December 21, 2013

HP CEO and CTO talk about memristors, HP CTO confident of 100 Terabyte memristor drives by 2018

HP’s Discover event in Barcelona this week has focused heavily on its “new style of IT” mantra, which focuses on cloud computing, integrated data center offerings, and commercial PCs that try to bring the cool factor. But HP CEO Meg Whitman’s keynote Tuesday at the event offered a brief preview of where HP’s next “new style of IT” may be headed.

Taking a break from promoting the current lineup of HP Enterprise Group products, Whitman discussed a handful of technology areas where the company’s HP Lab is working on technologies the company feels will help shape technology in the future.

Up first, Moonshot cartridge servers are the only one of the innovations currently in-market today, but Whitman suggested HP has just tapped the surface of the high-density, low-power modular servers, saying that “no other company is taking on the data center the way were are.”

From there, Whitman moved into technologies that have not yet seen the light of the day, a high-performance, low-cost non-volatile memory technology called memristors, and its Photonics technology, which speed data transmission within an infrastructure by using fiber optics.

Previously, CTO Martin Fink suggested StoreServ arrays could be packed with 100TB Memristor drives come 2018.

Origami-based spintronics in graphene

Periodically folded graphene sheets with enhanced spin-orbit interaction due to curvature effects can carry spin-polarized currents and have gaps in the electronic spectrum in the presence of weak magnetic fields. Results indicate that such origami-like structures can be used efficiently in spintronic applications.

Scientists have theoretically shown that a bandgap can be opened in graphene by folding 2D graphene sheets origami-style and exposing them to a magnetic field. In addition to opening up a bandgap, this method also produces spin-polarized current in the graphene sheets, making them attractive for spintronics applications.

(a) To grow graphene fin-like structures, the researchers draped a graphene sheet over a patterned stamp. Below, (b) a scanning electron micrograph and (c) an atomic force microscope image show a small portion of the folded graphene surface. Credit: A. T. Costa, et al. ©2013 EPL

December 20, 2013

New technique for determining the mass of exoplanets

Current techniques for estimating exoplanetary mass are limited. Radial velocity is the main method scientists use: tiny wobbles in a star’s orbit as it is tugged around by the planet’s gravitational force, from which scientists can derive the planet-to-star mass ratio. For very large, Neptune-sized planets, or smaller Earth-sized planets orbiting very close to bright stars, radial velocity works relatively well. But the technique is less successful with smaller planets that orbit much farther from their stars, as Earth does.

Now scientists at MIT have developed a new technique for determining the mass of exoplanets, using only their transit signal — dips in light as a planet passes in front of its star. This data has traditionally been used to determine a planet’s size and atmospheric properties, but the MIT team has found a way to interpret it such that it also reveals the planet’s mass.

“With this method, we realized the planetary mass — a key parameter that, if missing, could have prevented us from assessing the habitability of the first potentially habitable Earth-sized planet in the next decade — will actually be accessible, together with its atmospheric properties,” says Julien de Wit, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.

Artistic rendering of a planet's transmission spectrum. IMAGE: CHRISTINE DANILOFF/MIT, JULIEN DE WIT

Chen bringing Blackberry security and software to android and iPhone and Foxconn will make their phones

Blackberry is porting the company's signature software to rival operating systems. It won't be easy, especially if the company wants to maintain a high level of encryption and security, but the company has already started looking beyond the BlackBerry 10 OS. In October it released a version of its popular BlackBerry Messenger software for Android and iOS. The software attracted 40 million new users in the first two months and BlackBerry said it is now being pre-installed in more than a dozen Android phones.

BlackBerry isn't charging for the software yet. Chen said he was considering a monthly fee per user for customers running it with BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

Blackberry has a new five year deal with Foxconn. Foxconn will make their phones and design the low end phones.

Repeating China's infrastructure miracle in other developing countries for high growth and high returns on investment

The World needs a growth lifting strategy where there is a global initiative to provide bottleneck releasing infrastructure to the developing world where the returns will be greatest

China is the largest financier of Africa’s infrastructure, accounting for over 34% of infrastructure projects being implemented in Africa, higher than other donors

China has focused on “bottleneck-releasing” infrastructure by meeting the “unmet” demand from African governments.

The developing has an unmet need for at least $500 billion in infrastructure.

How did China achieve reform without losers in its transition from socialism ?

Justin Yifu Lin, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, the World Bank, provides his take on how China achieved success and how other developing countries should follow in Demystifying the Chinese Economy.

China had per capita GDP of $4,260 in 2010.
China had per capita GDP (nominal US$) of $6,091 at the end of 2012.
China's per capita GDP (not including HK or Macau) will likely be about $7,000 at the end of 2013.
China's per capita GDP will likely be about $8,000 at the end of 2014. (nearly doubling the 2010 level)
China's per capita GDP will likely be about $9,000 at the end of 2015.

China adopted a gradual, dual-track approach starting in 1979. China achieved reform without losers and moved gradually but steadily to a well functioning market economy.

During the transition process China adopted a pragmatic, gradual, dual-track approach. The government first improved the incentives and productivity by allowing the workers in the collective farms and state-owned firms to be residual claimants and to set the prices for selling at the market after delivering the quota obligations to the state at fixed prices). At the same time, the government continued to provide necessary protections to nonviable firms in the priority sectors and simultaneously, liberalized the entry of private enterprises, joint ventures, and foreign direct investment in labor-intensive sectors in which China had a comparative advantage but that were repressed before the transition.

Wearable Augmented Reality Maker imagines Google Glass Helping to Pickup Women with Realtime Online Stalking

The promotional video imagines the Geek fantasies of a device that provides realtime information to help pickup women and win pool games. It does seem to be a creepy use of the technology, which would likely turnoff the intended targets.

Infinity Augmented Reality (Infinity AR) provides the revolutionary software platform that makes the digital eyewear experience (i.e. Meta, Google Glass) a reality. The Company is the first augmented reality software platform to connect universally with digital eyewear, smartphones and tablets, integrating multiple devices into one platform.

