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— Environment

MIT maps solar potential of Cambridge, Massachusetts with record accuracy

MIT researchers have developed a new technique that can be used to accurately predict the annual yield of a photovoltaic solar array located anywhere on the planet, taking into account local climate, panel orientation, and obstructions from nearby buildings. As a proof of concept, the scientists have mapped out the 17,000 rooftops of Cambridge, Massachusetts and created a user-friendly web interface that residents can use to look up their homes and get an accurate projection of the cost and return on investment of placing a PV panel over their heads. Read More
— 3D Printing

Move over 3D printing, self-assemblng 4D-printed materials are on the way

Molecular self-assembly, whereby molecules position themselves into defined arrangements, is commonplace in biological systems and nanotechnology. But researchers at MIT are working on so called "4D printing" technology that aims to bring the process up to the macro scale, enabling 3D-printed materials to be programmed to self-assemble into predefined shapes and structures. Just imagine buying some flat-pack furniture, bringing it home and enjoying a coffee whilst you watch it assemble itself. Read More
— Science Feature

Dark matter, WIMPS, and NASA's Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer data

Recently the media has been saturated with overly-hyped reports that NASA's Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) may have detected dark matter. These claims may have some justification if the word "may" is shouted, but they rest on a number of really major assumptions and guesses, some of which are on weak and shifting soil. So just what was seen in the experiment, and what are the possible explanations? Read More
— Robotics

Makr Shakr: World’s first crowd-controlled robotic bar makes debut

Robot bartenders aren’t new, but they tend to be more drink vending machine than cool mixologist. To inject a little panache, researchers at the MIT Senseable City Lab in collaboration with Coca-Cola and Bacardi Rum have developed Makr Shakr – a robot drink-mixing system that made its debut at the Google I/O annual developer conference in San Francisco on Wednesday as the world’s first crowd-controlled robotic bar. Read More
— Drones

Sticky spy UAV turns things upside down with ability to land on walls and ceilings

Micro UAVs that have the ability to slip into tight spaces, including inside buildings, have wide ranging military and search and rescue applications. To reach their full potential, however, these UAVs are going to need to learn how to land in rougher areas that don't always have a horizontal surface to touch down on. One team of scientists has begun taking a huge step towards accomplishing just that by developing a quadcopter with a mechanism that allows it to land on walls or ceilings, stay for a while, and then take off again. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Injectable nanoparticles maintain normal blood-sugar levels for up to 10 days

Aside from the inconvenience of injecting insulin multiple times a day, type 1 diabetics also face health risks if the dosage level isn’t accurate. A new approach developed by US researchers has the potential to overcome both of these problems. The method relies on a network of nanoscale particles that once injected into the body, can maintain normal blood sugar levels for more than a week by releasing insulin when blood-sugar levels rise. Read More
— Environment

Concrete spheres could deliver feasible energy storage for offshore wind turbines

The intermittent nature of wind and solar power generation is one of the biggest challenges facing these renewable energy sources. But this isn’t likely to remain a problem for much longer with everything from flywheels to liquid air systems being developed to provide a cheaper form of energy storage than batteries for times when the wind is blowing or the sun isn’t shining. A new concept out of MIT can now be added to the the list of potential solutions. Aimed specifically at offshore wind turbines, the concept would see energy stored in huge concrete spheres that would sit on the seafloor and also function as anchors for the turbines. Read More
— Space

NASA's goggle-eyed SPHERE robots create 3D maps on the fly

Take the little floating ball that gave Luke Skywalker so much trouble during lightsaber practice, slap a pair of huge welder’s goggles on it and you start to get a picture of NASA’s latest foray into flying robots. Currently being tested aboard the International Space Station (ISS), MIT Space Systems Laboratory’s SPHERES-VERTIGO system is a free-flying robot with stereoscopic vision that is part of a program to develop ways for small satellites to autonomously create 3D maps of objects such as asteroids or disabled satellites. Read More
— Aircraft

MIT researchers study electro-hydrodynamic thrust

Imagine an aircraft that is silent, invisible to infrared detectors, has zero emissions and can hover in an eerie manner that helicopters can’t. Now imagine it coming from technology currently used to suck dust out of living room air. That’s what a team of researchers at MIT is doing. They've conducted a study that indicates that ionic thrusters, currently a science fair curiosity, might one day take to the skies. Read More