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September 23, 2017

BROWSE NEWS RESULTS

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Technology Review
February 15, 2011

A Twin-Cell Solar Panel

A new design has funding through a White House initiative to develop cheap solar panels.
A start-up called Stion will receive $1 million from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to develop a new type of low-cost, high-efficiency solar panel. The company will use the new funding to make solar panels that combine two types of solar cells, which will allow the panels to efficiently convert a wide range of the solar spectrum into electricity. Stion already makes thin-film solar panels, a type of solar panel that is generally less efficient than conventional, crystalline silicon solar panels, but that can cost much less to manufacture—in some cases half as much. The new panels are meant to be just as efficient as conventional silicon ones, but still significantly cheaper to manufacture. The funding is part of the Obama administration's recently announced Sun Shot initiative, which has the goal of reducing the cost of installed solar panels by 75 percent, to make solar power competitive with fossil fuels.
Technology Review
February 15, 2011

Light-Emitting Rubber Could Sense Structural Damage

The new type of sensor could be an early warning system for bridges and buildings under stress.
Researchers at Princeton University have built a new type of sensor that could help engineers quickly assess the health of a building or bridge. The sensor is an organic laser, deposited on a sheet of rubber: when it's stretched—by the formation of a crack, for instance—the color of light it emits changes. "The idea came from the notion that perhaps it's possible to cover large structures like bridges with a skin that you can use to detect deformation of the structure from a distance," says Sigurd Wagner, professor of electrical engineering at Princeton University, who developed the stretchable laser sensor with and Patrick Görrn, a researcher at Princeton. The work was published last month in Advanced Materials.
Technology Review
February 15, 2011

An App for Dissidents

A startup is offering free encrypted voice and text communications to protesters in Egypt.
At the height of the recent political unrest in Egypt, leaflets warned protesters not to use services like Facebook and Twitter to communicate, for fear of alerting the authorities about their intentions. Two security researchers have now created smart-phone apps that encrypt phone and text communications to offer a secure communication channel in such situations. Two new applications for Android devices, called RedPhone and TextSecure, were released last week by Whisper Systems, a startup created by security researchers Moxie Marlinspike and Stuart Anderson. The apps are offered free of charge to users in Egypt, where protesters opposing ex-president Hosni Mubarak have clashed with police for weeks. The apps use end-to-end encryption and a private proxy server to obfuscate who is communicating with whom, and to secure the contents of messages or phone conversations. "We literally have been working night and day for the last two weeks to get an international server infrastructure set up," says Anderson.
MIT Research News
February 15, 2011

Rivest Unlocks Cryptography's Past, Looks Toward Future

Public-key system has worked and made Internet commerce feasible, but new systems are ready in case flaws are found.
The most widely used cryptographic system today may eventually be vulnerable, said computer science professor Ronald Rivest — one of the system's primary creators — but even if it fails, new systems are already waiting to be deployed.

Rivest, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Computer Science, reviewed the history of code-making and code-breaking through the ages — the field known as cryptography — and made some predictions about the field’s future during MIT's prestigious Killian Faculty Achievement Award Lecture, held on Tuesday, Feb. 8.
Read Full Article at MIT News Office
Technology Review
February 14, 2011

How Your Username May Betray You

The more unusual your username, the easier marketers and scammers can build a profile of you.
By creating a distinctive username—and reusing it on multiple websites—you may be giving online marketers and scammers a simple way to track you. Four researchers from the French National Institute of Computer Science (INRIA) studied over 10 million usernames—collected from public Google profiles, eBay accounts, and several other sources. They found that about half of the usernames used on one site could be linked to another online profile, potentially allowing marketers and scammers to build a more complex picture the users. "These results show that some users can be profiled just from their usernames," says Claude Castelluccia, research director of the security and privacy research group at INRIA, and one of the authors of a paper on the work. "More specifically, a profiler could use usernames to identify all the site [profiles] that belong to the same user, and then use all the information contained in these sites to profile the victim."
Technology Review
February 14, 2011

Nerves Light Up to Warn Surgeons Away

Tagging nerves with fluorescent markers could help surgeons avoid harming them.
Surgeons take pains to avoid injuring nerves in and around surgical sites—a stray cut could lead to muscle weakness, pain, numbness, or even paralysis. In delicate operations like prostate removal, for instance, accidentally damaging nerves can lead to incontinence or erectile dysfunction. Scientists at University of California San Diego have announced a new method for lighting up nerves in the body with fluorescent peptides, which could act as markers to keep surgeons away. Quyen Nguyen, a surgeon at UCSD who led the research, says that during their training, surgeons learn where nerves are located and use that knowledge to avoid them. Most of the time, knowledge and experience are enough, but if anything is out of place or damaged for some reason, "finding the nerves can be challenging," Nguyen says. Fluorescence offers a way to let surgeons see them "even before they encounter them with their tools," she says.
Technology Review
February 14, 2011

