November 27, 2015

Bending Machines Fact vs Fiction

Unison has installed and commissioned the world’s largest and most powerful all-electric pipe bending machine, at the Norwegian offshore and maritime services company, Westcon Yard AS. Capable of generating a colossal 660,000 Nm of continuous, servo-controlled torque, the custom-designed machine will be used for precision bending of thick-walled carbon steel pipes up to 10 inches (273 mm) in diameter.

Bending machine fact

Bending machine fiction

Editing sperm stem cells could be the safest approach to genetically editing humans

One scientist who thinks he knows how to safely genetically edit humans is Jinsong Li, a biologist at the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences. Earlier this year, Li managed to use CRISPR to edit a gene that causes eye cataracts in mice, creating healthy newborn animals with “100 percent” success.

The way Li’s team did it was to avoid embryos, and instead edit “spermatogonial” stem cells growing in his lab. These are the factory cells that make sperm. By gene editing mouse sperm cells first, and then using corrected sperm to make embryos, Li’s mice came out perfect every time.

Li, who is part of the large Chinese delegation travelling to Washington, says he is convinced that embryo editing “is unacceptable” and that correcting sperm cells is “the only possible strategy.”

Of course, edited sperm would only help prevent genetic diseases passed along by the father. Yet some scientists agree that sperm may be the most practical avenue for making designer people. “It could turn out to be a very good option,” says George Church, a professor at Harvard University and one of the inventors of the CRISPR technology.

Refrigerating liquids with a laser

University of Washington researchers figured out how to make a laser refrigerate water and other liquids under real-world conditions. Researchers used an infrared laser to cool water by about 36 degrees Fahrenheit — a major breakthrough in the field.

The discovery could help industrial users “point cool” tiny areas with a focused point of light. Microprocessors, for instance, might someday use a laser beam to cool specific components in computer chips to prevent overheating and enable more efficient information processing.

Scientists could also use a laser beam to precisely cool a portion of a cell as it divides or repairs itself, essentially slowing these rapid processes down and giving researchers the opportunity to see how they work. Or they could cool a single neuron in a network — essentially silencing without damaging it — to see how its neighbors bypass it and rewire themselves.

As they are cooled by the laser, the nanocrystals developed by the UW team emit a reddish-green “glow” that can be seen by the naked eye.Dennis Wise/ University of Washington

PNAS - Laser refrigeration of hydrothermal nanocrystals in physiological media

Biomedical imaging at one-thousandth the cost using mathematical modeling and a cheap sensor

Mathematical modeling enables $100 depth sensor to approximate the measurements of a $100,000 piece of lab equipment.

The system uses a technique called fluorescence lifetime imaging, which has applications in DNA sequencing and cancer diagnosis, among other things. So the new work could have implications for both biological research and clinical practice.

“The theme of our work is to take the electronic and optical precision of this big expensive microscope and replace it with sophistication in mathematical modeling,” says Ayush Bhandari, a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab and one of the system’s developers. “We show that you can use something in consumer imaging, like the Microsoft Kinect, to do bioimaging in much the same way that the microscope is doing.”

MIT researchers have developed a new biomedical imaging system that harnesses an off-the-shelf depth sensor such as Microsoft’s Kinect. The coloration of these images depicts the phase information contained in six of the 50 light frequencies the system analyzes.

Optica -Blind and reference-free fluorescence lifetime estimation via consumer time-of-flight sensors

China has a successful sixth hypersonic glide vehicle test

China carried out a sixth flight test of its new high-speed nuclear attack vehicle on Monday designed to defeat U.S. missile defenses or carry out global strikes.

The ultra-fast maneuvering strike weapon known as the DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle was launched atop a ballistic missile fired from the Wuzhai missile test center in central China’s Shanxi Province, according defense officials.

The vehicle separated from its launcher near the edge of the atmosphere and then glided to an impact range several thousand miles away in western China, said officials familiar with details of the test.

The DF-ZF flight was tracked by U.S. intelligence agencies and flew at speeds beyond Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound.