Infinity AR's software platform will enable the use of such applications as facial, voice, and mood recognition. This futuristic phenomenon actually knows what you are doing, what you want, and when you want it based on information received from the connection to your smartphone or other mobile device.

Our video will give you a better look into how our software platform brings augmented reality to the user. Infinity Augmented Reality Inc is a publicly traded company trading under ticker symbol "ALSO".

DARPA rescue robot competition videos

DARPA running rescue robot competition today

The Atlas robot pictured below is an example of one of many innovative prototypes of disaster-response robots scheduled to compete in the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Trials that are taking place December 20-21 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla.

While a number of the teams’ robot designs embody different approaches, the designs also incorporate many of the same advanced technologies. Technologies include those that help the robots perceive, move through and perform tasks in simulated disaster environments, all with a human operator in the loop. The technologies also enable the robots’ operators to see what the robots see and direct the robots in real time. Through the DRC, DARPA aims to advance robots’ capabilities to help human responders in future emergencies.

DARPA designed the tasks to simulate what a future robot might have to do to safely enter and effectively work inside a disaster zone. They will test the robots’ autonomous perception, autonomous decision-making, mounted and dismounted mobility, dexterity and strength. Each team will receive a score based on its performance, with all eight tasks carrying equal weight. Up to eight teams with the highest scores may continue to receive DARPA funding to prepare for the DRC Finals scheduled for late 2014.

T-mobile may announce a plan on Jan 8, 2014 to pay up to $350 of the early termination costs for those that switch to their service

T-Mobile is planning an initiative that would pay off subscribers’ early termination fees if they switch from a rival carrier to T-Mobile. Specifically the source said that the company is planning “a project codenamed ‘Houdini’ which will give switchers up to $350 in credit when they switch to TMO” with a particular emphasis placed “on families switching up to 5 lines regardless of contract end dates.”

Paying off customers’ early termination fees would destroy a huge barrier to wireless subscribers switching to T-Mobile. It would also go a long way toward killing off the two-year service agreements that T-Mobile scrapped as part of its first “uncarrier” initiative. T-Mobile has become a major annoyance for incumbent carriers and earlier this year it also made moves to give customers the option of upgrading their smartphones earlier and to offer free international data roaming.

T-Mobile plans to announce its next major “uncarrier” plan on January 8th at the Consumer Electronics Show

Those with more lifespan also have more healthspan

Researchers compared the health-spans of older generation subjects of the Long Life Family Study (LLFS) to controls without family history of longevity and to centenarians of the New England Centenarian Study (NECS) using Bayesian parametric survival analysis. We estimated hazard ratios, the ages at which specific percentiles of subjects had onsets of diseases, and the gain of years of disease-free survival in the different cohorts compared to referent controls. Compared to controls, LLFS subjects had lower hazards for cancer, cardiovascular disease, severe dementia, diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, and stroke. The age at which 20% of the LLFS siblings and probands had one or more age-related diseases was approximately 10 years later than NECS controls.

The Long Life Family Study (LLFS) is an ongoing study of longevity and healthy aging in 583 families and almost 5000 family members demonstrating clustering for longevity. Median age of the probands and their siblings (the older generation or “generation one”) at enrollment was 92 years with an age range of 72–109 years. This substantial longevity was associated with decreased prevalence of age-related diseases such as diabetes and peripheral artery disease compared to subjects in the Framingham Heart Study and Cardiovascular Health Study

Fightaging highlights that the aspects of aging resersed were indicators of insulin resistance, inflammation and muscle wasting in muscle

Fightaging looks at the use of the NAD chemical to reverse age related inflammation and insulin resistance in muscle tissue.

There has been a fair amount of research into the effects of manipulating hypoxia-inducible factor 1 (HIF-1) in lower animals, mostly nematode worms I believe. Interestingly this is one of the few manipulations in which either reducing or increasing levels of the protein in question can increase longevity. This is a sign that there is probably significant complexity involved in this outcome, such as in relationships with other mechanisms or that the effects of changes are tied to specific tissues in the body or locations within cells.

Researchers are today announcing - and, I think, overhyping - new research into a way to manipulate HIF-1 that is apparently an offshoot of past and ongoing research into sirtuins and aging. When considering the source of the work, the overhyping is perhaps less of a surprise than it might otherwise be: this is a group with a very large sunk cost behind them and little to show for it. Deep pockets nonetheless still back continued efforts, and they have a lot of experience with the press. This is a formula that leads to breathless press materials touting rejuvenation. The people who are really, actually working on rejuvenation are more restrained these days.

Fightaging thinks that these researchers have found an interesting set of interactions to help explain why manipulation of HIF-1 can affect longevity, and (b) the changing levels of that and various related proteins with advancing age are responses to accumulated cellular damage. Perhaps the most relevant damage is mitochondrial, given that cycling of NAD is involved in the chain of unpleasant results that unfold when mitochondrial DNA becomes damaged, or perhaps it is something else.

So to my eyes what they focus on isn't a cause, it's a consequence.

Trials could start in 2014 for rejuvenation of mitochondria cellular communication which could make 60 years as youthful as 20 year olds for several aspects of aging

Yesterday, nextbigfuture reported that Harvard researchers have discovered a cause of aging in mammals that may be reversible.

The essence of this finding is a series of molecular events that enable communication inside cells between the nucleus and mitochondria. As communication breaks down, aging accelerates. By administering a molecule naturally produced by the human body, scientists restored the communication network in older mice. Subsequent tissue samples showed key biological hallmarks that were comparable to those of much younger animals.

Here is the correct Harvard research. There was an error in my original article to different and inferior work in 2010 at Harvard.

Here is more details on the new work.

The researchers will try to start clinical trials on humans in 2014.

The research focuses on a chemical called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD, which naturally reduces in the body as we get older.

The ageing process occurs when communication between an area of the cell known as mitochondria, which produces energy, gradually stops communicating with the cell's nucleus.

The study found that by injecting the NAD compound, the ageing process was reversed in the mice, although muscle strength did not improve.

Dr Nigel Turner, senior research fellow at UNSW and co-author of the study, told Guardian Australia the rate of age reversal in mice was “amazingly rapid”.

