The December issue of The Economist contains an article with a prominent question. Has an inventor found the hardest possible simple sliding-block puzzle? It goes on to describe the Quzzle puzzle, by Jim Lewis. The article finishes with "Mr Lewis claims that Quzzle, as he dubs his invention, is 'the world's hardest simple sliding-block puzzle.' Within the terms of his particular definition of 'simple,' he would seem to have succeeded."
Many members of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory gathered on December 7th, 2004 to say goodbye to Assistant Director Agnes Chow and wish well at her new position as Administrative Officer for the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT.
• Building innovation into the walls
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BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- It is codenamed "Oxygen" and its achievements are likely to affect the way we live and work for decades to come.
That at least is the intention of researchers working on some of almost 400 separate projects that make up the Computer Sciences and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory's (CSAIL) grand research project into "pervasive computing."
The transparent enterprise is characterized by increased data integration possibilities across formerly stovepiped databases. Now, even the buildings that house our transparent enterprises are becoming transparent themselves. In response to the demands of energy efficiency, security, lower operating
costs and the need to increase space-planning flexibility, the physical structures in which we work are on their way to becoming more closely integrated with our information infrastructure.
Three MIT students are among the 40 Marshall Scholars who will study at Oxford and Cambridge universities next year. Another three students won Rhodes Scholarships to study at Oxford University, joining a group of 47 North American scholars selected from more than 900 candidates.
Anant Agarwal led me from his bright corner office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology down a hall to his glass-walled research lab, warning that I would laugh when I saw the latest "handheld" computer built to test his futuristic microprocessor.
True, they rattled paper throughout the 90-minute lecture, but the audience--rapt, eager, enthusiastic--hung on every word from the lips of origami master Robert Lang as he demonstrated the basics of the art and described, in a very rudimentary way, the mathematics behind it.
Robert J. Lang says origami is like music. If that's so, he writes its symphonies. Lang, who comes to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this week to give a series of lectures and workshops on the art and theory of origami, combines a firm grounding in mathematics with a refined aesthetic sense to create dazzling, elegant works out of a single sheet of paper: a swooping owl, a horned beetle, a stunningly detailed fish complete with scales.
Building a supercomputer used to take a long time. Not any more, according to results from the TOP500 list, a record compiled by computer scientists in the United States and Germany that officially ranks the speed of these machines twice a year.
Woz loves the hands-on challenges of engineering. His joy in problem solving is coupled with an inspiration to "provide something that the masses can use" without having to "mold themselves to the technology." The challenge in creating the Apple I, he said, was to take the technology that existed at the time and use a subset of that technology to create a useful computer.
With all of the excitement last month about the Food and Drug Administration approving an implantable radio frequency identification device (RFID), it’s easy to forget that the first place that many Americans will encounter RFID is not in their arms, but at the gas pump, on their key chains, and at major retailers like Wal-Mart. While the FDA and healthcare establishment have been noodling around on the medical and ethical implications of implanting chips into people, other industries have been moving full-speed ahead.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation today announced it issued eight grants -- five new projects and three renewals -- totaling $669,000 from a pool of 34 applicants in its fall round of proposals. The grants, awarded to MIT faculty in the School of Engineering, will fund development of innovations ranging from a new method of early cancer detection to a breakthrough in the cost of manufacturing fuel cells.
Last spring, the Boston Red Sox honored 2 MIT faculty members with the chance to throw the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway. Did it play a part in last night's triumphant win? We don't know for sure, but Rivest and Tonegawa both have their theories.
Imperfections unique to every microchip can be used to make them impossible to clone. The technique’s inventor claims that this will make banking or ID smart cards impossible to copy, and perhaps halt the illicit global trade in counterfeit computer games consoles.
"Location, location, location" may be the mantra for real estate tycoons. But according to a panel of experts on location-based services, the same mantra holds true for the future of cell phones and mobile computers.
Scientists have churned out genome sequences for everything from fungi to dogs to chimps, and they won't be letting up any time soon. However, because a genome sequence is little more than a static list of chemicals-like, say, a parts list for a 747 airplane-scientists are increasingly turning their attention to figuring out how living organisms put their genes to work.
It started with tennis balls. As a former collegiate tennis player, Daniela Rus habitually rolls two tennis balls around in her hand as she paces her office. As a robotics researcher at Dartmouth College, she wondered why the tennis balls shouldn’t be able to roll themselves around.
It's been seven months since the Pentagon pulled the plug on LifeLog, its controversial project to archive almost everything about a person. But now, the Defense Department seems ready to revive large portions of the program under a new name.
In the past few years, biologists have churned out the entire genetic sequence of dozens of organisms, including humans, dogs, mosquitoes, rats, and bacteria. But these strings of genes amount to the most basic molecular parts list, not much more helpful to deciphering how the genes combine to run a living cell than an array of microchips and wires would be for assembling a computer.
The life of psychiatrist Elisabeth Targ was haunted by coincidences. Her father, physicist Russell Targ, cofounded the Stanford Research Institute to investigate psychic phenomena. Elisabeth participated in his ESP experiments, and he encouraged her to "remotely view" and predict her birthday presents before she opened them (and claims she was correct most of the time). Elisabeth Targ was an academic superstar. She graduated from high school at age 15, was fluent in Russian, German and French, and eventually graduated from Stanford Medical School
Biology is the nanotechnology that works. Or so says Tom Knight, a senior researcher at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. That's a startling statement, especially when it's coming from a computer scientist.
The flow of a document, including the topics covered and the ways those topics relate to each other, is clear to people. It would be useful if computer systems that process documents -- like search engines and programs that generate summaries of news articles -- could also learn to consider topic information.
