June 14, 2014

Vanadium redox batteries could balance the electrical grid for solar and wind power

Vanadium "redox flow" batteries are very stable. They can be discharged and recharged 20,000 times without much loss of performance, and are thought to last decades (they have not been around long enough for this to have been demonstrated in practice).

They can also be enormous, and - in large part thanks to their vanadium content - expensive. The smallest of the "Cellcube" batteries that American Vanadium is producing in partnership with German engineering firm Gildemeister has a footprint the size of a parking bay and costs $100,000.

How does a Vanadium Redox Flow Battery work?

They consist of two giant tanks of different solutions of vanadium dissolved in sulphuric acid, separated by a membrane

The battery produces an electrical current as the fluids are pumped past electrodes on either side of the battery
In one tank, the vanadium releases electrons, turning from yellow to blue
In the other tank, the vanadium receives electrons, turning from green to violet
The electrons pass around a circuit, generating a current, while at the same time a matching number of protons (hydrogen ions) pass across the membrane between the two solutions




June 13, 2014

China seeing a controlled softening rather than a hard landing for is economy and US Treasury Secretary says US GDP growth could stay at 2% per year for slower growth new normal

The mainland economy may bottom out over next few months, thanks to Beijing's fine-tuning policy, as industrial production and consumption gathered steam last month and accelerated investment in infrastructure offset a deeper slide in the property market.

Economists expect Beijing to roll out more mini-stimulus measures, on the top of the recent moderate easing of money supply, in a bid to hold economic growth above the central government's bottom line, which is believed to be somewhere below but close to the annual target of about 7.5 per cent.

Industrial production grew 8.8 per cent year on year last month, slightly faster than April's 8.7 per cent, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. Power generation rose 5.9 per cent, accelerating from April's 4.4 per cent.

But the property market remained a major drag on economic recovery, with investment in the sector growing 14.7 per cent year on year in the first five months of the year, down from the 16.4 per cent growth between January and April.

Home sales value in the first five months dropped 10.2 per cent, while sales of office building units fell 14 per cent.

However, the weakness in the real estate sector was offset by strong infrastructure investment, which climbed 25 per cent in the first five months from a year earlier, accelerating from a 22.8 per cent increase from January to April.

Retail sales also posted stronger growth last month, up 12.5 per cent year on year compared with 11.9 per cent growth in April, driven by a surge in online sales, which soared 53.2 per cent.

Gerard Burg, a senior economist for Asia at National Australia Bank, said the mainland might see a "controlled softening" rather than a hard landing.

There should be at least two larger than Earth size planets beyond Pluto based on Kuiper Belt planetoid and asteroid orbital analysis

TWO supersized planets could lurk in the outer reaches of our solar system.

When dwarf planet 2012 VP113 was discovered in March, it joined a handful of small, rocky objects known to reside past the orbit of Pluto. These objects have curious orbits, which hint that an unseen monster planet even further out is influencing their behaviour.

Carlos and Raul de la Fuente Marcos at the Complutense University of Madrid in Spain took another look at these distant bodies. They found that groups of the objects cluster in different ways, suggesting that not one but two giant planets "shepherd" the smaller objects around

At 200 and 250 times Earth's distance from the sun, even these giants would be difficult to observe, says Carlos. "It's not at all surprising that they haven't been found yet."

Arxiv - Extreme trans-Neptunian objects and the Kozai mechanism: signaling the presence of trans-Plutonian planets?

The existence of an outer planet beyond Pluto has been a matter of debate for decades and the recent discovery of 2012 VP113 has just revived the interest for this controversial topic. This Sedna-like object has the most distant perihelion of any known minor planet and the value of its argument of perihelion is close to 0 degrees. This property appears to be shared by almost all known asteroids with semimajor axis greater than 150 au and perihelion greater than 30 au (the extreme trans-Neptunian objects or ETNOs), and this fact has been interpreted as evidence for the existence of a super-Earth at 250 au. In this scenario, a population of stable asteroids may be shepherded by a distant, undiscovered planet larger than the Earth that keeps the value of their argument of perihelion librating around 0 degrees as a result of the Kozai mechanism. Here, we study the visibility of these ETNOs and confirm that the observed excess of objects reaching perihelion near the ascending node cannot be explained in terms of any observational biases. This excess must be a true feature of this population and its possible origin is explored in the framework of the Kozai effect. The analysis of several possible scenarios strongly suggest that at least two trans-Plutonian planets must exist.

Open thread

In the discussion, provide links and suggestions and politely discuss topics of interest


June 12, 2014

HP will bet the company on a combination of memristors and silicon photonics

Hewlett-Packard has kicked off an ambitious project that aims at nothing less than reinventing the basic architecture of computers. It looks like servers are its initial target, but HP is also working on an Android version that it says could lead to smartphones with 100TB of storage.

