Michio Kaku calls nuclear fusion check at nationwide lab ‘large step towards the holy grail of power analysis’

Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku praised a recent nuclear fusion experiment at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

“This is a huge step towards the holy grail of energy research,” said Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at City College and the City University of New York. “To break even, to gain more energy than you invest, and that could end up being a game changer.”

The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced a major achievement in nuclear fusion, the it had back on August 8th, was able to use 1.3 megajoules of energy at its National ignition system, albeit very briefly. Kaku told CNBCs “The news with Shepard Smith“that the achievement was a huge step towards clean energy.

“A fusion reactor is carbon neutral, it does not produce carbon dioxide, it does not produce large amounts of nuclear waste, which is found in nuclear fission plants with uranium, it does not melt,” said the author of “The God Equation: The Search for a Theory of Everything.” “The fuel is sea water, hydrogen from sea water could be the base fuel.”

merger, the lesser known and opposite reaction to fission, is when two atoms collide to form a heavier atom and release energy. This is how the sun generates energy.

Kaku explained some of the disadvantages of nuclear fusion and why it is not currently an easily accessible source of energy.

“It turns out that when you heat hydrogen to tens of millions of degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature of the sun, things get unstable, and so this reaction took place for over a hundred trillionth of a second, just a snap of your fingers, so in other words, us want to have a continuous flow of energy, not bursts of energy like we found here, “said Kaku.

Helicopters, money funds and a brand new public well being lab: How state businesses suggest spending Virginia’s rescue fund cash

The Virginia Capitol at sunrise. (Ned Oliver/ Virginia Mercury)

Virginia has $4.3 billion in federal aid to spend and no shortage of ideas.

State agencies hoping to tap into American Rescue Plan funds have submitted wish lists that top more than $18 billion, floating proposals ranging from new helicopters for Virginia State Police to $1,000 cash payments for essential workers. 

Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration hasn’t committed to specific line items, but lawmakers are scheduled to convene next month for a special legislative session to decide how to spend the money. 

Discussions are ongoing over whether some of the requests are or aren’t eligible for the federal dollars, which are supposed to have a direct link to the negative effects of the pandemic.

Furthermore, the federal government has earmarked certain funds for specific purposes, such as combating student learning loss due to schools going virtual during the pandemic. And because the state can spend the funds over several years, policymakers may choose to set some money aside to adapt to future needs. Federal dollars put toward some initiatives may also free up state dollars for others not eligible for relief funding.

Most of the spending proposals put forward, from vaccine outreach and utility assistance to fixing the unemployment system and broadband investment, won’t come as a surprise. 

Other spending suggestions are a little less intuitive — or show agencies trying to use the sudden influx of funds to advance efforts that may have been back-burnered in tighter budget years. 

Here’s a sampling of the proposals that caught Mercury reporters’ eyes.  

Compensation for essential workers
Price tag: $800 million

Labor proposals include a suggestion to give $1,000 “hero grants” to low-wage essential workers who stayed on the job during the pandemic.

The funding request for $700 million doesn’t specify exactly which types of workers might qualify, but notes that “premium pay” for essential workers is an explicitly authorized use of the funds.

Higher education officials have also requested up to $100 million for “hero scholarships” to help essential workers who want to further their education. The proposal suggests giving up to $5,000 per year to assist essential workers with getting a GED or college degree.

Jason Chadwick, left, who has worked for Kroger for 20 years, leads other workers in a chant demanding the reinstatement of hazard pay during a protest outside of the Kroger on Lombardy in Richmond, Va., September 3, 2020. (Parker Michels-Boye / For the Virginia Mercury)

COVID resources for non-native English speakers
Price tag: $21 million

A persistent complaint throughout the pandemic has been the state’s dependence on automatic (and often shoddy) translations to provide information about the spread of COVID-19 and roll out of vaccines to non-English speakers.

The approach at one point led the Virginia Department of Health to inform Spanish speakers that “the vaccine is not necessary” where English speakers were informed that it is not required.

Northam’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion proposes setting aside $5 million a year to pay for translation services, as well as hiring a coordinator to create a statewide language access plan for translation needs for state agencies. The office also proposes hiring two full time American Sign Language interpreters and a coordinator dedicated to “incorporating people with disabilities and other access and functional needs” into the state’s emergency and recovery plans.

