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May 04, 2013

Carnival of Space 300

Holy round numbers. The Carnival of space has been running every week for nearly 6 years and has hit the big 300.

1. Fraknoi - This column is about brown dwarfs (objects that don't have what it takes to be a star -- like many actors waiting tables in Hollywood.) Interestingly, astronomers have recently discovered that the third-closest star system to the Sun consists of a pair of brown dwarfs orbiting one another.



2. Chandra XRay space telescope Observatory blog - Colossal Hot Cloud Envelops Colliding Galaxies



NASA space propulsion technology roadmap

NASA has a space propulsion technology roadmap

The major technical challenges for In-Space Propulsion Systems Technology Area (ISPSTA) were identified and prioritized through team consensus based on perceived mission need or potential impact on future in-space transportation systems. These challenges were then categorized into

near- (present to 2016),
mid- (2017–2022), and
far-term (2023–2028) time frames,

representing the point at which TRL 6 is expected to be achieved. It is likely that support of these technologies would need to begin well before the listed time horizon.


NASA Technology Roadmap for space power generation and energy storage

NASA has a space power and energy storage technology roadmap. Power system composes 20-30 percent of the spacecraft mass.

The flaw in the NASA analysis is that they are focused on enabling space science missions using the technology roadmaps. They are not focused on developing a systematic plan changing the game in space. Spacex is working towards changing the game with reusable rockets that could lower costs to space by 100 times. NASA technology plans need to look at how space can be industrialized and removing technological barriers to seed systems that can allow space resources to be used to bootstrap what can be done in space.

In solar power generation, the emphasis is on the development of high efficiency cells, cells that can effectively operate in low intensity/low temperature (LILT) conditions (over 3 AU), cells and arrays that can operate for long periods at high temperatures (over 200°C), high specific power arrays (500-1000 W/kg), electrostatically-clean, radiation tolerant, dust tolerant, and durable, re-stowable/deployable arrays.


Fission Power System (FPS) efforts should focus on continued technology development for a 10 – 100 kWe “workhorse” system, development of a 500 – 5000 We fission system for use on advanced science missions and (potentially) some “flexible path” missions, and development of technologies to enable very high power (over 5 MWe) very low specific mass (less than 5 kg/kWe) space fission power. Work on low power (less than 100 kWe) fission systems should focus on researching and developing methods for integrating developed technologies into a highly useful, long-life power supply. Work on high power (over 100 kWe) fission systems should focus on advanced fuels and materials, and high temperature power conversion. FPS work will help enable affordable use of fission systems for missions not currently possible. These include missions requiring over 1000 We in hostile environments (e.g. heat, dust, radiation) or in regions where adequate sunlight is not available (e.g. outer planets, permanently shaded craters, high Martian latitudes, etc.). Technology work related to high power fission systems will help enable high performance nuclear electric propulsion for cargo and human missions to any destination desired.





Additive Manufacturing Growing and Being Integrated to Improve Traditional Manufacturing Processes and Speed to Market

The global 3d printing industry, growing 30 percent annually, is expected to be worth $6 billion by 2020, with China accounting for 15 to 20 percent of supply.

Impact on traditional manufacturing

Because of material, cost and other developmental issues, some industry experts consider 3D printing a startup even as others maintain it could alter China's volume manufacturing landscape. In contrast to traditional production where materials are removed by cutting, drilling and other processes to form an object, 3D printing adds layers of materials to virtual blueprints, which are created via CAD, and include molds and even actual products. This reduces significantly molding time. Complex casting alone, for example, is shortened from 90 days to just 10.

"We're a long way from starting another industrial revolution," Beijing Tiertime general manager Guo Ge told Caixin.com. "But if more improvements can be made in materials and operational capacity, manufacturing will be transformed." Beijing Tiertime is the largest maker of 3D printers and rapid prototyping products in China.

"3D printing will not replace traditional volume manufacturing in the short term," said Wang Jue, secretary of China 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance.

This is echoed by Beijing Henglong manager Feng Tao. The Caixin.com article quoted Feng as saying mass production "is still the most economic" way to produce components.

Likewise, Renaud Anjoran of Sofeast Quality Control believes 3D printing will not disrupt mass production in the coming five years. "It is like the reshoring from China to the US movement: plenty of anecdotes in the press, but insignificant impact overall."

"Three years ago, we spent about 1 million yuan ($160,000) in developing two models to make the outer shell of a car within three months. Similar development using traditional methods requires more than one year and will cost tens of millions of yuan from making the initial model to manufacturing in bulk," said Lu.

However, Lu also noted such production cannot completely replace traditional manufacturing, especially for products that need to be made in large amounts and feature a high degree of similarity.

In the eyes of Wim Michiels, executive vice-president at Materialise NV, 3D printing is better for the environment in that there is no need to set up a full production line, which can involve a lengthy amount of time, high costs and the possible failure of the first sample due to imperfect accuracy.

Chinese companies also pursuing Additive Manufacturing, 3d Printing and Maker Movement

3D printing is still a long way from replacing mass manufacturing. But in China, as in America and Europe, the technology is changing the way products are developed and made. And by lowering the cost of entry, 3D printing could herald yet another new generation of Chinese manufacturing entrepreneurs.

Air Force's X-51A Hypersonic Scramjet has a successful Mach 5.1 flight for 4 minutes

The U.S. military launched an experimental hypersonic aircraft on its swan song test flight Wednesday (May 1), accelerating the craft to more than five times the speed of sound in the longest-ever mission for a vehicle of its kind.