HP said Wednesday it was working on a new computer architecture, dubbed The Machine, based on memristors and silicon photonics.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports up to 75% of HP’s once fairly illustrious R&D division — HP Labs – are working on The Machine.

In the words of HP Labs, The Machine will be a complete replacement for current computer system architectures. There will be a new operating system, a new type of memory (memristors), and super-fast buses/peripheral interconnects (photonics). Speaking to Bloomberg, HP says it will commercialize The Machine within a few years, “or fall on its face trying.”

Stem Cell 100 plus - herbal Nutraceuticals

In 2011, Hplus Magazine had detailed coverage on Genescient (life extension company) and the Stem Cell 100 product

I started taking Stem Cell 100 back in 2011. It is about $60 for a one month supply. There is now Stem Cell 100+ [$75 for a one month supply]. They added more ingredients and the testimonials are that it acts faster and is more powerful and more people have noticeable positive changes.

I would also recommend supporting SENS rejuvenation research and Robert Freitas's nanomedicine work (donate through IMM)

Genescient's primary business focus is on the development of pharmaceuticals for age-related diseases, but in conjunction with its spinoff firm Life Code LLC, it has provided testing services for the development of nutraceuticals based on its unique genomics platform. Our findings can be summarized as follows:

1. Aging is linked to altered expression in more than a hundred genes;
2. We employed artificial intelligence algorithms combined with animal longevity assays to screen for wide-spectrum herbal extracts that extend lifespan;
3. We succeeded in doubling animal lifespan using a novel class of nutrigenomic supplements that modulate genes involved in both aging and age-related disease.

Below is link to purchase Stem Cell 100+



Stem Cell 100+ Pack Size:





Uber alles ? Uber cheaper than owning a car in San Francisco

For San Francisco, the median Uber fare is only $22. For UberX it’s $17. That means that 50% of UberX trips cost less than $17 (and 50% more) but you can expect to pay around $17 for any given trip.

Uber Alles means above everything else.

The math here is simple:

Uber’s demographic probably tends toward the higher end of the $5,000-$15,000 per year range (depreciation on a highend car, parking, gas, maintenance etc..).

At the high end about 882 uber rides and 292 at the low end.

Uber costs twice as much as a cab ride. But the median Uber ride only costs $24. That means you’re paying $12 more than you would for a cab.

UberX, is usually 30 percent less expensive than taxis.

Uber tends to save 54 minutes versus a cab. They arrive sooner.

Elon Musk says Flying Cars are easy and he will probably make some for the fun of it and 2 or 3 submarine cars

Elon Musk says making a flying car would be easy.

“Maybe we’ll make a flying car, just for fun,” said Elon Musk during the interview with the Independent UK. “I’ve thought about it quite a lot, we could definitely make a flying car – but that’s not the hard part. The hard part is, how do you make a flying car that’s super safe and quiet? Because if it’s a howler, you’re going to make people very unhappy.”

This statement would seem like an off-the-cuff remark in an interview with any other entrepreneur. But with Musk’s history of actually following through with things he talks about, and considering the fact that he’s given the idea some serious thought, we might actually see a concept flying car in his lifetime.

China could complete 9 nuclear reactors in the next 7 months and then start construction on 30 reactors over the next 18 months

China currently has 21 operational nuclear reactors.

By the end of 2014, the number of reactors in the country is expected reach 30, bringing the total nuclear capacity to around 27 GWe. In 2015, capacity should reach 36 GWe, as a further eight reactors are brought online. 18 units are expected to start up within the next two years, taking nuclear capacity close to the projected 40 GWe figure.


Between the upper and lower regions of the Earth Mantle is a layer of wet rock that has three times as much water as all of the oceans

A reservoir of water three times the volume of all the oceans has been discovered deep beneath the Earth's surface. The finding could help explain where Earth's seas came from.

The water is hidden inside a blue rock called ringwoodite that lies 700 kilometres underground in the mantle, the layer of hot rock between Earth's surface and its core.

The huge size of the reservoir throws new light on the origin of Earth's water. Some geologists think water arrived in comets as they struck the planet, but the new discovery supports an alternative idea that the oceans gradually oozed out of the interior of the early Earth.

"It's good evidence the Earth's water came from within," says Steven Jacobsen of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The hidden water could also act as a buffer for the oceans on the surface, explaining why they have stayed the same size for millions of years.

Science - Dehydration melting at the top of the lower mantle

Getting Dedication and Commitment to solving systems like the Veterans Administration by Getting Skin in the Game

There are very well documented problems at the Veterans Administration (VA) where soldiers must wait many months for treatment. The bureaucracy and politicians are almost entirely separated from the consequences of bad performance.

