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April 12, 2014

Looking at the Pinker thesis of a historical trend of reduced violent deaths and the reasons and sustainability of those trends

In the 2012 Singularity Summit I covered a presentation by Steve Pinker where he talked about what he felt was a decrease in violent deaths. I will review Pinkers claims of declining violent deaths and some of the criticism of it.

Six major declines of violence and their immediate causes

1. The Pacification process

Until 6000 years ago people lived in anarchy. Life in a state of Nature.
Forensic archeology (CSI Palentology) show remains where 15% had violent trauma.

This part seems to make sense

2. The Civilizing Process

Homicide statistics from 1200-2000
1/35th as likely for someone in England to be murdered than someone in the middle ages.

Here is the 60 page Manuel Eisner paper on Long-Term Historical Trends in Violent Crime

The UK has one of the lowest homicide rates for a country in the world (1.2 per 100,000). The World murder rate is 6.9 per 100,000.

The homicide rate in El Salvador, Jamaica, Honduras and many other countries are all higher than fifteenth century Europe. The past was a more violent place but as violent as some countries in the present. Brazil and Mexico at about 23 per 100,000 are not that far off the murder rate of middle ages Europe 40 per 100,000.



NASA's Robonaut Legs Headed for International Space Station

NASA's built and is sending a set of high-tech legs up to the International Space Station for Robonaut 2 (R2), the station's robotic crewmember. The new legs are scheduled to launch on the next SpaceX commercial cargo flight to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The Spacex launch had been delayed but should be taking off April 14. A pair of liftoffs vital to US National Security and NASA/SpaceX are now slated for April 10 and April 14 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station after revitalizing the radar systems. The tracking radar is an absolutely essential asset for the Eastern Range that oversees all launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Falcon 9 is lofting a SpaceX Dragon cargo ship and delivering some 5000 pounds of science experiments and supplies for the six man space station crew – under a resupply contract with NASA.

The new Robonaut legs, funded by NASA's Human Exploration and Operations and Space Technology mission directorates, will provide R2 the mobility it needs to help with regular and repetitive tasks inside and outside the space station. The goal is to free up the crew for more critical work, including scientific research.

Once the legs are attached to the R2 torso, the robot will have a fully extended leg span of nine feet, giving it great flexibility for movement around the space station. Each leg has seven joints and a device on what would be the foot, called an "end effector," which allows the robot to take advantage of handrails and sockets inside and outside the station. A vision system for the end effectors also will be used to verify and eventually automate each limb's approach and grasp.

NASA’s Robonaut 2 with the newly developed climbing legs, designed to give the robot mobility in zero gravity.
Image Credit: NASA


Atmosphere weight, emissions, half life in the atmosphere and residence time

The earths atmosphere weight in tons is 5.8 X 10^15 US tons (5.3 x 10^15 metric tons).

The atomic mass of carbon is 12, while the atomic mass of CO2 is 44. Therefore, to convert from gigatonnes carbon to gigatonnes of carbon dioxide, you simply multiply 44 over 12. In other words, 1 gigatonne of carbon equals 3.67 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide.

[From Skeptical Science] Atmospheric CO2 levels are expressed in parts per million by volume (ppm). To convert from ppm to gigatonne of carbon, the conversion tables of the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center advise that 1 part per million of atmospheric CO2 is equivalent to 2.13 Gigatonnes Carbon. Using our 44 over 12 rule, this means 1ppm = 7.81 Gigatonnes of Carbon Dioxide. [This part per million is different from the 5.3 billion tons from the atmospheric weight]


Stopping the upward addition of manmade carbon dioxide would mean getting rid of all usage of coal (currently the world is using 7 billion tons per year and is adding hundreds of millions of tons of increased usage), oil (in cars and other uses) and natural gas. Roughly halving the use of carbon dioxide would be easier because natural gas usage could be increased to displace coal. This was done in the USA for 20% of its electrical energy over about 3-5 years.

The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO₂ put there by humanity since 1750. And yet, as James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, “the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.”

The IPCC claim

Carbon dioxide itself absorbs infra-red at a consistent rate. For each doubling of CO₂ levels you get roughly 1°C of warming. A rise in concentrations from preindustrial levels of 280 parts per million (ppm) to 560ppm would thus warm the Earth by 1°C. If that were all there was to worry about, there would, as it were, be nothing to worry about. A 1°C rise could be shrugged off. But things are not that simple, for two reasons. One is that rising CO₂ levels directly influence phenomena such as the amount of water vapor (also a greenhouse gas) and clouds that amplify or diminish the temperature rise. This affects equilibrium sensitivity directly, meaning doubling carbon concentrations would produce more than a 1°C rise in temperature.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) believes the answer is about 3°C, plus or minus a degree or so. In its most recent assessment (in 2007), it wrote that “the equilibrium climate sensitivity…is likely to be in the range 2°C to 4.5°C with a best estimate of about 3°C and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5°C. Values higher than 4.5°C cannot be excluded.”

April 11, 2014

Thorium Tech Solutions is a japanese company working towards small thorium molten salt reactors

Kazuo Furukawa (inventor of the miniFuji and Fuji molten salt reactors),and Masaaki Furukawa set up “Thorium Tech Solutions" (TTS) in 2011 to make Thorium molten salt reactors.

Since smaller thorium molten-salt power plant are easier to construct, TTS will develop the 10,000kW micro-mini thorium molten-salt power plant 'miniFUJI' within five years (by 2016). This micro-mini power plant is planned as a local power plant to meet the high need of power supply for servers in information industry and for the stations of charging electric vehicles.

Smartplanet reports that Thorium Tech Solution (TTS), wants to combine the plutonium and other "actinides" from Japan's 50-some reactors into liquid that would also contain thorium, the alternative to today's uranium fuel that many people believe offers safety, cost, efficiency and anti-weapons advantages.




