Pages

December 07, 2013

Killing cancer by training the body to kill cancer the way the body resists other disease

Philadelphia doctors taught a cancer patients own immune cells to become more adept at killing the cancer. This was after chemo, radiation and bone marrow transfer treatments were failing.

Two months later, the patient emerged cancer-free. The personalized cell therapy is still showing complete remission after 6 months.

Twenty-one other young people received the same treatment at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and 18 of them went into complete remission -- one of them has been disease-free for 20 months. The Penn doctors released their findings this weekend at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

This is following up a prior Nextbigfuture article last year.

In the therapy, doctors first remove the patient's T-cells, which play a crucial role in the immune system. They then reprogram the cells by transferring in new genes. Once infused back into the body, each modified cell multiplies to 10,000 cells. These "hunter" cells then track down and kill the cancer in a patient's body.

Essentially, researchers are trying to train Nick's body to fight off cancer in much the same way our bodies fight off the common cold.


Bitcoin network is over 256 times more powerful than the top 500 supercomputers combined at over 64 Exaflops

In November, 2013, the Global bitcoin network passed 64 exaflops. This is 256 times the computer power of the top 500 supercomputers in the world. Total bitcoin valuation is currently over $8 billion. The exaflops are not floating point and are mainly dedicated specially designed ASICS.

Bitcoin charts tracks news, statistics and other information about bitcoin.

Bitcoin.sipa.be tracks bitcoin computing and other metrics.



In May, 2013, Bitcoin became the world's largest distributed computing project, eight times more powerful than the world's top 500 supercomputers combined. That is a huge amount of computing power that could be used for other projects like research into genetics, or searching for extraterrestrial life, or modeling weather and the climate, or a huge number of other endeavors. Mining digital currency entails a huge opportunity cost, just as mining gold and silver for money did.

Bitcoin mining works by setting a computer to chew on long and arduous “hash” problems that can’t be streamlined and don’t require floating point operations at all; the whole point is to tie up computer time and make the Bitcoin discovery process time-consuming and difficult. Dedicated mining hardware, which is becoming more popular in the Bitcoin mining community, is intentionally terrible at floating point calculations. making it more difficult to do this kind of direct comparison with general purpose computers.

A long way from Green lantern but double ring uses body heat to light an LED

The basic idea for this ring was to take a piece of a aluminum to make the ring out of, design it to fit the PCB and peltier, and create a heatsink that mounts on the other side of the peltier unit. Originally he had planed to make this a single finger ring but somewhere along the way my brain had fallen for a 2 finger design; It was much more practical, and surprisingly the PCB I made was the perfect size to fit across two fingers, leaving the heat sink on the side.

The finished ring has a glowing LED just from the heat of the makers hand.

Thermoelectric materials are improving and LEDs are getting more efficient at converting energy to light. Ultimately taking about 1 watt for powering devices should be possible. There is more energy to be harvested from the footfalls of people when they are walking and from light solar film that could still be comfortably worn.


500 trillion tons of fresh water under the ocean's continental shelf in giant aquifers

Nature - Offshore fresh groundwater reserves as a global phenomenon

The flow of terrestrial groundwater to the sea is an important natural component of the hydrological cycle. This process, however, does not explain the large volumes of low-salinity groundwater that are found below continental shelves. There is mounting evidence for the global occurrence of offshore fresh and brackish groundwater reserves. The potential use of these non-renewable reserves as a freshwater resource provides a clear incentive for future research. But the scope for continental shelf hydrogeology is broader and we envisage that it can contribute to the advancement of other scientific disciplines, in particular sedimentology and marine geochemistry.

Vast freshwater reserves have been discovered under the ocean floor which scientists believe could sustain future generations.

Australian researchers claim to have found 500,000 cubic kilometres (500 trillion tons) of freshwater buried beneath the seabed on continental shelves off Australia, China, North America and South Africa. The water could be accessed using the technology of deepwater oil drilling rigs. The infrastructure of pipelines could be setup to access millions of tons per day.

The discovery comes as United Nations estimates suggest water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of the population of the world over the last century.



Carnival of Space 331

The Carnival of Space 331 is up at Photos to Space.

NASA's Chandra Xray telescope has been looking at its first exoplanet and found that the planet appeared three times larger in Xray than when viewed in optical light

NASA's Chandra Xray telescope, orbiting the Earth at a speed of 1.7 kilometers per second, has been pointed at an exoplanet for the first time, giving astronomers their first glimpse of another world at Xray wavelengths. They not only found that the Jupiter sized world has a thick atmosphere, but also discovered a previously undiscovered star orbiting in the same system.

Arxiv - Transit observations of the Hot Jupiter HD 189733b at X-ray wavelengths



Julian Sonner, a senior postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, led research showing that when two of these quarks are created, string theory creates a wormhole linking the quarks.


They are coming for your retirement and college savings

USA Today has an article calling the mass affluent the new rich. This relabeling seems to be spinning it so that this group is a suitable target for redistribution (ie higher taxes). The mass affluent generally do not consider themselves to be rich and have just executed the lifeplan that all financial people tell people to follow.

They tell people
- get a good education
- get a good job
- save your money for retirement and college for your kids

UPDATE - I updated the title from "Mass Affluent are political and economic target" to "They are coming for your retirement and college savings". In Google+, someone accused me of being a troll for the Koch's, so in for a penny then in for a pound. I would disclose that I am in what is described as the mass affluent class. I knew when Bush 2, congress and Obama was running up the big deficits where the taxes and money would be coming to pay it. It was immediately obvious that those who are already paying taxes would pay more taxes. The only other alternative would be to have massive spending cuts at least back to Clinton level (and presidents prior for decadesChart below from the Congressional Budget office) spending.

Fed government spending at 20% of GDP was what was done for decades prior to 2000. Reducing by 6% GDP is possible. I think massive defense spending cuts can be done without harming long term US interests. The active enemies of the US are weak and the US will not fight the bigger militaries (Russia and China). The US still has nuclear weapons. Retirement age can be increased 3-4 months per year and other developed nations spend half the US level as a percentage of GDP on healthcare.

About 20% get to some degree of success. Although even if they save 1 million

Fully 20% of U.S. adults become rich for parts of their lives, wielding outsize influence on America's economy and politics. Made up largely of older professionals, working married couples and more educated singles. The "new rich" are those with household income of $250,000 or more at some point during their working lives. That puts them, if sometimes temporarily, in the top 2% of earners.

Even outside periods of unusual wealth, members of this group generally hover in the $100,000-plus income range, keeping them in the top 20% of earners.

In a country where poverty is at a record high, today's new rich are notable for their sense of economic fragility. They're reached the top 2%, only to fall below it, in many cases. That makes them much more fiscally conservative than other Americans, polling suggests, and less likely to support public programs, such as food stamps or early public education, to help the disadvantaged.

The AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) has a retirement calculator. Entering in 1.06 million in savings at retirement means that even with social security for a husband and wife they drop to just under $100,000 per year in retirement income. The $1 million savings level is what many are targeting.


Obama signals more efforts to redistribute out of the mass affluent

Last week, President Obama asserted that growing inequality is "the defining challenge of our time," signaling that it will be a major theme for Democrats in next year's elections.

New research suggests that affluent Americans are more numerous than government data depict, encompassing 21% of working-age adults for at least a year by the time they turn 60. That proportion has more than doubled since 1979.


Exoplanet at 650 AU does not fit any planet formation theories

There has been the discovery of a giant planet orbiting its star at 650 times the average Earth-Sun distance has astronomers puzzled over how such a strange system came to be.

The exoplanet Weighsin at 11 times Jupiter’s mass and orbiting its star at 650 times the average Earth-Sun distance, planet HD 106906 b is unlike anything in our own Solar System and throws a wrench in planet formation theories.