How can we get full focus, committment and dedication to solving the problems ?

Legislation and hiring at the Veterans Administration should focus on hiring those with skin in the game and changing the rules to create alignment and impact for those who are fixing the problems and the results. Where possible those who work at the VA should get their own and their family medical care via the same VA system. They and their families should be in the same queue and scheduling system.

Where possible hire those who receive VA services or have close family members who depend on getting timely care.

Those who worked in the factories in World War 2 were totally committed to building quality machines and weapons. They personally knew many of the soldiers who depended upon them. Also, they recognized that if the war was lost then they would personally be at risk of being injured or killed or having their lives ruined.

Israel still has the knowledge of true peril for each person or their close family. This is why Israel with a population of 7.9 million has perhaps the second best military in the world. They get the most out of their equipment. The Israeli tanks are the most survivable for their crews. The factory workers and designers know the people in the military whose lives depend upon getting it right.

NASA in during the Gemini, Mercury and Apollo programs had those developing the systems very closely involved with the astronauts.

Elon Musk and Tesla Motors have made all of their electric car patents open source

Annual new vehicle production is approaching 100 million per year and the global fleet is approximately 2 billion cars, it is impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis. By the same token, it means the market is enormous. Our true competition is not the small trickle of non-Tesla electric cars being produced, but rather the enormous flood of gasoline cars pouring out of the world’s factories every day.

Nextbigfuture reported on June 4, 2014 when Elon Musk hinted that Tesla would do something controversial with their patents. Elon said he would have to explain it for his shareholders to understand why it would be a good thing.

We believe that Tesla, other companies making electric cars, and the world would all benefit from a common, rapidly-evolving technology platform.

Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.

Longer lasting quantum dot nanoparticles for spray on solar cells and other products

A new form of solid, stable light-sensitive nanoparticles, called colloidal quantum dots, could lead to cheaper and more flexible solar cells, as well as better gas sensors, infrared lasers, infrared light emitting diodes and more. The work, led by post-doctoral researcher Zhijun Ning and Professor Ted Sargent.

Collecting sunlight using these tiny colloidal quantum dots depends on two types of semiconductors: n-type, which are rich in electrons; and p-type, which are poor in electrons. The problem? When exposed to the air, n-type materials bind to oxygen atoms, give up their electrons, and turn into p-type. Ning and colleagues modelled and demonstrated a new colloidal quantum dot n-type material that does not bind oxygen when exposed to air.

Maintaining stable n- and p-type layers simultaneously not only boosts the efficiency of light absorption, it opens up a world of new optoelectronic devices that capitalize on the best properties of both light and electricity. For the average person, this means more sophisticated weather satellites, remote controllers, satellite communication, or pollution detectors.

“This is a material innovation, that’s the first part, and with this new material we can build new device structures,” said Ning. “Iodide is almost a perfect ligand for these quantum solar cells with both high efficiency and air stability—no one has shown that before.”

Ning’s new hybrid n- and p-type material achieved solar power conversion efficiency up to eight per cent—among the best results reported to date.


Surface engineering of CQD solids for air stability.

Nature Materials - Air-stable n-type colloidal quantum dot solids

China's population should be 70% urbanized by 2030 and all with mobile internet, ecommerce and social media by 2020

China is going digital very quickly. By 2016, the country will have more than 730 million Internet users and more than 380 million online shoppers, up from 460 million and 145 million, respectively, in 2010. Even China’s lower-tier cities are migrating swiftly to digital technologies. More than 16 million netizens from the country’s tier 3 and 4 cities are using mobile Internet, 80 percent of all Chinese netizens accept mobile payments, and 100 percent have used weibo (Twitter-like microblogs). Finally, as each new digital platform has been added, adoption rates have gained momentum, rising with increasing speed

China’s mobile Internet users are now ~80% of total China Internet users. More critical mass for mobile web than anywhere, and leading mobile commerce revolution.

Six of top 10 Internet properties “made in USA”—down from 9 of top 10 last year—with more than 86% of their users outside America. “China rising fast.”



NASA NIAC - two orders of magnitude mass and power saving for Life Support and Reduced Complexity

The abundant high-energy light in space (with wavelengths as low as 190 nm, compared to 300 nm on Earth) makes the TiO2 co-catalyst an ideal approach for sustainable air processor to generate O2, without consuming any thermal or electrical energy. The combination of novel photoelectrochemistry and 3-dimensional design allows tremendous mass saving, hardware complexity reduction, increases in deployment flexibility and removal efficiency. The high tortousity photocatalystic air processor design will achieve at least two orders of magnitude mass and power saving respectively, and enable feasibility of compact processors for spacecraft. The proposed work will demonstrate these drastic reduction in reactor mass, volume and power consumption in comparison to current technology with delivery of high-tortuosity device components allowed by 3D printing (potentially in space) at the end of the proposed work.