FDA Grants “Breakthrough Therapy” Status for Gene Therapy to reduce Systolic Heart Failure

Celladon Corporation (Nasdaq:CLDN), a clinical-stage biotechnology company developing novel therapies for patients with heart failure and other diseases characterized by SERCA enzyme deficiencies, announced that its lead product candidate, MYDICAR®, has been granted breakthrough therapy designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for reducing hospitalizations for heart failure in NYHA class III or IV chronic heart failure patients who are NAb negative. This designation is intended to expedite the development and review of drugs for serious or life-threatening conditions and where preliminary clinical evidence suggests it provides a substantial improvement over existing therapies. Celladon is developing MYDICAR as a novel, first-in-class therapy for patients with chronic heart failure due to systolic dysfunction. MYDICAR uses genetic enzyme replacement therapy to correct the deficiency in the enzyme SERCA2a, which is an enzyme that becomes deficient in heart failure patients and results in inadequate pumping of the heart. Celladon has developed a companion diagnostic to identify the patients who are AAV1 NAb negative and therefore eligible for MYDICAR treatment.

MYDICAR® is Genetically-Targeted Enzyme Replacement Therapy for Advanced Heart Failure. The goal of the MYDICAR® treatment is to restore the enzyme SERCA2a, which is deficient in heart failure, to normal levels.


General Fusion will start building a full size prototype fusion reactor as early as this year

Canadian Business provides an update on General Fusion.

Possibly later this year, General Fusion [website] will begin work on a full-size prototype reactor. At the center will be a sphere, three meters in diameter, inside which molten lead swirls at high speed creating a vacuum, or vortex, in the middle. Arrayed around it will be 200 to 300 pistons, each the size of a cannon. Firing in perfect harmony, they will create an acoustic wave that collapses the vortex at the very moment a plasma injector shoots hydrogen isotopes, the nuclear fuel, into it. If General Fusion has its physics right, the heat and pressure will ignite a fusion reaction that spins off countless neutrons which will heat the lead even more. Pumped through a heat exchanger, that hot lead will help generate steam just like a conventional thermal power plant.

Getting the reactor to work once is the easy part. Getting it to work repeatedly and cost effectively for power production, that’s harder.

The magnetized target fusion that General Fusion is attempting is what’s known as an “alternate concept".

The cultural chasm between General Fusion and competing government labs could not be more stark. Some of the potential hires Richardson interviewed had worked in fusion for 15 years without ever once turning a screw. Others he’s come across will say, “I could never work here. I don’t have anybody expecting results. I just have to publish some papers.”



General Atomics Energy Multiplier Module (EM²) reactor

The U.S. Department of Energy has committed about $450 million to two Small Modular Nuclear Reactor (SMR) designs over the last year-and-half -- one by Oregon's NuScale and the other by North Carolina's Babcock and Wilcox -- that essentially shrink traditional reactors to between roughly 3 percent and 15 percent of their normal output (the future of at least one of those reactors has grown questionable now that B and W has revealed that funding difficulties could hamper its development).

There are molten salt reactor companies including Terrestrial Energy, Thorium Tech Solution and Transatomic Power.

Pebble bed reactors companies are Steenkampskraal Thorium, X-Energy and Northern Nuclear.

SmartPlanet provides a detailed update on the General Atomics (GA) Energy Multiplier Module (EM²) reactor.

GA is innovating new materials, getting the efficiency way up, simplifying the design and getting the cost into the competitive range.

GA is developing a Brayton cycle to convert heat to electricity at 53% versus 28 to 34 percent for regular steam turbines. In a four-module plant (1.06GW), one point of efficiency is worth a billion dollars in revenue over the life of the plant. 53% efficiency means $19 billion dollars more than a 34% efficient plant.

GA's design is a 265-megawatt (electric) sized reactor, with a fuel cycle lifetime of 30-plus years.

The General Atomics Energt Multiplier Module website is here.



April 10, 2014

Concession Offered, Taiwan Group to End Protest of China Trade Pact

The protesters in Taiwan agreed on Monday to end the sit-in, a decision that came a day after the legislature’s speaker, Wang Jin-pyng, visited the occupied chamber and offered a key concession. He said that a bill that would allow lawmakers to have closer oversight of agreements with China should be approved before the legislature resumed consideration of the trade pact. As speaker, Mr. Wang is responsible for convening meetings between parties, a powerful tool in organizing the legislative agenda.

“Many people asked, If you leave this place, won’t you lose your bargaining chip?” said Chen Wei-ting, one of the student leaders, at a news conference announcing the end of the occupation. “The truth is, everything we’ve said and all our energy has allowed this to spread from a student movement to a movement of all the people.”

Near Term Thorium Reactors in China, India and the USA

The Chinese Academy of Sciences claims China now has “the world’s largest national effort on thorium”, employing a team of 430 scientists and engineers, a number planned to rise to 750 by 2015. This team, moreover, is headed by Jiang Mianheng, an engineering graduate of Drexel University in the United States who is the son of China’s former leader, Jiang Zemin (himself an engineer). Some may question whether Mr Jiang got his job strictly on merit. His appointment, though, does suggest the project has political clout. The team plan to fire up a prototype thorium reactor in 2015. Like India’s, this will use solid fuel. But by 2017 the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics expects to have one that uses a trickier but better fuel, molten thorium fluoride.

India has abundant thorium reserves, and the country’s nuclear-power programme, which is intended, eventually, to supply a quarter of the country’s electricity (up from 3% at the moment), plans to use these for fuel. This will take time. The Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research already runs a small research reactor in Kalpakkam, Tamil Nadu, and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai plans to follow this up with a thorium-powered heavy-water reactor that will, it hopes, be ready early next decade.

Kirk Sorenson a startup Flibe Energy in the USA

Flibe Energy is a company that intends to design, construct and operate small modular reactors based on liquid fluoride thorium reactor (acronym LFTR; pronounced lifter) technology.

Off-topic - Stephen Colbert will Replace David Letterman

CBS announced today that Stephen Colbert will succeed David Letterman when he walks away from the Late Show at the end of this year. Colbert is best known for The Colbert Report, the hit Comedy Central fake news show.

“Simply being a guest on David Letterman’s show has been a highlight of my career,” said Colbert. “I never dreamed that I would follow in his footsteps, though everyone in late night follows Dave’s lead.”

Adding, “I’m thrilled and grateful that CBS chose me. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go grind a gap in my front teeth.”

Colbert bring a serious social media following to late night, much as Jimmy Fallon did when he took over The Tonight Show. Letterman’s official show Twitter account has 286,000 followers. Colbert’s Twitter account has 6.2 million followers.

