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Thursday, October 18, 2007

MCAS science results mixed

Bernazzani Elementary School pupil Andrew Spada, 10, hangs from a Velcro wall during a hip-hop science education concert focusing on gravity and motion at North Quincy High School. (DOMINIC CHAVEZ/GLOBE STAFF)

School administrators in Southeastern Massachusetts say they need to bolster scores on the state's new high school science exam, even though the majority of the region's public school districts outperformed the state average in the scores released this week.

Because passing the exam is becoming a high school graduation requirement starting with this year's 10th-graders, just doing better than the state average will not be good enough to ensure that the region's seniors all have high enough scores to get their diplomas, school administrators say.

The science exam was given for the first time this spring to ninth- and 10th-graders. Students can take the exam in biology, chemistry, physics, or engineering-technology. Under the new rules, a student must pass one of the four to get a diploma.

On biology, the most popular test, 39 of the 49 area districts where ninth- and 10th-graders took the test passed at a higher rate than the state average of 76 percent, according to a Globe analysis of state data released on Monday.

Norwell students did the best, with a pass rate of 99 percent; Randolph did the worst at 54 percent. The median pass rate for the region was 83 percent.

"We are happy when we see successful scores, but that doesn't mean we pause in the glory. We still need to continue to move forward to make all students successful," said June Doe, the superintendent of schools in Dedham where more than 90 percent of the high school students passed the biology and chemistry tests.

Because the state provided only the combined pass rates for grades 9 and 10, it is unclear how far or close this region's class of 2010 is in meeting the high school graduation requirement.

The following are highlights of the other three science tests results for the ninth- and 10th-graders:

Out of the 30 districts in the region in which students took the chemistry test, 25 outperformed the state passing rate of 61 percent. At five schools - Cohasset, Foxborough, Foxborough Regional Charter, Westwood, and Weymouth - all test-takers passed. Old Rochester and Hull tied for the lowest rate of 42 percent. The median passing rate for the region was 85 percent.

Out of the 13 districts in the region where students took the introduction to physics test, nine performed better than the state average of 78 percent. Sharon had the highest pass rate of 99 percent, while Blue Hills Regional Technical had the lowest at 15 percent. The region's median was 89 percent.

Only two districts took the engineering-technology test. Plymouth had a passing rate of 79 percent, 3 percentage points higher than the state, while Brockton had 58 percent.

To pass the exam, students need to score in the top three categories on MCAS - advanced, proficient, or needs improvement. The other category is warning-failin.

School administrators say they will offer remediation for students who did not pass the exams, but in many cases have not developed specifics. One sticking point: By the time the districts receive scores in the fall, students often already have moved onto a new science course.

So, a student who failed the biology exam but passed the biology course at the high school could now be sitting in a chemistry class, raising the question of whether it's better for the district to tutor the student in biology for a retake or devote additional help to the student in chemistry so he or she can take that state exam with better success.

"We will have to determine that on a case-by-case basis," said Brenda Hodges, superintendent of the Mansfield schools, where 92 percent of students passed the biology exam.

More broadly, administrators say they are reevaluating their science programs to make sure the courses align with state standards. A few districts said they might reshuffle the order in which students take courses, or change the length of time students have in classes.

In Carver, where 80 percent of students passed the biology exam, the high school might replace a freshman earth science course with an introductory physics class. The school would then stick with the current cycle of having students take biology in their sophomore year and chemistry in their junior year.

"We want to give more kids a chance to succeed," said Elizabeth Sorrell, superintendent of the Carver schools and a former science curriculum coordinator. "I do think the test is a good idea. Pretty much any job you do requires some science and technology."

In Walpole, where more than 90 percent of students passed the biology and chemistry tests, the high school has added another science teacher so classes are around 25 students, compared to about 30 last year.

"Students are now able to have their own lab stations in the science rooms," said Jean Kenney, director of curriculum, instruction, and grants in Walpole. "Our teachers have students focus a lot on hands-on work. We try to make it real world science. We want applications [of science] to be seen as everyday examples."

Getting students to pass the science exam comes down to one basic principle - having them practice the knowledge and skills, said Abington Superintendent of Schools Peter Schafer. "It's like hitting a baseball," Schafer said. "The more you go to the batting cage, the better you get."

The effort to improve extends beyond high schools. Many districts are revamping curriculums in middle and elementary schools, too. Administrators say it's critical to make students excited about science at the youngest age possible so they will want to keep studying it. State policy makers and business leaders say the state needs more highly trained workers for the science fields, especially in the booming biotechnology.

Quincy officials last month tried to entice fifth- and sixth-graders into a love affair with science by putting Newton's laws of motion and the universal law of gravitation to hip-hop lyrics. Students filled a school gymnasium to hear a special program put on by Honeywell and NASA that demonstrated the laws by using things like rocket launchers and Velcro against the backdrop of three hip-hop singers.

The show dazzled Meghan MacDonald, 11. Although she said she loves science, she said she is unsure whether she would pursue science as a career.

"I'm thinking about working with animals," she said, "but I've always wanted to go to the moon."

Technorati :

Nokia introduces N810 Internet Tablet


Nokia today rolled out a new Internet tablet, which has evolved into a portable entertainment platform that comes with a slide-out keyboard and a GPS receiver.

Top cell phone maker Nokia is introducing an upgraded version of a wireless multimedia device without a phone, the company said on Wednesday, as it takes aim at Apple Inc's iPod Touch.

The Nokia N810 Internet Tablet is intended for heavy users of Web sites, such as Google, Skype, Facebook and Flickr. It connects to Wi-Fi hot spots or Bluetooth connections, instead of cellular networks, as cell phones do.

The N810, with a price around US$479, has built-in maps and satellite navigation for getting directions, a high-resolution camera, instant messaging, and a 10-gigabyte memory card that stores up to 7,500 songs in compressed format.

"What we have created is a clean Internet device," said Anssi Vanjoki, general manager of Nokia's multimedia business. "It does not bring any of the ridiculous leftovers of the past," he said, referring to older telecoms software.

The N810 resembles Apple's recently introduced iPod Touch Internet multimedia device, which also goes without phone features and costs $299. Nokia's new device was unveiled at a news conference ahead of the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.

Among the key differences, users can choose a touch screen, writing stylus or pop-up keyboard that hides behind its screen that is more than 4 inches across -- larger than Apple devices.

Adding conventional phone features would be easy, technically speaking, for Nokia, a company that produces more than 100 million phones a year.

But for Internet-focused devices this would conflict with Nokia's push to offer devices designed to work on the open Internet rather than on cellular networks, said Ari Virtanen, Nokia's vice president of multimedia convergence products.

"We don't want to build this device so that it requires a mobile phone subscription," Virtanen said. Apple's iTouch also does not require a subscription, although its iPhone does.

The N810 is expected to start shipping in mid-November. It uses Linux as its underlying software operating system. The wireless device carries a Mozilla-based Web browser, with fully interactive AJaX technology and an Adobe Flash 9 video player.

Nokia has worked with Google to incorporate Google Talk instant messaging features that allow users to know when other friends using Google Gmail are online. Users can also choose Skype or other Internet-calling applications.

Flickr is a photo-sharing Web site, Facebook is a social-networking site, and Skype is an Internet phone voice service.

Batteries last for two days of normal activity, Nokia said. In continuous use, the battery lasts four hours, according to product literature.

The device will first be available in North America, 15 European markets and in limited parts of Asia, officials said. The average price of the phone in Europe will be around 450 euros.

Nokia, based in Finland, is expected to deliver strong profit growth on Thursday, when it reports third quarter results, buoyed by demand for low-cost phones in emerging markets and more sophisticated multimedia phones in Europe.


The new N810 is not quite what we would call a revolution, but it is a solid improvement over the preceding N770 and N810 tablet PCs and pretty much represents what Palm's recently scrapped Foleo companion device should have been.

The N810, as its predecessors, only works as a stand-alone Internet tablet as long as there is a Wi-Fi hotspot from in range. The new device will work with Boingo Wireless, Earthlink and The Cloud locations, Nokia said. When there is no hotspot available, the tablet will connect to a cellphone via Bluetooth 2.0 +EDR and retrieve and send data over a cellular network.

While the device lacks the actual connectivity of a cellphone and therefore remains a device you would have to carry around separately, it could become an interesting device for users who are looking for a bit more PC-like functionality than is available in smartphones such as Palm Treos or an Apple iPhone. First, there is a relatively large slide-out keyboard that promises more convenience in communication and entertainment applications: Nokia says that the N810 enables users to make VoIP calls (via Skype or video chats via Gizmo), check email, stay in touch with social networks, watch videos on YouTube or update a blog.

The technology behind the N-tablet has received some upgrades, but hasn't changed much: The TI2420 OMAP processor now runs at 400 MHz instead of 330 MHz, Wi-Fi is still supported with 802.11 b/g standards, DDR is still at 128 MB and internal flash memory still at 256 MB. The screen remained at a 4.13" size, providing an 800x480 pixel resolution at 225 dpi. The operating system is still a Debian/GNU-based Linux called "Maemo", but has been updated with a new Kernel and is now called Internet tablet OS 2008, instead of 2007. Internal memory is rated at up to 2 GB, while the device also supports SD and SDHC flash memory cards with up to 8 GB capacity.

Besides the new keyboard, the most significant addition to the N810 is a built-in GPS receiver, which can be upgraded to Wayfinder's voice-guided navigation to allow turn-by-turn directions.

