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October 01, 2014

How the Terrestrial Energy Integral Molten Salt Reactor is designed for fast approval, safety and lower costs

Terrestrial Energy’s IMSR (Integral Molten Salt Reactor) features a self-contained reactor Core-unit, (the “IMSR Core-unit”), within which all key components are permanently sealed for its operating lifetime. At the end of its 7-year design life, the IMSR Core-unit is shut down and left to cool. At the same time, power is switched to a new IMSR Core-unit, installed a short time before in an adjacent silo within the facility. Once sufficiently cool, the spent IMSR Core-unit is removed and prepared for long-term storage, a process similar to existing industry protocols for long-term nuclear waste containment. Owing to the extremely low costs of the IMSR Core-unit, it is commercially feasible to operate the IMSR facility in this manner. The sealed nature of the IMSR Core-unit has other benefits, such as permitting operational safety and simplicity.

I have covered how the costs for the IMSR reactor could eventually provide energy at less than 1 cent per kilowatt hour.


New treatments show promise in prolonging human lifespan, when can you get it?

Evidence is emerging that some widely used drugs can prolong lifespan for well people – and insiders have started taking them off-label.

Millions of people are taking anti-ageing drugs every day – they just don't know it. Drugs to slow ageing sound futuristic but they already exist in the form of relatively cheap medicines that have been used for other purposes for decades.

Google and Venter's plans may have injected an over-hyped field with a measure of credibility but they are unlikely to bear fruit for some time. Yet evidence is emerging that some existing drugs have modest effects on lifespan, giving an extra 10 years or so of life. "We can develop effective combinations for life extension right now using available drugs," says Mikhail Blagosklonny of the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in New York.

One of the most promising groups of drugs is based on a compound called rapamycin. It was first used to suppress the immune system in organ transplant recipients, then later found to extend lifespan in yeast and worms. In 2009, mice were added to the list when the drug was found to lengthen the animals' lives by up to 14 per cent, even though they were started on the drug at 600 days old, the human equivalent of being about 60.

The first evidence has emerged of one such drug having an apparent anti-ageing effect in humans. A drug called everolimus, used to treat certain cancers, partially reversed the immune deterioration that normally occurs with age in a pilot trial in people over 65 years old.

Nextbigfuture has been covering Rapamycin and Metformin for a few years

Nextbigfuture covered research that the diabetes risk from Rapamycin was overblown.

A big drawback to long-term use of rapamycin, however, is the increase in insulin resistance, observed in both humans and laboratory animals. Rapamycin, by contrast, allowed a buildup of fatty acids and eventually an increase in insulin resistance, which in humans can lead to diabetes. However, the drug metformin can address that concern, and is already given to some diabetic patients to increase lipid oxidation. In lab tests, the combined use of rapamycin and metformin prevented the unwanted side effect.

Antiaging Dr. Terry Grossman has recommended the use of Metformin, exercise, aspirin and lowering iron levels in blood.

I have personally tried to ask doctors to allow metformin or rapamycin use but they will not prescribe it for off label purposes. However, some doctors are able to get it prescribed for themselves.

NIH $4.5 billion brain 2025 project proposal and there has been $110 million funded in 2014

To vigorously advance the goals of the BRAIN Initiative, there was a detailed recommendation to invest $400 million per year over the next five years (FY16-20), and continues at $500 million per year subsequently (FY21-25) by the NIH. A sustained, decade-long commitment at this level will attract talented scientists from multiple fields to the interdisciplinary collaborations that are essential to the BRAIN Initiative and its ambitious goals.

The National Institutes of Health announced today its first wave of investments totaling $46 million in fiscal year 14 funds to support the goals of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.

Last year, President Obama launched the BRAIN Initiative as a large-scale effort to equip researchers with fundamental insights necessary for treating a wide variety of brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury. Four federal agencies — NIH, the National Science Foundation, the Food and Drug Administration and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — stepped up to the “grand challenge” and committed more than $110 million to the Initiative for fiscal year 2014.

Carbon Copies Dr. Randal Koene believes Fruit Fly Brain Emulation Likely to Be Achieved in 2019

Randal Koene is an expert on brain emulation. He gave a talk in 2013 and discussed 100,000 neuron fruit fly brain emulation.