Turning off a Fat Accumulation Gene to Reduce Obesity proven in Mice

Many who struggle with their weight will often blame a “slow” metabolism – meaning their bodies do not burn calories as quickly or as efficiently as others’.

For those who do suffer this condition, investigators from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) say they have found a genetic “switch” that can accelerate a person’s basal metabolic rate – leading to a dramatic reduction in the risk for obesity and diabetes.

Their research, published in the journal Nature, involves turning off a gene that encodes a protein called nicotinamide N-methyltransferase (NNMT), which is found in the fat cells and the liver. NNMT is known to process vitamin B3 and has been previously linked with certain types of cancers.

In order to lower the expression of the NNMT gene, the researchers used antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) technology, which allowed them to interfere with the expression of the gene only in the fat cells and the liver. ASOs are short molecular strings of DNA, which can be designed to prevent the synthesis of specific proteins.

When the researchers turned off the NNMT gene in mice on high-fat diets, the mice did not gain as much weight compared to when the NNMT gene was functioning normally. Furthermore, the mice did not change their eating or exercise habits, meaning the NNMT solely affected the mice’s basal metabolic rates.

More than 1/3 of adults in the United States are considered obese, and 25.8 million people – 8.3 percent of the American population – have diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nature - Metabolism: Targeting a fat-accumulation gene An enzyme that links two metabolic hubs has been found to be upregulated in the fat cells of overweight mice. Inhibition of the gene encoding this enzyme protects mice from diet-induced obesity.

Nature - Nicotinamide N-methyltransferase knockdown protects against diet-induced obesity

April 09, 2014

The US needs changes to achieve faster growth

McKinsey research pinpoints five catalysts—in energy, trade, technology, infrastructure, and talent development—that can quickly create jobs and deliver a substantial boost to GDP by 2020.

The energy GDP boost is coming from shale oil and gas.

The US needs to research and develop ways to make each of the five areas more productive and lower cost.
The US should also look at ways to go beyond each of these areas.

In energy :

factory mass produced nuclear fission or nuclear fusion breakthroughs should be funded.

Increased investment in infrastructure, with a new emphasis on productivity. The backlog of maintenance and upgrades for US roads, highways, bridges, and transit and water systems is reaching critical levels. The United States must increase its annual infrastructure investment by one percentage point of GDP to erase this competitive disadvantage. By 2020, that could create up to 1.8 million jobs and boost annual GDP by up to $320 billion. The impact could grow to $600 billion annually by 2030 if the selection, delivery, and operation of infrastructure investments improve.

Obvious fixes to Bad Regulations Need to be Made
US oil tankers that comply with a 93 year old law (Jones act to protect US shipping industry from foreign competition) means costs are five times higher than buying ships from Asia. $200 million per ship instead of $40 million.

Paying over double for buses so that protected domestic bus makers and unions can benefit 32% of the buses in the US are sourced in California.

* China, South Korea, and Japan all produce more fuel efficient buses than U.S manufacturers
* buses in Tokyo and Seoul are half the price of U.S buses and buses produced in China are even cheaper
* While cynics might question the quality of China’s buses, it is notable that wealthy and well governed Singapore is importing buses from China
* U.S. tax payers face a higher price for subsidizing urban bus services and U.S owners of the domestic firms that produce the buses gain some monopoly rents. They also pay more for the increased fuel costs of less efficient buses
* 80% of bus costs are paid for by the federal government
* only 1.5% of buses are imported but 50% of cars are imported



Fixing Mexico

Mexico's GDP growth has risen by only 2.3 percent a year, on average, since 1981 and Mexico lags behind countries whose GDP per capita it once surpassed, despite more than 30 years of market-opening measures. The country has an urgent need to reconcile the two Mexicos because its demographic dividend—the rapid labor-force expansion that has contributed more than two-thirds of GDP growth—is about to fade. Unless Mexico can nearly triple productivity growth from the recent 0.8 percent a year average, the country could be headed toward 2.0 percent annual GDP growth rather than the 3.5 percent goal the Bank of Mexico estimates for 2014.

Mexico an meet the productivity challenge and raise GDP growth to the 3.5 percent target. But that will happen only if Mexico can raise productivity in traditional small businesses, move more businesses and workers into the modern sector, and continue to raise the productivity of large, modern corporations. Policy changes will be required to remove both perverse incentives that discourage small companies from growing and barriers to launching and expanding businesses. In addition, Mexico will need to invest in broad enablers, such as reducing the cost of energy, expanding infrastructure, and improving labor-force skills.


India’s path from poverty from an MGI plan - the insights are applicable to other poor countries

India has made encouraging progress by halving its official poverty rate, from 45 percent of the population in 1994 to 22 percent in 2012.

McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) has created the Empowerment Line, an analytical framework that determines the level of consumption required to fulfill eight basic needs—food, energy, housing, drinking water, sanitation, health care, education, and social security—at a level sufficient to achieve a decent standard of living rather than bare subsistence.

In applying this metric to India, we found that in 2012, 56 percent of the population lacked the means to meet essential needs. By this measure, some 680 million Indians experienced deprivation, more than 2.5 times the population of 270 million below the official poverty line. Hundreds of millions have exited extreme poverty but continue to struggle for a modicum of dignity, comfort, and security. The Empowerment Gap, or the additional consumption required to bring these 680 million people to the level of the Empowerment Line, is seven times higher than the cost of eliminating poverty as defined by the official poverty line.

The full MGI report is here

* 50% of India's public spending on basic services does not reach the people
* 46% of basic services are not within reach for the average Indian household
* 75% of the potential impact [from the MGI plan] will come from jobs and productivity growth
* 70% increase needed in agricultural yields over the next decade
* 50% of public social spending is needed for health care, water, and sanitation, up from 20% today

If India’s recent weak economic momentum persists in the coming decade, in what we have termed the “stalled reforms scenario”, some 470 million people, or 36 percent of India’s population, would remain below the Empowerment Line in 2022 and as much as 12 percent would remain below the official poverty line.

Merely increasing government subsidies can achieve only a fraction of this goal, however. Our estimates indicate that as in the past, almost three-quarters of the potential impact of raising people above the level of the Empowerment Line depends on unlocking investment, job growth, and productivity. More public spending alone, without addressing issues of waste and inefficiency, is likely to deliver at most 8 percent of total potential impact.

