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Archive for the ‘energy’ category: Page 114

Apr 16, 2016

Photon Propulsion Could Launch Spacecraft To Mars In Days

Posted by in categories: energy, physics, space travel

Scientists say recent advances in laser propulsion technology could make it possible for spacecrafts to reach Mars in as little as 3 days using photon propulsion.

The concept was shared by Philip Lubin, a physics professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara at the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) symposium. Ultimately, the method seeks to place an ultra-powerful laser in Earth’s orbit, that would use photon pressure to power a “sail-equipped” spacecraft. [ESA To Build “Moon Village” by 2030].

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Apr 12, 2016

NASA funds Direct Drive Fusion Propulsion

Posted by in categories: energy, information science, physics, space travel

The Direct Fusion Drive (DFD) concept provides game-changing propulsion and power capabilities that would revolutionize interplanetary travel. DFD is based on the Princeton Field-Reversed Configuration (PFRC) fusion reactor under development at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. The mission context we are proposing is delivery of a Pluto orbiter with a lander. The key objective of the proposal is to determine the feasibility of the proposed Pluto spacecraft using improved engine models. DFD provides high thrust to allow for reasonable transit times to Pluto while delivering substantial mass to orbit: 1000 kg delivered in 4 to 6 years. Since DFD provides power as well as propulsion in one integrated device, it will also provide as much as 2 MW of power to the payloads upon arrival. This enables high-bandwidth communication, powering of the lander from orbit, and radically expanded options for instrument design. The data acquired by New Horizons’ recent Pluto flyby is just a tiny fraction of the scientific data that could be generated from an orbiter and lander. We have evaluated the Pluto mission concept using the Lambert algorithm for maneuvers with rough estimates of the engine thrust and power. The acceleration times are sufficiently short for the Lambert approximation, i.e. impulsive burns, to have some validity. We have used fusion scaling laws to estimate the total mission mass and show that it would fit within the envelope of a Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle. Estimates of the amount of Helium 3 required to fuel the reactor are within available terrestrial stores.

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Apr 12, 2016

Scientists discover how the brain repurposes itself to learn scientific concepts

Posted by in categories: energy, neuroscience, physics

The human brain was initially used for basic survival tasks, such as staying safe and hunting and gathering. Yet, 200,000 years later, the same human brain is able to learn abstract concepts, like momentum, energy and gravity, which have only been formally defined in the last few centuries.

New research from Carnegie Mellon University has now uncovered how the brain is able to acquire brand new types of ideas. Published in Psychological Science, scientists Robert Mason and Marcel Just used neural-decoding techniques developed at CMU to identify specific physics concepts that advanced students recalled when prompted. The brain activation patterns while thinking about the physics concepts indicated that all of the students’ brains used the ancient brain systems the same way, and the patterns revealed how the new knowledge was formed — by repurposing existing neural systems.

The findings could be used to improve science instruction.

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Apr 12, 2016

Can optical technology solve the high performance computing energy conundrum?

Posted by in categories: energy, quantum physics, supercomputing

Another pre-Quantum Computing interim solution for super computing. So, we have this as well as Nvidia’s GPU. Wonder who else?


In summer 2015, US president Barack Obama signed an order intended to provide the country with an exascale supercomputer by 2025. The machine would be 30 times more powerful than today’s leading system: China’s Tianhe-2. Based on extrapolations of existing electronic technology, such a machine would draw close to 0.5GW – the entire output of a typical nuclear plant. It brings into question the sustainability of continuing down the same path for gains in computing.

One way to reduce the energy cost would be to move to optical interconnect. In his keynote at OFC in March 2016, Professor Yasuhiko Arakawa of University of Tokyo said high performance computing (HPC) will need optical chip to chip communication to provide the data bandwidth for future supercomputers. But digital processing itself presents a problem as designers try to deal with issues such as dark silicon – the need to disable large portions of a multibillion transistor processor at any one time to prevent it from overheating. Photonics may have an answer there as well.

