June 22, 2013

Nanoscale etching of 3d fractal structures with many applications including 3d fractal antennas and structures for filters

Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering - Fabrication of 3D fractal structures using nanoscale anisotropic etching of single crystalline silicon

When it comes to high-performance filtration, separation, sunlight collection, surface charge storage or catalysis, the effective surface area is what counts. Highly regular fractal structures seem to be the perfect candidates, but manufacturing can be quite cumbersome. Here it is shown-–for the first time—that complex 3D fractals can be engineered using a recursive operation in conventional micromachining of single crystalline silicon. The procedure uses the built-in capability of the crystal lattice to form self-similar octahedral structures with minimal interference of the constructor. The silicon fractal can be used directly or as a mold to transfer the shape into another material. Moreover, they can be dense, porous, or like a wireframe. We demonstrate, after four levels of processing, that the initial number of octahedral structures is increased by a factor of 625. Meanwhile the size decreases 16 times down to 300 nm. At any level, pores of less than 100 nm can be fabricated at the octahedral vertices of the fractal. The presented technique supports the design of fractals with Hausdorff dimension D free of choice and up to D = 2.322.

Graphene oxide have a one molecular monolayer transistor chips and a step toward molecular electronics

Graphene oxide films have been used to make a transistor composed of just one molecular monolayer functioned on a chip. The first applications for the graphene-based chip will be in testing future molecular electronics, the chip itself represents a first step towards integrated molecular circuits.

“The difference between this work and “graphene transistors” in general is that we use a molecular monolayer as the active (switchable) layer between a graphene electrode and a gold electrode, i.e. we are working in the field of molecular electronics in combination with graphene electronics,” Nørgaard explained to me in an e-mail. “The advantage of this molecular approach is that molecules can be tailor-made to provide a variety of interesting functions with tunable properties—in this case the ability to switch conductance as a function of light irradiation.”

The sandwich-like structure's ability to operate by light impulses that turn the molecular transistor on and off is enabled by graphene’s translucent qualities.

Advanced Materials - Ultrathin Reduced Graphene Oxide Films as Transparent Top-Contacts for Light Switchable Solid-State Molecular Junctions

Terahertz plasmonics in ferroelectric-gated graphene

Researchers at MIT have proposed a new system that combines ferroelectric materials — the kind often used for data storage — with graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon known for its exceptional electronic and mechanical properties. The resulting hybrid technology could eventually lead to computer and data-storage chips that pack more components in a given area and are faster and less power-hungry.

The new system works by controlling waves called surface plasmons. These waves are oscillations of electrons confined at interfaces between materials; in the new system the waves operate at terahertz frequencies. Such frequencies lie between those of far-infrared light and microwave radio transmissions, and are considered ideal for next-generation computing devices.

Schematics of a ferroelectric-graphene-ferroelectric nanostructure. Different domains of ferroelectrics can define densely packed waveguide patterns on graphene. Terahertz plasmons at ultrashort wavelength can flow on these waveguides. GRAPHIC COURTESY OF QING HU

Inspired by recent advancement of ferroelectric-gated memories and transistors, researchers propose a design of ferroelectric-gated nanoplasmonic devices based on graphene sheets clamped in ferroelectric crystals. They show that the two-dimensional plasmons in graphene can strongly couple with the phonon-polaritons in ferroelectrics, leading to characteristic modal wavelength of the order of 100–200 nm at low temperature and low-THz frequencies albeit with an appreciable dissipation. By patterning the ferroelectrics into different domains, one can produce compact on-chip plasmonic waveguides, which exhibit negligible crosstalk even at 20 nm separation distance. Harnessing the memory effect of ferroelectrics, low-power operation can be achieved on these plasmonic waveguides.

Nexus and Crux - Nanotechnology, Transhuman, Posthuman fiction

Ramez Naam wrote a science fiction spy story centered around a nanotech drug called Nexus.

Although it is swallowed like a drug, Nexus is a nano-structure that creates an interface between the brain and computer software. It acts as a networking platform and an operating system. It creates the potential for one Nexus user to control another. Nexus is both a regulated drug and a prohibited technology. In short, it is illegal. Should it be?

Nexus can permanently alter the human brain. Nexus users can install addon applications to help enhance their capabilities. The Don Juan app, Bruce Lee app etc... This is somewhat like in the movie Matrix where Neo is jacked into a system and he learns "kung fu".

Nexus was recently optioned for a film by Paramount and Darren Aronofsky.