The N810 is expected to become available in November for a suggested retail price of $479.

Technorati :

Are Vampires Real? Physics Professor Drives Scientific Stake Into The Heart Of Supernatural Myths

As the weather cools and Halloween approaches, creaks in the stairs and scary stories become more believable -- but not to physics professor Costas Efthimiou.

The laws of physics and math debunk popular myths about ghosts and vampires, according to a paper published by Efthimiou and Sohang Gandhi last year.

Using Isaac Newton's Laws of Motion, Efthimiou demonstrates that ghosts would not be able to walk and pass through walls. Basic math disproves the legend of humans turning into vampires after they are bitten, Efthimiou explains, because the entire human population in 1600 would have been wiped out in less than three years.

Doomed by mathematics

"These popular myths make for a lot of Halloween fun and great movies with special effects, but they just don't hold up to the strict tests of science," Efthimiou said.

In movies such as "Ghost," starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, ghosts often walk like humans, pass through walls and pick up objects. But that portrayal cannot be accurate, Efthimiou says. For ghosts to have the ability to walk like humans, they would need to put a force upon the floor, which would exert an equal and opposite force in return. But ghosts' ability to pass through walls and have humans walk right through them demonstrates that they cannot apply any force.

Movies such as "Blade," featuring Wesley Snipes, suggest that vampires feed on human blood and that once a human has been bitten, he or she turns into a vampire and begins feeding on other humans. To disprove the existence of vampires, Efthimiou relied on a basic math principle known as geometric progression.

Efthimiou supposed that the first vampire arrived Jan. 1, 1600, when the human population was 536,870,911. Assuming that the vampire fed once a month and the victim turned into a vampire, there would be two vampires and 536,870,910 humans on Feb. 1. There would be four vampires on March 1 and eight on April 1. If this trend continued, all of the original humans would become vampires within two and a half years and the vampires' food source would disappear.

Efthimiou did not take into consideration mortality rates, which would have increased the speed at which the human population would have been vanquished. And even factoring in a birth rate would not change the outcome.

"In the long run, humans cannot survive under these conditions, even if our population were doubling each month," Efthimiou said. "And doubling is clearly way beyond the human capacity of reproduction."

Efthimiou also provides a practical explanation for "voodoo zombiefication," which suggests that zombies "come about by a voodoo hex being placed by a sorcerer on one of his enemies." He reviewed the case of a Haitian adolescent who was pronounced dead by a local doctor after a week of dramatic convulsions.

After the boy was buried, he returned in an incoherent state, and Haitians pronounced that a sorcerer had raised him from the dead in the state of a zombie.

Science, however, has a less-supernatural explanation. A highly-toxic substance called tetrodotoxin is found in a breed of puffer fish native to Haitian waters. Contact with this substance generally results in a rapid death. However, in some cases, the right dose of the toxin will result in a state that mimics death and slows vital signs to a level that is unable to be measured. Eventually, the victim snaps out of the death-like coma and returns to his or her regular condition.

Scientific analysis has shown that oxygen deprivation is consistent with the boy's brain damage and his incoherent state.

"It would seem that zombiefication is nothing more than a skillful act of poisoning,"

Technorati :

NASA Announces 120 Small Research Projects

"NASA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) has released a list of the winning businesses that submitted research proposals in 2006. This is the second phase of a three phase award system and NASA has announced the winners. If you click on any of the projects, there is an interesting writeup of the proposal and technical abstract."

list of the winning businesses

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program
2006 Phase 2
Proposals Selected for Negotiation of Contracts
Aeronautics Research
A1 Aviation Safety
A2 Fundamental Aeronautics
A3 Airspace Systems
A4 Aeronautics Test Technologies

Exploration Systems
X2 Avionics and Software
X3 Environmental Control and Life Support (ECLS)
X4 Lunar In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU)
X6 Lightweight Structures and Materials
X7 Operations of Exploration Equipment
X8 Energy Generation and Storage
X9 Propulsion and Propellant Storage
X10 Thermal Protection
X11 Thermal Management
X12 Space Human Factors and Food Systems
X13 Space Radiation
X14 Exploration Medical Capabilities

S1 Robotic Exploration of the Moon and Mars
S2 Robotic Exploration Throughout the Solar System
S3 Advanced Telescope Systems
S4 Exploration of the Universe Beyond our Solar System
S6 Earth Science Instrument and Sensor Technology
S7 Science Spacecraft Systems Technology
S8 Advanced Modeling, Simulation, and Analysis for Science

Space Operations
O1 Space Communications
O2 Space Transportation

Aeronautics Research

A1 Aviation Safety

Barron Associates, Inc.
1410 Sachem Place, Suite 202
Charlottesville, VA 22901-0807
Connie Hoover (434) 973-1215
06-2-A1.02-9516 LaRC
Damage Adaptation Using Integrated Structural, Propulsion, and Aerodynamic Control

Integran Technologies USA, Inc.
2541 Appletree Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15241-2587
Robert Heard (412) 268-2705
06-2-A1.03-8436 GRC
Grain Boundary Engineering for Assessing Durability and Aging Issues with Nickel-Based Superalloys

NextGen Aeronautics, Inc.
2780 Skypark Drive, Suite 400
Torrance, CA 90505-7519
Zoltan Feher (310) 626-8384
06-2-A1.03-8886 LaRC
Cradle-to-Grave Monitoring of Composite Aircraft Structures

RL Associates, Inc.
1350 Edgmont Avenue, Suite 2300
Chester, PA 19013-3940
Mary Ludwig (610) 499-7529
06-2-A1.06-9659 LaRC
NIR LIDAR for Hazard Mitigation

Techno-Sciences, Inc.
11750 Beltsville Drive, Suite 300
Beltsville, MD 20705-3194
Amy Hizoune (240) 790-0609
06-2-A1.07-8798 GRC
Aircraft Electrical Power System Diagnostics and Health Management

Barron Associates, Inc.
1410 Sachem Place, Suite 202
Charlottesville, VA 22901-0807
Connie Hoover (434) 973-1215
06-2-A1.07-9512 LaRC
Real-Time Adaptive Algorithms for Flight Control Diagnostics and Prognostics

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A2 Fundamental Aeronautics

Hyper-Therm High-Temperature Composites
18411 Gothard Street, Units B&C
Huntington Beach, CA 92648-1208
Wayne Steffier (714) 375-4085
06-2-A2.01-9428 DFRC
Ceramic Composite Mechanical Fastener System for High-Temperature Structural Assemblies

Cornerstone Research Group, Inc.
2750 Indian Ripple Road
Dayton, OH 45440-3638
Stephen Vining (937) 320-1877
06-2-A2.01-9593 GRC
Space-Qualifiable Cyanate Ester Elastomer

Los Gatos Research
67 East Evelyn Avenue, Suite 3
Mountain View, CA 94041-1518
Anthony O'Keefe (650) 965-7772
06-2-A2.02-8522 LaRC
A Laser-Based Diagnostic Suite for Hypersonic Test Facilities

Flow Parametrics, LLC
68 Bushy Hill Road
Ivoryton, CT 06442-1108
Andreja Brankovic (561) 625-8850
06-2-A2.02-9540 GRC
A Renewed Approach for Large Eddy Simulation of Complex Geometries

Advanced Dynamics, Inc.
1500 Bull Lea Road, Suite 203
Lexington, KY 40511-0017
Patrick Hu (859) 699-0441
06-2-A2.04-8242 DFRC
Integrated Variable-Fidelity Tool Set for Modeling and Simulation of Aeroservothermoelasticity-Propulsion (ASTE-P) Effects for Aerospace Vehicles Ranging From Subsonic to Hypersonic Flight

Desktop Aeronautics, Inc.
1900 Embarcadero Road, Suite 101
Palo Alto, CA 94303-3310
David Rodriguez (650) 323-3141
06-2-A2.05-8507 LaRC
High-Fidelity Aerodynamic Design with Transition Prediction

MIGA Motor Company
1250 Addison Street, Studio 208
Berkeley, CA 94702-1713
Mark Gummin (510) 486-8301
06-2-A2.07-9416 GRC
Miniature High Force, Long Stroke Linear Shape Memory Alloy Actuators

M4 Engineering, Inc.
2161 Gundry Avenue
Signal Hill, CA 90755-3517
Myles Baker (562) 981-7797
06-2-A2.09-8306 GRC
Multidisciplinary Optimization Object Library

Phoenix Integration
1715 Pratt Drive, Suite 2000
Blacksburg, VA 24060-6472
Scott Woyak (540) 961-7215
06-2-A2.09-9065 LaRC
Multi-Disciplinary Multi-Fidelity Design Environment

Patz Materials & Technologies
4968 Industrial Way
Benicia, CA 94510-1006
Nicholas Patz (707) 748-7577
06-2-A2.10-8181 GRC
Optimized Cellular Core for Rotorcraft

Continuum Dynamics, Inc.
34 Lexington Avenue
Ewing, NJ 08618-2302
Barbara Agans (609) 538-0444
06-2-A2.10-8983 ARC
Next Generation Modeling Technology for High Speed Rotorcraft

JMSI, Inc. dba Intelligent Light
301 Rt. 17N, 7th Floor
Rutherford, NJ 07070-2580
Steve Legensky (201) 460-4700
06-2-A2.10-9691 LaRC
A Post-Processing System for Physics Based Derived Rotorcraft Computational Aero-Acoustics Simulations

