Category Archives: Science & Technology

A radiation-free approach to imaging molecules in the brain

New probe induces blood flow changes that can be seen by MRI by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office CAMBRIDGE, MA — Scientists hoping to get a glimpse of molecules that control brain activity have devised a new probe that allows them to image these molecules

How the brain recognizes faces

Machine-learning system spontaneously reproduces aspects of human neurology by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — MIT researchers and their colleagues have developed a new computational model of the human brain’s face-recognition mechanism that seems to capture aspects of human neurology that previous models have

Toward X-ray movies

Low-power tabletop source of ultrashort electron beams could replace car-size laboratory devices Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Ultrashort bursts of electrons have several important applications in scientific imaging, but producing them has typically required a costly, power-hungry apparatus about the size of a

Saharan dust in the wind

Scientists find huge reduction in African dust plume led to more Saharan monsoons 11,000 years ago Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Every year, trade winds over the Sahara Desert sweep up huge plumes of mineral dust, transporting hundreds of teragrams — enough to

Pluto’s icy, slushy heart

Data from New Horizons mission suggest a water-ice ocean lies beneath Pluto’s heart-shaped basin by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Beneath Pluto’s “heart” lies a cold, slushy ocean of water ice, according to data from NASA’s New Horizons mission. In a paper published

Researchers create synthetic cells to isolate genetic circuits

Encapsulating molecular components in artificial membranes offers more by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office CAMBRIDGE, MA — Synthetic biology allows scientists to design genetic circuits that can be placed in cells, giving them new functions such as producing drugs or other useful molecules. However, as

Faster programs, easier programming

New system lets nonexperts optimize programs that run on multiprocessor chips CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Dynamic programming is a technique that can yield relatively efficient solutions to computational problems in economics, genomic analysis, and other fields. But adapting it to computer chips with multiple “cores,” or processing

Artificial-intelligence system surfs web to improve its performance

“Information extraction” system helps turn plain text into data for statistical analysis by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Of the vast wealth of information unlocked by the Internet, most is plain text. The data necessary to answer myriad questions — about, say, the

A new twist on airplane wing design

“Morphing” wing could enable more efficient plane manufacturing and flight by David L Chandler, MIT News Office CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — When the Wright brothers accomplished their first powered flight more than a century ago, they controlled the motion of their Flyer 1 aircraft using wires and

Making computers explain themselves

New training technique would reveal the basis for machine-learning systems’ decisions by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In recent years, the best-performing systems in artificial-intelligence research have come courtesy of neural networks, which look for patterns in training data that yield useful predictions