Environmental control life support systems (ECLSS) are detailed at this link.

A 600 days Mars mission often have ECLSS that would weigh about 19 tons using chemical oxygen and CO2 scrubber systems. They then try to alter the design components to get the weight down to 4 tons. The NIAC project could bring the weight down to 200 kilograms or less.



June 11, 2014

Molecular self-assembly scales up from nanometers to millimeters

A joint effort of the Aalto University of Helsinki, the Politecnico di Milano, and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has now demonstrated that it is possible to align molecular self-assemblies from nanometers to millimeters without the intervention of external stimuli.

Molecular self-assembly is a concept derived from Nature that leads to the spontaneous organization of molecules into more complex and functional supramolecular structures. The recipe is “encoded” in the chemical structure of the self-assembling molecules. Molecular self-assembly has been exploited for “templating” functional devices, molecular wires, memory elements, etc. However, it has typically required additional processing steps to achieve extended alignment of the structures.

The new finding showed that by engineering recognition elements between polymers and fluorinated small molecules, it has been possible to drive their spontaneous self-assembly from nanometers to millimeters, thanks to the judicious use of noncovalent interactions. After the processing, fluoromolecules can optionally be removed upon thermal treatment.

This concept opens up new avenues in large area nanoconstruction, for example in templating nanowires, which is currently under investigation.



Nature Communications - Halogen-bonded mesogens direct polymer self-assemblies up to millimetre length scale

NASA Project with Quantum Inertial Gravimetry and In Situ ChipSat Sensors

NASA NIAC has a new project - Exploration Architecture with Quantum Inertial Gravimetry and In Situ ChipSat Sensors.

They propose to break the two-mission space exploration cycle (remote survey eventually followed by in situ sensing) by creating mission architectures that perform both remote survey and in situ sampling. Through enabling technologies, such as high-accuracy quantum, or cold-atom, inertial sensors based on light-pulse atom interferometry (LPAI), and the extreme miniaturization of space components into fully functional spacecraft-on-a-chip systems (ChipSats), these combined missions can perform decadal-class science with greatly reduced time scales and risk.



NASA NIAC Solar Electric Space Sail that would be nine times faster than Voyager One

NASA NIAC has funded another solar electric space sail project called Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transit System (HERTS) which wants to send a probe 150 kilometers per second or 30 AU per year [9 times faster than Voyage One].

Nextbigfuture has had dozens of articles on the electric space sail technology and projects to develop that technology for using the solar wind to propel spacecraft. Solar wind speed can be thirty to forty times faster [400-700 kilometers per second] than Voyager One [16 km per second, 3.6 AU per year].

The motivation for this technology comes from the Heliophysics Decadal Survey. The Heliophysics Decadal Survey, Section 10.5.2.7 states in part; “… recent in situ measurements by the Voyagers, combined with all-sky heliospheric images from IBEX and Cassini, have made outer-heliospheric science one of the most exciting and fastest-developing fields of heliophysics... The proposed Interstellar Probe Mission would make comprehensive, state-of-the-art, in situ measurements…required for understanding the nature of the outer heliosphere and exploring our local galactic environment.” It goes on to say, “The main technical hurdle is propulsion. Advanced propulsion options should aim to reach the Heliopause considerably faster than Voyager 1 (3.6 AU/year)… It has high priority for the Solar and Heliospheric Physics (SHP) Panel that NASA develops the necessary propulsion technology for visionary missions like The Solar Polar Imager (SPI) and Interstellar Probe to enable the vision in the coming decades.” The concept proposed herein has been named the Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transit System (HERTS) by the MSFC proposing team. The HERTS is a revolutionary propellant-less propulsion concept that is ideal for deep space missions to the outer planets, Heliopause, and beyond. It is unique in that it uses momentum exchange from naturally occurring solar wind protons to propel a spacecraft within the heliosphere. The propulsion system consists of an array of electrically biased wires that extend outward 10 to 30 km from a rotating spacecraft This idea has been explored and recently published in the open literature—primarily by Pekka Janhunen of the Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI). This past year, MSFC’s Advanced Concepts Office (ACO) performed a top level feasibility study of this concept and determined that the HERTS system can accelerate a spacecraft to velocities as much as three to four times that possible by any realistic extrapolation of current state-of-the-art propulsion technologies—including solar electric and solar sail propulsion systems. Moreover, it can be reasonably expected that this system could be developed within a decade and provide meaningful Heliophysics Science in the 2025-2030 timeframe. Physical Principles: The basic principle on which the HERTS operates is the exchange of momentum between an array of long electrically biased wires and the solar wind protons, which flow radially away from the sun at speeds ranging from 300 to 700 km per second. A high-voltage, positive bias on the wires, which are oriented normal to the solar wind flow, deflects the streaming protons, resulting in a reaction force on the wires—also directed radially away from the sun. Over periods of months, this small force can accelerate the spacecraft to enormous speeds—on the order of 100-150 km per second (~ 20 to 30 AU per year). The proposed HERTS can provide the unique ability to explore the Heliopause and the extreme outer solar system on timescales of less than a decade. It is significantly more effective than any other near-to-mid-term propulsion system for deep space missions, meshes well with heliospheric science payloads, and could be implemented in the 2025-2030 timeframe. The Heliopause Electrostatic Rapid Transit System (HERTS) fully supports NASA’s vision to “lead advances in space” by providing a revolutionary, in-space propulsion system that can open the frontier of Heliophysics to new discovery. With the performance and benefits of a HERTS mission, the Heliospheric physics community will have at its disposal the ability to carry out Heliophysics missions with one-way Earth to Heliopause trip times of less than 10 years. This study is a necessary step between a scientific dream and engineering development.



