November 02, 2013

Everyone in the world needs at least 4000 kwh and $5000 per capita PPP for developed life expectancy and quality of life

Analysis of world data indicates that 4000 kwh per year per capita energy is needed for the current top level of human development. About 1000-2000 kwh per year per capita is needed to get out of the worst quality of life and shortened life span. Per capita electricity usage also correlates to per capita income. Both correlate to life expectancy and quality of life.

World uranium production about 5% ahead of last year

Kazakhstan produced 5762 tonnes of Uranium in the third quarter of 2013 which is 6 % higher than the third quarter of 2012.

Kazakhstan produced 5,590 tons of Uranium in the second quarter that is 9 % more than Q2 2012. First quarter uranium production in Kazakhstan was 4 979 tons.

Total production is 16,331 tons for the first three quarters.

Kazakhstan produced 21317 tons of uranium in 2012.

Kazakhstan is on track to produce about 700-1000 tons more than in 2012. Kazakhstan is the largest producer of uranium.

DARPA wants to use real time whole brain monitoring of the brain to drive precise neural therapies

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched a US$70 million project to develop an implant to monitor neuronal activity in a bid to improve the mental health of soldiers and veterans. DARPA seeks to develop new technology to enable near real-time measurement and analysis across brain systems to drive precise neural stimulation therapies

DARPA created the Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (SUBNETS) program to pursue advances in neuroscience and neurotechnology that could lead to new clinical understanding of how neuropsychological illnesses manifest in the brain and to advanced therapies to reduce the burden and severity of illness in afflicted troops and veterans. The program will pursue a new investigative approach that establishes the characteristics of distributed neural systems and attempts to develop and apply therapies that incorporate near real-time recording, analysis and stimulation in next-generation devices inspired by current Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS).

DBS already exists as a therapy option for certain neurologic and neuropsychological illnesses in patients who are not responsive to other therapies. Approximately 100,000 people around the globe live with a DBS implant, a device that delivers electrical stimulation to reduce the motor impairment caused by Parkinson's disease and dystonia. These devices are also being studied as therapy for depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, Tourette’s and epilepsy.

There is a high incidence of mental illness among soldiers compared with the general population — in fact, one in nine medical discharges is because of mental illness. This is not surprising — if you ask people to do and see horrific things, it's going to mess with their heads in pretty significant ways.

DARPA is seeking to understand more about how the brain works in the hope of developing effective therapies for troops and veterans. It has announced a new project called the Systems-Based Neurotechnology for Emerging Therapies (SUBNETS).

UPS and Staples jockeying to become the 3D Printing Answer for Small Business

One company making strategic use of 3-D printing is shipping and logistics giant UPS. The company, which also makes its services available to smaller customers via storefront operations, has responded to the growing interest in the technology with a program designed to help small businesses and startups that may not have the funds to purchase their own 3-D printer.

A poll of small-business owners conducted by UPS showed high interest in trying out the technology, particularly among those wanting to create prototypes, artistic renderings or promotional materials. So, in July the company announced the start of a program that UPS said makes it the first nationwide retailer to test 3-D printing services in-store.

Staples claims to be the first retailer to stock 3-D printers for consumers, but UPS says its program makes it the first to offer 3-D printing services like computer-aided design consultations in addition to the printing itself.

Hotter Temperature seems to correlate with more violence

Interpersonal and intergroup violence rates vs. local temperature (H/T Chris Phoenix)

Global Internet Trends in 2013, projected into 2015

At the beginning of 2013 almost 80 per cent of households globally had a TV, compared with 41 per cent of households with a computer and 37 per cent with Internet access.

The report shows that the number of households with Internet access is increasing in all regions, but large differences persist, with penetration rates at the end of this year set to reach almost 80 per cent in the developed world, compared with 28 per cent in the developing world.

An estimated 1.1 billion households worldwide are not yet connected to the Internet, 90 per cent of which are in the developing world.
The trend is strongly positive, however, with the proportion of households with Internet access in developing countries increasing from 12 per cent in 2008 to 28 per cent in 2013 – a remarkable 18 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

Internet users as a percentage of the population has been growing on average at double-digit rates over the past ten years. The percentage of the population online in the developed world will reach almost 77 per cent by end 2013, compared with 31 per cent in the developing world.

250 million additional people came online in 2012.

An estimated 2.7 billion people will also be connected to the Internet (by the end of 2013)– though speeds and prices vary widely, both across and within regions.

Mobile broadband connections over 3G and 3G+ networks are growing at an average annual rate of 40 per cent, equating to 2.1 billion mobile-broadband subscriptions and a global penetration rate of almost 30 per cent. Almost 50 per cent of all people worldwide are now covered by a 3G network.

The World should have about 3.0 billion connected by the end of 2014 and 3.3 billion by the end of 2015.

China's internet user base will reach 800 million in 2015, reports People's Daily citing China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). As explained by MIIT minister Miao Wei, as the MIIT accelerates its 'Broadband China' project and expands broadband construction in the country, the number of internet users will continue to increase rapidly. Miao said it will continue to expand the development of mobile internet, e-commerce, cloud computing and M2M information services in China with the goal of reaching yearly e-commerce transactions of CNY 18 trillion, 2.3 million new internet sector jobs, and yearly software and information service revenue of CNY 4 trillion by 2015. The MIIT has also set a goal of domestically producing 80 percent of the country's LCD display panels used in television production.

By 2015, McKinsey projects India will overtake the U.S. to become country with the second highest number of Internet users after China. The Internet’s potential contribution to India’s gross domestic product by 2015 may leap to $100 billion by 2015, from about $30 billion in 2011, according to a new a study by McKinsey & Co.

The global consulting firm says this is because the number of Internet users in the country is expected to reach anywhere between 330 million and 370 million by then.

Carnival of Space 326

The Carnival of Space 326 is up at Photos to Space.

Astronomers confirm first Earth-sized rocky exoplanet

Internet population by country and their favorite websites

A graphic of the top websites by country

Wikipedia list of countries by internet users in 2012.

 China          568,192,000             42.3% 
 United States  254,295,500             81.0%
 India          151,599,000             12.6%
 Japan          100,684,474             79.1%
 Brazil          99,357,737             49.8%
 Russia          75,926,000             53.3%
 Germany         68,296,919             84.0%
 Nigeria         55,930,390             32.9%
 United Kingdom  54,861,245             87.0%
 France          54,473,474             83.0%
 Mexico          44,173,551             38.4%

November 01, 2013

DARPA Plans to Arm Drones With Missile-Blasting Lasers

The Pentagon this week edged closer to mounting missile-destroying lasers on unmanned and manned aircraft, awarding $26 million to defense contractors to develop the technology.

Northrop Gumman and Lockheed will develop technology for pod-mounted laser weapons to protect manned aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from electro-optical and infrared (EO/IR)-guided surface-to-air missiles.

Under the name Project Endurance, DARPA, the Department of Defense’s research agency, awarded Northrop Grumman $14.6 million and Lockheed Martin $11.4 million in contracts for the effort, according to Military and Aerospace Electronics. Called “Project Endurance,” the research will “develop technology for pod-mounted lasers to protect a variety of airborne platforms from emerging and legacy electro-optical IR guided surface-to-air missiles,” according to DARPA’s 2014 budget request.