“We mapped the pathway to ageing carefully, but it was a real surprise to see the markers of ageing move back so quickly in just a week,” he said.

Turner said a “magic pill” that reverses ageing is several years away, partially due to the cost of the compound, which would be about $50,000 a day for a human.

But trials are expected to commence as soon as next year, with researchers confident that side-effects will be minimal due to the fact the compound is naturally occurring.

“Now that we understand the pathway, we can look at other ways to restore the communication and reverse the aging process,” Turner said. “People think anti-aging research is about us wanting to make people live until they are 200, but the goal is really to help people be healthy longer into old age.

“We know that this cell communication breaks down in diseases such as dementia, cancer and type-two diabetes. This research focused on muscles, but it could benefit multiple organs and delay and prevent a lot of these diseases occurring.

“Whether that means we’ll all live to 150, I don’t know, but the important part is that we don’t spend the last 20 to 30 years of our lives in bad health.”

December 19, 2013

Progress to lab grown brains and brain tissue from bio-scaffolds and stem cells

Swedish researchers combined a scaffold made from gelatin with a tiny amount of rat brain tissue that had already had its cells removed. This "decellularised" tissue, they hoped, would provide enough of the crucial biochemical cues to enable seeded cells to develop as they would in the brain.

When the team added mesenchymal stem cells – taken from another rat's bone marrow – to the mix, they found evidence that the stem cells had started to develop into neural cells.

Biomaterials - Electrospun gelatin scaffolds incorporating rat decellularized brain extracellular matrix for neural tissue engineering

Partial reversal of aging achieved in mice by restoring mitochondria cellular communication

Researchers have discovered a cause of aging in mammals that may be reversible.

UPDATE - Correcting to the right Harvard article for the new 2013 research.

The essence of this finding is a series of molecular events that enable communication inside cells between the nucleus and mitochondria. As communication breaks down, aging accelerates. By administering a molecule naturally produced by the human body, scientists restored the communication network in older mice. Subsequent tissue samples showed key biological hallmarks that were comparable to those of much younger animals.

Cell - Declining NAD+ Induces a Pseudohypoxic State Disrupting Nuclear-Mitochondrial Communication during Aging

Ultra high definition TVs, a few native high resolution movies and TV shows for tens of hours of content in 2014

Samsung's currently has a 85-inch Ultra HD display is priced at $40,000, while LG has a 84-inch Ultra HD display priced at $17,000. LG Electronics and Samsung have each announced new 105-inch Ultra HD TV displays.

Both call their new displays the first and largest curved Ultra HD TVs so far. Each of the LCD displays has 11 million pixels, compared to 2 million in current HDTVs — providing improved resolution over current HDTVs. It is 40% more resolution than a 4K HDTV (with 8 million pixels). And the rectangular 21:9 aspect ratio, a shape similar to that of CinemaScope theater screens, is wider than current 16:9 widescreen HDTVs.

Ultra HD sets will upscale current HD content — on broadcast TV and Blu-ray Discs — to higher resolutions. And Hollywood has begun producing movies and TV series in Ultra HD quality.

Sony currently sells a $700 Video Unlimited 4K movie server that comes with 10 4K movies (The Amazing Spider-Man among them) and lets you rent or buy others. The final season of Breaking Bad is coming soon to the service. Meanwhile, Amazon has announced that all of its 2014 series including The After from Chris Carter (The X-Files) will be shot in 4K.

Warren Buffet owns railroad and tank car company and is a big Obama supporter. Obama blocks pipeline which boosts oil shipped by rail

The Keystone pipeline expansion is still being stalled. Canadian Ambassador Doer observes that Obama's "choice is to have it come down by a pipeline that he approves, or without his approval, it comes down on trains.

Increased rail capacity is moving more oil from Canada's oilsands

More oil is moving by rail from North Dakota as well

Warren Buffett has formally endorsed and made campaign contributions to Barack Obama's presidential campaign. On July 2, 2008, Buffett attended a $28,500 per plate fundraiser for Obama's campaign in Chicago hosted by Obama's National Finance Chair, Penny Pritzker and her husband, as well as Obama advisor Valerie Jarret.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway (BRK/A) owns Union Tank Car, just one piece of his big bet on rail, which also includes the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad.

Alternative to Keystone pipeline clears Canadian Federal Review panel with a lot of conditions

A federal review panel says the proposed $7.9-bilion Northern Gateway pipeline project should go ahead if more than 200 conditions are met.

A National Energy Board review panel released its report into the proposed project Thursday afternoon, after months of public hearings.

The 429-page report included some 209 conditions that Calgary-based Enbridge must meet in order to build the pipeline.

The nearly 1,200-kilometre pipeline would carry Alberta oil from Bruderheim, Alta., to a port in Kitimat in northern B.C., where it can be loaded onto tankers and shipped to markets in Asia.

The pipeline would carry 525,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to B.C. The report estimated the project’s cost at $7.9 billion, up from $6.5 billion.

If you liked this article, please give it a quick review on ycombinator or StumbleUpon. Thanks

Hammers Slammers like Nuclear powered hovertanks would technically be feasible for the late 2020s and 2030s

Terrestrial energy is trying to develop integral molten salt nuclear fission reactors. These nuclear reactors would have about 20-200 times less volume than conventional nuclear fission reactors. The US, Europe and China are trying to develop supercritical carbon dioxide turbines that would have 100 times less volume than regular steam turbines. The Hammer's Slammers Science fiction nuclear hovertank would be enabled with the two technologies that are under development (molten salt reactors and supercritical CO2 turbines.

By shrinking the nuclear reactor and the turbine by 100 times, plenty of other vehicles are made possible. Various nuclear ships and submarines can be revamped. Also, space bases with nuclear become more possible with one launch.

The 60 MW thermal IMSR would be the size of a fairly deep hottub. The Supercritical CO2 turbine would be about 8-10 cubic meters. The Supercritical CO2 could boost the electrical power to 33 MWe. 33MWe is 44,254 horsepower, which is about 30 times more power than the 1500 horsepower in current tanks. The 550 ton Russian Zubr hovercraft has 57000 horsepower. So a 170 ton nuclear fission (integral molten salt with supercritical CO2 turbines) could be designed with hovercraft capability.

