Photokina 2014 highlights

MIT

An image of the new computer chip, that mimics the activity of neurons in the brain (Photo...

The human brain contains approximately 100 billion neurons, and each one of those communicates with many others by releasing neurotransmitters. Those neurotransmitters cross a gap – properly known as a synapse – between the sending (presynaptic) and receiving (postsynaptic) neurons. Ion channels on the membranes of the postsynaptic neurons open or close in response to the arrival of the neurotransmitters, changing the neurons’ electrical potential. Should that potential change to a sufficient degree, the neuron will produce an electrical impulse known as an action potential. It’s a very complex process ... and scientists from MIT have now recreated it on a silicon computer chip.  Read More

A rendering of the FastRunner bipedal sprinting robot (Image: IHMC)

Fast as the FastRunner may become, it will never be able to escape the comparison to an ostrich. One day, thanks to a joint effort by MIT and the Florida Institute of Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC), this bipedal sprinting robot is going to assume its rightful place in the DARPA-funded robotic zoo, right next to the robotic cheetah and the mule-like BigDog. Thanks to an innovative, self-stabilizing leg design, the movements of this flightless robotic bird are going to be not only very efficient, but also extremely fast. The legs are already capable of hitting 27 mph (43.4 km/h), matching the fastest of humans. The researchers hope to see FastRunner reach speeds of up to 50 mph (80.4 km/h). That, plus the ability to negotiate fairly rough, uneven terrain, potentially makes it a force to be reckoned with, on the battlefield and elsewhere.  Read More

An algorithm developed by MIT promises to  significantly reduce MRI scan time (Photo: Toma...

If you've ever had to endure a diagnostic session in a magnetic resonance (MRI) machine, you know that lying motionless for up to 45 minutes can be uncomfortable at best. Add in the countless ear-ringing thumps, bangs and knocks and you have a procedure that begs for any sort of abbreviation. Thanks to a new algorithm developed by an MIT research team, the time spent in that claustrophobic tube may soon be appreciably shortened, without much loss of accuracy.  Read More

The MIT radar, seen here from the back, can see through concrete walls up to eight inches ...

A group of MIT researchers has developed a radar that provides a video of what is happening behind a concrete wall. Just like any other radar, the device emits radio waves that bounce off objects and analyzes the return signal. Dr. Gregory Charvat and his colleagues from MIT's Lincoln Laboratory estimate that penetrating an 8-inch thick concrete wall is possible from a maximum distance of approximately 60 feet (18,3 m). The 99.9975 percent of the signal that returns to the radar after bouncing off the wall is disregarded. The remaining part that made it through the wall and back is amplified and used to generate a real-time, 10.8 frames per second visualization of the targets on the other side.  Read More

A scanning electron microscope image of the nanowire-alginate composite scaffolds, showing...

Around the world, scientists have been working on ways of replacing the heart tissue that dies when a heart attack occurs. These efforts have resulted in heart "patches" that are made from actual cardiomyocytes (heart muscle cells), or that encourage surrounding heart cells to grow into them. One problem with some such patches, however, lies in the fact that that they consist of cardiomyocytes set within a scaffolding of poorly-conductive materials. This means that they are insulated from the electrical signals sent out by the heart, so they don't expand and contract as the heart beats. Scientists at MIT, however, may be on the way to a solution.  Read More

Time lapse image of the robot using the new MIT algorithm that results in more efficient a...

The act of picking up a coffee cup from a table, despite being relatively simple for a human being, actually involves extremely complex calculations as we spontaneously plan a trajectory around obstacles in free space to reach the cup. This complexity means such tasks can be incredibly difficult for an autonomous robot and results in most motion-planning algorithms settling for any path – no matter how inefficient – that will allow the robot to achieve its goal. Now researchers have developed a new motion-planning system that lets robots save time and energy by moving more efficiently, which also makes their movements more predictable - an important consideration if they are to interact with humans.  Read More

An MIT-led research team used inelastic neutron scattering to demonstrate that hydrogen at...

With hydrogen atoms consisting of just a single electron and single proton, its gaseous form made up of two hydrogen atoms can be hard to contain. Hydrogen storage, along with hydrogen production and the lack of infrastructure, remains a major stumbling block in efforts to usher in hydrogen as a replacement for hydrocarbon-based fuels in cars, trucks and even homes. But with the multiple advantages hydrogen offers, developing hydrogen storage solutions has been the focus of a great deal of research. Now an MIT-led research team has demonstrated a method that could allow hydrogen to be stored inexpensively at room temperature.  Read More

The design incorporates a modular layout with hollow brick walls, steel bars for reinforce...

Launched in 2009, MIT's "1K House" project challenges designers to come up with affordable, sustainable housing solutions that can improve conditions for the billions of people in the world living on less that $1 per day. The "Pinwheel House" designed by MIT graduate student Ying chee Chui is the first prototype.  Read More

The MEMS energy harvesting device created by MIT researchers can generate 100 times as muc...

The advantages of wireless sensors to monitor equipment and structures in remote locales are obvious, but are lessened significantly if their batteries need to be regularly changed. We’ve seen a number of microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS, that harvest energy from the environment, such as ambient light and radio waves and vibrations. Now MIT News is reporting the development of a new piezoelectric device that is about the size of a U.S. quarter and can generate 100 times as much power as similarly sized devices.  Read More

Illac Diaz (right) in a home equipped with one of his Solar Bottle Bulbs(Photo: Isang Litr...

Perhaps you’ve performed that old camping trick before, where you created a lantern by shining a flashlight into a water-filled bottle. While that may have helped you find your marshmallows in the dark, imagine how much brighter that bottle would have been if it were lit directly by the Sun. Bright enough, it turns out, that it could brilliantly light up the interior of a one-room house. That’s the idea behind the Isang Litrong Liwanag (A Liter of Light) project – it’s bringing daytime indoor lighting to the homes of the poor in the Philippines, by installing water-filled plastic pop bottles through holes in their roofs.  Read More

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