The Air Force's X-51A Waverider reached a top speed of Mach 5.1 during the test flight, traveling more than 230 nautical miles in just over six minutes before crashing into the Pacific Ocean off the California coast as planne

Syria crossed Obama chemical weapon redline ==> Israel bombs Syria

Israeli jets have bombed a target in Syria in what one report suggested was a strike on a chemical weapons facility.

The move will raise tensions in the Middle East and comes amid mounting pressure over the alleged use of chemical weapons by president Bashar Assad's regime.

Israel refused to comment directly, but its embassy in Washington said that it was "determined" to prevent chemical or other "game-changing" weapons reaching terrorists.

NBF - Israel will militarily protects its interest in regards to Syria and Iran.

Carnegie Endowment looks at the likely balance of power in 2030 between China, Japan and the US in the Pacific Region

Carnegie Endowment has a 400+ page analysis of what the economic-military situation will be in 2030 between China, Japan and the US. Japan has crappy 0.6-0.8% annual GDP growth in all scenarios with the possibility that it could be worse. A China with 6-8% GDP growth through 2030 is dealing from strength in the scenarios. China would be more cautious with 4-5% GDP growth average and would be relatively weak with less than 4% growth. The stronger and richer China is then the more unaffordable it becomes for the US to dominate the Pacific militarily. Also, the US could end up not being able to economically afford or politically not wanting to dominate the Pacific militarily.

The most likely potential challenge to the U.S.-Japan alliance over the next fifteen to twenty years does not involve full-scale military conflict between China and Japan or the United States originating, for example, from Chinese efforts to expel Washington from the region. Instead, it derives from two other far more likely developments.

First, growing absolute or relative Chinese military capabilities could enable Beijing to influence or resolve disputes with Tokyo in its favor without resorting to a military attack. In particular, Beijing could use its growing coercive power with respect to contested territories and maritime resources in the East China Sea.

Second, an increase in the People’s Liberation Army’s presence in the airspace and waters near Japan and disputed territories could raise the risk of destabilizing accidents that could dangerously escalate into serious political-military crises involving the U.S.-Japan alliance.

The eroding balance scenario is marked by significant absolute Chinese gains in all military domains. Certain domains are especially likely to see such change: ground (via increases in the number, range, and sophistication of ballistic and cruise missiles), naval (via an antiship ballistic missile system, more advanced submarines, and both military and paramilitary surface vessels), air (via more advanced surface-to-air missiles, ballistic and cruise missiles capable of targeting U.S. air bases in Japan, and larger numbers of more advanced aircraft capable of operating over water), and command and control (via long-range radars and more sophisticated command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance—C4ISR—networks).



Chinese Satellites provides bandwidth for US drones and US dependence on Chinese Satellites could grow

U.S. troops operating on the African continent are now using the recently-launched Chinese Apstar-7 satellite to keep in touch and share information.

Every new drone feed and every new soldier with a satellite radio creates more appetite for bandwidth — an appetite the military can’t hope to fill with military spacecraft alone. To try to keep up, the Pentagon has leased bandwidth from commercial carriers for more than a decade. And the next decade should bring even more commercial deals; in March, the Army announced it was looking for new satellite firms to help troops in Afghanistan communicate. According to a 2008 Intelligence Science Board study — one of the few public reports on the subject — demand for satellite communications could grow from about 30 gigabits per second to 80 gigabits a decade from now.

The Chinese are poised to help fill that need — especially over Africa, where Beijing has deep business and strategic interests. In 2012, China for the first time launched more rockets into space than the U.S. – including the Chinasat 12 and Apstar-7 communications satellites.

U.S. officials have in recent years publicly accused Chinese telecommunications firms of being, in effect, subcontractors of Beijing’s spies.

May 03, 2013

Update on Rossi and Defkalion in the World of Cold Fusion

A reader asked about what is happening with cold fusion. As usual the claims are big but as yet not validated. As usual the big impact of commercialization is expected in about 12 to 18 months.

I think various aspects of this relate to part of the Futurama episode Raging Bender.



Foreman: This could be the most one-sided fight since 1973 when Ali faced an 80-foot tall mechanical Joe Frazier. M-My memory's not what it used to be but I think the entire Earth was destroyed.

Rich Little impersonating Howard Cosel: Interesting, if true. The Vegas odds tonight stand at an unprecedented 1000-0; a bet of $0 on Bender pays $1000 if he wins. Still, very few takers.

Foreman: It's not-not a smart bet.

1. Rossi reportedly delivered 3 reactors to U.S. partners.

* The three are each different types of reactors.

- One is the classic version 1 MW thermal.
- The other two are the two prototypes.
A Gas-Cat (the E-Cat which lights up with a natural gas and does not need to be connected to the network)
A Hot Cat (the cold fusion reactor that reaches temperatures of 600 degrees).

All three are designed for industrial use, but in the case of the prototypes will use still experimental, because they expect certifications

The reactors were built in Italy, while the partner is the United States. The industrial capacity claimed by Rossi in the U.S. has not yet reached mature levels.

2. PESN - Defkalion is tackling around 20 major applications of their LENR reactor through contracts with several licensees, including some major players. Price point expected to be around 1/10 of what we presently pay for power. First product expected by second quarter 2014. Public reactor demo expected for NI Week in August.

What is wrong with Indian Information Technology ?

India only has $87 billion of the nearly $4 trillion world IT market.

India is just providing services and cheap IT labor.


Tesla Motors at $100 per share in 18 months and $200 per share within 5 years ?