The rescue fund money would cover four years of work.

A bailout for the state’s unemployment trust fund
Price tag: $1.3 billion

One of the biggest single requests comes by way of the Virginia Employment Commission, which wants $1.3 billion to restore the state’s unemployment trust fund to pre-pandemic levels.

The state relies on the fund to pay for unemployment benefits, which saw an unprecedented 1.3 million initial claims last year and another 300,000 already this year — more than double the applications for assistance the state saw in all of 2019.

The fund would otherwise be rebuilt through a series of hefty payroll tax increases on businesses. And state leaders and the business community have already called heading that off a top priority.

A parking lot outside a UVA dorm was filled with hundreds of state police cruisers in advance of the one year anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in 2017. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury – Aug. 8, 2018)

Body cameras and helicopters for state police
Price tag: $40 million

In one of the more tangentially pandemic-related requests, Virginia State Police asked for $19 million to roll out body cameras to their officers.

The department argued that “vulnerable social populations” have seen some of the biggest impacts from COVID and have some of the lowest rates of vaccine acceptance “due to fears and skepticism towards government resulting from systemic marginalization.”

The agency proposes that body cameras will help because they foster transparency that in turn “will establish trust in government and mitigate future spread of COVID-19.”

Their justification for requesting two new helicopters at a cost of $21 million was more clear cut. The agency says they will replace two older units currently used for medical evacuation flights that were “experiencing unacceptable downtime” and “impacting the department’s ability to provide air ambulance services during the COVID-19 public health emergency.”

Highway improvements between Richmond and Williamsburg
Price tag: $100 million

The only major road project included in the funding requests is the continued widening of Interstate 64 between Richmond and Williamsburg.

Specifically, transportation planners are suggesting $100 million to help with the costs of widening the interstate in a 29-mile stretch between New Kent County and Williamsburg.

Mitigating congestion on I-64 has been a top priority for Hampton Roads-area leaders.

The request specifies that the new improvements would begin around Exit 205 in New Kent, where a previous widening project between Richmond and New Kent ended in 2019, and continue to exit 234 near Williamsburg.

Capital projects unrelated to COVID-19 generally aren’t intended to be funded through the American Rescue Plan, but the act gives states leeway to spend money on things like roads if the pandemic affected government revenue sources that would typically pay for them.

Mapping overlaps between historic inequities and urban green spaces
Price tag: $500,000

In 2020, a study co-authored by Science Museum of Virginia chief scientist Jeremy Hoffman made national headlines when it found that neighborhoods federal housing officials historically classified as “hazardous” because of their high proportion of low-income and minority residents are hotter than other neighborhoods

The classification, known as redlining, was used by the federal Home Owners’ Loan Corporation between the 1930s and 1968 to guide banks on granting mortgages to homebuyers and led to wide racial gaps in homeownership. 

It also contributed to higher temperatures today in historically minority or disadvantaged neighborhoods, where shade-providing trees are in short supply and large swathes of land have been paved. 

Now the Virginia Department of Forestry wants to use $500,000 to develop heat island maps that pinpoint where higher temperatures overlap with formerly redlined neighborhoods. 

The agency says that “federal guidance aligns funding” with projects such as those that aim to create green infrastructure and improve water quality, both of which can be achieved by planting trees and other flora. 

An electric vehicle charges at a public station in Henrico County, July 2020. (Sarah Vogelsong/Virginia Mercury)

Electric vehicle infrastructure
Price tag: $33.3 million

With federal guidelines allowing funds to be used to replace lost public sector revenues for services including infrastructure, the Department of Transportation is proposing a hefty investment of $33.3 million in electric vehicle infrastructure. 

Democrats in the General Assembly and the Northam administration spent the last legislative session pushing electric vehicles as a way to reduce transportation emissions, Virginia’s largest contributor to carbon emissions. 

Money was a sticking point, though. Lawmakers acknowledged that infrastructure is lacking in many rural areas. And although the General Assembly signed off on an electric vehicle rebate program, legislators left it unfunded, a situation the law’s sponsor attributed to tight pandemic budgets. 

A tour of the construction of the new Highland Springs High School in Henrico, estimated to cost about $80 million. (Henrico County Public Schools)

School construction and improvements
Price tag: $2.6 billion

Even before the pandemic, school construction was a major issue in Virginia. A recent survey from the state’s Department of Education found that more than half of public school buildings are more than 50 years old. Replacing those aging structures is estimated to cost the state more than $24.7 billion.

