182 posts tagged with mit.
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How to Explore the Surface of a Comet or Asteroid

Hopping, tumbling and flipping over are not typical maneuvers you would expect from a spacecraft exploring other worlds. Traditional Mars rovers, for example, roll around on wheels, and they can't operate upside-down. But on a small body, such as an asteroid or a comet, the low-gravity conditions and rough surfaces make traditional driving all the more hazardous. Enter Hedgehog: a new concept for a robot that is specifically designed to overcome the challenges of traversing small bodies.(via)
posted by AElfwine Evenstar on Sep 7, 2015 - 8 comments

Mapping the beautiful chaos of informal transit

As transit systems go, the matatus in Nairobi exist somewhere between underground gypsy cabs and MTA bus service. The minibuses themselves aren't owned by any government agency. The fares aren't regulated by the city. The routes are vaguely based on a bus network that existed in Nairobi some 30 years ago, but they've since shifted and multiplied and expanded at the region's edges... Riders who navigate the matatu system rely on it in parts, using only the lines they know and the unofficial stops they're sure actually exist. As for the network as a whole – there's never even been a map of it... In the absence of a formal public transit system in Kenya's capital, people have created a comprehensive – if imperfect – one on their own. And now we know that it looks like this. [more inside]
posted by ChuraChura on Aug 27, 2015 - 21 comments


A computational approach for obstruction-free photography takes out the chain link fence obscuring the target of your photo, removes reflections, and--this is the crazy TV show part--can even build a separate image from the reflection. It uses multiple frames and magic math to build up the two "clean" images. [more inside]
posted by wintersweet on Aug 5, 2015 - 28 comments

Miniature Origami Robot Self-folds, Walks, Swims, and Degrades

Origami Robot Folds Itself Up, Does Cool Stuff, Dissolves Into Nothing [yt] - "At ICRA 2015 in Seattle yesterday, researchers from MIT demonstrated [yt] an untethered miniature origami robot that self-folds, walks, swims, and degrades. That's the title of their paper [pdf], in fact, and they delivered on all of those promises: from a flat sheet with a magnet on it, their robot folds itself up in just a few seconds, is immediately ready to zip around on land or water driven by magnetic fields, and then when you've run out of things to do with it, drive it into a tank of acetone and it'll dissolve. This is the first time that a robot has been able to demonstrate a complete life cycle like this, and eventually, it'll be doing it inside your body." (via; previously)
posted by kliuless on May 29, 2015 - 38 comments

80s Internet Flashback

The MIT-original 500 point purity test. In a handy HTML form, here.
posted by 256 on May 7, 2015 - 50 comments

"Seventy-three, two-fifty-five, eighty, Sioux City In The Sky..."

The Hilltop Steakhouse (1961-2013), which once served as many as three million customers per year, was demolished on Monday, as documented by photographer Brian Cummings. Brian also took photos of the interior a few days before the demoliton. While the 68-foot-tall iconic cactus sign is expected to remain, the steer have migrated to greener pastures. (And not to the top of the Dome of Building 10 at MIT, as one was once relocated in 1979.)
Don't forget to moo at the cows as you drive by, It's part of the fun! :oP
posted by not_on_display on Apr 29, 2015 - 28 comments

Bitcoin done (or at least demo'd) Right

...MIT Media Lab announced the launch of the Digital Currency Initiative. The goal of this initiative is to bring together global experts in areas ranging from cryptography, to economics, to privacy, to distributed systems... previously previously-er more-previously more-er-previously oh-heck-kittens-in-boxes
posted by sammyo on Apr 20, 2015 - 34 comments

Try, try again? Study says no

Neuroscientists find that trying harder makes it more difficult to learn some aspects of language.
In a new study, a team of neuroscientists and psychologists led by Amy Finn, a postdoc at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, has found evidence for another factor that contributes to adults’ language difficulties: When learning certain elements of language, adults’ more highly developed cognitive skills actually get in the way. The researchers discovered that the harder adults tried to learn an artificial language, the worse they were at deciphering the language’s morphology — the structure and deployment of linguistic units such as root words, suffixes, and prefixes.
[more inside] posted by Lexica on Mar 22, 2015 - 10 comments

"Diversity fuels conversation and creativity"

“You Are Welcome Here”: Small Stickers Make a Big Difference for LGBTQ Scientists
Upon entering, I immediately noticed tiny stickers dotting the halls: the iconic WHOI ship, sailing in front of a rainbow sky over the words, “You are welcome here.” I can’t describe how powerful it was to see those welcome messages on the office doors of scientists’ whose work had inspired me to pursue biological oceanography – in a building commemorating an oceanographer, Alfred C. Redfield, who discovered a conserved atomic ratio between carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus that I think about in my research every day. The ship stickers are small, maybe even easy to miss if you’re not attuned, but they packed a punch strong enough to rid me of my worries. I left the Redfield Building with renewed vigor, confident about what I was pursuing, only worried about feet that were literally wet, but not figuratively.
posted by Lexica on Mar 11, 2015 - 16 comments