Paramount Pictures acquired screen rights to Nexus, the science fiction novel by Ramez Naam. The project will be produced by Mary Parent and Cale Boyter through their Disruption label and Darren Aronofsky and Scott Franklin through their Protozoa banner. Negotiations are underway for the book to be adapted by Ari Handel and Mark Heyman.

Ramez Naam was former CEO of Apex Nanotechnology and worked for 13 years at Microsoft. He previously wrote the nonfiction book More Than Human: Embracing The Promise Of Biological Enhancement. Nexus is his first novel, and it takes place in the near future in a battle for mind control. A young technologist becomes the first person to invent controllable nanotechnology software for the brain. He then becomes an unwilling pawn in an international battle to control the new technology, chased by mercenaries and government agents looking to make enhancements of their own.

The next book in the series is Crux.

June 21, 2013

One of the ways mole rat's maintain cancer resistance has been found

Having thick hyaluronan might have helped increase the elasticity of the mole rat’s skin, allowing it to live in small tunnels underground. This trait might then have accidentally developed a new role of preventing cancer.

Nature - High-molecular-mass hyaluronan mediates the cancer resistance of the naked mole rat

The naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber) displays exceptional longevity, with a maximum lifespan exceeding 30 years. This is the longest reported lifespan for a rodent species and is especially striking considering the small body mass of the naked mole rat. In comparison, a similarly sized house mouse has a maximum lifespan of 4 years. In addition to their longevity, naked mole rats show an unusual resistance to cancer. Multi-year observations of large naked mole-rat colonies did not detect a single incidence of cancer. Here we identify a mechanism responsible for the naked mole rat’s cancer resistance. We found that naked mole-rat fibroblasts secrete extremely high-molecular-mass hyaluronan (HA), which is over five times larger than human or mouse HA. This high-molecular-mass HA accumulates abundantly in naked mole-rat tissues owing to the decreased activity of HA-degrading enzymes and a unique sequence of hyaluronan synthase 2 (HAS2). Furthermore, the naked mole-rat cells are more sensitive to HA signalling, as they have a higher affinity to HA compared with mouse or human cells. Perturbation of the signalling pathways sufficient for malignant transformation of mouse fibroblasts fails to transform naked mole-rat cells. However, once high-molecular-mass HA is removed by either knocking down HAS2 or overexpressing the HA-degrading enzyme, HYAL2, naked mole-rat cells become susceptible to malignant transformation and readily form tumours in mice. We speculate that naked mole rats have evolved a higher concentration of HA in the skin to provide skin elasticity needed for life in underground tunnels. This trait may have then been co-opted to provide cancer resistance and longevity to this species.

June 20, 2013

Starship Varieties

Starship Varieties

Slow Boats
1. World Ships
2. Space Arks
3. Sleeper Ships

Fast Ships
1. Relativistic ships
2. Continuously accelerating

World Ships

Multigigabit per second wireless broadband by 2020 with beam forming 5G technology from multiple antennas

Samsung’s millimeter-wave transceiver technology could enable ultrafast (multi-gigabit per second) mobile broadband by 2020

Engineers at Samsung estimate that government regulators could free as much as 100 GHz of millimeter-wave spectrum for mobile communications—about 200 times what mobile networks use today

These waves don’t penetrate solid materials very well. They also tend to lose more energy than do lower frequencies over long distances, because they are readily absorbed or scattered by gases, rain, and foliage. And because a single millimeter-wave antenna has a small aperture, it needs more power to send and receive data than is practical for cellular systems.

Samsung’s engineers say their technology can overcome these challenges by using an array of multiple antennas to concentrate radio energy in a narrow, directional beam, thereby increasing gain without upping transmission power. Such beam-forming arrays, long used for radar and space communications, are now being used in more diverse ways.

Illustration: Erik Vrielink 5g Beam Scheme: Steerable millimeter-wave beams could enable multigigabit mobile connections. Phones at the edge of a 4G cell [blue] could use the beams to route signals around obstacles. Because the beams wouldn’t overlap, phones could use the same frequencies [pink] without interference. Phones near the 4G tower could connect directly to it [green].

An IEEE introduction to millimeter-wave mobile broadband systems is here

The United States Has Forgotten how to make bridge quality steel

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was a feat of American engineering when it was built across New York's harbor in the 1960s. Now, it's being repaired with steel made in China.

Chinese bridge steel was cheaper.
US steel contractors either went out of business or get very few projects and thus have little active experience.
Chinese companies have become specialists in making parts for bridges across the U.S.

