August 30, 2014

India's 500 MW Fast Breeder Reactor should be commissioned in 2015 and other India Nuclear News

India's indigeneously built Fast Breeder Reactor at Kalpakkam in Tamil Nadu is likely to be commissioned next year, Parliament was informed today. The 500 MW reactor which is part of the second stage in India's three stage nuclear program is complex technology mastered by India.

India is hoping to win Japanese backing for a nuclear energy pact during a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and lure investment into its $85 billion market while addressing Japan's concern about doing business with a nuclear-armed country.

India operates 20 mostly small reactors at six sites with a capacity of 4,780 MW, or 2 percent of its total power capacity, according to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited. The government hopes to increase its nuclear capacity to 63,000 MW by 2032 by adding nearly 30 reactors.

Soft long landing forecast for China's economy

[CNBC] Dan Steinbock, a research director of International Business at India China and America Institute (USA), visiting fellow at Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (China) and in the EU-Center (Singapore) provides his analysis of China's economy.

According to Western critics, China is now in the middle of a hard landing. In reality, China is now in the middle of a soft or long landing, hoping to subdue the housing markets and local debt, even as the very foundations of the economy are under reforms.

In 2014, real GDP growth will be around 7.2 percent to 7.5 percent in annual terms and could remain around 5.5 percent to 6.5 percent until the early 2020s. Inflation will stay around 2 percent to 2.5 percent.

This outcome, however, does require more support from policy makers. While "big stimulus packages" are now history, Beijing could deploy temporary increases in fiscal spending, targeted cuts in reserve requirement ratio, new supplementary lending, as well as support for consumption and investment.

Structurally, China is in a transformation to a post-industrial economy, even as it seeks to manage volatile property markets, deleverage in local and regional governments, while easing growth pains with social financing.

Nanoscale assembly line of biological molecules

ETH researchers have realised a long-held dream: inspired by an industrial assembly line, they have developed a nanoscale production line for the assembly of biological molecules.

The creation of such an assembly line at molecular level has been a long-held dream of many nanoscientists. “It would enable us to assemble new complex substances or materials for specific applications,” says Professor Viola Vogel, head of the Laboratory of Applied Mechanobiology at ETH Zurich. Vogel has been working on this ambitious project together with her team and has recently made an important step. In a paper published in the latest issue of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Lab on a Chip journal, the ETH researchers presented a molecular assembly line featuring all the elements of a conventional production line: a mobile assembly carrier, an assembly object, assembly components attached at various assembly stations and a motor (including fuel) for the assembly carrier to transport the object from one assembly station to the next.

Production line three times thinner than a hair

At the nano level, the assembly line takes the form of a microfluid platform into which an aqueous solution is pumped. This platform is essentially a canal system with the main canal just 30 micrometres wide – three times thinner than a human hair. Several inflows and outflows lead to and from the canal at right angles. The platform was developed by Vogel’s PhD student Dirk Steuerwald and the prototype was created in the clean room at the IBM Research Centre in Rüschlikon.

The canal system is fitted with a carpet made of the motor protein kinesin. This protein has two mobile heads that are moved by the energy-rich molecule ATP, which supplies the cells of humans and other life forms with energy and therefore make it the fuel of choice in this artificial system.

Assembling molecules step-by-step

The ETH researchers used microtubules as assembly carriers. Microtubules are string-like protein polymers that together with kinesin transport cargo around the cells. With its mobile heads, kinesin binds to the microtubules and propels them forward along the surface of the device. This propulsion is further supported by the current generated by the fluid being pumped into the canal system. Five inflows and outflows direct the current in the main canal and divide it into strictly separated segments: a loading area, from where the assembly carriers depart, two assembly stations and two end stations, where the cargo is delivered.

On the nano assembly line, tiny biological tubes called microtubules serve as transporters for the assembly of several molecular objects. (Graphics: Samuel Hertig)

Lab on a Chip - Nanoshuttles propelled by motor proteins sequentially assemble molecular cargo in a microfluidic device

NASA research shows Hybrid-Electric Propulsion can Achieve 4 times Increase in Cruise Efficiency for a VTOL Aircraft

Engineers at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., are studying the concept of vertical takeoff and landing electric engine drones with models such as the unmanned aerial system GL-10 Greased Lightning. The GL-10, which has a 10-foot wingspan, recently flew successfully while tethered. Free-flight tests are planned in the fall of 2014.

This research has helped lead to NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate efforts to better understand the potential of electric propulsion across all types, sizes and missions for aviation.

NASA says that a hybrid-electric design is “scale free” — meaning the same principles could be used to revolutionize everything from helicopters, to military UAVs, to massive jetliners.

NASA has a 21 page study - Benefits of Hybrid-Electric Propulsion to Achieve 4x
Increase in Cruise Efficiency for a VTOL Aircraft

Google X reveals Project Wing its two year old drone package delivery program

[The Atlantic] For two years, Google has been working to build flying robot drone that can deliver products across a city in a minute or two. Project Wing is a secret drone program that’s been running for two years at Google X.