Getting one thousand times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope and an Tether based Asteroid wrangler are new NASA NIAC 2014 projects

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program announced its 2014 awards. NIAC has selected twelve new NIAC Phase I awards. These proposals have been selected based on the potential of their concepts to transform future aerospace missions, enable new capabilities, or significantly alter and improve current approaches.

Each Phase I study will receive approximately $100,000 for 9 months to one year, and each Phase II study will receive approximately $500,000 for approximately two years. These studies will advance numerous innovative aerospace concepts, and help NASA achieve future goals

The Aragoscope: Ultra-High Resolution Optics at Low Cost by Webster Cash. Webster Cash has had previous NIAC awards and done interesting leading edge space telescope research.

A new mission architecture for telescopes in space will shatter the cost barrier for large, diffraction-limited optics. The diagram in the summary chart shows a conventional telescope pointed at an opaque disk along an axis to a distant target. Rather than block the view, the disk boosts the resolution of the system with no loss of collecting area. This architecture, dubbed the “Aragoscope” in honor of the scientist who first detected the diffracted waves, can be used to achieve the diffraction limit based on the size of the low cost disk, rather than the high cost telescope mirror. One can envision affordable telescopes that could provide 7cm resolution of the ground from geosynchronous orbit or images of the sky with one thousand times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope.


Iraq is falling apart but US Oil Production hits a post-1986 record

The turmoil in Mosul threatens to upend some of Iraq’s oil production. Most of Iraq’s oil is located in the south near Basra, but there are significant oil fields near Mosul, as well as in nearby Kurdistan. Perhaps more importantly, the fighting in Mosul has brought to a standstill the repairs to Iraq’s main oil pipeline to Turkey

The violence in Iraq could threaten future investment in the country, which has plans to triple its oil production by the end of the decade. The phenomenal level of investment required to achieve such a feat will not happen in a country suffering from severe violence.

OPEC’s second largest oil producer is in severe disarray just as the world has come to rely upon Iraq for greater energy supplies.

Iraq is facing its biggest security threat in years following a surprise attack by Sunni militants on Mosul.

US Crude oil production has hit another post 1986 production record of 8.46 million barrels per day

13.4 million barrels per day of all oil liquids production
11.25 million barrels per day of natural gas liquids and crude oil production


June 10, 2014

Google to Buy Satellite-Imaging Company Skybox Imaging for $500 Million

Google agreed to buy satellite startup Skybox Imaging Inc. for $500 million in cash, its latest of several moves into space as it searches for new sources of information and ways to deliver that data to more people.

Skybox has designed and launched small satellites that can collect daily photos and video of the Earth. Founded in 2009, Skybox has raised $94 million from investors that include Khosla Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners and Norwest Venture Partners, according to Dow Jones VentureSource. Its founders wrote their first business plan as part of a Stanford graduate entrepreneurship course, according the company's website.

Google said it is buying Skybox mainly for its image capabilities, at least initially. However, the company is also trying to cover the globe with fast Internet access from the sky, using balloons, drones and satellites. The goal is to get everyone in the world online, which would likely increase the number of Google searches and boost the company's advertising revenue, while also boosting usage of Google's other services, such as Gmail and Maps.

Carnival of Space 357

Aluminum air batteries in and demonstration electric car

Alcoa and clean technology company Phinergy today debuted a zero-emissions electric demo car powered by revolutionary aluminum-air battery at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal. Alcoa and Phinergy are collaborating on new materials, processes and components to commercialize the aluminum-air battery, which can extend the distance an electric car travels by approximately 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles).

