Friday, December 28, 2007

So i'm a slightly left leaning libertarian

Well at least according to this online test. somehow doesn't surprise me. I guess i'm on a long term trend toward more libertarian and approaching more the middle ground between left and right but time will tell...

why don't you take the test yourself and see if you agree with the results?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Dependency on hydrocarbon fuels

People fear peak oil and certainly whether or or not a nation has oil affects foreign policy towards that country. However more recently the public at large is concerned about hydrocarbons because of suspected influences on the climate and the impact of price on the economy. Even though the influence of the oil price on the economy at least of Europe and the US has sunken it still is a major factor. So clearly if we want to limit our negative influence on the ecology of our planet and reduce the unhealthy influence on politics and thus ultimately the wellbeing of a large number of people we need to reduce our dependency on hydrocarbon fuels.

Fortunately progress in science offers tantalizing hope for amelioration and indeed there are many developments that combined will help overcome this addiction.

Breakthroughs on the horizon like room temperature superconductors allow transporting electricity over large distances without the loss of todays technology. Also with the advent of less then 1$ per watt and better photovoltaics energy production is less expensive then coal.
Combined with 10 times better energy storage in batteries used for instance in plugin hybrid cars or buffering stations enabling local distribution of electric power in microgrids make vast loses of power in maintaining the local power grid stability a thing of the past and thus allow to reduce standby power from coal power plants or make then altogether unnecessary.
Power sources like wind power for instance in the form of the maglev turbine can be combined with all these advances.

What about other uses for oil etc in producing fertilizer and plastic? Well, for fertilizing soil there exist even better techniques we still need to figure out but at least we think there are a lot better ways just look at terra preta soil and if all fails why not take co2 and turn it into fuel?

This is just a cursory look at a few developments shaping our future. Let us strive to reduce our footprint and stop the destruction of our ecology with futile and counterproductive activities like bio-fuel.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Science's 'Breakthrough of the Year': Human genetic variation

Further steps towards personalized treatment and incidentally also unblocking the stall in new drug development will in my view be facilitated and mediated largely by the rapidly advancing possibilities in personal genomics. Science recognizes the importance of us not all being alike and indeed significant hurdles hinder the market entry of promising drugs, simply because they only work in some and not all but such is the fate of many advanced treatments since they now grow vastly more targeted and thus have a not only a higher potential for positive patient outcomes but also for negative outcomes and without personal genomics it simply will be next to impossible to bring the next (well maybe a few steps more removed) generations of drugs to market. Fortunately where there is a market there is someone willing to sell. Among others 23andme offering basic scans for 1000$. Of course there are different offerings and competition and quality will grow at the same time that prices will erode. Ten years hence this will be far from uncommon i suppose, at least among people committed to their health.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Richard Dimbleby Lecture 2007 - Craig Venter on BCC

Craig Venter talks on how he sees genomics will shape the next century. He truly is one of the pioneers and more power to him and others working on improving the human condition.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Brake-by-wire electro car

Michelin demoed a brake-by-wire electric car at Shanghai Challange Bibendum. Developed at the swiss Givisiez engineering site the Michelin Concept has some remarkable features.

The Michelin Concept takes this one step further and uses a brake-by-wire system in conjunction with the motor for both stopping and going. It has no conventional brakes, but can come to a halt from 100km/h in less than three seconds. To put things in perspective, most supercars like the Lamborghini Gallardo take at least six seconds to do the same!

What further sets apart the car demoed is that always keeps the fuselage upright by actively managing position etc however you can set it to work like a tilting train (think the italien Pendolino or the swiss ICN) so in a curve it would tilt up to 10 degrees to improve comfort for the passengers. All propulsion and braking is done in wheel with the electric drive which automatically enabled advanced features like anti -lock braking etc since it all boils down to controlling traction of the four individual wheels. It is not entirely new a concept since a smaller startup did a remodeled smart roadster demo a few years ago (would have loved to own *that* car) but now it is so much closer to market.

For me it should also be able to drive from start to finish unassisted but yeah.

More on Bussard style Fusion

Thanks to M. Simon here a few links to more material on Bussard reactors

Mr. Fusion
Bussard Reactor Funded
Easy Low Cost No Radiation Fusion
Dr. Bussard's Final Interview
Dr. Robert W. Bussard Has Passed

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Fusion costs billions of dollars to develop and will take another 50 years. NOT

Apart from maybe ill named phenomena like "cold fusion" there still are other venues for achieving vastly safer, more powerfull and cheaper energy production.

Watch this 90 minutes Google TechTalk on achieving fusion power by the late Dr Robert Bussard.

Also this TechTalk by Eric J. Lerner actively developing this technology

"it's unfair...

...they struggle all their life for their golden years and then they loose everything."
Michio Kaku on his parents dying of Alzheimer's disease.

Discover the potential of the biomedical revolution in the excellent BBC 4 Production "Visions of the future". Thankfully someone posted the three parts on youtube. Part 7 to 13 cover the episode on Biotech while Part 1-6 are about enhancing intelligence and part 14 to 19 cover nanotechnology.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

On life extension

Many would argue that we pursue life extension for so long and yet there has not been made any headway. They will conclude thus that there is no point in hoping for any results in our lifetime.

Now i personally am cautiously optimistic. That thus far nothing much has been produced is no indication of future progress. I see the advance of preconception shattering technologies as following a theme of emergence. Much like forces of nature man underestimates the at first slow and gradual progress in any field until finally a threshold is reached and the advance is so quick and the effect is so pervasive that no one can escape and the suddenness of events overwhelms the individual. This is in part due to the human mind being ill adapted at extrapolating close to exponential growth in a field of science or what ever and the effects.

I think we can feel already the subsonic rumble of the waves of change potentially leading to vastly improved medical abilities, enhanced intelligence, nano technology and the profound changes we will witness.

MagLev wind turbine as a alternative energy source.

Already in construction the MagLev wind turbine offers markedly improved energy production compared to regular wind turbines. Combine this with the perspective on high efficiency lighting, improved solar cells and plugin-in hybrids the future looks bright. Even though i do not agree with much of the climate debate i still feel that we have to reduce our footprint on the environment, use renewable energy sources and protect the environment as much as is compatible with modern life.

Time on Top 10 Scientific Discoveries

In the informative article the stem cell breakthroughs of late including Shinya Yamanaka and James Thomson's of late make it to number one in the list but there's more.

The beginning is a very delicate time.

Hm, since i spend way too much time mailing links to interesting sites to plenty folks i guess it is smarter to just go ahead and collect interesting stuff from all ends and aggregate some here occasionally. Maybe this useful maybe not. At any rate, do as you please and read if you like. Oh and excuse my initial (i hope) ineptitude ad using blogger *g.

Oh, maybe you are familiar with the post's title...