Last year, New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority awarded a $235.7 million contract to a California contractor to repair the Verrazano-Narrows, a towering suspension bridge that is still the longest in the U.S.

The contractor, Tutor Perini, subcontracted the fabrication of steel decks for the bridge to China Railway Shanhaiguan Bridge Group, which the MTA says is using 15,000 tons of steel plate made by China's Anshan Iron and Steel Group.

Tesla will have battery swapping and still waiting for Hyperloop details

Tesla is supposed to have a battery swapping technology demonstration tonight.

The Hyperloop details are to be released after the Tesla June 20th announcement, so maybe tomorrow or during the coming week.

The internet’s leading theory is that it’s got to be some kind of pressurized tube (akin to old-school mailroom shoots), filled with air (so, not a vacuum), that uses maglev technology (magnets instead of wheels) to propel a container of humans through a tube or tunnel, perhaps in a constant loop between the two cities.

The Hyperloop is supposed to be ten times cheaper than high speed rail.

Overlapping beams will enable 1000 terabyte DVDs so the NSA may need less space to hold the Yottabyte of data

CSIRO (austrialian research) have developed three-dimensional optical beam lithography with 9 nm feature size and 52 nm two-line resolution in a newly developed two-photon absorption resin with high mechanical strength. The revealed dependence of the feature size and the two-line resolution confirms that they can reach deep sub-diffraction scale but are limited by the mechanical strength of the new resin. Our result has paved the way towards portable three-dimensional maskless laser direct writing with resolution fully comparable to electron beam lithography.

The researchers showed how to break this fundamental limit by using a two-light-beam method, with different colors, for recording onto discs instead of the conventional single-light-beam method.

Both beams must abide by Abbe’s law, so they cannot produce smaller dots individually. But we gave the two beams different functions:

* The first beam (red, in the figure right) has a round shape, and is used to activate the recording. We called it the writing beam
* The second beam – the purple donut-shape – plays an anti-recording function, inhibiting the function of the writing beam

The two beams were then overlapped. As the second beam cancelled out the first in its donut ring, the recording process was tightly confined to the centre of the writing beam.

This new technique produces an effective focal spot of nine nanometers.

The NSA is building a monster datacenter in Utah that will hold one Yottabyte of information.

AGI researcher Ben Goertzel seeks $300,000 to build an intelligent robot

The Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) researcher Ben Goertzel was interviewed for Next Big Future in 2009. Goertzel is overseeing a team of researchers in Hong Kong and elsewhere, trying to develop his OpenCOG project, but the program is currently resource-constrained.

John Cramer discusses wormhole travel

From Adam Crowl coverage of the starship conference.

John Cramer a physicist from the University of Washington, well-known to SF fans via his “Alternate View” columns in the “Analog” science fiction magazine, as well as several novels. John focused on the use of wormholes to allow rapid transit to other star systems. Simply put, wormholes are “tunnels” between two regions in space-time, compatible with Einstein’s equations of General Relativity as one possible mathematical solution. Outside a wormhole itself, observers would see two “ends” of the one space-time structure. Whether wormholes exist or not is a matter for astronomical observation, as larger wormholes should produce distinctive gravitational lensing patterns that astronomers might be lucky enough to see. If the connection formed between the two ends of a wormhole is shorter than the distance through regular space-time, then passing through the wormhole allows apparently faster-than-light travel, though nothing ever exceeds lightspeed locally. Thanks to time-dilation — the slowing of time experienced when approaching lightspeed — a time-lag can be developed between the two ends if one end is sent to a distant star. For example, if a one end is accelerated to a time-dilation of 7,000 (0.99999999c), then only 75 minutes is required for the traveling end to appear to travel 1 light-year from the stationary end’s point-of-view. John Cramer discussed how this might allow a network of rapid-transit wormholes to be set-up throughout the Galaxy – with the caveat that the network can’t be allowed to form a “Closed Time-like Circuit,” else this might destroy the wormholes via amplifying quantum fields.

Adam Crowl provides his review of the starship conference and talks about his vision of the ultimate starship

The Starship is still about 100 years away, but we will begin building it this century. This was the message that Gregory Benford and his mirror-twin, James Benford, were proclaiming together, with the help of notables of both science and science fiction.

Futurist Peter Schwarz covered three basic scenarios, though many more can be generated. The full details can be found in the “Starship Century” anthology, but in essence three ideologies could launch us to the stars.

