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Giant solar telescope mirror takes shape

June 23, 2011 1:14 pm | by Daniel Stolte, University Communications | News | Comments

When finished, the 4.2-meter mirror being crafted by the Univ. of Arizona’s College of Optical Sciences for the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope in Hawaii will be the largest telescope mirror ever pointed at the sun. Complicating the task of polishing this mirror is the shape: the telescope’s design calls for a complex off-axis paraboloid surface.

500-year-old hair tells story of royal mercury poisoning

June 23, 2011 4:25 am | News | Comments

Hair breaks. It singes. It falls out. It might not be the strongest feature of living human bodies, but hair is one of the best-preserved tissues of dead ones, providing a record of diet, age, metabolism, and sometimes, even the cause of death. With intense beams of x-rays at Brookhaven's National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS), a team of researchers is using hair samples collected from the decomposed bodies of two 15th-century Italian royals to determine how they really died.

Hot air is re-routed into energy savings

June 16, 2011 8:33 am | News | Comments

Students in California are taking what would normally be annoyance and making it an asset. They are working to implement a system that uses heat that collects in a home’s attic to warm a thermal closet that would dry clothes. Supplemented by power from a roof-mounted solar cell, the closet could cut electricity bills up to 16%.


Smart cars that are actually smart

June 14, 2011 4:50 am | by Emily Finn, MIT News Office | News | Comments

MIT mechanical engineers are working to develop a new intelligent transportation system (ITS) algorithm that takes into account models of human driving behavior to warn drivers of potential collisions, and ultimately takes control of the vehicle to prevent a crash.

Researchers refine system to detect explosive materials

June 10, 2011 7:50 am | News | Comments

Airport security workers this year will employ an array of pre-boarding detection measures to scan for deadly materials smuggled into the luggage of the world’s 625 million passengers expected to travel this year. None, however, yet uses what researchers at the Univ. of Florida believe is the world's first explosive detection system that utilizes ultraviolet light to zero in on specks of dangerous explosives found on these items.

Methods for Model Building

June 9, 2011 6:45 am | by Lindsay Hock | Articles | Comments

Prototyping systems can move a design concept from CAD data to a 3D model rapidly and accurately when using the appropriate tool for the task.

China plans restructure of rare earths industry

June 8, 2011 11:56 am | News | Comments

One of China’s biggest, state-owned rare earths miners and producers has been given a monopoly over rare earth mining, processing, and trading in the northern part of the country. The move is an effort by the country’s government to bring the rare earths industry, which provides 97% of global supply, under tighter control.

Explaining the dynamics behind the best thermoelectric materials

June 7, 2011 4:27 am | by Bill Cabage | News | Comments

Neutron analysis of the atomic dynamics behind thermal conductivity is helping scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory gain a deeper understanding of how thermoelectric materials work. The analysis could spur the development of a broader range of products with the capability to transform heat to electricity.


A hot body could help ships reduce drag, save fuel

June 2, 2011 8:04 am | News | Comments

In revisiting the 255 year-old Leidenfrost effect, which describes how a liquid produces an insulating vapor layer when contacting a solid hotter than its boiling point, researchers at the University of Melbourne and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia have found a new way to reduce drag on large ships.

Researchers cut machinery fuel consumption by half

June 1, 2011 12:43 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at Aalto Univ. in Finland have found a way to cut the amount of fuel consumed by non-road mobile machinery by half. This new technology captures energy, which up to now has been lost by the machinery when working, and uses it instead of fuel. The fuel consumption of construction and mining machines, agricultural machines, and material handling machines is reduced significantly.

Modern-day jetpack takes flight

May 31, 2011 11:46 am | by Paul Livingstone | News | Comments

Last weekend, the Martin Jetpack successfully lifted off, pilot attached, over the New Zealand landscape. The test showcased the machine’s ability to quickly achieve 5,000 feet in altitude and deploy the world’s first ballistic jetpack parachute before returning to earth. The Martin Aircraft Company’s goal is to provide jetpack flight for less than $100,000.