"This system is especially fascinating because no model of either planet or star formation fully explains what we see," said Vanessa Bailey, who led the research.


This is an artist's conception of a young planet in a distant orbit around its host star. The star still harbors a debris disk, remnant material from star and planet formation, interior to the planet's orbit (similar to the HD106906 system). (Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Arxiv - HD 106906 b: A planetary-mass companion outside a massive debris disk

December 06, 2013

China's lunar rover is expected to land December 14

Two years ago, in December 2011, China published a blueprint outlining its ambitions in outer space. The launch, on December 2nd, of Chang’e-3—a lunar mission named after a Moon goddess—shows that it remains on track.

This will be China’s first attempt at a lunar landing. If it succeeds it will make the China National Space Administration (CNSA) only the second, after Russia’s, to put an unmanned rover on the Moon. It may also help pave the way for the agency to match NASA’s greater technical success of landing people there.

The lunar rover itself (named Yutu, meaning “Jade Rabbit”) has six wheels and is intended to operate for three months. Reports of its weight have ranged from 100kg to 140kg. CNSA has not revealed the planned date of the landing attempt—though according to the European Space Agency, which is using its network of tracking stations to relay signals from and send commands to Chang’e-3 on behalf of CNSA, it is December 14th.

Video animations of the Ringworld

This is Larry Niven's Ringworld from the novels (1970). This is not HALO. Bungie borrowed Larry's idea and scaled it down for the game.




No Toys, No Victory

US Army leaders recently conducted a “deep future” war game to play out a military conflict 15 years from now, coined “Unified Quest,” and held at the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania

Here’s the scenario they used: There’s been a chemical attack inside the United States and the terrorists responsible for the deadly attack are from a nuclear-armed landlocked nation surrounded by some less-than-supportive neighbors.

The U.S. military has strong ties with one of the enemy’s bordering neighbors, who also happens to have a port, and through a “coalition of willing” and a U.N. Security Council vote approving military action, others bordering nations offer access as well. The Marines swoop in, followed by several divisions of a now smaller Army. Navy ships steam toward the region.

The U.S. is still facing budget constraints in 2030 and the Army and is leaner, “doing more with less,” but there have been investments in new innovations on the battlefield in the Army’s “best-case” scenario. There are
* ground combat vehicles that weigh just 30 tons
* helicopters that can fly faster and longer
* extended-range missiles and ammunition with advanced sensors
* hybrid-powered rechargeable equipment and
* a massive vertical lift aircraft capable of moving an entire battalion.

Simple method for producing graphene quantum dots in bulk quantities from coal

Rice University has a simple method for producing dots in bulk from coal, coke. The Rice lab of chemist James Tour found simple methods to reduce three kinds of coal into graphene quantum dots (GQDs), microscopic discs of atom-thick graphene oxide that could be used in medical imaging as well as sensing, electronic and photovoltaic applications.

Graphite is $2,000 a ton for the best there is, from the U.K.,” he said. “Cheaper graphite is $800 a ton from China. And coal is $10 to $60 a ton and they can get 20% yield of graphene quantum dots. The quantum dots range from 2 to 20 nanometers in size depending on the source of the coal.

So graphene quantum dots from coals are 200 to 15 times cheaper. They can be a couple of cents per kilogram or 1 cent per pound.



Nature Communications - Coal as an abundant source of graphene quantum dots

Selling out over the Long term to achieve upward mobility

Some black people consider that it is "selling out" to speak without using slang. Some think it is being fake when you change for other people.

Learning proper grammar and more effective communication is just the beginning of properly selling out.

Most who have successfully achieved upward mobility have multi-year and often multi-generational planning and efforts.

UPDATE - Welcome Instapundit readers. There is a discussion of this article now at Instapundit

Vietnamese boat refugees came to north america in the 1970s and 1980s.

They often arrived with no money and few possessions and may not have had command of the language.

What was their model of upward mobility ?

They had multiple families in one house. They pooled income in order to buy their first house (with multiple families inside). Multiple families earning to afford the down payment and then to have more incomes to pay the mortgage. There was greater savings of income and capital appreciation in the house. The house would be sold a few years later and the profit split to afford multiple down payments.

So it was not just dual earners. It was say three families pooling and squeezing one family into each room and camping indoors (for years) or being in bunks inside the one room until they earned enough to move. So it would be say 6 earners and more as children got past the age of twelve and were able to earn. Although the children may have been forgiven the need to earn if it meant better success in education.

The Vietnamese boat people had to escape a war torn country (because they were on the losing side) and 10-70% of them died on the oceans to achieve their change of venue (to locations with more opportunity).

All of the children make it through university and get professional jobs, own one at least one home per family.


New theory may revolutionize superconductors and lead to the design for room temperature superconductors

Oddities, known as intertwined ordered phases, seem to interfere with superconductivity. “We now have a simple way to understand how they are created and hopefully this understanding will help us to know how to get rid of them,” said Lee.

Most subatomic particles have a tiny magnetic field – a property physicists call “spin” – and electrical resistance happens when the fields of electrons carrying current interact with those of surrounding atoms. Two electrons can join like two bar magnets, the north pole of one clamping to the south pole of the other, and this “Cooper pair” is magnetically neutral and can move without resistance. Lee and Davis propose that this “antiferromagnetic” interaction is the universal cause not only for superconductivity but also for all the observed intertwined ordering. They show how their “unified” theory can predict the phenomena observed in copper-based, iron-based and so-called “heavy fermion” materials.

But if the cause is always the same, why do different materials exhibit different oddities? The difference, they say, is in the varying energy levels of the electrons that are free to carry current, which can be described by a mathematical structure called the ”Fermi surface.”

The new high-temperature superconductors are derived from orderly crystals where the same arrangement of atoms is repeated over and over and the spins of electrons alternate up and down from one unit cell to another. Although this favors antiferromagnetic interaction, electrons are not free to form Cooper pairs. Doping with trace elements distorts the crystal structure and removes some electrons, changing the Fermi surface. Whether Cooper pairing or some other ordering will take place depends on the shape of the Fermi surface, the researchers said.

Global Health 2035

The World Bank's Global Health 2035 report sets out some bold ambitions for the next two decades, but they are achievable with the right investment.

Global rates of infectious diseases and mortality from reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health in low- or middle-income states are set to fall sharply. By 2035 they should rival the current rates in the best-performing middle-income countries: Chile, China, Costa Rica and Cuba.

The World Bank report is Global Health 2035: A World Converging within a Generation.

The report makes the case that:

* The returns on investing in health are even greater than previously estimated (nine to twenty times the return for money spent)
* Within a generation—by 2035—the world could achieve a "grand convergence," bringing preventable infectious, maternal and child deaths down to universally low levels
* Taxes and subsidies are a powerful and underused lever for curbing non-communicable diseases and injuries
* Progressive universalism, a pathway to universal health coverage (UHC) that targets the poor from the outset, is an efficient way to achieve health and financial protection.

Do you believe that you are a super-forecaster ? Then sign up for the IARPA good judgement project

The Good Judgment Project is a four-year research study organized as part of a government-sponsored forecasting tournament. Thousands of people around the world predict global events. Their collective forecasts are surprisingly accurate.