The project focuses on “miniaturizing component technologies, developing high-precision target tracking, identification, and lightweight agile beam control to support target engagement,” as well as “the phenomenology of laser-target interactions and associated threat vulnerabilities.”

Mockup of SR72 mach 6 spyplane engine

Here is a mockup of the engine for the SR72 mach 6 spyplane which could have a flying prototype by 2018.

Surprise Lockheed Figured out how to make hypersonic planes work and there could be a mach 6 SR-72 spyplane flying by 2018

The SR-71 Blackbird was retired from U.S. Air Force service almost two decades ago, the perennial question has been: Will it ever be succeeded by a new-generation, higher-speed aircraft and, if so, when?

Hypersonic flights tests were way more successful than advertised

Skunk Works has been working with Aerojet Rocketdyne for the past seven years to develop a method to integrate an off-the-shelf turbine with a scramjet to power the aircraft from standstill to Mach 6 plus,” says Brad Leland, portfolio manager for air-breathing hypersonic technologies. “Our approach builds on HTV-3X, but this extends a lot beyond that and addresses the one key technical issue that remained on that program: the high-speed turbine engine,” he adds, referring to the U.S. Air Force/Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) reusable hypersonic demonstrator canceled in 2008.

Despite never progressing to what Leland describes as a planned -HTV-3X follow-on demonstrator that “never was,” called the Blackswift, the conceptual design work led to “several key accomplishments which we didn’t advertise too much,” he notes. “It produced an aircraft configuration that could controllably take off, accelerate through subsonic, supersonic, transonic and hypersonic speeds. It was controllable and kept the pointy end forward,” adds Leland.

If they deliver then reusable first stage spaceplanes would be feasible

This could also give a big boost to spaceplane systems like Reaction Engine's Skylon

More on what SR-72 will do

Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works has revealed exclusively to Aviation Week details of long-running plans for what it describes as an affordable hypersonic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and strike platform that could enter development in demonstrator form as soon as 2018. Dubbed the SR-72, the twin-engine aircraft is designed for a Mach 6 cruise, around twice the speed of its forebear, and will have the optional capability to strike targets.

Guided by the U.S. Air Force’s long-term hypersonic road map, the SR-72 is designed to fill what are perceived by defense planners as growing gaps in coverage of fast-reaction intelligence by the plethora of satellites, subsonic manned and unmanned platforms meant to replace the SR-71. Potentially dangerous and increasingly mobile threats are emerging in areas of denied or contested airspace, in countries with sophisticated air defenses and detailed knowledge of satellite movements.

A vehicle penetrating at high altitude and Mach 6, a speed viewed by Lockheed Martin as the “sweet spot” for practical air-breathing hypersonics, is expected to survive where even stealthy, advanced subsonic or supersonic aircraft and unmanned vehicles might not. Moreover, an armed ISR platform would also have the ability to strike targets before they could hide.

Deep whole genome sequencing of different kinds of crops for agriculture and many human genomes for more understanding of disease and variation in human traits

In November 2011, BGI Research Institute launched the 3-Million Genomes Project, which is made up of the Million Plant and Animal Genomes Project; the Million Human Genomes Project; and the Million Microecosystem Genomes Project.

In February 2013, BGI had already claimed to have sequenced 50,000 whole human genomes.

With a U.S. nonprofit, Autism Speaks, BGI is being paid to sequence the DNA of up to 10,000 people from families with autistic children. For researchers in Denmark, BGI is decoding the genomes of 3,000 obese people and 3,000 lean ones.

BGI has also sequenced 115 different kinds of cucumbers.

It would seem that BGI could fulfill the 3 million genome project by sometime around 2014-2016.

In June, the UK announced the formation of Genomics England, a company set up to execute the £100 million project. They are targeting 100,000 whole human genomes sequenced by 2017. The sequencing centers will be ready by 2015, when the project kicks off in earnest. “Then we will be sequencing 30,000 whole-genome sequences a year,” says Caulfield.

The US national human genome research institute provides the above chart of costs of whole genome sequencing.

UCSB breakthrough puts LEDs on track for 300 lumens per watt or 90% efficiency vs 5% efficiency for incandescent ligth bulbs

By determining simple guidelines, researchers at UC Santa Barbara's Solid State Lighting and Energy Center (SSLEC) have made it possible to optimize phosphors –– a key component in white LED lighting –– allowing for brighter, more efficient lights.

"These guidelines should permit the discovery of new and improved phosphors in a rational rather than trial-and-error manner," said Ram Seshadri, a professor in the university's Department of Materials as well as in its Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, of the breakthrough contribution to solid-state lighting research.

This breakthrough puts efforts for high-efficiency, high-brightness, solid-state lighting on a fast track. Lower-efficiency incandescent and fluorescent bulbs –– which use relatively more energy to produce light –– could become antiquated fixtures of the past.

"Our target is to get to 90 percent efficiency, or 300 lumens per watt," said DenBaars, who also is a professor of electrical and computer engineering and co-director of the SSLEC. Current incandescent light bulbs, by comparison, are at roughly 5 percent efficiency, and fluorescent lamps are a little more efficient at about 20 percent.

"We have already demonstrated up to 60 percent efficiency in lab demos," DenBaars said.

Petrobras will increase oil production capacity by 1 million barrels per day in 2013

This year, Petrobras bring online nine new production units in a single year for the first time; the installed production capacity of the platforms amounts to 1 million barrels per day. The units coming on stream will be essential for the company to double its current production and achieve the target of 4.2 million barrels of oil per day for 2020.

The President also highlighted the growth of the shipbuilding industry in recent years.

Why does Sweden have so many billionaires ?

The US has 31% of the billionaires in the entire world.

The 2013 Forbes Billionaires list now boasts 1,426 names, with an aggregate net worth of $5.4 trillion, up from $4.6 trillion. We found 210 new ten-figure fortunes. Once again the U.S. leads the list with 442 billionaires, followed by Asia-Pacific (386), Europe (366), the Americas (129) and the Middle East & Africa (103).

A new study from Wealth-X and UBS finds that the global population of billionaires has surged past 2,000.

The US has a population of 312 million.

In per capita terms, the US lags behind several smaller states.

Billionaires per capita.

Here's the top 10 (number of billionaires/estimated population):

1. Monaco (3/35,427)
2. St. Kitts and Nevis (1/53,051)
3. Guernsey (1/65,573)
4. Hong Kong (39/7.1 million)
5. Belize (1/356,600)
6. Cyprus (3/1.1 million)
7. Israel (17/7.8 million)
8. Singapore (10/5.2 million)
9. Kuwait (5/2.8 million)
10. Switzerland (13/7.9 million)
12. Sweden (14 billionaires, population 9.56 million)

But one country stands out on the list: Sweden.

How does a famously socialist and left-wing country like Sweden get so many billionaires ?

October 31, 2013

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies is a company formed to develop Elon Musk Hyperloop design

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies is the newly named and incorporated company currently recruiting those interested in realizing Musk's dream of a next-generation ground transportation system costing $6 billion, which could theoretically reduce the travel time from San Francisco to Los Angeles to just 30 minutes.