1. “God’s Galaxy”, which implies a future Earth dominated by religion, sending forth missionaries to the unconverted of the Galaxy.
2. “The Dying Earth”, in which we’re seeking a second home, basically the back-story of “Firefly” and countless other SF treatments.
3. “Interstellar Trillionaires”, in which the ultra-rich of a fully developed interplanetary economy launch forth for adventure or curiosity’s sake.

First Gigahertz Graphene Circuit

A team led by Roman Sordan of the Politecnico di Milano and Eric Pop of the University of Illinois says it has made the first integrated graphene oscillators – with the added bonus that the devices operate at 1.28 GHz. The graphene ring oscillators also appear to be less sensitive to fluctuations in the supply voltage compared with both conventional silicon CMOS devices and earlier oscillators made from the 2D materials.

The circuits are ring oscillators and the work could be an important step towards realizing all-graphene microwave circuits.

Ultimately it is expected that graphene will enable chips at terahertz operation.

ACS Nano - Gigahertz Integrated Graphene Ring Oscillators

Dwave Systems should have a 2048 qubit chip sometime in 2014 for running Google image classifier and Lockheed Martin bug free software proving algorithm

Using qubits made from superconducting loops of niobium, cooled to 20 millikelvin above absolute zero to keep them in their lowest energy states, D-Wave's engineers created a usable computer before even they were sure how it worked.

The company's 2007 demonstration used a 16-qubit device. By 2011, the D-Wave One machine purchased by Lockheed Martin had 128 qubits. This year's D-Wave Two, the model acquired by Google and collaborators including NASA, has 512 qubits.

In 2011, D-Wave published evidence for quantum behaviour in its 8-qubit chip. Outside the company, the group that has spent the most time on the question is the University of Southern California's Quantum Computing Center in Los Angeles, set up in collaboration with Lockheed Martin when the firm bought its D-Wave computer. In April, a team including the centre's scientific director, Daniel Lidar, circulated results seeming to confirm that the 128-qubit D-Wave One works on a quantum level — although in the fuzzy quantum world nothing is certain, and the results have been challenged.

Still, D-Wave has chipped away at its credibility problem, concludes O'Brien, “and now they're taken ever more seriously”.

June 19, 2013

With Ten Days to go for Stretch Goals Kickstarter passes $1 million target for space telescope

The ARKYD is a technologically advanced, orbiting space telescope that will be controlled by YOU, the crowd, through your pledges and community involvement. You can even direct your telescope time to non-profit science centers and universities for use in your communities.

Over 11,000 Backers = NEW stretch goal AND NEW Add-ons Available! You asked for it and we listened: Exclusive Mission Patch, 3D ARKYD Model and All-you-can-eat Selfies.

Over 11,802 backers

You can now get Planetary Resources T-shirts and a wide variety of contribution options.

Japan has new nuclear safety guidelines and applications will start soon for 13 nuclear reactors to restart early in 2014

Japan’s nuclear regulator announced an overhaul of the country’s nuclear safety guidelines Wednesday, the first since a giant tsunami swept over a nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan two years ago and set off the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, even as signs of new trouble at the stricken plant underscored the hazardousness of the site’s cleanup.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pushing to restart some of Japan’s 50 commercial reactors, all but two of which remain idle amid public anxiety over nuclear safety in the wake of the 2011 disaster.

The announcement of the new guidelines starts a process that could allow some of the country’s idled reactors to come back online early next year.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority said it would start accepting applications on July 8 from power companies seeking to restart their reactors. Seven companies have said they will apply to restart a total of 13 reactors across Japan.

3D printed batteries the size of a grain of sand for miniaturized medical implants, compact electronics, tiny robots

D printing can now be used to print lithium-ion microbatteries the size of a grain of sand. The printed microbatteries could supply electricity to tiny devices in fields from medicine to communications, including many that have lingered on lab benches for lack of a battery small enough to fit the device, yet provide enough stored energy to power them.

To make the microbatteries, a team based at Harvard University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign printed precisely interlaced stacks of tiny battery electrodes, each less than the width of a human hair.

A research team from Harvard University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has demonstrated the ability to 3D print a battery. This image shows the interlaced stack of electrodes that were printed layer by layer to create the working anode and cathode of a microbattery. (SEM image courtesy of Jennifer A. Lewis.)

Advanced Materials - 3D Printing of Interdigitated Li-Ion Microbattery Architectures

Ariane 5 ME looks to increase payload by 20 percent to compete better against the Russian Proton and Spacex Falcon 9

Designers of Europe’s Ariane 5 rocket are crafting a defense against U.S. startup rocket builder Spacex.

