June 08, 2013

Cellular based precise nutrition production could feed the world using a land area smaller than New York City

Pronutria offers a scalable solution to the rising economic, human, and environmental cost of food. Our Nutriculture™ technology is so efficient at producing pure nutrients, it could satisfy the global demand for protein ingredients in a land area smaller than New York City and meet the daily protein requirements for a billion people in a land area no bigger than Rhode Island.

The Pronutria process is radically more efficient than current agriculture and livestock cultivation, and produces pure nutrition up to 1,000 times more efficiently, with minimal environmental impact and maximal nutrition quality.

Livestock alone occupy 45 percent of the world’s land surface area and contribute more greenhouse gas emissions than cars, planes, and all other forms of transportation combined. Even with the yield improvements offered by GMO crops, these 10,000-year-old technologies are simply too resource inefficient to meet the world’s growing demand for nutritious food.

Fixing undernutrition and starvation

Pronutria is partnered with leading global players such as the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the Gates Foundation to transform undernutrition. Our Nutriculture production system will locally produce pure, nutritious proteins that are complimentary to local production on small farms, which yield foods such as grains and roots that are rich in carbohydrate but low in protein. These combinations will mean a well-rounded nutrition profile, which can be the difference between a healthy and productive life and sickness or death for millions struggling to feed themselves.

Today 925 million people are undernourished, and demand for food is expected to increase by 50 percent by 2030. The most common form of undernutrition is protein-energy malnutrition, which is the leading cause of childhood death in Southeast Asia and in Africa. Without adequate protein, children cannot grow to normal size, muscles cannot repair themselves, and minds cannot reach their full potential, leading to a lifetime of impairment in productivity even for those who survive. T

In 2013 one Gen9 Biofab platform will begin synthesizing as much DNA as the rest of the world and will unleash the potential of Synthetic Biology

Gen9 has built the first gene synthesis fabrication platform based on silicon chips and today offers longer, more accurate constructs at lower cost. The technology relies on highly multiplexed gene synthesis and an error correction pipeline to produce synthetic DNA at far greater scale than is possible with other tools. Known as the BioFab platform, the technology can generate tens of thousands of DNA constructs per year and allows capacity additions on an exponential scale.

This year, Gen9 expects its BioFab platform to be able to produce as much synthetic DNA in a single lab as can be produced by the rest of the world. This improvement will revolutionize the types of experiments, as well as the scale of those experiments, that will be possible in academic laboratories, research institutes, and industrial organizations. Rather than studying a handful of genes, for example, scientists will be able to study whole pathways or even whole genomes in a single project.

This ability will fundamentally change the landscape of what is possible in bioengineering for agbio, enzyme design, biofuels, pharmaceutical development, and more. These are all industries that could benefit from synthetic biology but have yet to fully invest in the field because of its high cost and low throughput. With the lower costs, higher accuracy, and longer constructs associated with next-gen gene synthesis, these industries and many others will rapidly deploy resources to see what they can accomplish through synthetic biology.

Gen9 is using the work of Joseph Jacobson at MIT, Drew Endy at Stanford, and George Church at Harvard.

Vacuum pumps made 300 times smaller and using ten times less power will make better chip scale atomic clocks and microscale vacuum tubes

DARPA-funded researchers recently demonstrated the world’s smallest vacuum pumps. This breakthrough technology may create new national security applications for electronics and sensors that require a vacuum: highly sensitive gas analyzers that can detect chemical or biological attack, extremely accurate laser-cooled chip-scale atomic clocks and microscale vacuum tubes.

The vacuum created was nearly one billion times less than regular atmospheric pressure.

DARPA’s Chip-Scale Vacuum Micro Pumps (CSVMP) achieved an ultimate goal of a vacuum pressure of 10^-6 Torr (1 Torr is 1/760 of 1 atmosphere) for a tiny 1 mm3 compartment with the smallest, most power-efficient pumps ever created.

There have never been ionic or mechanical gas pumps at the microscale before,” said Shkel. “The CSVMP program has demonstrated both and more. The smallest commercially available pumps are the size of a deck of cards, which dwarf the vacuum electronics and sensors we want to attach our pumps to. These pumps are not only 300 times smaller than off-the-shelf pumps and 20 times smaller than custom-built pumps, but they also consume approximately 10 times less power to evacuate from atmospheric pressure to milliTorr pressures.”

Initially, CSVMP focused on applications with small mass spectrometry gas analyzers, which would enable better chemical and biological pathogen detection. As the program continued to develop smaller and more powerful pumps that could create vacuums at different scales, other applications became apparent.

“These microscale gas pumps may ultimately be required for laser-cooled atomic clocks, accelerometers and gyroscopes,” said Shkel. “Laser cooling systems require vacuums, but are often significantly smaller than the pumps themselves. It is possible that these pumps will help enable smaller, more accurate atomic clocks

Researchers at the University of Michigan developed three different pumps in three different pressure categories. From lowest to highest pressure, the categories are microplasma Penning ion high vacuum, Knudsen mid vacuum, and high-frequency peristaltic rough vacuum pumps.

A 24-stage microscale rough pump that uses tiny micromachined hexagonal compartments, where each element of the array is either a pump or a valve.

DNA synthesis that is 30 times cheaper, industrially scalable and with fewer errors will help unleash the commercialization of DNA Nanotechnology

A new method of manufacturing short, single-stranded DNA molecules can solve many of the problems associated with current production methods. The new method, which is described in the scientific periodical Nature Methods, can be of value to both DNA nanotechnology and the development of drugs consisting of DNA fragments.

"We've used enzymatic production methods to create a system that not only improves the quality of the manufactured oligonucleotides but that also makes it possible to scale up production using bacteria in order to produce large amounts of DNA copies cheaply," says co-developer Björn Högberg at the Swedish Medical Nanoscience Center, part of the Department of Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet.

The process of bioproduction, whereby bacteria are used to copy DNA sequences, enables the manufacture of large amounts of DNA copies at a low cost. Unlike current methods of synthesising oligonucleotides, where the number of errors increases with the length of the sequence, this new method according to the developers also works well for long oligonucleotides of several hundred nitrogenous bases.