The Man Who Tried to Redeem the World with Logic

Walter Pitts rose from the streets to MIT, but couldn’t escape himself. Pitts was used to being bullied. He’d been born into a tough family in Prohibition-era Detroit, where his father, a boiler-maker, had no trouble raising his fists to get his way. The neighborhood boys weren’t much better. One afternoon in 1935, they chased him through the streets until he ducked into the local library to hide. The library was familiar ground, where he had taught himself Greek, Latin, logic, and mathematics—better than home, where his father insisted he drop out of school and go to work. Outside, the world was messy. Inside, it all made sense. [more inside]
posted by standardasparagus on Feb 10, 2015 - 24 comments

Runs smiling face infinitely looped

We Know How You Feel Computers are learning to read emotion, and the business world can’t wait.
posted by infini on Jan 18, 2015 - 61 comments

Why does it matter that you're female?

3 female computer scientists held a Reddit AMA. You can totally guess what happened next.
posted by bq on Dec 19, 2014 - 138 comments

Revenge of the nerds, on three. Break!

"MIT’s students, faculty, and alumni won 80 Nobel Prizes between 1944 and 2013. In that time, MIT football won a total of 80 games." Until this year. This season's MIT football team is undefeated, 8-0.
posted by mark7570 on Nov 11, 2014 - 43 comments

Essays in English yield information about other languages

Essays and longer texts written in English can provide interesting insights into the linguistic background of the writer, and about the history of other languages, even dying languages, when evaluated by a new computer program developed by a team of computer scientists at MIT and Israel’s Technion. As told on NPR, this discovery came about by accident, when the new program classified someone as Russian when they were Polish, due to the similarity in grammar between the languages. Researchers realized this could allow the program to re-create language families, and could be applied to people who currently may not speak their original language, allowing some categorization of dying languages. More from MIT, and a link to the paper (PDF, from the 2014 Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics).
posted by filthy light thief on Oct 1, 2014 - 6 comments

The Visual Microphone: Passive Recovery of Sound from Video

Researchers at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Microsoft Research, and Adobe Research have presented a technique for reconstructing an audio signal by analyzing minute vibrations of objects depicted in video. For example, the method can be used to extract intelligible speech from video of a bag of potato chips filmed from 15 feet away through soundproof glass. [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Aug 4, 2014 - 78 comments

"JIBO can’t wait to meet you."

JIBO: The World's First Family Robot [more inside]
posted by overeducated_alligator on Jul 16, 2014 - 82 comments

The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

Brian Knappenberger's The Internet's Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz is available to watch for free in its entirety thanks to the Internet Archive. [more inside]
posted by gman on Jul 6, 2014 - 18 comments

Time : a flat circle :: Consciousness : a state of matter?

"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 - 235 comments

In the fall of 1961, a PDP-1 was installed in the "kludge room"

Spacewar! was perhaps the first true video game. Now, thanks to the Internet Archive, you can play it in your browser.
posted by Chrysostom on May 2, 2014 - 14 comments

Putnam 2013

“I wanted to use the intermediate value theorem but it just wasn’t happening.” MIT undergrad Zach Wener-Fligner reports from this year's William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, the nation's premier math contest for college students, a test so hard that the median score is often zero.
posted by escabeche on Apr 27, 2014 - 38 comments

The Ghost in MIT

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 - 53 comments

the proof may be in the protein

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 - 26 comments

Civic Crowdfunding

Rodrigo Davis of the MIT Center for Civic Media is currently researching crowdfunding for civic and community purposes. Some of the issues he covers includes the ethics of crowdfunding (including Kickstarter's seduction guide debacle and Gawker's attempt to crowdfund a video showing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack), a case study of Kansas City's crowdfunding campaign for their bikeshare program, a timeline of online crowdfunding since 2000, and how the Statue of Liberty was made possible via crowdfunding.
posted by divabat on Jan 19, 2014 - 8 comments

Aaron Swartz

Losing Aaron. "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." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Jan 5, 2014 - 32 comments

Healthy cities: public health and urban planning

A new Report on the State of Health + Urbanism (pdf) from MIT looks at the relationship between urban planning and public health, with some surprising findings. The cities covered are Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. [more inside]
posted by gingerbeer on Dec 31, 2013 - 52 comments

Tongue twister

MIT Researchers Say They Have Created The Trickiest Tongue Twister To Date [more inside]
posted by Chocolate Pickle on Dec 8, 2013 - 75 comments

Skype me a high five with it

Check out this rad MIT pin grid gizmo.
posted by rollick on Nov 15, 2013 - 21 comments

The Science of a Great Subway Map

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 - 91 comments

M-Bots: modular cube-shaped robots

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 - 44 comments

Project Needles: not a hipster knitting collective

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 - 26 comments

Would Pavlov Approve?