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and director of the World Wide Web Consortium, was dubbed a Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II during an investiture in London on July 16. The rank of Knight Commander is the second most senior rank of the Order of the British Empire, one of the Orders of Chivalry.
A conference was held on July 10-11, 2004 on the island of Andros, Greece, celebrating the life of Prof. Michael Dertouzos, the late director of the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science. It was organized by the Society of Scientists from Andros, Michael's native island. Attendees from MIT included President Chuck Vest and Mrs. Becky Vest, Prof. Suzanne Berger, Prof. Nicholas Negroponte, Prof. Amedeo Odoni, Ms. Barbara Stowe, Dr. Stephanie Seneff, and Prof. Victor Zue. Other attendees included the Honorable Al Gore, Mrs. Tipper Gore, Dr. George Metakides, and Dr. Greg Papadopolous. Also in the audience were Michael's wife Cathy, his son Leonidas, and his daughter Alexandra.
Howie Shrobe's light fixtures are misbehaving this morning. When the principal research scientist in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory instructs the system that automates parts of his office to "stay awake," a voice emanating from a set of speakers obediently replies, "At your service." And when Shrobe, SM '75, PhD '78, tells the system, "Close the drapes," they magically glide shut, blocking out all light from the seemingly normal office. But when he says, "Turn on the lights," nothing happens. Shrobe leans a little closer to the microphone array that sits on his desktop computer and repeats the command a little louder. When the room gives him the silent treatment again, he quickly types something on a keyboard; the lights turn on. He smiles and admits that he was playing around with the system a little this morning, which might explain why it's acting up. After all, it is a work in progress.
Peppercoin's technology was invented Professors Silvio Micali and Ron Rivest, founders of the Cryptography and Information Security Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Arificial Intelligence Laboratory.
Design automation systems tailored to the task of genetic engineering could prove to be double-edged tools. While they represent a central thrust of the emerging synthetic biology movement, they also can lead to the accidental or deliberate creation of pathogenic biological components.
Three years ago, Michael Dertouzos, the high-spirited director of MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science, spelled out his vision of a future in which computers recede into the background as enabling tools. ''I don't want us to be slaves to our machines," he declared. ''I want our machines to serve us."
Leaders of a new movement are kicking off the first Synthetic Biology 1.0 conference at the Massachussets Institute of Technology this week. "Synthetic biology" is the blanket term for a multidisciplinary attempt to identify a class of standard operational components that can be assembled into functioning molecular machines.
Computer scientists gathered in Piscataway, New Jersey, recently and bobbed their heads into an odd-looking contraption for a glimpse of emerging technology that might just help make the digital world safer for democracy
When James McLurkin was a high school junior on Long Island, N.Y., he built his first robot: a toy car that he rigged with a keypad, an LED display and a squirt gun. Then he programmed the unit to travel to the next room and "engage the target." His parents—the target in question—got a good soaking.
Kids, computational origami is something you can do on your own. That's what James Colovos and John Reid, two juniors at the Albuquerque Public Schools Career Enrichment Center, discovered over the past six months as they developed a computational origami science fair project with inspiration from MIT origami whiz Erik Demaine.
Colovos says he heard Demaine explain computational origami on National Public Radio last fall and suggested to Reid, a pal since elementary school, that they develop their own origami algorithm from scratch as their project for the Northwest New Mexico Regional Science Fair at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in March.
Their research won them a prize at that fair and a coveted spot for the two and their teacher, Ken Greenberg, at the Intel Corp. International Science Fair, which kicks off May 10 in Portland, Ore. Reid explains that the duo decided to concentrate their efforts on a subset of origami that Demaine favors -- creating a complex object out of a folded piece of paper with just one scissor cut.
He can lock up a secret -- but can he lock into baseball's strike zone?
That was the question for MIT cryptology expert Ronald Rivest, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch in Fenway Park before the Red Sox took on their arch-rivals, the New York Yankees, on April 16.
Sometimes, algorithms that change the world arise not as research for its own sake, but to answer a pressing need. One example of this type of innovation is encryption, which was created to defend against code-breakers who seek to steal or eavesdrop on vital data.
The MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation has issued its newest grant round, giving out a total of $612,000.
The Deshpande Center awarded eight grants selected from 38 proposals. The center gave four Ignition grants, which fund proof-of-concept explorations, and four Innovation Program grants, which help reduce technical and market risk around promising innovations.
The idea of intellectual property is a wonderful thing, especially as it becomes more widely understood.
Intellectual property laws allow tangible and intangible things like words, music, images, design, software, technology and inventions of all kinds to gain value by protecting that value from theft.
PackBot EOD's three-link arm extends to approximately 7 feet. The robot can automatically position its arm to give its operator the best possible view of a suspected explosive device. iRobot Chairman and Co-Founder Helen Greiner, right describes the action of the arm to an attendee.
The engineering profession's highest honors for 2004, presented by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), recognize a technological achievement that has changed almost every aspect of our lives and an innovative educational program that has produced hundreds of leaders. The Charles Stark Draper Prize was awarded to Robert W. Taylor , Alan C. Kay, Butler W. Lampson and Charles P. Thacker.
Three MIT professors are among the 76 new members of the National Academy of Engineering.
Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions an engineer can receive. Academy membership honors those who have made "important contributions to engineering theory and practice," and those who have demonstrated accomplishment in "pioneering new fields of engineering, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education."
The Pentagon canceled its so-called LifeLog project, an ambitious effort to build a database tracking a person's entire existence.
Run by Darpa, the Defense Department's research arm, LifeLog aimed to gather in a single place just about everything an individual says, sees or does: the phone calls made, the TV shows watched, the magazines read, the plane tickets bought, the e-mail sent and received. Out of this seemingly endless ocean of information, computer scientists would plot distinctive routes in the data, mapping relationships, memories, events and experiences.