The importance of this message cannot be overstated. Government spending is critical to ensure access to basic services, but simply channelling more money into the same programmes without addressing their operations and outcomes will deliver very little.


The best DNS for your phone and carrier can change your mobile web experience by speeding web performance by 150%

Domain Name Service (DNS) is a critical piece of infrastructure within the Internet. To visit a website or use an application, we employ their names, such as www.facebook.com or www.northwestern.edu, as though these were their addresses in the Internet. The truth is a bit more complicated. The site’s address in the Internet is actually a string of numbers, which tend to be difficult for us to remember. Making our lives easier, DNS sits behind the scenes, translating every user-friendly name to the correct Internet address. Every time we visit a website, chat with friends, or send an email, we rely on DNS. Not surprisingly, a badly performing DNS can greatly impact the mobile experience.

Along John Rula, fourth-year PhD candidate, Fabian Bustamante launched a new mobile application called Namehelp Mobile, to explore this question. The app allows users to measure DNS performance provided by their companies and compare it with public DNS systems, such as GoogleDNS or OpenDNS. The team found that by simply choosing the “right” DNS for them, users could improve their web performance by up to 150 percent.

This bar graph shows the percentage of time GoogleDNS or OpenDNS provides users with better performance than their carrier’s DNS when visiting several popular websites. When visiting Facebook, for example, GoogleDNS gives users better performance 40 percent of the time and OpenDNS over 95 percent of the time. Due to the different locations of each content provider’s servers and the make up of each cellular network, the best DNS service can vary. The way to find the best service is to test it yourself.

Jim Rogers on the historic rise of China's Economy

Jim Rogers thinks people do not get the historical significance of what is happening in China.

Jim Rogers is an American businessman, investor and author. He is currently based in Singapore. Rogers is the Chairman of Rogers Holdings and Beeland Interests, Inc. He was the co-founder of the Quantum Fund and creator of the Rogers International Commodities Index (RICI).

What is the one thing people get wrong when they talk about China According to Jim Rogers ?

JR: Few seem to understand the historical significance of what is happening there. E.g. Gordon Chang has been writing books and articles since 2001 predicting the collapse of China and the disappearance of the Communist Party. Jim Chanos has been predicting the collapse of China since 2009 saying it will be “1000 times worse than Dubai”. [Jim Rogers explained at the time that showed no understanding of Dubai or of China.] Many in China do not fully understand either.

As the US was rising to its power and glory during the 19th Century, we had a horrible civil war, 15 depressions [Yes, with a D.], few human rights, little rule of law, periodic massacres in the streets, etc., etc. yet we still became the most successful country in the 20th Century.

China will have plenty of setbacks along the way as does every country, company, family, and individual that rises.

The Chinese government is trying to cool real estate so Jim Rogers would avoid Chinese Real Estate.


Glucosamine promotes longevity by mimicking a low-carb diet and extends the life of mice by 10%

The widely used food supplement glucosamine promotes longevity in ageing mice by approximately 10% due to improved glucose metabolism. Michael Ristow, a professor at ETH Zurich, and his team find that the compound does so “by mimicking a low-carb diet in elderly mice reflecting human retirees”.

Glucosamine has been freely available in drugstores for many decades. It is widely used to treat arthritis and to prevent joint degeneration. Moreover, glucosamine is known to delay cancer growth. In addition, glucosamine reduces metabolism of nutritive sugars, as was already shown some 50 years ago.

Fightaging - If you dig into the paper, you'll find that life extension in mice is modest, around 10%" - ignores that the glucosamine diet was started late in life (the mouse age equivalent of 65 years), and for the best responders (see graphs in Figure 3) extends lifespan much more than 10%. The authors of the paper thought the results were good enough to start the regimen themselves.

GlcN promotes hepatic energy depletion and increases life span in ageing mice.

Nature Communcations - D-Glucosamine supplementation extends life span of nematodes and of ageing mice

Fightaging has the following perspective on this research

While destined to be a deserted sideline of longevity science at some point in the years ahead, research into calorie restriction mimetic drugs is presently in its heyday. Calorie restriction with optimal nutrition slows aging and extends life in near every species tested to date, though the shorter the natural life span of the species the greater the effect. A calorie restricted mouse can live 40% longer in excellent health, but that certainly isn't the case for humans - we'd have noticed an effect that large long ago. This is interesting, because the short-term effects on metabolism and markers of health are similarly large and beneficial in both species. Nonetheless, the consensus in the research community expects the effects of calorie restriction on human life span to be at the most in the ballpark of a 5% increase. The effects on health are much more impressive, however: if calorie restriction were a drug, it would dwarf the sales of any other pharmaceutical created to date, and deservedly so.

So if this is so great, why is it going to be a backwater? Because the objective of a calorie restriction mimetic drug is, as the name suggests, to mimic the metabolic response to calorie restriction - to produce at least some of the same health benefits. A perfect mimetic would result in the same outcome as practicing calorie restriction. But that means a mere boost to health and life that is large in comparison to doing nothing, but is tiny on the scale of what is possible through future medical science. We are entering the era of rejuvenation biotechnology, in which researchers are even today working on the foundations of ways to reverse the cellular and molecular damage that causes degenerative aging. That is the road to indefinite health, completely prevention of age-related disease, and a youth that lasts for as long as you want it to. It won't take much of that for the current fad of drug development aimed at slightly slowing down aging to wither away in favor of the obviously better line of business.

Researchers find the best nanofluid for heat transfer and it is a mixtures of diamond nanoparticles and mineral oil

A mixture of diamond nanoparticles and mineral oil easily outperforms other types of fluid created for heat-transfer applications, according to new research by Rice University.

Rice scientists mixed very low concentrations of diamond particles (about 6 nanometers in diameter) with mineral oil to test the nanofluid’s thermal conductivity and how temperature would affect its viscosity. They found it to be much better than nanofluids that contain higher amounts of oxide, nitride or carbide ceramics, metals, semiconductors, carbon nanotubes and other composite materials.