An M1 Abrams tank weighs 67 tons and has an external volume of about 83 cubic meters. Internal volume is about 50 cubic meters.

Hammers slammers imagines 170 ton nuclear fusion powered tanks

Roadmap to Supercritical CO2 turbines

Here is a presentation on Closed Brayton Cycle (supercritical CO2) Research Progress and Plans at Sandia National Labs

The EU also sees a role for Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Power Cycles in power generation with CCS (carbon capture and storage, both in terms of efficiency increase and costs reduction.

The reasons of growing interest toward this technology are manifold:
* simple cycle efficiency potentially above 50%;
* near zero - emissions cycle;
* footprints one hundredth of traditional turbomachinery for the same power output due to the high density of working fluid;
* extraction of “pipeline ready” CO2 for sequestration or enhanced oil recovery, without both CO2 capture facilities and compression systems;
* integration with concentrating solar power (CSP), waste heat, nuclear and geothermal, with high efficiency in energy conversion;
* applications with severe volume constraints such as ship propulsion

There is a DOE project to a make a 10 MWe supercritical CO2 turbine that should be completed in 2015.

Definition of Vassal State means providing military assistance to the dominant state

A vassal state is any state that is subordinate to another. The vassal in these cases is the ruler, rather than the state itself. Being a vassal most commonly implies providing military assistance to the dominant state when requested to do so; it sometimes implies paying tribute, but a state which does so is better described as a tributary state. In simpler terms the vassal state would have to provide military power to the dominant state.

Canada entered World War 2 one week after the UK. Canada's Parliament supported the government's decision to declare war on Germany on September 10, 1939 one week after the United Kingdom and France. Canada was a complete vassal and colony of the UK up to World War 2.

Canadian military support of US wars after WW2 - Military History of a Vassal

Canada is not the only vassal of the US. The UK also became a vassal of the US. Other countries have also been part of various coalitions. NATO is organization that makes it mostly official.

Canadian troops were stationed in Germany throughout the Cold War, and Canada joined with the Americans to erect defences against Soviet attack, such as the DEW Line. As a middle [subordinate] power, Canadian policy makers realized that Canada could do little militarily on its own, and thus a policy of multilateralism was adopted whereby Canada's international military efforts would be a part of a larger coalition. This led to Canada choosing to stay out of several wars despite the participation of close allies, most notably the Vietnam War and the Second Iraq War, although Canada lent indirect support and Canadian citizens served in foreign armies in both conflicts.

Canadian writer fears Canada will become a Vassal of China instead of a Vassal of the USA and wants Canada to merge with the USA

Diane Francis makes the case that the USA and Canada are declining relative to the rest of the world and particularly China. She proposes a simple and obvious solution: What if the United States and Canada merged into one country? The most audacious initiative since the Louisiana Purchase would solve the biggest problems each country expects to face: the U.S.’s national security threats and declining living standards; and Canada’s difficulty controlling and developing its huge landmass, stemming from a lack of capital, workers, technology and military might. Merger of the Century builds both a strong political argument and a compelling business case, treating our two countries not only as sovereign entities but as merging companies.

Scenario where China makes Canada a Vassal

Over decades Chinese companies will buy Canadian banking and drilling firms to secure Canada's oil and natural gas fields. Canada gets muscled out of its Arctic claims by extraction companies with the backing of the Russian government. A network of Chinese ports has secured the sea lines along the Northwest Passage, circumscribing Canadian sovereignty, and Canada's military, enfeebled after years of reliance on the United States, is powerless to resist. Canada effectively lapses into a vassal state, reliant on neocolonial patriarchs in Beijing and Moscow

Diane Francis is a director for Aurizon Mines Ltd., which operates a gold mine in Quebec. She wants to see the United States invest in infrastructure in Canada's far north, which currently lacks the roads, ports and pipelines necessary to make resource extraction possible. "That kind of a Marshall Plan with infrastructure and so on -- that would create millions of jobs, both sides of the border," she says. "The Americans should just roll up their sleeves and get on with it, because they've got the capital and they've got the market for the stuff. At the very least, there's got to be some kind of a joint venture, economically, and I say, 'Let's pick our partners.' "

Nextbigfuture response

1. Canada has already been a semi-Vassal of the US since at least 1959. Canada unofficially transitioned from English control at the end of World War 2.

Here is a history of the military contribution Canada made to US wars and the economic dominance of the US over Canada.

2. Diane Francis is arguing for massive US investment in Canadian infrastructure ? The US has been underinvesting in its own infrastructure. Hundreds of billions are needed to bring roads and bridges in the US up to proper maintenance.

China needs to fully mobilize and engage in a war on pollution

17 to 22 million civilians died in the second China-Japan war which lasted 8 years (1937-1945).

Outdoor air pollution contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010, according to a study released this year on leading causes of global deaths.

A Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [PNAS] paper’s findings suggest that an arbitrary Chinese policy that greatly increases total suspended particulates (TSPs) air pollution is causing the 500 million residents of Northern China to lose more than 2.5 billion life years of life expectancy. 5 years of reduced life for 500 million people) relative to people in Southern China. Toxic air pollution has led to higher rates of stroke, heart disease and cancer.

Pollution in China will likely get worse before getting better, experts say.

Case in point: The Chinese government announced last week that pilots of domestic airlines are being trained to fly blind landings into the country's 10 most polluted cities, including Beijing, because of the smog.

December 18, 2013

1-Femtojoule Optical Interconnect Paves the Way for Low-Power, High Performance Chips and eventual exaflop and zettaflop supercomputers

Michael Watts and pals at MIT have designed and built the first photonic modulator that operates at an ultralow 1 femtoJoule power level. “We propose, demonstrate, and characterize the first modulator to achieve simultaneous high-speed (25 Gigabits per second), low voltage (0.5 peak-to-peak Voltage) and efficient 1 femtoJoule per bit error-free operation,” they say.

The new device is a hollow silicon cylinder that acts as a cavity for trapping light waves. It modulates this light thanks to a phenomenon known as the electro-optic effect in which the refractive index of silicon can be changed by modifying the voltage across it.

