Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have engineered a new rechargeable flow battery that doesn’t rely on expensive membranes to generate and store electricity. The device, they say, may one day enable cheaper, large-scale energy storage. The palm-sized prototype generates three times as much power per square centimeter as other membraneless systems.
For 65 years, most information-theoretic analyses of cryptographic systems have made a mathematical assumption that turns out to be wrong. A team of researchers has shown that, as a consequence, the wireless card readers used in many keyless-entry systems may not be as secure as previously thought.
In 1998, scientists published the first complete genome of a multicellular organism—the worm Caenorhabditis elegans. At the same time, new technologies were emerging to help researchers manipulate genes and learn more about their functions.
The human brain has 100 billion neurons, connected to each other in networks that allow us to interpret the world around us, plan for the future and control our actions and movements. Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientist Sebastian Seung wants to map those networks, creating a wiring diagram of the brain that could help scientists learn how we each become our unique selves.
Now that the Internet’s basic protocols are more than 30 years old, network scientists are increasingly turning their attention to ad hoc networks where unsolved problems still abound. Most theoretical analyses of ad hoc networks have assumed that the communications links within the network are stable. But that often isn’t the case with real-world wireless devices.
Early in 2012, a team of scientists reported the development of a postage stamp-sized microchip capable of sorting cells through a technique, known as cell rolling, that mimics a natural mechanism in the body. The device successfully separated leukemia cells from cell cultures, but could not extract cells directly from blood. Now the group has developed a new microchip that can quickly separate white blood cells from samples of whole blood.
“Are we there yet?” As anyone who has traveled with young children knows, maintaining focus on distant goals can be a challenge. A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests how the brain achieves this task, and indicates that the neurotransmitter dopamine may signal the value of long-term rewards.
In some ways, granular material can behave much like a crystal, with its close-packed grains mimicking the precise, orderly arrangement of crystalline atoms. Now researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have pushed that similarity to a new limit, creating 2-D arrays of micrograins that can funnel acoustic waves, much as specially designed crystals can control the passage of light or other waves.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed a new endoscopy technology that could make it easier for doctors to detect precancerous lesions in the colon. Early detection of such lesions has been shown to reduce death rates from colorectal cancer, which kills about 50,000 people per year in the U.S.
In an epidemic or a bioterrorist attack, the response of government officials could range from a drastic restriction of mobility to moderate travel restrictions in some areas or simple suggestions that people remain at home. Deciding to institute any measure would require officials to weigh the costs and benefits of action, but at present there’s little data to guide them. However, a new study comparing contagion rates may come in handy.
In an attempt to explain the wavelike behavior of quantum particles, the French physicist Louis de Broglie proposed what he called a “pilot wave” theory. Once abandoned as a concept, a real pilot-wave system has recently been discovered, allowing researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology to produce the fluidic analogue of a classic quantum experiment that offers a new perspective on wave-particle duality.
Nanoscientists who recently created beautiful, tiled patterns with flat nanocrystals faced a mystery: Why did crystals arrange themselves in an alternating, herringbone style, even though it wasn’t the simplest pattern? Help from computer simulations have given them a new tool for controlling how objects one-millionth the size of a grain of sand arrange themselves into useful materials.
In the aftermath of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant shutdown. The greatest damage and release of radiation, may have been caused by explosions of hydrogen gas that built up inside some of the reactors. That hydrogen buildup was the result of hot steam's contact with overheated nuclear fuel rods covered by a cladding of zirconium alloy. A team of researchers is developing an alternative cladding.
The phenomenon of false memory has been well-documented: In many court cases, defendants have been found guilty based on testimony from witnesses and victims who were sure of their recollections, but DNA evidence later overturned the conviction. In a step toward understanding how these faulty memories arise, neuroscientists have shown that they can plant false memories in the brains of mice.
A superfluid, like liquid helium, moves like a completely frictionless liquid. Physicists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have applied a method called holographic duality to mathematically describe the complex behavior of superfluids—in particular, the turbulent flows within superfluids. Their approach, which generated a model similar to the behavior of cigarette smoke, involved translating the physics of black holes.
Using gold nanoparticles, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have devised a new way to turn blood clotting on and off. The particles, which are controlled by infrared laser light, could help doctors control blood clotting in patients undergoing surgery, or promote wound healing.
Two technologies developed at MIT Lincoln Laboratory were among the 2013 choices for prestigious R&D 100 Awards. The Photoacoustic Sensing of Explosives system detects and discriminates trace amounts of explosives from significant standoff distances. The Structured Knowledge Space software and information system enables analysts to mine the vast store of intelligence reports available to government decision makers.
Unlike barnacles, which cement themselves tightly to surfaces, mussels dangle more loosely from these surfaces, attached by a collection of fine filaments known as byssus threads. This approach lets the creatures drift further out into the water, where they can absorb nutrients. Despite the fragile appearance of these threads, they can withstand impact forces that are nine times greater than forces exerted by stretching in one direction.
Although human cells have an estimated 20,000 genes, only a fraction of those are turned on at any given time, depending on the cell’s needs. To find out what those genes are doing, researchers need tools that can manipulate their status on short timescales. That is now possible, thanks to a new technology that can rapidly start or halt the expression of any gene of interest simply by shining light on the cells.
Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a rapid and highly efficient system for transferring large molecules, nanoparticles, and other agents into living cells, providing new avenues for disease research and treatment. The high throughput method treats up to 100,000 cells per second and uses controlled mechanical force that is non-toxic to cells.
Earlier this year, MIT researchers developed a way to edit the genomes of living cells. Now, the researchers have discovered key factors that influence the accuracy of the system. With this technology, scientists can deliver or disrupt multiple genes at once, raising the possibility of treating human disease by targeting malfunctioning genes. To help with that process, the team has now created a computer model.
Although malaria has been eradicated in many countries, including the United States, it still infects more than 200 million people worldwide, killing nearly a million every year. In a major step toward reducing that number, a team led by MIT researchers has now developed a way to grow liver tissue that can support the liver stage of the life cycle of the two most common species of malaria.
TCP, the transmission control protocol, is one of the core protocols governing the Internet: If counted as a computer program, it's the most widely used program in the world. One of its main roles is to prevent computer congestion. A new computer system, dubbed Remy, automatically generates TCP congestion-control algorithms that control network congestion at transmission rates two to three times as high as human-derived algorithms.
People have observed the unusual behavior of water since ancient times, and many recent discoveries about water have been predicted more than one hundred years prior. But now technology is allowing us to harness those properties. Engineers are now designing practical materials that offer an affinity (hydrophilic) or repulsion to water (hydrophobic).
If the Earth arose from the collision of asteroids, as is widely thought, its composition should resemble that of meteoroids, which break off of asteroids. But the Earth’s mantle is missing an amount of lead found in meteorites whose composition has been analyzed following impact with the Earth. New research points to large reservoirs of material deep in the mantle that may help solve the mystery and explain Earth’s origins.