Dirk Ahlborn, founder and CEO of JumpStartFund, is confident enough that he's projecting the construction of a working scale model of the Hyperloop in just over a year.

"Right now, we just want input from the community and elsewhere to see if we're missing anything in our planning. There are a lot of people out there who are smarter than us," Ahlborn told PCMag this week.

"Then, the next milestone will be presenting a white paper ... [a]nd by the beginning of 2015, we want to have a scale model.

Multi-millionaire funds gene sequencing to find genes for Mathematical Genius

Jonathan Rothberg founded two genetic-sequencing companies and sold them for hundreds of millions of dollars. He helped to sequence the genomes of a Neanderthal man and James Watson, who co-discovered DNA’s double helix. Now, entrepreneur Jonathan Rothberg has set his sights on another milestone: finding the genes that underlie mathematical genius.

Rothberg and physicist Max Tegmark, who is based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, have enrolled about 400 mathematicians and theoretical physicists from top-ranked US universities in a study dubbed ‘Project Einstein’. They plan to sequence the participants’ genomes using the Ion Torrent machine that Rothberg developed.

The team will be wading into a field fraught with controversy. Critics have assailed similar projects, such as one at the BGI (formerly the Beijing Genomics Institute) in Shenzhen, China, that is sequencing the genomes of 1,600 people identified as mathematically precocious children in the 1970s. The critics say that the sizes of these studies are too small to yield meaningful results for such complex traits. And some are concerned about ethical issues. If the projects find genetic markers for maths ability, these could be used as a basis for the selective abortion of fetuses or in choosing between embryos created through in vitro fertilization

Dune is classic Science Fiction whcih has Mentats. Mentats are humans trained to mimic computers: human minds developed to staggering heights of cognitive and analytical ability.

Mars One will launch its first unmanned mission to Mars in 2016

Mars One will launch its first unmanned mission to the Red Planet in 2016, its co-founder says.

The firm plans to establish a human settlement on Martian soil in 2023, by offering passengers a one-way ticket.

Mars One will send "a small craft that will demonstrate the technologies we need for our human colony" and is inviting partners to join the mission.

Comcast funding political groups to defeat Seattle Mayor who is getting gigabit fiber for Seattle

Comcast has given thousands of dollars to political groups to defeat the mayor of Seattle. McGinn's major opponent, state Sen. Ed Murray (D-Seattle), has committed to honoring the city's existing contracts for a 14-neighborhood pilot project, but has shown limited enthusiasm about McGinn's plans to expand the network in the future. So the election could determine whether Seattle residents have new options for high-speed broadband service, or will have to make do with the slower services already offered by incumbents like Comcast.

The mayor is working on public-private partnerships using city-owned dark fiber. This dark fiber was laid down starting in 1995, and the mayor's office now says there are some 535 miles of it, only a fraction of which is being used.

In a partnership with the University of Washington, the city put out a request for proposals in late 2012. "The RFP process is not intended to pick one provider," says Cruickshank, but one company -- Washington, D.C.-based Gigabit Squared -- is currently farthest along. The company is still wrapping up its funding and finalizing plans with the city. They expect to begin offering gigabit-speed service to households with a combined population of 50,000 in early 2014, according to Mark Ansboury, co-founder of Gigabit Squared.

Comcast costs over twice as much for the same speed and 40% more for nine times slower

In June, Gigabit Squared announced pricing for its Seattle service: $45 dollars a month for 100 Mbps service or $80 a month for 1 Gbps service plus a one-time installation cost of $350 that will be waived for customers signing a one-year contract. For comparison, Comcast, one of the primary Internet providers in the area, offers 105 Mbps service in the area for $114.99 a month according to their website.

Google Barges with 4 stories of shipping containers in San Francisco and Portland, Maine

CNET was first to report ties between Google and the structure, a four-story-tall building made from shipping containers that sits mostly covered in scaffolding and dark netting on a stationary barge alongside Treasure Island, a former Navy base in the San Francisco Bay. There is a very similar one that is currently located in Portland, Maine.

There is speculation it could be a floating data center, in large part because a 2009 Google patent described, in many ways, what the tech company has built on top of the barges in both San Francisco Bay and Maine.

Another theory, first reported by CNET parent CBS' San Francisco affiliate KPIX, is that the building is actually some sort of floating Google Glass retail or marketing venue. That theory was bolstered by a tipster who, prior to the KPIX report, contacted CNET suggesting sources inside Google had said the project will be a floating Google Glass store intended to move from city to city hawking the tech giant's futuristic augmented-reality glasses.

China May Work with Malaysia and Singapore on High Speed Rail link which would be part of a South East Asia wide high speed rail system

China has expressed interest in participating in Malaysia’s 330km-long Kuala Lumpur-Singa­pore high speed rail (HSR) link project.

China President Xi Jinping said the project, together with port development and other connectivity projects, were on top of their overseas investment ventures.

Earlier this year, Malaysia and Singapore announced plans for the rail link, which is expected to cut land travelling time between the two countries to just 90 minutes.

The project, targeted to be completed by 2020, is reported to cost about RM40billion (US$12.6 billion).

China’s investment in Malaysia was less than the other way around.

“Currently, China’s investment in our country is only about 10% of the US$6.3bil (RM20.05bil) of what Malay­sia invested in China,” Mustapa said.

China has already started to get some of the contracts for Thailands high speed rail system.

Toyota to Launch Partially Self Driving cars around 2015

Toyota Motor Corporation announces that it has developed a next-generation advanced driving support system, Automated Highway Driving Assist (AHDA), which uses automated driving technologies to support safer highway driving.

AHDA links two automated driving technologies to support safer driving and reduce driver workload: Cooperative-adaptive Cruise Control, which wirelessly communicates with preceding vehicles to maintain a safe distance; and Lane Trace Control, which aids steering to keep the vehicle on an optimal driving line within the lane.

Toyota recognizes the importance of the driver being in ultimate control of a vehicle and is therefore aiming to introduce AHDA and other advanced driving support systems where the driver maintains control and the fun-to-drive aspect of controlling a vehicle is not compromised. Toyota plans to market the newly developed AHDA in the mid-2010s and other driving support systems as soon as possible to provide safe and secure means of transportation.

General Atomics land based version of railgun could be ready in 2016 with adequate funding

General Atomics unveiled a land-based artillery version of its Blitzer electromagnetic railgun (EMRG) at the Association of the US Army (AUSA) conference in Washington, DC, with a company official telling IHS Jane's that with adequate funding the concept could be ready for production in "two to three years".

Railguns are being researched as weapons with projectiles that do not contain explosives, but are given extremely high velocities: 3,500 m/s (11,500 ft/s) (approximately Mach 10 at sea level) or more (for comparison, the M16 rifle has a muzzle speed of 930 m/s (3,050 ft/s), and the 16"/50 caliber Mark 7 gun that armed World War II American battleships has a muzzle speed of 760 m/s (2,490 ft/s)), which would make their kinetic energy equal or far superior to the energy yield of an explosive-filled shell of greater mass. This would decrease ammunition size and weight, allowing more ammunition to be carried and eliminating the hazards of carrying explosives in a tank or naval weapons platform. Also, by firing at greater velocities, railguns have greater range, less bullet drop, faster time on target and less wind drift, bypassing the physical limitations of conventional firearms: "the limits of gas expansion prohibit launching an unassisted projectile to velocities greater than about 1.5 km/s and ranges of more than 50 miles [80 km] from a practical conventional gun system.