Longboard Asset Management predicts that Tesla Motors shares will increase by a factor of four from $55 to $200. This would mean that Elon Musk would have a net worth of about $15 billion within 5 years if this happened.

Longboard’s bullish case for Tesal :

1) Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) has a powerful consumer brand comparable to that of Apple

2) Short sellers are basing their bearish views on political beliefs, not fundamentals

3) Tesla’s shares are far too heavily shorted

4) Tesla will be the next Apple or Google

5) Elon Musk is a genius



New US Bunker Buster is ten times more powerful to Bust Iranian Nuclear Bunkers

The new and improved bunker buster, has adjusted fuses to maximize its burrowing power, upgraded guidance systems to improve its precision and high-tech equipment intended to allow it to evade Iranian air defenses in order to reach and destroy the Fordow nuclear enrichment complex, which is buried under a mountain near the Iranian city of Qom. The upgraded (Massive Ordnance Penetrator) MOP designed for Fordow hasn't been dropped from a plane yet.

At 30,000 pounds, the Massive Ordnance Penetrator packs brute force and advanced features meant to enable it to destroy Iran's most fortified nuclear site. The bomb is nearly a third bigger than the MOAB, or so-called "Mother of all Bombs," the 22,000-pound previous generation of bunker busters first built in 2003 but never used outside of tests. Officials are confident the newest bunker-buster can dismantle even the deepest and most fortified nuclear facility.

Iran's Fordow Uranium Enrichment Facility, built under a mountain near the city of Qom, has long been seen as a nearly impenetrable target using conventional weapons. The MOP includes a GPS navigation system and more than 5,300 pounds of explosives. It measures 20 feet long and is “designed specifically to attack hardened concrete bunkers and tunnel facilities

The MOP is far more powerful than its predecessor, the BLU-109. Some estimate it’s as much as 10 times more powerful.



Universal Energy Access by 2030 for 65-86 billion per year

Over 20% of the world's population still lives without electric lighting, and about 40% do not own a television. Despite increasing rhetoric on the need to improve access to clean-burning fuels and electricity globally, the number of households depending on solid fuels is increasing and the number of new electricity connections in sub-Saharan Africa is outpaced by population growth.

A new paper in Environmental Research Letters looks at achieving universal energy access.

I had propose to accelerate universal energy access by focusing on using solar power and low energy light and devices. I was looking at providing basic services using about 100 kWh per year and doing a lot in 10 years.

By 2017-2020, the $20 per person could provide lighting and electrical charging and basic electrical needs for every person in the world. 50 watts of solar that generates for 6 hours of daylight. About 100 kWh per year. They will need a battery or cheap energy storage for the home or for the community. For the community they will need a cheap microgrid. Cheap storage at $100 per kWh seems likely to become available.

$30 billion to provide $20 of LED lighting and solar power to the 1.5 billion who would not have basic electrification through other means.

Fairly full featured smartphones cost under $100 in China now. By 2017, a $20 smartphone will be more capable that that $100 phone now.

It would be about $60 billion would provide LED lighting, 50 watts of solar power, and smartphones for the people in world without electricity now. Those people are spending about $36 billion per year on kerosene.

Having light, solar power and smartphones will accelerate the rise out of poverty for these people.

Increasing the electricity to 100 watts (about 200 kWh per year)then it would be very easy to have boiled and safe water. Increasing to 200 watts (about 400 kWh per year) would cost $400 or less now and in five years would cost about $200 for a fairly robust and durable solar power generation system.

The clean cooking system cost about $100 now.

Just focusing on cheap solar generation ($40 for a 100 watts system in 3 years), cheap batteries ($100 per kWh, spend $50 for a 0.5 kWh system), LED lights ($20) and a smoke free cooker ($100). $170 for each person. For 1 billion people it would be a one time cost of $170 billion.

My approach would cost at least 5 times less than the plan in the Environmental Research Letters.

They propose spending more money


May 02, 2013

Beaglebone Black 1 Ghz computer with many interfaces for $45

BeagleBone Black is a ready-to-use 1-GHz computer that retails for $45.

BeagleBone Black was announced last week by BeagleBoard.org, a small group of engineers interested in creating powerful, open and embedded devices. The credit card sized computer runs on Linux and is designed to be an open hardware and software development platform that makes it quick and easy to build systems.

BeagleBone Black includes all the necessary components to connect a display, keyboard and network. It's based on production-ready hardware and software. All of the components—including TI’s 1-GHz Sitara AM335x processor—are commercially available right now.

BeagleBone Black includes 2 GB of on-board storage to run pre-loaded Linux software. It also offers the Cloud9 integrated development environment to kickstart development and keep the microSD slot available for additional storage.

Raspberry Pi has a 700MHz processor and 512 MB of memory and costs $25 and $35


Here is a comparison of the older Beaglebone and Raspberry Pi

A comparison of Beaglebone Black and Raspberry Pi

Mobile speeds would dramatically increase if consumers connected small, public base stations to their home broadband

Mobile chipmaker Qualcomm and some U.S. wireless carriers are investigating an idea that would see small cellular base stations installed in homes to serve passing smartphone users. That approach is believed to be a more efficient way of meeting the rising demand for data and fixing patchy coverage than building more traditional cell-phone towers.

Qualcomm has calculated that bandwidth offered this way could be cheaper than the cost of providing it with additional conventional towers. However, a broadband provider would have to deploy technology to guarantee people that home Internet bandwidth wouldn’t suffer from overuse by nearby mobile phone users.

NBF- Clearly anyone willing to offer public base stations would not have any data caps on their home broadband.

