Blindness is the most debilitating of sensory impairments, and also the most vexing to cure. Now, MIT scientists have created a new kind of retinal implant that might help reverse the effects of two common forms of blindness. Drawing on the same principles as the cochlear implants that help the deaf, this implant wouldn't restore vision, but could help the blind navigate through everyday situations.
It's one of the simplest energy-storage devices known to man: The spring. Think of how a jack-in-the-box keeps hold of the mechanical energy it takes to compress that clown into the box, releasing it only when the weasel song reaches its climax. And that energy storage is a long-term proposition. The clown could likely sit, poised in that box in grandma's attic for 100 years, until some joker comes along, cranks the handle and, POP!
For decades, scientists have debated whether or not gasses could display the same magnetic properties as solids. Now, thanks to some MIT scientists, they know the answer is a freezing cold yes.
MIT researchers have observed magnetism in an atomic gas of lithium cooled down to 150 millionths of a degree above absolute zero. This experiment represents a point of unification between condensed matter research and the field of atomic science and lasers, and could influence areas such as data storage and medical diagnostics.
By Jake WardPosted 10.08.2007 at 12:54 pm 1 Comment
The New York Times reports today that Google and IBM are sinking $30 million into a two-year project to build remote data centers that can handle sophisticated computing research remotely. No World of Warcraft player will again be safe now that students can crunch probabilities with the 1600+ processors Google is installing in an undisclosed location.
But seriously: the two companies—along with six universities (Carnegie Mellon, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Maryland and the University of Washington)—are cooperating to get an inadequately funded area of research off the ground. The Times succinctly defines "cloud-computing" as a "new kind of data-intensive supercomputing" that "often involves scouring the
Web and other data sources in seconds or minutes for patterns and
insights." It's typically used by major corporations to analyze web traffic and refine big systems, but now any university kid with a password will be able to create programs and software that can take advantage of the horsepower Google and IBM are providing. —Jacob Ward
Rappel up a wall at an astonishing 10 feet per second with the Atlas Powered Rope Ascender
By Gregory MonePosted 05.14.2007 at 2:00 am 20 Comments
How do you prevent insurgents from shooting down choppers? How do you keep a cast from itching? How do you reinvent the brick? You sketch. And then you work: nights, weekends-for years, if you have to. You blow all your money, then beg for more. You build prototypes, and when they fail, you build more. Why? Because inventing is about solving problems, and not stopping until your solution becomes real.
Every so often, news of a mysterious creature at Loch Ness comes trickling out of Scotland. Usually these Nessie sightings come in the form of an odd blurry shape in the background of a tourists family photo, disappointing monster hunters everywhere when yet another floating hunk of twigs and lake kelp, or perhaps a runaway inflatable raft, is pulled from the deep. Its not often, however, that irrefutable evidence of life in Loch Ness comes from a source as highly esteemed as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A team from MIT was conducting a sonar scan to map the lake floor recently when it ran across an unexpected beast: a common toad. Rather than the toad itself being mysterious, though, scientists were more in awe of its diving abilities. It was spotted crawling around in the mud 324 feet below the surface, which apparently is pretty deep for an amphibian and well below the depth at which the researchers were expecting to find anything other than your standard bottom-dwelling fish, mollusks and supersized swimming dinosaur-lizard hybrids. Maybe the MIT team should ask the toad if its seen anything suspicious lately . . . —Bjorn Carey
Can tinfoil hats actually prevent the government from reading your thoughts?
By Amanda MacMillanPosted 05.26.2006 at 2:00 am 8 Comments
Conspiracy theorists, beware: That aluminum foil beanie-headwear believed, since at least the 1950s, to stop brain-control rays-may make it easier for The Man to read your mind, according to Massachusetts Institute of Technology grad students. Inspired by fringe beliefs that invasive radio signals can probe citizens' thoughts and that wearing foil on your head may fend them off, an experiment by four Ph.D. candidates found that certain key frequencies-owned by the Feds, naturally-are actually enhanced by such "protection."