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MIT

M-Blocks are able to roll, jump and join together (Photo: MIT)

Imagine if an army of completely flat-faced cubes could roll around and even jump on their own, joining with one another to form a variety of large-scale structures. Well, that's exactly what a team of robotics researchers at MIT are trying to turn into a reality – and they've already developed the cubes that could do it.  Read More

Navigating outdoors on the MIT campus (Photo: MIT SENSEable City Lab)

The latest personal tour guide to zoom around the MIT campus flies a few feet off the ground, uses GPS and responds to phone calls. Aptly named Skycall, the drone that functions as a hovering tour guide is the brainchild of MIT’s SENSEable City Lab, which created the system to help students find their way on campus. It lets users summon it through a call, flies to where they are and leads them to their destination at an unhurried pace, while they trail along behind it.  Read More

MIT's new digital material allows the assembly of huge structures like towers, spacecraft ...

MIT researchers have invented a new digital material with a block-like design which could allow the assembly of huge structures like towers, spacecraft and airplanes – simply by snapping blocks together. Parts 10 times stiffer than existing ultralight materials can be assembled instead of engineered, by small robots crawling over the structure adding pieces of material bit by bit. Not only does the tinkertoy-like block construction method enable any structure to be assembled and disassembled easily, it's also possible to recycle them into entirely new configurations.  Read More

littleBits electronic building blocks lets kids and adults create simple circuits or inven...

Ayah Bdeir is on a mission to bring DIY electronics to a wider audience with a collection of building blocks called littleBits. Color-coded into different categories, these circuit board modules can be snapped together with magnets and combined with everyday objects to make anything from a glow-in-the-dark puppets to a bubble blowing flutes to ... whatever your imagination can conjure, and all without any specialist knowledge of electronics or design.  Read More

One of the Mylar test antennas

CubeSats are certainly in the process of revolutionizing the satellite industry. They can serve many of the same functions as full-sized satellites, but at a size of 10 x 10 x 10 cm (3.9 x 3.9 x 3.9 in) and a mass of under 1.33 kg (2.9 lb), they’re much cheaper to build and get into orbit. With that smaller overall size, however, comes smaller onboard antennas. These severely limit CubeSats’ communications range, restricting them to fairly low orbits. That may be about to change, though, as MIT is developing larger, inflatable antennas.  Read More

Pavlov Poke is designed to combat Facebook addiction ... with electric shocks

Sometimes Facebook can be a bit like a timewarp. You open it to take a quick peek and before you know it, the better part of the day is gone by. MIT PhD students Robert R. Morris and Dan McDuff decided that they’d like to spend less time with social media and more writing their dissertations, so they came up with Pavlov Poke. As the name implies, it’s a sort of aversion therapy device for weaning off of Facebook that gives you electric shocks if you've lingered too long.  Read More

MIT's high-performance membranelss flow battery could be used to store green energy for th...

Researchers at MIT have come up with a new design for a rechargeable flow battery that does away with the expensive and ineffective membrane of previous designs. The device could prove the ideal solution for effectively storing energy from intermittent power sources such as solar and wind power.  Read More

Kepler 78b has a year 8.5 hours long and orbits its sun at a distance only three times the...

Sometimes it seems as if the year just flies by. On planet Kepler 78b, it does exactly that. According to a team of scientists at MIT, the extrasolar world is so close to its sun that its year is only 8.5 hours long. That means that not only could a person go through almost three birthdays in one day, but that the surface temperature would be like taking up residence in a blast furnace.  Read More

After undergoing freefall tests in a NASA plane, the RINGS propulsion system will now be p...

Astronauts on the International Space Station are testing a new propulsion system ... inside the station. While this might seem like the height of recklessness, this particular system doesn't use rockets or propellants. Developed in the University of Maryland's Space Power and Propulsion Laboratory, this new electromagnetic propulsion technology called the Resonant Inductive Near-field Generation System (RINGS) uses magnetic fields to move spacecraft as a way to increase service life and make satellite formation flying more practical.  Read More

A zebra-like textured rhino with spiky skin, a porous rhino and an opaque rhino with a tra...

Although 3D printing technology has progressed in leaps and bounds in recent years, most printers are still only capable of printing a solid object out of a single material. That's fine if you want to produce a plastic object with the same density throughout, but what if you want to use multiple materials in the one object or alter its internal architecture to vary its density and therefore its flexibility? A team at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) has developed a new software pipeline that makes both these things possible.  Read More

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