Many major carriers are rolling out public Wi-Fi hotspots and other services to defray the load on their towers, points out Garner, “but over time, there may also be a need to use small cells, which use different spectrum, giving more capacity.”


The signal from the small, private cellular base stations (red squares) some consumers have in this San Diego neighborhood could offer strong coverage to the whole area if made available to any subscriber.

Quantum-assisted Nano-imaging of Living Organism

Medical researchers might realize a range of breakthroughs if they could look deep inside living biological cells, but existing methods for imaging either lack the desired sensitivity and resolution or require conditions that lead to cell death, such as cryogenic temperatures. Recently, however, a team of Harvard University-led researchers working on DARPA’s Quantum-Assisted Sensing and Readout (QuASAR) program demonstrated imaging of magnetic structures inside of living cells. Using equipment operated at room temperature and pressure, the team was able to display detail down to 400 nanometers, which is roughly the size of two measles viruses.

Bright-field image of a magnetotactic bacterium (left) and scanning electron microscope image of the same bacterium (right).

Nature - Optical magnetic imaging of living cells

Grid power backup via Solar power and flywheels at affordable prices

1000 to 3000 watts of solar power that operate stand alone as well as on the grid can be used to provide power during a power outage and provide lower electrical costs at other times.


200 watt standalone solar is $400 or less.

400 watts is $700 or less.

2200 watts can be had for about $2000.

Solar power is improving as a way to provide low cost robustness in the event of emergencies.

Batteries are too expensive and don't last long enough. Pumped hydro is cheap but not feasible for most locations. Thermal storage is promising but still too expensive or hard to scale. Compressed air is cheap and scalable but not yet efficient enough.

Flywheels may be getting a second life, however. Silicon Valley inventor Bill Gray has a new flywheel design that would deliver distributed and highly scalable storage for around $1,333 a kilowatt [?hour? if it is $1333 per kilowatt, does that mean $50-75 per kwh ? That is pumped hydro prices.], making it price competitive with pumped hydro and compressed air. With an efficiency of more than 80 percent, it would rival the best storage alternatives, and come with a 10-year guarantee.

Alveo Energy (Stanford spinoff) claimed that they could get costs down to $100 per kwh with a water and blue dye battery system.




A new flywheel design offers some hope of affordable energy storage for home systems, such as rooftop photovoltaic panels.

The Kickstarter project was successful and has raised over $56,000.

Electricity, lighting, clean cooking and heating, smartphones, electrified transportation for the bottom 1 to 3 billion is possible in 10-20 years

The IEA projects that under business as usual close to 1 billion people will still be without access to electricity and 2.6 billion people will still lack access to clean cooking facilities in 2030.

The IEA estimates that total investment of nearly $1 trillion ($979 billion) would be required to achieve universal energy access by 2030, an average of $49 billion per year (from 2011 to 2030). I think universal energy access and more can be done for a lot lower cost and it can be done faster.

However, solar power has become cheaper than diesel in developing countries.



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

Technological improvements in

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

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

$30 billion to provide $20 of LED lighting and solar power to the 1.5 billion who would not have basic electrification through other means.

Fairly full featured smartphones cost under $100 in China now. By 2017, a $20 smartphone will be more capable that that $100 phone now.

It would be about $60 billion would provide LED lighting, 50 watts of solar power, and smartphones for the people in world without electricity now. Those people are spending about $36 billion per year on kerosene.

Having light, solar power and smartphones will accelerate the rise out of poverty for these people.

Basic batteries and better bicycles (ideally electric bikes) could be developed at $100 per person.

If they can get electricity up to 100 watts then it would be very easy to have boiled and safe water.

Having electricity, lighting and communication would make it easier to deliver medical care. Vaccines are easily distributed with available refrigeration.

Wyoming could have up to 18 million tons of lithium or a 720 year supply of lithium

Researchers at the University of Wyoming Carbon Management Institute (CMI) discovered a vast new lithium resource near Rock Springs during a geological carbon dioxide storage site characterization project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Preliminary analyses of fluid samples collected from a well drilled on the Rock Springs Uplift -- a geological feature in southwest Wyoming -- suggest that reservoir brines from a 25-square-mile area of the uplift could contain 228,000 tons of lithium: enough to meet annual U.S. demand.

To help put this number in perspective, the lithium reserves at Silver Peak, Nev. -- the largest domestic producer of lithium -- total 118,000 tons in a 20-square-mile area. In a best-case scenario, the 2,000-square-mile Rock Springs Uplift could harbor up to 18 million tons of lithium, equivalent to about 720 years of current global lithium production.


May 01, 2013

NASA space technology roadmaps

NASA’s Space Technology Roadmaps (STRs) were finalized in 2012.

I will detail out and summarize the technology roadmaps over the next few articles.


Technical Area  Space Technology Roadmaps
TA01  Launch Propulsion Systems
TA02  In-Space Propulsion Systems
TA03  Space Power and Energy Storage
TA04  Robotics, Tele-Robotics and Autonomous Systems
TA05  Communication and Navigation Systems
TA06  Human Health, Life Support and Habitation Systems
TA07  Human Exploration Destination Systems
TA08  Science Instruments, Observatories and Sensor Systems
TA09  Entry, Descent and Landing
TA10  Nanotechnology
TA11  Modeling, Simulation, Information Technology and Processing
TA12  Materials, Structures, Mechanical Systems and Manufacturing
TA13  Ground and Launch Systems Processing
TA14  Thermal Management Systems
    
   Space Technology Roadmaps for the Fourteen Technology Areas /Technology Area Strategic
 



Starship Congress in August looking at the 20, 50 and 500 years in interstellar space

Starship Congress is the interstellar summit that Icarus Interstellar is hosting this summer in Dallas, August 15-18. As an event, Starship Congress will play host and give voice to a wide variety of interstellar organizations and distinguished proponents from the interstellar community.