The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) invests in high-risk, high-payoff research programs that have the potential to provide the United States with an overwhelming intelligence advantage over future adversaries. IARPA works very closely with the various members of the Intelligence Community to ensure that its programs address relevant future needs and to facilitate the transition of demonstrated capabilities. However, IARPA is not an operational organization, and it neither collects raw intelligence nor produces and disseminates intelligence analyses. To ensure organizational agility, IARPA focuses on long-term, 3-5 year programs rather than the short-term time horizons

The goal of the ACE Program is to dramatically enhance the accuracy, precision, and timeliness of intelligence forecasts for a broad range of event types, through the development of advanced techniques that elicit, weight, and combine the judgments of many intelligence analysts. The ACE Program seeks technical innovations in the following areas: (a) efficient elicitation of probabilistic judgments, including conditional probabilities for contingent events; (b) mathematical aggregation of judgments by many individuals, based on factors that may include: past performance, expertise, cognitive style, metaknowledge, and other attributes predictive of accuracy; and (c) effective representation of aggregated probabilistic forecasts and their distributions. The ACE Program will build upon technical achievements of past research and on state-of-the-art systems used today for generating probabilistic forecasts from widely-dispersed experts. The program will involve empirical testing of forecasting accuracy against real events.

In previous years, superforecasters organized into elite teams outperformed average (wisdom of overall crowds) by 65% and beat the algorithms of four competitor institutions by 35-60% and beat two prediction markets by 20-35%.

“Super forecasters” are distinguished by three characteristics:
(1) an intense curiosity about the workings of the political-economic world;
(2) an intense curiosity about the workings of the human mind;
(3) cognitive crunching power (“fluid intelligence” and a capacity for “timely self correction”).

Japan's new energy plan will not phase out nuclear energy and calls it important in supplying electricity

The Abe administration plans to say in a draft of the national medium-term energy plan that nuclear power should continue to be “important” in supplying electricity despite the Fukushima nuclear crisis, sources said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Government, led by the Liberal Democratic Party since elections in 2012, is expected to adopt the new basic energy policy in January. They will urge Japan to continue to use nuclear energy.

With 50 atomic plants off-line, coal use rose 26 percent from a year ago in October, and the government backtracked on a more ambitious goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions. While solar is taking off, the added capacity is nowhere near replacing what traditional plants supply.

The draft was to be presented Friday to a meeting of a panel tasked with compiling the so Basic Energy Plan before the end of December. The plan will become official after securing Cabinet approval, possibly early in the new year.

According to the sources, the draft will say nuclear power should be seen as an “important source of electricity,” because relying too much on thermal power generation would mean having to import more fuel and damaging the trade balance.

Concerns also remain over being highly dependent on Middle East countries for fossil fuel, given the region’s political instability.

December 05, 2013

Volvo starts pilot project with 100 self driving robotic cars on public roads

Volvo Car Group is starting a pilot project with self-driving cars on public roads in Sweden

Volvo Cars will play a leading role in the world’s first large-scale autonomous driving pilot project in which 100 self-driving Volvo cars will use public roads in everyday driving conditions around the Swedish city of Gothenburg.

The ground-breaking project ‘Drive Me – Self-driving cars for sustainable mobility’ is a joint initiative between Volvo Car Group, the Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Transport Agency, Lindholmen Science Park and the City of Gothenburg.

“Autonomous vehicles are an integrated part of Volvo Cars’ as well as the Swedish government’s vision of zero traffic fatalities. This public pilot represents an important step towards this goal,” says Håkan Samuelsson, President and CEO of Volvo Car Group. “It will give us an insight into the technological challenges at the same time as we get valuable feedback from real customers driving on public roads.”

The pilot will involve self-driving cars using approximately 50 kilometres of selected roads in and around Gothenburg. These roads are typical commuter arteries and include motorway conditions and frequent queues.


Radio-beam device can disable car and boat engines from 50 meters

E2V has developed a non-lethal weapon that can disable the engines of motor vehicles and small boats at a distance of up to 50meters in under three seconds.

Dubbed RF Safe-Stop, the unit, which weighs approximately 350kg, has so far been integrated into Nissan Nevara and Toyota Land Cruisers and is designed to temporarily disable a vehicle’s electronic systems and bring it to a halt. Such non-lethal systems are said to be particularly suited to stopping vehicles suspected as being used as car bombs.

Andy Wood, product manager at e2v, told The Engineer that RF Safe-Stop can be fitted also into ground, fixed base installations, rib-type boats and that there are ‘blueprint’ ideas to integrate it into a helicopter.

The non-lethal systems generate intense RF (radio frequency) pulses and Wood euphemistically said these pulses ‘confuse’ a vehicle’s electronics, rendering them temporarily inoperable.

RF Safe-Stop works differently on different vehicles although the principle of coupling electromagnetic waves into the target’s wiring looms remain the same.

This is similar to the device used in the movie the Dark Knight Rises by batman. However, the device in the movie was smaller.


Hubble Traces Subtle Signals of Water on Hazy Worlds

Using the powerful­ eye of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, two teams of scientists have found faint signatures of water in the atmospheres of five distant planets.

The presence of atmospheric water was reported previously on a few exoplanets orbiting stars beyond our solar system, but this is the first study to conclusively measure and compare the profiles and intensities of these signatures on multiple worlds.

The five planets -- WASP-17b, HD209458b, WASP-12b, WASP-19b and XO-1b -- orbit nearby stars. The strengths of their water signatures varied. WASP-17b, a planet with an especially puffed-up atmosphere, and HD209458b had the strongest signals. The signatures for the other three planets, WASP-12b, WASP-19b and XO-1b, also are consistent with water.



Arxiv - Exoplanet Transit Spectroscopy Using WFC3: WASP-12 b, WASP-17 b, and WASP-19 b

Automation of Restaurants would allow for higher wages but fewer jobs #Fastfoodstrikes

Today a few thousand people are striking in 100 cities for fast food workers to be paid $15/hour instead of $7.25 per hour.

A robotic hamburger kitchen already exists that can produce 360 gourmet hamburgers in one hour. McDonalds corporation has enough profit to fund the development of automated machines that could provide a one year return on investment. Each McDonalds might need more one machine. Each machine takes up 24 square feet and replaces the people who cook and the kitchen.


Here are the numbers for an average McDonald's restaurant in Michigan

Individual restaurants spend nearly $507,595 on wages, or more than $1,390 per day (25.1% of each restaurant's revenues)

Combines, wages and benefits consume more than 31.9% of the average McDonald's restaurant's sales

Average McDonalds sells $2.1 million per year in revenue. Assuming $3 per meal that is 700,000 hamburgers or about 2000 per day. Some burgers are more expensive while the value burgers are cheaper.

Individual restaurants employ approximately 61 people in operations and restaurant management positions.
The average McDonald's spends nearly $128,325 on manager and support staff salaries.

So $380,000 on crew wages. This would be 52,400 minimum wage hours. 26 full time equivalents at minimum wage, but it is split among 50 mostly part time people.

Worker protests in China and USA are accelerating the next wave of automation #FastFoodStrikes

Manufacturing giant Foxconn Technology Group is on track with its goal to a create a “million robot army”, and already has 20,000 robotic machines in its factories, said the company’s CEO Terry Gou in June 2013.

Workers’ wages in China are rising, and so the company’s research in robots and automation has to catch up, Gou said, while speaking at the company’s annual shareholder’s meeting in Taipei. “We have over 1 million workers. In the future we will add 1 million robotic workers,” he said. “Our [human] workers will then become technicians and engineers.”

Foxconn is the world’s largest contract electronics maker and counts Apple, Microsoft and Sony as some of its clients. Many of its largest factories are in China, where the company employs 1.2 million people, but rising worker salaries are threatening to reduce company profits.

To offset labor costs and improve its manufacturing, Foxconn has already spent three years on developing robots, Gou said. These machines are specifically developed to assemble electronics such as mobile phones, but it will take some time for Foxconn to fully develop the technology.

Today in the USA there were protests by fast food workers seeking more than minimum wages for their work.

