Friday, December 16, 2016

live long and prosper

The Guardian | Ageing process may be reversible, scientists claim
Wrinkles, grey hair and niggling aches are normally regarded as an inevitable part of growing older, but now scientists claim that the ageing process may be reversible.
The team showed that a new form of gene therapy produced a remarkable rejuvenating effect in mice. After six weeks of treatment, the animals looked younger, had straighter spines and better cardiovascular health, healed quicker when injured, and lived 30% longer.
Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, who led the work at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, said: “Our study shows that ageing may not have to proceed in one single direction. With careful modulation, ageing might be reversed.”
The genetic techniques used do not lend themselves to immediate use in humans, and the team predict that clinical applications are a decade away. However, the discovery raises the prospect of a new approach to healthcare in which ageing itself is treated, rather than the various diseases associated with it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

guessing the deep state gonna escalate things before trump takes office

The Aviationist | NATO hunting at least one Russian Navy Oscar II Class submarine that is chasing aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean Sea
According to military sources close to The Aviationist, a big hunt is underway in the eastern Med: several MPA aircraft, including U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon jets operating from NAS Sigonella, Sicily, are looking for one, possibly two, Russian Navy submarines operating in the vicinity of a group of warships of the NATO Maritime Group.
What makes the news even more interesting is the fact that the Russian Navy submarine would be an Oscar II Class, that is to say a “carrier killer” sub, designed with the primary mission of countering aircraft carrier battlegroups. Among the NATO vessels in proximity of the Oscar II there is also the French Charles De Gaulle nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the USS Eisenhower is not too far away either.
Therefore a massive Cold War-style hide-and-seek in underway, keeping both sides quite busy.

first india, now venezuala - and venezuela shutting it's borders to stop the peasants

CNN | Venezuela shuts border with Colombia as cash crisis escalates
President Nicolas Maduro announced Monday night that he's closing the country's border with Colombia for 72 hours as Venezuelans rush to exchange bills before they become invalid later this week. He accused "mafias" of moving Venezuelan money into Colombia.
It's the latest twist in a crisis that symbolizes Venezuela's severe economic depression, which is having a brutal impact on its citizens' lives.
The Venezuelan government said in a statement that shutting the border with Colombia was necessary "to counteract the criminal attacks against our currency."
Some Venezuelans are going to border towns in Colombia to exchange their currency, the bolivar, for U.S. dollars or to spend their money -- while they still can -- in Colombia where food, toiletries and other basics are plentiful.

Monday, December 12, 2016

we may yet get our jackboots and crisp uniforms under trump

Global Guerrillas | WARNING: The Electoral Coup is Underway
This may be the most important thing I've ever written.  
On December 19, 2016 the electoral college will vote.  
Based on the vote, Trump should receive 306 votes and Clinton will have 232.  
However, it is possible for many electors to change their vote.  They aren't bound by it.  
There's currently a very well funded attempt to influence electors to flip their votes on December 19th to change the outcome of the election.
Despite expectations it has a high chance of success in one of three outcomes: 
  1. Trump falls short of the electoral count (270) to become President and the election is sent to Congress for a decision.
  2. Clinton gets more than 270 electoral votes and becomes the President.
  3. A dark horse candidate (Kaisitch, etc.) would get the votes to become President.
In my view:  all of these outcomes would end in a disaster.

it was always about the networking...

Backchannel | The Thiel Fellowship was created to prove that a college degree doesn’t matter. It became one of the most elite credentials for young entrepreneurs.
Jesse Leimgruber has 22 employees, and every last one is older than him. He tells me this over coffee at a downtown San Francisco Starbucks that is equidistant from his company’s coworking space and the one-bedroom apartment he shares with his girlfriend. Leimgruber is the CEO of NeoReach, a digital marketing tools firm he started in 2014 with his brother and a friend; they have raised $3.5 million so far, and last year they did over a million dollars in sales. He is 22.
Leimgruber is one of 29 people who make up this year’s class of Thiel Fellows — the crazy smart youth paid by Peter Thiel to double down on entrepreneurship instead of school. Leimgruber has dramatic eyebrows, longish hair, and the kind of earnest perma-grin that creeps across his face even when he’s trying to be serious. He speaks with the authority of a three-time CEO who has learned a lot on the job, explaining a challenge particular to fellows like him: “A common piece of advice is, don’t hire your peers; They probably aren’t qualified.”
Welcome to the 2016 version of Peter Thiel’s eponymous fellowship. What began as an attempt to draw teen prodigies to the Valley before they racked up debt at Princeton or Harvard and went into consulting to pay it off has transformed into the most prestigious network for young entrepreneurs in existence — a pedigree that virtually guarantees your ideas will be judged good, investors will take your call, and there will always be another job ahead even better than the one you have. “We look for extraordinary individuals and we want to back them for life,” says executive director Jack Abraham. He speaks with the conviction of a man who sold a company by age 25, has spent the entirety of his professional life in the cradle of the upswing of the technology revolution, and only just turned 30. With no irony, he adds: “We consider ourselves a league of extraordinary, courageous, brilliant individuals who should be a shining light for the rest of society.”
This is not what Thiel endeavored to build. In 2010, when he set out to take down higher education by plucking kids from the ivory towers of the Ivy League and transporting them to San Francisco, he had his eye on teenagers. In a hastily conceived plan that he announced at a San Francisco tech conference, Thiel said he’d pay $100,000 to 20 people under the age of 20 to drop out of school for two years, move to the Bay Area, and work on anything they wanted. His goal was to jumpstart the kind of big tech breakthroughs — walking on the moon, desktop computing — that he believed the contemporary Valley lacked. He also meant to prove that college was often counterproductive; it required kids to take on debt while laying out a set of overly prescriptive options for their futures. A college diploma, he once said, was “a dunce cap in disguise.”

what does abe know that we don't?