Day 1—Interstellar Now (Next 20 years)

Day 1 will examine what we can do today and for the next twenty years. The aim is getting the interstellar community to think about critical building blocks needing to be addressed in the near term in order to establish the correct social, economic and technological conditions leading to the building and launch of a starship before the end of the century.

NBF on the next 20 years in space

Keys here are Spacex and other reusable spacecraft to lower costs and enable near space industrialization, development and colonization

Planetary Resources being able to develop asteroid resources would be helpful along with making satellites cost only about $100,000 instead of tens of millions.

Superconductors should become cheaper, more powerful and available in higher volume. This will help with better propulsion, power and radiation protection.

Inflatable space habitats will help mostly once low cost access is resolved

Additive manufacturing could lower costs and help bootstrap industrialization. Making space concrete using in-situ materials will reduce supply chain issues and enable more robust industrialization

Energy and propulsion breakthroughs will help. Electric sails and solar sails seem on the verge on making significant impact.

Synthetic biology could enable advances in feeding ourselves in space and making biosystems that reduce supply chain constraints.

Day 2—Interstellar This Lifetime (20-50 years)

DAY 2 will be focused on semi-realistic targets for what we may see accomplished from 20-to-50 years from now. Likely areas of discussion will be technologies that are presently considered to be at low-technology readiness level (TRL). On the propulsion side of things this will include fusion and antimatter rockets. There will also be discussions on the human exploration and colonization of our own solar system as a plausible next-step on way to becoming an interstellar civilization.

NBF on 20-50 years

Keys for how much is done is if we make the big breakthroughs in molecular nanotechnology, advanced synthetic biology and nuclear fusion, superconductor-antimatter harvesting. Space capabilities could make a huge leap and the overall economy could have a lot of growth so more space development would be affordable.

Even semi-advanced nanotechnology capabilities could allow for massive ultrathin solar sail construction. Huge solar sails that were only nanometers thick (graphene or carbon nanotubes) could have very close flybys of the sun and enable a gravity slingshot and solar propulsion to get to about 6% of lightspeed without any other infrastructure or technology.

Really good superconductors and there would be magnetic sails for deceleration.

Interstellar space probes would be enabled with solar sails, magnetic sails and a moderate molecular nanotechnology capability. In solar system issues would become trivial.


International workers that are 300 times more numerous has more employment impact than 1 US robot for the past two decades

Evidence from Local Labor Markets This paper analyzes the effect of technology and trade on employment.

For the past two decades international workers have had more employment impact than adoption of US robotics, computers and automation. Robotics and automation could increase in the future and shift the scale of impact, but robotics needs to increase by about 100 times or more to have a larger effect.

The differential effects of trade and technology on employment patterns in U.S. local labor markets between 1990 and 2007. Labor markets whose initial industry composition exposes them to rising import competition from China have experienced significant employment reductions particularly in the manufacturing sector and among non-college-educated worker.

The analysis indicates that computers, robots and automation did not take jobs in the United States, but China did.

There is a wide agreement among economists that technological change and expanding international trade have led to changing skill demands and growing inequality or polarization of labor-market outcomes in the U.S. and in other rich countries. While this paper confirms that both forces have shaped employment patterns in U.S. local labor markets in the last three decades, its main contribution is to highlight important differences in the impact of technology and trade on labor markets. The impacts of trade and technology can be observed separately because local labor market exposure to technological change, as measured by specialization in routine task-intensive production and clerical occupations, is largely uncorrelated with local labor market exposure to trade competition from China.

The International Federation of Robotics makes the case that robots create more jobs than they take.

* Direct employment due to robotics is 4 to 6 million jobs created in world manufacturing through 2011, represented by 3 to 5 jobs created per robot in use.
* Indirect employment created as a result of robots increases this number to 8 - 10 million jobs.
* It is projected that 1.9 to 3.5 million jobs will be created by robots in the next eight years.
* When manufacturing jobs are saved, jobs throughout the community where the factories are located are also saved.


In some industries 50,000 Chinese workers per 10,000 US workers has more impact than 150 robots per 10,000 US workers.
In other industries 40,000 Indian software professionals per 10,000 US software professionals had more employment impact than making certain business processes more automated.

April 30, 2013

USGS estimates North Dakota and Montana have 7.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil reserves

The USGS says that the oil resources in shale formations of North Dakota, Montana and nearby states are 7.4 billion barrels which is double an estimate for the region made five years ago. The agency for the first time studied the Three Forks formation, which is estimated to include 3.73 billion barrels, exceeding the recoverable oil in the Bakken. Five years ago, Three Forks, which lies further underground than the Bakken, was considered out of reach. Bakken production rose 39 percent from a year earlier to 715,000 barrels of oil a day in this year’s fourth quarter. About 450 million barrels have been produced in the last five years.

February, daily monthly production for the US is 7.18 million barrels per day of crude oil. North Dakota had 778,000 barrels per day in February. Texas had 2.3 million bpd.


Organovo prints fully cellular 3D liver tissue

For the first time, human liver tissues have been generated that are truly three-dimensional, being up to 500 microns in thickness in the smallest dimension, and consisting of multiple cell types arranged in defined spatial patterns that reproduce key elements of native tissue architecture. The tissues, fabricated using Organovo's proprietary NovoGen™ bioprinting platform, are highly reproducible and exhibit superior performance compared to standard 2D controls.

