Back to the main page

Archives Of New Technology Blog

Subscribe To New Technology Blog RSS Feed  RSS content feed What is RSS feed?


August 23, 2006, 6:08 PM CT

Pearl The Robot

Pearl The Robot
Pearl, the Nursebot, is a personal robotic assistant that could help more elderly adults and people with disabilities live independently. Developed by scientists at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, the mobile robot could be used to prompt people with failing memories to take medicine or visit a doctor, to provide remote telepresence for professional careivers or to assist with tasks that would be difficult for people with limited mobility.

Credit: Ken Andreyo, Carnegie Mellon University.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


August 23, 2006, 6:00 PM CT

Seeing the Invisible

Seeing the Invisible
By observing a rare head-on collision of galaxies at 10 million miles per hour, astronomers have made the first direct detection of "dark matter"--the mysterious, invisible stuff that comprises at least one-quarter of the universe.

Researchers have known for 70 years that there is much more mass in galaxies than can be seen. For example, spiral galaxies rotate at speeds that are only possible if the total mass of the galaxy is several times larger than the total of its component stars and dust. The "missing" mass is the dark matter. But dark matter neither emits nor reflects light, and only interacts with ordinary matter through gravity. Consequently, its presence has only been inferred, not observed directly. Moreover, it typically accompanies and envelops ordinary matter, often in the form of a "halo" around galaxies, and is not found by itself.

Marusa Bradac of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford, along with colleagues elsewhere, decided to hunt for dark matter by exploiting one of its few telltale visible effects: gravitational lensing. As Einstein predicted, mass curves space around it, and large masses curve it a lot. So light coming toward Earth from behind a large mass is bent by gravitationally curved space just as light in a telescope is bent by a curved lens. As a result, images of objects behind the mass are stretched. The amount of stretching is proportional to the quantity of mass warping space.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


August 23, 2006, 5:46 PM CT

Handheld Computers Make Light Work

Handheld Computers Make Light Work
MIT students are helping bring science education out of the textbook and into the handheld.

Under the casually watchful eye of Eric Klopfer, director of the MIT Teacher Education Program, a roomful of students recruited under the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) is writing code for three different handheld (PDA) projects. All of them aim at making science, economics and other "dry" topics vividly interesting, interactive and fun, for students, teachers and citizens at large.

"We use cheap hardware with easily downloadable software that pairs with curricula and with related activities," said Klopfer, who is an associate professor in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. All three projects use commercial, off-the-shelf handhelds, such as the Palm Pilot and Dell Axim, which are easy to use and more affordable for strapped school systems than laptop or desktop computers.

Ben Schmeckpeper, a 2005 MIT grad who is now working toward his master's in electrical engineering and computer science, is among the students working on the Augmented Reality project that utilizes GPS (global positioning system) capability. In addition to coding, his summer has included conducting three workshops for teachers -- two in Wisconsin and one at Harvard -- to introduce educators to the games the team has developed. The MIT group, in collaboration with colleagues at Harvard University and the University of Wisconsin, demoed two games, Hip-Hop Tycoon (an economics simulation game) and Sick at South Beach, aimed at seventh- and eighth-grade environmental science students, for a group of about 15 teachers in Milwaukee, which fortuitously is also Schmeckpeper's hometown.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


August 22, 2006, 7:58 PM CT

carbon fiber to make tiny video displays

carbon fiber to make tiny video displays
Engineers who develop microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) like to make their tiny machines out of silicon because it is cheap, plentiful and can be worked on with the tools already developed for making microelectronic circuits. There is just one problem: Silicon breaks too easily.

For decades, scientists have been trying to make video displays using tiny mirrors mounted on silicon oscillators. But silicon won't oscillate fast enough and bend far enough.

"You need something incredibly stiff to oscillate at a resonant frequency of 60,000 times a second (the line-scanning rate of most video displays), but it also needs to bend a lot for adequate image size," explained Shahyaan Desai, a Cornell graduate student who has been working for more than three years to create a practical MEMS video display device.

