"While the problem of consciousness is far from being solved, it is finally being formulated mathematically as a set of problems that researchers can understand, explore and discuss.
Today, Max Tegmark, a theoretical physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, sets out the fundamental problems that this new way of thinking raises. He shows how these problems can be formulated in terms of quantum mechanics and information theory. And he explains how thinking about consciousness in this way leads to precise questions about the nature of reality that the scientific process of experiment might help to tease apart.
Tegmark’s approach is to think of consciousness as a state of matter, like a solid, a liquid or a gas. 'I conjecture that consciousness can be understood as yet another state of matter. Just as there are many types of liquids, there are many types of consciousness,' he says."
posted by Strange Interlude
on Jun 12, 2014 -
The inside story of MIT and Aaron Swartz.
The Boston Globe reviews over 7,000 pages of discovery documents in the Aaron Swartz case (previously
): Most vividly, the e-mails underscore the dissonant instincts the university grappled with. There was the eagerness of some MIT employees to help investigators and prosecutors with the case, and then there was, by contrast, the glacial pace of the institution’s early reaction to the intruder’s provocation.... MIT never encouraged Swartz’s prosecution, and once told his prosecutor they had no interest in jail time. However, e-mails illustrate how MIT energetically assisted authorities in capturing him and gathering evidence — even prodding JSTOR to get answers for prosecutors more quickly — before a subpoena had been issued.... Yet if MIT eventually adopted a relatively hard line on Swartz, the university had also helped to make his misdeeds possible, the Globe review found. Numerous e-mails make it clear that the unusually easy access to the campus computer network, which Swartz took advantage of, had long been a concern to some of the university’s information technology staff.
posted by Cash4Lead
on Mar 31, 2014 -
Approximately 176 million women and girls worldwide suffer from endometriosis; 8.5 million in North America alone. Associated costs of the disease are estimated to be a staggering $22 billion annually
. The pain can be debilitating and infertility is a common outcome. Yet after decades of research, the jury is still out on what causes it, and many doctors still don't even know when they should be looking for it. Now, a group of researchers at MIT have taken a new approach, one with a characteristic engineering slant
posted by Koko
on Feb 20, 2014 -
"After his son was arrested for downloading files at MIT, Bob Swartz did everything in his power to save him. He couldn’t. Now he wants the institute to own up to its part in Aaron’s death
posted by homunculus
on Jan 5, 2014 -
Researchers at an MIT lab have devised a way to determine how well straphangers can comprehend a subway map
in a single glance. Massimo Vignelli really DID know what he was doing.
posted by Chrysostom
on Oct 30, 2013 -
Researchers at MIT have created M-Bots
, small cubes with internal flywheels that use angular momentum to move and magnets to help them stay aligned, as demonstrated in a video
. At this point, the robots are not strictly autonomous; rather they are controlled by commands sent by radio.
posted by larrybob
on Oct 7, 2013 -
It's 1963. You're in a cold war with Russia. You want to keep up communication capabilities globally. Communication satellites haven't come into their own. The ionosphere is fickle and jammable. What do you do? You fire 480 million tiny copper wires into space to create an artificial dipole antenna belt around the earth. You call it Project West Ford
. It works. [more inside]
posted by cortex
on Aug 27, 2013 -
is a tool from the MIT Media Lab that analyzes the metadata from your Gmail account, displaying a beautiful visualization of the networks of people you contact most frequently. [more inside]
posted by estlin
on Jul 8, 2013 -
What started as a report of a convenience store robbery near the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last night has sprawled into a chaotic manhunt for the perpetrators of the recent terrorist attack on the Boston Marathon
The deadly pursuit, involving a policeman's murder, a carjacking, a violent chase with thrown explosives, and the death of one suspect
, has resulted in Governor Deval Patrick
ordering an unprecedented lockdown of the entire Boston metropolitan area
as an army of law enforcement searches house by house for the remaining gunman.
The Associated Press has identified the duo as Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, and his 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev
, who remains at large. Both are immigrants
from wartorn Chechnya
in southwestern Russia.
The Guardian liveblog is good for quick updates, and Reddit's updating crowdsourced timeline of events
that has often outpaced mainstream media coverage of the situation. You can also get real-time reports straight from the (Java-based) local police scanner
posted by Rhaomi
on Apr 19, 2013 -
A few years ago Charles Guan
was a teacher's assistant in MIT's 2.007 introductory design and manufacturing class. To help out his fellow students he made a guide to building robots quickly and efficiently. Now he has expanded the original guide, retitled it How to Build your Everything Really Really Fast (HTBYERRF)
and published it on Instructables, available for anyone wishing to progress from the "zip ties and duct tape" stage of building things.
posted by Harald74
on Mar 22, 2013 -
Beating the system:
The Boston Globe reports how a group of MIT students beat the Massachusetts state lottery by working out that you were almost guaranteed to get a return on the game Cash Win Fall at certain times, and only buying tickets at that point. It's reckoned that they made $48m on a $40m stake over several years, that other syndicates were also involved, and the state 'bent and broke' the rules by allowing them to buy tickets in bulk. The game was closed down after the Globe started to investigate. [more inside]
posted by DanCall
on Aug 8, 2012 -
If you've ever worked with the command prompt on a Unix-based computer, you're likely familiar with SSH
(Secure SHell), which is a program and a protocol that allows you (yes, you!) to securely access a remote system. While SSH has certainly earned the "Secure" portion of its namesake over the years, it's functionality as a shell has ironically received very little attention, and has begun to show signs of age and obsolescence: SSH doesn't work very well on mobile connections, and its support for Unicode
is buggy and incomplete. A group of MIT researchers think they've found solutions to these problems, and have created Mosh
as a potential successor to SSH, which fixes many of the old protocol's annoyances and shortcomings, while retaining all of SSH's security features.
posted by schmod
on Apr 12, 2012 -
A quicker picker-upper.
"[A] group of MIT researchers will present a new algorithm that, in a large range of practically important cases, improves on the fast Fourier transform."
posted by Ardiril
on Jan 18, 2012 -
MIT scientist Dr. Todd Rider has developed a viral infection treatment
that works by triggering host cell suicide when it finds the cell has been producing double-stranded RNA. Since dsRNA is the mechanism by which all viral infections proceed, but is not part of normal cellular function, the treatment seems both universal and safe. [more inside]
posted by seanmpuckett
on Aug 11, 2011 -