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A3 Airspace Systems

Optimal Synthesis, Inc.
868 San Antonio Road
Palo Alto, CA 94303-4622
P. K. Menon (650) 213-8585
06-2-A3.01-8158 ARC
Computational Appliance for Rapid Prediction of Aircraft Trajectories

Intelligent Automation, Inc.
15400 Calhoun Drive, Suite 400
Rockville, MD 20855-2785
Mark James (301) 294-5221
06-2-A3.01-8855 ARC
ACES Model Composition and Development Toolkit to Support NGATS Concepts

Intelligent Automation, Inc.
15400 Calhoun Drive, Suite 400
Rockville, MD 20855-2785
Mark James (301) 294-5221
06-2-A3.02-8286 LaRC
Decision Support Tool and Simulation Testbed for Airborne Spacing and Merging in Super Dense Operations

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A4 Aeronautics Test Technologies

Complere, Inc.
P.O. Box 541
Pacific Grove, CA 93950-0541
Kevin Owen (831) 646-5370
06-2-A4.01-9662 LaRC
Measurement and Assessment of Flow Quality in Wind Tunnels

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Exploration Systems

X2 Avionics and Software

Qualtech Systems, Inc.
100 Great Meadow Road, Suite 603
Wethersfield, CT 06109-2355
Sudipto Ghoshal (860) 257-8014
06-2-X2.01-8204 ARC
Automated Fault Diagnostics, Prognostics, and Recovery in Spacecraft Power Systems

Ridgetop Group, Inc.
6595 N Oracle Road, Suite 153B
Tucson, AZ 85704-5645
Milena Thompson (520) 742-3300
06-2-X2.01-9421 ARC
Prognostics-Enabled Power Supply for ADAPT Testbed

Adventium Enterprises, LLC
111 Third Avenue South, Suite 100
Minneapolis, MN 55401-2551
Kyle Nelson (612) 280-9843
06-2-X2.02-8873 ARC
System-Level Autonomy Trust Enabler (SLATE)

Traclabs, Inc.
8610 N. New Braunfels, Suite 110
San Antonio, TX 78217-2356
Jonathan Fast (210) 822-2310
06-2-X2.02-9743 ARC
A Data Abstraction Architecture for Spacecraft Autonomy

GrammaTech, Inc.
315-317 N. Aurora Street
Ithaca, NY 14850-4201
Ray Teitelbaum (607) 273-7340
06-2-X2.03-8550 JPL
Static Detection of Bugs in Embedded Software Using Lightweight Verification

CFD Research Corporation
215 Wynn Drive, 5th Floor
Huntsville, AL 35805-1944
Silvia Harvey (256) 726-4858
06-2-X2.04-9709 MSFC
Improved Models and Tools for Prediction of Radiation Effects on Space Electronics in Wide Temperature Range

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X3 Environmental Control and Life Support (ECLS)

Synkera Technologies, Inc.
2021 Miller Drive, Suite B
Longmont, CO 80501-6787
Stephen Williams (720) 494-8401
06-2-X3.01-8461 ARC
Nanostructured Catalytic Reactors for Air Purification

Connecticut Analytical Corporation
696 Amity Road
Bethany, CT 06524-3006
Joseph Bango (203) 393-9666
06-2-X3.01-9427 GRC
Electrospray Collection of Airborne Contaminants

Orbital Technologies Corporation
1212 Fourier Drive
Madison, WI 53717-1961
Thomas Crabb (608) 827-5000
06-2-X3.01-9555 MSFC
Plasma Air Decontamination System (PADS)

Santa Fe Science and Technology, Inc.
3216 Richards Lane
Santa Fe, NM 87507-2940
Benjamin Mattes (505) 239-1789
06-2-X3.02-8898 JSC
High Recovery, Low Fouling Reverse Osmosis Membrane Elements for Space Wastewater Reclamation

Orbital Technologies Corporation
1212 Fourier Drive
Madison, WI 53717-1961
Thomas Crabb (608) 827-5000
06-2-X3.02-9557 JSC
Enhanced Brine Dewatering System

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X4 Lunar In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU)

sysRAND Corporation
15306 Foxglove Court
Parker, CO 80134-9589
Gary Rodriguez (303) 840-0797
06-2-X4.01-8138 JSC
MPED: An ISRU Bucket Ladder Excavator Demonstrator System

Diamond Materials, Inc.
120 Centennial Avenue
Piscataway, NJ 08854-3908
Oleg Voronov (732) 885-0805
06-2-X4.01-8247 GRC
Non-Lubricated Diamond-Coated Bearings Reinforced by Carbon Fibers to Work in Lunar Dust

DR Technologies, Inc.
7740 Kenamar Court
San Diego, CA 92121-2425
Steven Sherman (858) 677-1226
06-2-X4.02-8511 GRC
Modular Distributed Concentrator for Solar Furnace

Physical Sciences, Inc.
20 New England Business Center
Andover, MA 01810-1077
B. David Green (978) 689-0003
06-2-X4.02-9046 JSC
Multi-Use Solar Thermal System for Oxygen Production from Lunar Regolith [7227-570]

Honeybee Robotics Ltd.
460 W. 34th Street
New York, NY 10001-4236
Irene Yachbes (212) 966-0661
06-2-X4.03-8139 KSC
Pneumatic Excavation Mechanism for Lunar Resource Utilization

Physical Optics Corporation, EP Division
20600 Gramercy Place, Bldg. 100
Torrance, CA 90501-1821
Gordon Drew (310) 320-3088
06-2-X4.03-9564 JSC
Selective Photo-Initiated Electrophoretic Separator

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X6 Lightweight Structures and Materials

International Scientific Technologies, Inc.
P.O. Box 757
Dublin, VA 24084-0757
Wanda Gibson (540) 633-1424
06-2-X6.01-8619 LaRC
Multifunctional Polymers Incorporating High-Z Neutron-Capture Nanoparticles

Wright Materials Research Co.
1187 Richfield Center
Beavercreek, OH 45430-1120
Seng Tan (937) 431-8811
06-2-X6.03-8197 MSFC
Ultra-Lightweight Nanocomposite Foams and Sandwich Structures for Space Structures Applications

Materials Research and Design
300 E. Swedesford Road
Wayne, PA 19087-1858
Kent Buesking (610) 964-6130
06-2-X6.03-9045 MSFC
Lightweight High Temperature Non-Eroding Throat Materials for Propulsion Systems

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X7 Operations of Exploration Equipment

Beck Engineering, Inc.
1490 Lumsden Road
Port Orchard, WA 98367-9179
Douglas Beck (360) 876-9710
06-2-X7.01-9703 JSC
Vacuum-Compatible Multi-Axis Manipulator/Machining Center for Long-Duration Space Missions

Intelligent Automation, Inc.
15400 Calhoun Drive, Suite 400
Rockville, MD 20855-2785
Mark James (301) 294-5221
06-2-X7.02-8690 JSC
An Integrated Human System Interaction (HSI) Framework for Human-Agent Team Collaboration

Traclabs, Inc.
8610 N. New Braunfels, Suite 110
San Antonio, TX 78217-2356
Jonathan Fast (210) 822-2310
06-2-X7.02-9316 JSC
A Software Framework for Coordinating Human-Robot Teams

ProtoInnovations, LLC
1908 Shaw Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15217-1710
Dimi Apostolopoulos (412) 916-8807
06-2-X7.03-8448 ARC
Lunar All-Terrain Utility Vehicle for EVA

Traclabs, Inc.
8610 N. New Braunfels, Suite 110
San Antonio, TX 78217-2356
Jonathan Fast (210) 822-2310
06-2-X7.03-9595 JSC
A Field Reconfigurable Manipulator for Rovers

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X8 Energy Generation and Storage

Creare, Inc.
P.O. Box 71
Hanover, NH 03755-0071
James Barry (603) 648-3800
06-2-X8.02-9409 GRC
A Novel, Ultra-Light, Heat Rejection System for Nuclear Power Generation

Yardney Technical Products, Inc.
82 Mechanic Street
Pawcatuck, CT 06379-2154
Vince Yevoli (860) 599-1100
06-2-X8.03-8162 JSC
Nano-Engineered Materials for Rapid Rechargeable Space Rated Advanced Li-Ion Batteries

Distributed Energy Systems
10 Technology Drive
Wallingford, CT 06492-1955
Stephen Szymanski (203) 678-2338
06-2-X8.03-9246 KSC
Closed-Loop Pure Oxygen Static Feed Fuel Cell for Lunar Missions

Giner Electrochemical Systems, LLC
89 Rumford Avenue
Newton, MA 02466-1311
Anthony Vaccaro (781) 529-0504
06-2-X8.03-9828 GRC
Advanced Composite Bipolar Plate for Unitized Regenerative Fuel Cell/Electrolyzer Systems

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X9 Propulsion and Propellant Storage

Quest Product Development Corporation
4900 Iris Street
Wheat Ridge, CO 80033-2215
Alan Kopelove (303) 670-5088
06-2-X9.01-8488 GRC
Integrated MLI: Advanced Thermal Insulation Using Micro-Molding Technology

Combustion Research and Flow Technology
6210 Keller's Church Road
Pipersville, PA 18947-1020
Paula Schachter (215) 766-1520
06-2-X9.02-9519 MSFC
Advanced Numerical Tools for Design and Analysis of In-Space, Valve and Feed Systems

Alphaport, Inc.
18013 Cleveland Parkway Drive, Suite 170
Cleveland, OH 44135-3235
Anthony Miranda (216) 441-4335
06-2-X9.03-8629 GRC
Physical Improvements in Exciter/Igniter Units