Reuters | Japan ratifies TPP trade pact to fly the flag for free trade
Japan on Friday ratified the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade pact aimed at linking a dozen Pacific Rim nations, hoping it will one day take effect despite President-elect Donald Trump's pledge that the United States will withdraw from it.
The TPP, which aims to cut trade barriers in some of Asia's fastest-growing economies but does not include China, can not take effect without the United States.
The deal, which has been five years in the making, requires ratification by at least six countries accounting for 85 percent of the combined gross domestic product of the member nations.
Given the sheer size of the American economy, the deal cannot go ahead without U.S. participation.
It has not been ratified by the U.S. Senate and Trump last month promised to withdraw from it after he is inaugurated in January. Instead, he would replace it with bilaterally negotiated trade deals.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the TPP would be "meaningless without the United States".

Friday, December 9, 2016

nuclear energy to make renewables, see also nuclear waste as diamond batteries

Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis | Nuclear-Renewable Hybrid Energy Systems Can Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Industry and Support the Power System
Nuclear-renewable hybrid energy systems (N-R HESs) can enable low-carbon, on-demand electricity while providing reduced-emission thermal energy for industrial processes. However, the economic feasibility of these systems may depend on future natural gas prices, electricity market structures, and clean energy incentives. N-R HESs are physically coupled facilities that include both nuclear and renewable energy sources and produce electricity and another product such as a fuel, thermal energy, hydrogen, and desalinated water. Energy and materials flows among energy production and delivery systems are dynamically integrated so that the production rate of each product can be varied.
A series of new reports from the Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis (JISEA) and Idaho National Laboratory (INL) examines various hybrid system configurations to provide a basis to identify opportunities for clean energy use and examine the most economically viable configurations.
In one report, Generation and Use of Thermal Energy in the U.S. Industrial Sector and Opportunities to Reduce its Carbon Emissions, researchers from INL and the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) identify key greenhouse gas (GHG) emission sources in the industrial sector and propose low-emitting alternatives using targeted, process-level analysis of industrial heat requirements. The report examines emissions generated during process heat generation from the industrial sector. The study focuses on the 14 industries with the largest emissions as reported under the Environmental Protection Agency's Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program in 2014. Approximately, 960 plants from those industries represent less than one half of one percent of all manufacturing in the U.S., but they emit nearly 25 percent of all industrial sector emissions—5 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions in 2014. The report also identifies non-GHG-emitting thermal energy sources that could be used to generate heat without emissions. Those potential sources include small modular nuclear reactors, solar heat for industrial processes, and geothermal heat. The report identifies potential opportunities for each source, identifies implementation challenges, and proposes analyses to identify approaches to overcome the challenges.
In a second report, Status on the Component Models Developed in the Modelica Framework: High-Temperature Steam Electrolysis Plant & Gas Turbine Power Plant, INL details a modeling and simulation framework to assess the technical and economic viability of an N-R HES. INL, with support from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory, developed a dynamic, physics-based modeling capability of N-R HESs using the Modelica programming language. The report presents details on newly developed high-temperature steam electrolysis (for hydrogen production) and gas turbine power plant subsystems. Simulations of several case studies show that the suggested control scheme could maintain satisfactory plant operations even under rapid variations in net load. The study finds that the N-R HESs modeled could provide operational flexibility to participate in energy management at the utility scale by dynamically optimizing the use of excess plant capacity.
In a third report, The Economic Potential of Three Nuclear-Renewable Hybrid Energy Systems Providing Thermal Energy to Industry, NREL researchers explore the economics of an N-R HES that sells a thermal product (steam or a high-temperature heat transfer fluid) to one or more industrial customers. Under each scenario examined, the economically optimal system configuration includes a nuclear reactor generating a thermal product such as steam or a heat transfer fluid — a configuration that can economically reduce GHG emissions from industry. In addition, configurations that include a thermal power cycle can support resource adequacy for the electricity grid while maximizing production of the thermal energy product if the markets sufficiently incentivize that option.

snow in Hawaii

USA Today | Hawaii's forecast: Icy and dangerous conditions. No, really.
Forget the swimsuits for Hawaii and pack raincoats and winter parkas.
The National Weather Service issued a winter-storm warning until 6 p.m. Saturday local time, with heavy, flooding rainfall across the chain of Pacific islands and up to 30 inches of snow on the peaks of the Big Island.
Drifting snow, freezing fog and gusting wind are forecast for the summits of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes above 11,000 feet. Visibility could be less than a quarter-mile, making driving and hiking dangerous.
“A winter storm warning means significant amounts of snow,” the weather service said early Friday local time. “This will make travel very hazardous or impossible.”