These tissues are first step towards larger 3D liver, laboratory tests with these samples have the potential to be game changing for medical research. We believe these models will prove superior in their ability to provide predictive data for drug discovery and development, better than animal models or current cell models.

The tissues are not a monolayer of cells; our tissues are approximately 20 cell layers thick. Second, the multi-cellular tissues closely reproduce the distinct cellular patterns found in native tissue. Finally, our tissues are highly cellular, comprised of cells and the proteins those cells produce, without dependence on biomaterials or scaffold for three-dimensionality. They actually look and feel like living tissues

Genetically engineered T-cell therapy has startling effectiveness against leukemia

Genetically engineered T-cell therapy is showing startling effectiveness against leukemia, judging from both scientific and parental accounts: Of the first seven children, five had a complete response - no evidence of cancer - although one of them later relapsed. One child did not respond, and one child's outcome has not been made public by parents or doctors.

This is a follow up of prior Nextbigfuture coverage

The therapy involves transferring genes into T cells - the soldiers of the immune system - to make them recognize and attack B cells, the blood component that turns malignant in certain leukemias and lymphomas. There is also evidence that some of the designer T cells develop immune "memory," so they could reactivate and strike if cancer returns.

Today, with potent chemotherapies and radiation, about 80 percent of the 3,000 children diagnosed annually in the United States are cured. But the treatments are harsh, and when they fail, the options are increasingly grim.

New England Journal of Medicine - Chimeric Antigen Receptor–Modified T Cells for Acute Lymphoid Leukemia

On the verge of testing human long term memory device and seizure prevention

Technology Review has an update on the work of Theodore Berger. He is a biomedical engineer and neuroscientist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, envisions a day in the not too distant future when a patient with severe memory loss can get help from an electronic implant. In people whose brains have suffered damage from Alzheimer’s, stroke, or injury, disrupted neuronal networks often prevent long-term memories from forming. For more than two decades, Berger has designed silicon chips to mimic the signal processing that those neurons do when they’re functioning properly—the work that allows us to recall experiences and knowledge for more than a minute. Ultimately, Berger wants to restore the ability to create long-term memories by implanting chips like these in the brain.

They are on the verge of human trials.

Within the next two years, Berger and his colleagues hope to implant an actual memory prosthesis in animals. They also want to show that their hippocampal chips can form long-term memories in many different behavioral situations.

Berger and his colleagues are planning human studies. He is collaborating with clinicians at his university who are testing the use of electrodes implanted on each side of the hippocampus to detect and prevent seizures in patients with severe epilepsy. If the project moves forward as envisioned, Berger’s group will piggyback on the trial to look for memory codes in those patients’ brains.

Nextbigfuture covered his idea of piecemeal replacement of the brain

Professor Berger was the first to replace the function of a hippocampus in a rat brain with a chip. He develops "neuron--silicon interface" technology using silicon-based, multisite electrode arrays and tissue culture methods for implantation of hardware models into the brain to replace damaged or dysfunctional nerve tissue.

"We are living longer and longer, and so more and more of neuro diseases of the brain, degenerative or accidental damage to the brain, are going to be seen and must be dealt with. And so having a strategy where we think about which brain parts can be replaced, in the context of which ones are damaged more often is just a wise thing to do."

"There are several parts in the brain that I consider to be ready for this next-generation analysis, and this will allow us to create a mathematical model of how some of the functions work, and we'll be able to reproduce those in mathematical models, and we'll be able to reproduce those in microchip form." says Dr. Berger.



Slipknots make commercial fiber 12 times tougher than Kevlar and tougher than carbon nanotubes fibers and could become 100 times stronger with knotted graphene

Pugno used three slip knots to make fiber tougher. By applying this simple trick to a commercial polymer fiber called Endumax, he has increased its toughness from 44 Joules per gram to a remarkable 1070 Joules per gram.

Kevlar, for example, can absorb some 80 Joules per gram before breaking but this is dwarfed by certain natural materials which are much tougher. The silk produced by the giant riverine orb spider, for instance, can absorb around 390 Joules per gram before breaking.

That’s better even than fibers made from nanotubes which materials scientists are just beginning to make. The strongest of these, made from carbon nanotubes, has a toughness of 970 Joules per gram.

Pugno says his work is just the beginning and that it ought to be possible to use his slip-knot technique to make graphene fibres with a toughness of 100,000 Joules per gram.

Further improvements are expected for the Endumax fiber, up to a toughness modulus close to the fiber specific strength that we have measured as 1600 J/g.

Arxiv - The “Egg of Columbus” for making the world’s toughest fibres

SENS annual report shows an life extension research funding increase to $3 million per year which is triple the 2011 level

In 2012, SENS Research Foundation was able to support expenses that were double those from the previous year . This was made possible through not only the continued support of our generous donors, but the first in a series of annual disbursements from the de Grey family trust, which together caused SRF’s income to increase by about $2 million. Our expenses in 2013 should increase by an amount equal to 2012's increase . Given our secure base of funding sources, we expect to sustain this higher level of operation indefinitely.

So the life extension research funding level looks like it should go to $4 to 5 million per year and will be sustainable at that level.

Lysosomal Aggregates

Some cellular wastes are so chemically snarled that even the lysosome is unable to shred them . With no way to eliminate these compounds, the cellular garbage simply builds up over time, progressively interfering with cell function.