Enter the American Rescue Plan. The federal government set aside specific funds for pandemic-related improvements, including new HVAC systems, but VDOE proposes dedicating an additional $2 billion for more general renovation projects. That money would be delivered to local school divisions through a competitive grant fund, according to the agency’s request.

The department is also requesting an additional $600 million for improvements in early and higher education. The majority of that — $500 million over the next three years — would go toward capital improvements for “successful” child care operators, “allowing them to serve additional children and help more parents get back to work.” 

Another $100 million is proposed for modernization efforts at the state’s public colleges and universities, from updated heating systems to new equipment and technology.

A new public health lab
Price tag: $275 million

Virginia’s public health laboratory — once mostly a site for specialized testing and tracking rare diseases — has taken on a whole new importance throughout the pandemic. 

For the first critical weeks, it was the only lab in the state that could test for COVID-19. And over the past year and a half, its responsibilities have expanded dramatically, from sequencing samples of the virus to rapidly detecting new variants.

The Virginia Department of General Services wants to expand those capabilities even further. The agency is asking for $275 million to replace the state’s aging site in downtown Richmond with a “state-of-the-art” new laboratory in Petersburg. The proposed location is on the same campus as Central State Hospital, a state-run psychiatric facility that’s currently undergoing a major renovation. And it would boost capacity for complex and high-volume testing, which is already “nearing its limit” at the existing lab, according to DGS.

A public health emergency fund
Price tag: $10 million

The scramble to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic can be traced, in large part, to decades of underfunding in public health. As Virginia was recording its first cases, some health departments in low-income counties were abruptly closing their doors. And across the state, employees were pulled from critical services like maternal health and environmental monitoring to serve as case investigators or contract tracers.

In those early days, the Virginia Department of Health said it lacked the funding to “quickly ramp up an appropriate operational response.” Now, the agency is requesting $10 million for a public health emergency fund. The money might not be used immediately, but leaders say it would give the department more agility to respond to future pandemics.

Eastern State Hospital in James City County (Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services)

Staffing at state mental hospitals
Price tag: $335.5 million

Virginia’s state-run mental hospitals have been struggling for years with rising admissions. But the COVID-19 pandemic pushed them into crisis mode, with outbreaks making it even more challenging to discharge patients and free up bed space. 

That high patient volume, combined with chronic staffing shortages, have made the facilities “tremendously unsafe,” according to Alison Land, commissioner of the state’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. The agency is requesting more than $300 million over the next several years to boost employment, the majority of which would go to salary increases for essential frontline workers. Another $24 million would be dedicated to security guards and safety improvements at aging facilities.

The department is also requesting millions for community mental health services — part of an ongoing effort to reduce admissions through better front-end treatment. But staffing needs have often been framed as one of the most urgent challenges facing Virginia’s beleaguered mental hospitals.

The sun sets over the James River in Richmond. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Septic and sewer overflow repairs and replacements
Price tag: $230 million

One of the biggest-ticket items Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality has on its wish list is $230 million to help repair and replace failing septic systems, pipes that send waste directly into waterways and “combined sewer overflow” systems that can lead to sewage releases during heavy rainfall.

The federal rescue plan “specifically lists water and wastewater infrastructure as an eligible use,” DEQ says in its justification for the request. 

Of the $230 million, DEQ wants to see $30 million go to Richmond to speed up its ongoing overhaul of the city’s combined sewer overflow system. The agency has also identified $35 million worth of sewage system fixes in Southwest Virginia, as well as millions of dollars of investment in wastewater connections for underserved communities in Surry, Middlesex, Northampton and Accomack counties.

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Rocket Lab going public through SPAC with Neutron rocket enlargement

Peter Beck, CEO of Rocket Lab, stands with his company’s electron rocket.

Missile laboratory

Rocket Lab, the leader among companies that build small rockets to launch satellites, is going public through a SPAC merger that valued the company at more than $ 4 billion at the time of the deal.

The company works with Vector Acquisition, a special-purpose acquisition company. Rocket Lab will be listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker RKLB when the deal closes, which is expected in the second quarter.