The modulator solves a number of problems that electronics engineers have been wrestling with. First, it is entirely compatible with the CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) process used for manufacturing chips and so can be made inside any existing fabrication plant. Previous attempts to make devices of this kind relied on indium which is not compatible with CMOS.

This is for handling of input and output. If processing power can also be brought down to around these levels then zettaflop systems become possible.

Femtojoule operations would mean one watt for a petaflop of processing and 1000 watts for an exaflop and a megawatt for a zettaflop. 100 zettaflop supercomputers would need 100 megawatts of power.

Arxiv - A one femtojoule athermal silicon modulator

The full 23 page paper is here

$38 android tablet with 7 inch display and 1 GHz processor is coming to the USA

Datawind announced that it plans to sell a $38 tablet in the U.S. through as-yet unnamed online and brick-and-mortar retailers early next year. The London-based firm plans to sell three models in the United States, ranging in price from $38 to as much as $149 with varying specs and capabilities.

The One laptop per child program originally was targeting $100 laptop.

Pricing for the one laptop project was set to start at $188 in 2006, with a stated goal to reach the $100 mark in 2008 and the 50-dollar mark by 2010. When offered for sale in the Give One, Get One campaigns of Q4 2006 and Q4 2007, the laptop was sold at $199.

The $38 UbiSlate 7Ci tablet, running on Google Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, features a 1-gigahertz , single-core processor (the sort of CPU found in the first-generation iPad introduced in 2010). Just 4 gigabytes of storage is built in, although microSD card slots are included for those looking for more space to store apps and media. The 7-inch display offers a resolution of 800×480 pixels, which is a far cry from the HD displays found on Apple iPads, Amazon’s Kindle Fire’s and Google’s Nexus devices.

UbiSlate 7Ci

China Activity Proxy estimates China's official GDP growth was overstated by 1-2% in the last two years but 2009 and 2010 were accurate

Economists have tried to put together alternative indices to estimate China's GDP growth. One of the most thorough is produced by Capital Economics, which releases what it calls the China Activity Proxy. The data series started in 2009, so it has a track record. It’s published monthly — unlike GDP data, which is released quarterly.

The London-based research group uses one of Mr. Li’s favorite indicators, electricity output, as a proxy for industrial activity. It adds four others – freight shipment (a broad measure of economic activity), floor space under construction (real estate); passenger travel (service sector); and cargo volume (international trade).

“They are relatively low profile (statistics), so should be subject to fewer questions about data manipulation,” Capital Economics explained.

For the most part, Capital Economics finds that its CAP index generally jibes with China’s GDP numbers, especially in 2009 and 2010. But in the last two years, its CAP index suggests growth may have been 1 to 2 percentage points below the official GDP numbers.

What’s up? Mark Williams, a China economist at the firm, says official GDP numbers reflect output data and are “skewed toward what is going on in industry.”

CAP data, he says, also capture “harder to measure” parts of the economy.

ASEAN economy and Intra ASEAN trade and trade with China

The Asean economy is expected to double by 2020, with the nominal gross domestic product of the regional bloc increasing from US$2 trillion in 2012 to US$4.7 trillion.

ASEAN Purchasing power parity per capita GDP almost doubled since 2000

Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita in ASEAN, taking into account differences in purchasing power parity, had virtually doubled from $ 2882 in 2000, to $ 5581 in 2011.

Growth is strong in both country groups – the ASEAN6 (Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) and CLMV (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam). The CLMV countries posted robust growth, narrowing the gap with the ASEAN6. Comparing the ASEAN6 and their CLMV brothers, the growth of per capita GDP (in constant PPP$) was 3.4 in 2000, and only 2.6 in 2011.

Pacemaker that is ten times smaller can be implanted without surgery

Pacemaker surgery typically requires a doctor to make an incision above a patient’s heart, dig a cavity into which he can implant the heartbeat-regulating device, and then connect the pulse generator to wires delivered through a vein near the collarbone. Such surgery could soon be completely unnecessary. Instead, doctors could employ miniaturized wireless pacemakers that can be delivered into the heart through a major vein in the thigh.

On Monday, doctors in Austria implanted one such device into a patient—the first participant in a human trial of what device-manufacturer Medtronic says is the smallest pacemaker in the world. The device is 24 millimeters long and 0.75 cubic centimeters in volume—a tenth the size of a conventional pacemaker.

Doctors can implant such pacemakers into the heart through blood vessels, via an incision in the thigh. They use steerable, flexible tubes called catheters to push the pacemakers through a large vein.

December 17, 2013

Could China Make claims to the Moon that could trigger a new space race ?

Glenn Harlan Reynolds (Instapundit) wrote in USA Today that he hopes China makes territorial claims to the moon to start a gold rush for space resources.

On Saturday, a Chinese lunar probe made the first soft landing anyone's made on the moon since 1976. The Chang'e-3 probe means that China is one of only three countries -- joining the United States and the old Soviet Union -- to accomplish such a feat. The probe includes an unmanned rover named Yutu that will spend several months exploring "geological structure and surface substances and looking for natural resources.'' But will China try to claim the ground it explores? Possibly.

October Sky author Homer Hickam was more excited. He wondered on Twitter if China might want to make a territorial claim on the moon, noting that the area the lander is exploring may contain an abundance of Helium-3, a potentially valuable fusion energy fuel that is found only on the moon. According to former astronaut/geologist Harrison Schmitt, China "has made no secret" of its interest in Helium-3. Schmitt observes, "I would assume that this mission is both a geopolitical statement and a test of some hardware and software related to mining and processing of the lunar regolith."

University of Twente provides breakthrough critical technology for superconductivity in fusion reactor

The superconductivity group at the University of Twente has a technological breakthrough that is crucial for the success of tokamak fusion reactors. It is a very ingenious and robust superconducting cable. This makes for a very strong magnetic field that the energy generating very hot plasma constrains in the reactor core and thus lays the foundation for the fusion. The new cables heat up much less, so it is possibile to have significantly increased control of the plasma. Magnet coils are one third of the cost of a fusion power plant.

