Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Destruction of Economic Facts

illustrationBy Hernando de Soto – Over the past 20 years, Americans and Europeans have quietly gone about destroying these facts. The very systems that could have provided markets and governments with the means to understand the global financial crisis—and to prevent another one—are being eroded. In a few short decades the West undercut 150 years of legal reforms that made the global economy possible.

We are now staring at a legal and political challenge. A legal challenge because American and European governments allowed economic activity to cross the line from the rule-bound system of property rights, where facts can be established, into an anarchic legal space, where arbitrary interests can trump facts and paper swirls out of control. The rule of law is much more than a dull body of norms: It is a huge, thriving information and management system that filters and processes local data until it is transformed into facts organized in a way that allows us to infer if they hang together and make sense. more>


World Development Indicators 2011

World Bank – The World Development Indicators 2011 publication and database update are now available. The publication is the 15th edition of WDI and the database now contains updated data through 2009 or 2010 for many indicators. A number of additions and improvements have been made to the WDI database in this update.

  • New data on maternal mortality ratio are available as a complete time-series for the first time
  • National poverty estimates have been updated, now with 577 data points for 115 countries
  • New indicators measuring dependence on natural resource rents
  • Expanded country coverage of recent economic performance indicators
  • New indicator measuring national income adjusted for consumption of capital, depletion of natural resources, and foreign investors
  • Additional indicators on financial access and outreach
  • Additional indicators on taxes
  • Aggregations for new regional groups for combined high-income and developing economy regions and for the Arab world
  • In all, the WDI database now has over 1,200 indicators

Access the database and content of the new WDI …



Turbine Generator Targets Re-use of Wasted Energy

Deprag Schulz GmbHBy David Greenfield – A number of efforts are currently being employed across industries to harvest energy typically lost during production operations. A number of these projects involve energizing low-power devices, such as sensors, through capture of wasted energy from vibrations or heat dissipation. But that still leaves a massive amount of energy being released by industrial systems that remain uncaptured for greater use.

To help address this, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology is funding a project at Deprag Schulz GmbH & Co. (a supplier of air motors) to capture excess process gas for energy generation. Of course, energy recovery from excess process gas in not a new idea, but Deprag Schulz’s new project does add a new twist. The Deprag Schulz project involves converting small amounts of residual energy (5 -20 kilowatts) directly into electricity using a small generator. more>

New technique could lead to superconducting transistors for power-saving electronics

R&D Mag – Like atomic-level bricklayers, researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory are using a precise atom-by-atom layering technique to fabricate an ultrathin transistor-like field effect device to study the conditions that turn insulating materials into high-temperature superconductors.

“Understanding exactly what happens when a normally insulating copper-oxide material transitions from the insulating to the superconducting state is one of the great mysteries of modern physics,” said Brookhaven physicist Ivan Bozovic.

Superconducting FETs might also have direct practical applications. Semiconductor-based FETs are power-hungry, particularly when packed very densely to increase their speed. In contrast, superconductors operate with no resistance or energy loss. Here, the atomically thin layer construction is in fact advantageous—it enhances the ability to control superconductivity using an external electric field. more>

Space Shuttle Update (5)

Boeing: Slide show · Book (pdf)

May 6

NASA – New schedule: No earlier than Monday, May 16, 8:56 a.m. EDT.

The root cause of the failure in the switchbox has not been found, technicians are replacing hardware that could have caused the problem. more>

May 5, 2011

NASA – Technicians are trying to determine what caused the power box to fail. Initial testing from yesterday shows a driver (circuit) inside the LCA-2 shorted out. The LCA-2 feeds power to heaters on the fuel line for Endeavour’s auxiliary power unit-1 (APU-1). Initially, when the shorted out driver was replaced, the LCA-2 appeared to worked as designed.

Technicians are performing additional failure analysis on the driver today to confirm whether the short experienced by the system came from inside or outside the LCA-2. Depending on the results, additional testing of the box may be required.