The first weaponized railgun planned for production, the General Atomics Blitzer system, began full system testing in September 2010. The weapon launches a streamlined discarding sabot round designed by Boeing's Phantom Works at 1,600 m/s (5,200 ft/s) (approximately Mach 5) with accelerations exceeding 60,000 g. During one of the tests, the projectile was able to travel an additional 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) downrange after penetrating a 1⁄8 inches (3.2 mm) thick steel plate. The company hopes to have an integrated demo of the system by 2016 followed by production by 2019, pending funding. Thus far, the project is self-funded.

The main problem the U.S. Navy has had with implementing a railgun cannon system is that the guns wear out due to the immense heat produced by firing. Such weapons are expected to be powerful enough to do a little more damage than a BGM-109 Tomahawk missile at a fraction of the projectile cost

Russia has new ICBM that can follow non-classical flight path and can be retargeted through entire flight and has evasive capabilities

By the end of this year, Moscow will test its newest ballistic missile, the RS-26 Rubezh equipped with hypersonic manoeuvring units. As Colonel General Vladimir Zarudnitsky, chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, said to Vladimir Putin, this system will significantly expand the ability of Russian strategic nuclear forces to overcome missile defense systems.

It seems to have some ability to take evasive movements and change direction at hypersonic speeds. Typical ICBMs have a top speed of 15,000 mph (mach 24).

Back in 1997, then Chief of General Staff Yury Baluyevsky announced proudly that Russia had developed a hypersonic cruise vehicle (HCV). Its flight path is non-classical, meaning it doesn't follow the classic parabola like a modern nuclear warhead, but can arbitrarily change directions. HCVs can enter outer space, and then re-enter the earth's atmosphere. A conventional nuclear warhead enters the dense layers of the atmosphere at a speed of 5,000 metres per second. The speed of the HCV is twice as high. This makes it very hard to detect with radar missile defence systems. In addition, as military personnel note, the HCV can be retargeted throughout its entire flight, unlike conventional warheads.

US Watts Bar 2 reactor on schedule for Dec 2015 and Pakistan and Jordan each getting two more nuclear reactors which is part of a nuclear energy trend for Middle East, Southeast Asia, and Latin America

1. Work to complete Watts Bar 2 remains on course and on budget with commercial operation likely to start in December 2015, according to the latest update on the project issued by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

The fifth quarterly update on the project to complete the 1165 MWe pressurised water reactor covers the period from May to July 2013. In addition to schedule and cost, it found that safety and quality control targets were also being met, and that no new risks that might compromise the project's completion had been identified. The unit is expected to enter service between September 2015 and June 2016 - although December 2015 has been identified as the "most likely" commercial operation date. Fuel loading is expected to take place in June 2015.

Bulk construction is in the final phase, according to TVA senior vice president for Watts Bar operations and construction Mike Skaggs who said that the plant is "approximately 80%" complete.

Gene therapy back on track

Five children with a genetic disease that wipes out their immune system have successfully been treated with gene therapy.

Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) is also known as "bubble boy" disease, since people affected have to live in a sterile environment.

SCID was the first condition to be treated with gene therapy more than 20 years ago. A virus was used to replace a faulty gene with a healthy one. But in subsequent trials, four young patients were diagnosed with leukaemia two years after receiving a similar treatment. An 18-year-old also died following a reaction to a virus used in gene therapy for a liver condition. It was the start of a rocky road.

Preliminary results for the first two children to receive the improved SCID gene therapy – 18 months ago – were presented at the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy conference in Madrid, Spain, last week. The children's immune systems have continued to improve since receiving the treatment, says Bobby Gaspar of Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, who led the trial.

Three further children – including Nina – have been treated since then, and they too are showing signs of a full recovery.

Learn the premier computational design tool for atomically precise fabrication

Learn the state of the art in fabricating intricate, nanoscale, atomically precise object. ROSETTA software suite includes RosettaDesign, which in Eric Drexler's view is today’s premier computational design tool for atomically precise fabrication.

Here is a brief review of the six most frequent research problems tackled with ROSETTA. For each of these six tasks, we provide a tutorial that illustrates a basic ROSETTA protocol. The ROSETTA method was originally developed for de novo protein structure prediction and is regularly one of the best performers in the community-wide biennial Critical Assessment of Structure Prediction. Predictions for protein domains with fewer than 125 amino acids regularly have a backbone root-mean-square deviation of better than 5.0 A˚. More impressively, there are several cases in which ROSETTA has been used to predict structures with atomic level accuracy better than 2.5 A˚ . In addition to de novo structure prediction, ROSETTA also has methods for molecular docking, homology modeling, determining protein structures from sparse experimental NMR or EPR data, and protein design. ROSETTA has been used to accurately design a novel protein structure, predict the structure of protein-protein complexes, design altered specificity protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions, and stabilize proteins and protein complexes.
Most recently, ROSETTA has been used to solve the X-ray crystallographic phase problem.

October 30, 2013

World Economic Forum had three financial scenarios to 2030

In 2012, the world economic forum produced a forecast of what could happen to Europe, the USA and China to 2030.

They had a negative scenario for all three if current troubles led the countries or regions to turn inward and protectionist.

The two scenarios with some positive results indicate that

US adjusts well if the US gets past the political problems that exist now.

In the United States, fears grew that its own debt situation could lead it down a similar path. A wave of public outrage at brinksmanship and blame-mongering in the US political system led to a new bipartisan drive for fiscal reforms. A mixture of deep spending cuts, adjustments to entitlement programmes and targeted tax increases succeeded in balancing the budget and gradually reducing US public debt. At the same time, US firms became increasingly active at chasing growth opportunities in new global consumer markets.

Weird speculation about China's future from two Hong Kong sources

Russia's Pravda commented on two weird publications that came out of Hong Kong.

The article in Frontline (Hong Kong english language political news) categorically stated that the Chinese Communist Party would collapse in three phases over the next three years, and its reign would end in 2016. First, in 2014 China's economy will fall, and in the next year the political structure of the Communist Party will be destroyed. Then, in 2016, the entire society will collapse, and the half-billion-strong country will fall into a political coma.

The reasons for the collapse are economical and associated with a significant outflow of capital from China. This deadly process, according to a US expert, Professor Tian from a provincial University of South Carolina, will be exacerbated by the real estate market "bubbles," shadow banking system and huge debts of municipalities. This sounds exactly like the situation in the United States in 2008-2013.

There are lot of political sources in Hong Kong that are anti-mainland. The Epoch Times is backed by the Falun Gong. I do not know the background of Frontline in Hong Kong. There is also a lot of tabloid and sensationalist medua in Hong Kong. It would be very difficult to be so precise and certain of a Soviet Union style collapse before the fact. I also do not see the issues and causes as described being that serious or being able to act in such a fast timeframe.

On July 8, 2013, the pro-PRC Chinese-language newspaper, Wenweipo, published an article titled (Six Wars China Is Sure to Fight In the Next 50 Years)”.