Taken with the company’s other robotics investments, Google’s corporate posture has become even more ambitious. Google doesn’t just want to organize all the world’s information. Google wants to organize all the world.

During this initial phase of development, Google landed on an unusual design called a tail sitter, a hybrid of a plane and a helicopter that takes off vertically, then rotates to a horizontal position for flying around. For delivery, it hovers and winches packages down to the ground. At the end of the tether, there’s a little bundle of electronics they call the “egg,” which detects that the package has hit the ground, detaches from the delivery, and is pulled back up into the body of the vehicle.

Andreas Raptopoulos and his company Matternet were launched from Singularity University. Matternet has been working to build a business around delivering medicines and other high-value goods in places without roads. They’ve tested in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Bhutan.

Raptopoulous’ vision for the future of drone delivery is very different from Google’s. He imagines not an anywhere-to-anywhere free for all, but that drones will carry goods to landing depots run by local people who build their own small businesses around the UAV service. He doesn’t see this type of service cutting into the logistics business in rich countries, at least not for a long while.

[Wall Street Journal] has also testing delivery drones and those were featured in a 60 minutes segment in December 2013. Domino's Pizza tested delivering pies via drone in 2013.

Google said a 5-foot-wide single-wing prototype from its Project Wing carried supplies including candy bars, dog treats, cattle vaccines, water and radios to two farmers in Queensland, Australia, earlier this month. Google's drones are 2½ feet high and have four propellers that move into different positions for different stages of flight. Packages fit into a gap in the middle of the wing. Google said it began test flights last year.

Google aims to have the drones flying programmed routes at altitudes of 130 feet to 200 feet with the push of a button. Precise navigation will be needed to pick the most efficient routes while controlling noise, respecting the privacy and safety of people on the ground and delivering items to an area the size of a doorstep, Google said.

Wired shows a picture of a fleet of Google X drones.

August 29, 2014

Ukrainian president says 15000 russian soldiers have invaded

[Newsweek] Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that Russian forces had been deployed in Ukrainian territory amid claims that around 15,000 Russian soldiers have been sent to the Donetsk region.

Reports of intensifying Russian military activity on its border with eastern Ukraine have increased in the last 12 hours with Reuters reporting spotting two Russian military armored columns near the Ukrainian-Russian border, one of them firmly on Ukrainian territory, the other driving back into Russia with wounded soldiers.

As fighting has intensified, the Ukrainian town of Novoazovsk was captured by separatist forces this morning according to the Ukrainian Defence and Security Council’s social media.

[] A British government source told CNN on Friday that Russia has moved 4,000 to 5,000 military personnel -- a figure far higher than one U.S. official's earlier claim of 1,000 troops. Some 20,000 troops are on border and "more may be on the way," the source added.

The Ukrainain president is thus saying that the bulk of the Russian troops that were on the border have crossed over.

The UK source, giving his government's analysis of Russian troop movements, surmised that right now "the primary role of the current Russian deployments inside Ukraine is probably to assist, support and take the pressure off the separatist forces in order to maintain pressure on Kiev to decentralize.

"However, we are not ruling out more ambitious plans, including a land corridor from the Russian border to Crimea."

ARPA-E will provide $30 million for nuclear fusion research

ARPA-E is making up to $30 million in funding available (DE-FOA-0001184) for

Accelerating Low-cost Plasma Heating and Assembly (ALPHA)

ALPHA seeks to support innovative R&D on low-cost tools to aid in the future development of fusion power.

An ARPA-E program seeks to develop and demonstrate low-cost tools to aid in the development of fusion power, with a focus on approaches to produce thermonuclear plasmas in the final density range of 10^18-10^23 ions per cubic centimeter. The program goal is to create a toolset that will allow a significant reduction in facilities costs for fusion development and to enable rapid learning through a high shot rate at a low cost-per-shot.

IBM Watson Ushers in a New Era of Data-Driven Accelerated Science Discoveries including faster progress versus cancer and other disease

IBM today announced significant advances in Watson's cognitive computing capabilities that are enabling researchers to accelerate the pace of scientific breakthroughs by discovering previously unknown connections in Big Data.

- Next Milestone in Cognitive Computing is Accelerating Scientific and Industrial Research
- Baylor College of Medicine Speeds Understanding of the Biology of Diseases
- Johnson and Johnson, Sanofi and New York Genome Center Launch Life Science Research Projects

Available now as a cloud service, IBM's Watson Discovery Advisor is designed to scale and accelerate discoveries by research teams. It reduces the time needed to test hypotheses and formulate conclusions that can advance their work -- from months to days and days to just hours -- bringing new levels of speed and precision to research and development.

Building on Watson's ability to understand nuances in natural language, Watson Discovery Advisor can understand the language of science, such as how chemical compounds interact, making it a uniquely powerful tool for researchers in life sciences and other industries.

Researchers and scientists from leading academic, pharmaceutical and other commercial research centers have begun deploying IBM's new Watson Discovery Advisor to rapidly analyze and test hypotheses using data in millions of scientific papers available in public databases. A new scientific research paper is published nearly every 30 seconds, which equals more than a million annually (Source: CiteSeerx). According to the National Institutes of Health, a typical researcher reads about 23 scientific papers per month, which translates to nearly 300 per year, making it humanly impossible to keep up with the ever-growing body of scientific material available.