A US report (annual report of the congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission) indicates the DZ-ZF could be ready by 2020, and a ramjet-propelled cruise missile by 2025. It is thought that China would use nuclear-armed hypersonic vehicles in its retaliatory strike capabilities, while conventional warheads could be delivered over long-distances.

The CASIC Kuaizhou-1 mobile solid-fuel space launch vehicle and its transporter, which could form the basis for a strike system using a version of the DF-ZF hypersonic manoeuvring vehicle. Source: Chinese internet

Janes reports that as with previous tests, this one was launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in Shanxi Province, where China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) tests most of its long-range missiles.

The key advantages of a boosted hypersonic manoeuvring vehicle are that it can radically change its trajectory to avoid missile defences and has 'gliding' capabilities that give an extended range over that of a conventional ballistic missile warhead.

While a hypersonic manoeuvring strike vehicle could be nuclear armed, it is also likely that China plans such warheads to perform non-nuclear precision strike missions, such as arming a next-generation anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM).

It is likely that the DF-ZF test vehicle is being launched by a booster based on the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) DF-21 medium-range ballistic missile and could arm a future version of this missile. However, it could also arm a version of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) DF-26. Both the DF-21 and DF-26 use 'first-generation' warheads that could be succeeded by a more manoeuvrable DF-ZF-based hypersonic warhead.

The high rate of testing for the glide vehicle is an indication China has placed a high priority on the weapon program and that it is making rapid progress.

The Chinese conducted earlier flight tests on June 7, and on Jan. 9, 2014, Aug. 7, 2014, and Dec. 2, 2014

China Space Flight reported the flight path of the hypersonic test.

German regulators have approved a relatively simple technical fix for Volkswagens CO2 emission cheating

The German Federal Motor Transport Authority has approved a relatively simple technical fix for the Volkswagen emission issues.
  • A "flow transformer" will be fitted directly in front of the air mass sensor on the 1.6-litre EA 189 engine. This is a mesh that calms the swirled air flow in front of the air mass sensor and will thus decisively improve the measuring accuracy of the air mass sensor. The air mass sensor determines the current air mass throughput, which is a very important parameter for the engine management for an optimum combustion process. In addition, a software update will be performed on this engine. The time needed for the implementation of the technical measures is expected to be less than one hour.
  • The 2.0 litre engines will get a software update. The pure labour time for this measure will be around half an hour.

Advances in engine development and improved simulation of currents inside complex air intake systems, in combination with software optimisation geared towards this, it has been possible to produce a relatively simple and customer-friendly measure.

The objective for the development of the technical measures is still to achieve the applicable emission targets in each case without any adverse effects on the engine output, fuel consumption and performance. However, as all model variants first have to be measured, the achievement of these targets cannot yet be finally confirmed.

Cambridge holographic technology adopted by Jaguar Land Rover

A ‘head-up’ display for passenger vehicles developed at Cambridge, the first to incorporate holographic techniques, has been incorporated into Jaguar Land Rover vehicles

Cambridge researchers have developed a new type of head-up display for vehicles which is the first to use laser holographic techniques to project information such as speed, direction and navigation onto the windscreen so the driver doesn’t have to take their eyes off the road.

The technology – which was conceptualised in the University’s Department of Engineering more than a decade ago – is now available on all Jaguar Land Rover vehicles. According to the researchers behind the technology, it is another step towards cars which provide a fully immersive experience, or could even improve safety by monitoring driver behaviour. Cars can now park for us, help us from skidding out of control, or even prevent us from colliding with other cars. Head-up displays (HUD) are one of the many features which have been incorporated into cars in recent years.

Alongside the development of more sophisticated in-car technology, various companies around the world, most notably Google, are developing autonomous cars. “We’re moving towards a fully immersive driver experience in cars, and we think holographic technology could be a big part of that, by providing important information, or even by encouraging good driver behaviour,” said one of the technology’s developers, Professor Daping Chu of the University’s Department of Engineering, who is also Chairman of the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE).

Fast growing AquAdvantage Atlantic Salmon approved by FDA for human consumption after 20 years of review

Genetically engineered AquAdvantage Atlantic salmon grow to twice the size of an normal Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) over the same time. The FDA approved the AquAdvantage as the first genetically engineered animal to be approved for human consumption in the United States.

