding sparse codes remains a very difficult computational problem. In this paper, we present efficient sparse coding algorithms that are based on iteratively solving two convex optimization problems: an L1-regularized least squares problem and an L2-constrained least squares problem. We propose novel algorithms to solve both of these optimization problems. Our algorithms result in a significant speedup for sparse coding, allowing us to learn larger sparse codes than possible with previously described algorithms. We apply these algorithms to natural images and demonstrate that the inferred sparse codes exhibit end-stopping and non-classical receptive field surround suppression and, therefore, may provide a partial explanation for these two phenomena in V1 neurons.

Sparse coding is a very interesting idea that Dwave Systems been experimenting with on their adiabatic quantum computer. Sparse coding is a way to find ‘maximally repeating patterns’ in data, and use these as a basis for representing that data.

Sparse coding is probably related to how human perception and cognition functions.

Unsupervised Feature Learning and Deep Learning

By 2015 the Chinese yuan will be the number three currency in the world after the US dollar and the Euro

There are several recent forecast / predictions for the Chinese yuan by noted economists.

* By 2015, a third of China’s cross-border trade will be settled in yuan, making the yuan one of the three most-used in global trade along with the dollar and euro, HSBC forecast in a report this month

* The Chinese yuan will appreciate 2.1 percent to 6.1 per dollar this year

* “I would expect China to increasingly move towards a managed float with more flexibility,” Irene Cheung, a foreign- exchange strategist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group in Singapore, said by telephone today. “Basically convertible is possible in five years, but it might not be 100 percent convertible.”

London is racing against Paris and Zurich to become the center for yuan trading in Europe as China seeks to take its currency global.

Air Pollution deaths in the United States on trend to drop from 68,000 per year in 2005 to 36000 in 2016

Air pollution on trend to improve in the United States from 68000 deaths per year in 2005 to 36,000 in 2016.

Recent risk assessments have characterized the overall burden of recent PM2.5 and ozone levels on public health, but generally not the variability of these impacts over time or by sector. Using photochemical source apportionment modeling and a health impact function, we attribute PM2.5 and ozone air quality levels, population exposure and health burden to 23 industrial point, area, mobile and international emission sectors in the Continental U.S. in 2005 and 2016. Our modeled policy scenarios account for a suite of emission control requirements affecting many of these sectors. Between these two years, the number of PM2.5 and ozone-related deaths attributable to power plants and mobile sources falls from about 68 000 (90% confidence interval from 48 000 to 87 000) to about 36 000 (90% confidence intervals from 26 000 to 47 000). Area source mortality risk grows slightly between 2005 and 2016, due largely to population growth. Uncertainties relating to the timing and magnitude of the emission reductions may affect the size of these estimates. The detailed sector-level estimates of the size and distribution of mortality and morbidity risk suggest that the air pollution mortality burden has fallen over time but that many sectors continue to pose a substantial risk to human health.

Federal Reserve Has Six Scenarios for China's GDP Growth to 2030 - slowing a little to slowing a lot

The Chinese economy has been growing at a rapid pace for over thirty years. Most of this growth has come from higher labor productivity, while growth of employment has diminished along with a slower rate of increase in the working-age population. This paper looks at the challenges that China will face over the next two decades in maintaining its rapid pace of economic growth, especially as working-age population growth slows further and then begins to decline. Key questions include whether China will be able to continue to devote nearly half of its GDP to investment, whether such investment will become less productive as the capital -labor ratio continues to rise whether labor participation and employment rates will fall as the population becomes less rural, and whether future shifts out of rural employment will go more toward the services rather than the manufacturing sector, where productivity is higher. In the baseline scenario economic growth falls gradually from its current pace of about 10 percent to near 6½ percent by 2030. However, a combination of less optimistic, but still reasonable assumptions, results in a reduction in the growth rate to about 1½ percent by 2030.

Baseline is Gradual slowing to 6.5% per year GDP growth in 2030

India is overproducing and wasting grain now which is damaging soil and will result in lower future food production

Misguided agricultural policies may boost India's short-term food output but may transform India into a food importer in the longer term.

The overproduction of grains in India has rapidly depleted underground aquifers and sharply reduced soil fertility.

Sound food policy should be a priority for India, on track for the world’s largest population by 2025. India has also achieved status as a major food exporter with rice, wheat and buffalo beef. Indian policies emphasize minimum support prices for farmers and subsidized crops for the poor, but these in turn spur food inflation, price volatility, overproduction of grains and overworked land. The government purchases about one third of all cereal output, yet pro-cereal policies hinder production of non-cereals like fruits, vegetables and dairy products, which benefits other export nations like Canada or Australia. Despite misgivings by economists, a food security bill guaranteeing low prices for more than two thirds of India’s population is winding its way through parliament. “The end result of these policies will be India’s forced integration into global agricultural markets, not only as a grain importer, but also as a leading buyer of non-cereal commodities,” explains Deepak Gopinath, director of a research service on emerging markets. Global markets won’t provide special pricing for India’s poor.

Now that Tesla is Profitable, Elon Musk Should Be Providing the Details of the Hyperloop

Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA), the electric-car maker headed by billionaire Elon Musk, climbed to a record after saying it turned its first quarterly profit on higher-than- forecasted sales of its Model S sedan, overcoming a controversy about the car’s performance.

Tesla rose 13 percent to $42.94 at 9:42 a.m. New York time after surging as much as 14 percent to $43.33. Tesla reached “full profitability” as Model S sales were more than 250 units higher than the 4,500 that the electric-car maker projected in mid-February, according to a company statement yesterday that didn’t specify the profit figure.

