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July 19, 2014

Another Nextbigfuture Open thread

This is an open thread. Contribute any interesting links or open discussion topics and make suggestions. Remember to be polite and courteous. Debate the topics with information and do not attack other commenters


July 18, 2014

Helion Energy plans to Enable Profitable Fusion Energy in 2019

Helion Energy's Fusion Engine is the only demonstrated fusion energy source capable of producing both on demand and baseload power at low cost and with minimal environmental impact. Employing a patented staged electromagnetic compressor and direct energy conversion, the Fusion Engine efficiently harnesses fusion energy employing fuel derived solely from water. This IAEA award winning and DOE validated prototype generated the required fusion energy output that allows for commercialization of economical fusion by 2019. By removing complex tritium systems and steam turbines, the Fusion Engine can be constructed faster and with reduced capital costs. And unlike current nuclear systems, Helion’s fusion technology is inherently safe and generates only clean byproducts. Helion holds the key to unlock the long sought after promise of endless fusion energy.

They got $5 million from DOE and are raising $35 million. The chief researcher John Slough also has a NASA funded direct fusion rocket project.

The Fusion Engine will Enable Profitable Fusion Energy in 2019
Developed by Engineers to be Commercially Practical
Fast, affordable development (50 MW module, truck-sized)
Fusion is clean, safe, and generates no hazardous byproducts
Fusion energy is converted directly to electricity, eliminating capital costs
Uses demonstrated physics

Scientifically Legitimate
Fusion Engine technology supported by DOE Office of Fusion Energy
IAEA best of peer reviewed fusion paper – 2011
Field leading advocates and independent validation
4th prototype operational in Redmond, WA

How the Fusion Engine Works
Formation -Plasma is generated by ionizing gas in a Field Reversed Configuration
Accelerator -Plasma is accelerated to high velocities using pulsed magnetic fields
Collision -Two plasmas are collided and compressed to transfer kinetic energy to heat
Burn Chamber -Conditions are formed to initiate fusion of fuel
Energy Generation -Fusion plasma is converted to i) direct energy ii) fuel for further operation

Market Demand
The annual worldwide expenditure on electricity is over 3 trillion dollars. It is estimated that over 25 trillion dollars will be invested by 2030 to meet this increasing demand. The Fusion Engine is scalable and compatible with centralized and distributed infrastructure and can access new undeveloped and remote markets. The market is currently lacking a carbon free source of electricity that can meet demand for baseload and on demand power.



Layar augmented reality in Google Glass bringing the Minority Report Mall Scene to all aspects of your life

Layar enables publishers, advertisers and brands to create Interactive Print without hiring expensive developers or installing cumbersome software.

Layar offers new and profitable opportunities to:

* Bring print and digital together in one cohesive package
* Enhance your customer and brand engagement
* Increase reach and achieve higher conversion rates
* Add competitive innovation and value to advertising

* Mobile Augmented Reality apps are expected to generate $5.2 billion in revenues by 2017.
* statistics show that when viewing Interactive Print content, users click the items 87% of the time.
* over 90,000 users of the Layar Creator have already created more than 340,000 Interactive
* Customers are 165% more likely to buy a product when it includes an AR marketing component

There is economic value that is pulling Augmented Reality technology deployment.





July 17, 2014

Russia fired across the border to down a Ukrainian fighter jet

Ukraine on Thursday accused Russia's armed forces of shooting down one of its fighter jets over Ukrainian territory, marking Kiev's most direct accusation yet of Moscow's involvement in the separatist conflict in the country's east.

A Russian military plane fired on and downed a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jet that was flying over the town of Amvrosiivka in Ukraine's Donetsk region on Wednesday night, Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Spokesman Andriy Lysenko said at a briefing.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said the jet was shot in the tail section from the direction of the Russian border

This could eventually see an escalation where Russian forces invade across the border

298 killed in Malaysian Commercial Jet Shot down as casualties of the Russia Ukraine War

A Boeing 777 was on a flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when it failed to confirm its entry into Russian airspace on schedule at 5:20 p.m. Moscow time, the Interfax news agency said.