AquaBounty’s driving force is the belief that modern genetics, married with land-based recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), can spur a radically more responsible and sustainable way of growing Atlantic salmon.

The innovative faster growing AquAdvantage Salmon, which would shorten production cycles by half and drastically reduce feed costs, could finally make land-based fish farming economically viable.

Courtesy of Kruger Kaldnes RAS and Veolia Water Technologies

The Greenest Fish Farming Method —Land-Based Aquaculture

The second innovation driving AquaBounty’s vision is the development of land-based recirculating aquaculture systems, or RAS for short. While farming salmon in sea cages is less expensive and less technologically complex than a land-based farm, land-based salmon farming eliminates many of the environmental problems with net-pen farms. Sea cages are susceptible to a number of hazards such as violent storms, predators, harmful algal blooms, jellyfish attacks, and the transmission of pathogens and parasites from wild fish populations passing close to the sea cages. All of these hazards can cause significant fish losses over the course of the 32-36-month production cycle.

Some fish farmers, research scientists and engineers looked at the technology used in public aquarium facilities and human waste-water treatment facilities with the idea that the technology could be applied to large-scale commercial seafood production on land. Over the last 30 years, the technology to farm fish on land has come a long way. So much so that some fish farmers are developing large RAS facilities to grow a variety of species, from salmon, trout and sturgeon to perch, shrimp and even lobster.

20 years to approve fish where similar fish ended being bred anyway. Do we really care about feeding the world's hungry or making nutritious food cheaper for the poor ?

The landmark decision by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) releases the ‘AquAdvantage’ salmon from two decades of regulatory limbo — but it could also revitalize an industry that has waited a long time for any sign that its products might make it to market.

“It opens up the possibility of harnessing this technology,” says Alison Van Eenennaam, an animal geneticist at the University of California, Davis. “The regulatory roadblock had really been disincentivizing the world from using it.”

AquAdvantage fish produce extra growth hormone, allowing them to grow to market size in 18 months, rather than the usual 3 years. In the time since AquaBounty first filed for approval, fisheries have bred conventional salmon that grow just as fast, says Scott Fahrenkrug, chief executive of Recombinetics, an animal-biotechnology firm in St Paul, Minnesota.

A growth hormone-regulating gene from a Pacific Chinook salmon and a promoter from an ocean pout were added to the Atlantic's 40,000 genes. These genes enable it to grow year-round instead of only during spring and summer. The purpose of the modifications is to increase the speed at which the fish grows, without affecting its ultimate size or other qualities.

Commercial aquaculture is the most rapidly growing segment of the agricultural industry, accounting for more than 60 million tons in 2012, versus 90 million tons of wild-caught fish. That year, aquaculture output exceeded beef output for the first time. While land-based agriculture is increasing between 2% and 3% per year, aquaculture has been growing at an average rate around 9% per year since 1970. As of 2011, salmon aquaculture produced 1.9 million tons of fish

Donate to SENS as the best way to support antiaging research and possibly achieving radical life extension within 20 years

Donate to SENS life extension research. SENS Research Foundation is trying to develop a world free of age-related disease.

SENS research emphasizes the application of regenerative medicine to age-related disease, with the intent of repairing underlying damage to the body's tissues, cells, and molecules. Our goal is to help build the industry that will cure the diseases of aging.

China will unify the army, navy, air force and strategic missile corps under one command

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a major overhaul of China’s military to make the world’s largest army more combat ready and better equipped to project force beyond the country’s borders.

Under the reorganization, all branches of the armed forces would come under a joint military command, Xi told a meeting of military officials in Beijing, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Bloomberg in September reported details of the plan, which may also seek to consolidate the country’s seven military regions to as few as four.

This will emulate the military structure of the United States.

China will unify the army, navy, air force and strategic missile corps under one command.

The command system is seen as necessary to improve communications and coordinate modern forces across the various arms of the military. The organizational changes would aid China’s shift from a land-based military to one able to project force far from its coastline.

The plan also seeks to tighten the Communist Party’s grip over the 2.3-million-member military, with Xi insisting the People’s Liberation Army maintain "correct political direction” and stressing "the Communist Party of China has absolute leadership of the armed forces," Xinhua reported.