Momentum Machines unveiled an all in one robot (24 square foot gourmet hamburger factory) which enables a restaurant can offer gourmet quality burgers at fast food prices. It can make 360 gourmet hamburgers every hour.

It does everything employees can do except better.

Robot hamburger factory makes 360 Gourmet Burgers every hour for gourmet burgers at fast food prices - meanwhile fast food human workers demonstrate for higher wages #FastFoodStrikes

Momentum Machines robot enables a restaurant can offer gourmet quality burgers at fast food prices.

It does everything employees can do except better:

* it slices toppings like tomatoes and pickles immediately before it places the slice onto your burger, giving you the freshest burger possible.

* their next revision will offer custom meat grinds for every single customer. Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground to order? No problem.

* Also, our next revision will use gourmet cooking techniques never before used in a fast food restaurant, giving the patty the perfect char but keeping in all the juices.

* it’s more consistent, more sanitary, and can produce ~360 hamburgers per hour.

The labor savings allow a restaurant to spend approximately twice as much on high quality ingredients and the gourmet cooking techniques make the ingredients taste that much better.

They will launch the first restaurant chain that profitably sells gourmet hamburgers at fast food prices.

Their current device can pay for itself in less than one year, making equipment sales a second path for Momentum Machines.

In New York City, about 100 protesters blew whistles and beat drums as they marched into a McDonald's chanting "We can't survive on $7.25."

And in Detroit, more than 100 workers picketed outside two McDonald's restaurants, singing "Hey hey, ho ho, $7.40 has got to go!"

One-day labor walkouts were planned at fast-food restaurants in 100 cities Thursday, with protests in scores more cities and towns across the nation.



Thieves in Mexico who stole Cobalt 60 likely to die within days from radiation poisoning

The day after a load of stolen radioactive material was found in a field, Mexican authorities had formed a perimeter around the area and were measuring for contamination as they planned the recovery process Thursday.

Federal police and soldiers formed a cordon of several hundred yards around the highly radioactive container of cobalt-60, stolen earlier in the week in a carjacking as the material was being moved from a public hospital n the border town of Tijuana to a storage facility in central Mexico.

The carjackers, who set off international alarm bells by absconding with the material, most likely had no idea what they were stealing and will probably die soon from exposure, Mexican authorities said at the end of a brief national scare.

Externally, exposure to the gamma radiation emitted by cobalt 60 can cause burns and radiation sickness. Most of the material that is absorbed by the body is eliminated in the feces, but what remains can embed in tissues such as the liver, kidneys and bones, where it can cause cancer. Because the perpetrators were probably not protected when the opened the container, they likely received high doses of radiation that would be fatal within days.


Bitcoin could become the major currency for ecommerce transactions according to Bank of America

Bitcoin has "clear potential for growth" and could become a major means of payment for online transactions and money transfers, a Bank of America analyst told CNBC on Thursday.

The digital currency could hit a market capitalization of $15 billion on its way to becoming similar to a store-of-value commodity like silver, David Woo said in a CNBC interview.

On Thursday, the People's Bank of China outlawed the country's banks from using it, leading some to cash in on their investments. Bitcoin value went down 20% as a result.

David Woo, head of global rates and currencies research, valued an individual bitcoin at $1,300 at his maximum market capitalization. According to bitcoin exchange Mt.Gox.com, prices were above $1,000 Thursday afternoon.

Woo said the estimated market capitalization was an "upper limit" on his bitcoin forecast, and would only happen if the digital currency crosses three thresholds:
1) It becomes 10 percent of business-to-consumer online transactions
2) one of the top three means of money transfers
3) a commodity similar to silver.

Brain emulation machine with one million chip cores able simulate one billion neurons is nearing completion

SpiNNaker (a contraction of Spiking Neural Network Architecture) is a million-core computing engine whose flagship goal is to be able to simulate the behaviour of aggregates of up to a billion neurons in real time (1% of the human brain). It consists of an array of ARM9 cores, communicating via packets carried by a custom interconnect fabric. The packets are small (40 or 72 bits), and their transmission is brokered entirely by hardware, giving the overall engine an extremely high bisection bandwidth of over 5 billion packets/s. Three of the principle axioms of parallel machine design - memory coherence, synchronicity and determinism - have been discarded in the design without, surprisingly, compromising the ability to perform meaningful computations. A further attribute of the system is the acknowledgment, from the initial design stages, that the sheer size of the implementation will make component failures an inevitable aspect of day-to-day operation, and fault detection and recovery mechanisms have been built into the system at many levels of abstraction. This paper describes the architecture of the machine and outlines the underlying design philosophy; software and applications are to be described in detail elsewhere, and only introduced in passing here as necessary to illuminate the description.

Here is a 41 page presentation on Spinnaker

1 million cores are in 50,000 chips which are in 10 server cabinets.

SpiNNaker machines are classified by the the (approximate) number of processor cores, thus the 10N machine has approximately 10^N processor cores. The 102 and 103 machines are single printed circuit boards, already available or in the final stages of design. The larger machines are racks or cabinets and specifications are subject to change.



On the path to terabit per second wireless communication for the last mile

In October, a team reported a record 100-gigabit-per-second wireless data transmission using a near terahertz wavelength (237.5 Ghz).

The researchers believe that this approach provides a path to scale wireless communications to Terabit per second rates over distances of over 1 km. Terabit per second communication for the last mile. The last mile is the most expensive part of creating high speed communication to the end user. It is where it is good to avoid wiring up every home and apartment.

In May, 2013 they had gotten to 40 gigabit per second wireless links.

Scientists in Germany, at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics, and the University of Stuttgart, created a wireless connection between a transmitter and a receiver that were 20 meters apart at a frequency of 237.5 GHz. This frequency is in the millimeter-wave portion of the spectrum and tantalizingly close to the terahertz region (usually defined as starting at 300 GHz). The terahertz region has a lot of potential because its radiation is nonionizing and yet can penetrate clothing, making possible things like advanced bomb detection and body screening.


Prospective application scenario for a long-range, high-capacity wireless communication link at terahertz frequencies. A wireless link bridges a broad river in difficult-to-access terrain to provide high-speed internet access in remote and rural areas.

Nature Photonics - Wireless sub-THz communication system with high data rate

USB Power Delivery Specification Demonstrated where a USB powered a hard drive

Renesas Electronics Corp demonstrated the "USB Power Delivery Specification (USB PD)," which enables to provide up to 100W of electricity to a device while transmitting data via USB, at Embedded Technology 2013, which took place from Nov 20 to 22, 2013, in Yokohama, Japan.

With USB 3.0 specifications, it is possible to supply up to 5V of power at 900mA while transmitting data. On the other hand, the USB PD enables to provide up to 20V of power at 5A. In the demonstration, Renesas supplied 12V of power to a 3.5-inch HDD to play a movie file stored in the HDD.

USB Power delivery will provide smart direct current power up to 100 watts.



Can Dwave Systems improve decoherence resistance and error correction to go along with qubit scaling to achieve quantum computing that is vastly superior than classical computing ?

IEEE Spectrum has an updated review of DWave Systems and its 512 qubit quantum annealing system.

Catherine McGeoch, a computer scientist at Amherst College, in Massachusetts, was hired as a consultant by D-Wave to help set up performance tests on the 512-qubit machine for a consortium of Google, NASA, and the Universities Space Research Association. in September 2012.

Media reports focused on the fact that D-Wave’s machine had performed 3600 times as fast as commercial software by IBM. But such reporting overlooked McGeoch’s own warnings that the tests had shown only how D-Wave’s special-purpose machine could beat general-purpose software. The tests had not pitted D-Wave’s machines against the best specialized classical computing algorithms.