They were also able to make 378-nucleotide long oligomers at a cost 15 to 30 times less than chemically synthesize oligonucleotides

enzymatic production of ‘monoclonal stoichiometric’ single-stranded dnA oligonucleotides

Electronic Spying is Confirmation of what was long expected and what makes sense

Experts accuse China of making no distinction between hacking to steal intellectual property and the traditional pursuit of foreign military secrets. All is fair game. They don’t believe Americans who tell them that “America does not conduct espionage on behalf of our companies,” says James Mulvenon, an expert on the Chinese army and one of the authors of the new book. In the Chinese system the two types of cyber-espionage are being conducted by the same people and organisations, he says, and the commercial proceeds are distributed to state-owned enterprises and other national champions.

President Obama said late Friday that the focus on his administration’s (NSA) massive Internet and phone surveillance programs have no bearing on his talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping about reining in cyber-spying.

Any country or company with the technological means has an electronic surveillance program.
USA, China, Japan, Germany, UK, Russia, India, France, Canada, Australia, Israel, Iran, Pakistan, Taiwan etc...

Each country would tap into the telecomm and IT companies and resources at their disposal.

With several very public cyber spying programs (USA, China, UK etc...) then the other nations have not been sitting idle. China is actively cyberspying then of course India has a program. If India then Pakistan. They also did not wait for the other program to start before reacting. Cyberspying was an extension of regular spying.

For regular folks the main defense is that we are like the boxes at the end of Indiana Jones. If you are boring box with boring contents, then it mass surveillance is not so relevant.

NSA taps all phonecall metadata, emails, chat, video chat, IM and basically all electronic activity

1. The Guardian newspaper published a classified court document from April that authorized the government to seize all of Verizon's phone records on a daily basis—an estimated 3 billion phone calls a day. The government didn't eavesdrop on anyone (under this court order, at least), but it received all outgoing and incoming numbers for every call, plus the unique electronic fingerprints that identify cellphones.

All of the other cellphone companies and probably landlines telecomm companies have the same arrangement.

2. Power Point slides revealing another classified spying program. Unlike the effort to collect phone records, this one hadn't even been hinted about publicly.

This program, code-named PRISM, allowed the NSA and FBI to tap directly into the servers of major U.S. Internet companies such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and AOL.

Like the phone-records program, PRISM was approved by a judge in a secret court order. Unlike that program, however, PRISM allowed the government to seize actual conversations: emails, video chats, instant messages and more.

Nextera completes 700 MW of nuclear uprates mostly in Florida and China completes its 17th nuclear reactor

1.Nextera Energy completes six uprates of nuclear plants in Florida (4 reactors) and Wisconson (2 reactors) that added 700 megawatts of power.

NextEra will see many long-term benefits from the uprates.

“You’ve got a more modern plant that will result in improved reliability. You’ve got fuel cost savings for the customer. You’ve got greater fuel diversification. You’re reducing CO2 emissions,” Jones said.

2. The first of four reactors being built at the Hongyanhe plant in Liaoning province in northeast China has begun commercial operation. It becomes China's seventeenth operating nuclear power unit.

The 1080 MWe Chinese-designed pressurized water reactor officially entered commercial operation on 6 June after completing commissioning tests. The unit is said to be capable of supplying about one-quarter of the electricity demand of nearby Dalian City.

Hongyanhe 1 is the first of four CPR-1000 reactors currently being built at Hongyanhe. Its construction started in August 2007. Cold testing of the nuclear island of the unit was successfully completed in October 2012 and it achieved first criticality on 16 January. The unit was connected to the grid on 17 February.

Construction of the three other units there is progressing, with heat function tests at unit 2 nearing completion, and installation works at units 3 and 4 now 66% and 40% complete respectively. All four units should be in operation by the end of 2015.

June 07, 2013

Is talk of Aaronson Boson Sampling approach to quantum computers faster than classical computers comically premature roast beef sandwich hype ?

There are plenty of statements that Scott Aaronson was tossing around that insulted Dwave for having the temerity to prematurely talk about beating classical computers with an unbuilt quantum computer system.

In 2007 Scott said -

D-Wave’s current machine is said to have sixteen qubits.
Even assuming it worked perfectly, with no decoherence or error, a sixteen-qubit quantum computer would be about as useful for industrial optimization problems as a roast-beef sandwich.
While fully qualified with the industrial optimizations problem and the 16 qubit machine. All other quantum computing systems have not reached 16 qubits which Dwave had in 2007.

There were questions about will it scale to more qubits and will it get a lot faster than the lower qubit versions.

They scaled from 16 qubits to 128 qubits to 512 qubits and the systems performance

512 qubits >> 128 qubits >> 16 qubits

If we are parsing statements Dwave hoped to get to 1024 qubits by 2008 but they did not match their hoped for objective.

Was Dwave right in saying that their approach could scale to a lot more qubits ? Yes they were.

Were they right in saying that each increase in qubits would give a give performance jump. Yes they were.

Are they crushing the performance of classical computers yet. I am not sure but the comparison is no longer trivial for classical to beat them.

Broad Group CEO Zhang speak about 202 story Sky City at the Fortune Global Forum

At today's session on Rethinking Our Cities at Fortune's Global Forum in Chengdu, Zhang Yue, the CEO of Broad Group, a maker of energy equipment and a real estate development company, said that we have to totally redefine what it means to live in cities.

"People don't want to have to get on trains or drive a car to get to work," he said. One solution: Zhang plans to lick the urban congestion problem by building up. His proposed high-rise prefab in Hunan Province called Sky City will soar 202 stories to a height of 838 meters.

Zhang says that Sky City can be built in seven months compared to at least five years for other super high-rises and is five times more energy efficient. The building will save some 200 hectares compared to typical sprawl development in China and will contain offices, schools, playing fields, stores and restaurants, reducing dependency on the automobile. Says Zhang: "Sky City will take some 2,000 cars off the road simply because its residents can find most of what they need right where they live."

Scalable invisibility cloak created that can hide orbiting satellites

Researchers have demonstrated an invisibility cloak that can be scaled to almost any size and say it could be used to hide orbiting satellites.

