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MIT


— Science

Sponge-like structure generates steam using lowest concentration of solar energy yet

By - July 22, 2014 2 Pictures
Researchers working at MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering claim to have produced a sponge-like substance that helps convert water to steam using sunlight one-hundredth as bright as that required by conventional steam-producing solar generators. A composite of graphite flakes layered on a bed of carbon foam, the new material is reported to convert as much as 85 percent of received solar energy into steam. Read More
— Telecommunications

New technique could boost internet speeds tenfold

By - July 21, 2014 5 Pictures
Researchers at Aalborg University, MIT and Caltech have developed a new mathematically-based technique that can boost internet data speeds by up to 10 times, by making the nodes of a network much smarter and more adaptable. The advance also vastly improves the security of data transmissions, and could find its way into 5G mobile networks, satellite communications and the Internet of Things. Read More
— Science

MIT adds two robotic fingers to the human hand

By - July 17, 2014 2 Pictures
Earlier this month, we heard about an MIT project in which test subjects were equipped with an extra set of robotic arms in order to help them perform tasks. While the technology is certainly intriguing, some people might find the concept of a four-armed cyborg to be a little ... much. If you're one of those people, then you might be more comfortable with another ongoing MIT project. It's just aimed at giving people two extra robotic fingers. Read More
— Robotics

Phase-change material could let robots be soft or hard-bodied as needed

By - July 15, 2014
If you've ever watched an octopus, you may have noticed how they can deliver powerful grasping force when necessary, yet can also squeeze through tiny openings by essentially making themselves "liquid." Now imagine if there were robots that could do the same thing. They could conceivably squirm through debris to reach buried survivors at disaster sites, or even travel through patients' bodies to perform medical procedures. An international team of scientists is working on making such technology a reality, using a combination of polyurethane foam and wax. Read More
— Drones

Aerial drones may find use as smart photographic light sources

By - July 12, 2014 3 Pictures
As any professional photographer knows, setting up lights can be a hassle. This is often the case in the studio, but especially when shooting on location. Before too long, however, it may be possible to use hovering autonomous drones as light sources. In fact, that's just what a team from MIT and Cornell University has already done. Their system not only does away with light stands, but the light-equipped aircraft automatically moves to compensate for movements of the model or photographer. Read More
— Science

Artist creates a living copy of Vincent Van Gogh's ear with relative's DNA

By - July 11, 2014 2 Pictures
If you thought cloning mice, frogs and extinct mammoths to be challenging, how about cloning Vincent Van Gogh's ear? Dutch artist Diemut Strebe has grown a living replica of the ear that Vincent Van Gogh reportedly sliced off in a troubled episode, using genetic material from one of Van Gogh's direct descendants. With a lifespan of 80 years or more, the ear could live as long as any one of us, says Strebe, who is investigating the idea of replicating people from historical DNA. Read More
— Medical

Researchers engineer red blood cells to deliver therapeutic payloads

By - July 3, 2014
Although several studies are currently exploring the use of man-made nanoparticles for delivering medication to targeted areas of the body, care must be taken to ensure that those particles don't cause adverse reactions when introduced to the bloodstream. Scientists at the MIT-affiliated Whitehead Institute, however, are taking a different approach to the same basic concept. They've developed a method of attaching chemical payloads to red blood cells. Read More
— Robotics

MIT researchers augment humans with extra robotic arms

Featured in comic books since 1963, Dr. Octopus, or "Doc Ock" is an enemy of Spiderman with four extra robotic arms attached to his back that assist him in his nefarious plans. That vision of humans with extra limbs – minus the supervillain part – is taking shape at MIT with researchers adding "supernumerary robotic arms" to assist with tasks that ordinary two-armed humans would find difficult. Read More
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