D-Wave’s machines have not yet demonstrated that they can perform significantly better than classical computing algorithms as problems become bigger. Daniel Lidar, scientific director of the Lockheed Martin Quantum Computing Center at USC, says D-Wave’s machines might eventually reach that point—as long as D-Wave takes the problem of decoherence and error correction more seriously.

December 04, 2013

Ten thousand entangled modes

Australia National University PhD student Seiji Armstrong has made a quantum leap towards next-generation computing.

Working with a team in Tokyo, Seiji has created the largest cluster of quantum systems ever – a milestone on the way to super-powerful, super-fast quantum computers.

“The more quantum systems you have in the cluster, the more powerful your quantum computer will be,” he says.

“Previously the world record was 14. But in our experiment we went to more than 10,000 at once.”

Each quantum system can encode a quantum ‘bit’ of information, like the binary system that a traditional computer uses, explains Seiji.

The researchers employed a split laser that contained all 10,000 individually addressable quantum wave packets — photons, essentially. Each photon in the system has an entangled partner in the other half of the beam, which makes it theoretically easier to take measurements. This experimental setup allowed the team to more easily entangle large numbers of quantum bits, which is one of the necessary elements of a quantum computer.

The World is better than it has ever been because of innovations like fertilizer and vaccines and we need more innovations like them

Bill Gates spends a lot of time trying to advance innovation that improves people’s lives in the same way that fertilizer did. A full 40 percent of Earth’s population is alive today because, in 1909, a German chemist named Fritz Haber figured out how to make synthetic ammonia. Another example: Polio cases are down more than 99 percent in the past 25 years, not because the disease is going away on its own but because Albert Sabin and Jonas Salk invented polio vaccines and the world rolled out a massive effort to deliver them

Thanks to inventions like these, life has steadily gotten better. It can be easy to conclude otherwise—as I write this essay, more than 100,000 people have died in a civil war in Syria, and big problems like climate change are bearing down on us with no simple solution in sight. But if you take the long view, by almost any measure of progress we are living in history’s greatest era. Wars are becoming less frequent. Life expectancy has more than doubled in the past century. More children than ever are going to primary school. The world is better than it has ever been.

Hitachi makes shipping container size 1 MW battery for grid energy storage

Hitachi has developed an all-in one, container-type energy storage system as a core energy product for ensuring the stable use of distributed renewable energy such as wind and solar power, while maintaining the power supply-demand balance. This energy storage system fuses Hitachi’s electricity grid control technologies built up in the Hitachi Group and Hitachi Chemical Co., Ltd.’s battery-related expertise and will be offered as a packaged system.

In the beginning of 2014, Hitachi plans to begin a demonstration test of this energy storage system in North America. Plans call for Hitachi to reflect the results of this testing in a commercial product after verifying the commercial viability and performance of the system in the electricity trading market, or the so-called ancillary market*2 connected with maintaining the electricity supply-demand balance. Furthermore, Hitachi will examine whether to promote the system, to be named “CrystEna” (Crystal+Energy), as one of its solution businesses for expanding the transmission and distribution business in the global market.



Google is everywhere in technology with game changing potential

Google or the Google Founders are making well funded attempts to conquer big technological challenges. Success in these major endeavors will alter the trajectory of the future of humanity.

Google just has not gotten into radical transformation of transportation other than robotic cars. Elon Musk has transportation covered with Spacex reusable rockets and Tesla electric cars. Elon will also likely get into supersonic electric passenger jets and Hyperloop.

I expect Google or its founders will get involved in molecular nanotechnology at some point. I did see Sergey Brin and Larry Page at a Foresight molecular nanotechnology conference in the very early days of Google.

Here is the list of technologies and technological challenges which Google or the Google Founders are taking on now.

Google has acquired seven robotics and artificial intelligence companies and is funding a major "moonshot" to create radical capability with robotics.

Google has spunoff Calico, a company focused on achieving antiaging breakthroughs.

Google planning a moonshot in robotics - a potential gamechanger with a new generation of robots

Andy Rubin, the engineer who spearheaded the development of Android at Google, is leading a new robotics effort at the company. Rubin is personally interested in robots, and now he wants Google to have a major role in making robotics happen. Not just robotic cars, but actual robots.

Google is funding a major new robotics group, and that includes acquiring many robotics companies.

Google is planning a moonshot with robotics

Over the last half-year, Google has quietly acquired seven technology companies in an effort to create a new generation of robots.

Low cost plastic with light absorbing dye concentrates solar power by ten times and halves cost of solar power

A thin sheet of dyed plastic could cut the cost of solar power, particularly for applications that require solar cells to be highly efficient and flexible.

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are using the plastic to gather sunlight and concentrate it onto a solar cell made of gallium arsenide in an experimental setup. Doing so doubled the power output of the cells.

So far, the researchers have shown that the approach works with a single solar cell, but they plan to make larger sheets of plastic dotted with arrays of many tiny solar cells. The approach could either let a smaller solar panel produce more electricity, or make a panel cheaper by reducing the amount of photovoltaic material needed.

As light hits the plastic sheet, a specially selected dye absorbs it. The dye is luminescent—meaning that after it absorbs light, it reëmits it. But the light it emits is largely confined inside the plastic sheet. So it bounces along inside the plastic until it reaches a solar cell, much in the same way light is guided along inside a fiber optic cable. The dye absorbs only part of the solar spectrum. So to further boost power output, the researchers added a reflective material that directs some of the light that the dye doesn’t absorb to the solar cell.

The approach could be compatible with another innovation from the same group of researchers—a technique for making flexible and stretchable solar cells that can conform to irregular surfaces


Luminescent solar: A prototype flexible solar panel uses yellow plastic to capture and concentrate sunlight.

Electricity and clean cooking for South Asia and Sub-saharan Africa in two years instead of twenty years

In 2010, some 2.8 billion people relied on traditional fuels such as wood, charcoal and animal and crop waste to cook and heat their homes; three-quarters of them lived in just 20 countries in Asia and Africa; 1.2 billion, or 17% of the world’s population still have no electricity. Achieving universal access to modern energy (electricity and clean and modern cooking) is one of three objectives of the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) initiative, alongside greater energy efficiency and increased use of renewables. The initiative is led by the World Bank and the International Energy Agency (IEA). Its first report, released on May 28th, compiled global data from 15 agencies. The IEA reckons that nearly $50 billion a year will be needed to achieve the first goal (universal electricity and clean cooking) by 2030.

My Proposal - solar power for LED and clean cooking and give the carbon credit offset in unused kerosene to donating country or company

Although small scale solar power and LED lighting could provide basic electrification for $100 billion for all of the 1.6 billion people.
Clean cooking for another $50 billion for all of those that need it.

People are currently burning wood and kerosene.
Provide the offset in carbon credits to those who donate the solar panels, LED lighting and clean cooking equipment.

Universal electricity, lighting and clean cooking who be a huge boost to the extremely poor.
They would have better health from less pollution exposure.
They would not need to spend time looking for and gathering wood or actual crap to burn.
They would be able to study at night.
They would have power for low cost smartphones and tablets.
Instead of paying 10-30% of income for kerosene even the extremely poor could buy a $20 tablet.
They could start climbing out of poverty by being connected and having some basics.

Nokero has a $5 solar powered bulb. They have produced over 1 million of them

In some areas of Africa, people spend from 10 to 30 percent of their income on refilling kerosene lamps, which are little more than tin cans with an open flame. Burning them releases millions of tons of carbon dioxide per year and contributes to climate change. And igniting them in a closed home can equate to smoking a couple of packs a cigarettes a day. Smoke from burning kerosene irritates the eyes, so students extinguish them instead of doing homework.

