One contender for that task is the Transphibian, a 3-foot-long autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) created by Durham, N.C.-based Nekton Research. The Transphibian is designed to identify mines and map the seabed by swimming and crawling through places where troops or ships are likely to follow. Soon, the company hopes to field a type of &… Read more
More and more, scientists are looking to nature to inspire efficient design. Take the engineers at DaimlerChrysler, for example, who built a more aerodynamic car modeled after the tropical boxfish. (It's still a concept car.)
Now, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are taking cues from the bluegill sunfish to build a mechanical fin that could one day be used on a more advanced robotic submarine, or autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV). They're modeling the bluegill sunfish because it has a distinctive style of motion that involves a constant forward thrust with no backward drag, unlike a human … Read more
MIT students James Graham and Thaddeus Jusczyk won first place with the "Crowd Farm," a proposal to produce electricity through stomping feet at the Holcim Foundation Sustainable Construction competition in Japan.
The idea is that the floor would contain a sub-floor made up of several blocks that would slightly depress when someone stepped on it. The slippage of the blocks against one another as people walked would then generate power through the principle of the dynamo, a device that converts the motion energy into that of an electric current.
A single step doesn't pack a lot of … Read more
Americans don't exactly like nuclear power, but they like oil even less.
Concerns about global warming, high oil prices and worldwide political turmoil have made oil the least popular fuel in the U.S., according to a survey from MIT and Knowledge Networks. In the survey, 74 percent of respondents said that they want to see decreased use of oil, up from 56 percent in 2002.
In the previous 2002 survey, nuclear was the least popular fuel. The 2007 survey polled 1,200 adults nationwide.
Nuclear, in fact, has gained a little bit of acceptance. The 2007 survey found … Read more
If Spider-Man were to head into outer space, he'd probably want a BioSuit.
The prototype space suit is under development at MIT, under the direction of Dava Newman, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems. It's a long-term project--the unitardlike outfit has been under development for seven years, and Newman figures the BioSuit crew has another decade to go, as NASA inches forward with its plans to send people to Mars.
Traditional orbital outerwear, like the Extravehicular Mobility Unit worn by astronauts when they venture outside the space station, gets its bulk in part from gas … Read more
Twenty teams from high schools across the United States are showing off their inventions this week during the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams Odyssey at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus in Cambridge. Last fall, each team received a grant of up to $10,000 from the Lemelson-MIT Program to create a solution to a problem they chose.
The three-day event enables students to show off their inventions, which run the gamut from health, safety and environment-oriented gadgets to consumer products and assistance-offering devices.
Click above for more photos of the young 'uns and the products of their intellect.
I had a great lunch with associates from rSmart, Unicon, and MIT today at the JA-SIG Conference, and we talked about a vexing issue that plagues software, open source and proprietary alike (though it hurts the open source vendor more): the high cost of sales. (I credit John Lewis, Chief Software Architect, Unicon, for any intelligence in my musings, and take full blame for the inane shrapnel that is my personal contribution to the thread.)
The proprietary world's P&L operates much like the VC's: high, upfront return (license) to cover the expense that Purchasing puts vendors through to earn its business. (Repeat visits, RFPs, etc.) In other words, the proprietary vendor spends five figures on five deals to hopefully get a "home run" return on one of them to subsidize and exceed the costs.
Open source vendors operate differently, as Larry Augustin pointed out at OSBC. [PDF] Open source vendors are about volume in leads, with the leads finding their way back to the company to purchase. Four figures (or less, often) to close a deal, with the intention being that more deals within the pipe will close.… Read more
Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have found that suppressing a particular enzyme has reversed some symptoms of autism and mental retardation in mice.
An enzyme is a protein that triggers a chemical reaction, and this one, called p21-activated kinase (PAK), affects neural connections in the brain. Suppressing it can counteract the effects of Fragile X Syndrome (FXS), the leading cause of retardation and a genetic autism, MIT said Sunday.
"Our study suggests that inhibiting a certain enzyme in the brain could be an effective therapy for countering the debilitating symptoms of FXS in children, and possibly in autistic kids … Read more
A team of scientists from MIT has come up with a way to light a 60-watt lightbulb. The trick is that the bulb is located about seven feet from the power source and no wires connect the two.
Wireless electricity, or "WiTricity" as MIT likes to call it, could one day allow consumers to carry notebooks or cell phones without batteries. It could also make it easy for contractors to remodel homes. Someday. To make it happen, the waves would need to be targeted and tracking mechanisms would need to exist to link the power source and the … Read more
Kids now have their own computer programming language, thanks to researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab and at UCLA.
MIT on Tuesday introduced a programming language called Scratch, which is designed for kids age 8 and up to create interactive Web stories, games and animations that can be shared online. Kids have already used the language to write a story about a polar bear school and to create an outer-space attack game.
MIT compared the programming language, which lets kids snap together graphical blocks to build a Web site, to the simplicity of Lego "bricks." (… Read more