American Chemical Society journal Applied Materials and Interfaces - Nanodiamond-Based Thermal Fluids

Qatar uses Liquified Natural Gas to build ‘extraordinary’ global clout

Success in the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) has allowed Qatar to build an extraordinary level of global influence, improve its national security and “rise above” its neighbors on the Arabian Peninsula, according to a new paper from Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Qatar has been linked to funding terrorism

Despite attempts by gulf states to crack down on jihadist financial networks, former and current U.S. officials have described a surge in private support for Islamist extremists in Syria, particularly in Qatar and Kuwait.

Qatar, like its neighbors on the Arabian Peninsula, is a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a monarchical bloc that links these six Sunni Muslim-led regimes through trade, customs and immigration treaties. A currency union among the six is also planned.


Qatar ‘rises above’ its region: Geopolitics and the rejection of the GCC gas market (29 pages)

Construction progresses on China's High Temperature Pebble Bed Nuclear Reactor

The pouring of concrete for the basemat of the first HTR-PM unit - a demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor - at Shidaowan in China's Shandong province was recently completed. Another 19 of the small modular reactors could follow.

HTR-PM are modular reactors that will be mainly factory mass produced. The first one is taking 5 years to make. The reactor module will head towards about two years to build when they are making them by the dozen.

The demonstration plant's twin HTR-PM units will drive a single 210 MWe turbine. It is expected to begin operating around 2017. Eighteen further units are proposed for the Shidaowan site, near Rongcheng in Weihai city.

Work began on two demonstration HTR-PM units at China Huaneng Group's Shidaowan site in December 2012. Since then, the foundations and columns to support the reactor building have been installed.

Hybrid nanotube-graphene material that promises to simplify manufacturing

Carbon nanotubes are reinforcing bars that make two-dimensional graphene much easier to handle in a new hybrid material grown by researchers at Rice University.

The Rice lab of chemist James Tour set nanotubes into graphene in a way that not only mimics how steel rebar is used in concrete but also preserves and even improves the electrical and mechanical qualities of both.

The technique should make large, flexible, conductive and transparent sheets of graphene much easier to manipulate, which should be of interest to electronics manufacturers, Tour said. He suggested the new hybrid could, upon stacking in a few layers, be a cost-effective replacement for expensive indium tin oxide (ITO) now used in displays and solar cells.



American Chemical Society journal - Rebar Graphene

April 08, 2014

Navy Plans to Test Fire Railgun at Sea in 2016

The Navy will fire its electromagnetic railgun from a joint high speed vessel in 2016 as part of a broader effort to develop the long-range, high-energy weapon. The weapon will be placed on display this summer aboard the USNS Millinocket, a Navy JHSV which entered service in March. Following the display, the railgun will then be demonstrated on the same ship in 2016.

We're talking about a projectile we're going to send well over 100 miles. We're talking about a projectile that can go over Mach 7. We're talking about a projectile that can go well into the atmosphere. We're talking about a gun that is going to shoot a projectile that is about one-one hundredth of the cost of an existing missile system today," said Adm. Matthew Klunder, Chief of Naval Research.

The railgun uses electrical energy to create a magnetic field and propel a 23-pound kinetic energy projectile at Mach 7.5 toward a wide range of targets, such as enemy vehicles, or cruise and ballistic missiles.

Due to its ability to reach speeds of up to 5,600 miles per hour, the hypervelocity projectile is engineered as a kinetic energy warhead, meaning no explosives are necessary, said Fuller and Klunder.

"You have 23 pounds going Mach 7, you don't necessarily need an explosive detonation to create damage," Fuller said.
The second of two Office of Naval Research (ONR) Electromagnetic (EM) Railgun industry prototype launchers is being evaluated at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division. Both General Atomics and BAE Systems have designed next generation prototype EM Railguns capable of increased firing rates. The EM Railgun is a long-range weapon that launches projectiles using electricity instead of chemical propellants and is under development by the Department of the Navy for use aboard ships. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)


Summarizing DNA nanotechnology, Synthetic Biology are on the path to realizing visions of nanomedicine and Nanoscale Metamaterial to visible spectrum control

DNA nanotechnology, synthetic biology and nanoscale metamaterials are on the path to realizing visions of nanomedicine and visible spectrum control.

DNA nanorobotics and synthetic biology are the first two items. One thing to remember is that work that is published in research papers was done in the lab 1-2 years ago. The current work by the
researchers is ahead of what they published. The third item is metamaterial related. The actual application of stationary cloaking in the visible spectrum is less interesting that the large scale
production of nanoscale feature size metamaterials which can be adapted to engineer physical properties. One point of interest in the second item beyond determining how to reinforce DNA structures was the DNA paint capability to enhance observation at the nanoscale.

DNA nanorobots are demoed in live cockroaches and could be in humans by 2019 and could scale to Commodore 64 - eight bit computing power

1. Researchers have injected various kinds of DNA nanobots into cockroaches. Because the nanobots are labelled with fluorescent markers, the researchers can follow them and analyse how different robot combinations affect where substances are delivered. The team says the accuracy of delivery and control of the nanobots is equivalent to a computer system.

This is the development of the vision of nanomedicine.
This is the realization of the power of DNA nanotechnology.
This is programmable dna nanotechnology.


STT-MRAM memory could enable super efficient computers and sensors

Most parts of present computer systems are made of volatile devices, and the power to supply them to avoid information loss causes huge energy losses. We can eliminate this meaningless energy loss by utilizing the non-volatile function of advanced spin-transfer torque magnetoresistive random-access memory (STT-MRAM) technology and create a new type of computer, i.e., normally off computers . Critical tasks to achieve normally off computers are implementations of STT-MRAM technologies in the main memory and low-level cache memories. STT-MRAM technology for applications to the main memory has been successfully developed by using perpendicular STT-MRAMs, and faster STT-MRAM technologies for applications to the cache memory are now being developed. The present status of STT-MRAMs and challenges that remain for normally off computers are discussed.

Normally off computers could use less than 1% of the power

The room temperature (RT) tunnel magneto-resistance (TMR) effect found in Al-O based magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJs) has enabled a new type of non-volatile memory, i.e., the magneto-resistive random access memory (MRAM). The concept of “ instant-on computers” has attracted attention around 2000 as an application of MRAMs. MRAMs were expected to reduce the start-up time of computers and to reduce user frustration. MRAMs play an important role only when computers start up in instant-on computers. However, we believe that the potential of MRAMs is not limited to start up and they have hidden potential to change the computer architecture. The researchers proposed the concept of " normally off computers" in 2001 from this point of view.