Some nonprofits, such the Light Up the World Foundation, pair solar panels with LEDs. The organization Solar Sister provides women in Africa with training, marketing, and an inventory of solar-powered light bulbs. M-Kopa in Kenya provides a financing scheme along with the requisite technology; the organization sells an entire home system with solar panels, lights, and a cellphone charger, for about $200. Customers pay as little as about 45 cents a day and can pay off the debt in a year.


South Asia and Subsaharan Africa are the main places with gaps in electrification. Clean cooking is not available there either but also has a large gap in East Asia

China RMB passed the Euro to be the second most used currency for trade finance as usage increased 5 times in less than 2 years

Recent SWIFT data shows that RMB usage in traditional trade finance - Letters of Credit and Collections - grew from an activity share of 1.89% in January 2012 to 8.66% in October 2013, propelling the RMB to the second most used currency in this market. It ranks behind the USD, which remains the leading currency with a share of 81.08%. The RMB overtook the Euro, which dropped from 7.87% in January 2012 to 6.64% in October 2013 and is now in third place. The top 5 countries using RMB for trade finance in October 2013 were China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany and Australia.

"The RMB is clearly a top currency for trade finance globally and even more so in Asia, as shown by SWIFT's business intelligence statistics on the pace at which China's exporters and importers and their counterparts use the RMB for Letters of Credit", says Franck de Praetere, Head of Payments and Trade Markets, Asia Pacific, SWIFT.

In October 2013, the RMB remained stable in its position as the #12 payments currency of the world, with a slightly decreased activity share of 0.84% compared to 0.86% in September 2013. Overall, RMB payments increased in value by 1.5% in October 2013, whilst the growth for all payments currencies was at 4.6%.



December 03, 2013

Spacex will begin testing highly reusable stage combustion raptor rocket engine in 2014

SpaceX plans to begin testing components of a methane-fueled engine called Raptor at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi early 2014. SpaceX will perform these tests at Stennis’ E-2 test facility, which will require an upgrade to accommodate the full Raptor engine — a closed-loop methane-oxygen concept SpaceX is working on for missions to deep space. The upgrades would be funded by SpaceX, NASA and the Mississippi Development Authority. SpaceX’s Raptor engine is designed to generate more than 661,000 pounds of thrust in a vacuum.

The current Raptor concept “is a highly reusable methane staged-combustion engine that will power the next generation of SpaceX launch vehicles designed for the exploration and colonization of Mars,” Shanklin said. “The Raptor engine currently in development is the first in what we expect to be a family of engines.”

Staged combustion, also called closed-loop combustion, will be a new trick for SpaceX. The company’s Merlin family of kerosene-fueled rocket engines, currently in use on its Falcon 9 rocket, use an open-cycle, gas-generator configuration. Given identical fuel-oxidizer mixtures and propellant flow volumes, a closed-loop engine is more efficient than one with an open loop configuration.

At the edges Stanene is like a room temperature superconductor

A team of researchers led by Stanford University professor Shoucheng Zhang now have high hopes that a new material they call stanene will conduct electricity on next-generation microchips with "100 percent efficiency" at room temperature and above.

The team, including researchers at Stanford University and the US Department of Energy’s (DoE's) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, both in Menlo Park, Calif., named their new tin-based material stanene to liken it to graphene (plus the prefix of the Latin term for tin, stannum). However, instead of being based on atomically thin two-dimensional (2D) monolayers of carbon as is graphene, stanene is based on monolayers of tin. And while they are careful not to call it a room-temperature superconductor, it nevertheless has striking similarities.

NBF - it seems it would make worthwhile to have bundles of lots of thin flat stanene wires to have a higher ratio of edges for the superconducting effect.


Adding fluorine atoms (yellow) to a 2-D monolayer of tin atoms (grey) should allow a predicted new material, stanene, to offer zero resistance along its edges (blue and red arrows) at temperatures up to 100 degrees Celsius (212 Fahrenheit). (Yong Xu/Tsinghua University; Greg Stewart/SLAC) (Source: SLAC)

Spacex has 100% success on geostationary satellite launch

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) successfully completed its first geostationary transfer mission, delivering the SES-8 satellite to its targeted 295 x 80,000 km orbit. Falcon 9 executed a picture-perfect flight, meeting 100% of mission objectives.

Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at 5:41 PM Eastern Time. Approximately 185 seconds into flight, Falcon 9’s second stage’s single Merlin vacuum engine ignited to begin a five minute, 20 second burn that delivered the SES-8 satellite into its parking orbit. Eighteen minutes after injection into the parking orbit, the second stage engine relit for just over one minute to carry the SES-8 satellite to its final geostationary transfer orbit. The restart of the Falcon 9 second stage is a requirement for all geostationary transfer missions.



Blue Origin Debuts the American-made BE-3 Liquid Hydrogen Rocket Engine

Blue Origin reached a key milestone in the development of the liquid-fueled BE-3 engine by successfully demonstrating deep throttle, full power, long-duration and reliable restart all in a single-test sequence. The BE-3 is the first completely new liquid hydrogen-fueled engine to be developed for production in the U.S. since the RS-68 more than a decade ago.

The test demonstrated a full mission duty cycle, mimicking flight of the New Shepard vehicle by thrusting at 110,000 pounds in a 145-second boost phase, shutting down for approximately four and a half minutes to simulate coast through apogee, then restarting and throttling down to 25,000 pounds thrust to simulate controlled vertical landing. To date, the BE-3 has demonstrated more than 160 starts and 9,100 seconds of operation at Blue Origin’s test facility near Van Horn, Texas.

Designed and developed in-house by Blue Origin at the company’s research and development center outside Seattle, the BE-3 features a “tap-off” design, in which the main chamber combustion gases are used to power the engine’s turbopumps. Tap-off is particularly well-suited to human spaceflight because of its single combustion chamber and graceful shutdown mode.



China opens more high speed rail

China started a new high-speed railway that connects the two northern port cities of Tianjin and Qinhuangdao. It was put into operation on Sunday, Dec 1, 2013.

The railway line extends 287 km and runs through 14 districts and counties in north China's Hebei Province and Tianjin Municipality, with speeds of up to 350 km per hour.

China has 34 high-speed rail lines with the length accounting for one tenth of the country's total railway operation mileage.

China has over 10000 km of high speed rail now.

In 2015 China will have 18,000km of high speed rail.

The plan is to expand this to 50,000km by 2020.


Singularity University is a Startup Incubator Variation for Disruptive Technology Companies

Singularity University is funded by firms including Google, Autodesk and the X Prize Foundation, runs a series of graduate and corporate programs, as well as conferences. Its ten week summer course is hugely popular but it only takes 80 graduates each year.

Each is expected to emerge with the seeds of a groundbreaking start-up that has the power to change the lives of one billion people within 10 years.

The programme has so far spun out about 100 companies, 50 of which have been funded. They include Getaround, a peer-to-peer car sharing scheme; Blue Oak, which aims to extract copper from landfill by using bacteria, and Matternet, which uses drones to deliver vital medicines in the developing world. Matternet may have helped inspire Amazon's recently announced drone delivery plans.

More controversial are the firms that are already making that crossover between the biological and the non-biological, such as two start-ups growing artificial meat in the lab.

A project to create a glowing plant attracted controversy when it launched on Kickstarter this summer. It grew out of an SU spin-off that allows you to drag and drop DNA from one organism into another - in this case by adding a bioluminescent gene to a mustard plant.

Even Mr Nail finds the idea of manipulating genetic code "super-frightening" and admits that the Kickstarter format was possibly a bit of a "cowboy way" to introduce people to bio-hacking.



Overlapping Air zones in Asia

The new air defense zone declared by China appears to have been approved by President Xi Jinping, the culmination of more than a year of pressure by Beijing to weaken Japan’s grip on disputed islands in the East China Sea, and by extension to expand China’s long-term access to the Western Pacific.