China's navy has been the most visible demonstration of the modernization drive, with advanced Chinese warships participating in anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden and extracting nationals from conflict zones in Libya and Yemen. On Thursday, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that China was in talks with Djibouti about building logistical facilities to help resupply military vessels operating off the East African coast.

November 26, 2015

Will World War 3 have a lot of similarities to World War 1 and the Russian-Ottoman wars of the 1700s and 1800s

Russia's President Vladimir Putin is meeting his French opposite number, Francois Hollande, Thursday evening, as France seems keener than ever to bring Russia in from the cold to join its anti-Islamic State (IS) coalition force.

The meeting is going ahead as Russia and Turkey are embroiled in tit-for-tat recriminations over the downing of a Russian fighter jet by Turkish military this week and whether it occurred in Turkish or Syrian airspace.

One of Hollande's most immediate wishes is trying to seal the porous border between Turkey and Syria, which seems to have been a route followed by many IS fighters. This move has already been backed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

France seems to be taking the doctrine of "my enemy's enemy is my friend" more seriously than other Western powers.

After the tragic attacks in Paris which killed 129 people, Hollande has hardened his stance on the fight against IS and pledged an additional 600 million euros ($636 million) on additional security spending.

France and Russia (and many other countries) were allies in World War 1 against the Ottoman Empire, German Empire, Austria Hungary and Bulgaria.

The pre-World War 1 Ottoman Empire included Turkey and much of Syria and much of Iraq.

The Ottoman Empire was also known as the Turkish Empire, Ottoman Turkey or Turkey. It was founded in 1299 by Oghuz Turks under Osman I in northwestern Anatolia. After conquests in the Balkans by Murad I between 1362 and 1389, the Ottoman sultanate was transformed into a transcontinental empire and claimant to the caliphate. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror

Stainless magnesium could be mass produced and it would weigh half as much as aluminum

Researchers led by a team at UNSW Australia have used the Australian Synchrotron to turn the discovery of an ultra-low density and corrosion-resistant magnesium alloy into the first step toward mass-producing ‘stainless magnesium’, a new high-strength, lightweight metal, paving the way for cars, trucks and aeroplanes that can travel further distances on less petrol.

The magnesium-lithium alloy weighs half as much as aluminium and is 30 per cent lighter than magnesium, making it an attractive candidate to replace these commonly used metals to improve fuel efficiency and greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport vehicles.

Australian researchers formed a protective surface layer for magnesium that can be considered similar to the way a layer of chromium oxide enables the protection of stainless steel.

‘Many similar alloys have been created as researchers seek to combine the incredible lightness of lithium with the strength and durability of magnesium to develop a new metal that will boost the fuel efficiency and distance capacity of aeroplanes, cars and spacecraft.

‘This is the first magnesium-lithium alloy to stop corrosion from irreversibly eating into the alloy, as the balance of elements interacts with ambient air to form a surface layer which, even if scraped off repeatedly, rapidly reforms to create reliable and durable protection.’

Professor Ferry, senior author of the paper led by Dr Wanqiang Xu also from UNSW, says this excellent corrosion resistance was observed by chance, when his team noticed a heat-treated sample from Chinese aluminium-production giant, CHALCO, sitting, inert, in a beaker of water.

‘To see no corroded surfaces was perplexing and, by partnering with scientists on the Powder Diffraction (PD) beamline at the Australian Synchrotron, we found the alloy contains a unique nanostructure that enables the formation of a protective surface film.

‘Now we’ve turned our attention to investigating the molecular composition of the underlying alloy and the carbonate-rich surface film, to understand how the corrosion process is impeded in this “stainless magnesium”.’

The transport sector accounts for 90 megatonnes (90 billion kilograms) of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia each year, or 16 per cent of Australia’s total; road vehicles account for 77 megatonnes and aviation eight tonnes.

They plan incorporate new techniques into the mass-production of this unique alloy in sheets of varying thickness, in a standard processing plan. Stainless magnesium could be as durable as steel but far lighter.

Nature Materials - A high-specific-strength and corrosion-resistant magnesium alloy

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