The anticipated six wars are all irredentist in purpose — the reclaiming of what Chinese believe to be national territories lost since Imperial China was defeated by the Brits in the Opium War of 1840-42

A full translation is at Hong Kong blog, Midnight Express 2046 via

The timeline and predictions for wars out 40 years makes no sense. An accurate strategy or forecast could not be made that far out.

Lithium-sulfur battery breakthroughs for holding good charges for up to 200 recharges

Cornell researchers’ improvement of the performance of lithium-sulfur batteries, a promising alternative to today’s lithium-ion batteries.

Two recently published papers, both originating from the lab of Hector Abruña, the Emile M. Chamot Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, describe breakthroughs in the durability and performance of lithium-sulfur battery cathodes, one by using a component of corn starch, and the other, by modeling a nanocomposite material after the yolk-shell structure of eggs.

“Lithium-sulfur batteries could potentially offer about five times the energy density of today’s typically used lithium-ion batteries,” said Yingchao Yu, Ph.D. student with Abruña, and co-first author on the JACS publication. “But a lithium-sulfur battery is not a stable system, as its capacity tends to fade over a short period of time.”

After about 50 charge cycles, the energy density of a lithium-sulfur battery decreases rapidly due to a phenomenon called the polysulfide shuttling effect, which is when the polysulfide chains in the battery’s cathode (positive end) dissolve in the electrolyte, the ionizing liquid that allows electrons to flow.

To combat this problem and stabilize the sulfur, the researchers used amylopectin, a polysaccharide that’s a main component of corn starch.

Top left, false-colored energy dispersive X-ray mapping of a sulfur-polyaniline core-shell nanocomposite, next to a scanning electron microscopy image of the core shells cracked after five cycles. Bottom left is a transmission electron microscopy image of a yolk-shell structure coating with polyaniline, and, right, its preserved morphology after five charge cycles.

ACS Nano - Amylopectin Wrapped Graphene Oxide/Sulfur for Improved Cyclability of Lithium–Sulfur Battery

Journal of the American Chemical Society - Yolk–Shell Structure of Polyaniline-Coated Sulfur for Lithium–Sulfur Batteries

Brooke Greenberg died at the chronological age of 20 but physically as a toddler

In 2009, Nextbigfuture covered the curious case of Brooke Greenberg. At the time she was chronologically 16 years old but physically she was a toddler.

Brooke, who passed away last Thursday at the age of 20, had the body and cognitive function of a 1-year-old. She didn't grow after the age of 5 — and basically, she stopped aging entirely.

Brooke Greenberg, was a 20-year-old who never developed beyond the toddler stage, may provide clues to help scientists unlock the secrets of longevity and fight age-related disorders, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and heart disease.

There has been genetic sequencing of Brooke's DNA and other studies related to aging.

General Fusion targeting commercializing nuclear fusion in about 2020

General Fusion has opened up its website. Previously much of website required passwords to access.

General Fusion has the near-term goal of developing a full-scale prototype fusion power plant for the comparative bargain of $500 million. In September, General Fusion added some serious scientific muscle to its team, appointing two renowned names in energy and technology circles to its board. Frederick W. Buckman, a PhD in nuclear engineering from MIT, is a veteran energy executive and CEO of Powerlink Transmission Co.; Jacques Besnainou is the former president and CEO of Areva Group North America, a global player in nuclear power.

General Fusion’s system uses a sphere, filled with molten lead-lithium that is pumped to form a vortex. Plasma is injected into the vortex, and an array of pistons drives a pressure wave into the centre of the sphere to compress the plasma into fusion conditions. It would use abundant raw materials and produce no emissions or radioactive waste.

There have been delays that have disrupted the company’s ideal timeline, but “that’s science.”

“We’re working hard to have a full prototype system in the next few years,” says Delage. “The goal we’re focused on right now is getting to the point where we can build that full-size complete prototype.”

If General Fusion succeeds they plan to produce fusion system that generate power at about 3-5 cents per kWh. This would be competitive with coal and natural gas.

October 29, 2013

Brian Wang interviewed by Motherboard for nuclear fusion energy article

Brian Wang was interviewed by Sam Roudman of Motherboard for an article on nuclear fusion.

Amongst the most secretive and best-financed is Tri-Alpha energy. They’ve released nothing more than a Powerpoint, but have raised somewhere over $140 million from the likes of Goldman Sachs, Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, Russian tech investment firm Rusnano, and, weirdly, former LA Law star Harry Hamlin.

“For some reason the rich guys like however Tri-Alpha presented,” says Brian Wang, who follows developments in fusion as director of research at Next Big Future. From what Wang can tell, Tri Alpha’s approach looks like the one put forward by a NASA and Department of Defense funded company called Helion Energy, which involves colliding units of plasma and magnetic fields known as plasmoids, but he says “the paper that’s been released does not indicate technical results that they’re way ahead.”

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics, a small New Jersey-based outfit, is going in a more complicated, but open route. As opposed to approaches that use the hydrogen isotopes deuterium and tritium (DT) as fuel, LPP is attempting to use a hydrogen and boron-based fuel known as pB11 instead. Despite scant funds, the potential economics of LPP reactors make them more appealing than other approaches.

“If you have another clean way to produce [energy] at 2 to 10 cents per Kw/Hr, the world does not change,” says Brian Wang. In that range, the fusion energy would be cost competitive with other renewables, as while as fossil fuels. But it would not be cheap enough to prevent investment in new capacity for dirty energy. New coal plants and oil refineries would continue to be built. “Only LPP, if they can get it down to .1 cent per Kw/Hr does the world change.”

If LPP is able to develop a reactor that’s a quarter or a fifth the price of dirty energy, than Fitzgerald thinks anyone in their right mind would switch over “purely as a market-driven proposition.” It’s a potential market of untold billions. “Even if there was only one chance in 3 or 50/50 or one chance in 2, the potential payoff if they succeed is so amazing, that I was willing to risk my money,” he says.

Scaling up the spinning tower swing amusement park ride with an 100 mile tall space launch tower buildable with todays materials

There is a design for a new new space launch system that would leverage an inflatable tower design.

Fisher Space Systems LLC has created the design for an inflated tower combined with a rotating system that will fling a reusable launch vehicle to space. It will only need a reusable upper stage. It could also be combined with a rotovator for the upper stage. Electricity can power the elevator ride up and power the rotating system.

The Space Track Launch System (STLS) is a two stage system. The first stage is a tall tower 100-150 km high. An electrically driven rotating truss at the top of the tower is attached to two sets of ribbons made of high strength fiber composites. Counterweights (CW) are attached to the end of each ribbon. The second stage is a reusable liquid fueled launch vehicle (LV) designed to launch form the STLS.

The system is unique for several reasons. First, the first stage is all electric and can be used up to three times a day. The electric motors restore rotational kinetic energy to the ribbons in approximately 8 hours. Second, the launch vehicle launches from a point along the ribbon as opposed to being released from the end of the ribbon. For a 30 ton launch vehicle, launching from the end of the ribbon produces a compressive shock wave that will destroy the ribbon and damage the tower. When launched from the middle of the ribbon, the additional force on the ribbon is several orders of magnitude less than the tension in the ribbon. As such, the impulse from launch is absorbed by the ribbon and counterweights and the stress on the tower is greatly reduced. Finally, the materials are presently available to build a first generation system capable of placing 400 kg of payload into a low earth orbit up to three times a day.