The plane “disappeared from radar at 10,000 meters [33,000 feet] and then crashed near the city of Shakhtarsk in Ukraine's Donetsk region.



Harris and Harris invests in Nanotechnology, biotech and quantum computers and other Disruptive Science

Harris and Harris Group, Inc. builds transformative companies from disruptive science. They leverage our core scientific expertise to be FIRST in identifying new technology trends, in accessing high quality science and intellectual property, in building management teams and in executing on early-stage business growth. Our PROVEN team has the unique ability to identify and diligence the network of discoveries that come from understanding science at the intersection of different scientific disciplines, with biology as a focus. This places us at the center of the discoveries impacting some of the most important growth sectors of the economy, permitting us to build TRANSFORMATIVE companies.

BIOLOGY+ is our distinctive approach. We define BIOLOGY+ as investments in interdisciplinary life science companies where biology innovation is intersecting with innovations in areas such as electronics, physics, materials science, chemistry, information technology, engineering and mathematics. We focus on this intersection because we believe interdisciplinary innovation will be required in order to address many of the life science challenges of the future.

H and H has been very supportive of D-Wave since the beginning and are cautiously optimistic about its long-term success. Alexei A. Andreev has served on the D-Wave board of directors since the company’s early days and is proud of what they have achieved. The jury is still out on the scaling behavior of D-Wave Adiabatic Quantum Computing (AQC) chips, yet the number of technical breakthroughs delivered by the company since we invested in D-Wave in 2005 has been staggering. From the very beginning, it was clearly an outlier deal — an incredibly risky endeavor that, if it succeeded, could fundamentally change computing and provide disproportional return to its investors.



One of the 1000 meter tall skyscrapers proposed in China for 2018 could have 100 stories of vertical garden or vertical farm and they are not SkyCity

The Phoenix Towers are proposed supertall skyscrapers planned for construction in Wuhan, China.

At 1 kilometre (3,300 ft) high, the towers will be the tallest structure in the world when completed. The towers are being designed by Chetwoods Architects. Completion is planned for 2018 at a cost of GB£1.2 billion (US$2.05 billion)

Description

The Phoenix Towers are being designed by London-based Chetwoods Architects in partnership with HuaYan Group. The project will consist of two buildings, representing the male and female dualistic aspects of Chinese culture. The taller tower, Feng will have about 100 floors for residential living, offices and retail space. The slightly smaller Huang tower will contain "the World's tallest garden". The towers will be constructed on an island in a lake, covering a 7-hectare (17-acre) site.

Eiffel tower like steel structure around a more normal narrow building

The buildings will be constructed on a steel superstructure with concrete cores and buttresses. The exterior will be covered in photovoltaic panels.
The towers will incorporate green energy technologies including wind, solar, thermal, biomass boilers and hydrogen fuel cells.

Pending the blessing of Wuhan’s mayor, developers expect to break ground before the end of the year and finish construction in 2018. When complete, Feng, the slightly taller “male” Phoenix tower, will use wind turbines, hydrogen fuel cells, and other strategies to fully supply Huang, the “female” tower, with renewable power. Moreover, plans for Feng include roughly 100 stories of offices, residences, and retail, whereas the full kilometer of Huang’s interior will be devoted to nurturing the world’s tallest garden.



They are also part of a larger masterplan for the city of Wuhan, which has been recognised as an environmental supercity by the regional and central government.

July 16, 2014

US crude oil production could hit production records in the Summer of 2014 not seen since 1984

US crude oil production hit another post-1986 production record with 8.592 million barrels per day.

North Dakota is expecting to add about 200,000 barrels per day in crude oil production from June, July and August.

