“Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing an audio reading device to be worn on the index finger of people whose vision is impaired, giving them affordable and immediate access to printed words.
The so-called FingerReader, a prototype produced by a 3-D printer, fits like a ring on the user’s finger, equipped with a small camera that scans text. A synthesized voice reads words aloud, quickly translating books, restaurant menus and other needed materials for daily living, especially away from home or office.”
Read full article at Boston.com
Synthetic biologists have developed DNA modules that perform logic operations in living cells. These ‘genetic circuits’ could be used to track key moments in a cell’s life or, at the flick of a chemical switch, change a cell’s fate, the researchers say. Their results are described this week in Nature Biotechnology.
Synthetic biology seeks to bring concepts from electronic engineering to cell biology, treating gene functions as components in a circuit. To that end, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge have devised a set of simple genetic modules that respond to inputs much like the Boolean logic gates used in computers.
Excerpt from an article written by Roland Pease at Nature. Continue HERE
MIT is leading an ambitious new project to reinvent how robots are designed and produced. Funded by a $10 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the project will aim to develop a desktop technology that would make it possible for the average person to design, customize and print a specialized robot in a matter of hours.
“This research envisions a whole new way of thinking about the design and manufacturing of robots, and could have a profound impact on society,” says MIT Professor Daniela Rus, leader of the project and a principal investigator at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). “We believe that it has the potential to transform manufacturing and to democratize access to robots.”
“Our goal is to develop technology that enables anyone to manufacture their own customized robot. This is truly a game changer,” says Professor Vijay Kumar, who is leading the team from the University of Pennsylvania. “It could allow for the rapid design and manufacture of customized goods, and change the way we teach science and technology in high schools.” Continue HERE
Text and Image via MIT News
Earthworms creep along the ground by alternately squeezing and stretching muscles along the length of their bodies, inching forward with each wave of contractions. Snails and sea cucumbers also use this mechanism, called peristalsis, to get around, and our own gastrointestinal tracts operate by a similar action, squeezing muscles along the esophagus to push food to the stomach.
Now researchers at MIT, Harvard University and Seoul National University have engineered a soft autonomous robot that moves via peristalsis, crawling across surfaces by contracting segments of its body, much like an earthworm. The robot, made almost entirely of soft materials, is remarkably resilient: Even when stepped upon or bludgeoned with a hammer, the robot is able to inch away, unscathed.
Sangbae Kim, the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT, says such a soft robot may be useful for navigating rough terrain or squeezing through tight spaces.
Text via MIT
Maximilian Schich, Isabel Meirelles, and Roger Malina discuss the contents and creation of the new article collection, Arts, Humanities, and Complex Networks, which explores the application of the science of complex networks to art history, archeology, visual arts, the art market, and other areas of cultural importance. Listen to Podcast HERE
Text and Image via MIT Press
MIT researchers have engineered a device that delivers a tiny, high-pressure jet of medicine through the skin without the use of a hypodermic needle. The device can be programmed to deliver a range of doses to various depths — an improvement over similar jet-injection systems that are now commercially available.
Read article via Science Daily
A three-week old robot at the MIT Media Lab is weaving a cocoon-like structure with a little programming help from humans. Eventually it will be autonomous.
Recent research supports the conclusions of a controversial environmental study released 40 years ago: The world is on track for disaster. So says Australian physicist Graham Turner, who revisited perhaps the most groundbreaking academic work of the 1970s,The Limits to Growth.
Written by MIT researchers for an international think tank, the Club of Rome, the study used computers to model several possible future scenarios. The business-as-usual scenario estimated that if human beings continued to consume more than nature was capable of providing, global economic collapse and precipitous population decline could occur by 2030.
However, the study also noted that unlimited economic growth was possible, if governments forged policies and invested in technologies to regulate the expansion of humanity’s ecological footprint. Prominent economists disagreed with the report’s methodology and conclusions. Yale’s Henry Wallich opposed active intervention, declaring that limiting economic growth too soon would be “consigning billions to permanent poverty.”
Turner compared real-world data from 1970 to 2000 with the business-as-usual scenario. He found the predictions nearly matched the facts. “There is a very clear warning bell being rung here,” he says. “We are not on a sustainable trajectory.”
An article by Mark Strauss via Smithsonian.com
Noam Chomsky speaks about the history of linguistics in the 20th century and the role played by the MIT Linguistics department.
From “50 Years of Linguistics at MIT: a Scientific Reunion” (December 9-11, 2011)
Golan Levin is a creator, performer, innovator, engineer and MIT graduate whose work has been seen around the world, and FITC gave you the opportunity to ask him anything via Reddit. Golan has answered your questions in the video below, which was created by James George (@obviousjim) and Jonathan Minard (@deepspeedmedia), artists-in-residence at Golan’s lab who are researching new forms of experimental 3D cinema.
