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During the last century, and part of the one before, it was widely held that there was an unreconcilable conflict between knowledge and belief.
Albert Einstein





What is it? »Revolutionizing medicine, one chip at a time
Low-power computer chips allow engineers to design wearable and implantable devices to monitor patients.
March 9, 2010

In the past several decades, microchips have transformed consumer electronics, enabling new products from digital watches and pocket-sized calculators to laptop computers and digital music players.

The next wave of this electronics revolution will involve biomedical devices, say electrical engineers in MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratory (MTL) who are working on tiny, low-power chips that could diagnose heart problems, monitor patients with Parkinson’s disease or predict seizures in epileptic patients. Such wearable or implantable devices could transform the way medicine is practiced and help cut the costs of expensive diagnostic tests, says Dennis Buss, former vice president of silicon technology development at Texas Instruments.


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What is it? »Hari Balakrishnan on improving your commute
Presented by Transportation@MIT
March 8, 2010

Road traffic is a challenging societal problem, and with the increasing crowding of areas in and around cities, it is only becoming worse. With the proliferation of wireless connectivity, smartphones (think cheap embedded computers), it is now possible to continuously monitor urban areas using mobile sensors carried by people while they drive. In this lecture, Hari Balakrishnan describes three challenges that need to be met in using data to help commuters — pedestrians, bicyclists, drivers — reduce the time (and fuel) spent stuck in traffic.



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What is it? »Insulators made into conductors
MIT team coaxes polymers to line up, transforming them into materials that could dissipate heat.
March 8, 2010

Most polymers — materials made of long, chain-like molecules — are very good insulators for both heat and electricity. But an MIT team has found a way to transform the most widely used polymer, polyethylene, into a material that conducts heat just as well as most metals, yet remains an electrical insulator.

The new process causes the polymer to conduct heat very efficiently in just one direction, unlike metals, which conduct equally well in all directions. This may make the new material especially useful for applications where it is important to draw heat away from an object, such as a computer processor chip. The work is described in a paper published on March 7 in Nature Nanotechnology.


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What is it? »Big power from tiny wires
New discovery shows carbon nanotubes can produce powerful waves that could be harnessed for new energy systems.
March 8, 2010

A team of scientists at MIT have discovered a previously unknown phenomenon that can cause powerful waves of energy to shoot through minuscule wires known as carbon nanotubes. The discovery could lead to a new way of producing electricity, the researchers say.

The phenomenon, described as thermopower waves, “opens up a new area of energy research, which is rare,” says Michael Strano, MIT’s Charles and Hilda Roddey Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, who was the senior author of a paper describing the new findings that appeared in Nature Materials on March 7. The lead author was Wonjoon Choi, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering.



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