If there is a similar oil production surge from the Texas oil fields then the US could break 9 million barrels per day by September, 2014. This would be more than any year since the mid-1970s. In 1970, there was a peak of 9.637 million barrels per day.




Cheney denies saying he regretted not attacking Iran because he regrets nothing and the US should and could still use force to stop Iran

In an interview with Jake Tapper, Dick Cheney denies saying he regretted not invading Iran and Iraq together.

TAPPER: I have to ask you about this thing I just read.

"Newsweek" reporter Leah McGrath Goodman tweeted last night that, according to a senior Goldman Sachs official, in a private talk, you told Goldman Sachs top brass while you were still vice president the plan was to invade Iraq and Iran together. "And Cheney told Goldman Sachs bankers not doing a dual attack was his biggest regret. Banker says the statement was met with stunned silence."

Is that true?

CHENEY: Never happened.

TAPPER: Never happened?

CHENEY: No.

TAPPER: Is that a regret of yours, not talking Iraq and Iran at the same time?

CHENEY: I think Iran is a special case with respect to the nuclear capability. But I was a strong believer that, if we had to, we should use military force to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. I still believe that.

TAPPER: But it never came to that? You never advocated for that?

CHENEY: We never got to that point.

Six Californias appears to have submitted enough signatures to get on the 2016 ballot

Supporters of an initiative to divide California into six states say they submitted 1.3 million signatures in counties across the state Tuesday.

The petition needed approximately 808,000 signatures of registered California voters to qualify for the November 2016 statewide ballot. The Secretary of State will determine whether there are enough valid signatures.

“Six Californias gives us an opportunity to reboot and refresh our state government,” said Timothy Draper, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist behind the effort.

Under the proposal, West California would consist of Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties. South California would include Orange, Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino and Imperial counties. Other states would be Jefferson (consisting of the northernmost counties), Silicon Valley, Central California and North California.

The initiative faces major obstacles, including a skeptical public and political questions. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a Field Poll in February found 59 percent of Californians opposed the idea. U.S. Congress would need to approve the new states, and most observers say that is highly unlikely.



July 15, 2014

Thermoelectric material Tetrahedrite costs 6 to 36 times less but can achieve up to 10% heat to electricity conversion instead of 2.5%

According to data released by Alphabet Energy, the thermoelectric material tetrahedrite costs about $4 per kilogram, whereas other thermoelectric materials cost between $24 and $146 per kilogram. For now, the company is focusing on stand-alone generators, but founder and CEO Matt Scullin says it’s currently working with car companies to see if tetrahedrite can be used to harness heat from car exhaust.

Scullin says that other thermoelectric materials have typically achieved about 2.5 percent efficiency in cars, but tetrahedrite could reach 5 to 10 percent efficiency. “These aren’t incremental improvements,” he says. “They’re really huge improvements that make really significant impact.”

Ali Shakouri, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University, says that tetrahedrite has promise because it doesn’t require the expensive up-front manufacturing that other materials require. “I think that’s kind of quite unique in thermoelectrics,” Shakouri says. “People look at so many materials, but the starting point has always been pure materials that they synthesize together.”

California-based Alphabet Energy plans to begin selling a new type of material that can turn heat into electricity.



Super Controversial Blacklight Power is Promising World Changing Energy New Physics Magic ... This time for real ? ... instead of what looks like decades of fraud

Blacklight Power has been saying that their technology is capable of amazing power densities -- e.g. a 10 MW system would occupy one cubic foot. However, that was with a 60-toothed gear spinning at 200 rpm, making the water chamber size a few micro liters, lasting a millisecond, during which two electrodes create a supersonic-expanding plasma that goes into a magnetohydrodyamic converter, then directly into electricity, cleanly, safely. That is the paradigm they were operating under last January when they gave their first public demonstration. And it turns out that there are some significant challenges with that approach.