There are many SkyScreamer rides in Six Flag parks. The tallest are about 120 meters tall

Intel will produce ARM 64 bit core chips using 14 nanomater fabrication process

Intel will fabricate starting in 2014 high-end Altera Stratix 10 parts that use four ARM Cortex-A53 cores and it will Intel's 14 nm Finfet process. Industry watchers will be interested to kick the tires on the combination of Intel's leading-edge process and ARM's 64-bit cores. Altera claims the Stratix 10 parts in Intel's 14nm process will provide FPGA "performance over one gigahertz, two times the core performance of current high-end 28-nm FPGAs."

In terms of fab processes, Intel is seen as a node ahead of the competition. It is now ramping up 14nm FinFET process. Foundry rival TSMC is ramping up its 20nm process now but does not expect to have a version with FinFETs ready for commercial use until late next year.

Helion Energy starts up fourth nuclear fusion prototype on its planned path to a commercial 50 MW pilot nuclear fusion reactor in 2019

Helion Energy has announced that its fourth prototype nuclear fusion system is operational. Previous prototypes demonstrated the breakthroughs that made possible a new path toward commercial fusion and yielded significant fusion yields with Helion’s design. This prototype will take Helion one step closer to commercial scale fusion.

Helion Energy also won a Clean Tech competition. Each regional finalist wins a prize package with a mix of seed investment and in-kind services worth up to $20,000. On November 19 two dozen winners from eight regions around the U.S. will convene in San Jose, CA to network with potential investors and vie for prizes as large as $200,000 in value.

Helion Energy Fusion Engine has received about $7 million in funds from DOE, the Department of Defense and NASA. The company hopes to raise another $2 million by next year, $35 million in 2015-17, and $200 million for its pilot plant stage.

The Fusion Engine is a cyclically operating fusion power plant technology that will be capable of clean energy generation for base load and on-demand power.

EU-Canada deal foreshadows a global standard for professional degrees like architects and engineers

On October 18th it announced an agreement in principle between Canada and the European Union on a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). More than a blessing for insomniacs, CETA is a prototype for bigger things to come, especially the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) now under negotiation between the EU and the United States.

It would close gaps in intellectual-property rules and could allow for mutual recognition of some professional certifications, such as those for architects and engineers. The aim is to begin lowering barriers to trade in services just as past agreements removed obstacles to trade in goods: a worthy goal, since services generate about 70% of rich-world GDP.

Trillions of sensors to enable $15 trillion Internet of Things market by 2020

The Trillion Sensor Summit had more than 50 presenters from around the globe shared their thinking with more than 200 executives. "This could be the biggest business in the history of electronics," Bryzek told the crowd, citing estimates from Cisco Systems and GE of a $15 trillion IoT (Internet of Things) market by 2020.

Industry giants including Amazon, Cisco, and GE are ramping up IoT services and business units. One medical electronics giant just finished a strategic plan for how it could connect its diverse systems, gathering data to create new services.

The Internet of Things is a fragmented collection of diverse markets, each with its own needs. They share a demand for sensors that cost $1 or less and consume next to zero power.

Life size animated 3D hologram of the human body will teach about muscle structures, skeleton, internal organs, blood vessels and nerves

A full colour, animated 3D hologram of the human body is to go on public display for the first time.

Viewed from different angles, the life-sized teaching device shows muscle structures, skeleton, internal organs, blood vessels and nerves.

Visitors to the University’s Anatomy Museum will be able to study the new teaching tool, which is the largest anatomical hologram ever made.

The 3D image of a female body is made of three synthetic layers and stands 1.7 metres high.

Wearable Minority Report head mounted 3D virtual displa

Taiwan has a breakthrough system that tracks hand movements to enable touch-activated interaction with a 3D virtual head-mounted display.

The i-Air Touch glasses project a virtual 3D image about 30 centimeters (12 inches) in front of the user by supplying separate left and right images to the user's eyes. Going one-step beyond Google Glass, the i-Air Touch also incorporates cameras mounted above the glasses to track the user's hand movements to enable him to perform touch-activated interaction with the virtual display.

ITRI, Taiwan's largest independent research lab, claims its i-Air Touch technology realizes the world's first see-through, head-mounted display that allows users to freely interact with it using touch. The user can use all the same gestures used on a normal touchscreen, such as swiping to change pages, pinching to zoom, and tapping to select entries on a virtual keyboard, all of which is only visible to the person wearing the glasses. And since the glasses are see-through, the user can still walk, navigate, and interact with objects and people in her surroundings.

October 28, 2013

New Nanotechnology Solutions from Eric Drexler

108 pages of new nanotechnology solutions from Eric Drexler and Dennis Pamlin written in May 2013.

The key development for the 21st century is advanced, atomically precise manufacturing (APM).

This report examines the potential for nanotechnology to enable deeply transformative production technologies that can be developed through a series of advances that build on current nanotechnology research. The report has five sections:

1. Nanotechnology and global challenge
The first section discusses the basics of advanced, atomically precise nanotechnology and explains how current and future solutions can help address global challenges. Key concepts are presented and different kinds of nanotechnology are discussed and compared.

2. The birth of Nanotechnology
The second section discusses the development of nanotechnology, from the first vision fifty years ago, expanding via a scientific approach to atomically precise manufacturing thirty years ago, initial demonstrations of principle twenty years ago, to the last decade of of accelerating success in developing key enabling technologies. The important role
of emerging countries is discussed, with China as a leading example, together with an overview of the contrast between the promise and the results to date.

3. Delivery of transformative nanotechnologies
Here the different aspects of APM that are needed to enable breakthrough advances in productive technologies are discussed. The necessary technology base can be developed through a series of coordinated advances along strategically chosen lines of research.

4. Accelerating progress toward advanced nanotechnologies
This section discusses research initiatives that can enable and support advanced nanotechnology, on paths leading to APM, including integrated cross-disciplinary research and Identification of high-value applications and their requirements.

5. Possible next steps
The final section provides a short summary of the opportunities and the possibilities to address institutional challenges of planning, resource allocation, evaluation, transparency, and collaboration as nanotechnology moves into its next phase of development: nanosystems engineering.

Superfast factory mass production of skyscrapers is crushing the system for printing a house in 20 hours

Nextbigfuture has covered contour crafting for cement jet printing of buildings for years. We have a contour crafting tag for all of articles on this topic. We have also had a lot of articles about Broad Group of China's factory mass produced skyscrapers. Broad Group process is being used for several dozen skyscrapers while Contour Crafting remains a mainly lab based curiousity. Contour Crafting is cool, but Broad Group is changing the construction world. Broad Group is controversial with its Sky City project to make the world's tallest building in 2014. The land has been purchased for Sky City and there are delays for all of the permits. However, Broad Group process has gotten successful enough to have enemies (Other skyscraper developers in China, the politicians who are owned by those developers etc...)

There is TED video for printing a 2500 square foot building using a contour crafting cement printer. Behrokh Khoshnevis demonstrates automated construction, using 3D printers to build an entire house in 20 hours. Nextbigfuture covered the TED talk back in 2012 when it was produced.

We covered it back in 2008 when they got some funding from Caterpillar Inc.

