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The Mind of an Inventor

October 2, 2005

Applied Minds, led by inventor Danny Hillis, is developing such imaginative inventions as “touch tables”: the surface of each is a high-resolution computer display showing a satellite-camera view of the world. By putting your hands on the table and spreading them, you zoom into a region, a city, a neighborhood. You can also slide your hand over the table to expose the view as captured at an earlier time.

The Mind-Bending New World Of Work

March 25, 2007

Motion capture is starting to transform how businesses market their products as well as design and manufacture them, with technology similar to that seen in the film “Minority Report.”

The mobile Internet you’ll be using in 10 years

September 23, 2008

The U.S. military’s next-generation Advanced Extremely High Frequency (EHF) communication satellite network gives a glimpse of the sort of data rates (~8 Mbps) and global network you might be using on mobile devices within the next decade.

The Transformational Satellite Communications System (T-Sat) is planned to replace Advanced EHF starting in 2013.

The molecular secrets behind resveratrol’s health benefits

May 1, 2014


Resveratrol has been much in the news as the component of grapes and red wine associated with reducing “bad cholesterol,” heart disease and some types of cancer. Also found in blueberries, cranberries, mulberries, peanuts and pistachios, resveratrol is associated with beneficial health effects in aging, inflammation and metabolism.

Scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have identified one of the molecular pathways that… read more

The more science you know, the less worried you are about climate

May 30, 2012


Americans with higher levels of scientific and mathematical knowledge are more skeptical regarding the dangers of climate change than their more poorly educated fellow citizens, a U.S. National Science Foundation-funded study has found.

The results of the survey are especially remarkable as the researchers were doing so from the position that the “scientific consensus” (carbon-driven global warming is ongoing and extremely dangerous) is a settled fact, and the priority is… read more

The most accurate clock of all time

May 19, 2005

A strontium atomic clock has set another benchmark, with an accuracy of 1 part in 10^18, 1000 times more accurate than any of its predecessors.

The most complex synthetic biology circuit yet

New sensor can detect four different molecules, could be used to program cells to precisely monitor their environments
October 8, 2012

Mining circuits from genomic islands. a, The truth table for an<br />
AND gate. b, The architecture of an AND gate. The protein–protein and<br />
protein–DNAinteractions that can lead to crosstalk between gates are shown as<br />
red rectangles. c

Christopher Voigt, an associate professor of biological engineering at MIT,.and his students have developed circuit components that don’t interfere with one another, allowing them to produce the most complex synthetic circuit ever built.

The circuit integrates four sensors for different molecules. Such circuits could be used in cells to precisely monitor their environments and respond appropriately.

Background: the big burrito

Using genes as interchangeable parts,… read more

The most important education technology in 200 years

November 3, 2012


Education is about to change dramatically, says Anant Agarwal, who heads edX, a $60 million MIT-Harvard effort to stream a college education over the Web, free, with plans to teach a billion students, Technology Review reports.

“Massive open online courses,” or MOOCs, offered by new education ventures like edX, Coursera, and Udacity, to name the most prominent (see “The Crisis in Higher Education”) will affect markets… read more

The most realistic virtual reality room in the world

May 11, 2006

More than $4 million in equipment upgrades will shine 100 million pixels on Iowa State University’s six-sided virtual reality room.

That’s twice the number of pixels lighting up any virtual reality room in the world and 16 times the pixels now projected on Iowa State’s C6, a 10-foot by 10-foot virtual reality room that surrounds users with computer-generated 3-D images. That means the C6 will produce virtual reality at… read more

The Muse Is in the Software

November 24, 2003

“Inventing is about catching the wave,” said Ray Kurzweil, who addressed a national convention of inventors in Philadelphia last Monday. “Most inventions fail not because the inventor can’t get them to work but because the invention comes at the wrong time.”

Kurzweil’s latest invention, with engineer John Keklak, is cybernetic poet, recently awarded patent No. 6,647,395. Like many of Kurzweil’s inventions, it’s based on pattern recognition.

The music of the silks

Researchers synthesize a new kind of silk fiber --- and find that music can help fine-tune the material’s properties
November 30, 2012

This diagram of the molecular structure of one of the artificially produced versions of spider silk depicts one that turned out to form strong, well-linked fibers. A different structure, made using a variation of the same methods, was not able to form into the long fibers needed to make it useful. Musical compositions based on the two structures helped to show how they differed. (Credit: Markus Buehler/MIT)

Research by MIT’s Markus Buehler — together with David Kaplan of Tufts University and Joyce Wong of Boston University — has synthesized new variants on silk’s natural structure, and found a method for making further improvements in the synthetic material.

The work stems from a collaboration of civil and environmental engineers, mathematicians, biomedical engineers and musical composers. The results are reported in a paper published… read more

The mystery behind anesthesia

December 20, 2011

This spectrogram shows EEG recordings from a patient undergoing general anesthesia. Two doses of the intravenous anesthetic propofol lead to bursts of activity (minute seven). Then an inhaled anesthetic, isoflurane, is added, and at minute 14, a characteristic pattern of slow-wave and alpha oscillations begins. Surgery ends at minute 16, and the isoflurane is switched off. The EEG gradually shifts to high-frequency, less intense oscillations. (Credit: Emery Brown)

Mapping how our neural circuits change under the influence of anesthesia could shed light on one of neuroscience’s most perplexing riddles: consciousness.

Emery Brown, an anesthesiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital, is part of a small but growing group of anesthesiology researchers who are using the electroencephalogram (EEG), a tool for monitoring the brain’s electrical activity, to systematically probe each aspect of anesthesia in humans and animals.

Working with bioengineer… read more

The Naked Ear

January 17, 2008

Two fully implantable hearing aids are now in clinical trials.

(Otologics/Peter Belanger)

The nanoelectronic road ahead

September 17, 2001

The semiconductor industry has the potential for at least 20 more years of exponential progress ahead of us,” said James D. Meindl, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director of the Microelectronics Research Center at the Georgia Institute of Technology in a paper published in the September 14 issue of the journal Science.Based on a comprehensive analysis of the fundamental, material, device, circuit and system limits on silicon semiconductors,… read more

The Nanoethics Group publishes nanotechnology anthology with Springer

April 29, 2008

The Nanoethics Group has released “Nanotechnology and Society: Current and Emerging Ethical Issues,” a collection of papers addressing a range of near-term issues related to nanotechnology’s ethical and social implications.

Published by Springer, the essays tackle such contentious issues as environmental impact, health dangers, medical benefits, intellectual property, professional code of ethics, privacy, and international governance.

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