The work of James George and Jonathan Minard explores the notion of “re-photography”, in which otherwise frozen moments in time may be visualized from new points of view. Despite the sometimes wildly moving camera, the video was in fact shot with a stationary Kinect-like depth sensor coupled to a digital SLR video camera. To compose their shots, the filmmakers developed custom openFrameworks software that aligns and combines color video and depth data into a dynamic sculptural relief.
In a process of “virtual cinematography”, James and Jonathan rephotographed Golan’s 3D likeness — selecting new angles, dollying, and zooming — to compose new perspectives on the data as if playing a video game. Fixed camerawork is thus transformed into a malleable and negotiable post-process, in which shots can be carefully recomposed to highlight and inflect different latent meanings.
This experiment developed out of concepts and collaborations born at Art && Code, a conference on 3D sensing and visualization organized by Golan’s laboratory, the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University. Artist-hackers assembled to explore the artistic, technical, tactical and cultural potentials of low-cost depth sensors, such as the Kinect. As an outcome of the conference, James George, a creative coder interested in cinema, and Jonathan Minard, a documentary filmmaker interested in new-media technology, are now collaborating on the development of open-source tools and techniques for augmenting high-resolution video with depth information.
Partial map of the Internet based on the January 15, 2005 data found on opte.org. Each line is drawn between two nodes, representing two IP addresses. The length of the lines are indicative of the delay between those two nodes.
CREDIT: Creative Commons | The Opte Project
The raging battle over SOPA and PIPA, the proposed anti-piracy laws, is looking more and more likely to end in favor of Internet freedom — but it won’t be the last battle of its kind. Although, ethereal as it is, the Internet seems destined to survive in some form or another, experts warn that there are many threats to its status quo existence, and there is much about it that could be ruined or lost.
A vast behemoth that can route around outages and self-heal, the Internet has grown physically invulnerable to destruction by bombs, fires or natural disasters — within countries, at least. It’s “very richly interconnected,” said David Clark, a computer scientist at MIT who was a leader in the development of the Internet during the 1970s. “You would have to work real hard to find a small number of places where you could seriously disrupt connectivity.” On 9/11, for example, the destruction of the major switching center in south Manhattan disrupted service locally. But service was restored about 15 minutes later when the center “healed” as the built-in protocols routed users and information around the outage.
Written by Natalie Wolchover at Life’s Little Mysteries. Continue HERE
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Photograph: Suzanne Kreiter/Getty Images
They identified a region of the brain just above and behind the right ear which appears to control morality.
And by using magnetic pulses to block cell activity they impaired volunteers’ notion of right and wrong.
The small Massachusetts Institute of Technology study appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Lead researcher Dr Liane Young said: “You think of morality as being a really high-level behaviour.
“To be able to apply a magnetic field to a specific brain region and change people’s moral judgments is really astonishing.”
The key area of the brain is a knot of nerve cells known as the right temporo-parietal junction (RTPJ).
The researchers subjected 20 volunteers to a number of tests designed to assess their notions of right and wrong.
In one scenario participants were asked how acceptable it was for a man to let his girlfriend walk across a bridge he knew to be unsafe.
After receiving a 500 millisecond magnetic pulse to the scalp, the volunteers delivered verdicts based on outcome rather than moral principle.
If the girlfriend made it across the bridge safely, her boyfriend was not seen as having done anything wrong.
In effect, they were unable to make moral judgments that require an understanding of other people’s intentions.
Previous work has shown the RTPJ to be highly active when people think about the thoughts and beliefs of others. Text by BBC News. Continue HERE
Rob Waugh: Gossip about the goings-on inside Google’s secret ‘Google X’ lab – the ‘blue sky ideas’ department where the company’s engineers come up out-there products – included the idea of ‘wearable computing’.
Until this week, most had assumed that meant hi-tech watches running Google’s Android phone operating system.
Now it seems the search giant may be working on a much more exciting technology – computer glasses with transparent screens that superimpose information on the real world.
‘They are in late prototype stages of wearable glasses that look similar to thick-rimmed glasses that normal people wear,’ reported Google specialist Seth Weintraub on 9to5Google, reporting information from an unnamed source at the search giant.
The technology is reported to be an ‘open secret’.’However, these provide a display with a heads up computer interface. There are a few buttons on the arms of the glasses, but otherwise, they could be mistaken for normal glasses.’
Weintraub reported that Google had recently employed MIT wearable computing specialist Richard DuVal, whose PhD was entitled The Memory Glasses.
Various prototype transparent screens have been demonstrated by companies such as Samsung, so the idea is not as out-there as it sounds. Continue HERE