John Howell at the University of Rochester in New York, and Benjamin Howell, show how to make simple cloaks that hide huge objects over the entire optical spectrum, albeit with a significant compromise. One of their devices is big enough to cloak a person.

Their approach is head-slappingly simple. Instead of using complex metamaterials to steer light, the Howells do the same job with conventional lenses and mirrors.

The mirror cloak is not actually a new design and has been used for years by magicians, a point the Howells readily acknowledge. “The point we wish to emphasize is not the novelty but the ease of scaling to nearly arbitrary size,” they say.

These cloaks aren’t perfect by any means. In fact there is one very significant caveat in their design—they only work in one direction. View these cloaks from anything other than this direction and the ruse is quickly revealed.

Arxiv - Simple, broadband, optical spatial cloaking of very large objects

Oak Ridge National Lab has all-solid Li-S battery with 4 times the energy density of current Li-ion

Scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have designed and tested an all-solid lithium-sulfur battery with approximately four times the energy density of conventional lithium-ion technologies that power today's electronics.
The ORNL battery design, which uses abundant low-cost elemental sulfur, also addresses flammability concerns experienced by other chemistries.

Angewandte Chemie International Edition - Lithium Polysulfidophosphates: A Family of Lithium-Conducting Sulfur-Rich Compounds for Lithium-Sulfur Batteries

Changes in China 2000, now and 2025

Trends cannot be depended upon to predict the future. Trends may not hold for the duration of predictions. However, trends can be a useful tool to get an idea of what might happen. The projections here are not linear projections but are based upon projections based on models analyzed by McKinsey Global and other stated plans of Chinese government agencies and companies. It is the funded high speed rail plans of the Chinese ministry and new urbanization plans of the government. Broad Group is building the 202 story skyscraper. The GDP projections assume a slower growth rate than for the 2000 to 2013 time period. The chinese government is creating infrastructure to integrate several large regions (Bohai, Pearl River Delta, and other areas).

China had 456 million people living in cities in 2000 out of population of 1.26 billion.
China now has 730 million people living in cities out of a population of 1.36 billion.
China is projected to have 900 million to 1 billion people living in cities out of a population of 1.44 billion.

China's first high speed rail line did not get opened until 2007.
Now there is 10,000 kilometers of high speed rail lines in China.
China will have 50,000 kilometers of high speed rail by 2020.

China (not including Hong Kong) has 1692 buildings taller than 100 meters.
The US has 1701 skyscrapers (building over 100 meters)
Hong Kong has 2354 skyscrapers.
China is expected to add 20,000 to 50,000 skyscrapers by 2025. Those predictions are not factoring in the rapid (and lower cost) skyscraper construction using factory mass production by Broad Group.

China should build a 200+ story Sky City by the end of 2013 or early in 2014.

I believe that there will be more than ten 200+ story Skycity buildings built by Broad Group or a competitor in China by 2025.
I believe at least one of those skyscrapers will be a 500+ story building by 2025.

June 06, 2013

Carnival of Space 304

The Carnival of Space 304 is up at Dear Astronomer

NASA turned the 230-foot (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California towards Asteroid 1998 QE2 as it was heading towards its closest approach to Earth, and they got a big surprise: the asteroid is a binary system. 1998 QE2 itself is 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) in diameter, and the newly found orbiting moon is about 600 meters in diameter.

Bureaucratic Oppression and Coercion in the United States

America - Land of the Free ? Land of the Jailed.

It is common to criticize China for its cruel authoritarian system, but it is 6 times more likely for a US citizen to be in jail versus a chinese citizen.

The US has almost 4 million people on probation

The complicated and cumbersome US legal system means that seemingly innocuous behavior is criminalized. Prosecutors can indite anyone if they choose to do so. The common US citizen has to hope to be ignored and lucky enough not to draw unwanted legal attention. The US jails a lot more non-violent offenders, so the extra jailing is not protecting society. It is also causing overcrowding and the response has been not to jail some violent offenders or to release some violent offenders early.

There is a step in the process of being taken to restore common sense to our criminal sentencing laws. The Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013 authorizes federal courts to depart below a statutory mandatory minimum sentence based on using common sense judgement (like if we give five years instead of ten for someone who is not a risk to public safety).

The US now has bureaucratic cruelty with the overzealous and unfocused application of minimum sentencing guidelines. Congress has enacted more than 50 new crimes a year, an average of 500 new crimes per decade over the past three decades.

The Lack of Mens Rea in Many Federal Crimes. At the July 2009 hearings, Representative Bobby Scott (D-Va), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, noted a growing concern about “the disappearance of the common law requirement of mens rea, or guilty mind,” which was intended to protect society from poorly crafted legislation and overzealous prosecutor.

Approximately 80,000 people are sentenced in federal courts each year. There are an estimated 4,500 federal criminal statutes and tens of thousands of regulations backed by criminal penalties, including incarceration.

There is also the criminalization of regulatory violations.

Until the 1970s, about 100 per 100,000 Americans were in prison. Today 700 per 100,000 are. America has nearly 5 percent of the world’s population but almost 25 percent of its prisoners. The US has not gotten more dangerous since the 1970s.

About 330,000 are in prison for drugs offenses. There are many more interesting statistics around US prisons and probation.

Massive gene sequencing of thousands of strains of each type of crop are guiding rapid cross breeding programs

- Massive gene sequencing enables millions of varieties of thousands of varieties of crops to be completely understood to guide rapid cross breeding
- Big data analysis enables understanding how to optimally combine desired traits
- Robotic cross breeding enables dozens of desired traits to be successfully combined

The result is a constant stream of successful supercrops without resorting to genetic engineering and cross-species engineering.

BGI has already begun to apply the lessons learned from that project to a much larger endeavor. In cooperation with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), based in the Philippines, the company has embarked on an ambitious effort to sequence the genomes of 10 000 strains of rice. The researchers have already produced the first 3000 genomes and are now working to link that genetic information to the specific traits of each strain, a process known as genotyping. Researchers and breeders can then create crops that are customized to produce high yields while meeting specific local challenges, like saltwater flooding, drought, or particular pests.