The contour crafting website is here

There was earlier coverage in 2008.

The best use for Contour Crafting is for printing structures on the moon with lunar cement. This would reduce the mass of material that is needed to be taken to the moon.

Startup creates Artificial Intelligence that can read Captchas and in 5-7 years plans to put human intelligence into mathematical algorithms

The world's first artificial intelligence (AI) to pass the Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart -- Captcha -- debuts today from Vicarious FPC Inc. in San Francisco.

Vicarious is a three-year old California Flexible Purpose Corporation (thus the FPC after its name), which instead of maximizing shareholder value, like a normal corporation, is aiming to fulfill a singular purpose -- to solve the important algorithmic problems behind building a human-like AI. For Captcha, its already succeeded, but Vicarious's long-term goal is to generalize its Captcha AI into a complete robotic brain that is as smart as a human in all areas of sensory perception.

"Our goal is to combine insights from neuroscience with modern machine learning techniques and cast them into mathematical algorithms that are just as intelligent as humans," Phoenix told us.

The three-year-old startup was founded by Phoenix, formerly entrepreneur in residence at Founders Fund, and co-founder Dileep George, formerly chief technology officer of Numenta. Vicarious is running on its second round of funding. The first seed round in 2010 was $1.1 million, and its Series A for $15 million was just completed last year, giving the six-person company the time and money it thinks it needs to fulfill its mission of casting human intelligence into mathematical algorithms, which it expects to achieve in five to seven years.

Vicarious - Turing Test 1: Captcha from Vicarious Inc on Vimeo.

Text based captchas - strengths and weaknesses (14 pages, 2011)

Adaptive Cruise Control Algorithm that keeps a car halfway between front and rear cars will prevent traffic jams

At this month’s IEEE Conference on Intelligent Transport Systems, Berthold Horn, a professor in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, presented a new algorithm for alleviating traffic flow instabilities, which he believes could be implemented by a variation of the adaptive cruise-control systems that are an option on many of today’s high-end cars.

A car with adaptive cruise control uses sensors, such as radar or laser rangefinders, to monitor the speed and distance of the car in front of it. That way, the driver doesn’t have to turn the cruise control off when traffic gets backed up: The car will automatically slow when it needs to and return to its programmed speed when possible.

Counterintuitively, a car equipped with Horn’s system would also use sensor information about the distance and velocity of the car behind it. A car that stays roughly halfway between those in front of it and behind it won’t have to slow down as precipitously if the car in front of it brakes; but it will also be less likely to pass on any unavoidable disruptions to the car behind it. Since the system looks in both directions at once, Horn describes it as “bilateral control.”

Suppressing traffic flow instabilities (8 pages)

Greenpeace and others are preventing millions of children from being saved from death and blindness

Golden rice contains enough vitamin A to meet children's needs.

A 2009 study concluded that golden rice is effectively converted into vitamin A in humans.
A 2012 study that fed 68 children ages 6 to 8 concluded that golden rice was as good as vitamin A supplements and better than the natural beta-carotene in spinach.

Recently, scientists gathered evidence from Mozambique and Uganda that vitamin A enhanced sweet potatoes are, in fact, improving people's lives. Children who are eating them do have more vitamin A in their blood. Based on other studies of the effects of vitamin A, nutritionists are confident that the boost is big enough to improve the health of those children. The researchers involved in the HarvestPlus effort are now trying to duplicate this success with other crops. Just this year, they started distributing new to farmers in Rwanda and a new kind of in India. Both are high in iron. In Zambia, they are starting to distribute a type of that has deep orange kernels, high in beta carotene.

Yet farming changes slowly in Africa, and it probably will take at least a decade before anyone knows whether these crops are doing as much good as the orange sweet potato.

Vitamin A capsules are already being given through programs of the World Health Organization and charities such as Hellen Keller International. They've been running the programs for 15 years, but they cost tens of millions of dollars a year. The problem is that besides the expense, you need the infrastructure to distribute the capsules. We're aiming for people who can't be reached this way, poor farmers in remote places.

As for the possibility of eating foods that supply vitamin A, such as liver, leafy green vegetables and eggs, the people we're targeting are too poor to buy them. Some kitchen garden projects provide them, but despite these interventions we still have 6000 children dying every day. These are not enough. The Golden Rice project aim is to complement, not replace these programs

In 2005, 190 million children and 19 million pregnant women, in 122 countries, were estimated to be affected by VAD (Vitamin A Deficiency). VAD is responsible for 1–2 million deaths, 500,000 cases of irreversible blindness and millions of cases of xerophthalmia annually. Children and pregnant women are at highest risk.

Delaying the introduction of golden rice (which is now proven effective) has cost over 20 million lives since golden rice was first available in 1999 and an improved version in 2005.

MicroLED light bulb Li-fi demonstrated at 10 gigabits per second in the UK and terabits per second per square millimeter is possible

UK researchers say they have achieved data transmission speeds of 10Gbit/s via "li-fi" - wireless internet connectivity using light.

The researchers used a micro-LED light bulb to transmit 3.5Gbit/s via each of the three primary colours - red, green, blue - that make up white light.

Li-fi is an emerging technology that could see specialised LED lights bulbs providing low-cost wireless internet connectivity almost everywhere.

EPSRC's Ultra-parallel visible light communications (UP-VLC) project is running from October 2012 to September 2016. The vision is built on the unique capabilities of gallium nitride (GaN) optoelectronics to combine optical communications with lighting functions, and especially on the capability to implement new forms of spatial multiplexing, where individual elements in high-density arrays of GaN based light emitting diodes (LEDs) provide independent communications channels, but can combine as displays. We envisage ultra-high data density - potentially Terabit per second per square millimeter - arrays of LEDs driven via CMOS control electronics in novel addressing and encoding schemes and in compact and versatile forms.

QR codes etched into Tungsten can save vital information for millions of years

Researchers have developed an optical information carrier that can store information for extremely long periods of time, with each bit being written using etching techniques. The chosen information carrier is a wafer consisting of tungsten encapsulated by silicon nitride. Tungsten was chosen because it can withstand extreme temperatures. A QR code is etched into the tungsten (see picture) and is protected by the nitride. Each pixel of the large QR code contains a smaller QR code that in turn stores different information. "In principle, we can store everything on the disc that we believe is worthwhile saving: for example, a digital image of the Mona Lisa. In this study we tested a digital copy of the chapter about this medium from my thesis", says De Vries.

Current hard disk drives have the ability to store vast amounts of data but last roughly ten years at room temperature, because their magnetic energy barrier is low so that the information is lost after a period of time. CDs, DVDs, paper, tape, clay and tablets and stone also have a limited life.

October 27, 2013

Physicist discusses how many nuclear fear mongering statements are mathematically correct but silly and misleading

A physicist discusses Fukushima.

There was no Fukushima nuclear disaster. Total number of people killed by nuclear radiation at Fukushima was zero. Total injured by radiation was zero. Total private property damaged by radiation….zero. There was no nuclear disaster. What there was, was a major media feeding frenzy fuelled by the rather remote possibility that there may have been a major radiation leak.

Certainly from the ‘disaster’ perspective there was a financial disaster for the owners of the Fukushima plant. The plant overheated, suffered a core meltdown, and is now out of commission for ever. A financial disaster, but no nuclear disaster.