August 28, 2014

Neutral Particle Beam Magsails for fast interplanetary delivery of small cargos

At Centauri Dreams, James Benford looks more closely at particle beam driven magsails. He has found a problem for interstellar missions but promise for interplanetary missions and an interplanetary infrastructure.

The first column shows a fast interplanetary probe, with high interplanetary-scale velocity, acceleration 100 m/sec2, 10 gees, which a nonhuman cargo can sustain. Time required to reach this velocity is 27 minutes, at which time the sail has flown to 135,000 km. The power required for the accelerator is 24GW. If the particle energy is 50MeV, well within state-of-the-art, then the required current is 490A. How long would an interplanetary trip take? If we take the average distance to Mars as 1.5 AU, the probe will be there in 8.7 days. Therefore this qualifies as a Mars Fast Track accelerator.

An advanced probe, at 100 gees acceleration, requires 0.78 TW power and the current is 15 kA. It takes only 34 hours to reach Mars. At such speeds the outer solar system is accessible in a matter of weeks. For example, Saturn can be reached by a direct ascent in the time as short as 43 days.

A very advanced probe, an Interstellar Precursor, at 1000 gees acceleration, reaches 0.8% of light speed. It has a power requirement 34 TW and the current is 676 kA. It takes only 8 hours to reach Mars. At such speeds the outer solar system is accessible in a matter of days. For example, Saturn can be reached by a direct ascent in the time as short as a day. The Oort Cloud at 2,000 AU, can be reached in 6 years.

James Benford replied to some of the Centauri Dream commenters in another Centauri Dream article.

Google Lunar Xprize has big Milestones through October 2014 and for the grand prize in late 2015

To win the grand prize of the Google Lunar Xprize ($20 million), private teams (with no more than 10% in government funding) must:

* Land a robot safely on the Moon
* Move 500 meters on, above, or below the Moon’s surface; and
* Send back HDTV Mooncasts for everyone to enjoy

….And this must all be completed before the December 31st, 2015 deadline! There are other prizes, too, for missions like surviving the lunar night and visiting an Apollo site.

XPRIZE and Google have incorporated Milestone Prizes into the Google Lunar XPRIZE in order to reward teams who achieve key milestones on their way to ready their subsystems for launch.

The Milestone Prizes, totalling US$6 million, are for demonstrating (via actual testing and analysis) robust hardware and software to overcome key technical risks in the areas of imaging, mobility and lander systems — all three being necessary to achieve a successful Google Lunar XPRIZE mission. Milestone Prizes are available in each of those three categories and the prize value and maximum number of winning teams for each are summarized below.

There are still 16 active teams. There are five leading teams who are finalists for at least one of the milestone prizes.

Astrobotic and Moon Express would be considered the leaders are they are finalists in all three milestone prizes. Astrobotic also has booked a rocket launch on a Spacex Falcon 9 for October 2015. They are the primary payload and have sold secondary payload space to defray costs. If Astrobotic and Moon Express succeed they plan to perform lunar missions for NASA and other space agencies.

In April 2011, Astrobotic received a $599,000 two-year contract to develop a scalable gravity offload device for testing rover mobility in simulated lunar gravity under NASA's Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR).

On April 30, 2014 NASA announced that Astrobotic Technologies was one of the three companies selected for the Lunar CATALYST initiative. NASA is negotiating a 3 year no-funds-exchanged Space Act Agreement (SAA). The Griffin Lander may be involved

Astrobotic plans on further robotic missions to the moon and Mars.
Astrobotic Griffin Lander

Moon Express is working with Autodesk Moon Express will send a series of robotic spacecraft to the Moon for ongoing exploration and commercial development. The opportunity is simply driven by advances in technology. What used to require the unlimited budgets of a superpower, are now within reach of private enterprise.

On June 30, 2011, the company held its first successful test flight of a prototype lunar lander system called the Lander Test Vehicle (LTV) that was developed in partnership with NASA.

In mid-2012, Moon Express announced that it will work with International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) to put a shoebox-sized astronomical telescope on the Moon. Additional details were released in July 2013, including that there would be two telescopes: a 2 meters (6 ft 7 in) radio telescope as well as an optical telescope. The preferred location is 5 kilometers (3.1 mi)-high Malapert crater, with current plans to land the mission no earlier than 2018.

As of November 2012, MoonEx has 20 employees, plans to stage a public demonstration in the fall of 2013, and has announced that they will be ready to land on the Moon by early 2015.

In December 2013, MoonEx unveiled the MX-1 lunar lander, a toroidal robotic lander that uses high-test hydrogen peroxide as its rocket propellant to support vertical landing on the Lunar surface.