Researchers can dive deep into the diverse gene pool of rice—there are 24 species and up to 500 000 varieties within those species—to find plenty of useful traits. Until recently “this research would have been impossible,” Nissilä says, “but with today’s technology it’s not even that expensive.”

1.5 years to complete gene sequencing and use that info to guide cross breeding and then grow higher yield crops

A foxtail-millet project was intended to demonstrate the potential of BGI’s sequencing technology to revolutionize agriculture. Zhang’s team spent about four and a half months and US $1.5 million to sequence the plant’s genome and published the results in Nature Biotechnology. The BGI team took another two months to complete genetic maps showing which stretches of sequence controlled which traits in the plant, then crossbred plants to create seeds with the exact mix of traits they sought. One and a half years after they began sequencing the millet genome, BGI researchers were admiring their hearty, high-yield crops in that research field in Guangdong province.

We will remember to feed ourselves - Agricultural productivity will rise

Lester Brown, Julian Cribb and others who predict that the world will head into an era of food scarcity and rampant famine are wrong ... again.

Ehrlich and Malthus were wrong too

They’re wrong, and their virulent strain of technopessimism—which is finding lots of resonance in the media these days—has been wrong for a long time. In his 1968 book The Population Bomb, Paul R. Ehrlich wrote: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.”

In the advanced economies, people now spend 15 percent or less of their disposable income on food. It has never been lower. On the eve of the French Revolution in 1789, about when Malthus first published his essay, it took nearly the entire daily wage of an unskilled worker to buy two loaves of bread, enough to feed a family of four. Today, it takes a Parisien about 15 minutes working at minimum wage to do to the same.

Classical computers can be optimized but Quantum computers will get faster

In 2008, Scott Aaronson said

Even if D-Wave managed to build (say) a coherent 1,024-qubit machine satisfying all of its design specs, it’s not obvious it would outperform a classical computer on any problem of practical interest. This is true both because of the inherent limitations of the adiabatic algorithm, and because of specific concerns about the Ising spin graph problem. On the other hand, it’s also not obvious that such a machine wouldn’t outperform a classical computer on some practical problems. The experiment would be an interesting one! Of course, this uncertainty — combined with the more immediate uncertainties about whether D-Wave can build such a machine at all, and indeed, about whether they can even produce two-qubit entanglement — also means that any talk of “lining up customers” is comically premature.

-- The entanglement evidence continues to accumulate.
-- They sold two $10 million machines.
-- the Dwave system speed improved by 3,000 to 500,000 times from the 128 qubit system to the 512 qubit system. This was a three year gap. More on the speedup question and optimization of classical computers and algorithms.

My own prediction from 2006. (two years before what Scott said)

There will be a quantum computer with over 100 qubits of processing capability sold either as a hardware system or whose use is made available as a commercial service by Dec 31, 2010.

This was absolutely correct as a 128 qubit machine was sold in 2010 to Lockheed for $10 million.

Speedup question

-- Previously solutions were slower on the 128 qubit when compared against general commercial algorithms on a regular workstation. Now the 512 qubit system is tens of thousands of times faster than those systems. Classical systems are sped up with custom algorithms and can be sped up with hardware versions of algorithms.

June 05, 2013

Vikings stadium will have half EFTE membrane roof in 2016

The southern half of the roof of the new Vikings football stadium will be comprised of a transparent ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) membrane supported by steel

People might be familiar with ETFE from seeing it on the Beijing National Aquatics Center, commonly known as the Water Cube, during the 2008 Summer Olympics.

"They talk about it as the 'new retractable,' " Kelm-Helgen said. "It lets all the light in."

The northern half of the roof will be made of a hard, opaque material.

More investigation of the Dwave quantum annealing system in regards to speedup and quantumness of its operation

1. Alex Selby has written his own specialist solver for one class of the McGeoch and Wang benchmarks that significantly outperforms the software (and D-Wave quantum annealing machine) tested by McGeoch and Wang on those benchmarks—and who provides the Python code.

Summary Preliminary conclusions

* FPTYTO ~= 10^5 faster than D-Wave (439 qubit) for Quadratic Assignment Problem (QAP)
* FPTYTO ~= 10^3 faster than D-Wave (439 qubit) for native Quadratic Unconstrained Binary Optimization (QUBO) problems in

FPTYTO is a very simple and short python program which starts with a random permutation, and tries transpositions until no more benefit is possible, then it repeats until it runs out of time. You have to reduce the running time of the python program to about 1 or 2 seconds to get a comparable result, so we can call that 10^3 times faster. Converting to C code adds another two orders of magnitude (Hannes Uppman for verifying this), that is 10^5 times faster overall. This is for a single core of a normal desktop computer.

New exhaust function that proves optimality added to qubo.c. In all of {0,1} [easy] cases (the same state variables that D-Wave used), the answers that were previously only heuristically generated here are now verified optimal.

Conversations with Prof McGeoch have now resulted in identification of the correct distribution for Qij. These instances seem to be intermediate between the cases termed {0,1} (easy) and those termed {−1,1} (hard).

There will need to be more proof and runtimes where the hard problems are solved to optimal solutions Alex Selby's software.

DWave's 512 qubit system is 3 to 5 times faster than the Dwave 439 qubit system.

2. In a recent preprint (arXiv:1305.4904) entitled \Classical signature of quantum annealing" Smolin and Smith point out that a bimodal distribution presented in (arXiv:1304.4595) for the success probability in the D-Wave device does not in itself provide sufficient evidence for quantum annealing, by presenting a classical model that also exhibits bimodality. Here we analyze their model and in addition present a similar model derived from the semi-classical limit of quantum spin dynamics, which also exhibits a bimodal distribution. We find that in both cases the correlations between the success probabilities of these classical models and the D-Wave device are weak compared to the correlations between a simulated quantum annealer and the D-Wave device. Indeed, the evidence for quantum annealing presented in arXiv:1304.4595 is not limited to the bimodality, but relies in addition on the success probability correlations between the D-Wave device and the simulated quantum annealer. The Smolin-Smith model and our semi-classical spin model both fail this correlation test.