Since then, they realized that the greatest energy output of the process comes in the form of intense light. And with modern photovoltaic technology, they will be able to convert that light directly to electricity with an even grater power density. Some modern PV systems are able to absorb 1000x focused sunlight. The technology is developed and ready to go, after four decades and trillions of dollars.

Dr. Randall Mills has done an interview, claiming that his company is garnering sales of $40 billion. He is claiming that he will lease the equipment to providers. There will be another demonstration on July 21.

Randell said that the engineering firms they are consulting with say that there are no engineering obstacles to marry the Blacklight system with photovoltaics, but that all systems are Go. All the different engineering problems are covered, including light angle, emission from electrodes, heat dissipation and transfer, and material handling. "This thing is meant to be", is their assessment. They are extraordinarily optimistic this will roll out quickly.

They promise power for 0.1 cents per kwh.



The New Black is Superblack Carbon Nanotube Vantablack that absorbs 99.965% of light

Sensitive electro-optical imaging and target-acquisition systems will achieve new levels of range and sensitivity performance thanks to a UK company’s breakthrough in developing a ‘super black’ material to be launched at the Farnborough International Air Show.

Surrey NanoSystems’ Vantablack® is revolutionary in its ability to be applied to light-weight, temperature-sensitive structures such as aluminium whilst absorbing 99.96% of incident radiation, believed to be the highest-ever recorded.

“Vantablack is a major breakthrough by UK industry in the application of nanotechnology to optical instrumentation. For example, it reduces stray-light, improving the ability of sensitive telescopes to see the faintest stars, and allows the use of smaller, lighter sources in space-borne black body calibration systems. Its ultra-low reflectance improves the sensitivity of terrestrial, space and air-borne instrumentation”, said Ben Jensen, Chief Technology Officer, Surrey NanoSystems.

Carbon nanotubes are incredibly absorbent across a huge range of spectra, from ultraviolet, to visible light, to infrared, to microwaves. Vantablack will be a very good material for stealth aircraft, weapons, and many other military uses. It will also be used on the inside of telescopes and other imaging devices, where absorbing stray radiation can significantly reduce the amount of noise — and thus increase the effective range and resolution).

The fabrication of NanoTube Black, a Vertically Aligned carbon NanoTube Array (VANTA) on aluminium substrates is reported for the first time. The coating on aluminium was realised using a process that employs top down thermal radiation to assist growth, enabling deposition at temperatures below the substrate’s melting point. The NanoTube Black coatings were shown to exhibit directional hemispherical reflectance values of typically less than 1% across wavelengths in the 2.5 µm to 15 µm range. VANTA-coated aluminium substrates were subjected to space qualification testing (mass loss, outgassing, shock, vibration and temperature cycling) before their optical properties were re-assessed. Within measurement uncertainty, no changes to hemispherical reflectance were detected, confirming that NanoTube Black coatings on aluminium are good candidates for Earth Observation (EO) applications.

Optics Express - The partial space qualification of a vertically aligned carbon nanotube coating on aluminium substrates for EO applications





A Pure Gold F35 Fighter Plane would be cheaper

The F-35 program office found that as of January 2014, costs for the F-35 fleet over a 53-year life cycle was $857 billion. Costs for the fighter have been dropping and accounted for the 22 percent life cycle drop since 2010.

The empty weight of an F-35 jet is 32000 pounds. At $1300 per ounce this $670.8 million.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fifth-generation multirole fighters under development to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions with stealth capability. The F-35 has three main models; the F-35A is a conventional takeoff and landing variant, the F-35B is a short take-off and vertical-landing variant, and the F-35C is a carrier-based variant


It is not a gold plated military program... it is pure solid gold.

Future of Aircraft Carriers and mini-carriers

The aircraft carrier is the largest and most complex of all warships and in most cases the most expensive. In addition to the cost of the ship itself, that of the embarked air wing must be considered, not to mention the extensive logistics and training infrastructure needed to keep carriers operating and useful. A recent Naval Postgraduate School study has shown that approximately 46 percent of the Navy’s personnel—officer, enlisted, and civilian—are assigned to positions either on or supporting its carriers. For these and other reasons, there has been almost constant debate over the past ninety years within navies, between navies and air forces, and within governments over the advisability of investing in carriers.