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Apr 9, 2016

FBI Warns of Cyber Threat to Electric Grid

Posted by in categories: cybercrime/malcode, energy, government

Three months after a Department of Homeland Security intelligence report downplayed the threat of a cyber attack against the U.S. electrical grid, DHS and the FBI began a nationwide program warning of the dangers faced by U.S. utilities from damaging cyber attacks like the recent hacking against Ukraine’s power grid.

The nationwide campaign by DHS and the FBI began March 31 and includes 12 briefings and online webinars for electrical power infrastructure companies and others involved in security, with sessions in eight U.S. cities, including a session next week in Washington.

The unclassified briefings are titled “Ukraine Cyber Attack: Implications for U.S. Stakeholders,” and are based on work with the Ukrainian government in the aftermath of the Dec. 23 cyber attack against the Ukrainian power infrastructure.

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Apr 8, 2016

Meet Behrokh Khoshnevis, the Man Designing Robots to Build Colonies on Mars

Posted by in categories: energy, robotics/AI, space

When Khoshnevis imagines the future of colonies on Mars, he imagines very tall buildings, with a lot of protection from the elements.

“Gravity is one third of Earth’s, and therefore with less construction material we can build stronger structures out there, therefore we can build much taller,” he says. “The cost of energy for elevators and all that will be much less. Theoretically everything could be three times as high as here with the same consumption of energy,” he says.

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Apr 8, 2016

Why fossil fuel power plants will be left stranded — By Martin Wolf | Financial Times

Posted by in categories: business, disruptive technology, education, energy, environmental, governance, law, sustainability

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“Virtually all new fossil fuel-burning power-generation capacity will end up “stranded”. This is the argument of a paper by academics at Oxford university. We have grown used to the idea that it will be impossible to burn a large portion of estimated reserves of fossil fuels if the likely rise in global mean temperatures is to be kept below 2C. But fuels are not the only assets that might be stranded. A similar logic can be applied to parts of the capital stock.”

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Apr 7, 2016

US Navy increasing combat lasers power to 500 kilowatt level by 2020 to counter ballistic missiles

Posted by in categories: energy, military

In 2012, the US Navy initiated the SSL Technology Maturation (SSL-TM) program, in which industry teams led by BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon, among others, competed to develop a shipboard laser with a beam power of 100 kW to 150 kW by 2016.

Boosting beam power further—to something like 200 kW or 300 kW—could permit a laser to counter at least some ASCMs. Even stronger beam powers—on the order of at least several hundred kW, if not one megawatt (MW) or more—could improve a laser’s effectiveness against ASCMs (Anti-Ship Cruise Missile) and enable it to counter ASBMs (Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile.

By 2020, it should be possible to demonstrate a 250–500 kW laser weapon system, one appropriate for deployment on current surface combatants and capable of being a game changer in the Navy’s struggle to address the growing A2/AD challenge.

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Apr 7, 2016

Algae’s enzyme might hold the secret to mass producing biofuel

Posted by in categories: energy, sustainability

A team of scientists from Texas A&M AgriLife Research wants to replicate an alga’s ability to produce big amounts of oil for biofuel.

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Apr 5, 2016

Taiwanese research institute is wrapped in an undulating skin of 4,000 aluminum fins

Posted by in categories: energy, innovation

Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) is located at Central Taiwan Innovation and Research Park in Nantou, Taiwan. It is expected to become the central facility of the Science Park to be built in this region. Noiz Architects and Bio Architecture Formosana won the competition to design the building in 2010. During the development phase, the project site had to be relocated once during the design development phase, and the construction finally completed in September 2014.

Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), research institute, Taiwan, Science Park, Central Taiwan Innovation and Research Park, green research facility, Noiz Architects, Bio Architecture Formosana, ARUP, kinetic facade, shade fins, aluminium fins, curtain walls

Related: Japanese research center fuses natural design elements with energy efficiency.

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