On April 30, 2014 NASA announced that Moon Express Inc. was one of the three companies selected for the Lunar CATALYST initiative. NASA is negotiating a 3 year no-funds-exchanged Space Act Agreement (SAA)

Moon Express MX-1 Lunar Lander

Undersea tunnels and high speed rail will bring people and freight to mostly 8 hours trips or less from Beijing within China

Construction of an extraordinary underwater high-speed rail tunnel in China’s Bohai Strait is likely to start some time after 2016, Chinese media report.

The proposed undersea link would stretch more than 100km under Bohai Bay to become the world’s longest undersea tunnel, connecting the cities of Dalian and Yantai.

Experts say it will put the two cities within a 40-minute train ride of each other, where now a ferry-ride takes eight hours, while driving around Bohai Bay is a 1,400km road trip.

Wang Mengshu, the rail expert, said all provincial capitals will be linked to Beijing via high-speed rail, and that travelling times will be reduced to eight hours, except on routes between Beijing, Urumqi and Lhasa.

Any two of these provincial capitals will also be linked by high speed rail, he added.

Wang pointed out the coastal railway stretching from northeast China via 11 provincial regions to south China's Hainan province, covering a length of 5700 kilometres, as a crown achievement.

The coastal railway will traverse Bohai and Qiongzhou straits via an underwater channel. Once complete, it will become a main route for energy transportation, he added.

China is also mulling a railway that stretches from China to Singapore via Thailand and Malaysia

August 27, 2014

US oil production again reaches a new post mid-1980s record

US total all liquids oil and crude oil daily production again reached new post mid-1980s peaks. Crude oil production was at 8.63 million barrels per day. It is about 320,000 barrels per day from passing the mid-1980s peak. The overall US peak production was in 1970 at about 9.6 million barrels per day.

North Dakota oil 1.09 million barrels in June 2014. North Dakota oil production is believed to be about 1.2 million barrels per day in August.

North Dakota and Texas oil production is driving the increases in US oil production.

New Cray GPU supercomputer will provide a petaflop of power in 4 Cabinets

[HPCWire] The new Cray CS-Storm, which offers up to 8 NVIDIA K40s per 2U server and a peak performance of 11 teraflops per Ivy Bridge-outfitted node, is set to push key applications that require more GPU scalability to new heights.

The system, which is based on the Cray CS300 super, is designed to keep the accelerators cool enough to operate at full speed. The 48U standard rack can accommodate 22 of the 2U nodes, which means that with 2 Ivy Bridges and the GPUs, users are looking at around 250 teraflops per rack or a petaflop of performance for a 4-cabinet purchase. Cray’s Barry Bolding told us that the company will release more information on future Intel generations for the host processor.

It’s not just about adding GPUs into the dense mix with this system, however. Cray has tuned the GPU workloads they’re targeting for maximum bandwidth and accelerator performance on the cooling and data movement fronts with a couple of notable features.

While these are air-cooled systems, as the graphic below shows, the emphasis is on cooling through front to back airflow to keep the GPUs humming without overheating or without having to run them at reduced wattage. In addition to airflow, this allows for expandability options since it will be possible to add future generations of accelerators into the box while still allowing the desired density and the ability to cool all 8 of the GPUs at the same time.

Cruising at Mach 3 or a bit more with a supercativation submarine

What power is needed to get to mach 3 constant velocity for a supercativating submarine ? A Supercativating submarine could in theory achieve about 3600 miles per hour but powering the propulsion is a technical challenge.

Goatguy provides the energy for water displaced, times its density, times ½, times its outward radial velocity squared would be the amount of energy invested every second in the slipstream bubble's frontal profile. Maybe more, but this is kind of a minimum. The drag for supercativiation is 200,000 times less so the water displacement is an approximation.

The 1,000 meter per second bullet with a 20° cone uses 1,500,000 J/s (watts) of energy to perpetually keep its 1000 m/s velocity. That is due entirely to the displaced water, and its outward radial velocity dependent on the angle-of-attack of the frontal cone. There's no provision for invested-energy recycling (allowing the collapse of the bubble to propel the tail, to whatever degree water dynamics allows such action), but I'm betting the situation isn't much better at that end, either. Maybe what, get back 70% of the energy? That'd be nice. So, maybe 500,000 W to keep the bullet flying.

And that's a bullet with a cross section of π × 0.0045² m². Now wait a moment: here's the bad news … at the cross-section of a useful human scale sub (5 meters across, which is pretty cramped, considering all that nuclear reactor equipment and such needs also to be on board), the ratio is (D/d)² or (5 ÷ 0.0045)² = 300,000× larger. 300,000 × 500,000 W = 150 billion watts. Assuming that you get back 70% of the invested displacement energy.

German Type VII U-boat submarines were 4.7 meter across at the beam for their pressurized hull

The longest submarine was the USS Triton which were 136 meters long.

A MUCH pointier cone (4°, it only requires 4 gigawatts of motive energy. Well, at 1°, where the ship is 100× longer than it is wide (500 meters long, for a 5 meter wide ship.), you're still looking at 500 megawatts of energy to keep the thing chugging along at Mach3.

I do not think the 1° submarine is unreasonable.