China's third aircraft carrier will probably be nuclear -- a 100,000-ton warship, equal in size, and perhaps in capability, to the Nimitz and Ford-class nuclear aircraft carriers built by Huntington Ingalls.

The United States operates ten aircraft carriers, plus another nine ships that we would refer to as aircraft carriers if they served in any other navy. It is abject silliness to claim that a 45,000 ton flat-decked aircraft-carrying warship is not, in fact, an aircraft carrier.

In April, 2014, the US had the USS America delivered. It is the first of the America-class amphibious assault ships put into service. Unlike most recent amphibious assault ships, USS America and her sister USS Tripoli lack well-decks, instead focusing on aviation facilities. When fully operational, America and Tripoli will operate as many as 20 F-35Bs, potentially playing a critical role in what the Navy projects as the future of air superiority.



July 14, 2014

Spacex has another successful commercial launch and should have Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle certification by the end of 2014

SpaceX successfully carried a half-dozen Orbcomm satellites into space Monday, just days after the rocket Hawthorne-based rocket maker achieved a major milestone in the military launch certification process that opens the door for lucrative contracts with the U.S. government.

The six satellites, which were built by Sierra Nevada Corp. and launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, are the first of 17 that Orbcomm is launching as part of a $230 million expansion of its communication satellite fleet.

China shifting from the world's factory to World Infrastructure builder and funder - China is leveraging its nearly 4 trillion in reserves for global infrastructure projects

Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, known as the BRICS, will approve the creation of the $100 billion reserve fund and $50 billion bank at a July 15-16 summit.

The IMF controls SDR 476 billion and has 90.5 million troy ounces of gold. The IMF’s gold holdings amount to about 90.5 million troy ounces (2,814.1 metric tons), making the IMF the third largest official holder of gold in the world.

The BRICS initiatives are born out of frustration with a lack of participation in global governance, particularly in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, said Arvind Subramanian, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. The measures aren’t big enough to boost growth or cohesion in the group as foreign investor sentiment sours and member states focus on issues close to home, such as Brazil’s elections, the conflict in Ukraine and new economic policy plans in India.

The new development bank, which won’t impose policy requirements on borrowers, will help fill fast-growing infrastructure financing needs, said Kevin Gallagher, professor of international relations at Boston University. The BRICS can also use it to pressure developed countries, particularly the U.S., to advance stalled measures to make global financial institutions more equitable, he said.

“They can say, ‘look, we have an alternative,’” Gallagher said in a phone interview. “It gives you a lot of political leverage.”

With an expected startup capital of $50 billion financed equally by the five members, the bank could lend $3.4 billion per year in a decade, according to a March study by the UN Conference on Trade and Development. That compares with the $61 billion the World Bank expects to lend this year. The BRICS bank could expand to $100 billion as more members are added.

The BRICS bank is a top priority for Modi in India.

The BRICS bank, along with the separate $50 billion Asian infrastructure bank, is another way for China to get higher returns on its $3.9 trillion reserves than it does from buying U.S. Treasuries, said Oliver Rui, professor of finance and accounting at the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai, the favorite city to headquarter the bank.

* Other countries are helping to double what China puts into the BRICS and Asian Infrastructure bank
* China gets more global influence
* China gets help funding more projects which will likely mostly go to best infrastructure building companies in the world (which are the Chinese train, road and bridge companies)
* China shifts from being just the world's factory to the World's funder and builder of Infrastructure


If this works then the developing world will catch up on the backlog of needed infrastructure and the least developed countries should have accelerated development. The least developed countries will no longer be short of roads, rail, water projects and other needed construction.

China avoids or delays any over-development bubble that many critics were claiming.