WASK Engineering, Inc.
3460 Robin Lane, Suite 1
Cameron Park, CA 95682-8457
Wendel Burkhardt (530) 672-2797
06-2-X9.03-8904 JSC
Transpiration Cooled Thrust Chamber Technology

Ceramic Composites, Inc.
133 Defense Highway, Suite 212
Annapolis, MD 21401-8907
Sharon Fehrenbacher (410) 224-3710
06-2-X9.04-9251 GRC
Improved CVD Coatings for NTP Fuel Elements

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X10 Thermal Protection

MATECH Advanced Materials
31304 Via Colinas, Suite 102
Westlake Village, CA 91362-4586
Heemann Yun (818) 991-8500
06-2-X10.01-9224 ARC
High Specific-Strength C-Zr(O)C / C-Ablator TPS for CEV

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X11 Thermal Management

Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc.
1046 New Holland Avenue
Lancaster, PA 17601-5688
Jon Zuo (717) 295-6061
06-2-X11.01-8432 JPL
Vapor Compressor Driven Hybrid Two-Phase Loop

Paragon Space Development Corporation
3481 E. Michigan Street
Tucson, AZ 85714-2221
Carole Hammond (520) 903-1000
06-2-X11.01-8656 JSC
Safe, Non-Corrosive Dielectric Fluid for Stagnating Radiator Thermal Control System

Creare, Inc.
P.O. Box 71
Hanover, NH 03755-0071
James Barry (603) 643-3800
06-2-X11.01-9369 JSC
Lightweight, Flexible, and Freezable Heat Pump/Radiator for EVA Suits

Creare, Inc.
P.O. Box 71
Hanover, NH 03755-0071
James Barry (603) 643-3800
06-2-X11.01-9477 JSC
Efficient, Long-Life Biocidal Condenser

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X12 Space Human Factors and Food Systems

Planet, LLC
1212 Fourier Drive
Madison, WI 53717-1961
Thomas Crabb (608) 827-5555
06-2-X12.02-9488 JSC
Just-in-Time Simulation Platform

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X13 Space Radiation

Radiation Monitoring Devices, Inc.
44 Hunt Street
Watertown, MA 02472-4699
Nancy Marshall (617) 668-6800
06-2-X13.01-9313 JSC
Tissue-Equivalent Radiation Dosimeter-On-A-Chip

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X14 Exploration Medical Capabilities

ZIN Technologies, Inc.
2001 Aerospace Parkway
Brook Park, OH 44142-1001
Gradmon Boling (216) 925-1093
06-2-X14.01-9514 GRC
Mini-Treadmill for Musculoskeletal Health

NanoSonic, Inc.
1485 South Main Street
Blacksburg, VA 24060-5556
Lisa Lawson (540) 953-1785
06-2-X14.02-9306 JSC
Lightweight, Wearable Metal Rubber-Textile Sensor for In-Situ Lunar Autonomous Health Monitoring

Nyx Illuminated Clothing Company
5314 South Slauson Avenue
Culver City, CA 90230-6060
John Bell (562) 989-3940
06-2-X14.02-9549 JSC
Wearable Health Monitoring Systems

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S1 Robotic Exploration of the Moon and Mars

Alliance Spacesystems, LLC
1250 Lincoln Blvd., Suite 100
Pasadena, CA 91103-2466
Scott Stanley (626) 296-1373
06-2-S1.01-8788 JPL
Lightweight Low Force Rotary Percussive Coring Tool for Planetary Applications

Advanced Scientific Concepts, Inc.
305 E. Haley Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101-1723
JoAnn Stettner (805) 966-3331
06-2-S1.03-8451 JPL
Development of a 3D Flash LADAR Video Camera for Entry, Decent, and Landing

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S2 Robotic Exploration Throughout the Solar System

Apparati, Inc.
221 Carpenter Drive
Hollister, CA 95023-9320
Charles Bryson (408) 623-1556
06-2-S2.01-8358 JPL
Elemental and Chemical State Analysis, XPS, for In-Situ Materials Analysis on Mars

Microwave Power Technology
2551 Casey Avenue, Suite A
Mountain View, CA 94043-1135
Scott Snyder (650) 567-0081
06-2-S2.01-8992 ARC
Miniature X-ray Source for Planetary Exploration Instruments

Scribner Associates Incorporated
150 E. Connecticut Avenue
Southern Pines, NC 28387-5528
Heidi Scribner (910) 695-8884
06-2-S2.01-9887 JPL
High Measurement Channel Density Sensor Array Impedance Analyzer for Planetary Exploration

Honeybee Robotics Ltd.
460 W. 34th Street
New York, NY 10001-4236
Jerri Ji (646) 459-7856
06-2-S2.02-8528 JPL
Brushless DC Motor and Resolver for Venusian Environment

FMW Composite Systems, Inc.
1200 W. Benedum Industrial Drive
Bridgeport, WV 26330-9687
William Fehrs (304) 842-1970
06-2-S2.02-8785 JPL
Titanium Matrix Composite Pressure Vessel

8506 Wellington Road, Suite 200
Manassas, VA 20109-3988
Mary Rutherford (703) 369-5552
06-2-S2.03-8428 JPL
Nanocomposite Thermolectric Materials by High Pressure Powder Consolidation Manufacturing

Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc.
1046 New Holland Avenue
Lancaster, PA 17601-5688
Jon Zuo (717) 295-6061
06-2-S2.03-8433 GRC
Variable Conductance Heat Pipes for Radioisotope Stirling Systems

EpiWorks, Inc.
1606 Rion Drive
Champaign, IL 61822-9598
David Ahmari (217) 373-1590
06-2-S2.03-8497 GRC
High-Efficiency, High-Temperature, Ultra-Lightweight GaP-Based Solar Cells

NanoSonic, Inc.
1485 South Main Street
Blacksburg, VA 24060-5556
Lisa Lawson (540) 953-1785
06-2-S2.03-9317 GRC
Ultra-Lightweight High Efficiency Nanostructured Materials and Coatings for Deep Space Mission Environments

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S3 Advanced Telescope Systems

Scientific Systems Company, Inc.
500 West Cummings Park, Suite 3000
Woburn, MA 01801-6580
Raman Mehra (781) 933-5355
06-2-S3.01-8544 JPL
Distributed Formation State Estimation Algorithms Under Resource and Multi-Tasking Constraints

Mide Technology Corporation
200 Boston Avenue, Suite 1000
Medford, MA 02155-4243
Petra Botha (781) 306-0609
06-2-S3.01-8780 JPL
Control Valve for Miniature Xenon Ion Thruster

AGILTRON Corporation
15 Cabot Road
Woburn, MA 01801-1050
Sharon Tan (781) 935-1200
06-2-S3.04-8981 MSFC
Nano-Enabled Low-Cost High-Performance UV Anti-Reflection Coatings

Reflective X-ray Optics, LLC
1361 Amsterdam Avenue, Suite 3B
New York, NY 10027-2589
David Windt (212) 678-4932
06-2-S3.04-9129 MSFC
Gadolinium EUV Multilayers for Solar Imaging Near 60 nm

Seabrook Engineering
9310 Dubarry Avenue
Seabrook , MD 20706-3108
David Mozurkewich (301) 459-3375
06-2-S3.04-9363 GSFC
Beam Combination for Sparse Aperture Telescopes

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S4 Exploration of the Universe Beyond our Solar System

DR Technologies, Inc.
7740 Kenamar Court
San Diego, CA 92121-2425
Steven Sherman (858) 677-1226
06-2-S4.01-8596 JPL
Lightweight Thermally Stable Multi-Meter Aperture Submillimeter Reflectors

Hittite Microwave Corporation
20 Alpha Road
Chelmsford, MA 01824-4123
Jo Chandler (978) 250-3343
06-2-S4.01-9547 JPL
High-Speed, Low-Power Digitizer II (2007037)

Intevac, Inc.
3560 Bassett Street
Santa Clara, CA 95054-2704
Audrey Marshall (408) 654-9869
06-2-S4.02-9622 GSFC
A Near-Infrared Photon Counting Camera for High Sensitivity Astronomical Observation

EPIR Technologies
590 Territorial Drive, Suite B
Bolingbrook, IL 60440-4881
Sivalingam Sivanantan (630) 771-0201
06-2-S4.02-9848 GSFC
Quantum Calorimeters Based on HgCdTe Alloys

Creare, Inc.
P.O. Box 71
Hanover, NH 03755-0071
James Barry (603) 643-3800
06-2-S4.03-9573 GSFC
Lightweight Magnetic Cooler with a Reversible Circulator

Xinetics, Inc.
115 Jackson Road
Devens, MA 01434-4027
Michael Sheedy (978) 772-0352
06-2-S4.04-8127 JPL
Programmable Relaxor Open-Loop Mirrors Using Imaging Spatial Encoder (PROMISE)

MetroLaser, Inc.
2572 White Road
Irvine, CA 92614-6236
Christina Arnold (949) 553-0688
06-2-S4.04-9893 GSFC
An Instrument for Inspecting Aspheric Optical Surfaces and Components

Starodub, Inc.
3504 Littledale Road
Kensington, MD 20895-3243
Nicolas Gagarin (301) 929-0964
06-2-S4.05-9982 GSFC
Software for Application of HHT Technologies to Time Series Analysis

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S6 Earth Science Instrument and Sensor Technology