you humans know when you've lost your usefulness

NPR | Life Expectancy In U.S. Drops For First Time In Decades, Report Finds
One of the fundamental ways scientists measure the well-being of a nation is tracking the rate at which its citizens die and how long they can be expected to live.
So the news out of the federal government Thursday is disturbing: The overall U.S. death rate has increased for the first time in a decade, according to an analysis of the latest data. And that led to a drop in overall life expectancy for the first time since 1993, particularly among people younger than 65.
"This is a big deal," says Philip Morgan, a demographer at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill who was not involved in the new analysis.
"There's not a better indicator of well-being than life expectancy," he says. "The fact that it's leveling off in the U.S. is a striking finding."

stigmergy and collective behavior - metacomputation

Wired | Why Did Donald Trump Get Elected? Ask the Bees
WHAT DO DONALD Trump and a bee hive have in common?
While this might sound like the setup to a bad joke or bit of political punditry, it’s an important and meaningful academic question. To a collective behavior scientist, electing a president or choosing a new nest site are both choices that arise from the interactions of a large number of individuals.
When bees need to find a new nest site, scouts will visit several potential locations. When they return, if they like the site they dance excitedly in a way that tells others where it is located. This dancing may recruit more scouts to check out the site, who likewise visit the site and start dancing to express support for the location. Bees will butt heads with dancers advocating for an opposing location. Through these interactions, they eventually settle on a nest site, often a very good one. The amazing thing is that this process allows a hive to measure the relative quality of nest sites, without any single bee knowing which is best.

best you mind your diet

Science News | Protein linked to Parkinson’s travels from gut to brain

Over the course of months, clumps of a protein implicated in Parkinson’s disease can travel from the gut into the brains of mice, scientists have found.

The results, reported November 14 at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, suggest that in some cases, Parkinson’s may get its start in the gut. That’s an intriguing concept, says neuroscientist John Cryan of the University College Cork in Ireland. The new study “shows how important gut health can be for brain health and behavior.”

three blind mice... not anymore

Science Daily | New gene-editing technology partially restores vision in blind animals

Salk Institute researchers have discovered a holy grail of gene editing -- the ability to, for the first time, insert DNA at a target location into the non-dividing cells that make up the majority of adult organs and tissues. The technique, which the team showed was able to partially restore visual responses in blind rodents, will open new avenues for basic research and a variety of treatments, such as for retinal, heart and neurological diseases.
"We are very excited by the technology we discovered because it's something that could not be done before," says Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, a professor in Salk's Gene Expression Laboratory and senior author of the paper published on November 16, 2016 in Nature. "For the first time, we can enter into cells that do not divide and modify the DNA at will. The possible applications of this discovery are vast."
Until now, techniques that modify DNA -- such as the CRISPR-Cas9 system -- have been most effective in dividing cells, such as those in skin or the gut, using the cells' normal copying mechanisms. The new Salk technology is ten times more efficient than other methods at incorporating new DNA into cultures of dividing cells, making it a promising tool for both research and medicine. But, more importantly, the Salk technique represents the first time scientists have managed to insert a new gene into a precise DNA location in adult cells that no longer divide, such as those of the eye, brain, pancreas or heart, offering new possibilities for therapeutic applications in these cells.

no such thing as waste: high quality input -> low quality output, transformation by another system, middle quality input -> lower quality output, repeat -> heat death of the universe

New Atlas | Diamonds turn nuclear waste into nuclear batteries
How to dispose of nuclear waste is one of the great technical challenges of the 21st century. The trouble is, it usually turns out not to be so much a question of disposal as long-term storage. If it was simply a matter of getting rid of radioactive material permanently, there are any number of options, but spent nuclear fuel and other waste consists of valuable radioactive isotopes that are needed in industry and medicine, or can be reprocessed to produce more fuel. Disposal, therefore is more often a matter of keeping waste safe, but being able to get at it later when needed.
One unexpected example of this is the Bristol team's work on a major source of nuclear waste from Britain's aging Magnox reactors, which are now being decommissioned after over half a century of service. These first generation reactors used graphite blocks as moderators to slow down neutrons to keep the nuclear fission process running, but decades of exposure have left the UK with 95,000 tonnes (104,720 tons) of graphite blocks that are now classed as nuclear waste because the radiation in the reactors changes some of the inert carbon in the blocks into radioactive carbon-14.
Carbon-14 is a low-yield beta particle emitter that can't penetrate even a few centimeters of air, but it's still too dangerous to allow into the environment. Instead of burying it, the Bristol team's solution is to remove most of the c-14 from the graphite blocks and turn it into electricity-generating diamonds.
The nuclear diamond battery is based on the fact that when a man-made diamond is exposed to radiation, it produces a small electric current. According to the researchers, this makes it possible to build a battery that has no moving parts, gives off no emissions, and is maintenance-free.