Spend too much time on Facebook? Shocking and shaming new help now available! [more inside]
posted by tafetta, darling! on Aug 24, 2013 - 14 comments

Aaron Swartz' 14,500 page Secret Service file

The U.S. Secret Service has begun releasing their roughly 14,500 pages on Aaron Swartz in response to a FOIA lawsuit against the DHS by Kevin Poulsen (DHS filing, groklaw). Poulsen's FIOA was delayed by MIT and maybe JSTOR fighting against the release. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Aug 14, 2013 - 49 comments

Report to the President: MIT and the Prosecution of Aaron Swartz

Report to the President L. Rafael Reif releases the Aaron Swartz report to allmit. [more inside]
posted by condesita on Jul 30, 2013 - 62 comments

I spy Party Planning Committee, Finer Things Club, & Here Comes Treble!

Immersion 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 - 37 comments

Best of the webbing

MIT Media Lab's Silk Pavilion, a geometric structure machine-woven with silk thread and then reinforced by the efforts of 6500 silkworms. Watch the beautifully-done making-of video.
posted by BlackLeotardFront on Jun 6, 2013 - 16 comments

Cameras, Cartography and Competition

PITCHF/x and SportVU data analysis shows... [more inside]
posted by Groundhog Week on May 18, 2013 - 7 comments

Boston in lockdown as hunt for marathon bombers unfolds

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 - 4937 comments


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 - 15 comments

Tony Stark, eat your heart out.

Defense contractor takes break from F-35 JSF, finds a way to eliminate 99% of the energy cost of desalination. Lockheed-Martin has developed a way to craft sheets of carbon a single atom thick, which can filter the salt (and just about anything else) from water with a tiny fraction of the energy required by current processes. "Lockheed officials see other applications for Perforene as well, from dialysis in healthcare to cleaning chemicals from the water used in hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," of oil and gas wells." Previously.
posted by Morriscat on Mar 15, 2013 - 67 comments

The Factory Floor

Andrew "bunnie" Huang (previously) offered MIT students insight on how to bring electronic designs from paper to manufactured product. He summarized the process in a four part series: The Quotation, On Design for Manufacturing, Industrial Design for Startups, and Picking (and Maintaining) a Partner. [more inside]
posted by rider on Jan 29, 2013 - 7 comments

Stress at MIT

The Tech, a newspaper at MIT, has published a report about MIT students' stress. (via) [more inside]
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Dec 10, 2012 - 70 comments

DJ Focus

DJ Focus couldn't wait to get back to Sierra Leone. AKA Kelvin Doe, this young man makes beautiful, functional and very useful electronic devices out of trash found in his native Sierra Leone. It's not clear whether he or M.I.T. was more impressed after his visit there.
posted by not_that_epiphanius on Nov 22, 2012 - 6 comments

What's gonna happen outside the window next?

Noam Chomsky on Where Artificial Intelligence Went Wrong
posted by cthuljew on Nov 18, 2012 - 55 comments

This is The Song That Never Ends...

Ever wished your favorite song could be extended infinitely? Well, today's your day. Behold: The Infinite Jukebox. [more inside]
posted by SomaSoda on Nov 13, 2012 - 137 comments

A Slower Speed of Light

A Slower Speed of Light is a first-person game prototype, built by the MIT Game Lab, that emulates the visual effects of special relativity.
posted by brundlefly on Nov 2, 2012 - 32 comments

MIT Gangnam Style feat. Sadoway and Chomsky

MIT Gangnam Style feat. Sadoway and Chomsky
posted by d. z. wang on Oct 27, 2012 - 42 comments

Automatic building mapping could help emergency responders

Researchers have developed a backpack that generates building layout map in realtime. (yt) The prototype system automatically maps the wearer’s environment, recognizing movement between floors. It was designed at MIT to be used by emergency responders. Read more.
posted by crunchland on Sep 27, 2012 - 38 comments

New hand-held CNC from MIT

You supply the muscle to move the tool and the computer supplies the accurracy. The tool shown here is a router but it seems like a more general technique. You move a hand held power tool around sloppily and a computer makes small movements of the tool as you do that keeps it to a corrected path.
posted by aleph on Aug 10, 2012 - 35 comments

How MIT students beat the lottery

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 - 45 comments

This perpetual motion machine she made today is a joke! It just keeps going faster and faster!

As they become more readily available to consumers, LEDs will undoubtedly replace CFLs as the primary light source for residential and commercial, inside and out, due to their dramatic efficiency gains. In an unexpected turn of events, however, MIT researchers have developed an LED with 230 percent efficiency. Previously [more inside]
posted by CynicalKnight on May 30, 2012 - 70 comments

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