So Desai and his Cornell colleagues have turned to carbon fiber, the same material used to reinforce auto and aircraft body parts, bicycle frames and fishing rods.

"Carbon fiber is twice as stiff as silicon but 10 times more flexible," said Desai.

He is first author of a paper with Michael Thompson, Cornell associate professor of materials science and engineering, and Anil Netravali, Cornell professor of fiber science, on using carbon fibers in MEMS, reported in the recent issue of the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


August 22, 2006, 5:07 AM CT

New Methods for Screening Nanoparticles

New Methods for Screening Nanoparticles
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a screening method to examine how newly made nanoparticles - particles with dimensions on the order of billionths of a meter - interact with human cells following exposure for various times and doses. This has led to the visualization of how human cells interact with some specific types of carbon nanoparticles. The method is described in a review article on carbon nanoparticle toxicity in a special section of the August 23, 2006, issue of the Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter devoted to developments in nanoscience and nanotechnology, now available online.

Nanoparticles may have different physical, chemical, electrical, and optical properties than occur in bulk samples of the same material, in part due to the increased surface area to volume ratio at the nanoscale. A number of researchers think that understanding these nanoscale properties and finding ways to engineer new nanomaterials will have revolutionary impacts - from more efficient energy generation and data storage to improved methods for diagnosing and treating disease. Brookhaven Lab is currently building a Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) with state-of-the-art facilities for the fabrication and study of nanomaterials, with an emphasis on atomic-level tailoring of nanomaterials and nanoparticles to achieve desired properties and functions.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


August 20, 2006, 3:11 PM CT

MIT-Beijing design studio plans for urban future

MIT-Beijing design studio plans for urban future Students' design for urban green space
For five weeks this summer, a group of 20 MIT graduate students in architecture, planning and real estate joined with a dozen graduate students from Beijing's Tsinghua University to work together on issues of urban design and development in the context of China's breakneck modernization.

The work marked the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Urban Design Studio, a joint program between the schools of architecture and planning at MIT and at Tsinghua University. Since 1985, close to 400 students and faculty have taken part in the studio, making it one of the world's most enduring academic programs between the United States and China.

The goal of the studio is to foster international understanding of urban issues by undertaking joint city planning and design projects involving important, often controversial sites in Beijing. Conducted every other summer, the studio has received the Irwin Sizer Award from MIT for outstanding innovation in education.

The studio opened with a major exhibition at the Beijing Planning Exhibition Center near Tiananmen Square, commemorating the history of the studio and displaying 20 years of work on sites across the city.

At the opening, Adèle Naude Santos, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, and Wenyi Zhu, dean of architecture at Tsinghua University, signed an agreement establishing the Urbanization Laboratory, which will build on the work of the studio through a continuing agenda of joint research and projects focused on the challenges of rapid urbanization.........

Posted by: Edwin      Permalink         Source


August 20, 2006, 3:07 PM CT

MIT ranks 1st in engineering

MIT ranks 1st in engineering
MIT ranks fourth among national universities, first in undergraduate engineering and second in undergraduate business programs, as per the 2007 US News & World Report guidebook, "America's Best Colleges." The rankings appear today online and the guidebook will be available on newsstands Aug. 21.

MIT shares the number four slot with Caltech and Stanford. Princeton, Harvard and Yale, respectively, are ranked the top three schools.

Among the key criteria for judging schools is selectivity as gauged by the lowest acceptance rate (MIT's is 14 percent), and class size as gauged by the highest proportion of classes with fewer than 20 students (MIT's is 68 percent).

MIT's School of Engineering is the top-rated undergraduate program in engineering nationally, and the Sloan School of Management ranks second in undergraduate business programs. In engineering specialties, MIT was ranked first in more disciplines than any other school -- five out of 12.