Suppose that you are typing on a keyboard. During the approximately 100 ms to move your finger from one key to the next, the computer needlessly wastes energy waiting for your input. This is because most parts of present computers are made of volatile devices, i.e., transistors and dynamic RAMs (DRAMs), which lose information when powered off. The present computers are designed on the premise that power will always be supplied, i.e., they will be normally on. If computers are redesigned so that power consumption is zero during any short intervals when users are absent from the job without them even being aware of it, very energy efficient computers such as mobile personal computers running on solar batteries or hand-cranked dynamos can turn into a reality.

We need high performance non-volatile devices that do not require a power supply to retain information to create normally off computers and simultaneously guarantee sufficiently high speed operation to manipulate the information. The main memory, for example, requires performance as fast as 10 to 30 ns (image below) and density as high as 1 Gbit per chip.

Many problems still remain to be solved to achieve normally off computers. The problems are not only limited to materials and MTJ devices but circuits, memory architectures, operating systems, and peripherals, which should also be redesigned. This paper reports efforts to attain normally off computers and discusses the challenges that remain.


Layered structure of computer systems. Typical access times for smartphone, personal computer, and supercomputer systems are shown.
Citation: J. Appl. Phys. 115, 172607 (2014); http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4869828


Journal of Applied Physics


DNA origami nanorobots shown in demo of drug delivery in live cockroaches with hope of human trials by 2019 and scaling DNA nanobot computing to Commodore 64 levels

Researchers have injected various kinds of DNA nanobots into cockroaches. Because the nanobots are labelled with fluorescent markers, the researchers can follow them and analyse how different robot combinations affect where substances are delivered. The team says the accuracy of delivery and control of the nanobots is equivalent to a computer system.

This is the development of the vision of nanomedicine.
This is the realization of the power of DNA nanotechnology.
This is programmable dna nanotechnology.

The DNA nanotechnology cannot perform atomically precise chemistry (yet), but having control of the DNA combined with advanced synthetic biology and control of proteins and nanoparticles is clearly developing into very interesting capabilities.

"This is the first time that biological therapy has been able to match how a computer processor works," says co-author Ido Bachelet of the Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials at Bar Ilan University.

The team says it should be possible to scale up the computing power in the cockroach to that of an 8-bit computer, equivalent to a Commodore 64 or Atari 800 from the 1980s. Goni-Moreno agrees that this is feasible. "The mechanism seems easy to scale up so the complexity of the computations will soon become higher," he says.

An obvious benefit of this technology would be cancer treatments, because these must be cell-specific and current treatments are not well-targeted. But a treatment like this in mammals must overcome the immune response triggered when a foreign object enters the body.

Bachelet is confident that the team can enhance the robots' stability so that they can survive in mammals. "There is no reason why preliminary trials on humans can't start within five years," he says

Biological systems are collections of discrete molecular objects that move around and collide with each other. Cells carry out elaborate processes by precisely controlling these collisions, but developing artificial machines that can interface with and control such interactions remains a significant challenge. DNA is a natural substrate for computing and has been used to implement a diverse set of mathematical problems, logic circuits and robotics. The molecule also interfaces naturally with living systems, and different forms of DNA-based biocomputing have already been demonstrated. Here, we show that DNA origami can be used to fabricate nanoscale robots that are capable of dynamically interacting with each other in a living animal. The interactions generate logical outputs, which are relayed to switch molecular payloads on or off. As a proof of principle, we use the system to create architectures that emulate various logic gates (AND, OR, XOR, NAND, NOT, CNOT and a half adder). Following an ex vivo prototyping phase, we successfully used the DNA origami robots in living cockroaches (Blaberus discoidalis) to control a molecule that targets their cells.

Nature Nanotechnology - Universal computing by DNA origami robots in a living animal

IMF World Economic Outlook forecasts global growth at 3.6% in 2014, 3.9% in 2015 up from 3.0% in 2013

The IMF forecasts global growth to average 3.6 percent in 2014―up from 3 percent in 2013―and to rise to 3.9 percent in 2015.

The global recovery is becoming broader, but the changing external environment poses new challenges to emerging market and developing economies, says the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook (WEO).

“The recovery which was starting to take hold in October is becoming not only stronger, but also broader,” said IMF Chief Economist Olivier Blanchard. “Although we are far short of a full recovery, the normalization of monetary policy—both conventional and unconventional—is now on the agenda.”

Blanchard cautioned, however, that while acute risks have decreased, risks have not disappeared.

In this setting, the global economy is still fragile despite improved prospects, and important risks—both old and new—remain. Risks identified previously include finishing the financial sector reform agenda, high debt levels in many countries, stubbornly high unemployment, and concerns about emerging markets.


The 234 page IMF 2014 World Economic Outlook report.

April 07, 2014

Quebec Liberals win majority over Parti Québécois as Marois steps down

Philippe Couillard’s Quebec Liberal party sailed to victory, winning a majority government in the provincial election that, five weeks ago, seemed destined to be won by the soveriegntist Parti Québécois.

Quebec’s rejection of the PQ extended to Marois herself, who lost her own seat to her Liberal rival.

The party’s decisive win is all the more significant given that the Liberals were booted from power just 18 months ago after years of damaging revelations that it had orchestrated illegal political financing schemes. Those revelations are subject of an ongoing police investigation by Quebec’s anti-corruption police force, something that Couillard’s opponents raised repeatedly throughout the campaign to little avail.



Google's Modular smartphone will be like an update to the motherboard and addin card model of IBM PCs

Google thinks modularity may succeed now thanks to the shrinking cost and size of the underlying electronics and because innovation in conventional mobile hardware is slowing down. Also, by fostering open hardware innovation in smartphones and other mobile devices, Google believes it could gain footholds for its software and services in fresh markets and fresh industries.

“We believe that the smartphone hardware ecosystem should be, and can be, a lot more like the Android app ecosystem: with a low barrier to entry, lots and lots of developers, and faster, richer innovation,” says Paul Eremenko, a former office head at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency who leads the project.

The hardware ecosystem Eremenko envisions would be entirely open. Google would provide the endoskeleton, which has eight rear slots for modules, two front-facing slots for components such as a screen and a button panel, and onboard power and data transmission. Parts could be replaced or upgraded without discarding the rest of the phone, and the finished device could be adapted to serve any number of special functions—professional photography, environmental sensing, medical monitoring—depending on what hardware emerges.