Tesla has forecast that deliveries of the battery-powered Model S will rise to a record 20,000 in 2013. The car starts at $59,900 and has a range of as far as 300 miles (483 kilometers) in ideal conditions when its 85-kilowatt-hour battery pack is fully charged.

Elon Musk had wanted to get Tesla profitable first before publishing full details about his Hyperloop transportation system to not get shareholder irate that he is distracted.

He said this was be a new kind of mass transport system. “I want something that is faster than a plane, costs less, can’t crash, and is immune to weather.” It also can’t have a right of way issue, where people have to give up their homes. Elon Musk and some of his Spacex and Tesla engineers are working on something he calls the “Hyperloop” which will be a “cross between a rail-gun and a Concorde.”

Elon Musk has stated that he will have a big announcement on April 2, 2013.

March 31, 2013

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 150

The Carnival of Nuclear energy 150 is up at the Atomic Power Review.

Carnival of Space 295

The Carnival of Space 295 is up at Aartscope.

What two small(ish) telescopes can add to Planck's recent revelations On March 21, the Planck space telescope team released their first round of data, which reveals (or, rather, clarifies and gives more precision to previously researched) secrets of the early, early universe. The European Space Agency-run mission looks at the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation--the earliest light we can possibly see from the timeline of the universe. Telescopes like Planck look for tiny fluctuations in the CMB.

Thin film invisibility cloak leading to 3D camoflage and invisibility and near field sensors

Demonstration of an ultralow profile cloak for scattering suppression of a finite-length rod in free space - Researchers present the first experimental realization and verification of a three-dimensional stand-alone mantle cloak designed to suppress the total scattering of a finite-length dielectric rod of moderate cross-section. Mantle cloaking has been proposed to realize ultralow-profile conformal covers that may achieve substantial camouflage, transparency and high-performance non-invasive near-field sensing. Here, we realize and verify a mantle cloak for radio-waves. We report an extensive campaign of far- and near-field free-space measurements demonstrating that conformal cloaks can indeed produce strong scattering suppression in all directions and over a relatively broad bandwidth of operation.

Main results. We have experimentally verified a new route to render a 3D object standing in free space invisible to radio waves, without requiring a bulk metamaterial cover. We have instead applied the 'mantle cloaking' technique, showing that ordinary 3D objects can be cloaked in all directions and from all observer's positions using a single, ultrathin patterned 'metasurface' conformal to the object. We applied this technique to an 18 cm cylindrical tube, covering it with a flexible metasurface realized with copper tape on a polycarbonate cover. The metasurface consisted of a mesh of vertical and circular stripes, providing the required inductive surface impedance such that, when excited by an external wave, it would support a scattering response that is 'opposite' to the one of the object, canceling out most of the scattered waves. The cloak showed optimal functionality at 3.7 GHz over a moderately broad bandwidth. Our experiment shows that this approach may not only make the cloak realization and design easier, but may also achieve larger scattering suppression and broader bandwidths compared to bulk metamaterial covers.

Wider implications. In principle this technique may be extended to visible frequencies; in fact metasurfaces are easier to realize than metamaterials in optics. However, the object size that can be efficiently cloaked with this method scales with the wavelength, so when applied to optical frequencies we may be able to efficiently stop the scattering of only micrometer-sized objects. Still, we have envisioned various exciting cloaking applications for small objects—i.e., non-invasive near-field imaging devices, optical nanotags and nanoswitches—as well improving the absorption efficiency of nanoparticles. These may provide great benefits for biomedical and optical devices.

(left) Experimental setup for the far-field measurement of the cloaked cylinder. (right) Near-field measurements comparing the uncloaked cylinder, the cloaked cylinder and a free-space measurement at the design frequency. The top row refers to illumination at normal incidence, the bottom row to oblique illumination at 30 degrees off the axis.

Making living matter programmable - Helping Cure Malaria Today and then major replacement of oil and a new green revolution in agriculture

Thirty years ago, the future lay in programming computers. Today, it’s programming cells according to Synthetic Biologists who met at Berkeley Keynote speaker Juan Enriquez, a self-described “curiosity expert” and co-founder of the company Synthetic Genomics, compared the digital revolution spawned by thinking of information as a string of ones and zeros to the coming synthetic biology revolution, premised on thinking about life as a mix of interchangeable parts – genes and gene networks – that can be learned and manipulated like any language. The panels brought together a dozen of synthetic biology’s pioneers from academia and industry, in addition to ethicists focused on the societal impact of the technology.

UC Berkeley chemical engineer Jay Keasling has been a key player in developing the field of synthetic biology over the last decade. Enriquez introduced Keasling as someone “who in his spare time goes out and tries to build stuff that will cure malaria, and biofuels and the next generation of clean tech, all while mentoring students at this university and at the national labs and creating whole new fields of science.”

Keasling, director of SynBERC, a UC Berkeley-led multi-institution collaboration that is laying the foundations for the field, expressed excitement about the newest development: the release next month by the pharmaceutical company sanofi aventis of a synthetic version of artemsinin, “the world’s best antimalarial drug,” he said. Sparked by discoveries in Keasling’s lab more than a decade ago, the drug is produced by engineered yeast and will be the first product from synthetic biology to reach the market.

“There are roughly 300 to 500 million cases of malaria each year,” he said. “Sanofi will initially produce about 100 million treatments, which will cover one-third to one-quarter of the need.”