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Sent:                               Tuesday, December 13, 2016 10:09 PM


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Dear Jacqueline,


Our annual fund-raiser for our 501(c)3 charitable organization continues this month. If anyone joins IRI for a 2017  membership before December 30th, they will get an extra holiday gift for FREE, one this year and one next year!  Donations  are also encouraged with or without membership.  Also consider purchasing a new 18"x24"  Patents Progress poster that IRI now has the rights to sell and see  the story of how it represents the entire historical journey from invention to patent in a humorous, educational, and colorfully visual manner. Great holiday gift too.


Our first Story #1 gives us the impression that silkworms will be the new factory workers of tomorrow, churning out electrical silk wires when fed with small amounts of graphene and nanotubes. These super silkworms now make silk that is 50% stronger and conducts electricity! Thus wearable circuitry will now be comfortable too.


The Story #2 is a work in progress and invites suggestions at  the University of Bristol in the UK where an amazing synthetic diamond manufacturing method has been developed using carbon-14 from radioactive waste. With a double encasement, the diamonds become a nuclear battery spewing out electrons for only about 5000 years. Hopefully the scientists will team up with other nuclear battery manufacturers that IRI has reported on in this column to produce a commercial product like CityLabs which used tritium to make a 25 year IC battery. Check out the great 4-minute instructional video to learn more.


Story #3 should be our lead story since it is potentially the most transformative new energy source that we have ever reported on. The earth's crust is literally supported by various amounts of molten lava or magma which makes it constantly on the move. However, NO ONE until now has been taking advantage of its intense heat for the BEST geothermal energy one can ask for, until now. It took one of the coldest countries to drill deep enough to reach the hot magma and generate 50 MW from the same single well hardware that usually only yields 5 MW from a typical geothermal energy plant. Hopefully the US will follow Iceland's example and start energy harvesting from Yellowstone's caldera, which is the largest and most deadly volcano in the world. Such multiple magma geothermal plants might also forestall the inevitable eruption, which has occurred twice in the past, by drawing heat away from the massive lava dome just under Yellowstone National Park.


Story #4 offers a fanciful account of Uber's dream of vertical takeoff air taxis which may be cheaper and faster than cars. Part of the Uber Elevate program, it would allow for more lengthy travel options, up to 100 miles.


Story #5 gives us another indication that perhaps the speed of light is not the constant barrier that it has been made out to be but instead depend on the universe's density. If so, the Imperial College of London thinks that it can be tested and shown to have varied in the past when the universe was much younger. Maybe it will have some spinoffs that affect faster than light travel if it is a variable depending on density.


Happy Holidays!


Tom Valone, Editor


Graphene-fed Silkworms Produce Super Strong Silk that Conducts Electricity


By November 2016


The carbon-enhanced silk conducts electricity, is twice as tough as regular silk, and can withstand at least 50 percent higher stress before breaking. This smart textile could have applications in medicine, athletics, wearable electronics...the possibilities are endless.


Silk is a naturally sourced fiber popular in textile applications not just for its beauty, but also for its mechanical strength, and one study has now reported that the gossamer threads become even stronger and tougher when silkworms are fed carbon nanotubes and graphene.


Graphene, a carbon nanoparticle considered a "miracle material," has shown massive potential in energy, electronics, medicine, and more. Silkworms, the larvae of silk moths, spin their threads from silk proteins produced in their salivary glands, so a study led by Yingying Zhang from Tsinghua University examined the effects of adding graphene to the silkworms' diet of mulberry leaves.


The researchers sprayed mulberry leaves with aqueous solutions containing 0.2 percent by weight of either carbon nanotubes or graphene, and then collected the silk after the worms spun their cocoons. Collecting the as-spun silk fibers is standard in silk production, so feeding the silkworms the carbon nanotubes and graphene was a much simpler method than treating regular silk with the nanomaterials dissolved in chemical solvents after collection.


According to the study, the carbon-enhanced silk was twice as tough as regular silk and could withstand at least 50 percent higher stress before breaking. Zhang's team tested conductivity and structure after heating the silk fibers at 1,050°C (1,922°F) to carbonize the silk protein, and unlike untreated silk, the carbon-enhanced silk conducted electricity. Additionally, spectroscopy and microscopic imaging showed that the modified silk fibers had a more ordered crystal structure.


Garments made using smart textiles have so many more potential uses than those created using traditional materials. A conductive fabric using this carbon-enhanced silk could have applications in biomechanics, showing an athlete the tension and pressure applied on areas of the body during exertion. It could be used in tech for electronic clothing that can "talk to our smartphones," and scientists creating biodegradable medical implants could potentially incorporate these enhanced silks into their work.


According to materials scientist Yaopeng Zhang of Donghua University, the method used by the team at Tsinghua University is an "easy way to produce high-strength silk fibers on a large scale," so we could be one step closer to an exciting future of readily available wearable tech that could improve the lives of everyone.



Diamonds Turn Nuclear Waste into Nuclear Batteries



By David Szondy New

The new technology turns diamonds into nuclear batteries that can last thousands of years.

One problem with dealing with nuclear waste is that it's often hard to tell what's waste and what's a valuable resource. Case in point is the work of physicists and chemists at the University of Bristol, who have found a way to convert thousands of tonnes of seemingly worthless nuclear waste into man-made diamond batteries that can generate a small electric current for longer than the entire history of human civilization.


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.


The Bristol researchers found that the carbon-14 wasn't uniformly distributed in the Magnox blocks, but is concentrated in the side closest to the uranium fuel rods. To produce the batteries, the blocks are heated to drive out the carbon-14 from the radioactive end, leaving the blocks much less radioactive than before. c-14 gas is then collected and using low pressures and high temperatures is turned into man-made diamonds.