Identifying enzymes in other life forms that can degrade such wastes, and modifying these enzymes so they can be delivered to — and function in — our own lysosomes, would restore cellular function and prevent or reverse these diseases.

In 2013, the team will put a recombinant form of SENS20 to the test, assessing its ability to degrade A2E in vitro and in RPE cells, and verifying that it is not toxic to the cell.

Estimates of the global cost of visual impairment due to age-related macular degeneration is US$343 billion, including US$255 billion in direct health care costs. Estimates of the direct health care costs of visual impairment due to age-related macular degeneration in the US, Canada, and Cuba (WHO subregion AMR-A), collectively, is approximately US$98 billion.

If SENS is able to make a major contribution against a major disease then the funding level should scale into the billions of dollars per year.

Death of PCs and Battle for Developers and Software Solutions

Sales of traditional PCs are collapsing faster than anyone expected.

The latest IDC report released this month that says PC sales are down 14% year over year.

IDC talks about Windows 8 - While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices.

While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices.

Microsoft is not making anything new that people want.
Business users need the consistency of the old solutions that are delivery systems for Microsoft Office and related software solutions. It is about not breaking what works.
However, some business users are not locked in and they are shifting to new solutions that are not regular PCs.

For consumers it is about the speed and quality of solution innovation.
It is about the speed and wealth and productivity that software developers have in different environments.
Microsoft broke with too many developers with the move to dot Net. The old Visual basic and visual studio environments were productive for developers and enabled them to make more money. dot Net was different, had some learning curve but did not help developers make more money and made them less productive. Instead of going to dot Net many old Microsoft developers went to Javascript, Python and then to HTML5.

April 29, 2013

Sparse coding on D-Wave hardware

Sparse coding is a hot area within Deep Learning. Deep learning is the current hot area in artificial intelligence.

Dwave is describing how they adapted the math to work in a superior way on their adiabatic quantum computer system. This solution indicates how much the smart mathematicians and computer algorithm experts contribute to making problems solvable in a superior way on the Dwave quantum hardware.

Quadratic unconstrained binary optimization (QUBO) is a pattern matching technique, common in machine learning applications. QUBO is an NP hard problem. QUBO problems are particularly well suited for processing on quantum computers.

Modifying an simpler attempt with a better algorithm

The only difference here from what we did before is the last sentence, where we add a set of constraints on the dictionary atoms.

Solving the sparse coding problem using block coordinate descent

We’re going to use the same strategy for solving this as before, with a slight change. Here is the strategy we’ll use.

* First, we generate a random dictionary {D}, subject to meeting the orthogonality constraints we’ve imposed on the dictionary atoms.

* Assuming these fixed dictionaries, we solve the optimization problem for the dictionary atoms {W}. These optimization problems are now Chimera-structured QUBOs that fit exactly onto the hardware by construction.

* Now we fix the weights to these values, and find the optimal dictionary {D}, again subject to our constraints.

We then iterate steps 2 and 3 until G converges to a minimum.

Now we’re in a different regime than before — step 2 requires the solution of a large number of chimera-structured QUBOs, not fully connected QUBOs. So that makes those problems better fits to the hardware. But now we have to do some new things to allow for both steps 1 and 3, and these initial steps have some cost.

There was a 48 page presentation that described the Dwave hardware This explains the Chimera topology of the Dwave Quantum computer system.



Carnival of Nuclear Energy 154

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 154 is at Atomic Power Review

Dr Robert Hayes at NewsOK - examines the fact that there haven't been reports of radiation injury as a result of the March, 2011 Fukushima accident, using UNSCEAR and WHO documents as support; he also briefly discusses low-dose effects.

The Japanese tsunami caused the death of around 20,000 people and caused approximately 500 billion dollars in damage. As a result of the nuclear power plant event, radioactive gasses were released into the environment which has left measurable traces around the world. With substantial measurement and evaluation having already been done, scientific evaluations of the health effects from the release are now being published by various international expert consensus committees.

The international committee UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation) has evaluated the evidence for harm to all humans from the Fukushima event. The following is a direct quote from their recent report (GAOR, 67th sess., Suppl.No.46), “To date, there have been no health effects attributed to radiation exposure observed among workers, the people with the highest radiation exposures. To date, no health effects attributable to radiation exposure have been observed among children or any other member of the population“.

A common cold, a mild allergy or even spending an hour in the sun (if you are pasty white like me) all have observable health effects. Given that such small things can cause observable health effects, the fact that all the radiation emitted from the Fukushima event has not been able to produce a single observable health effect is worth repetition. The worst nuclear power plant accident of any kind in many decades has been unable to produce a single observable radiological health effect to date and may continue to do so indefinitely.

Pentacene with over 100% quantum solar-to-electric conversion efficiency

Splitting Singlets

Solar cell efficiency is limited because light at wavelengths shorter than the cell's absorption threshold does not channel any of its excess energy into the generated electricity. Congreve et al. have developed a method to harvest the excess energy in carbon-based absorbers through a process termed “singlet fission.” In this process, high-energy photons propel two current carriers, rather than just one, by populating a singlet state that spontaneously divides into a pair of triplet states. Although it works in a functioning organic solar cell, the efficiency needs improving.