In undergraduate engineering specialties, MIT ranked first in aerospace/aeronautical/astronomical; chemical; computer engineering; electrical/electronic/communications; and mechanical engineering. In environmental/environmental health engineering, MIT ranked second, and the Institute ranked fourth in civil engineering, tied with Stanford and University of Texas at Austin. MIT tied for fourth with Georgia Institute of Technology in biomedical engineering and tied for second with the University of California at Berkeley in materials engineering.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


August 17, 2006, 11:31 PM CT

Chip Bounces Electrons Around Like Billiards

Chip Bounces Electrons Around Like Billiards
Computer designers at the University of Rochester are going ballistic.

"Everyone has been trying to make better transistors by modifying current designs, but what we really need is the next paradigm," says Quentin Diduck, a graduate student at the University who thought up the radical new design. "We've gone from the relay, to the tube, to semiconductor physics. Now we're taking the next step on the evolutionary track".

That next step goes by the imposing name of "Ballistic Deflection Transistor," and it's as far from traditional transistors as tubes. Instead of running electrons through a transistor as if they were a current of water, the ballistic design bounces individual electrons off deflectors as if playing a game of atomic billiards.

Though today's transistor design has many years of viability left, the amount of heat these transistors generate and the electrical "leaks" in their ultra-thin barriers have already begun to limit their speed. Research groups around the world are investigating strange new designs to generate ways of computing at speeds unthinkable with today's chips. Some of these groups are working on similar single-electron transistors, but these designs still compute by starting and stopping the flow of electrons just like conventional designs. But the Ballistic Deflection Transistor adds a new twist by bouncing the electrons into their chosen trajectories-using inertia to redirect for "free," instead of wrestling the electrons into place with brute energy.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


August 13, 2006, 6:58 PM CT

Nanotubes Not for Toothpaste

Nanotubes Not for Toothpaste
When researchers fire electron beams at multi-layered carbon nanotubes, they collapse, much like a tube of toothpaste, with such force the nanotubes extrude whatever may be inside, even extremely hard iron carbide. The process--which has applications for manufacturing durable, metal nanowires and similar materials--creates pressures within the tubes that reach one-tenth the crushing force in the Earth's core.

National Science Foundation-supported researcher Pulickel Ajayan of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) worked with an international team to develop the process. First, the researchers constructed long nanotubes of onion-like layers of carbon containing a 9-nanometer (billionth of a meter) core of iron or iron carbide, and then they blasted the tube with a beam of electrons. The tube collapsed, extruding an iron-carbide wire only 2 nanometers in diameter. What's more, the tube neatly pinched off the wire's end where the tube collapsed completely.

The findings appeared in the May 26, 2006, issue of the journal Science. Florian Banhart of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, led the team, which included colleagues at the Institute for Scientific and Technological Research in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and the University of Helsinki in Finland.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


August 13, 2006, 6:53 PM CT

A Digital Take On The Streets Where We Live

A Digital Take On The Streets Where We Live
A walk down the street may someday be as rich with information as the web, thanks to the emergence of location-aware technology.

Not surprisingly, MIT is at the vanguard of this movement with a project called Electronic Lens (eLens), an initiative of the MIT Media Lab. Headed by William Mitchell and Federico Casalegno, eLens is defined by its focus on benefits for local citizens.

Several research and commercial projects are also exploring the potential of location-aware services. Most rely on a tagging system - for example, physical tags attached to buildings - that can then be scanned and read by mobile camera phones.

eLens is exploring the next wave of communications technology - building interactions that depend on where you are and what you want to know or say. In the eLens team's vision, you could aim your mobile phone at your child's school and start a voice thread to discuss cuts in after-school programs. Or you could let passersby know that the local folk music club serves great vegetarian meals.

The project began with a metaphor, that of an electronic lens that can be aimed at civic institutions and a "viewfinder" that makes these institutions more transparent. Pointing eLens at a train station, for example, might let you retrieve the day's schedule for different tracks. Pointing it at a museum might list current exhibits and upcoming lectures.........

Posted by: John      Permalink         Source


Older Blog Entries   Older Blog Entries   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16