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Deep neural networks have studied millions of images and some can now recognize the object...

Computers aren't best suited to visual object recognition. Our brains are hardwired to quickly see and match patterns in everything, with great leaps of intuition, while the processing center of a computer is more akin to a very powerful calculator. But that hasn't stopped neuroscientists and computer scientists from trying over the past 40 years to design computer networks that mimic our visual skills. Recent advances in computing power and deep learning algorithms have accelerated that process to the point where a group of MIT neuroscientists has found a network design that compares favorably to the brain of our primate cousins.  Read More

Mars One's vision of a Martian base

The race to reach Mars is more like a decades-long marathon, but in the short term the latest space race involves inventing ways that might make setting up shop on the Red Planet possible. In the past few months alone, three teams have unveiled their visions of how humans might breathe on the fourth planet from the sun.  Read More

MIT researchers modified an NFC tag to function as a gas detecting sensor (Photo: Melanie ...

While the stench of rotting food would cause you to stop from chowing down, chances are it became unfit for consumption some time before those funky aromas wafted through your nostrils. Chemists at MIT have been working on a wireless, inexpensive sensor that, among other things, identifies spoiled food early by detecting gases in the air. It then shares its data with a smartphone, potentially alerting users to that soon-to-be moldy fruit in the bottom of the fridge.  Read More

The Freedom Chair's knobby bike tires and torque-increasing lever drive help it navigate r...

The wheelchair provides invaluable mobility to those with disabilities, but there are countless places where it can't go. Trails, parks, beaches, woods …without a paved road or structured pathway, the wheelchair can quickly find itself out of its element. The GRIT Freedom Chair updates wheelchair design – well not technically wheelchair, but "recreational device" – with all-terrain capabilities. Part mountain bike, part (recreational) wheelchair, the Freedom Chair opens up a new world of exploration.  Read More

Researchers have developed a coating that prevents a battery from conducting electricity w...

It can be a herculean task to get kids to eat their vegetables, but they'll happily chow down on things they aren't supposed to. If one of those things is a button battery, serious injuries can result in the form of burns to the esophagus or tears in the digestive tract. Researchers may not have found a way to stop kids swallowing button batteries, but they have found a way to make such culinary no-nos safer.  Read More

Where are these robots planning on going? Just check their projected paths

Imagine if you were trying to develop an autonomous robot, and it continually made a mistake but you couldn't tell why. Ultimately, you might end up having to review all the lines of code that made up its programming, hoping that the error would just jump out at you. In order to avoid such scenarios, MIT's Ali-akbar Agha-mohammadi and Shayegan Omidshafiei have created a system known as measurable virtual reality (MVR). It projects a robot's perceptions and intentions onto the floor, so that designers can see what it's thinking.  Read More

Chisel allows small computational errors to be made, in the name of saving power (Image: S...

You may have heard the expression, "Work smarter, not harder." When applied to humans, it means (partially) that we should do our best work on the tasks that are the most important, instead of wasting time and effort by going all out on every task. Well, that principle is now also being applied to computers. Using MIT's new Chisel system, computers are saving power by delegating less-critical tasks to less-dependable lower-energy hardware. This means mistakes may be made on those tasks, but that's OK.  Read More

The microwalkers consist of a pair of particles, one of which has magnetic properties and ...

Ever wonder how a germ knows where to attack the body or how a white blood cell knows where to counter attack? How bacteria find food? Or how cells organize themselves to close a wound? How can something so simple do things so complex? A team of MIT researchers is seeking the answers as they develop "microwalkers" – microscopic machines that can move unguided across the surface of a cell as they seek out particular areas.  Read More

Waste water from fracking is over five times saltier than seawater (Photo: Christopher Hal...

Fracking is a highly controversial and divisive issue. Proponents argue that it could be the biggest energy boom since the Arabian oil fields were opened almost 80 years ago, but this comes at a serious cost to the environment. Among the detrimental effects of the process is that the waste water it produces is over five times saltier than seawater, which is, to put it mildly, not good. A research team led by MIT that has found an economical way of removing salt from fracking waste water that promises to not only reduce pollution, but conserve water as well.  Read More

The MIT assessment indicates that the Mars One mission needs revisiting if it's to succeed...

A team of MIT researchers has completed an analysis of the Mars One mission to colonize the Red Planet that throws the feasibility of the non-profit project into question. By analyzing the mission’s details, the team found that as the plan stands, there are a number of hurdles that must be overcome if the colonists aren't to end up dead within 10 weeks of landing.  Read More

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