In the heart of the tokomak reactor nuclear fusion takes place in the plasma of 150 million degrees Celsius. To keep that unimaginably hot plasma in check is an extremely strong magnetic field (13 Tesla) is required, which can only be efficiently generated by superconductors.

China's High Speed Rail Web will drive transcontinental commerce and political dominance

The great imperialists of the 19th Century built railroads to solidify their control of vast expanses of land and incorporate their territory into modern industrial economies. And although the construction of railroads may seem archaic today, the government of China has demonstrated the relevance of high speed rail in both internal state building and external diplomacy.

China vast high-speed rail projects including a new line, which “will incorporate into the network three provinces covering about 30% of China’s land area.” The new line connects Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang (China’s western most province and home to its Uighurs) with Lanzhou, capital of Gansu. There is little economic activity between these cities and the rugged land between them is mostly empty.

The Xinjiang-Lanzhou line is symbolic and political. Xinjiang has seen the most political unrest of any part of China in the recent past. The construction of a major rail line underlines Chinese control of the territory and incorporates it further into the heartland. Moreover, the new line has led to a boom in development at stations along it, attracting ever more ethnic Han Chinese from the coastland and diminishing the Uighur majority there. Secondly, Xinjiang is rich in natural resources (especially coal) and a key transit corridor to Central Asia—from which China seeks to secure its future energy supply, along with other key natural resources.

Kunming becoming the Capital of mainland Southeast Asia

Premier Li Keqiang is promoting a high-speed railway system that would link China, Thailand and Singapore, that would make Singapore-Kunming a 12-hour journey. Other lines would connect the China Kunming hub to Vietnam.

Connectivity between mainland Southeast Asia and southern China is growing much faster than intra-ASEAN connectivity, and the strategic geography of East Asia is thereby being changed forever. Driven by the high-speed rail networks, new roads and telecommunication facilities centring on Kunming, together with China’s burgeoning economic engagement—both trade and investment—with the Greater Mekong area, mainland Southeast Asia (Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore) is in the process of disconnecting from maritime Southeast Asia. This will, almost inevitably, result in ASEAN dividing along this fault line. And when the people of the mainland countries soon find, through the convenience of HSR, that Kunming is their ‘closest neighbor’ but a few hours away, the Yunnan capital will gradually emerge as the hub of the Greater Mekong Region and will eventually become, in effect, the capital of mainland Southeast Asia.

Canada uses a scientific geographical survey to lay claim to area in the Atlantic that is almost twice the size of Texas and an Arctic claim including the North Pole

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird made a statement last week that revealed that a scientific and geographical survey regarding its claim to Arctic territories will be submitted to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf and may contain data robust enough to lay claim to the North Pole. The submission is necessitated by Canada’s participation in the UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS). The move represents a bold political push by Stephen Harper’s conservative government to extend Canada’s rights in the Arctic.

Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, a country can secure control of ocean floor beyond the internationally recognized 200-nautical-mile limit if it can demonstrate the seabed is an extension of its continental shelf.

Owing to a backlog at the UN commission it will be several years before Canada’s claim is scrutinized – a delay that gives Ottawa time to flesh out the bid for Arctic seabed rights.

To support a stake that lays claim as far as the North Pole, Canada would have to establish that underwater mountain ridges including the Lomonosov Ridge are linked to Canada’s continental shelf.

“Our submissions set out the potential outer limits of our Continental Shelf in the Atlantic Ocean including extensive areas in the Labrador Sea, the Grand Banks and off the province of Nova Scotia. In all, we’re talking about an area of about 1.2 million square kilometres,” Mr. Baird said. “That’s roughly the size of Alberta and Saskatchewan combined.”

The Arctic seabed is expected to contain over one-quarter of the world’s undiscovered energy resources. The U.S. Geological Survey provides more specific numbers: the Arctic may contain 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil reserves, 30 percent of undiscovered gas deposits, and 20 percent of the undiscovered natural gas liquids.

Carnival of Space 332

The Carnival of Space 332 is up at Everyday Spacer blog

Universe Today - This picture above from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is one of a series showing changing dark lines on an equatorial hillside — which could be an indication of salty water, scientists said.

A series of images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show how the appearance of dark markings on Martian slope changes with the seasons. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.

China working to speed urbanization and reform Hukou system for small and medium sized cities

China's National Development and Reform Commission, the nation’s top economic planning agency, said today it will promote urbanization and issue supporting policies on residency, land, capital, housing and public services.

Priority will be given to investments in projects such as shantytown redevelopment, construction of affordable housing, more railway infrastructure in central and western China and major projects to promote energy saving, emissions reduction and environmental improvement.

The conference reiterated the strategy outlined in the Third Plenum document that urbanization and the reform of the hukou system should focus on small and medium-sized cities, while migration to the biggest cities should be strictly controlled.

“Not every city or town has to grow like a giant,” the conference pointed out, according to Xinhua.

Metamaterials for making superconductors with inclusions of dielectric material and hyperbolic metamaterials to try to get room temperature superconductors

Smolyaninova and Smolyaninov argue that the ε-near-zero (ENZ) approach to designing metamaterials could offer a blueprint for creating a material with the appropriate value of ε. ENZ metamaterials are mixtures of metallic and dielectric components and in their proposal the metal is also a conventional superconductor – these are metals such as lead and mercury that have Tc values below 10 K.

The ENZ metamaterial proposed by the researchers involves making a superconductor with random "inclusions" of dielectric material. Smolyaninova told that a possible candidate for the dielectric is the ferroelectric material strontium titanate, which can be made in nanoparticle form. The sizes of the inclusions and typical distances between them must be smaller than the correlation length between electron pairs in the superconductor – which is about 100 nm.

Hyperbolic design

Another design proposed by the team is a "hyperbolic" metamaterial in which the desired ε is engineered using alternating layers of metallic and dielectric materials. Indeed, the researchers point out that typical high-Tc superconductors do share some properties with hyperbolic metamaterials. Again, the metal would be a conventional superconductor.

"We are working on actual metamaterial designs and preparing actual experiments now," Smolyaninova said. She adds that the ENZ design would be easier to implement than the hyperbolic metamaterial.