Presumably Chinese strategists put some careful thought into this strategy, but they have intentionally overlapped the South Korea air zone and South Korea had been cozying up to China. Also, even if Japan did not recognize the dispute, China could have kept saying there was a dispute and waited out as China power increases over time versus Japan and the US. Is the timing because of internal politics and/or the oil or how long they expect this new strategy to play out or some other factor ?

As the tensions mounted this year in the East China Sea, with Chinese and Japanese planes flying in close quarters over the disputed islands — known as Diaoyu in China, and Senkaku in Japan — Japan often complained that China’s planes were flying in the Japanese air defense zone.

The leadership reasoned that if Japan had an air defense zone for the past 40 years, China should have one, too, as a way of achieving parity, and as a tool to eventually wrest the islands from Japan’s control, Mr. Jia said.

But Tokyo’s position on the islands is simply that there is no dispute, that the islands belong to Japan and there is nothing more to discuss.

It is this Japanese position that Mr. Xi and his top military and foreign policy advisers wanted to change.

China’s top foreign policy makers believed that China’s new air defense zone overlapping with Japan’s and covering the islands would be “another way to force Japan to recognize there is a dispute,” and come to the negotiating table, Mr. Jia and other experts said.

The tactics are a prelude to building a blue-water navy capable of operating across deep oceans, said Scott Harold, a Hong Kong-based analyst with the RAND Corp

On Nov. 23, China declared the right to monitor and request identification from aircraft flying above much of the East China Sea. China’s newly claimed airspace overlaps with similar claims by Japan, South Korea and Taiwan

2014 Foresight Conference Early Registration for a couple more days

2014 Foresight Technical Conference: Integration
February 7 – 9, 2014


Crowne Plaza Hotel, Palo Alto, California

Registration


For $100 discount, use code WANGNBF2014NANO when you register

Keynote:
Paolo Gargini, ITRS Chairman, former Intel VP of Technology Strategy

Conference Co-Chairs:
Robert P. Meagley, CEO/CTO, One Nanotechnologies
William A. Goddard III, Director, Materials and Process Simulation Center, Caltech

• Strategy, Analysis and Simulation
• Bionano Systems
• Commercially Implemented Nanotechnology
• Electronic and Optical Nanosystems
• Self-Organizing & Adaptive Systems

Kepler Space Telescope could start planet hunting again by using the Sun as third wheel

You may have thought that NASA's Kepler spacecraft was finished. Well, think again. A repurposed Kepler Space telescope may soon start searching the sky again.

A new mission concept, dubbed K2, would continue Kepler's search for other worlds, and introduce new opportunities to observe star clusters, young and old stars, active galaxies and supernovae.

In May, the Kepler spacecraft lost the second of four gyroscope-like reaction wheels, which are used to precisely point the spacecraft, ending new data collection for the original mission. The spacecraft required three functioning wheels to maintain the precision pointing necessary to detect the signal of small Earth-sized exoplanets, which are planets outside our solar system, orbiting stars like our sun in what's known as the habitable zone -- the range of distances from a star where the surface temperature of a planet might be suitable for liquid water.

With the failure of a second reaction wheel, the spacecraft can no longer precisely point at the mission's original field of view. The culprit is none other than our own sun.

This conception illustration depicts how solar pressure can be used to balance NASA's Kepler spacecraft, keeping the telescope stable enough to continue searching for transiting planets around distant stars. Image Credit: NASA Ames/W Stenzel

Pre-order a $235 heads up display glasses that connects to your smartphone

Icis is a line of smartspecks that look like a conventional pair of eyewear. They relay notifications from your social networks and turn-by-turn directions from your smartphone’s maps app and overlay them in your line of sight.

A heads up display that connect to your smartphone would seem to be a more affordable way to achieve most of the functions that one would want from a Google glass like device.

Icis will ship in mid-2014, as a pre-beta device. As with most emerging technologies, it will take several software iterations to work out some bugs. We look forward to you all helping us perfect this product with feedback and suggestions. They can be pre-ordered for $220 pls $15 shipping and handling.

Pre-order here

Icis is an app-driven Bluetooth accessory, this means that it only communicates with your phone and not your network. So long as your device is a modern smartphone, this device will be able to work it.


UI of the ICIS smartspecks

In 2014 a $300 Google Glass Competitor

A combination of the Wikitude's augmented reality software technology and Optinvent's ORA-S AR glasses hardware offers a truly hands free augmented reality experience. The ORA-S provides a dual display option, allowing users to choose from a fully immersive experience or a support mode, similar to Google Glass. Currently the demo-mockup is bulky and uncomfortable. They are looking to make it thinner and more comfortable. The display can be moved out of the field of view.

The new ORA-S which is currently under development in France and is expected to be available to consumers for around $300 sometime in 2014. It offers users much larger display size that is three times that offered by Google Glass, and also offers a 16:9 aspect ratio and a field of view of 25 degrees.

Shane Walker, an IHS Global Insights analyst, told Ars that his firm is tracking 11 companies (including Google Glass) making a similar type of product.

“Glass will lead the market (and there will be more players before too much longer), but I think there is room for others by targeting certain markets (i.e. Recon’s focus on sports),” he said. “These all utilize similar display technology, except Meta, which introduces embedded vision for gesture recognition. I’d say this is the most unique proposition yet.”

ORA-S’ first developer version, including an SDK, is expected to come out in December 2013 for around $950.



December 02, 2013

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 185

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 185 is up at Atomic Power Review.

James Conca reviews the uranium enrichment deal made with Iran.

It is no wonder that Iran wants this deal as badly as it seems. It is a way out of a very tricky and dangerous situation. Countries having the bomb never seem to get attacked, but those that give up their nuclear programs completely tend to end badly. Just ask Iraq and Libya. To avoid this fate, Iran has to back away from nuclear weapons while retaining a nuclear energy program.

The U.S. understands that this deal is a good step toward that end. A final deal will include a structure that precludes the ability to make a weapon, such as abandoning or altering the reactor at Arak, and closing the Fordow enrichment facility because it is basically immune from attack being under a mountain. But the whole deal doesn’t have to be done all at once.

All things considered, this deal with Iran is a good one for the world.

Robert Hayes at Newsok reviews time travel physics

Travel backwards in time is mathematically consistent with all known physical phenomenon but not in the way you probably expect, there are some caveats. The existence of antimatter has been empirically known for almost 100 years now. The antiparticle for an electron can either be called an anti-electron or a positron. A normal electron has a negative charge and an anti-electron has a positive charge. Similarly a proton has a positive charge but an anti-proton has a negative charge. Whenever a normal particle comes into contact with its antiparticle, they annihilate each other and are converted into pure energy in the form of gamma ray photons. All anti-matter particles are effectively equivalent to their normal matter counterparts with the exception that anti-matter can be considered to have negative energy. The difference in energy when an anti-matter particle encounters its matter counterpart is simply total energy of the gamma rays released when they annihilate each other.

Carnival of Space 330

1. Astroswanny takes a look at the ISON perihelion and social media action that made more than a few scientists almost choke on their thansgiving turkey. Astroswanny suggests that if a naked eye comet makes it to the Lasco C3 FOV - its going round! That "rule of thumb" is now two from two in three years.



2. Universe Today - Astrophotographer Damian Peach has wowed us with his images of Comet ISON the past few months. Here’s a montage of some of his best images from September 24 to November 15.

A montage of images of Comet ISON taken from September 24 to November 15, 2013. Credit and copyright: Damian Peach.

Life expectancy, universal healthcare and medical costs

58 countries have universal healthcare. Most countries in Europe, Canada, Australia and Japan and several other countries have universal healthcare.