Phone backbone: Google’s Project Ara modular smartphone project starts with an aluminum endoskeleton, roughly the size of an average smartphone, with eight slots for hardware modules. The endoskeleton can send or receive data or power through an onboard network. Google is also working on a larger “phablet” size and a smaller one, roughly the size of typical music players.

Future computer memory - Memristors, cheaper MRAM, and Phase change memory

Semiconductor manufacturers are developing other solid-state technologies, some of which could succeed flash and other forms of solid-state memory in the not-too-distant future.

451 Research provides computer memory analysis at computerweekly.

Chip makers have been approaching the limits to which they can reduce NAND flash manufacturing process sizes for some time.

In 2013, the time span for that forecast was effectively delayed for five or six years by Samsung’s announcement it had begun volume production of NAND flash chips featuring a 3D internal architecture.

Flash prices are now widely expected to continue to descend at about the same rate as they have been for the last few years.

This will continue until the process size for 3D NAND flash has reached about 10nm at around the end of this decade. At that point, the consensus is there will be little or no prospect of reducing NAND flash costs further.

451 Research believes eventual flash replacement will not happen until well into the next decade.

IMF Asia Pacific Division Chief sees average of about 6% GDP growth for China out to 2030

IMF sees a moderate slowing in China’s economy. This is expected, indeed welcome, as China moves to a more inclusive, green, and sustainable growth path.

Global markets are understandably interested in developments in China. It is the world’s second largest economy and a critical source of global demand, especially for commodity producers. Continued healthy growth is thus important for both China and the world. Healthy growth, moreover, likely means a gradually slowing economy. Slowing to the fastest sustainable growth rate possible, which we estimate would be around 6 percent on average between now and 2030. In this case, China would continue to boost living standards at home while providing welcome support to the world economy for many years to come.

China had the largest consumption increase in the world in 2011, 2012, and likely was true in 2013.

Disney has Marvel Superhero movie roadmap out to 2028

Businessweek feature Kevin Feige who is masterminding the Marvel Superhero movies at Disney.

Clearly Disney will be making Marvel superhero, Pixar animation and Star Wars on a very regular basis forever.

Detailed Roadmap at least out to series 4 of Avengers, Captain America and Iron Man, but maybe out to series 6 and 2028 or so

Marvel has a universe of thousands of characters it controls entirely. That means Feige can produce an unlimited number of films with interweaving story lines and characters, creating a vast audience for almost any Marvel movie.

There’s a map of films reaching far into the next decade on the wall of Feige’s office. “It’s like looking through the Hubble telescope. You go, ‘What’s happening back there? I can sort of see it,’ ” he laughs. “They printed out a new one recently that went to 2028.”

Wood MacKenzei consultants forecast 1.1 million barrels per day from the Bakken and Three Forks in 2014 and this will increase to 1.7 million barrels per day in 2020

Wood Mackenzie anticipates that oil production in the North Dakota and Montana sections of the Bakken and Three Forks formations will grow to 1.7 million barrels per day in 2020. Oil production in North Dakota and Montana's Bakken and Three Forks formations will average 1.1 million barrels per day in 2014 according to Wood Mackenzie. The Bakken is the most productive pure crude oil play in the US, with oil volumes averaging one million barrels per day in the first quarter of 2014, and we estimate it will attract more than US$15 billion in development capex this year alone.

The most impressive initial production (IP) rates are currently being generated from the Nesson Anticline, with 30-day IP rates averaging more than 1,000 barrels per day

There are five sample charts from the report.

More Support for Room Temperature Superconductivity with measured reduction in Background Noise

In 2011 Superconductors.ORG discovered that background thermal noise in a bulk material that contains a low-volume-fraction (VF) superconductor diminishes as it cools below Tc. Now, an examination of the plots of many suspected room temperature superconductors reveals there is a quantifiable drop in noise in them as well.

Joe Eck provided sample plots from seven different compounds, all of which are thought to contain room temperature superconductors. They all produced sharp diamagnetic, resistive and/or specific heat changes during earlier testing. A visible reduction in background noise has been found below Tc in all of them.

While not every host material displayed a reduction in noise below Tc, none showed an increase. Thermal noise either held constant or dropped in amplitude in every instance. There is no phenomenon in the physical sciences - other than superconductivity - that can explain such a drop.


Successful Development of a High-Temperature Superconducting Magnet for Next-Generation Flywheels

The Railway Technical Research Institute (hereinafter called "RTRI") and Furukawa Electric have been the first in the world to succeed at the development of a high-temperature superconducting magnet for large flywheels, using the second generation high-temperature superconducting wires manufactured by SuperPower Inc.

Summary of development results

* Succeeded in the development of a high-strength high-temperature superconducting magnet by using second generation high-temperature superconducting wires that use yttrium.

* It was demonstrated that a load exceeding 2 tons can be supported without contact when this magnet is cooled to 50K (minus 223°C) and a high magnetic field is generated.

* This makes it possible to operate at 50K (minus 223°C), which is a temperature considerably higher than with the conventional high-temperature superconducting coils that are cooled to 20K (minus 253°C). Cooling costs can be reduced.


Next generation flywheel power storage system (concept illustration)

Future plans

It is planned that this magnet will be integrated into the large capacity superconducting flywheel power storage system being developed from fiscal 2012 to fiscal 2014 and that interconnection testing will start from 2015 at the megawatt-class solar power system to be newly constructed at Komekurayama in Yamanashi Prefecture.

Thinner wire substrate for higher current density next generation accelerators and high field magnets

Superpower Inc (a subsidiary of Furukawa Electric Company) announcee the addition of a 30 micron substrate thickness option to our standard offerings of 50 and 100 micron substrate second-generation (2G) high temperature superconducting (HTS) wires. The new geometry will help customers who need additional current density from thinner wires. The 50 and 100 micron substrates have already been half or less the thickness of our competitors’ wires, offering an enormous advantage for coil configurations. The 30 micron option will give an even greater benefit in current density that leads to smaller size and lower weight of devices.