Technology for 77 meter primary mirror ground based telescope exists today and it could survey earth sized exoplanets out to 60 light years

The technology exists to develop a ground based telescope with a 77 meter (250 foot) mirror at lower cost if it is used for narrow field study. It could do a survey of earth sized planets out to 60 light years The Colossus Telescope, a high-resolution, 77-meter multiple-mirror giant instrument, will have the ability to directly image the heat generated by other civilizations on planets orbiting stars near us.

Innovative Optics, Ltd. offers proprietary solutions that will reduce the production cost of large optics by 10 to 20 times – and the production time by a significantly greater factor – compared with current techniques.

* Production cost per square meter of a Live Mirror drops to less than $20,000, letting IO undercut competitors while still realizing a significant profit margin in a market that currently pays more than $400,000 per square meter for a traditional mirror.

* Production time for a Live Mirror is as little as 1/60th the time required for a conventional mirror; an 8-meter optic, for example, can be produced by IO technology in approximately one to two months, compared with up to 5 years by other methods.

* Furthermore, IO techniques reduce the weight of precision mirrors from 500 kilograms per square meter to 70 kiloggrams per square meter or less, allowing much larger optical telescope systems to be built at a much lower cost.

Centauri Dreams had coverage

Earth’s current terrestrial power production is 15 terawatts, which turns out to be 0.04 percent of the total solar power received on Earth from the Sun. The authors designate the ratio of a civilization’s power production to the amount of solar power it receives as Ω. The article points out that the total power used by photosynthesis on Earth is 0.2 percent of the total light falling on the planet from the Sun.

A very large and sensitive infrared telescope could detect the increased waste heat production of a technologically advanced civilization.

Higher population density boosts interaction and per capita productivity if there is good transportation

MIT researchers think they know why when you double a city’s population that its economic productivity goes up 130 percent. Not only does total productivity increase with increased population, but so does per-capita productivity.

Increases in urban population density give residents greater opportunity for face-to-face interaction.

Nature Communication - Urban characteristics attributable to density-driven tie formation

* Smartphones with sensors and lifelogging applications could be used to track interaction levels on a large scale and urban transportation issues.

* China SkyCity factory mass produced skyscrapers could be part of solution that improves transportation speed in cities while boosting density and interaction and productivity levels. Skycity could enable affordable 200-800 story buildings that could boost population density by eight times. The 130% productivity boost per double population would enable 220% GDP per capita boost with eight times the population density.

Drones and precision farming

Drones are projected to be mostly utilized for precision agriculture and public safety (police, medical and fire departments). One industry group projects an $82 billion economic impact from drones operating in the U.S. in 2015-2025.

Precision agriculture management practices can significantly reduce the amount of nutrient and other crop inputs used while boosting yields. Farmers thus obtain a return on their investment by saving on phytosanitary and fertilizer costs. The second, larger-scale benefit of targeting inputs—in spatial, temporal and quantitative terms—concerns environmental impacts. Applying the right amount of inputs in the right place and at the right time benefits crops, soils and groundwater, and thus the entire crop cycle. Consequently, precision agriculture has become a cornerstone of sustainable agriculture, since it respects crops, soils and farmers. Sustainable agriculture seeks to assure a continued supply of food within the ecological, economic and social limits required to sustain production in the long term. Precision agriculture therefore seeks to use high-tech systems in pursuit of this goal.

On farm research has shown that farmers who use precision nitrogen management alone have reported increased net returns that vary from $17 per acre to $54 per acre. There are some cases of increasing crop yield by 15% while reducing fertilizer usage by 40%. Water usage can be improved and harvesting can be more precisely timed.

The costs of the computing and sensor components needed to build a drone’s autopilot—the hardware and software system that navigates and communicates—are dropping rapidly. “We’re having this homebrew computer club moment, where suddenly we can offer military-grade technologies for toy prices,” said Chris Anderson, former editor of Wired, when he spoke at a packed event about commercial drones at Stanford University earlier this year. After he left Wired, Anderson founded a company, 3D Robotics, that sells simple ready-to-fly unmanned vehicle systems that cost as little as $599, and DIY kits for less.

June 04, 2013

Factory Mass produced skyscrapers could be a $1-3 trillion impact to Global GDP by 2025

Broad group of China's factory mass produced skyscrapers are a major disruptive technology. This will be a disruption of real estate with a profitable technology and sustainable business model

Broad Group has plans to get 30% of the global construction market. It could take until about 2025 instead of 2020.

The Global construction industry will be about $6.7 trillion industry in 2020. 30% of the global construction industry would be over $2 trillion.

They have cost advantages are over 10X better than western construction (Freedom tower over $12000 per square meter instead of $1100 per square meter) and even 1.3 to 4X cheaper than other skyscraper construction in China.

They have over a 10X speed advantage by building 30 story buildings in 15 days. Perhaps 3 months including factory module construction and the foundation. 50 stories will take about 25 days + factory work and foundation.

6 times less energy cost and cleaner air

Mastering Disruptive technology and business models for disruption

How do you create disruptive change ?

How do you identify targets for disruption opportunities ?

What approaches can achieve sustainable advantage and disruption ?

What does disruption really mean ?

Disruption is not just better, cheaper and faster.

What Disruption Really Means

Just being “better, cheaper, faster,” does not mean they are disruptive.

A disruptive product addresses a market that previously couldn’t be served — a new-market disruption — or it offers a simpler, cheaper or more convenient alternative to an existing product – a low-end disruption.

An incumbent in the market finds it almost impossible to respond to a disruptive product. In a new-market disruption, the unserved customers are unserved precisely because serving them would be unprofitable given the incumbent’s business model. In a low-end disruption, the customers lost typically are unprofitable for the incumbents, so the big companies are happy to lose them.

Thus, the innovator’s dilemma. Incumbents appropriately ignore the new product because it is uneconomic to respond, but the incumbents’ quiescence can lead to their later downfall.

Far too often, companies spend most of their innovation dollars on making their products cheaper, operate better, faster or do more. Clayton Christensen pointed this out some 15 years ago in his groundbreaking book “The Innovator’s Dilemma” (HBS Press, 1997). Most R&D, in most industries, and for most companies, is spent trying to sustain an existing technology – not identify or develop a disruptive technology that would have far higher rates of return.

While this is easy to conceptualize, it is much harder to understand. Until we look at a storied company like Kodak.