Honing household helpers

May 26, 2011 5:55 am | by Emily Finn, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Imagine a robot able to retrieve a pile of laundry from the back of a cluttered closet, deliver it to a washing machine, start the cycle, and then zip off to the kitchen to start preparing dinner. This may have been a domestic dream a half-century ago, when the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence first captured public imagination. However, it quickly became clear that even "simple" human actions are extremely difficult to replicate in robots. Now, MIT computer scientists are tackling the problem with a hierarchical, progressive algorithm that has the potential to greatly reduce the computational cost associated with performing complex actions.

Shale gas: a short history from NETL

May 25, 2011 6:39 am | News | Comments

After lying dormant for hundreds of millions of years, shale gas was tapped for the first time in a natural gas well in 1821. Since then, oil has taken the spotlight, but now shale gas is looked to as the energy resource of the present and future. The National Energy Technology Laboratory, which helped pioneer hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, tracks some of the technological developments in shale gas extraction.


Simplifying Parkinson's surgery

May 25, 2011 4:31 am | News | Comments

Univ. of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics has become the second academic medical center in the country where neurosurgeons can perform deep-brain stimulation (DBS) in an intra-operative MRI (iMRI) suite.

How protein-making machine bends without breaking

May 20, 2011 5:15 am | News | Comments

In a development that could lead to better antibiotics, scientists from several institutions derived atomic-scale resolution structures of the cell's ribosome at key stages of its job. The structures reveal that the ribosome's ability to rotate an incredible amount without falling apart is due to the never-before-seen springiness of molecular widgets that hold it together.

Characterizing the renegade protein in Huntington's Disease

May 19, 2011 5:15 am | by Agatha Bardoel | News | Comments

An ORNL-Univ. of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine collaboration has for the first time successfully characterized the earliest structural formation of the disease type of the protein "huntingtin" that creates such havoc in Huntington's Disease.

NMR without the magnets

May 18, 2011 9:43 am | News | Comments

Conventional nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) is unsurpassed for chemical analysis. The catch is that conventional NMR depends on strong magnetic fields and big, expensive, superconducting magnets. Now Berkeley researchers have found a way to perform chemical analysis with NMR without using any magnets at all.

World's smallest 3D printer

May 17, 2011 8:25 am | News | Comments

Printers, which can produce three-dimensional objects have been available for years. However, at the Vienna Univ. of Technology, a printing device has now been developed, which is much smaller, lighter, and cheaper than ordinary 3D-printers.

Energy-efficient laser for optical communication systems

May 17, 2011 7:41 am | by Andrew Myers | News | Comments

In the push toward ever-smaller and ever-faster data transmission technology, a team of Stanford electrical engineers has produced a nanoscale laser that is much faster and more energy efficient than anything available today.

Engineers to help paraplegic student walk at graduation

May 12, 2011 1:33 pm | by Sarah Yang, Media Relations | News | Comments

Austin Whitney was instantly paralyzed in 2007 when a car accident severed his spinal cord. When he graduates this Saturday at UC Berkeley, he will rise out of his wheelchair to accept his diploma thanks to the help of fellow students who have designed a robotic exoskeleton for his wheelchair.

Second Z plutonium 'shot' safely tests materials for NNSA

May 11, 2011 7:27 am | News | Comments

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced that researchers from Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories have completed their second experiment in the past six months at Sandia's Z machine to explore the properties of plutonium materials under extreme pressures and temperatures.

Tiltable head could improve navigation of undulating robots

May 10, 2011 5:12 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology recently built a robot that can penetrate and "swim" through granular material. In a new study, they show that varying the shape or adjusting the inclination of the robot’s head affects the robot’s movement in complex environments.

Robot engages novice computer scientists

May 6, 2011 4:44 am | News | Comments

Learning how to program a computer to display the words "Hello World" once may have excited students, but that hoary chestnut of a lesson doesn’t cut it in a world of videogames, smartphones, and Twitter. One option to take its place and engage a new generation of students in computer programming is a Carnegie Mellon Univ.-developed robot called Finch.

Speeding swarms of sensor robots

May 3, 2011 4:11 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A new MIT-developed algorithm ensures that robotic environmental sensors will be able to focus on areas of interest without giving other areas short shrift.

NASA technology looks inside Japan's nuclear reactor

April 29, 2011 10:14 am | News | Comments

Design techniques honed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., for Mars rovers were used to create the rover currently examining the inside of Japan's nuclear reactors, in areas not yet deemed safe for human crews.

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