May 1, 2011 9:40pm PDT
May 1, 2011 8:14am PDT
[VIDEO 4:04] STS-134 Scrub Explanation

Test results indicate the problem is with a power control box, the aft load control assembly-2 (ALCA-2) in Endeavour’s aft compartment. Teams are working on plans to replace the box or any faulty associated hardware. The launch team currently is backing out of launch countdown operations.

There still are numerous factor to be worked out, but just based on the amount of time needed to do the fix, a new launch attempt wouldn’t happen before the end of the week, at the soonest. more>

April 29, 2011

Launch postponed by at least 72 hours.

NASA – The launch was postponed because of a heater issue associated with the shuttle’s hydraulic power system. The shuttle has three Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) that provide hydraulic power to steer the vehicle during ascent and entry. NASA launch commit criteria and flight rules require all three APUs to be fully operational for launch.

The thermostat that controls the heater didn’t kick on when it was called to do so. The APU heaters that keep the hydrazine fuel from freezing in orbit.

Endeavour’s external fuel tank was drained of more than 500,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and oxygen so engineers can access the area Saturday and evaluate the issue with APU 1. more>

Endeavour on Launch Pad 39A, STS-134
NASA – The space shuttle Endeavour sat on Launch Pad 39A as a storm passed prior to the rollback of the Rotating Service Structure, Thursday, April 28, 2011, at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Endeavour launches on the STS-134 mission on Friday, April 29 at 3:47 p.m. EDT.

During the 14-day mission, Endeavour and the STS-134 crew will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and spare parts including two S-band communications antennas, a high-pressure gas tank. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA Ames to Host Live Broadcast of Endeavor’s Final Launch
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. — News media and the public are invited to observe a live televised broadcast of space shuttle Endeavour’s launch to the International Space Station at 12:47 p.m. PDT on Friday, April 29, in the Exploration Center at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. The STS-134 mission is Endeavour’s final scheduled flight and the second to last flight for the Space Shuttle Program. more>

Space Shuttle Update (4)

Boeing: Slide show · Book (pdf)

Launch Date: April 29, 2011
Launch Time: 3:47 p.m. EDT

NASA – As Labor Day arrived in 1965, the hard work to construct Launch Complex 39’s Pad A was complete, and the pad was ready to be turned over to NASA. Designed to launch the Apollo Program’s Saturn V rocket, Pad A was the first of two planned pads in the complex to be completed. Construction began in November 1963. The prime contractor was a joint venture of Blount Brothers Construction Corp. and M. M. Sundt Construction Co.

Pad 39A, 1977Looking like a giant erector set, is the construction of the payload changeout room for the Space Shuttle Program at Launch Pad 39A. It allows the capability of loading the shuttle vertically, and making installation or removal of payloads at the launch pad possible.

Pad 39A, Future conceptsThis is one of several concepts prepared by Kennedy Space Center’s 21st Century Space Launch Complex Program planning team depicting Launch Pad 39A reconfigured to support a number of heavy-lift, commercial crew or other launch vehicles. more>


Federal Government Attacks on Boeing Fuel Our National Economic Suicide

Gary ShapiroBy Gary Shapiro – Last week, the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) told Boeing that it could not open the facility it had spent three years creating to build its new Dreamliner series of airplanes. The NLRB did not deem the plant unsafe or harmful to South Carolina workers. The NLRB simply said that it could block BoeingBoeing, S Carolina from using the new plant as Boeing’s decision to locate it in South Carolina was in part based on a desire to avoid work stoppages and strikes, and this rationale was harmful to unions and thus an illegal act.

Never before has the federal government told a company it may not relocate within the United States. DreamlinerThis outrageous overreach is unacceptable and will certainly be overturned in time by the federal courts. But the process may take years, and meanwhile a great American company – and one of our nation’s largest exporters – will be hurt irreparably. more>