Several of the countries have universal healthcare and longer life expectancy and a lower proportion of GDP spent on medical costs.



Diamondoid Mechanosynthesis in context of other technology

Richard Jones is an academic who started publishing writings on nanotechnology in 2004. He frequently got the details of what other people wrote or did incorrect.

Usually Jones has a lot of things technically accurate but he will write about the Singularity and molecular nanotechnology as if his views are new and will recast a portion of what other people said or did. Jones also ignores or is not aware of important existing work that disproves or circumvents what he is talking about. Jones also likes to look around at the current state of progress in nanotechnology in particular work being done in the UK and then claim those as successes for his vision and then disparage areas of nanotechnology that have had less funding and effort.

Jones has a new article at Hplus magazine.

Looking at diamondoid mechanosynthesis as technology in context

Yes, Diamondoid mechanosynthesis has not been commercially developed. Plenty of technology and products have not been developed yet or were delayed for many decades but not because they were technologically impossible. Molecular Mechanosynthesis has had demonstrations at room temperature

There is theoretical and experimental work that details the feasibility of molecular mechanosynthesis.

A 2011 theoretical paper by Damian G. Allis, Brian Helfrich, Robert A. Freitas Jr., and Ralph C. Merkle.

The results of a combined molecular dynamics/quantum chemistry pathology study of previously reported organic (diamondoid) tooltips for diamondoid mechanosynthesis (DMS) are presented. This study, employing the NanoHive@Home (NH@H) distributed computing project, produced 80,000 tooltip geometries used in 200,000 calculations optimized at either the RHF/3-21G or RHF/STO-3G levels of theory based on geometries obtained from high-energy molecular dynamics simulations to produce highly deformed starting geometries. These 200,000 calculations have been catalogued, grouped according to energies and geometries, and analyzed to consider potentially accessible defect structures (pathologies) for tooltip geometries either binding a carbon dimer (C2 feedstock or not containing the transported dimer feedstock. The transport and deposition of feed-stock and the stability of the tooltip between dimer “loading” cycles are important geometries thatmust be considered as part of a tooltip stability analysis. The NH@H framework is found to be a useful method both for the study of highly deforming covalent geometries and, using lower-temperature MD simulations, for generating and optimizing molecular conformations (demonstrated using biotin, n-heptane, and n-octane in this study). The results of the pathology survey are discussed and general considerations for the exploration of DMS tooltip usability are explored.

More efficient electrical grid and the vision of carbon nanotube electrical grid

Nextbigfuture has criticized the Richard Smalley vision of a carbon nanotube electrical grid in the past.

* Richard Smalley made the promise of a vision for a carbon nanotube electrical grid back in 1995.
* Smalley criticized the vision of mechanical nanotechnology as being scientifically impossible. However, there has be experimental proof that molecules can be moved and made to react with atomic precision
* Despite tens of millions in funding Smalley and now 8 professors and labs that continue the work have not delivered one meter of commercial carbon nanotube cable after 18 years.

Smalley and Rice University and the carbon nanotube industry has had hundreds of millions of dollars in funding and many hundreds of researchers. Yet nearly 20 years later the Smalley vision is not close to commercialization.

What is the difference between Drexler's Nanosystems book and vision of diamondoid mechanosynthesis and Smalley's carbon nanotube grid ?

Smalley's vision had more hundreds of times more money and research and still failed to deliver.
Drexler had some volunteer and part time work by a handful of people.

Why are there not people writing about Why are we not there yet for Smalley's molecular nanotechnology vision ?

Why is there not more criticism of the funded effort versus the unfunded lack of effort ?

This effect also can be seen with proposal for space and energy technology. Researchers and people will slander and trash space and energy technology proposals to nip competing plans in the bud so that their slow to deliver efforts keep getting funded.

People working on the Tokomak will trash other nuclear fusion efforts to keep the billion dollars per year flowing to ITER.

It happens less frequently in other applications of technology and business because there are fewer potentially disruptive ideas that need to be blocked. There has been efforts to sideline the factory mass produced skyscraper from Broad Group of China. Here it cannot be said to be totally infeasible to build the tallest building with a method that has already produced a 30 story building but they can cast doubt on safety and claim that wind will cause problems for a tall structure built in a new way.

Not creating more old people is not the answer to poorly structured pension and labor policies

A commenter on google plus to an article that I wrote.

The article I wrote indicated that people have the wrong intuition about aging, longevity and economics.

The commenter responded with the following wrong intuition about aging.

The assumption that if (for example) lifespan is increased 10 or 20 years, that the productive period of life will be similarly extended. If what happens is that you get too weak to work at 75, just like now, and then instead of having 5 years of bad quality of life, you have 15 - that drags down the economy. And at the current time, there's little evidence that any major increases in longevity will include major increases in productive lifespan as well.

For a worked example, see the current problems with the graying population of Japan, where there's an increasing supply of elderly who are retired

The economic problems related to social programs being structured incorrectly is not something that needs more life extension to cause insolvency. The existing amounts of longevity have already exposed the problems with the old social contracts and policies. Countries like Canada have already switched to solvent policy systems by increasing the time to full retirement benefits by adding about 3 to 4 months per year to the age of full retirement. Japan's main economic problem is that they have too few children and no immigration. Russia has similar demographic and economic problems of a shrinking population, but they do not have the increasing longevity of Japan. So how does the theory that longevity causes financial doom fit with Russia where people are living shorter lives work. Where Russia has economic problems from a shrinking population. Fewer kids and shorter lives. Should not the shorter lives be making the Russian economy stronger ? Also, clearly healthspan has been extended from the 19th century when life expectancy was about 40, because now there are many healthy and productive people well into their 60s.

The World Economic Forum examined the global issue of aging populations in an 148 page 2012 study.

Another reason for an emphasis on aging today is that “doomsday scenarios” abound. These alarmist views typically assume a world of static policy and institutions, continuing trends involving low fertility, and constant age-specific behavior and labor outcomes. The resulting scenarios yield stark and shocking images of workforce shortages, asset market meltdowns, economic growth slowdowns, the financial collapse of pension and healthcare systems, and mass loneliness and insecurity.

Such tales are strongly reminiscent of the work by Paul Ehrlich and the Club of Rome in the late 1960s, which predicted mass starvation and human misery in the 1970s and 1980s as a result of rapid population growth, or what was termed “the population bomb”. But lessons can be learned from this experience. Although the world population did double from 1960 to 2000 (from 3 billion to 6 billion), at the same time per capita income increased by 115%, life expectancy rose by more than 15 years, and literacy shot up as primary school enrollments became nearly universal in many.

December 01, 2013

Combating people who have the wrong intuition about longevity

Ben Goertzel talks about the war on the war on death.

A couple days ago the New York Times ran an article by 83 year old author Daniel Callahan, entitled “On Dying After Your Time.” The theme of the article is that extending human life is a bad idea, for a variety of reasons. The author thinks life extension advances will probably result mainly in the lengthening of the unpleasant, sickness-plagued, mentally-feeble period at the end of most modern human lives. He also foresees that an increase in the population of incapable old people will drag the economy down.

This is some individuals intuition about the economic impact of longevity.

People living longer lives means a more prosperous society and higher per capita income.

Here is a research paper that looks at the increase in longevity from 1749 in Sweden. Sweden began keeping population statistics and economic statistics back to the start of the Industrial revolution. So we can use actual data to see the impact of the increase in longevity. The paper is Growth and Longevity from the Industrial Revolution to the Future of an Aging Society.


They show that historical increases in longevity have contributed in increased economic growth by increasing incentives for people to get more education. They can have more years getting educated because they are generally assured of a longer life and career to utilize more education.