Laser-Quick Data Transfer

Researchers learn how to make lasers directly on microchips—the result could be computers that download large files much more quickly.
For the first time, researchers have grown lasers from high-performance materials directly on silicon. Bringing together electrical and optical components on computer chips would speed data transfer within and between computers, but the incompatibility of the best laser materials with the silicon used to make today's chips has been a major hurdle. By growing nanolasers made of so-called exotic semiconductors on silicon, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have surmounted this hurdle. With further development, the Berkeley lasers could provide ways to transfer more data more quickly, speeding up computing within supercomputers and making it faster to download large files.
Technology Review
February 14, 2011

Finding Social Influencers to Improve Health Care

Researchers are tapping computational social-analysis tools to sell drugs and promote health.
Pharmaceutical marketers go to great lengths to find the doctors who aren't prescribing their drugs—and to devise methods to reach them. But MedNetworks, a startup that grew out of the Harvard lab of sociologist and physician Nicholas Christakis, is offering pharmaceutical companies a shortcut. By mining anonymized medical-claims data, the company says it can identify which doctors may be the strongest influencers of their colleagues. MedNetworks uses computational tools developed at Christakis's lab to look at the prescribing patterns of large groups of doctors, build maps of professional ties, and track how the popularity of a new drug grows. The company has found that certain doctors are particularly strong influencers: when these doctors write prescriptions for a newly released drug, colleagues within three degrees of separation soon follow suit. With such historical insights in hand, "we've shown that we can predict adoption of pharmaceuticals among doctors," says MedNetworks cofounder Larry Miller.
MIT Research News
February 14, 2011

Detecting Whether a Heart Attack has Occurred

New implantable sensor finds telltale signs; technology could also be adapted to monitor cancer and other diseases.
During about 30 percent of all heart attacks, the patient experiences no symptoms. However, unmistakable signs of the attack remain in the bloodstream for days. MIT researchers, working with Massachusetts General Hospital’s Cardiovascular Research Center, have now designed a tiny implant that can detect those signs, which could help doctors more rapidly determine whether a patient has had a heart attack.

In a study of mice, the team showed that the new implants can detect three proteins whose levels spike after a heart attack. Such devices could be used to monitor patients who are at high risk of heart attack, allowing doctors to respond more quickly if an attack occurs, preventing more severe heart disease from developing.
Read Full Article at MIT News Office
Technology Review
February 11, 2011

Do Anonymous Leaks Have a Future?

Successors to WikiLeaks are springing up, but they face a range of obstacles.
While the U.S. government tries to build a case against WikiLeaks, the secret-document publishing site run by Australian hacker-turned-celebrity Julian Assange and currently hosted in Sweden, an entire new generation of WikiLeaks-inspired services, enabling anonymous, secure submissions of leaked documents, is springing up around the world. Although the technology for these sites may be solid, however, potential leakers and those to whom they leak face growing threats from the law, and from outright spying. One recently launched outlet is the Al Jazeera Transparency Unit, which encourages people to upload documents, photos, and videos "to shine light on notable and newsworthy government and corporate activities which might otherwise go unreported [...] from human rights to poverty to official corruption." New York Times executive editor Bill Keller has said his newspaper is planning "a kind of EZ Pass lane for leakers," although the Times has so far declined to give out specifics. And a former WikiLeaks employee, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, used last month's World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, to announce the test launch of OpenLeaks, which is intended not to serve as a document repository itself but to provide enabling technology for media outlets, NGOs, and other organizations to create their own drop boxes for leakers.
Technology Review
February 11, 2011

Extracting Business Ideas from IT Logs

Software finds hidden business insights in Web and phone logs, e-mail, and network traffic.
Many companies don't realize it, but their IT infrastructure is constantly, automatically gathering a comprehensive picture of their whole business, in the form of everything from Web server and phone logs to internal network traffic to the e-mail system. That valuable data is typically left to IT staff to worry about. But some software firms are trying to find ways to mine it for insights to guide the development of new ideas and strategies. Erik Sawn, chief technology officer of Splunk, a software company in San Francisco, is on a mission to make it possible for organizations to collect and query every scrap of digital data they generate. "We don't care about the format of your data," says Swan, "Splunk can eat anything and indexes it all like a big recording device."
Technology Review
February 11, 2011

Patient-Derived Heart Cells Mimic Disease

The cells point to new potential therapies for an inherited heart defect.
Beating balls of heart cells created from skin biopsies of children with a rare inherited disorder called Timothy syndrome replicate the abnormal heart rhythms that characterize the disease. The cells provide a new way to search for drugs to treat the disease, which is linked to autism and serious—sometimes fatal—heart problems. Researchers have already identified one compound that normalizes heart rhythms in cells growing in a dish. In addition to benefiting research into Timothy syndrome, the cells might be useful for detecting drug compounds that trigger or exacerbate abnormal heart rhythms, one of the most common reasons for drugs to be pulled off the market.