Journal Science - External Quantum Efficiency Above 100% in a Singlet-Exciton-Fission–Based Organic Photovoltaic Cell

Singlet exciton fission transforms a molecular singlet excited state into two triplet states, each with half the energy of the original singlet. In solar cells, it could potentially double the photocurrent from high-energy photons. We demonstrate organic solar cells that exploit singlet exciton fission in pentacene to generate more than one electron per incident photon in a portion of the visible spectrum. Using a fullerene acceptor, a poly(3-hexylthiophene) exciton confinement layer, and a conventional optical trapping scheme, we show a peak external quantum efficiency of (109 ± 1)% at wavelength λ = 670 nanometers for a 15-nanometer-thick pentacene film. The corresponding internal quantum efficiency is (160 ± 10)%. Analysis of the magnetic field effect on photocurrent suggests that the triplet yield approaches 200% for pentacene films thicker than 5 nanometers.


Virgin Galactic has engine ignition and goes supersonic

Virgin Galactic's Spaceshiptwo was dropped from a carrier aircraft high above California's Mojave Desert and ignited its rocket engine to go supersonic for a few seconds.

Although it has been in the air on more than 20 occasions, this was the first time its hybrid motor had been ignited.

It was only a short burn lasting about 16 seconds, but it propelled SS2 beyond the sound barrier to a speed of Mach 1.2. Future outings should see progressively longer burn durations, enabling the plane eventually to reach sufficient velocity to climb more than 100km into the sky.



Google and Spacex figuring out how to efficiently execute and leverage big bet technology projects

During Google's Q1 2013 earnings call, CEO Larry Page gave us a rundown on exactly what the company has been up to in this quarter, as well as some insight into how he’s currently running the company.

Page discussed Google’s current “big bets,” which are Chrome, YouTube and Android as the mature products that are important to continue innovating on. However, Page made it clear that as CEO of the company, it’s his job to focus on the future.

He said: “Companies tend to get comfortable doing what they’ve always done, with only a few minor tweaks. It’s only natural to work on the things you know. Minor changes make things obsolete.” It was very interesting to hear Page gloss over its search, advertising and business offerings. He didn’t even mention Google+. He wanted to get right to the point, which was to make it clear that Google is still a forward-thinking company, and the company is executing in that way.

Things that aren’t incremental changes, and future big bets are Google Fiber, which Page says came about after co-founder Sergey Brin wanted to show how high-speed Internet access could help change people’s lives.

Going back to what Google has been pushing, which is speed, means that it’s completely overhauling all of its legacy services to catch up with these present and future big bets. If search doesn’t bring you queries quickly, what good is really super-fast fiber Internet access? The other side of the coin is, why add more functionality and better quality to YouTube videos if nobody has really fast enough Internet access to see them?

It seems like Google has set itself up to work on things that push each unit to better its product, chasing both the chicken and the egg. Take Glass, for example. Accessing search results isn’t the best, or fastest, use-case on the device, but seeing Google Now cards with information that is relevant to what you search for on the desktop is.

Nextbigfuture Football Analogy for Company Innovation

If a company can only execute on incremental improvement that is like a football team that only has a short yardage running game.
Being able to attempt big bet technology projects is irrelevant if it does not translate into a significant and strategic part of the company at some point. The big bet technology projects are like high yardage passing plays.

April 28, 2013

Casimir effect theoretically could stabilize and manipulate higher dimensions for warp drive

Arxiv - the Casimir e ffect may serve as a mechanism to mediate higher dimensional stability, and also as a possible mechanism for creating a small but non-zero vacuum energy density.

Chapters of 120 page dissertation on Casimir effect

1. we review the nature of the quantum vacuum and discuss the diff erent contributions to the vacuum energy density arising
from diff erent sectors of the standard model.

2. we discuss cosmology and the introduction of the cosmological constant into Einstein's field equations.

3. we explore the Casimir e ffect and study a number of mathematical techniques used to obtain a fi nite physical result for the Casimir energy. We also review the experiments that have verifi ed the Casimir force.

4. we discuss the introduction of extra dimensions into physics. We begin by reviewing Kaluza Klein theory, and then discuss three popular higher dimensional models: bosonic string theory, large extra dimensions and warped extra dimensions.

5. devoted to an original derivation of the Casimir energy we derived for the scenario of a higher dimensional vector fi eld coupled to a scalar field in thef fifth dimension.

6. we explore a range of vacuum scenarios and discuss research we have performed regarding moduli stability

7. explores a novel approach to spacecraft propulsion we have proposed based on the idea of manipulating the extra dimensions of string/M theory.

8. we discuss some issues in heterotic string phenomenology derived from the free fermionic approach



Carnival of Space 299

The Carnival of Space 299 is up at Tranquility Base

The Meridiani Journal - There’s a lot of water in Jupiter’s atmosphere, thanks to comet impact



Drug could expose HIV reservoirs and enable elimination

Currently, there is no treatment to remove HIV from the cells; a group of researchers from Aarhus University Hospital and Aarhus University in Denmark has found exceptional ability to reactivate HIV in a substance otherwise being developed for cancer treatmentWhen HIV activated the cells habouring the virus become visible and vulnerable to the body’s immune system.

Worldwide, approximately 33 million people are infected with HIV and a possible treatment against HIV thus has huge economic and human perspectives. The Danish Council for Strategic Research programme committee on individuals, disease and society has granted MDKK 12 over the next three years to a research team from Aarhus University Hospital and Aarhus University to initiate the first trials to find a real treatment against HIV.Today, HIV infection is treated with a combination of drugs blocking virus activity but not eliminating the infection.

This means that people living with HIV receive lifelong treatment with side effects, psycho-social and health-economic consequences.A new group of drugs, histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors currently developed to treat leukaemia, has caught the interest of researchers because of their ability to unmask the HIV-infected cells which do not respond to standard HIV treatment