The test car, which appeared to be using the body of a Citroen C1, used lithium-ion and aluminum-air batteries for the run.

The aluminum-air battery uses air and water to unlock the energy stored in aluminum. According to Phinergy, just one of the 50 aluminum plates in the battery can power a car for approximately 20 miles, and when used to supplement a lithium-ion battery, can extend vehicle range by approximately 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles). The technology allows an energy density that surpasses conventional battery technologies and creates electric vehicles with travel distances, purchase prices and life-cycle costs that are comparable to fossil-fuel cars.



Nanoparticles Anchored to Graphene and Carbon Nanotube Hybrid Foam for Supercapacitors double the best commercial energy density at 39 watt hours per kg

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have developed a novel nanometer scale ruthenium oxide anchored nanocarbon graphene foam architecture that improves the performance of supercapacitors, a development that could mean faster acceleration in electric vehicles and longer battery life in portable electronics.

The researchers found that supercapacitors, an energy storage device like batteries and fuel cells, based on transition metal oxide modified nanocarbon graphene foam electrode could work safely in aqueous electrolyte and deliver two times more energy and power compared to supercapacitors commercially available today.

The foam electrode was successfully cycled over 8,000 times with no fading in performance.

This RGM architecture demonstrates a novel graphene foam conformally covered with hybrid networks of RuO2 nanoparticles and anchored CNTs. SCs based on RGM show superior gravimetric and per-area capacitive performance (specific capacitance: 502.78 Farads per gram, areal capacitance: 1.11 F per square centimeter) which leads to an exceptionally high energy density of 39.28 Wh per kg and power density of 128.01 kW per kg. The electrochemical stability, excellent capacitive performance, and the ease of preparation suggest this RGM system is promising for future energy storage applications.


Nature Scientific Reports - Hydrous Ruthenium Oxide Nanoparticles Anchored to Graphene and Carbon Nanotube Hybrid Foam for Supercapacitors

Brain Implantable Device to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) today announced a new research initiative designed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other neurological and psychiatric disorders. The goal of the project, which is made possible by a $30 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is to design and build a first-of-its-kind implantable deep brain stimulation (DBS) device which will monitor signals across multiple brain structures in real time. Based on the monitored activity, it will then deliver stimulation to key areas to alleviate symptoms related to neuropsychiatric disorders such as PTSD, severe depression, drug addiction, and TBI.

“Deep brain stimulation has been shown to be an effective treatment for a variety of brain diseases, especially those involving movement like Parkinson’s disease,” says Emad Eskandar MD, director of functional neurosurgery at MGH and the project’s principal investigator. “Our goal is to take DBS to the next level and create an implantable device to treat disorders like PTSD and TBI. Together with our partners we’re committed to developing this technology, which we hope will be a bold new step toward treating those suffering from these debilitating disorders.”



Global Private wealth increased to $152 trillion in 2013

The amount of private wealth held by households globally surged more than 14% to $152 trillion (£90tn) in 2013, boosted mainly by rising stock markets.

Asia-Pacific, excluding Japan, led the surge with a 31% jump to $37tn, a report by Boston Consulting Group says.

North America (at $50.3 trillion) and Western Europe ($37.9 trillion) remained the wealthiest regions in the world, followed closely by Asia-Pacific (excluding Japan) at $37.0 trillion. Asia-Pacific, which in 2008 had 50 percent less private wealth than North America, has since closed that gap by half. Globally, the amount of wealth held privately rose by $19.3 trillion in 2013, nearly twice the increase of $10.7 trillion seen in 2012.

Asia Pacific is expected to overtake Western Europe as the second-wealthiest region in 2014, and North America as the wealthiest in 2018," BCG said.

The total number of millionaire households in the world rose to 16.3 million in 2013, from 13.7 million in 2012.

Japan's first quarter GDP was up 6.7% annualised, China exports rose 7 percent and India has new reforms

1. Japan's economy grew an annualised 6.7 percent in the first quarter, up sharply from an initial reading of a 5.9 percent rise, and confirmed the fastest pace of growth since July-September 2011. The data beat the median market forecast for GDP to rise 5.6 percent.

The upward revision was largely due to a recalculation in capital expenditure that took into account finance ministry data showing a solid increase in spending.

Adding to the optimism, current account data showed foreign visitors spent more money than Japanese travelling abroad for the first time in 44 years, boding well for Japanese companies in the retail and tourism industry.

In comments to Parliament, BOJ Deputy Governor Kikuo Iwata sounded suitably upbeat, saying that he expects Japan's exports to turn up as advanced nations recover.