SVT Associates
7620 Executive Drive
Eden Prairie, MN 55344-3677
Leslie Price (952) 934-2100
06-2-S6.01-8210 LaRC
High Performance Dual Band Photodetector Arrays for MWIR/LWIR Imaging

TRS Ceramics, Inc.
2820 East College Avenue
State College, PA 16801-7548
Wesley Hackenberger (814) 238-7485
06-2-S6.01-9035 LaRC
Cryogenic Stepping Piezomotor for Large Torque, Precise Rotary and Linear Motion Control in Passive Optics

Flight Landata, Inc.
One Parker Street
Lawrence, MA 01843-1548
Brooks Patterson (978) 682-7767
06-2-S6.01-9374 GSFC
A Gimbal-Stabilized Compact Hyperspectral Imaging System

Structured Materials Industries, Inc.
201 Circle Drive North, Suite 102/103
Piscataway, NJ 08854-3723
Gary Tompa (732) 302-9274
06-2-S6.02-8244 GSFC
Radiation-Hardened Silicon Integrated Low-Loss Nano-Photonic Switches for Array LIDARs

Voxtel, Inc.
12725 SW Millikan Way, Suite 230
Beaverton, OR 97005-1687
George Williams (971) 223-5646
06-2-S6.02-8666 GSFC
Single Photon Sensitive HgCdTe Avalanche Photodiode Detector (APD)

ADVR, Inc.
2310 University Way, Building 1-1
Bozeman, MT 59715-6500
Philip Battle (406) 522-0388
06-2-S6.02-9340 GSFC
Highly Efficient, Compact, Wavelength Converters for Pulsed and CW Laser Sources Used in Lidar-Based Remote Sensing and Ranging Systems

ADVR, Inc.
2310 University Way, Building 1-1
Bozeman, MT 59715-6500
Philip Battle (406) 522-0388
06-2-S6.02-9345 LaRC
Waveguide Phase Modulator for Integrated Planar Lightwave Circuits in KTP

PolarOnyx, Inc.
470 Lakeside Drive, Suite F
Sunnyvale, CA 94085-4720
Jian Liu (408) 245-9588
06-2-S6.02-9989 LaRC
A High Energy and High Efficiency Spectral Shaping Single Frequency Fiber Laser

Anasphere, Inc.
6597 Maltse Lane, Unit D
Bozeman, MT 59718-6954
John Bognar (406) 994-9354
06-2-S6.03-8804 GSFC
Miniature Carbon Dioxide Sensor for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Atmospheric Observing Systems, Inc.
1930 Central Avenue, Suite A
Boulder, CO 80301-2895
James Smith (303) 443-3389
06-2-S6.03-9686 ARC
Innovative CO2 Analyzer Technology for the Eddy Covariance Flux Monitor

Hittite Microwave Corporation
20 Alpha Road
Chelmsford, MA 01824-4123
Jo Chandler (978) 250-3343
06-2-S6.04-9389 GSFC
MMIC Cavity Oscillator at 50 and 94 GHz (2007040)

MicroLink Devices
6457 Howard Street
Niles, IL 60714-2232
Noren Pan (847) 588-3001
06-2-S6.05-8469 JPL
Integrated L-Band T/R Module

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S7 Science Spacecraft Systems Technology

Nightsky Systems, Inc.
3916 Lauriston Road
Raleigh, NC 27616-8612
Sonia Ensenat (919) 261-0936
06-2-S7.01-8584 GSFC
Reaction Wheel Disturbance Model Extraction Software

Advanced Science and Novel Technology
27 Via Porto Grande
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275-4078
Vladimir Katzman (310) 377-6029
06-2-S7.02-9995 GSFC
Radiation Hard Space Wire Gigabit Ethernet Compatible Transponder

Cornerstone Research Group, Inc.
2750 Indian Ripple Road
Dayton, OH 45440-3638
Stephen Vining (937) 320-1877
06-2-S7.04-9588 MSFC
Low Mass Aeroshell Deployment Mechanism

3259 Progress Drive, Suite A
Orlando, FL 32826-2930
Antoine Khoury (407) 275-1174
06-2-S7.05-9333 GRC
Integrated Three-Port Converters for Compact and Efficient Power Management

Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc.
1046 New Holland Avenue
Lancaster, PA 17601-5688
Jon Zuo (717) 295-6061
06-2-S7.06-8837 GSFC
Pressure Controlled Heat Pipe for Precise Temperature Control

Lynntech, Inc.
7610 Eastmark Drive
College Station, TX 77840-4027
Cynthia Barnett (979) 693-0017
06-2-S7.06-9134 MSFC
Electrochemical-Driven Fluid Pump for Spacecraft Thermal Control

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S8 Advanced Modeling, Simulation, and Analysis for Science

EM Photonics
51 East Main Street
Newark, DE 19711-4676
Eric Kelmelis (302) 456-9003
06-2-S8.02-9449 ARC
Accelerated Numerical Processing API Based on GPU Technology

TerraMetrics, Inc.
P.O. Box 270101
Littleton, CO 80127-0002
Gregory Baxes (303) 979-5255
06-2-S8.04-9577 SSC
Dynamic Science Data Services for Display, Analysis and Interaction in Widely-Accessible, Web-Based Geospatial Platforms

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Space Operations

O1 Space Communications

Summation Research, Inc.
751 North Drive
Melbourne, FL 32934-9289
Thomas Drago (321) 254-2580
06-2-O1.01-8171 GSFC
Programmable High-Rate Multi-Mission Receiver for Space Communications

Princeton Satellite Systems
33 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ 08542-3207
Michael Paluszek (609) 279-9606
06-2-O1.02-8582 GSFC
Optical Navigation System

NAL Research Corporation
9300 West Courthouse Road, Suite 102
Manassas, VA 20110-1807
Ngoc Hoang (703) 392-5676
06-2-O1.03-8223 GSFC
Small Satellite Transceiver for Launch Vehicles

Toyon Research Corporation
6800 Cortona Drive
Goleta, CA 93117-3021
Marcella Lindbery (805) 968-6787
06-2-O1.05-9020 GRC
Multi-Mission SDR

NxGen Electronics, Inc.
9771 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., Suite C
San Diego, CA 92124-1324
Richard Ausbrook (858) 309-6610
06-2-O1.05-9630 GRC
Stackable Radiation Hardened FRAM

Harmonic Devices, Inc.
2269 Cedar Street C
Berkeley, CA 94709-1549
Justin Black (510) 316-4166
06-2-O1.06-9177 JSC
Miniaturized UHF, S-, and Ka-band RF MEMS Filters for Small Form Factor, High Performance EVA Radio

Toyon Research Corporation
6800 Cortona Drive
Goleta, CA 93117-3021
Marcella Lindbery (805) 968-6787
06-2-O1.10-9295 GRC
Space-Ready Advanced Imaging System

Wang Electro-Opto Corporation
2140 Newmarket Parkway, Suite 110
Marietta, GA 30067-8766
Paul Butler (770) 955-9321
06-2-O1.10-9697 GRC
Smart Multifunction Antenna for Lunar/Planetary Surface Network

O2 Space Transportation

Mobitrum Corporation
8070 Georgia Avenue, Suite 209
Silver Spring, MD 20910-4973
Ray Wang (301) 585-4040
06-2-O2.02-9970 SSC
Health-Enabled Smart Sensor Fusion Technology

Soneticom, Inc.
1045 South John Rodes Boulevard
West Melboune, FL 32904-2005
James Kingsley (321) 733-0400
06-2-O2.03-8309 KSC
Remote EMI Field Strength Mapping

Technorati :

Monster Black Hole Busts Theory

Monster Black Hole Busts Theory :A stellar black hole much more massive than theory predicts is possible has astronomers puzzled"A stellar black hole much more massive than theory predicts is possible has astronomers puzzled. Stellar black holes form when stars with masses around 20 times that of the sun collapse under the weight of their own gravity at the ends of their lives. Most stellar black holes weigh in at around 10 solar masses when the smoke blows away, and computer models of star evolution have difficulty producing black holes more massive than this. The newly weighed black hole is 16 solar masses. It orbits a companion star in the spiral galaxy Messier 33, located 2.7 million light-years from Earth. Together they make up the system known as M33 X-7."

"We're having trouble using standard theories to explain this system because it is so massive," study team member Jerome Orosz of the University of California, San Diego, told

The black hole in M33 X-7 is also the most distant stellar black hole ever observed. The findings, detailed in the Oct. 17 issue of the journal Nature, could help improve formation models of "binary" systems containing a black hole and a star. It could also help explain one of the brightest star explosions ever observed.

Black hole eclipse
Black holes can't be seen, because all matter and light that enters them is trapped. So black holes are detected by noting their gravitational effects on nearby stars or on material that swirls around them.

The companion star of M33 X-7 passes directly in front of the black hole as seen from Earth once every three days, completely eclipsing its X-ray emissions. It is the only known binary system in which this occurs, and it was this unusual arrangement that allowed astronomers to calculate the pair's masses very precisely.

The tight orbits of the black hole and star suggests the system underwent a violent stage of star evolution called the common-envelope phase, in which a dying star swells so much it sucks the companion inside its gas envelope.

This results in either a merger between the two stars or the formation of a tight binary in which one star is stripped of its outer layers. The team thinks the latter scenario happened in the case of M33 X-7, and that the stripped star explodes as a supernova before imploding to form a black hole.

However, something unusual must have happened to M33 X-7 during this phase to create such a massive black hole.