The Ariane 5 Midlife Evolution vehicle, whose new upper stage is halfway completed and awaits final approval, in late 2014, of European governments.

Ariane 5 ME will increase the current Ariane 5 ECA’s payload-carrying power by about 20 percent, meaning it will carry two satellites weighing a combined 11,000 kilograms.

China's Currency Could Appreciate 500% In Next Three Decades according to Jim Rogers

Famed investor and co-founder of the Quantum Fund, Jim Rogers said in Shanghai that he expects renminbi, China’s currency, to appreciate 300, 400 or even 500 percent in the next 20 to 30 years.

Jim Rogers was a partner of George Soros. Jim has a net worth of over $300 million. He wrote books predicting the boom in commodity prices since the 1990s and has been a China bull since at least 1984.

Compared to the yuan’s value in 2005 (when it was 8.3 to 1 US $), Rogers expects it to appreciate by as much as 500 percent in the future. This would be about 1.7 to 1 US$.

Rogers went as far as to suggest that the renminbi might become the new currency of reserve within our lifetimes.

Nextbigfuture had been expecting the yuan to appreciate to about 3.0 to 1 US$ over the next 8 years or so. This would be about a 250% move. It would be to about the level of purchasing power parity.

June 18, 2013

Elon Musk will keep Spacex Private until the Goal of Human Colonies on Mars are Achieved

Elon Musk has said that there will be no initial public offering (IPO) of SpaceX stock before humans have begun to settle Mars. “No near term plans to IPO SpaceX,” Musk wrote in a short message posted to Twitter June 6. “Only possible in very long term when Mars Colonial Transporter is flying regularly.”

The Mars Colonial Transporter is a conceptual vehicle that Musk has discussed as part of his company’s stated long-term goal: sending human settlers to Mars.

Solar City and Tesla Motors are now publicly traded companies which provide Elon Musk with about $3 billion of his net worth.

Going public with Spacex would constrain his ability to achieve ambitious goals like settling Mars which would conflict with quarterly profit maximization.

Cable companies have multigigabit internet capability but are waiting for competition or regulation to force them to offer higher speeds and lower prices

The cable industry insists that it's ready and able to compete with Google Fiber when it comes to delivering ultra high-speed broadband

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts last week showed off a 3Gbps cable broadband connection at the industry's annual trade show in Washington, D.C. That's three times faster than Google Fiber, which itself is nearly 150 times faster than the current average broadband connection in the U.S. Armed with that capability, he confidently welcomed Google's challenge to deliver ultra high-speed broadband to consumers.

"I hope there's a demand for (Google Fiber)," he said during a keynote session at the Cable Show. "The more customers crave speed, the more the kids in the garage and the geniuses around the world can invent applications that require speed. That's the best thing that can happen to our industry. We have to embrace that competition."

But Roberts' words and one demo don't match up with the actions of his industry. The cable providers have been slow to make its speedier options broadly available, and when they do, they charge significantly higher prices that escalate as you move to faster tiers. Based on how the industry has chosen to price its service, it's clear that cable operators are not exactly encouraging adoption of ultra high-speed broadband. In comparison, Google is expanding Google Fiber to more markets, and offers a much faster connection at reasonable rates.

Effects of Alzheimer's disease can be partially reversed in mice

Memory pathology in older mice with Alzheimer’s disease can be reversed with treatment. Even animals with advanced pathology can be rescued with this molecule.

The researchers found an increased level of a receptor known as bradykinin B1 receptor (B1R) in the brain of mice with AD, a receptor involved in inflammation. “By administering a molecule that selectively blocks the action of this receptor, we observed important improvements in both cognitive and cerebrovascular function,” says Dr. Baptiste Lacoste, research fellow who conducted the study at The Neuro and now pursuing his training at Harvard Medical School in Boston. “Alzheimer’s disease destroys nerve cells and also compromises the function of blood vessels in the brain. Not only were there improvements in learning and memory, but also marked recovery in blood flow and vascular reactivity, i.e. the ability of cerebral vessels to dilate or constrict when necessary.” Proper functioning of blood vessels in the brain is vital to providing nutrients and oxygen to nerve cells, and vascular diseases represent important risk factors for developing AD at an advanced age.

Another interesting result that has not been seen before in our mouse model is a reduction by over 50% of toxic amyloid-beta peptide.