"The Japanese economy will continue growth above its potential rate as a trend as exports turn up and domestic demand remains firm," Iwata told parliament, adding that the economy is on a steady track to meet the BOJ's 2 percent inflation target.

2. China's exports gained steam in May thanks to firmer global demand, data showed on Sunday, but an unexpected fall in imports signaled weaker domestic demand that could continue to weigh on the world's second-largest economy.

Exports rose 7 percent in May from a year earlier, quickening from April's 0.9 percent rise, while imports fell 1.6 percent, versus a rise of 0.8 percent in April.

Exports to the United States rose 6.3 percent in May, slowing from a rise of 12 percent in April, while shipments to the European Union rose 13.4 percent last month, compared with 15.1 percent in April. Exports to ASEAN countries rose 9.1 percent, quickening from 3.8 percent in April, the data showed.

June 09, 2014

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 212

1. Atomic Power Review - EPA Announcement: Where To From Here?

This week's announcement from the EPA on anticipated emissions reductions has the internet wildly abuzz with speculation about how and where nuclear energy can fit in the future energy plans. Will Davis took a look at the broad reactions, and then made this post to try to ground the discussion about the contributions nuclear energy can make in the allotted time window.

Fish Farming is how the world will get most of its meat in the future and it can be environmentally produced

For global fish availability to meet projected demand, [the World Resources Institute] estimates that aquaculture production will need to more than double by midcentury, rising from 67 million tons (Mt) in 2012 to roughly 140 Mt in 2050. This level of growth could bring about significant food security and development benefits. For example, we estimate it could close roughly 14 percent of the “gap” between global animal protein consumption today and that needed in 2050. In addition, it could boost income and employment, particularly in developing countries where most aquaculture growth will occur.

Fish and shellfish are already among the most eco-friendly sources of animal protein, Waite tells The Salt. They don't emit anywhere near the amount of greenhouse gases that , and most farmed fish convert feed into edible meat very efficiently. Producing an additional 80 million tons of farmed fish per year by 2050, Waite says, would be much easier on the planet than producing an additional 80 million tons of beef.

Over the past 20 years, fish farms have greatly reduced the amount of fish meal they use in their feed, the report finds. As we've noted, a few salmon farms in South Africa are replacing fish meal with to take fish farms' pressure off the oceans.

We can use less feed if we can get people to eat more seafood that's lower on the food chain. Tilapia, catfish, carp — as well as mollusks like oysters, scallops and clams — don't require as much feed.




Israel Air Force has quadrupled air strike capability in two years

Israeli Air Force has doubled their air strike abilities twice in the past two years. By the end of 2014 they will see an improvement of 400% to our offensive capabilities relative to the recent past as a result of a long improvement process.

They can accurately strike thousands of targets in one day.

Israeli Air Force (IAF) chief Major General Amir Eshel stated that the air strikes that IAF aircraft carried out over a three-day period during the 2006 war with the Lebanese group Hizbullah could now be achieved in 24 hours and that the 1,500 strikes carried out during the week-long Operation 'Pillar of Defence' against militants in the Gaza Strip in November 2012 would now take 12 hours.

"I believe our capabilities are only second to the United States from both an offensive and defensive standpoint," he said.

IAF officials have declined to disclose what specific upgrades have allowed such a rapid increase in firepower, but sources say that the new systems that have been added to the IAF's F-15 and F-16 multirole fighters are creating capabilities that were "borderline fantasy" 15 years ago.



AI expert Ben Goertzel discusses the Chatbot Eugene Goostmans Turing Test Success

There has been a lot of new reports that the chatbot Eugene Goostman has "beaten the Turing test" -- the classic test of machine intelligence proposed by AI pioneer Alan Turing, which says (loosely) that if an AI program can fool people into thinking it's human, in a textual conversation context, then it should be assumed to have human-level general intelligence.

Ben Goertzel is an Artificial Intelligence Expert. Here are highlights from his write up at Hplus Magazine.

In 2008, the chatbot Elbot convinced 30% of the Loebner Prize judges it was human.

Alan Turing somewhat arbitrarily set the threshold at 30% when he articulated his "imitation game" test back in 1950. Elbot almost met the criterion, but Eugene Goostmans beat it.

On the other hand, in the 2013 Loebner contest, no chatbot fooled any of the 4 judges. However, I [Ben Goertzel] suspect the 2013 Loebner chatbots were better than the 2008 Loebner chatbots, and the judges were just less naive in 2013 than 2008. And -- I'm just guessing here -- but I suspect the judges for the Eugene Goostman test were more on the naive side...

I [Ben Goertzel] doubt there has actually been any dramatic recent advance in chatbot technology. The fluctuation from 30% judges fooled in 2008 to 33% judges fooled in 2014 seems to me more likely to be "noise" resultant from differences in the panels of judges...