"The black hole must have lost a large amount of mass for the two objects to be so close," Tomasz Bulik, an astronomer at the University of Warsaw in Poland, writes in related Nature article. "But on the other hand, it must have retained enough mass to form such a heavy black hole."

The team estimates the black hole's progenitor must have shed gas at a rate about 10 times less than models predicted before it exploded.

"[M33 X-7] might thus provide both the upper and lower limits on the amount of mass loss and orbital tightening that can occur in the common envelope," added Bulik, who was not involved in the study.

Twin black holes
If other massive stars also lose very little material during their last stages, it could explain the incredibly luminosity of 2006gy, one of the brightest supernovas ever observed, the researchers say.

One day, the lone star in M33 X-7 will also disappear, notes study team member Jeffrey McClintock of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass.

Technorati :

Acupuncture Reduces Pain :Acupuncture Works for Back Pain

Using acupuncture before and during surgery significantly reduces the level of pain and the amount of potent painkillers needed by patients after the surgery is over, according to Duke University Medical Center anesthesiologists who combined data from 15 small randomized acupuncture clinical trials.

"While the amount of opioids needed for patients who received acupuncture was much lower than those who did not have acupuncture, the most important outcome for the patient is the reduction of the side effects associated with opioids," said Tong Joo (T.J.) Gan, M.D., a Duke anesthesiologist who presented the results of the analysis at the annual scientific conference of the American Society for Anesthesiology in San Francisco. "These side effects can negatively impact a patient's recovery from surgery and lengthen the time spent in the hospital."

Based on the results of this analysis, Gan recommends that acupuncture should be considered a viable option for pain control in surgery patients.

Patients who received acupuncture had significantly lower risk of developing most common side effects associated with opioid drugs compared with control: 1.5 times lower rates of nausea, 1.3 times fewer incidences of severe itching, 1.6 times fewer reports of dizziness and 3.5 times fewer cases of urinary retention.

Opioids are a class of medications that act on the body much like morphine. While they are effective in controlling pain, the side effects of the drugs often influence a patient's recovery from, and satisfaction with, their surgery, Gan said.

The results of this study add to the growing body of evidence that acupuncture can play an effective role in improving the quality of the surgical experience, Gan added. Numerous studies, some conducted by Gan, have demonstrated that acupuncture can also be more effective than current medications in lessening the occurrence of post operative nausea and vomiting, the most common side effect experienced by patients after surgery.

"Acupuncture is slowly becoming more accepted by American physicians, but it is still underutilized," Gan said. "Studies like this, which show that there is a benefit to using it, should help give physicians sitting on the fence the data they need to integrate acupuncture into their routine care of surgery patients."

Acupuncture has the added benefits of being inexpensive, with virtually no side effects, when done by properly trained personnel, Gan added.

The Chinese have been using acupuncture for more than 5,000 years for the treatment of a variety of ailments, including headaches, gastrointestinal disorders and arthritis. According to Chinese healing practices, there are about 360 specific points along 14 different lines, or meridians, that course throughout the body just under the skin.

"The Chinese believe that our vital energy, known as chi, flows throughout the body along these meridians," Gan explained. "While healthiness is a state where the chi is in balance, unhealthiness or disease state arises from either too much or too little chi, or a blockage in the flow of the chi."

Different bodily locations or organs have their own distinct acupuncture points that are the targets for the acupuncturist. For example, a point just below the wrist is the common target for women undergoing breast procedures to prevent nausea and vomiting, another point at the back of the hand is effective in reducing pain.

While it is not completely known why or how acupuncture works, recent research seems to point to its ability to stimulate the release of hormones or the body's own painkillers, known as endorphins, Gan said. He is now conducting studies to determine the exact mechanism behind acupuncture's effects.

Other members of the research team included Yanxia Sun, John Dubose and Ashraf Habib. The meta-analysis was supported by Duke's Department of Anesthesiology.

Acupuncture Works for Back Pain

Fake acupuncture works nearly as well as the real thing for low back pain, and either kind performs much better than usual care, German researchers have found. Almost half the patients treated with acupuncture needles felt relief that lasted months. In contrast, only about a quarter of the patients receiving medications and other Western medical treatments felt better.

Even fake acupuncture worked better than conventional care, leading researchers to wonder whether pain relief came from the body's reactions to any thin needle pricks or, possibly, the placebo effect.

"Acupuncture represents a highly promising and effective treatment option for chronic back pain," study co-author Dr. Heinz Endres of Ruhr University Bochum in Bochum, Germany, said in an e-mail. "Patients experienced not only reduced pain intensity, but also reported improvements in the disability that often results from back pain and therefore in their quality of life."

Although the study was not designed to determine how acupuncture works, Endres said, its findings are in line with a theory that pain messages to the brain can be blocked by competing stimuli.

Positive expectations the patients held about acupuncture - or negative expectations about conventional medicine - also could have led to a placebo effect and explain the findings, he said.

In the largest experiment on acupuncture for back pain to date, more than 1,100 patients were randomly assigned to receive either acupuncture, sham acupuncture or conventional therapy. For the sham acupuncture, needles were inserted, but not as deeply as for the real thing. The sham acupuncture also did not insert needles in traditional acupuncture points on the body and the needles were not manually moved and rotated.

After six months, patients answered questions about pain and functional ability and their scores determined how well each of the therapies worked.

In the real acupuncture group, 47 percent of patients improved. In the sham acupuncture group, 44 percent did. In the usual care group, 27 percent got relief.

"We don't understand the mechanisms of these so-called alternative treatments, but that doesn't mean they don't work," said Dr. James Young of Chicago's Rush University Medical Center, who wasn't involved in the research. Young often treats low back pain with acupuncture, combined with exercises and stretches.

Chinese medicine holds that there are hundreds of points on the body that link to invisible pathways for the body's vital energy, or qi. The theory goes that stimulating the correct points with acupuncture needles can release blocked qi.

Dr. Brian Berman, the University of Maryland's director of complementary medicine, said the real and the sham acupuncture may have worked for reasons that can be explained in Western terms: by changing the way the brain processes pain signals or by releasing natural painkillers in the body.

In the study, the conventional treatment included many methods: painkillers, injections, physical therapy, massage, heat therapy or other treatments. Like the acupuncture patients, the patients getting usual care received about 10 sessions of 30 minutes each.

The study, appearing in Monday's Archives of Internal Medicine, used a broad definition for low back pain, but ruled out people with back pain caused by spinal fractures, tumors, scoliosis and pregnancy.

Funding came from German health insurance companies, and the findings already have led to more coverage in Germany of acupuncture.

Technorati :

Carbon Nanotube Interactions At Atomic Level

An artist's representation of an amine functional group attached to an AFM tip approaching a carbon nanotube surface in toluene solution. Translucent blue shape on the nanotube represents the polarization charge forming on the nanotube as the result of the interaction with the approaching molecule. Chemical force microscopy measures the tiny forces generated by this single functional group interaction. (Credit: Illustration by Scott Dougherty, LLNL)

Carbon nanotubes have been employed for a variety of uses including composite materials, biosensors, nano-electronic circuits and membranes.

While they have proven useful for these purposes, no one really knows much about what's going on at the molecular level. For example, how do nanotubes and chemical functional groups interact with each other on the atomic scale? Answering this question could lead to improvements in future nano devices.

In a quest to find the answer, researchers for the first time have been able to measure a specific interaction for a single functional group with carbon nanotubes using chemical force microscopy - a nanoscale technique that measures interaction forces using tiny spring-like sensors. Functional groups are the smallest specific group of atoms within a molecule that determine the characteristic chemical reactions of that molecule.

A recent report by a team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers and colleagues found that the interaction strength does not follow conventional trends of increasing polarity or repelling water. Instead, it depends on the intricate electronic interactions between the nanotube and the functional group.

"This work pushes chemical force microscopy into a new territory," said Aleksandr Noy, lead author of the paper that appears in the Oct. 14 online issue of the journal, Nature Nanotechnology.

Understanding the interactions between carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and individual chemical functional groups is necessary for the engineering of future generations of sensors and nano devices that will rely on single-molecule coupling between components. Carbon nanotubes are extremely small, which makes it particularly difficult to measure the adhesion force of an individual molecule at the carbon nanotube surface. In the past, researchers had to rely on modeling, indirect measurements and large microscale tests.

But the Livermore team went a step further and smaller to get a more exact measurement. The scientists were able to achieve a true single function group interaction by reducing the probe-nanotube contact area to about 1.3 nanometers (one million nanometers equals one millimeter).

Adhesion force graphs showed that the interaction forces vary significantly from one functionality to the next. To understand these measurements, researchers collaborated with a team of computational chemists who performed ab initio simulations of the interactions of functional groups with the sidewall of a zig-zag carbon nanotube. Calculations showed that there was a strong dependence of the interaction strength on the electronic structure of the interacting molecule/CNT system. To the researchers delight, the calculated interaction forces provided an exact match to the experimental results.

"This is the first time we were able to make a direct comparison between an experimental measurement of an interaction and an ab initio calculation for a real-world materials system," Noy said. "In the past, there has always been a gap between what we could measure in an experiment and what the computational methods could do. It is exciting to be able to bridge that gap."

This research opens up a new capability for nanoscale materials science.

The ability to measure interactions on a single functional group level could eliminate much of the guess work that goes into the design of new nanocomposite materials, nanosensors, or molecular assemblies, which in turn could help in building better and stronger materials, and more sensitive devices and sensors in the future.

