ME++ The Cyborg Self and the Networked City
Throughout history, humans have created unique physical spaces in which to live, work and socialize. But the digital age has completely transformed the places in which we conduct our affairs, according to William J. Mitchell. We don’t congregate at the town bank any more for financial transactions. We visit ATMs or bank online.
Transportation, the Built Environment and Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Developing Cities
It seems that income and travel are inextricably linked. As communities gain wealth and prosperity, their travel footprint increases. While this relationship affords benefits to those in developed nations, it is not scalable. Global population is projected to increase by nearly 2 billion people by 2030. If this newly adde
Keynote Presentation: Academic Perspectives
Very simply stated, systems biology attempts to “capture the dynamic nature of living systems.” To accomplish this, says Hood, you “have to bring together the flavors of biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering and physics,” among others. It’s a vast area to tackle. But with tools like the internet and digital
Innovation at the Interface: Technological Fusion at MIT
When disciplines converge, innovation results. To prove the point, two inventers offered rich and varied examples from their respective areas: artificial intelligence and biomedicine. Rodney Brooks describes robots exploring dangerous bunkers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and intelligent prosthetic limbs. He predicts that in
Engineering a New Attack on Disease
Out of a world population of 6 billion, 57 million people die each year. And while we have gained 20 years in life expectancy since World War 2, diseases like HIV have taken a toll on morbidity in many developing nations. But according to Rick Young, “the global disease burden is much larger than the number of deaths.” Countles
Bioengineering at MIT: Building Bridges Between the Sciences, Engineering and Health Care (Part Two
Glycomics, the study of sugars’ role in living systems, is a relative newcomer to the revolution in molecular biology. In fact, Ram Sasisekharan remembers how colleagues told him “not to work on carbohydrates -- that it was useless.” But his research has shown that glycans, observed as long chains or intricat
The Implications of Synthetic Biology
There’s no mistaking Drew Endy’s profession: “I like to make things -- that’s what I do.” From his engineer’s perspective, the slow and painful methods of bioengineering demand a solution. Endy hopes to refine the tools necessary to move the field forward. “We’re going from looking at the living world as only c
Nanotechnology and the Study of Human Diseases
Subra Suresh fleshes out the promise of nanotechnology, at least in regard to our understanding of disease. His talk, which focuses on malaria and its impact on red blood cells, demonstrates how the fields of engineering, biology and medicine are converging.
To function properly, he explains, a red blood cel
Energy resources: Water quality
Water is arguably the most important physical resource as it is the one that is essential to human survival. Understanding the global water cycle and how we use water is essential to planning a sustainable source of water for the future. In the UK there are areas where water supplies are limited, shown by recent droughts. Globally, there are many areas that do not have enough water to support the current population adequately. Decisions will have to be made on the best way to use water in a worl
Electronics on Plastic: A Solution to the Energy Challenge, or a Pipe Dream?
As urgency to address climate change mounts, there’s ever greater interest in harnessing the unlimited potential of the sun to replace fossil fuels. This tantalizing prospect has inspired a raft of new scientific ventures, reports Stephen Forrest.
A theoretical field of silicon solar cells that is 1
Future energy demand and supply
When you consider that the global annual consumption of primary energy increased more than ten-fold during the 20th Century, the importance of planning future energy supply becomes clear.
Studying mammals: Life in the trees
David Attenborough looks at ‘life in the trees’: examining how species have evolved to cope with arboreal living. You will learn how lemurs, anteaters, bears and many others have developed different methods to help movement and survival.
Observations on the Science of Finance in the Practice of Finance
There will be a time “beyond crisis,” asserts Robert C. Merton, who delves into the dense science of derivatives -- a field he has fundamentally shaped -- to explain how the vast global economic collapse has come about, and how financial innovations at the heart of the collapse could also be tools for reconstruction.
Education Across Borders: The India Perspective
Rickshaw drivers in India are frequent victims of tuberculosis after just a few years inhaling traffic fumes. This near-epidemic went unacknowledged until
Kapil Sibal demanded a solution. The fix, now gaining traction across the country, is a solar-powered vehicle that eliminates pedaling. But what began as a project to ass
Creating a Game Plan for Transition to a Sustainable Economy
The “chief inspired protagonist” of one of the nation’s oldest and most successful green manufacturers apologizes for delivering a talk “more depressing than expected.” While discussing the challenges facing businesses attempting to transition to a more just and sustainable economy, Jeffrey Hollender enumera
Race from France to France, Leave Antarctica to Starboard
Rich Wilson had followed the Vendée Globe Race ('round-the-world single-handed) since its inception in 1988 but had never considered sailing it himself—“too hard, too long, too dangerous, too risky, too, too, too, the boats were too big, the sails were too big.”
Then he reconsidered the possibility when he realize
Modeling Human Mobility
Researchers who wish to study mobility patterns might be reaching for your phone. Increasingly, cell phones are equipped with locational receivers (Global Positioning Systems or GPS) and their bread crumb trails are opening up entirely new ways to study and predict the dynamics of travel. “We are in the GPS revolution because
Energy from sources other than fossil and nuclear fuels is to a large extent free of the concerns about environmental effects and renewability that characterise those two sources. Each alternative source supplies energy continually, whether or not we use it. This unit considers one of these alternative sources, geothermal energy derived from the interior heat of the Earth, and the potential for this alternative to supplant fossil and nuclear fuel use to power social needs fast enough to avoid t
The Future of Science Journalism
Susan Hockfield states that science journalism “is now, and in the decades ahead, absolutely indispensable.” As we confront global warming and health pandemics, science reporting must be sustained, Hockfield says, “in its rightful place, at the top of the profession and in the thick of the national conversation.
The Power of Competition: How to Focus the World’s Brains on your Innovation Challenges
Cooperation may be making us “a little bit too nice” when it comes to innovation, suggests Fiona Murray. She believes there’s nothing like competition for injecting energy into the process of solving key innovation problems, whether in business or society.
Murray is convinced competition make ventures “more ef