August 26, 2014

DARPA 5 beyond GPS technologies for position, navigation and timing

As revolutionary as GPS has been, however, it has its limitations. GPS signals cannot be received underground or underwater and can be significantly degraded or unavailable during solar storms. More worrisome is that adversaries can jam signals. GPS continues to be vital, but its limitations in some environments could make it an Achilles’ heel if warfighters rely on it as their sole source of PNT information. To address this problem, several DARPA programs are exploring innovative technologies and approaches that could eventually provide reliable, highly accurate PNT capabilities when GPS capabilities are degraded or unavailable.

DARPA’s current PNT portfolio includes five programs, focused wholly or in part on PNT-related technology:

1. Adaptable Navigation Systems (ANS) is developing new algorithms and architectures for rapid plug-and-play integration of PNT sensors across multiple platforms, with the intent to reduce development costs and shrink deployment time from months to days. ANS aims to create better inertial measurement devices by using cold-atom interferometry, which measures the relative acceleration and rotation of a cloud of atoms stored within a sensor. The goal is to leverage quantum physical properties to create extremely accurate inertial measurement devices that can operate for long periods without needing external data to determine time and position. Additionally, ANS seeks to exploit non-navigational electromagnetic signals--including commercial satellite, radio and television signals and even lightning strikes--to provide additional points of reference for PNT. In combination, these various sources are much more abundant and have stronger signals than GPS, and so could provide position information in both GPS-denied and GPS-degraded environments.

DARPA is pioneering the next-generation of PNT capabilities beyond GPS, which includes using miniaturization, pulsed lasers, quantum physics and even lightning strikes for external navigational fixes.

DARPA aims to safely make engineered biological systems more robust and stable to enable new groundbreaking capabilities

The development of increasingly sophisticated techniques and tools to sequence, synthesize and manipulate genetic material has led to the rapidly maturing discipline of synthetic biology. To date, work in synthetic biology has focused primarily on manipulating individual species of domesticated organisms to perform specific tasks, such as producing medicines or fuels. These species tend to be both relatively fragile (requiring precise environmental conditions to survive) and relatively unstable (subject to losing their engineered advantages through genetic attrition or recombination). The costs of maintaining required environmental controls and detecting and compensating for genetic alterations are substantial and severely limit the widespread application of synthetic biology to U.S. national security missions.

To help address these challenges, DARPA has created the Biological Robustness in Complex Settings (BRICS) program. BRICS seeks to develop the fundamental understanding and component technologies needed to increase the biological robustness and stability of engineered organisms while maintaining or enhancing the safe application of those organisms in complex biological environments. The goal is to create the technical foundation for future engineered biological systems to achieve greater biomedical, industrial and strategic potential.

DARPA’s Biological Robustness in Complex Settings (BRICS) program seeks to develop the fundamental understanding and component technologies needed to increase the biological robustness and stability of engineered organisms while maintaining or enhancing the safe use of those organisms in complex biological environments. The goal is to create the technical foundation for future engineered biological systems to achieve greater biomedical, industrial and strategic potential.

Supercavitation projectiles potentially have 200,000 less drag than a regular object in water

Here is a summary of supercavitation an article from Caltech written in 2001.

This relates to a recent report that chinese researchers have made progress overcoming a few of the problems for implementing supercativation.

For ships traveling faster than 60 miles per hour, propeller-induced cavitation is unavoidable. Supercavitation offers a solution.

In supercavitation, the small gas bubbles produced by cavitation expand and combine to for mone large, stable, and predictable bubble around the supercavitating object. The bubble is longer than the object, so only the leading edge of the object actually contacts liquid water. The rest of the object is surrounded by low-pressure water vapor, significantly lowering the drag on the super-cavitating object. Modern propellers intentionally induce supercavitation to reap the benefits of lower drag.

A super cavity can also form around a specially designed projectile. The key is creating a zone of low pressure around the entire object by carefully shaping the nose and firing the projectile at a sufficiently high velocity. At high velocity , water flows off the edge of the nose with a speed and angle that prevent it from wrapping around the surface of the projectile, producing a low-pressure bubble around the object. With an appropriate nose shape and a speed over 110 miles per hour, the entire projectile may reside in a vapor cavity.

Since drag is proportional to the density of the surrounding fluid, the drag on a super-cavitating projectile is dramatically reduced, allowing supercavitating projectiles to attain higher speeds than conventional projectiles. In water , a rough approximation predicts that a supercavitating projectile has 200,000 times less skin friction than a normal projectile. The potential applications are impressive.

Water has 1000 times more drag than air. Supercaviation has the potential for an enclosed object in water to attain higher speed. The speed of sound is 5 times higher in water than in air.

Shanghai to San Francisco in 100 minutes by Chinese supersonic supercavitating submarine with molten salt nuclear reactors

[South China Morning Post] China has moved a step closer to creating a supersonic submarine that could travel from Shanghai to San Francisco in less than two hours.

Since drag is proportional to the density of the surrounding fluid, the drag on a super-cavitating projectile is dramatically reduced, allowing supercavitating projectiles to attain higher speeds than conventional projectiles. In water , a rough approximation predicts that a supercavitating projectile has 200,000 times less skin friction than a normal projectile. The potential applications are impressive.