Other Livermore researchers include Raymond Friddle, Melburne LeMieux and Alexander Artyukhin.

More abot LLNL

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is a premier applied science laboratory that is part of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) within the Department of Energy (DOE). LLNL was managed from its inception in 1952 through September 2007 by the University of California for the U.S. government. LLNL is currently managed by Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC.

As a national security laboratory, LLNL is responsible for ensuring that the nation's nuclear weapons remain safe, secure, and reliable through application of advances in science and engineering. With its special capabilities, the Laboratory also meets other pressing national security needs, which include countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and strengthening homeland security against the terrorist use of such weapons.

Our breakthrough advances are made possible by an extraordinary technical staff and investments in research facilities that provide LLNL wide ranging capabilities. The Laboratory is an international leader in many areas of science and technology central to our national security mission.

Technorati :

Aerotropolis: A city by itself

The first phase of the modernisation of Delhi International Airport by the GMR-led consortium, which will be completed by 2010 will see an investment of US$ 1.5 billion in commercial real estate development transforming Delhi airport into an airport city - an aerotropolis

According to the land concession agreement for the Delhi airport, of the 5,000-acres of land belonging to the airport only five per cent, or 250 acres can be used for commercial purposes. This will see high-density development of hotels, business centres, retail spaces, convention and exhibition centres, golf courses and entertainment centres. Says Mridul Upreti, head, Capital Markets, Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj, "An aerotropolis, because of its high density and high quality development, strategic location and good connectivity would soon outdo even Connaught Place in economic activity and commercial rentals."

Ever since Dr John D Kasarda, director of the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, USA, first introduced the concept of an aerotropolis, the span of an airport has gone up exponentially. In the new model, airports, besides their core infrastructure and services, have created significant non-aeronautical commercial facilities, services and revenue streams. Consequently, they are extending their formal reach and impact with development along airport arteries up to 20 kms outwards.

In fact, Hong Kong International Airport already has a mini-city on a nearby island for its 45,000 workers, and soon the SkyCity, a complex of office towers, convention centres, and hotels is also being developed. China is spending US$ 12 billion for the Beijing Capital Airport City that will accommodate four lakh people. Dubai is also looking at developing the largest aerotropolis, Dubai World Central, a US$ 33 billion airport city capable of supporting a permanent population of 7.5 lakh.

But can such a development take place in India? According to Sanjay Dutt, deputy MD, Cushman and Wakefield, whenever there is large scale economic activity, the area around it becomes vibrant. Airports are the hub of very enormous economic activity including cargo, car rentals, hotels, retail, etc. Says Dutt, "Prices shoot up because people start calculating returns on property near the airport. In a developing economy like India, the value is expected to go up significantly. It can even go up by 100 per cent".

However, DTZ director Vivek Dahiya feels that as the cantonment area on three sides and Palam Village on the fourth surround Delhi airport, no major development can take place outside the airport area. "Moreover, the DDA master plan does not allow for commercial centres like hotels to come up near the airport. Only if DDA revisits the policy and allows commercial development can the real estate prices around the airport also go up."

Interestingly, many airports are now getting a bigger of their revenues from non-aeronautical sources than from aeronautical sources (landing fees, gate leases, passenger service charges). Globally, 70 per cent of an airport revenue is generated through non-aeronautical sources, while in India it is still a lowly 30 per cent.

Due to the significantly higher incomes of airline passengers (typically three to five times higher than national averages) and the huge volumes of passengers flowing through the terminals , it should not be surprising that terminal retail sales per square metre average three to four times greater than shopping malls and downtown shops. As a result, terminal commercial lease rates tend to be the highest in the metropolitan area.

Commenting on the high commercial rentals of airports in India, Dutt says, "The passenger is bound to shop, eat, etc, and has certain needs. Therefore, outlets at the airports design and put retail items accordingly. Moreover, the quality of experience is assured. Secondly, in India, the quality of retail space is very limited and so is organised retail. With lots of airports getting privatised and developed, we will witness a rush to occupy retail space."

The new US$ 4 billion Suvarnabhumi airport in Thailand, will see more than 100 million passengers a year passing through the airport, about as many as JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark airports combined. Within 30 years, a city of 3.3 million citizens - larger than Chicago now - will have emerged around Suvarnabhumi.

Delhi International Airport, has already invited expression of interest from Indian and international real estate investors to develop a complete range of hospitality services to build various categories of hotels and related facilities at the Delhi airport. But no other airport in India is looking at developing similar facilities. According to analysts, commercial development near the Mumbai airport would affect real estate prices. "Mumbai airport is in the heart of the city, unlike Delhi. If the slums get cleared, the real estate value of the area surrounding the airport will substantially increase," Dahiya said.

Amsterdam Schiphol, through its Schiphol Real Estate Group, has been working for over a decade on the cityside commercial development. Nearly 58,000 people are employed at Schiphol, which integrates multi-modal transportation, regional corporate headquarters, retail shopping, logistics and exhibition space to form a major economic growth pole for the Dutch economy. Others, though not quite on the scale of Amsterdam Schiphol or Seoul's Incheon, have given commercial development a high priority in their master planning (Brisbane, Vienna, Calgary, Zurich and Stockholm-Arlanda). Many of these have implemented the airport city concept in their strategic development.

There are different requirements that can stipulate the developing of an aerotropolis. For companies engaged in IT services it is very important to have good air connectivity. According to a report, high-tech professionals travel by air at least 60 per cent more frequently than others. Such firms are increasingly looking at setting up their offices near airports. The Washington-Dulles Airport access corridor in Northern Virginia and the expressways leading to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport are good examples.

When commercial centres start coming up around an airport, it also leads to a high rate of employment generation faster than other suburbs situated at similar distances from other city centres, which further leads to development of an aerotropolis.

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VIVACE R&T project delivers major improvements for future Aeronautical

A Virtual Aeronautical Collaborative Enterprise" (VIVACE) Research and Technology project focuses on simulation and modelling techniques for aeronautical products during their design and development phases with the objective of reducing development time and costs .

The final results of VIVACE are presented at a public Forum held in Toulouse from 17th to 19th October.

VIVACE is a very large European Commission co-funded R&T project, grouping 63 companies and research institutions from the aeronautic sector such as Airbus, Rolls Royce, Snecma, Thales… It was launched in January 2004 and will be fully completed at the end of 2007.

Major innovation and progress has been developed within the scope of the project in seven key areas of the product development process, providing solutions in "Design Simulation", "Virtual Testing", "Design Optimisation", "Business and Supply Chain Modelling", "Knowledge Management", "Decision Support" and "Collaboration in the Extended and Virtual Enterprise".

Through industrial simulations of a part of the aircraft, of the engine or of a development process, reflecting both the Virtual Product and the Virtual Extended Enterprise, major improvements have been obtained in terms of processes, methods and tools.

VIVACE contributes to answering the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe (ACARE) Vision of halving the time to market for new products, increasing the integration of the supply chain and maintaining a steady and continuous fall in travel costs. By using the latest innovations in advanced simulation and modelling techniques, it will provide the means to get the best possible knowledge about the product prior to its physical development, thus reducing the development cost, shortening time to market and further improving product quality.

More information on the VIVACE project can be found at:

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An interview with Tyler Jacks on the new David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research

Tyler Jacks, who will direct the new David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, is currently the director of MIT's Center for Cancer Research. In this interview with News Office writer Anne Trafton, he discusses his vision for the new center and the cancer research that will take place there.

There are many research institutes around the world working on cancer--how will the MIT approach be unique?

The new center will be different both from what it is today and from other cancer centers, in that it brings together scientists and engineers focused on cancer. The real power is in having cancer biologists that are expert in the disease, working on trying to understand the disease at a molecular level, interacting closely with engineering faculty with an interest in solving cancer-related problems. There are other NCI-designated basic science cancer centers besides our own, but none with the composition of interdisciplinary investigators that the Koch Institute will have.

What are some example areas where this collaboration between biologists and engineers will be beneficial?

One example is an area that we call systems oriented cancer biology, where we are trying to understand the complex nature of cancer and the kinds of growth control networks that control the behavior of cancer cells. Here we're using methods from engineering, mostly with biological engineering faculty collaborators, to develop mathematical and computational models to explain why cancer cells proliferate abnormally, fail to die when they should or how they respond to therapy.

Another example is in the area of nanotechnology, where we are hoping to develop a new generation of anticancer agents which are more powerful because they can selectively target cancer cells, as opposed to normal cells. That will be enhanced still further in the future by taking advantage of new information from biological studies regarding how to shut off any gene of interest. This takes advantage of a process called RNAi, which has only been discovered in the past 10 years or so. Many members of the science side of the cancer center are actively working on this area with the goal of developing new therapeutic approaches that will really change the range of targets that we can go after. These kinds of collaborations highlight the importance of having scientists who are knowledgeable about the disease and knowledgeable about biology working with engineers who want to develop new tools, new materials, new devices, that can be used to better diagnose or better control the disease.

How will the center's physical design help facilitate collaborations between the researchers in the building?

The way we are designing the building is to have each floor have both biologists and engineers. The decision as to which floor would have which engineers and which scientists was determined in part by areas of shared interest among those faculty. We tried to create groupings that would help maximize the likelihood that the laboratories would end up interacting, and those on a given floor will have an even greater chance for interaction. We obviously don't want to limit that to researchers on a given floor, and indeed, we expect the interactions to take place throughout the building. One of purposes of having a building housing all of us is to maximize the opportunities for direct interaction, whether it's formalized, in group meetings and so forth, or informal. By bumping into somebody on the way to the copy machine or in the tea room, you might initiate a new line of investigation or help shed light on an old problem by bringing a new perspective.