What most people don’t know is that Kodak invented digital photography!

They were the first to create the technology, and the first to apply it. But they didn’t really market it, largely because of fears they would cannibalize their film sales. In an effort to defend & extend their old business, Kodak licensed digital photography patents to camera manufacturers, abandoned R&D in the product line and maintained its focus on on its core business. Kodak kept making amateur film better, faster and cheaper – until nobody cared any more.

Music Disuption

Improved long wearing contact lens displays with picture taking and scanning capabilities

Ulsan National Institute of Science & Technology (UNIST) has demonstrated that a live rabbit could wear contact lenses fitted with inorganic light-emitting diode with no side effects. This new class of hybrid transparent and stretchable electrode paves the way for flexible displays, solar cells, and electronics.

UNIST scientists have combined graphene with silver nanowires to form a thin, transparent and stretchable electrode which overcome the weaknesses of each individual material, resulting in a new class of electrodes with widespread possible applications including picture taking and scanning using soft contact lenses.

Transparent electrodes have been widely used in things like touch screens, flat-screen TVs, solar cells and light-emitting devices. Commonly made from indium tin oxide(ITO), it is brittle and cracks thus losing functionality if flexed. It also degrades over time, and is expensive due to the limited quantities of indium metal.

Nanoletters - High-Performance, Transparent, and Stretchable Electrodes Using Graphene–Metal Nanowire Hybrid Structures

Graphene sensors will be 1000 times more sensitive to light, use ten times less energy and will be five times cheaper when mass produced

Cameras fitted with a new revolutionary sensor will soon be able to take clear and sharp photos in dim conditions, thanks to a new image sensor invented at Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) This will lead to cameras that use ten times less battery and will be five times cheaper.

The new sensor made from graphene, is believed to be the first to be able to detect broad spectrum light, from the visible to mid-infrared, with high photoresponse or sensitivity. This means it is suitable for use in all types of cameras, including infrared cameras, traffic speed cameras, satellite imaging and more.

Not only is the graphene sensor 1,000 times more sensitive to light than current low-cost imaging sensors found in today’s compact cameras, it also uses 10 times less energy as it operates at lower voltages. When mass produced, graphene sensors are estimated to cost at least five times cheaper.

Nature Communication - Broadband high photoresponse from pure monolayer graphene photodetector

Strategies to Prosper or Survive when they take your job

Techcrunch describes the situation where technology is now destroying jobs faster than it’s creating them.

Some propose a basic income or negative income tax as updated versions of the communist iron rice bowl.

There are strategies for individuals for creating more sources of income -
1. Purchase stocks and other investment instruments which will provide dividends or interest
2. Have property that will pay rents
3. Try to set things up where your expenses are flexible and variable. Have superior financial management when you have a job or income and pay down debt or restructure debt.
4. If a worse case scenario starts to unfold (looking at a long period of no salary or reduction in rents or asset values) then try to anticipate and sell assets that can cancel out debts.
5. Try to have other skills developed and alternative career planned out. Part time work could be more rapidly transitioned into new full time work. Ideally this is like a hand off in a relay race where the previous runner runs alongside the next runner as he gets up to speed.
6. Have close relations with family or close friends where you can get help until you get back on your feet.
7. Find ways to more rapidly re-educate /retrain for the next job
8. Be more mobile so that you can move to another city or region or country where your skills are still needed.

What capabilities should be more enduring
* being able to start a profitable new business on your own
* real estate rents and property values in highly productive locations
* being able to efficiently sell and trade
* stock - corporate values in winning companies

The Rise of Chinese Robotics

The Shanghai arm of Fanuc, which dominates the global market for industrial robotics, almost doubled sales every year until cooling somewhat following the 2009 global financial crisis and outbreak of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. They still still managed to achieve close to 20 per cent sales growth in China last year. Shanghai-Fanuc Robotics is a the Chinese joint venture with Japanese giant Fanuc. The firm sold about 4,000 robots in China, up 18 per cent on the 3,400 it sold in 2011.

The International Federation of Robotics says the world's robot industry developed at its fastest rate ever in 2011 with global sales up 37 per cent year on year to 165,000. Sales in China jumped 50.7 per cent to reach 22,600. By next year, China will surpass other countries to become the top market for robots worldwide.

State leaders have called on businesses to upgrade technology to boost their competitiveness, as the country's role as the world's manufacturing centre is shaken by rivals in emerging markets with a growing, cheaper labour supply.

Former World Bank chief economist Justin Lin predicts that the average monthly wage in China's manufacturing sector may rise to nearly US$1,000 (HK$7,760) by the end of this decade from US$350 in 2010. The increase is caused, in part, by yuan appreciation and government policies intended to boost personal income.

The rapidly rising salaries of factory workers could see China lose up to 85 million manufacturing jobs to other countries in the region, Lin says. But analysts say robots may prove the saviour - or at least delay the process.

Higher wages in China are causing factories to shift to other parts of Asia

Rising wages in China are causing factories to shift to Taiwan and other parts of Asia.

An increasing number of Taiwanese shifting at least some of their operations away from China - either to South East Asia or Taiwan - and adjusting their investment strategies in the mainland. One of the main reasons is a significant rise in Chinese wages. Some estimate salaries have doubled in the past six to seven years. Companies are also now required to pay into Chinese workers' health insurance and pension plans.

"Labour costs in China are rising dramatically each year and the pace is scary," says Mr Chu, chief executive of Fair Friend Enterprise Group. "So the cost of manufacturing in China is higher now, sometimes higher than Taiwan," he says

Taiwan's investments in mainland China in 2012 dropped 17% from the year before to US$11bn, a three-year low. One of the biggest drops came from the electronic components sector, which was down by 44%.

Sixth Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) Conference from 3rd - 7th September, 2013

SENS 6 - the sixth Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) Conference, which will be held from 3rd - 7th September, 2013 at Queens' College, Cambridge.

The purpose of the SENS conference series, like all the SENS initiatives, is to expedite the development of truly effective therapies to postpone and treat human aging by tackling it as an engineering problem: not seeking elusive and probably illusory magic bullets, but instead enumerating the accumulating molecular and cellular changes that eventually kill us and identifying ways to repair - to reverse - those changes, rather than merely to slow down their further accumulation. This broadly defined regenerative medicine - which includes the repair of living cells and extracellular material in situ - applied to damage of aging, is what we refer to as rejuvenation biotechnologies.