Here we will describe the advances that the chinese researchers have made towards practical supercavitating submarines and the need for molten salt nuclear reactors to power them. Molten salt nuclear reactors are under commercial development in Canada, China and other countries. Molten salt reactors could achieve 50 times the power density of current nuclear reactors used in nuclear submarines.

A 650 MW thermal integrated molten salt reactor with a supercritical CO2 turbine would have about 400 MWe of power with about 200 tons of weight. This would be about 2 kW per kg.

There have been other molten salt designs with about 18 KW of power per liter. Those are early generation designs and the engineers believe that they can ultimately achieve power density of about 100 kW per liter.

On the issue of wildlife in the ocean, the submarines would need to find a depth where there is less sealife. There would also be the need for satellite and other technology to scan the path ahead. Also, beacons could be placed that make sealife clear out for a specified safe path.

New technology developed by a team of scientists at Harbin Institute of Technology's Complex Flow and Heat Transfer Lab has made it easier for a submarine, or torpedo, to travel at extremely high speeds underwater.

Li Fengchen, professor of fluid machinery and engineering, said the team's innovative approach meant they could now create the complicated air "bubble" required for rapid underwater travel. "We are very excited by its potential," he said

Water produces more friction, or drag, on an object than air, which means conventional submarines cannot travel as fast as an aircraft.

However, during the cold war, the Soviet military developed a technology called supercavitation, which involves enveloping a submerged vessel inside an air bubble to avoid problems caused by water drag.

A Soviet supercavitation torpedo called Shakval was able to reach a speed of 370km/h or more - much faster than any other conventional torpedoes.

The United States is known to be developing vessels and weapons that employ supercavitation technology. Technology reportedly under development at the Office of Naval Research includes a 6.25-inch-diameter self-protection weapon under study for a supercavitation counter-torpedo to defend surface ships and submarines.

The U.S. Navy Advanced High Speed Underwater Munition program has already demonstrated the effectiveness of supercavitation high-speed underwater bullets. When fired from an underwater gun, these projectiles have successfully broken the 767 mph speed of sound in water. Supercavitation bullets have also been developed for use in mine-clearance when fired from a helicopter

In theory, a supercavitating vessel could reach the speed of sound underwater, or about 5,800km/h, which would reduce the journey time for a transatlantic underwater cruise to less than an hour, and for a transpacific journey to about 100 minutes, according to a report by California Institute of Technology in 2001.

CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing corrects Duchenne muscular dystrophy in mice

Researchers used a technique called CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genome editing, which can precisely remove a mutation in DNA, allowing the body’s DNA repair mechanisms to replace it with a normal copy of the gene. The benefit of this over other gene therapy techniques is that it can permanently correct the “defect” in a gene rather than just transiently adding a “functional” one, said Dr. Eric Olson, Director of the Hamon Center for Regenerative Science and Medicine at UT Southwestern and Chairman of Molecular Biology.

Using CRISPR/Cas9, the Hamon Center team was able to correct the genetic defect in the mouse model of DMD and prevent the development of features of the disease in boys, which causes progressive muscle weakness and degeneration, often along with breathing and heart complications.

Potential of CRISPR Gene editing

George Church believes that CRISPR gene editing can be used to modify the human genome. Initially it will cure many human diseases. Later it will be used to enhance human health by altering genes for longevity.

George Church plans to use CRISPR gene therapy to incorporate what they learn from the supercentenarian studies, long lived animals (tortoises) and whatever they must create new using synthetic biology.

George Church is a giant in gene sequencing, synthetic biology and DNA science. In the October, 2012 Discover Magazine, George Church described some ideas he has for achieving physical immortality (indeterminant lifespans) via Synthetic biology.

Optomec Receives Order from FAPS Institute to Enable Printing of ‘Artificial Muscles’

Aerosol Jet Print Engine will be used to develop automated manufacturing of bio-electronic actuators for robotic and prosthesis applications

Optomec, a leading provider of production grade additive manufacturing systems , today announced that the Factory Automation and Production Systems (FAPS) Institute at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) has purchased an Aerosol Jet Quad Print Engine. The versatile print engine will be used to develop an automated production environment for the manufacturer of artificial muscles (also known as Dielectric Elastomer Actuators –DEAs) that can be used in robots, games and medical applications. Because the production of DEAs require printing of ultra thin layers of elastomer film, silicone and electrodes, the ability of Aerosol Jet technology to print a variety of materials and at dimensions below 10-microns make it ideally suited for the artificial muscle application.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 223

1. From ANS Nuclear Cafe - Unintended Anti-Nuclear Consequences Lurking in the EPA Clean Power Plan" by Remy Devoe

A detailed analysis of the U.S. EPA Clean Power Plan indicates that 15 states are incentivized to shut down all their nuclear units and replace them with carbon-intensive natural gas. This would be a most detrimental consequence -- but the comment period on the EPA carbon rule is open until October 16th and nuclear experts and advocates are urged to comment

2. ANS Nuclear Cafe - Proposed Revisions to Nuclear Plant Release/Public Exposure Regulations: ANS Response to EPA" by Jim Hopf

In January the U.S. EPA proposed reviewing its regulations on public radiation exposure limits from nuclear power plant operations – Jim Hopf examines the American Nuclear Society’s response, and his own.