If we see the same sort of development in getting activity data from the brain as we saw with the structure, then perhaps by 2018 it would be acceptable to, say, come up with the project where you say let's take Drosophila, this fruit fly with 100,000 neurons, and we're going to get both the activity data and the structure data, and we're going to put it together and we're going to make an emulation of that, or try to make an emulation of a fruit fly brain. So perhaps by the year 2018, that's a project you could start.

I attended a 2014 talk by Randal Koene where he described the likelihood of a 100,000 neuron fruit fly brain emulation by 2019.

Randal has a company funded to develop a neural operating system so that all of the separate brain emulation projects can be more easily integrated.

Randal has a lot of information at this carboncopies.org website

There is a pathway to brain emulation via more and more advanced brain prosthetics and better sensors and mapping of the brain

EU $1.3 Billion ten year human brain simulation project developing next generation neuromorphic chips and neurorobotics platforms

European Union (EU)'s Human Brain Project provided a 32 page report on their progress toward an artificial brain by 2023.

The 10-year-long $1 billion euro (US$1.3 billion) Human Brain Project aims to simulate the entire human brain on supercomputers first, then build a special hardware emulator that will reproduce its functions so accurately that diseases and their cures can be tried out on it. Ultimately, the long-term goal is to build artificial brains that are inexpensive enough to outperform traditional von Neuman supercomputers at a fraction of the cost.


Junction of four HICANNSs (High Input Count Analog Neural Networks) inside a reticle on a wafer containing many HICANN circuits. (Source: University of Heidelberg)

September 30, 2014

Partial Fermi Paradox Solution - Gamma Ray Bursts could prevent intelligent life except in the outer areas of largest 10% of galaxies

Arxiv - On the role of GRBs on life extinction in the Universe

As a copious source of gamma-rays, a nearby Galactic Gamma-Ray Burst (GRB) can be a threat to life. Using recent determinations of the rate of GRBs, their luminosity function and properties of their host galaxies, we estimate the probability that a life-threatening (lethal) GRB would take place. Amongst the different kinds of GRBs, long ones are most dangerous. There is a very good chance (but no certainty) that at least one lethal GRB took place during the past 5 Gyr close enough to Earth as to significantly damage life. There is a 50% chance that such a lethal GRB took place during the last 500 Myr causing one of the major mass extinction events. Assuming that a similar level of radiation would be lethal to life on other exoplanets hosting life, we explore the potential effects of GRBs to life elsewhere in the Galaxy and the Universe. We find that the probability of a lethal GRB is much larger in the inner Milky Way (95% within a radius of 4 kpc from the galactic center), making it inhospitable to life. Only at the outskirts of the Milky Way, at more than 10 kpc from the galactic center, this probability drops below 50%. When considering the Universe as a whole, the safest environments for life (similar to the one on Earth) are the lowest density regions in the outskirts of large galaxies and life can exist in only ~ 10% of galaxies. Remarkably, a cosmological constant is essential for such systems to exist. Furthermore, because of both the higher GRB rate and galaxies being smaller, life as it exists on Earth could not take place at z over 0.5. Early life forms must have been much more resilient to radiation.

H/T Crowlspace

China fourth largest arms exporter and has a tank comparable to the 30 year old M1A2 Abrams design

With foreign sales of $7.4 billion over the past five years, China overtook France in 2013 to become the world’s fourth-largest arms exporter, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Besides Norinco, the country’s arms makers include Aviation Industry Corporation of China, Poly Technologies Inc. and China South Industries Group Corp. Norinco is the biggest of the bunch.

The five largest suppliers of major conventional weapons during the five-year period 2008–12 were the United States (30 per cent of global arms exports), Russia (26 per cent), Germany (7 per cent), France (6 per cent) and China (5 per cent). With 20% growth each year, China will likely pass Germany for the third spot in 2014.

“The Chinese [weapon] systems are simply cheaper, they are reliable, and they are tailored to the conditions of developing countries,” said Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

As per capita incomes and economies catch up, the US remains military dominant but other countries become more problematic and not complete push overs for the US.

the MBT3000 has comparable gun, speed, and has reactive armor

China's MBT3000 third generation is $4 million versus $6.9 million for a US M1A2 Abrams tank.

The Abrams is a solid tank but has not been significantly changed for 30 years.