MIT Plans to Rebuild Artificial Intelligence from the Ground Up

After 50 years and countless dead ends, incremental progress, and modest breakthroughs, artificial intelligence researchers are asking for a do-over. The $5 million Mind Machine Project (MMP), a patchwork team of two dozen academics, students and researchers, intends to go back to the discipline's beginnings, rebuilding the field from the ground up.

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MIT Harnesses Online Crowds to Beat Darpa Balloon Challenge in Just 9 Hours

The Pentagon's DARPA agency wanted to know how to filter trustworthy information from social networks; MIT had the answer

Groups of friends and strangers spent more than a month preparing for perhaps the greatest social networking competition in history. All wanted to be the first to find 10 red weather balloons scattered across the continental U.S. on December 5, and claim a $40,000 prize from the Pentagon's DARPA agency.

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Tunable Terahertz Lasers Could Allow Airport Scanners to Chemically Analyze Substances

A new way to tune the width of terahertz quantum cascade lasers heralds a breakthrough in airport scanning and much more

If Superman saw in terahertz radiation, he could do more than just peer through clothes and the human body. The Man of Steel might also be able to identify the chemical difference between a benign powder or an explosive tucked away inside a vial within a suitcase -- assuming that he could somehow tune his vision.

No worries, because an MIT electrical engineer and colleagues have managed to tune a small but powerful laser capable of generating terahertz rays. That could someday lead to airport scanners capable of even better snooping than superheroes.

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MIT Redesigns Natural Gas Power Plant For Near-Zero Carbon Emissions

New technology produces energy from fuel without burning it

With the conference in Copenhagen swiftly approaching, and the Senate analog to the Waxman-Markey "American Clean Energy and Security Act" struggling towards the floor, little doubt remains that fossil fuel-burning power plants will soon face either fines for, or mandatory reduction of, carbon emissions. Luckily, a team at MIT has devised a power plant set up that generates power from fossil fuels, but does so with almost none of the carbon emissions.

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First-Ever Transition Contact Lenses May Replace Sunglasses

I wear glasses, but don't own contact lenses. And while this normally doesn't make a difference, staring into the midday sun often leads me to think about switching to contacts simply so I can wear sunglasses.

Well, just as I all but convinced myself to switch, the Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) in Singapore goes ahead and makes sunglasses all but useless for contact lens wearers. Behold, the first ever transition contacts.

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Video: Autonomous Indoor Copter Drone Steers with Laser Scanner

MIT researchers develop a quad-rotor helicopter that can navigate on its own

MIT's robotics whizzes have created a new flying drone that can navigate unknown indoor areas all by itself. The tiny helicopter manages its explorations by using an onboard laser scanner to map out walls and windows.

The researchers started with a quad-rotor helicopter developed by Ascending Technologies GmbH, and outfitted the micro aerial vehicle with sensors and instruments galore. Their laser scanner setup combines with a mapping algorithm to help compensate for the lack of GPS navigation in most indoor areas.

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Video: MIT Scientist Explains How OLEDs Work, Using a Glowing Pickle

No, that glowing pickle isn't a promotion for rave night at Katz's, it's a demonstration for how your TV works. In this ingenious twist on the classic potato clock, MIT professor Vladimir Bulovic transforms a humble full sour into a giant OLED pixel for our learning pleasure.

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How To Take Photos From the Edge of Space For $150

MIT students build a high-altitude, photo-snapping balloon using off-the-shelf components

Icarus Touches the Edge: A $150 view of space  1337arts
Scientists and students alike have previously launched low-budget balloons that rise to the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere, snapping unbelievable photos from near-space. But MIT's Icarus team managed the same feat using only off-the-shelf items, and for a measly cost of $150. Here's how they did it.

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How Much Can You Really Learn With a Free Online Education?

The world’s most prestigious universities have begun posting entire curricula on the Web—for free. Is there such a thing as a free higher-education lunch? I enrolled to find out

I was not screwing around. When I took the first physics class of my life, at age 35, it was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and my professor was Walter Lewin, one of that institution's most respected instructors. Lewin is a man so comfortable with his vectors that he diagrams them in front of a classroom audience while wearing Teva sandals.

OK, I wasn't really "at" MIT. And "took" the class may be a stretch. I was watching the video of one of Lewin's lectures from the comfort of my backyard in Brooklyn, and I too was wearing sandals (but not Tevas; I have standards).

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MIT's Project elEVen: an Electric Car That Recharges in Under 11 Minutes

MIT's Electric Vehicle Team is working on Project elEVen, an electric car which aspires to top 100 mph, travel 200 miles on a single charge, and rejuice in around 10 minutes.

The team is starting with a Lincoln Milan hybrid, whose engine they have gutted and converted to all-electric power. Their goal is to create an electric car that has mainstream appeal, both in looks and performance, while staying true to an all-electric design.

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MIT To Follow 3,000 Pieces of Trash From Curb to Landfill (and Beyond) With Geotags

Project Trash Track will use location-aware smart tags to visualize trash's amazing urban journey, from the side of the curb to the landfill and beyond

Trash becomes invisible to most people as soon as they haul their trashcans out to the curb. Now MIT wants to change that by using tiny smart tags that will broadcast the location of 3,000 pieces of rubbish as they travel through the urban ecosystem and beyond.

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MIT Students Love iPhone-Powered Doors, Hate Actual Keys

Chris Varenhorst, the MIT engineering student responsible for this hydraulic-powered door that can be opened with the tap of an iPhone app or the rap of a secret knock sequence, says that after a long day of studying, he doesn't want to waste time messing with keys. We have a different theory.

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Math, Art, and Origami at MIT

A father-and-son team study the science -- and art -- of folding

In the computer science lab where they work at MIT, Erik and Martin Demaine have a three-foot-tall metal and plastic sculpture that resembles a sleek, modernist version of a child's Tinkertoy creation.

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A House That Walks

Don't like your neighbors? Just stroll away

Houses are normally fairly stationary objects, and that's not considered a bad thing. But innovation never stands still, and a new prototype house that can walk on six legs has been built . The house is ten feet high, powered by solar panels, and is outfitted with a kitchen, toilet, bed, and wood stove. Last week, the house, a collaboration between MIT and the Danish design collective N55, took a journey through Cambridgeshire in England as part of an art project at the Wysing Art Center. Designed to move at the muscle speed of a human, the house walked at about five kilometers an hour around the 11-acre campus. (See video)

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Less Time Stuck in Traffic, Thanks to New MIT Program

The CarTel project helps drivers avoid jams by using sensors to record real-time data

Traffic delays are the bane of any commuter—even those who use a GPS, which warns you about traffic jams on your route to work. The reason: getting real-time data is difficult as the traffic information is routed from the scene to a massive database that only feeds GPS units on regular intervals.

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