Moving to Canada will allow Burger King to pay 26.5% taxes instead of 35%

Burger King (BKW) could lower its tax bill through a merger with Canadian coffee and doughnut chain Tim Hortons (THI) and moving its headquarters to Ontario, Canada.

KPMG ranked Canada first among 10 countries for general tax competitiveness this year, saying tax costs in Canada are 46.4% lower than the U.S. The U.S. has federal corporate tax rate of 35%. Including Canada’s 15% rate, Ontario has a provincial corporate tax rate of 26.5%.

NBF Note - Taxes at the local and state level still have to be paid. This will not change the fact that franchises in California have to pay all California taxes for any money made in the state. US Federal taxes have to be paid for money made in the United states. This has implications on overseas revenue, which is one of the main reasons for this merger.

Aside from the tax implications, Morgan Stanley analysts believe overseas growth is the primary motivation behind Burger King’s interest in buying Tim Hortons

Proximal micromagnets increases the speed of quantum manipulation in silicon without adding measurable noise

Researchers report the fabrication and operation of a qubit in a double-quantum dot in a silicon/silicon–germanium (Si/SiGe) heterostructure in which the qubit states are singlet and triplet states of two electrons. The significant advance over previous work is that a proximal micromagnet is used to create a large local magnetic field difference between the two sides of the quantum dot, which increases the manipulability significantly without introducing measurable noise.

The integrated micromagnet provides a promising path toward fast manipulation in materials with small concentrations of nuclear spins, including both natural silicon (Si) and isotopically enriched 28S.

"The next steps in our research are to increase both the magnitude of the field difference between the quantum dots, and the number of qubits by increasing the number of quantum dots," Coppersmith tells "Both steps are being implemented in new devices that have been designed and are currently being fabricated. We're also working on other qubit implementations in silicon quantum dots all of which use electrical initialization, manipulation and readout, and therefore have the potential advantages of integrability and scalability." Moreover, Eriksson points out that being able to control local magnetic fields in a nanoelectronic device could be very useful for spintronics.

Arxiv - Two-axis control of a singlet-triplet qubit with an integrated micromagnet

Researchers demonstrate coherent quantum control around two axes of the Bloch sphere of a singlet-triplet qubit in a silicon quantum dot. The relatively large magnetic field difference between the dots required to achieve two-axis control is implemented using a proximal micromagnet. By measuring the inhomogeneous spin coherence time T∗2 at many different values of the exchange coupling J and two different ∆B fields, we provide evidence that the dominant limits on T∗2 arise from charge noise and from coupling to nuclear spins.

August 25, 2014

DARPA project to develop revolutionary miniaturization and assembly methods at scales a 100,000 times smaller than current state-of-the-art technology

DARPA has created the Atoms to Product (A2P) program to help overcome the challenges of working at the nanoscale to 100 microns. The program seeks to develop enhanced technologies for assembling atomic-scale pieces. It also seeks to integrate these components into materials and systems from nanoscale up to product scale in ways that preserve and exploit distinctive nanoscale properties.

“We want to explore new ways of putting incredibly tiny things together, with the goal of developing new miniaturization and assembly methods that would work at scales 100,000 times smaller than current state-of-the-art technology,” said John Main, DARPA program manager. “If successful, A2P could help enable creation of entirely new classes of materials that exhibit nanoscale properties at all scales. It could lead to the ability to miniaturize materials, processes and devices that can’t be miniaturized with current technology, as well as build three-dimensional products and systems at much smaller sizes.”

This degree of scaled assembly is common in nature, Main continued. “Plants and animals, for example, are effectively systems assembled from atomic- and molecular-scale components a million to a billion times smaller than the whole organism. We’re trying to lay a similar foundation for developing future materials and devices.”

DARPA’s Atoms to Product (A2P) program seeks to develop enhanced technologies for assembling atomic-scale items, and integrating these components into materials and systems from nanoscale up to product scale in ways that preserve and exploit distinctive nanoscale properties.

Comically Obvious Scammers Reduce the False Positives in Identifying Super-Gullible Rubes

Far-fetched tales of West African riches strike most as comical. Microsoft Research analysis suggests that is an advantage to the attacker, not a disadvantage. Since his attack has a low density of victims the Nigerian scammer has an over-riding need to reduce false positives. By sending an email that repels all but the most gullible the scammer gets the most promising marks to self-select, and tilts the true to false positive ratio in his favor.

GDP comparisons of the US, Europe, China, India, and Japan from 1980 to 2018

Professor Wendell Cox has used the 2013 IMF economic statistical data to make comparisons between the US, Europe, China, India, and Japan from 1980 to 2018.

There was a Worldbank adjustment of purchasing power parity based on a new 2011 survey. This result boosted the purchasing power parity (PPP) levels of China and India by about 24%.

Europe has lost about 25-30% PPP GDP relative to the United States from 1980 to 2014 and is expected to lose more from 2014 to 2018.