The meeting will comprise invited talks, short oral presentations of submitted abstracts, and poster sessions.

Partial list of talks

SENS Lecture
George Church, Harvard Professor of Genetics and Director of the NIH Center for Excellence in Genomic Science

Calorie restriction in primates
Donald Ingram, Rozalyn Anderson, Luigi Fontana

Small-molecule interventions effective at late age
Dongsheng Cai, Danica Chen, Frank Madeo

Cell senescence and chromatin aging
Jan van Deursen, John Sedivy, Kevin Perrott, Janko Nikolich-Zugich

Telomeres and Cancer
Zhenyu Ju, Haroldo Silva, Rigdon Lentz

DNA manipulation
Matthew Scholz, Yanru Chen-Tsai, Fyodor Urnov

Disruptive medicine
Alan Russell, Richard Barker, Sam Parnia

Cardiovascular aging
Christy Carter, David Spiegel, Brian O'Nuallain

Beyond organ transplantation
John Jackson, Eric Lagasse, Steve Van Sickle

Cellular regeneration
Robin Franklin, Graca Almeida-Porada, Malcolm Maden

Richard Youle, Rafal Smigrodzki, Matthew O'Connor

Combating persistent viruses
Charles Cao, Paul Lehner, Todd Rider

Michael Goligorsky, Jacques Mathieu, Ghezal Beliakoff

"Aging" versus "aging-related disease"
Felipe Sierra, Mike Kope, Tanja Dominko

Is SENS necessary and sufficient?
Silvia Gravina, Robert Shmookler-Reis

Are we rational about the quest to defeat aging?
Alex Zhavoronkov, Mair Underwood, Randall Kuhn, Thomas Pyszczynski

Superfast 5G mobile

Samsung labs showed new 5G technology worked well when the device receiving data was moving at the speed of a runner, eight kilometers per hour. The testing also found that the novel wireless link could reach 200 meters even when there was no direct line-of-sight.

In tests—with a transmitter mounted on an outside wall at the third-floor level of an 11-story concrete building and the receiver moving around, with part of the building blocking the signal—the new technology delivered error-free data at 256 megabits per second, reaching a rate of 512 megabits per second with negligible errors. This compares to the theoretical maximum of about 75 megabits per second that current 4G LTE technology can provide.

Samsung’s ultrafast wireless transmitter and receiver includes 128 antenna elements – 64 for transmitting and 64 for receiving data.

June 03, 2013

Rewiring nerves from amputated limbs makes a new interface allowing for prosthetic control with existing muscles

A team of researchers at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) demonstrated a type of peripheral interface called targeted muscle re-innervation (TMR). By rewiring nerves from amputated limbs, new interfaces allow for prosthetic control with existing muscles. Former Army Staff Sgt. Glen Lehman, injured in Iraq, recently demonstrated improved TMR technology. In the following video, Lehman demonstrates simultaneous joint control of a prosthetic arm made possible by support from the RE-NET program.

“Although the current generation of brain, or cortical, interfaces have been used to control many degrees of freedom in an advanced prosthesis, researchers are still working on improving their long-term viability and performance,” said Jack Judy, DARPA program manager. “The novel peripheral interfaces developed under RE-NET are approaching the level of control demonstrated by cortical interfaces and have better biotic and abiotic performance and reliability. Because implanting them is a lower risk and less invasive procedure, peripheral interfaces offer greater potential than penetrating cortical electrodes for near-term treatment of amputees. RE-NET program advances are already being made available to injured warfighters in clinical settings.”

Artist’s concept of a flat interface nerve electrode (FINE)

Artificial magnetic monopoles have been created

A team of researchers from Cologne, Munich and Dresden have managed to create artificial magnetic monopoles. To do this, the scientists merged tiny magnetic whirls, so-called skyrmions. At the point of merging, the physicists were able to create a monopole, which has similar characteristics to a fundamental particle postulated by Paul Dirac in 1931. In addition to fundamental research, the monopoles may also have application potential. The question of whether magnetic whirls can be used in the production of computer components one day is currently being researched by a number of groups worldwide.

Artificial monopoles could also have application potential. Many groups worldwide are currently researching the question of whether magnetic whirls could be used in the production of computer components. If this were possible, one would also have to create and destroy whirls: magnetic monopoles would then play an important role in this

Cheap Vineger test could save 72,600 lives worldwide each year from reduced cervical cancer deaths

A simple vinegar test slashed cervical cancer death rates by one-third in a remarkable study of 150,000 women in the slums of India, where the disease is the top cancer killer of women. Experts called the outcome “amazing” and said this quick, cheap test could save tens of thousands of lives each year in developing countries by spotting early signs of cancer, allowing treatment before it’s too late.

Pap smears and tests for HPV, a virus that causes most cervical cancers, have slashed cases and deaths in the United States. But poor countries can’t afford those screening tools.

This study tried a test that costs very little and can be done by local people with just two weeks of training and no fancy lab equipment. They swab the cervix with diluted vinegar, which can make abnormal cells briefly change color.

This low-tech visual exam cut the cervical cancer death rate by 31 percent, the study found. It could prevent 22,000 deaths in India and 72,600 worldwide each year, researchers estimate.

China Tianhe-2 Supercomputer based on 32000 Intel Ivy Bridge and 48000 Xeon Phi chips will have over 55 petaflops this month

Dr. Jack Dongarra from Oak Ridge National Lab, one of the founders of the Top500, was on hand for the event in China and shared a draft document that offers deep detail on the full scope of the Tianhe-2, which will, barring any completely unexpected surprises, far surpass the Cray-built Titan.

The 16,000-node Inspur-built Tianhe-2 is based on Ivy Bridge (32,000 sockets) and 48,000 Xeon Phi boards, meaning a total of 3,120,000 cores. Each of the nodes sports 2 Ivy Bridge sockets and 3 Phi boards.