Smolyaninova is hopeful that metamaterial superconductors could be made with Tc values above the boiling temperature of liquid nitrogen (77 K). This would make them appropriate for use in systems that currently use high-Tc superconductors.

December 16, 2013

YCBO higher temperature superconductors are expected to hit over 30 tesla

High Magnetic Field Science and Its Application in the United States:
Current Status and Future Directions (2013, 232 pages)

High magnetic fields have enabled major breakthroughs in science and have improved the capabilities of medical care. High field research can be divided into two broad areas. First, high fields, in competition with internal magnetic forces, can create exotic magnetic states in advanced electronic materials. The nature of these states challenges our basic understanding of matter. For example, in the fractional quantum Hall effect, accessed only in strong magnetic fields, electrons organize themselves into a peculiar state of matter in which new particles appear with electrical charges that have a fraction, such as one-third or one-fifth, of the charge of an electron. In other magnetic materials, the field can create analogues of the different forms of ice that exist only in magnetic matter. These exotic states also provide insight for future materials applications. Among these states are phases with spin-charge interactions needed in next-generation electronics.

High magnetic fields have enabled major breakthroughs in science and have improved the capabilities of medical care. High field research can be divided into two broad areas. First, high fields, in competition with internal magnetic forces, can create exotic magnetic states in advanced electronic materials. The nature of these states challenges our basic understanding of matter. For example, in the fractional quantum Hall effect, accessed only in strong magnetic fields, electrons organize themselves into a peculiar state of matter in which new particles appear with electrical charges that have a fraction, such as one-third or one-fifth, of the charge of an electron. In other magnetic materials, the field can create analogues of the different forms of ice that exist only in magnetic matter. These exotic states also provide insight for future materials applications. Among these states are phases with spin-charge interactions needed in next-generation electronics.

Opportunities for superconducting magnets lie with substituting low T materials such as Nb3Sn which presently produce 24 Telsa dc with high T materials such as YBa2Cu3O7 which promise to reach 30 Tesla dc within the next 5 years.

US Army mounts high energy laser on a big truck for anti-mortar and anti-drone defense

The Army used a vehicle-mounted high-energy laser for the first time to successfully engage more than 90 mortar rounds and several unmanned aerial vehicles in flight.

The Army High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator, or HEL MD, underwent multiple test events between Nov. 18 and Dec. 10, at White Sands Missile Range.

This was the first full-up demonstration of the HEL MD in the configuration that included the laser and beam director mounted in the vehicle, according to officials of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command. They said a surrogate radar, the Enhanced Multi Mode Radar, supported the engagement by queuing the laser.

Diefenbaker of Canada agreed to stop making major weapons in 1959 and wound down Canada's military from 5% of GDP to about 2% of GDP over 6 years

Canada outsourced most of military to the USA starting in about 1957-1964 when defense spending went from about 5% of GDP to about 2.5% of GDP. It was the deal that the US pressured Canada into accepting in 1957-1964. Canada agreed. The US wanted to have the bulk of military spending and responsibility and wanted all of the military manufacturing.

Canada had 1.1 million people who served in World War 2. By the end of the War, Canada had the world's fourth largest air force and third largest navy.

Canada had a population of about 12 million people during world war 2.

Canada had 26000 soldiers in the Korea War.

North American Aerospace Defense Command was formed in 1958

Canada's greatest aeronautical achievement was the CF-105 (supersonic Avro Arrow) jet fighter, and the subsequent cancellation of the project in 1959 still remains a story of political intrigue and controversy.

Prime Minister Diefenbaker was under pressure from the US to join their defence plan by acquiring the American Bomarc missiles. Faced with the skyrocketing costs, and the inability to sell the Arrow to Europe or the US, Diefenbaker cancelled the project on February 20,1959. An angry A.V. Roe immediately fired his 14,000 employees, and the government ordered all plans and prototypes destroyed.

Corrected chart of GDP spend with every 0.5% of GDP marked

US Judge declares NSA phone surveillence unconstitional, almost Orwellian and there is no instance where stopped any terrorist attack

The National Security Agency received its most significant legal setback since the disclosures prompted by a former contractor, Edward Snowden, when a federal judge ruled on Monday that its bulk collection of Americans’ telephone records is likely to violate the US constitution.

Judge Richard Leon declared that the mass collection of so-called metadata probably violates the fourth amendment, relating to unreasonable searches and seizures, and is "almost Orwellian" in its scope.

He also expressed doubt about the central rationale for the program cited by the NSA: that it is necessary for preventing terrorist attacks. “The government does not cite a single case in which analysis of the NSA’s bulk metadata collection actually stopped an imminent terrorist attack,” wrote Leon, a US district judge in the District of Columbia.

Brain Chips and the Path to better Artificial Intelligence

Modha at IBM is testing early versions of a more complex chip, made from a grid of neurosynaptic cores tiled into a kind of rudimentary cortex—over a million neurons altogether. Last summer, IBM also announced a neuromorphic programming architecture based on modular blocks of code called corelets. The intention is for programmers to combine and tweak corelets from a preëxisting menu, to save them from wrestling with silicon synapses and neurons. Over 150 corelets have already been designed, for tasks ranging from recognizing people in videos to distinguishing the music of Beethoven and Bach.

Neuroscientist Henry Markram, who discovered spike-timing-dependent plasticity, has attacked Modha’s work on networks of simulated neurons, saying their behavior is too simplistic. He believes that successfully emulating the brain’s faculties requires copying synapses down to the molecular scale; the behavior of neurons is influenced by the interactions of dozens of ion channels and thousands of proteins, he notes, and there are numerous types of synapses, all of which behave in nonlinear, or chaotic, ways. In Markram’s view, capturing the capabilities of a real brain would require scientists to incorporate all those features.

One new physics theory suggests no Big Bang and another suggests that the Higgs could change and start a Big Crunch at any moment

1. There is a theory called "rainbow gravity,". It posits that gravity's effects on spacetime are felt differently by different wavelengths of light.