Journal of Neuroinflammation - Cognitive and cerebrovascular improvements following kinin B1 receptor blockade in Alzheimer's disease mice

Cancer metastasis explained with chase and run mechanism

A new study focuses on the process that occurs when cancer cells interact with healthy cells in order to migrate around the body during metastasis. Scientists know that cancer cells recruit healthy cells and use them to travel long distances, but how this process takes place and how it could be controlled to design new therapies against cancer remains unknown.

Now, using embryonic cells called 'neural crest cells' (which are similar to cancer cells in term of their invasive behaviour) and placode cells which are the precursors for cranial nerves (the equivalent to healthy cells) researchers at UCL have started to unravel this process.

They have found that when neural crest cells are put next to placode cells they undergo a dramatic transformation and start 'chasing' the placode cells. At the same time placode cells exhibite 'escape' behaviour when contacted by neural crest cells. The chasing behavior depends on the production of small chemical molecules by the placode cells that attracts neural crest cells toward them.

Nature Cell biology - Chase-and-run between adjacent cell populations promotes directional collective migration

New Particle Hints at Four-Quark Matter

Two experiments have detected the signature of a new particle, which may combine quarks in a way not seen before.

Particle physicists seem to have a pretty good handle on the fundamental particles of the universe, but there are some glaring holes in this understanding. Quarks are a good example of this. We know that all nuclear matter is made up of quarks, and we have a pretty good understanding of how two quarks interact at close range. But our quark theory cannot tell us which quark combinations will result in a bound particle or a stable nuclei. All we can go on is experience, and experience has shown that particles with four quarks do not exist. But the situation may have changed with the possible discovery of a new particle containing at least four quarks. Two separate groups, both reporting in Physical Review Letters, have seen evidence for this strange particle, called Zc(3900). Although the data is open to other interpretations, it’s clear that our understanding of quarks has a long way to go.

The evidence for Zc(3900) comes from two independent groups: the BESIII Collaboration at the Beijing Electron Positron Collider, China, and the Belle Collaboration at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization in Tsukuba, Japan. It is the business of both labs to accelerate electrons and positrons to nearly the speed of light, smashing them into each other and carefully analyzing the resulting debris. Taken together, the two collaborations have uncovered 466 events that appear to have a Zc(3900) in their debris.

Physics Review Letters - Observation of a Charged Charmoniumlike Structure in e+e-→π+π-J/ψ at √s=4.26  GeV

June 17, 2013

Google's Billion connection deep learning neural net that was $1 million in hardware last year can be built with $20,000 in GPUs this year

You can now build a 1-billion-connection model with $20,000 worth of hardware. It opens up the world for researchers to improve the performance of speech recognition and computer vision. Down the line, this research on souped-up versions of neural networks running on GPUs could give rise to more powerful — and financially lucrative — GPU-based applications at large tech companies.

Ng’s team also built a super-sized, 11-billion-connection version of the cat detector for roughly $100,000. He wants to build a high-performance computer that will allow researchers who don’t have the deep pockets of some of these companies and universities to do research on deep learning. It’s a bit like what Apple and Microsoft did for personal computing or what cheaper sequencing hardware did for genomics. Both democratized technologies that were inaccessible to many.

The Google Cat experiment ran on 1,000 computers with 16,000 CPUs.

Scaling up deep learning algorithms has been shown to lead to increased performance in benchmark tasks and to enable discovery of complex high-level features. Recent e fforts to train extremely large networks (with over 1 billion parameters) have relied on cloud-like computing infrastructure and thousands of CPU cores. In this paper, we present technical details and results from our own system based on Commodity O ff-The-Shelf High Performance Computing (COTS HPC) technology: a cluster of GPU servers with Infinity- band interconnects and MPI. Our system is able to train 1 billion parameter networks on just 3 machines in a couple of days, and we show that it can scale to networks with over 11 billion parameters using just 16 machines. As this infrastructure is much more easily marshaled by others, the approach enables much wider-spread research with extremely large neural networks.

Future of Asymetric warfare, Gini coefficient, and DARPA reinvention of traditional military powers

There are several articles and researchers who believe that asymetric warfare will become dominant in the future. This is usually based on advanced tiny drones, cheap bioweapons, dirty nukes or massive nuclear proliferation and molecular nanotechnology.

Eric Drexler has talked about unconstrained access to an unconstrained range of [nanotech]-level technologies would place unpredictable capabilities in the hands of hostile non-state actors, leading to unacceptable and unpredictable risks.

These forecasts of asymetric warfare becoming triumphant assume that there is unconstrained action or access to anything.

It seems likely that the US will adapt to becoming more efficient at constantly attacking terrorists / opponent in all countries.