Clearly the projects that help China get to the mineral resources of other countries will get priority.

The US is the world's policeman and world's shopper but China will be the world factory worker and construction worker and lender.

China would be the Construction worker on the left and the US is the policeman in this representation of the roles in the World Village

Arvind Subramanian says that India can still fix their problems

India's recent budget prepared by incumbent bureaucrats, not incoming politicians. It represented continuity—which surprisingly was endorsed by much of the post-budget commentary—when the need of the hour was change. The following analysis focuses on macroeconomic rather than real sector policies. Modi's vision deserves the highest of grades but the substance and the policy actions were not equal to the goal.

In fairness, the new government has had limited time to put personnel in place and prepare politically for the implementation of its policies to restore confidence and generate growth. That may yet happen. For now, observers and critics should be forthright in their assessment of the 2014 budget. But they should also give this government the benefit of doubt and time to translate its laudable vision into recognizable reality.

July 13, 2014

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 217

1. Atomic Insights - Nonproliferation is a disguised antinuclear energy effort

A 1983 article titled Nuclear power and nuclear weapons: the connection is dangerous is the clearest piece of evidence Rod Adams has found to prove that many of the basic talking points of the nuclear nonproliferation crowd are actually aimed at slowing, halting and reversing the use of nuclear energy.

2. Forbes - Absurd Radiation Limits Are A Trillion Dollar Waste

EPA is thinking of raising the radiation threat levels from the present absurdly low values to something more reasonable. EPA is being pushed by the GAO who rightly considers the present threat level of 25 mrem as a vulnerability in itself because the most dangerous effect of an accidental release, or of a large-sized dirty bomb, is the panic, fed by the low radiation limits themselves.



Carnival of Space 362

Carnival of Space 362 is up at Everyday Spacer

The Meridiani Journal - Titan’s hidden ocean might be as salty as the Dead Sea

Saturn’s moon Titan is known for its methane seas, lakes, and rivers; surprisingly Earth-like in appearance yet distinctly alien at the same time. But there is also evidence for another ocean, this one of water, below the surface. Little is known about this hidden watery world, but now new results suggest it is likely very salty – as much as the Dead Sea on Earth.

The new results come from the study of data sent back by the Cassini spacecraft, which is still orbiting Saturn. They were published last week in the journal Icarus. Cassini obtained new information about Titan’s interior using gravity and…

The Meridiani Journal - New study shows how salts could make liquid water on Mars

The search for evidence of water on Mars, past or present, has been one of the driving forces behind the exploration of the Red Planet for several decades now. While orbiters, landers, and rovers have all found abundant evidence for a lot of water in Mars’ ancient history, the question of whether there could still be any of the wet stuff existing today is still open and unanswered. There are hints, but proof is still elusive. Now, a new study provides…

Vertical and indoor farming works financially for lettuce, kale and some other plants

Here is a calculation that hydronponically grown lettuce is cheaper with a cost of about 4 cents per head. Lettuce can sell for about 0.99 to 1.75.

Philips and GE are supplying special LED lights to lower the energy costs of indoor lettuce farming. They also grow the lettuce in racks so that every two feet there is another layer. This boosts productivity per square foot.

The LED are more energy efficient and the tuned frequency enables the lettuce to grow 2.5 times faster. Productivity and efficiency go up.

There is an indoor farm in Japan that is nearly half the size of a football field (25,000 square feet). It opened on July and it is already producing 10,000 heads of lettuce per day. This would be $300,000 to $500,000 per month of lettuce production. This is $3.6 to 6 million per year.


Warehouses (25000 square feet) in the Bronx or Long Island are $3.8-5 million So indoor farming can be very profitable even in New York.

I think the main selling point is that the vegetables are fresher if the farms are very close to restaurants and to Whole Food style groceries.

In 2010, George Monbiot criticized vertical farming by calculating the lighting cost for growing wheat. Monbiot picked the wrong crop and the wrong technological details.