Rainbow gravity was first proposed 10 years ago as a possible step toward repairing the rifts between the theories of general relativity (covering the very big) and quantum mechanics (concerning the realm of the very small). The idea is not a complete theory for describing quantum effects on gravity, and is not widely accepted. Nevertheless, physicists have now applied the concept to the question of how the universe began.

Awad and his colleagues found two possible beginnings to the universe based on slightly different interpretations of the ramifications of rainbow gravity. In one scenario, if you retrace time backward, the universe gets denser and denser, approaching an infinite density but never quite reaching it. In the other picture the universe reaches an extremely high, but finite, density as you look back in time and then plateaus. In neither case is there a singularity—a point in time when the universe is infinitely dense—or in other words, a big bang. "This was, of course, an interesting result, because in most cosmological models, we have singularities," Awad says. The result suggests perhaps the universe had no beginning at all, and that time can be traced back infinitely far.

2. Physicists have long predicted that the universe may one day collapse, and that everything in it will be compressed to a small hard ball. New calculations from physicists at the University of Southern Denmark now confirm this prediction – and they also conclude that the risk of a collapse is even greater than previously thought.

Arxiv -Standard Model Vacuum Stability and Weyl Consistency Conditions

Briefly Profitable Litecoin mining via Amazon Cloud Services and clever coding

Litecoin is an alternative to Bitcoin (BTC) that is designed to reduce the comparative advantage of using custom ASICs (or GPUs) for mining it relative to using a conventional CPU. Its future is even less certain that BTC, of course, as a later comer, but the technically interesting bits lie in its proof-of-work hash function: Scrypt. Scrypt is designed to be "memory-hard" in addition to being computationally hard.

Just before a spike in litecoin prices, a developer a week and a half writing a better scrypt miner for NVidia-based cards using the Kepler architecture. Which meant that, as of this writing, his code was about 30% or 40% faster than any of the public code for scrypt hashing on Nvidia cards. The core improvements: It went from about 150 kh/sec to about 220 kh/s, and its CPU use dropped from 30% to 0.1%.

With the GPU hitting 215-220 kh/s and the CPU at 35 kh/s (remember, it was idle), he figured that he could conservatively get 230 kh/s. Assuming a 10% overhead in shifting the money back from LTC -> USD, and taking a conservative view of the likely sale price (there's a lag between mining them and selling them), then mining on Amazon would produce about $50-$75/month/instance.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 187

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 187 is up at ANS Nuclear Cafe.

Google Buys Boston Dynamics, Creator Of Big Dog and other Military Robots

Google announced that they’ve acquired Boston Dynamics, creators of quad- and bi-pedal robots like Big Dog and PETMAN. This is Google’s eighth robotics acquisition.

Andy Rubin, stepped down as head of Google’s Android business in march after turning a little-known mobile OS into a juggernaut.

“His last big bet, Android, started off as a crazy idea that ended up putting a supercomputer in hundreds of millions of pockets,” wrote Larry Page on his Google+ page. “It is still very early days for this, but I can’t wait to see the progress.”

BigDog, Cheetah, WildCat and Atlas have joined Google’s growing robot menagerie.

The deal is also the clearest indication yet that Google is intent on building a new class of autonomous systems that might do anything from warehouse work to package delivery and even elder care.

Bose Einstein Condensate in a polymer at room temperature has potential for faster optoelectronics and new lasers other applications

Researchers at IBM’s Binnig and Rohrer Nano Center have demonstrated a complex quantum mechanical phenomenon known as Bose-Einstein condensation (BEC), using a luminescent polymer (plastic) similar to the materials in light emitting displays used in many of today's smartphones.

This discovery has potential applications in developing novel optoelectronic devices including energy-efficient lasers and ultra-fast optical switches — critical components for powering future computer systems to process massive Big Data workloads. The use of a polymer material and the observation of BEC at room temperature provides substantial advantages in terms of applicability and cost.

Another application for BEC is for the building of so-called atom lasers, which could have applications ranging from atomic-scale lithography to measurement and detection of gravitational fields.

Nature Materials - Room-temperature Bose–Einstein condensation of cavity exciton–polaritons in a polymer

December 15, 2013

Canada spends about the same as the US for government but has universal healthcare, mostly balanced budgets and less than half the debt per person

Canada got a hold of its government spending problems during the 1990s.

The charts below show that Canada has federal government spending at about 14% of GDP and the US is at 24% of GDP.
Canada's debt to GDP ratio is about 33% vs 75% for the USA.
Canada has a government deficit this year of about $6 billion vs $600 billion for the US and had deficits of $25-40 billion during the crisis while the US had over $1 trillion deficits each year. Even if multiplying by nine times for population adjustment Canada is still way lower in terms of spending and deficits.
Canada has universal healthcare at the provincial level.

The US has plenty of financial strength to turn things around.
The military spending could go from 5% down to 2% of GDP with no chance of not having enough military to handle any terrorist threat or any issues with countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran or North Korea. China, Russia and the US will not have a shooting war. If there was the US still would have way more military and can get some help from NATO. In that kind of war the US could mobilize and scale up as needed. Also, the military spending that the US has now is on equipment for something like World War 2 or Vietnam. Any future war between big powers would be more cyber war and other new kinds of conflict.

Less than one in 200 Canadians go to the US for healthcare and Canadian doctors are happy and the high Costs in the US are making about 35% of the people avoid needed procedures

A healthcare study surveyed America’s 20 “best” hospitals — as identified by U.S. News & World Report — on the assumption that if Canadians were going to travel for health care, they would be more likely to go to the best-known and highest-quality facilities. Only one of the 11 hospitals that responded saw more than 60 Canadians in a year. And, again, that included both emergencies and elective care.

Finally, the study’s authors examined data from the 18,000 Canadians who participated in the National Population Health Survey. In the previous year, 90 of those 18,000 Canadians had received care in the United States; only 20 of them, however, reported going to the United States expressively for the purpose of obtaining care.

Canada spends about $4000 per person per year on healthcare and the US spends $7500 per person per year.

About 1 in 200 Canadians go to the US for elective care , but there are a few who end up in US emergency when they are on vacation or traveling to the USA.