The US is integrating the pieces for laser armed drones with superhigh resolution cameras.

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

There will also be a network of trillions of sensors.
As we know there is extensive cyber-monitoring.

DARPA will soon providing Faster, More Precise All-digitally controlled Airstrikes

Persistent Close Air Support (PCAS) program aims to improve air-to-ground fire coordination, but could revolutionize military tech development and deployment as well. To accelerate CAS capabilities well beyond the current technological state of the art, PCAS envisions an all-digital system that incorporates commercial IT products and models such as open interfaces, element modularity and mobile software applications.

PCAS designs currently include two main components, PCAS-Air and PCAS-Ground. PCAS-Air would consist of an internal guidance system, weapons and engagement management systems, and high-speed data transfer via Ethernet, existing aircraft wiring or wireless networks. Based on tactical information, PCAS-Air’s automated algorithms would recommend optimal travel routes to the target, which weapon to use on arrival and how best to deploy it. Aircrews could receive information either through hardwired interfaces or wirelessly via tablet computers.

PCAS-Air would inform ground forces through PCAS-Ground, a suite of technologies enabling improved mobility, situational awareness and communications for fire coordination. A HUD eyepiece wired to a tablet computer like that used in PCAS-Air would display tactical imagery, maps and other information, enabling ground forces to keep their eyes more on the target and less on a computer screen.

Parts of PCAS-Ground are already in field trials that mark some of the first large-scale use of commercial tablets for air-ground fire coordination.

China needs to execute a plan to urbanize and deploy a social safety net for new migrants to the cities

China needs to make a major urbanization plan work for a strong economy in 2025.

A new urban blueprint to be unveiled this year is supposed to break an urbanization logjam by guaranteeing some central-government support for such programs, according to economists who advise the government. But the exact formulas are still unclear. Granting full urban benefits to 70 percent of the population by 2025 would mean doubling the rate of those in urban welfare (healthcare, pensions, unemployment insurance and education) programs.

Success will mean that China's per capita income would be in the range of Portugal. The overall GDP of the economy would become larger than the United States.

Supercomputers 55 petaflops now, 100+ petaflops in 2014 or 2015 and exaflops in 2016-2018

Tianhe-2, a supercomputer developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology, is the world’s new No. 1 system with a performance of 33.86 petaflop/s on the Linpack benchmark, according to the 41st edition of the twice-yearly TOP500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. The list was announced June 17 during the opening session of the 2013 International Supercomputing Conference in Leipzig, Germany.

Tianhe-2, or Milky Way-2, will be deployed at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzho, China, by the end of the year. The surprise appearance of Tianhe-2, two years ahead of the expected deployment, marks China’s first return to the No. 1 position since November 2010, when Tianhe-1A was the top system.

Originally there was talk that Tianhe-2 would be a 100 petaflop supercomputer built for 2015. There is still the possibility that the Tianhe-2 could get GPU upgrades next year or get new chips in 2015 or that a Tianhe-3 with upgraded components could be built in 2015 to achieve a 100+ petaflop supercomputer.

In June 2011, the fastest supercomputer was the Japan’s “K” supercomputer (at 8 petaflops but now upgraded to 10.5 petaflops).
In June 2012, the fastest supercomputer was IBM's Sequoia (it now runs at 17 petaflops.
Tianhe 2 has a peak of about 55 petaflops and a sustained of 33.8 petaflops.

An exaflop supercomputer seems to be on track for 2016-2018.

OECD anticipated technologies for the new few decades

Joseph Coates wrote for an OECD study The Next Twenty-five Years of Technology: Opportunities and Risks (1998)

Joseph Coates has newer articles online in that are mostly written in the 2004-2008 timeframe. Coates overall view has not changed that much in the time since his main work was done.

In a three-year project, Coates and Jarratt, Inc. collected all of the forecasts in all of the areas of science, engineering and technology that could be found, from around the world. These were analysed in a systematic way, and 41 reports running to about 4 000 pages were produced.

The great enablers will be:
• genetics technology;
• energy technology;
• materials technology;
• brain technology;
• information technology.
A sixth area, not itself a technology but acting as an influential wash over all technologies, will be environmentalism.