The 33% reduction in conductor profile in combination with much better mechanical properties, will contribute to an increase of as high as 50% to our extremely current dense, flexible cable. This will be used devices such as the next generation of accelerators and high-field scientific magnets.

Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers #203

The Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers #203 is up at Thorium MSR

Forbes - Fossil Fuels Still Rule But Don’t Worry – We Have Plenty Of Uranium

The 2014 Annual Report of the AAPG Energy Minerals Division Committee has some interesting findings. In general, the outlook for significant changes to the world’s energy mix is not good, and business-as-usual appears to be winning over significant change towards alternative energy sources. The supply of uranium is strong, but the supply of rare earth elements needed in the energy sector is weak.



Kickstarter project introduces the first $300 fully-assembled 3d printer

A Maryland startup company has officially unveiled a fully assembled 3d printer for less than $300. The kickstarter project has already garnered over $445,000 in its first day. The company, called M3D, is less than a year old but has developed a small, easy to use printer that can match the capabilities of printers costing thousands of dollars. Although numerous 3d printer projects have been successfully funded on kickstarter, other low-cost printers generally require assembly. The printer contains a number of innovations which allow for quiet, low-maintenance operation. This printer is appropriate for a variety of educational and personal markets, and can use either PLA or ABS filament. The company already has plans to mass-produce the machines in the U.S. later this year.

In 1977, the first low-cost, fully-assembled PCs became available. The Apple 2 and the TRS-80 became the first mass-produced PCs, ushering in the age of the PC. If M3D is sufficiently successful, the year 2014 could be as important a year for 3d printing as 1977 was for personal computing.





Donetsk shaping up to be the next stage of Russia's move into Ukraine

In Donetsk, a large industrial city in Ukraine's east, pro-Russian protesters stormed the regional legislature and, according to reports in Russian media, declared the city "Donetsk People’s Republic" on Monday. The protesters are now demanding a referendum on joining Russia, with May 11 touted as the day of the vote, and calling for "peacekeepers" from Russia to intervene.

Of course, this all looks a little Crimea 2.0. And that's especially worrying, as there have been a number of other reports of pro-Russian protests in other Ukrainian cities like Kharkiv and Luhansk. If Donetsk is following a pattern established by Crimea, it seems these regions might, too.

Donetsk does have a slim Russian plurality (48.15 percent vs. 46.65 percent Ukrainians, according to the 2001 census), it's at the center of an oblast with a clear Ukrainian majority (56.9 percent Ukrainians to 38.2 percent Russians, according to the same census).

Separatist Parti Québécois projected to lose. Quebec Liberals likely to win Majority

Threehundredeight.com project Philippe Couillard's Quebec Liberal Party is on track to win tonight's provincial election in Quebec and form a new government. Pauline Marois's Parti Québécois should form the Official Opposition, while François Legault's Coalition Avenir Québec and Françoise David's Québec Solidaire should retain their positions as the third and fourth parties, respectively, in the National Assembly.

The final projection suggests that the Liberals are very likely to win a majority government, though a minority government is still a distinct possibility.

This would put the issue of Quebec separation away for at least 5 years. Demographics are generally trending away from separation. Younger Quebecers are less in favor of separation.

Nearly 70 per cent of Quebecers (68%) say they are against a referendum in the next five years. When asked if a referendum were held tomorrow, twice as many Quebecers say they’d vote against sovereignty than for it (59% to 28%).

The Liberals are projected to win between 60 and 78 seats, putting them mostly over the 63-seat mark needed to form a majority government. They should take between 38.5% and 44.2% of the popular vote. Their best performance since 2003, when Jean Charest first won a majority government, is thus possible. The precise projection is for the Liberals to take 40.1% of the vote and win 69 seats, their best result since 2008 and 2003, respectively.

Quebec Liberal Party on top Red.
Parti Québécois Dark Blue
Coalition Avenir Québec Light Blue
Québec Solidaire Orange



In India Modi Campaigns on a platform of better Infrastructure and better toilets

India is holding voting for an election which will take 5 weeks to complete. Elections in India are held every 5 years. The ruling United Progressive Alliance, a coalition led by the Congress Party, has run into a series of scandals and economic roadblocks in the last few years. Polls show that most Indians are looking for a change, and that the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, stand to benefit.

Mr. Modi has sought to distance himself from religious politics. Facing off against Rahul Gandhi, the 43-year-old scion of India's powerful Nehru-Gandhi political clan, whose Congress party has governed India since 2004, Mr. Modi has positioned himself as a champion of economic development and no-nonsense government. He cites growth and industrialization under his leadership in Gujarat and says all of India will enjoy the same if he becomes premier.

"I am known to be a Hindu-nationalist leader," Mr. Modi said in one of his first speeches after becoming the prime ministerial candidate for the Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP. But "my real thought is toilets first, temples later."

Hindus make up 80% of India's population and Muslims 13%.

"Electricity in every home, toilets in every home, education for children, hospitals for the elderly. Brothers and sisters, can't we do this in our country?" Mr. Modi asked the rally. "We need to make this happen together."

Barrier Overcome to Growing Organs from Stem Cells by Proving Control of Embryonic Development in Fish

Scientists at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have overcome one of the greatest challenges in biology and taken a major step toward being able to grow whole organs and tissues from stem cells. By manipulating the appropriate signaling, the U.Va. researchers have turned embryonic stem cells into a fish embryo, essentially controlling embryonic development.

The research will have dramatic impact on the future use of stem cells to better the human condition, providing a framework for future studies in the field of regenerative medicine aimed at constructing tissues and organs from populations of cultured pluripotent cells.

The researchers were able to identify the signals sufficient for starting the cascade of molecular and cellular processes that lead to a fully developed fish embryo. With this study came an answer to the longstanding question of how few signals can initiate the processes of development: amazingly, only two.

The study has shed light on the important roles these two signals play for the formation of organs and full development of a zebrafish embryo. Moreover, the Thisses are now able to direct embryonic development and formation of tissues and organs by controlling signal locations and concentrations.

Their next steps will be to attempt to reproduce their findings using mice. They expect molecular and cellular mechanisms will be extremely similar in mice and other mammals – including humans.


U.Va. scientists Bernard and Chris Thisse have created a zebrafish embryo by instructing stem cells.

Science - Construction of a Vertebrate Embryo from Two Opposing Morphogen Gradients