According to Dongarra (Report of his visit to the National University for Defense Technology Changsha, China), there are some new and notable LINPACK results:

I was sent results showing a run of HPL benchmark using 14,336 nodes, that run was made using 50 GB of the memory of each node and achieved 30.65 petaflops out of a theoretical peak of 49.19 petaflops, or an efficiency of 62.3% of theoretical peak performance taking a little over 5 hours to complete. The fastest result shown was using 90% of the machine. They are expecting to make improvements and increase the number of nodes used in the test.

The system will be housed at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou and has been aimed at providing an open platform for research and education and to provide a high performance computing service for southern China. It is the new Tianhe-2 (TH-2) also called the Milkyway-2 supercomputer.

There are a number of features of the TH-2 that are Chinese in origin, unique and interesting, including the TH-Express 2 interconnection network, the Galaxy FT-1500 16-core processor, the OpenMC programming model, their high density package, the apparent reliability and scalability of the system.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 159

1. ANS Nuclear Cafe Blog Post: Farmers, City Folk and Renewable Energy

Back from a hiking trip in North Carolina, blogger Meredith Angwin thanks conventional power plants. Power from such plants is what allows mountain waterfalls to continue to be waterfalls, not power sources. Some people in Vermont claim that we can "get" all our energy from renewables. No, we can't just "get" such energy: we would have to "take" renewable energy, therefore turning much of the natural world into an energy farm.

2. Forbes James Conca - Nukes In My Backyard - No Big Deal

It’s final – nuclear power plants do not have any effect on cancer rates for those living near them. Period. So, do we have to keep proving this over and over?

A very complete and meticulous study by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) on populations living near three of Ontario’s nuclear power plants was just released this month. The Radiation and Incidence of Cancer Around Ontario Nuclear Power Plants from 1990 to 2008 study (The RADICON Study) demonstrated that there is no evidence of childhood leukemia clusters, nor non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma increases, nor increases in any other cancers in any age group, in communities within 25 km of the Pickering, Darlington and Bruce nuclear reactors.

June 02, 2013

High-Strength Chemical-Vapor–Deposited Graphene as large as TV screens produced that are 90% as strong as ideal crystal graphene

In a new study, published in Science May 31, 2013, Columbia Engineering researchers demonstrate that graphene, even if stitched together from many small crystalline grains, is almost as strong as graphene in its perfect crystalline form. This work resolves a contradiction between theoretical simulations, which predicted that grain boundaries can be strong, and earlier experiments, which indicated that they were much weaker than the perfect lattice. Scientists can grow sheets of graphene as large as a television screen by using chemical vapor deposition (CVD), in which single layers of graphene are grown on copper substrates in a high-temperature furnace. One of the first applications of graphene may be as a conducting layer in flexible displays. The graphene has a strength of 95 gigapascals. It has 90% of the strength of perfect molecular graphene and is stronger than molecular carbon nanotubes.

This is a huge step towards an age of super materials with constructs like space elevators. This still needs to be industrialized with production of thousands to millions of tons per year.

The Columbia Engineering team wanted to discover what was making CVD graphene so weak. In studying the processing techniques used to create their samples for testing, they found that the chemical most commonly used to remove the copper substrate also causes damage to the graphene, severely degrading its strength.

Their experiments demonstrated that CVD graphene with large grains is exactly as strong as exfoliated graphene, showing that its crystal lattice is just as perfect. And, more surprisingly, their experiments also showed that CVD graphene with small grains, even when tested right at a grain boundary, is about 90% as strong as the ideal crystal.
Large Graphene sheets with over 95 Gigapascals of strength were produced. Perfect graphene has 105 gigapascals of strength

Pristine graphene is the strongest material ever measured. However, large-area graphene films produced by means of chemical vapor deposition (CVD) are polycrystalline and thus contain grain boundaries that can potentially weaken the material. We combined structural characterization by means of transmission electron microscopy with nanoindentation in order to study the mechanical properties of CVD-graphene films with different grain sizes. We show that the elastic stiffness of CVD-graphene is identical to that of pristine graphene if postprocessing steps avoid damage or rippling. Its strength is only slightly reduced despite the existence of grain boundaries. Indentation tests directly on grain boundaries confirm that they are almost as strong as pristine. Graphene films consisting entirely of well-stitched grain boundaries can retain ultrahigh strength, which is critical for a large variety of applications, such as flexible electronics and strengthening components.

World Oil Shale could have $1.7 to 2.7 trillion GDP benefit by 2035

Shale oil (light tight oil) is rapidly emerging as a significant and relatively low cost new unconventional resource in the US. There is potential for shale oil production to spread globally over the next couple of decades. If it does, it would revolutionise global energy markets, providing greater long term energy security at lower cost for many countries.

• PWC analysis suggests that global shale oil production has the potential to reach up to 14 million barrels of oil per day by 2035; this amounts to 12% of the world’s total oil supply

This increase could reduce oil prices in 2035 by around 25%-40% ($83-$100/barrel in real terms) relative to the current
baseline EIA projection of $133/barrel in 2035, which assumes low levels of shale oil production.

This could increase the level of global GDP in 2035 by around 2.3%-3.7% (which equates to around $1.7-$2.7 trillion at today’s global GDP values).

• However, the benefits of such oil price reductions will vary significantly by country. Large net oil importers such as India and Japan might see their GDP boosted by around 4%-7% by 2035, while the US, China, the Eurozone and the UK might gain by 2%-5% of GDP.

Major oil exporters such as Russia and the Middle East could see a significant worsening of their trade balances by around
4%-10% of GDP in the long run if they fail to develop their own shale oil resources.

National Highway Traffic Safety Recommends Testing only authorization for self driving vehicles at this time

This National Highway Traffic Safety administration document:
• Provides a description of developments in automated driving and explains the levels of automation defined by NHTSA.
• Provides an overview of NHTSA’s automated research program.
• Provides recommended principles that States may wish to apply as part of their considerations for driverless vehicle operation, especially with respect to testing and licensing.

NHTSA intends to regularly review and update this document as necessary to provide additional clarity, reflect new findings, and outline any regulatory activity that the agency may pursue with respect to automated vehicles. As discussed above, we look forward to working with stakeholders on these issues.