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Harvard

A microscope image of some of the wired tissue (Image: Boston Children's Hospital)

Under its human skin, James Cameron’s Terminator was a fully-armored cyborg built out of a strong, easy-to-spot hyperalloy combat chassis – but judging from recent developments, it looks like Philip K. Dick and his hard-to-recognize replicants actually got it right. In a collaboration between Harvard, MIT and Boston Children's Hospital, researchers have figured out how to grow three-dimensional samples of artificial tissue that are very intimately embedded within nanometer-scale electronics, to such an extent that it is hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. It could lead to a breakthrough approach to studying biological tissues on the nanoscale, and may one day be used as an efficient, real-time drug delivery system – and perhaps, why not, even to build next-generation androids.  Read More

A new ultrathin, flat lens focuses light without imparting the optical distortions of conv...

The miniaturization of electronics, in particular the electronic sensors on which digital images are captured, has seen digital cameras shrink to such a degree that they are now standard equipment on mobile phones. The main thing holding back further downsizing is the lens through which the light is focused onto said image sensor. A team of applied physicists from Harvard University has now overcome this roadblock by creating a lens that, at just 60 nanometers thick, is effectively two-dimensional. Not only that, the ultrathin lens focuses light without the distortions seen in conventional lenses.  Read More

A professor of genetics has broken a record by storing 70 billion copies of his book using...

George Church is a professor of genetics at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, and also co-author of the book Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves in DNA. With a title like that, it’s only fitting that the book was used to break the record that it recently did – Church led a team that encoded 70 billion html copies of the book in DNA. That’s 1,000 times more data than the previous record.  Read More

Left shows galaxies from AREPO simulation, right shows actual galaxies from Hubble image (...

A new approach for simulating the birth and evolution of galaxies and cosmic filaments within the Universe has been developed by researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics together with their colleagues at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies. It's called AREPO, and has been used to simulate the evolution of our Universe from only 380,000 years after the Big Bang to the present. The full variety of spiral, elliptical, peculiar, and dwarf galaxies appear in the simulated Universe.  Read More

A soft-bot filled with florescent fluid (Photo: DARPA)

If you’re worried about the coming robot apocalypse, then worry some more because soft, squishy robots just got camouflage. Scientists at Harvard University working under a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract have developed a way of turning soft robots into “chameleons” capable of blending in with their backgrounds and even hiding from infrared sensors. That’s pretty impressive (or scary) for robots that can be made for less than US$100 apiece.  Read More

Meshworm imitates to movements of an earthworm (Photo: MIT)

In an effort to create robots with soft, pliable exteriors that would be suited to exploring hard to reach places and traversing bumpy terrain, a team of researchers from MIT, Harvard University and Seoul National University has developed a robotic earthworm called Meshworm. Moving in the same manner as an earthworm, it looks disturbingly like an earthworm as it crawls across the floor. However, unlike an earthworm and despite its soft exterior, it is remarkably tough and can survive hammer blows and even being trodden.  Read More

An ultra-slippery surface treatment known as SLIPS has been shown to keep bacterial biofil...

Last June, scientists from Harvard University announced the development of their new SLIPS (Slippery Liquid-Infused Porous Surfaces) technology. When used to coat surfaces, it is highly effective at keeping ice, frost, or just about any type of liquid from accumulating on them. Now, it turns out that SLIPS is also very good at keeping something else from getting a toehold – biofilms.  Read More

A computer model (left) and a physical model of it, created using the new software

Take a look at all the Portal toys that are currently available, and you’ll realize just how much gamers like to own physical models of the digital characters that they know so well. When it comes to characters that are really physically “weird,” though, there can be a problem – goofy anatomy that works in a computer-generated world may not work in the real world. In other words, a physical model of a monster from a video game may be too top-heavy to stand up on its own, its arms may positioned in such a way that they can’t bend properly, or it may otherwise just be plain ol’ gimped. However, new software has been designed to solve those problems – it takes any three-dimensional computer character, and then uses a 3D printer to create a fully-assembled articulated figure based on it.  Read More

The smart suit is made up of a series of soft components designed to help improve a soldie...

The Pentagon has long had a fascination with machines that turn soldiers into supermen. Back in the 1960s, it funded General Electric’s work on Hardiman, an exoskeleton that was intended to allow its operator to lift loads of 1,500 lbs (680 kg). Almost half a century later, it’s still pouring money into all sorts of exoskeletons, assisted lifting devices (think robotrousers) and similar aids. Now Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering has been selected by DARPA to spearhead the effort to develop a new “smart suit” intended to improve the endurance of soldiers in the field.  Read More

Researchers have created an artificial jellyfish (right) dubbed 'Medusoid' using rat heart...

Having roamed the seas for at least 500 million years and holding the title of the oldest multi-organ animal on the planet, jellyfish have certainly stood the test of time. So it’s probably not surprising to see various research groups looking to the gelatinous, umbrella-shaped animals for inspiration in a number of areas, including the development of ocean-going robots. Now researchers at Harvard University and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) looking to gain a better understanding of how biological pumps such as the heart work, have created an artificial jellyfish from rat heart muscle and silicon.  Read More

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