Iceland Drills into Deepest Holes to Tap Energy From Molten Lava 


By Fred Pierce, New Scientist Magazine November 2016


Drilling into hot rocks to tap geothermal energy is one thing. Drilling deep enough to tap the energy from magma oozing into volcanoes is quite another, offering a massive increase in the potential to exploit Earth's inner heat.


That is the task of a rig now drilling 5 kilometres into the rugged landscape of old lava flows in Reykjanes, at the south-west corner of Iceland. Drilling began on 12 August.

By the end of the year, the Iceland Deep Drilling Project hopes to have created the hottest hole in the world, hitting temperatures anywhere between 400 and 1000 °C.


Event: Reinventing Energy Summit - Meet the people shaping the future of energy

The drilling will penetrate a landward extension of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge - a major boundary between Earth's tectonic plates - says Albert Albertsson, assistant director of HS Orka, an Icelandic geothermal-energy company involved in the project. At that depth, magma that moves from below through volcanic activity meets and heats seawater that has penetrated beneath the ocean bed.


"People have drilled into hard rock at this depth, but never before into a fluid system like this," says Albertsson.  He says the team could find the landward equivalent of "black smokers", hot underwater springs along the ridge saturated with minerals such as gold, silver and lithium.

At that depth, pressures are high, too - at more than 200 times atmospheric levels.  The consortium of energy companies and researchers behind the project expects the water to be in the form of "supercritical steam", which is neither liquid nor gas and holds much more heat energy than either.


A well that can successfully tap into such steam could have an energy capacity of 50 megawatts, compared to the 5 MW of a typical geothermal well, says Albertsson. This would mean some 50,000 homes could be powered, versus 5,000 from a single well.



Uber Planning to Add Flying Autonomous Taxis 


By Loz Blain, New, November 2016


Uber has profoundly disrupted the taxi business with its ride sharing model, and has made it clear it wants to be a key player in future autonomous taxi services. Now, it's released a fantastic 97-page white paper detailing exactly how it wants to integrate electric VTOL multirotor air taxis into its mid-range transport system.


The full document makes fantastic reading for the future-focused. In it Uber leaves no doubt that it believes electric air taxis will be viable, safe and in many cases, both faster and cheaper than cars over a certain distance. Here's a summary of the points we found most interesting.


What will VTOL air taxis look like?

In order to meet the key goals of the Uber Elevate program (safety, efficiency, low cost, minimal noise and disruption, minimal infrastructure) the team has zeroed in on some highly likely design parameters.


Firstly, they'll be electric multirotors, using multiple small rotors instead of a single larger one like a helicopter. This helps keep the noise down (Uber is hoping for around 67 dB at a 250-ft (76-m) altitude, which is around the level of a normal spoken conversation), but multiple rotors also increase stability, ride comfort and redundancy in case of motor failure, not to mention the ability to deal with unbalanced loads like having a passenger on one side and an empty seat on the other.


Secondly, they'll have between two and four seats - current charter flights at the moment are taking an average of between 1.3-1.7 passengers, and even 100-mile (62 km) car trips have an average of 1.3 people in them. These aircraft don't need to be huge.


Thirdly, while Uber sees VTOL as an imperative part of the service, the aircraft will most likely convert to some sort of cruise mode once they're aloft. Tilt wings and tilting rotors along a wing could both achieve this sort of effect, vastly reducing the energy requirements as the aircraft cover distance.


Read More Here



Einstein's Speed of Light Constant Could be Wrong


By J.C. Torres,  New December 2016

Article Link


Image courtesy of NASA


Albert Einstein might be known for a great many things, but even the layman might be familiar with at least one thing: E = mc2, the formula for mass-energy equivalence. However, a critical part of that formula might soon be debunked. According to Einstein's physics, light has, does, and always will travel at a constant speed. Some physicists and cosmologists have begun challenging that observation, and may just have gotten closer to proving that the venerable scientist may have been wrong. 


It may all sound like the sort of inconsequential things scientists debate about, but the implications of refuting Einstein's physics model has repercussions in how we understand the universe, both now and the past. Specifically, Einstein's theory that light travels at a constant speed underpins the popular Theory of Relativity as well as our models for understanding what happened after the Big Bang.


In particular, Einstein's model presents a puzzle called the "horizon problem". In a nutshell, the constant speed of light wouldn't be able to explain why the universe today, as large as it is, is homogeneous in density, or largely uniform everywhere. If the speed of light were constant right from the beginning of the Big Bang up to the present time where the universe has already expanded, light from the theoretical center wouldn't reach the outer expanse of the universe at the same time. This would result in a non-homogeneous universe, which isn't what we observe today.


In order to solve that horizon problem, scientists like Professor João Magueijo from Imperial College London and Dr Niayesh Afshordi at the Perimeter Institute in Canada theorize that light's speed isn't actually constant. At the beginning of the Big Bang, it would have traveled faster and thus reached from the center to the edge of the universe sooner. As the universe settled down and the expansion slowed down, so did the speed of light. By that time, however, the universe has become mostly uniformly dense.


Of course, that's all theory, but these scientists may have found a way to test that. Scientists have become much better at mapping out the cosmic microwave background (CMB), that is the light history, of the universe. Magueijo and Afshordi have, in turn, used their model to predict a specific number on that "spectral index". In short, if in a few years' time their prediction matches what will actually be observed on the index, then that would confirm their theory as valid and Einstein's constant to be wrong.


Of course, that's not going to change our world, overnight or soon. It will still be challenged by other rival theories about the origin of the universe. And life as we know it will still go on, despite the potential upheaval in the physics and cosmology circles. After all, it's all relative.











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