Flawed Turing test and fooling humans 33% of the time

In 2013, Stuart Armstrong discussed the flaws with the Turing Test.

There is a problem with the Turing test, practically and philosophically, and I would be willing to bet that the first entity to pass the test will not be conscious, or intelligent, or have whatever spark or quality the test is supposed to measure. And I hold this position while fully embracing materialism, and rejecting p-zombies or epiphenomenalism.

Imagine no-one had heard of the [Turing] test, and someone created a putative AI, designing it to, say, track rats efficiently across the city. You sit this anti-rat-AI down and give it a Turing test - and, to your astonishment, it passes. You could now conclude that it was (very likely) a genuinely conscious or intelligent entity.

But this is not the case: nearly everyone's heard of the Turing test. So the first machines to pass will be dedicated systems, specifically designed to get through the test. Their whole setup will be constructed to maximise "passing the test", not to "being intelligent" or whatever we want the test to measure (the fact we have difficulty stating what exactly the test should be measuring shows the difficulty here).

The Turing Test Passing
* Slightly better chatbots
* Better chatbot character definitions that understand better how to trick people
* Dedicated chatbots with minimal real intelligence
* slightly more gullible judges versus 2008 when the best chatbot fooled 30% of the time versus 2013 with 33% fooled

June 08, 2014

In 2006 CalTrain hired a Chinese company for the Bay Bridge who had never built a bridge while China uses China Railway who have built over 1600 bridges

The Chinese company hired to build key parts of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge had never built a bridge.

Shanghai Zhenhua Port Machinery Co. Ltd., after all, was a manufacturer of giant cranes for container ports.

The California Department of Transportation agreed to contract the company known as ZPMC in 2006 because it had established a reputation as fast and cost-effective, offering savings of about $250 million compared to the competing bidder.

The new Bay Bridge suspension span. Part of the new $6.5 billion structure, the suspension span, despite its innovative design, experienced construction problems that raised doubts about its durability. These include suspect concrete in the tower foundation, broken anchor bolts, rust on the main cable, and cracked roadway welds.

Caltrans’ decision to hire an inexperienced Chinese company, unaccustomed to the rigor of American construction rules, to fabricate the suspension span’s signature tower and roadway partly explains why costs ballooned to $6.5 billion and misgivings persist about the quality of the bridge. Caltrans continued to bet on ZPMC by relaxing U.S. standards when the firm couldn’t finish fast enough.

Read the Sacramento Bee report for all of the welding and construction problems and lack of basic quality control.

China has a difficult bridge to make over the Yangtze, they pick China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group who have built over 1600 bridges

The Yangtze River is crucial to China it also provides a transportation challenge for travellers to cross its waters. In years past this was achieved using ferries where the river was at its widest but with China’s vehicle numbers growing fast the need to span the river has grown enormously, particularly downstream where China’s economic activity remains focussed. Many bridges have been built to carry motor vehicles (as well as trains) and at present there are 65 spanning the Yangtze River, with another 19 bridges under construction.

The new Yingwuzhou Bridge will play a vital role in the continuing economic development of Wuhan and Hubei Province as a whole. The total cost of the bridge is around US$651 million (RMB 4 billion) and it is taking some 30 months to construct. Ten times less money than the Bay bridge for a longer bridge and the Bay Bridge took over four times longer.

Building this structure has provided major engineering challenges as the area has suffered from earthquakes in the past, with the massive Wenchuan Earthquake having caused major damage in the city (although the landmark First bridge was not affected). With the river’s narrowest crossing points in the Wuhan area already spanned by existing bridges, the new structure is being constructed at a wider point and measures 7.8km, while its main central section is 2.1km long.

China's premier bridge construction company was brought in as main contractor. China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group has a long history of building bridges in the country, including a number of other challenging projects and the firm currently has 15 bridges under construction over the Yangtze River. The company has extensive experience and has been involved in the projects for virtually all of China’s landmark bridges. In all the firm has designed and constructed over 1,600 bridges, more than any other contractor in the world, and which stretch for a total of 1,600km.

The Turing Test has been passed for a huge human deception milestone

Eugene Goostman, a computer programme pretending to be a young Ukrainian boy, successfully duped enough humans to pass the iconic test.

Computing pioneer Alan Turing said that a computer could be understood to be thinking if it passed the test, which requires that a computer dupes 30 per cent of human interrogators in five-minute text conversations.

Eugene Goostman, a computer programme made by a team based in Russia, succeeded in a test conducted at the Royal Society in London. It convinced 33 per cent of the judges that it was human, said academics at the University of Reading, which organised the test.

UPDATE - I have updated articles describing the details of how this was an achievement in spoofing humans with tricks.

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