Recently some water leaked out of the Fukushima plant. It contained a very small amount of radioactive dust. The news media quoted the radiation activity in the physics measure of miliSieverts. The public don’t know what a Sievert or a milliSievert is. As it happens a milliSievert is a very small measure.

Doubling a very small amount is still inconsequential. It is like saying: “Yesterday there was a matchstick on the football field; today there are two matchsticks on the football field. Matchstick pollution has increased by a massive 100% in only 24 hours.”

The statement is mathematically correct but silly and misleading.

At Fukushima a couple of weeks ago, some mildly radioactive water leaked into the sea. The volume of water was about equal to a dozen home swimming pools. In the ocean this really is a ‘drop in the ocean.

The radiation content was so little that people could swim in the ocean without the slightest cause for concern. Any ocean naturally contains some radioactivity all of the time anyway. There is natural radiation around us all of the time and has always been there since the birth of the earth.

Understandably the general public do not understand nuclear radiation so the strangest comments occur. On an internet blog some person stated that people on the north coast of Australia must be warned about the radiation in the sea coming from Fukushima. Good grief!

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 180

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 180 is up at Hiroshima Syndrome

From The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary – Fukushima and the Inevitable Tritium Controversy

Tritium is one of the weakest beta-emitting isotopes in the universe. 37,000,000 Becquerels per liter doesn't hurt lab mice. Fukushima's highest Tritium level is 630,000 Bq/liter. They should release the ALPS system effluent directly to the sea, but radiophobic outcries in Japan will not allow it

Early in 2014, Tokyo Electric Company intends to begin the full-scale operation of their Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) at Fukushima Daiichi. It will remove 60+ radioactive isotopes remaining in the currently-stored wastewater that has been run through the Cesium absorber system. It seems ALPS will use high-efficiency resin beds to strip the materials from the liquids flowing through them.

The resulting water will be so pure that it will not conduct electricity very well, if at all. Only one radioactive isotope will remain – Tritium. The ultimate question will be whether or not Tepco’s allowed to release the ultra-clean Tritiated water into the sea, mitigating their wastewater buildup problem. Any detectible radioactivity makes millions of Japanese fear for their lives, and the mere thought of eating seafood that might contain something radioactive makes many consumers shun fish caught off the Fukushima coast. The Fisheries of Fukushima have already declared that they will never agree to allow Tritiated water releases to the sea, no matter what.

Desalination water world

Desalination plants being commissioned in 2013 alone can produce 6 million cubic meters a day -- as much fresh water as 28 months of rain in London, the report said. That raises the total capacity of the world’s 17,277 commissioned desalination plants to 80.9 million cubic meters (21.4 billion gallons) per day.

Saudi Arabia has the largest online capacity of seawater desalination for its energy and domestic needs at 9.2 million cubic meters a day. Next is the United Arab Emirates at 8.4 million cubic meters and Spain at 3.8 million cubic meters.

Between 2014-2024 the average annual global desalination additions will be about 10 million cubic meters per day

Global desalination in 2024 will be about 180 million cubic meters per day.
Global desalination in 2030 will be about 280 million cubic meters per day.

The CAGR (annual growth) of demand for desalination between 1990 and 2010 was 9.9%, while the CAGR for the 20-year period from end 2010 to end 2030 is expected to be 6.1%. Large-scale seawater desalination will spread to more geographic markets, demand for brackish water desalination will rise sharply, and small-scale desalination units will become more widespread.

China tripling desalination by 2015 but lags behind world desalination leaders Saudi Arabia and UAE

China aims to produce 2.2 million cubic meters of seawater-converted freshwater per day by 2015, compared with 660,000 cubic meters in 2011, according to the 2011-2015 plan.

More than half of freshwater channeled to isles and more than 15 percent of water delivered to coastal factories will come from the sea by 2015, according to the plan.

Industrial analysts estimated the development plan will require investment of around 21 billion yuan (3.35 billion U.S. dollars).

First Planetary Resources Arkyd 100 Space telescope demonstrator will launch as early as April 2014 with fully operational systems in 2015

Planetary Resources, Inc., the asteroid mining company, will advance its mission to mine resource-rich near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) by launching the first in its Arkyd Series of spacecraft – the A3 – into low-Earth orbit as early as April 2014. The A3 is the Arkyd 100’s technology demonstrator, and the mission will provide for early testing and serve to validate the spacecraft’s core technology and software in the development of the program.

Planetary Resources is under contract with NanoRacks, through its Space Act Agreement with NASA, to release the A3 from the International Space Station’s Kibo airlock.

The A3 is a sophisticated yet cost-effective means to test technologies supporting the follow-on Arkyd 100 missions in 2015.” Around the size and weight of a small desk-top computer, the Arkyd 100 provides a compact and capable platform for NEA detection and characterization. The A3 test spacecraft, at just 10 lbs (4 Kg), about one-third the weight of an Arkyd-100, offers an even more compact vehicle for early testing for many of Arkyd 100’s key functions.

Planetary Resources’ long-term mission is to mine NEAs for raw materials, ranging from elements used in rocket fuel to precious metals. The Arkyd-100 Series will be used in low-Earth orbit to assist in selecting the first priority targets for the company’s follow-on expeditions.

Planetary Resources is revolutionizing low cost space telescopes and lowering the cost of satellites by a hundred times.

If Planetary Resources is successful in 2014 and 2015 with their low cost space telescope it will open a new age of low cost space telescopes and low cost satellites. Highly functional satellites with cost $2 million or less instead of $200 million. There will still be more expensive satellites and there are already cubesats but this will open up another category with near cubesat costs but with more capabilities.

This device will self destruct in 60 seconds

Electronic devices that biodegrade to order could lead to huge medical advances. DARPA is also investing heavily in 'born-to-die' technology.

Recover from an operation without fear of a post-op infection from a drug-resistant super-bug. A sensor monitors the wound, picks up signs of infection, administers a specific amount of heat to the right area and then, job done, disappears into your bodily fluids.

An oil spill monitored by 100,000 sensors dropped from a plane that would dissolve into the water when it was all over. Or a no-longer-loved smartphone that could actually dissolve down the sink rather than clog up your desk drawer.

Listening devices and cameras could be deployed for black ops in a war zone and then be triggered to dissolve when their mission was over or when they were about to be discovered?

Professor John A Rogers believes that we may be only "a year or two away" from testing biodegradable electronics in humans, albeit in surface wounds (for which the regulations are lighter).

Electronics are being produced to dissolve after specified and predetermined times.

Fingernail-sized integrated circuit made from silicon, magnesium and silk takes just one minute to disintegrate upon contact with water.

Bitcoin and Seasteading

Bitcoin 2013 conference - Lasse Birk Olesen - Seasteading - Entrepreneurship in Government on the High Seas

Recorded at the Bitcoin 2013 conference sponsored by Bitcoin Foundation in San Jose, CA on 18 May 2013.

Bitcoin and seasteading have similarities.
Bitcoin can help seasteading.
Seasteading can help Bitcoin.
Seasteading institute is working towards an Xprize-like prize for the first seastead before the end of 2015 with over 50 citizens in the Seastead.