Europe's GDP performance is 15% behind Japan's 1990s lost decade economic performance

Japan's decades post 1990 are known as 'the lost decades' but GDP per capita growth was comparable to that in the US and Europe. Japan never really experienced any major decline in production or anywhere near double digit unemployment.

Europe is currently progressing through a lost decade that is showing worse GDP performance for the 7 years since the financial crisis began.

Seeking Alpha describes how he eurozone is resembling Japan's lost decades ever closer on a host of metrics, including demographics, growth, inflation, yields and debts. In some respects, the eurozone crisis actually resembles the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The Euroarea as a whole is still at about zero GDP growth since 2007. Europe would need about 15% GDP growth over the next three years to catch up to Japan's economic performance from 1990-2000.

Europe will need more than 2.0% GDP growth for several years to catch up to Japan lost decades sometime after 2020.

Carnival of Space 368

The Carnival of Space 368 is up at Photos to Space.

Universe Today - When Saturn is at its closest to Earth, it’s three-quarters of a billion miles away — or more than a billion kilometers! That makes these raw images from the ringed planet all the more remarkable.

Space io9 - Engineers unfolded the James Webb Space Telescope's spine in the world's largest clean room in preparation for decking it with mirrors like a giant, glittering Christmas tree.

August 24, 2014

Goals and Predictions from the SENS 2014 Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference

At the SENS 2014 Rejuvenation Biotechnology Conference, I spoke with George Church.

George feels that reversing aging is an easier goal than slowing aging. There has been proof of reversing aging with the resetting of cells back to a pluripotent stem cell state.

Reversing aging is science which is faster to test. Slowing aging can take at least 5 years and often decades to prove, while reversing aging can be done quickly if biomarkers are reversed or reset.

George Church plans to use CRISPR gene therapy to incorporate what they learn from the supercentenarian studies, long lived animals (tortoises) and whatever they must create new using synthetic biology.

Peter Diamandis discussed his Human Longevity Inc startup which he co-founded with Craig Venter.

Human Longevity Inc has the Goal of adding 30-40 years of healthy lifespan.

They are data driven company.

Human genome and phenotype data, microbiome, full body MRI, metabolomics, proteomics
that makes the premier human health database.

Cellgene is an investor and made their stem cell lines available.

San Francisco Bay Area had a 6.0 earthquake at 3:20 AM, The 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake was 6.9

There was a 6.0 earthquake near Napa, California.

Nearby Cities

6km (4mi) NW of American Canyon, California
9km (6mi) SSW of Napa, California
13km (8mi) NNW of Vallejo, California
14km (9mi) SE of Sonoma, California
82km (51mi) WSW of Sacramento, California

The earthquake lies within a 70-km-wide (44 miles) set of major faults of the San Andreas Fault system that forms the boundary between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates. The persistent northwestward movement of the Pacific plate relative to North America primarily causes right-lateral slip across the major faults, but also causes deformation between the major faults. The ongoing complex deformation field is revealed by modern geodetic surveys and earthquake patterns as well as the regional geologic structure. The earthquake is located at the eastern shore of San Pablo Bay between two major active fault systems: the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault system on the west and the Concord-Green Valley Fault system on the east. The earthquake occurred near the well-known West Napa Fault, and the less well known Carneros-Franklin Faults, which juxtapose different suites of rocks. Although there are several faults in the region of the earthquake, only the West Napa Fault is known to have displaced Holocene-age sediment — which is positive evidence of surface fault rupture in the last 11,000 years.

Historically, in this region shaking sufficient to seriously damage structures at Mare Island occurred during the M6.8 1868 Hayward Fault earthquake, the M7.8 1906 San Andreas Fault earthquake, and particularly during the M6.3 1898 Mare Island earthquake. The 1898 earthquake may have occurred about 20 km (12 miles) to the northwest on the southern Rodgers Creek Fault. Even larger nearby events than the 1898 earthquake can be expected in the future. In addition, the epicentral region of this earthquake is depicted on the USGS National Seismic Hazard Maps to have a high probability of strong shaking in the future.

The earthquake is located between two major, largely strike-slip fault systems. The Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault system, which is approximately 7 km (4 miles) west of the site, generated damaging earthquakes in 1868 and probably in 1898. The Concord-Green Valley Fault system, which is 12 km (7 miles) east of the site, produced a M5.5 earthquake in 1954; while it has not generated a large historical event, there is strong evidence for recent pre-historic activity. The 1999 Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities (WG99, 1999) concluded that the Hayward-Rodgers Creek Fault system has a 32 percent probability of generating a large earthquake (M6.7 to 7.4) by the year 2030, and the Concord-Green Valley Fault system has a 6 percent chance of generating a large earthquake (M≥6.7) in the same time period.

The earthquake occurred near the north shore of San Pablo Bay. The bayshore areas in the San Francisco Bay region are underlain by landfill and bay mud and have experienced disproportionately greater damage during historic earthquakes. Such damage is caused by soil failure in the fills and amplification of ground shaking by the soft bay mud.