Likely technological accomplishments in the next decades

• Planetary engineering, e.g. waste disposal into the earth’s mantle
• Iceberg-towing for arid zone irrigation
• Ocean mining
• Integrated logistics, full intermodal integration–goods in transit never touched by human hands
• Intelligent vehicle highway systems
• Integrated water supply systems on a continental scale
• 120-mile-per-gallon personal vehicles
• Manufacturing for durability, reclamation, remanufacturing and recycling
• Ocean ranching/farming
• Fail-safe nuclear power plants
• Human and animal prostheses, implants and assists
• Brain technologies
• Automated farming and animal husbandry
• Outdoor robots
• Genetic diagnoses, therapies, enhancement tools
• Intelligent structures
• Dynamic structures
• Smartness in all devices, components and systems
• Weather modification
• Earthquake prevention
• Product customisation
• Simulation of all devices and systems in design
• Automated kitchen
• Full integration of ergonomics into design
• Subsurface structures
• Nanoscale products and systems
• Robotic assists for people
• Space station
• Planning for terraforming

Could major breakthroughs energy or manufacturing technology be deployed and adopted to disrupt the steady growth scenarios ?

At Overcoming Bias Robin Hanson discussed Eric Drexlers book Radical Abundance. Contrary to steady growth scenarios, much of Drexler’s further analysis seems to assume that full nanotech will appear rather suddenly, perhaps soon.

The history of technology in the industrial era tells us that it is usually fifteen to forty years from the time of a fundamental scientific discovery to its effective application in society.

Some technology adoption rates

Some technology adoption is faster when it is something that is a layer on top of a a built up infrastructure. If people are just buying a device and it is fully functional. It uses deployed wireless systems and electricity. Then adoption can be very fast. Smartphones replaced mobile phones. People already were familiar with mobile phones and had used laptops. Tablets were an easy addition.

The mobile phone and soon smartphones and tablets will be a complete global deployment. Smartphones and tablets will finish global deployment in about 5-7 years. There will also be a base level of electrification to the last 1-2 billion people with the availability of inexpensive solar and batteries.

June 16, 2013

Carnival of Space 306

The Carnival of Space 306 is up at Urban Astronomer

Chardra Telescope Blog - Black Hole Bonanza Turns Up In Galaxy Next Door

The Meridiani Journal - Scientists confirm Curiosity rover’s discovery of ancient Martian streambed

Gene therapy to prevent eyes from becoming blind from some genetic diseases with evolved virus that penetrates the retina

Over the last six years, several teams of scientists have successfully treated people with a rare inherited eye disease by injecting a virus with a normal gene directly into the retina of an eye with a defective gene. Despite the invasive process, the virus with the normal gene was not capable of reaching all the retinal cells that need fixing.

Inherited retinal degenerative diseases are a clinically promising focus of adeno-associated virus (AAV)–mediated gene therapy. These diseases arise from pathogenic mutations in mRNA transcripts expressed in the eye’s photoreceptor cells or retinal pigment epithelium (RPE), leading to cell death and structural deterioration. Because current gene delivery methods require an injurious subretinal injection to reach the photoreceptors or RPE and transduce just a fraction of the retina, they are suitable only for the treatment of rare degenerative diseases in which retinal structures remain intact. To address the need for broadly applicable gene delivery approaches, we implemented in vivo–directed evolution to engineer AAV variants that deliver the gene cargo to the outer retina after injection into the eye’s easily accessible vitreous humor. This approach has general implications for situations in which dense tissue penetration poses a barrier for gene delivery. A resulting AAV variant mediated widespread delivery to the outer retina and rescued the disease phenotypes of X-linked retinoschisis and Leber’s congenital amaurosis in corresponding mouse models. Furthermore, it enabled transduction of primate photoreceptors from the vitreous, expanding its therapeutic promise.

Proposed Proton-proton, electron-positron collider and Higgs Factory

The discovery of a Higgs-like boson with mass near 126 GeV, at the LHC, has reignited interest in future energy frontier colliders. We propose here a proton-proton (pp) collider in a 100 km ring, with center of mass (CM) energy of ~100 TeV which would have substantial discovery potential for new heavy particles and new physics beyond the Standard Model. In the case that LHC experiments have already found exotic resonances or heavy "partner" particles, this collider could fill out the "tower" of resonances (thus e.g. confirming an extra dimension) or the full suite of partner particles (e.g. for supersymmetry). The high luminosity of the new collider would enable unique precision studies of the Higgs boson (including Higgs self coupling and rare Higgs decays), and its higher energy would allow more complete measurements of vector boson scattering to help elucidate electroweak symmetry breaking. We also discuss an e+e- collider in the same 100 km ring with CM energies from 90 to 350 GeV. This collider would enable precision electroweak measurements up to the ttbar threshold, and serve as a Higgs factory.