What is it? »Rethinking networking
MIT researchers helped develop a theory that promised much more efficient data networks; then they were the first to put it into practice.
February 12, 2010
This is the second article in a two-part series on MIT contributions to the fledgling field of network coding (part one is available here).
Today, data traveling over the Internet are much like crates of oranges traveling the interstates in the back of a truck. The data are loaded in at one end, unloaded at the other, and nothing much happens to them in between.
What is it? »Researcher's and artist's dynamic seascape art selected for cover of 'Science' magazine
February 5, 2010
Streaming matter! Exploding organisms! Sinking particles! These are some of the things that populate the world of oceanic bacteria, providing the microorganisms with nutrition and perhaps exercise as they race for food, according to Professor Roman Stocker of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who is among those who have challenged the traditional view that ocean bacteria rarely swim, but passively wait for food to reach them.
What is it? »First germanium laser
New results from MITís Electronic Materials Research Group bring us closer to computers that use light instead of electricity to move data.
February 4, 2010
MIT researchers have demonstrated the first laser built from germanium that can produce wavelengths of light useful for optical communication. It’s also the first germanium laser to operate at room temperature. Unlike the materials typically used in lasers, germanium is easy to incorporate into existing processes for manufacturing silicon chips. So the result could prove an important step toward computers that move data — and maybe even perform calculations — using light instead of electricity. But more fundamentally, the researchers have shown that, contrary to prior belief, a class of materials called indirect-band-gap semiconductors can yield practical lasers.
What is it? »Powering cube satellites
An electric propulsion technology for miniature satellites aims to give them more mobility ó and may eventually allow them to take on deep-space missions.
February 3, 2010
Right now, 10 to 15 Rubik’s Cube-sized satellites are orbiting high above Earth. Known as cube satellites, or “CubeSats,” the devices help researchers conduct simple space observations and measure characteristics of Earth’s atmosphere. One advantage is that they are relatively cheap to deploy: While launching a rocket may cost between $50 million and $300 million, a CubeSat can “piggyback” onto a large rocket platform at an additional cost of as little as $40,000. But their small size also means they lack on-board propulsion systems, which is why they generally remain locked to a particular orbit.
What is it? »CRTs going down the tubes? Hardly
Surprisingly, old-style television sets and computer screens are still in demand ó to make new TV sets
February 2, 2010
Many people may assume that conventional television sets and computer monitors — the kind that use picture tubes (technically known as cathode ray tubes, or CRTs) rather than flat panel screens — have virtually disappeared from the market, like buggy whips and 8-track cassette tapes. But a new MIT study reports that demand for these devices is still greater than the supply of old discarded CRTs, whose glass is recycled to make new ones.