“This milestone accelerates Rocket Lab’s ability to realize the full potential of space through our launch and spacecraft platforms and catalyzes our drive to create a new multi-billion dollar space application business,” said Peter Beck, CEO of Rocket Lab. in a press release.

Vector’s SPAC is currently trading under the ticker VACQ. The SPAC’s shares were up more than 20% in premarket trading from the previous closing price of $ 10.25 per share.

The SPAC deal values ​​Rocket Lab at an enterprise value of $ 4.1 billion. The company expects cash around $ 750 million after the merger is complete. That cash includes up to $ 320 million from Vector Acquisition and $ 470 million PIPE Round led by Vector Capital, BlackRock and Neuberger Berman, among others.

PIPE, or private investment in public equity, enables private investors to buy public shares at below market prices. A SPAC is a special-purpose acquisition company where investors essentially give a company a blank check for the purpose of unspecified acquisitions of other companies.

Beck will continue to lead Rocket Lab as CEO. Alex Slusky, Vector Capital’s Chief Investment Officer, will join the company’s board of directors, alongside Sven Strohband from Khosla Ventures, David Cowan from Bessemer Venture Partner, Matt Ocko from DCVC and independent director Mike Griffin.

In particular, the Rocket Lab announcement comes on the same day as The satellite data company Spire Global announced that it will also merge with a SPAC go public. Both Rocket Lab and Spire Global count Bessemer as investors, with partners Cowan and Tess Hatch being represented on the respective boards of the companies.

Unveiling of the larger neutron rocket

Rocket Lab also revealed plans for a second, larger rocket called the Neutron to lift even more payloads than the current Electron rocket. The company has so far launched 97 satellites on 18 electron missions.

The electron rockets cost about $ 7 million per launch, are about 60 feet high, and can lift up to 300 kilograms into orbit.

Neutron, which is expected to launch for the first time in 2024, will have a height of 30 meters and be able to carry up to 8,000 kilograms into low-earth orbit, the company said. Rocket Lab did not disclose how much Neutron is expected to cost per launch, and noted that the company will need to build a new launchpad at NASA’s Wallops facility in Virginia on initial launch.

Rocket Lab said Neutron will have a reusable first stage, also known as a booster, that will “land on an ocean platform”. The company also determined that Neutron will be able to take astronauts to the International Space Station, adding another role to the company’s repertoire.

Building on pole position

Rocket Lab’s electron rocket launches on July 4, 2020.

Missile laboratory

Rocket Lab was founded by Beck in New Zealand in 2006 and is based in Long Beach, California and employs 530 people. The company is starting from a private complex on New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula and has built a launchpad for electron launches at Wallops.

Rocket Lab has a strong position in the launch market alongside SpaceX. Currently, the two leading companies regularly launch privately developed rockets into orbit.

However, the starting market, which is generally divided into the three sections for small, medium and heavy lifts, is growing steadily. Rocket Lab’s Electron is facing increasing competition from the rockets built by such as Astra and Virgin Orbit, while Neutron will face the medium-lift rockets being developed by Firefly Aerospace, ABL Space, Relativity space and more.

Beck’s company has recently tested a method of recovering their electron amplifiers – the most expensive part of the rocket – to reuse it SpaceX has made a routine. Unlike SpaceX, given the small size of its rockets, Rocket Lab tested a new approach: the company uses the atmosphere to slow the rocket, then parachutes and uses a helicopter to pluck the booster from the sky.

In addition to Electron, the company also did last year expanded his business to include spacecraft that mate with his rockets. Called photonRocket Lab is building the spaceship as a A new versatile platform for companies and organizations to test and operate technologies in space.

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Evaluation: New guide spotlights rogue lab and a shadow business | Leisure



This cover photo, published by Avery / Penguin Random House, features “Kill Shot: A Shadow Industry, a Deadly Disease” by Jason Dearen.


HONS

From ANN LEVIN Associated Press

“Kill Shot: A Shadow Industry, A Deadly Disease” by Jason Dearen (Avery)

Lower back pain. Stenosis of the spine. Cataracts. All of these conditions are treated with drugs made by compound pharmacies. And these drugs can blind you or kill you, in large part because there is almost no government oversight.

In his great but disturbing new book, Kill Shot, Associated Press investigative reporter Jason Dearen examines the shadow industry of compounding pharmacies and various unsuccessful efforts to contain it. The story centers around the New England Compounding Center, which produced mold-infected batches of an injectable steroid in 2012 that killed more than 100 people and made nearly 800 others sick in 20 states.

Eventually the laboratory in Framingham, Massachusetts, half an hour west of Boston, closed and 13 people, including co-owner Barry Cadden and supervising pharmacist Glenn Chin, were convicted of federal crimes. But, as Dearen makes clear in his gripping, tightly-written narrative, the problems of putting together pharmacies that make up at least 10% of the country’s drug supply are far from over.

Drawing on transcripts, interviews, FDA inspection reports, and other sources, he reconstructs this slow-moving tragedy into scenes of almost cinematic intensity. We meet the sympathetic victims, including many elderly people with chronic pain who, after receiving the injections, slowly and terribly died of fungal meningitis and its complications. We also meet the die-hard lab owners who wanted to get rich by cutting corners, hiring unqualified staff, running a dirty business, and relying on payouts to boost business.

Assessment: New guide spotlights rogue lab and a shadow trade | Leisure



This cover photo, published by Avery / Penguin Random House, features “Kill Shot: A Shadow Industry, a Deadly Disease” by Jason Dearen.


HONS

From ANN LEVIN Associated Press

“Kill Shot: A Shadow Industry, A Deadly Disease” by Jason Dearen (Avery)

Lower back pain. Stenosis of the spine. Cataracts. All of these conditions are treated with drugs made by compound pharmacies. And these drugs can blind you or kill you, in large part because there is almost no government oversight.

In his great but disturbing new book, Kill Shot, Associated Press investigative reporter Jason Dearen examines the shadow industry of compounding pharmacies and various unsuccessful efforts to contain it. The story centers around the New England Compounding Center, which produced mold-infected batches of an injectable steroid in 2012 that killed more than 100 people and made nearly 800 others sick in 20 states.

Eventually the laboratory in Framingham, Massachusetts, half an hour west of Boston, closed and 13 people, including co-owner Barry Cadden and supervising pharmacist Glenn Chin, were convicted of federal crimes. But, as Dearen makes clear in his gripping, tightly-written narrative, the problems of putting together pharmacies that make up at least 10% of the country’s drug supply are far from over.

Drawing on transcripts, interviews, FDA inspection reports, and other sources, he reconstructs this slow-moving tragedy into scenes of almost cinematic intensity. We meet the sympathetic victims, including many elderly people with chronic pain who, after receiving the injections, slowly and terribly died of fungal meningitis and its complications. We also meet the die-hard lab owners who wanted to get rich by cutting corners, hiring unqualified staff, running a dirty business, and relying on payouts to boost business.

Overview: New guide spotlights rogue lab and a shadow trade | Leisure



This cover photo, published by Avery / Penguin Random House, features “Kill Shot: A Shadow Industry, a Deadly Disease” by Jason Dearen.


HONS

From ANN LEVIN Associated Press

“Kill Shot: A Shadow Industry, A Deadly Disease” by Jason Dearen (Avery)

Lower back pain. Stenosis of the spine. Cataracts. All of these conditions are treated with drugs made by compound pharmacies. And these drugs can blind you or kill you, in large part because there is almost no government oversight.

In his great but disturbing new book, Kill Shot, Associated Press investigative reporter Jason Dearen examines the shadow industry of compounding pharmacies and various unsuccessful efforts to contain it. The story centers around the New England Compounding Center, which produced mold-infected batches of an injectable steroid in 2012 that killed more than 100 people and made nearly 800 others sick in 20 states.

Eventually the laboratory in Framingham, Massachusetts, half an hour west of Boston, closed and 13 people, including co-owner Barry Cadden and supervising pharmacist Glenn Chin, were convicted of federal crimes. But, as Dearen makes clear in his gripping, tightly-written narrative, the problems of putting together pharmacies that make up at least 10% of the country’s drug supply are far from over.

Drawing on transcripts, interviews, FDA inspection reports, and other sources, he reconstructs this slow-moving tragedy into scenes of almost cinematic intensity. We meet the sympathetic victims, including many elderly people with chronic pain who, after receiving the injections, slowly and terribly died of fungal meningitis and its complications. We also meet the die-hard lab owners who wanted to get rich by cutting corners, hiring unqualified staff, running a dirty business, and relying on payouts to boost business.