Which faculty members will be involved in the groupings?

Let me mention three specific examples, which are just a few of the many interactions that we hope to foster in the new institute. Phil Sharp and Sangeeta Bhatia will be together on the forth floor. They are jointly interested (along with Bob Langer and others) on developing nanotechnology applications for cancer. On the third floor, Forest White will be paired with Michael Yaffe, Richard Hynes and Frank Gertler. They will interact closely on the systems-oriented cancer biology project. Another example is the pairing of Dane Wittrup and Darrel Irvine with Jianzhu Chen. All of these investigators are interested in deploying the immune systems to combat cancer, using a range of methods from protein engineering to improved vaccine strategies to developing more potent cytotoxic T cells.

What major advances in cancer research do you foresee in the next 10 to 20 years?

I think in the next 10 to 20 years several important things will happen. First, our knowledge of relevant cancer pathways will become even more complete, and the pace of that process will accelerate dramatically. That will provide us with what we're calling a complete wiring diagram of a cancer cell. That is important because once you understand the full detail of the problem, it allows you to design your best means of attack. The right approach might not be obvious until you have a very complete picture of how things are wired. Such information is not merely important to scientific advance but rather is necessary to allow us to develop even more potent and more effective therapies. Moreover these insights allow us to intervene earlier and earlier in the disease; when caught early cancer is almost always manageable.

Another area is in nanotechnology. We need to create a new generation of anticancer drugs that goes beyond both the conventional agents, which have been around for 50 years or more, and also goes beyond the new class of molecularly targeted anticancer agents. In the near term we imagine the marriage of nanotechnology with RNAi, with which our ability to control cancer cells will be much more effective. To get there, we're going to need to solve some problems, including, importantly, delivery--how to get the RNAi molecule into every cancer cell with very high efficiency. We're going to be relying on our engineering colleagues to solve this problem.

Also, I'm quite convinced that the immune system can be used to control cancer, either in a cancer prevention context or in cancer treatment. Although investigators have tried to create cancer vaccines or use cells in the immune system to fight cancer for some time, this approach has not been very successful to date. It's my opinion that we have to invest more in the basic science to understand the interactions between the immune system and cancer more fully. With our engineering colleagues, we need to design out ways to engineer the immune system to fight cancers more effectively.

The last example I'll mention is the development of devices that will monitor the state of an individual's disease. Let's imagine a cancer patient who is diagnosed and treated, perhaps with surgery or with chemotherapy. The cancer goes into remission, and then it's important to track whether the tumor remains in remission or is undergoing relapse. The way that's done today is with periodic checkups. You go to the doctor and undergo some screening tests. If the test comes back positive the cancer has returned. The problem is that if the test comes back positive, the cancer might have returned in a very aggressive stage or may have returned weeks or months before. So what we're trying to do is develop devices that can be implanted in the body and monitor continuously the presence of tumor cells. The patient would know not year to year but literally minute by minute what's the state of their disease. That information could be transmitted out of the body and directly to their oncologist, so that as soon as a problem became apparent, the treatment could begin. In the most sophisticated incarnation of that idea, the oncologist could actually be cut out of the picture entirely. That is, the device could be so smart that once the cancer cells were detected, a therapeutic agent could be released which could eliminate those cells even before clinical symptoms were apparent. We're not there yet, but you'd be surprised at how many of the component parts of what I just described are in place.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 17, 2007 (download PDF).

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Koch grant puts nanotechnology on front line of prostate cancer battle

A $5 million grant from David H. Koch (S.B. 1962, S.M. 1963) will help researchers from several institutions, including MIT, develop nanotechnology to treat metastatic prostate cancer, for which there is no effective treatment.

The team of researchers from MIT, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Weill Medical College of Cornell University is investigating how to use tiny nanoparticles to deliver chemotherapy to cancer cells without invading and destroying healthy cells.

The research team was created by the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and the gift from Koch, a prostate cancer survivor, was announced at the foundation's annual scientific retreat.

Nanotechnology is the field of research that involves materials that are extremely small--the size of atoms or molecules. It holds promise for the detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

"We are exploring if tiny nanoparticles can act as 'Trojan Horses' in the body, delivering medication directly to the cancer cells while bypassing healthy cells," explained MIT Institute Professor Robert Langer, who announced the gift at the Prostate Cancer Foundation retreat and will be one of the leading researchers of the team. "This will permit the administration of drugs that might otherwise be too toxic or dissolve too quickly in the bloodstream."

Other leading researchers of the team are Omid Farokhzad of Brigham and Women's, Philip Kantoff of Dana-Farber and Neil Bander of Weill Medical College.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 17, 2007 (download PDF).

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Professional & Executive Diversity Job Fair Oct. 24

MIT is co-sponsoring the Professional & Executive Diversity Job Fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24 at the Marriott Copley Place Hotel. The career fair is free and open to everyone with a four-year degree or above. Participants will have the chance to meet face-to-face with recruiters and hiring managers from more than 40 local and national employers, and speak candidly with industry leaders about opportunities in their fields. For more information, contact Kristen Morreale at 617-452-4158 or

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 17, 2007 (download PDF).

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Dedication of Sol LeWitt's "Bars of Color within Squares" Oct. 19

A dedication ceremony inaugurating the late Sol LeWitt's "Bars of Color within Squares" will take place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19, in Building 4. The new work by LeWitt, who passed away in April, is a major feature of the PDSI building project. The design consists of 15 large squares of vibrantly colored geometric patterns, set off by bands of white and gray, that shift ambiguously between flatness and the illusion of depth. Each block is approximately 18 feet square, and the work's bold colors are realized in glass and epoxy terrazzo that was poured in place. For more information, please contact Mark Linga at, 617-452-3586.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 17, 2007 (download PDF).

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MIT : Awards and Honors

Eric S. Maskin, a former MIT economics professor and a current member of the visiting committee for the Department of Economics, is one of three winners of the 2007 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.

Maskin was a member of the MIT economics faculty from 1977 to 1984.

Now a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, Maskin will share the $1.5 million Nobel prize with fellow economists Leonid Hurwicz of the University of Minnesota and Roger B. Myerson of the University of Chicago.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel to the trio for having laid the foundations of mechanism design, which provides tools for distinguishing situations in which markets work well from those in which they do not and for characterizing the optimal institution for any given set of conditions.

Jean Tirole, visiting professor of economics, has been awarded the prestigious 2007 Gold Medal by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France's national center for scientific research.

Tirole (Ph.D. 1981) works on industrial organization, game theory, banking and finance, and economics and psychology. He is scientific director of the Institut d'├ęconomie Industrielle, University of Social Sciences, in Toulouse, and was a professor of economics at MIT from 1984 to 1991.

The MIT student group SaveTFP won the Outstanding Youth Organization award as part of the Prevention Leaders honors given by the City of Cambridge Department of Health and Human Services and Cambridge Prevention Coalition, a community-based coalition linking substance abuse prevention to a range of health promotion initiatives. The awards recognize individuals and organizations for their outstanding contributions to the prevention of alcohol abuse and drug use in Cambridge.

SaveTFP members work to reducing stress and facilitating student social activities while increasing health awareness at MIT. In the nomination submitted on behalf of SaveTFP, student members were praised for their efforts to reduce stress and high-risk health behaviors at MIT by providing creative outlets of expression and social opportunities for students such as the Love Your Beaver T-shirt campaign, Spooky Skate, the Tipbook and the Lost and Found web site. The nominations committee said they were impressed by the group's innovative new program called eatTFP, providing pizza and Gatorade to parties across campus during the late night hours. This program provides students with an excellent model for low risk drinking and responsible party hosting.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 17, 2007 (download PDF).

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Yanik wins Packard fellowship for neural microchip work

MIT News Office
October 17, 2007

Mehmet Fatih Yanik has stopped light in its tracks and created a self-contained biological laboratory, complete with large numbers of living test subjects, on the surface of a microchip. Now he is focusing on learning how to keep nerve cells from degenerating and getting damaged ones to regenerate.

That research just received a big boost. Yanik, 29, was one of 20 young scientists awarded a 2007 David and Lucile Packard fellowship in science and engineering, which carries an unrestricted five-year grant of $625,000.

This award continues a string of recent honors for Yanik. Just last month, he won a New Innovator Award from the director of the National Institutes of Health, which carries a total of $2.5 million in new funding. In August, he was named one of Technology Review magazine's TR35, the world's top innovators under the age of 35.

Yanik, an assistant professor in MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Research Laboratory of Electronics, hopes to use the grants to help his work on developing microchips that can analyze living neurons in action. In some cases, he will observe the nerve cells at work inside a living organism--the nematode C. elegans, widely used in biological research because of its simplicity and fast lifecycle. In others, he will use primary mammalian neurons as well as human neurons produced from laboratory strains of stem cells, and manipulate and monitor them at subcellular resolution.

In both cases, the key to the research is producing complex high-throughput micromanipulation systems, or those able to carry out large numbers of tests at once at sub-cellular precision. This would streamline the research process considerably.

Yanik and his students have already produced microchips designed with a network of tiny channels, complete with branching passages, control valves and vacuum-suction segments, which can be filled with water to carry large numbers of C. elegans at once through identical passageways, yet allowing each to be subjected to different conditions.

In a recent work, he also demonstrated how to conduct very precise laser surgery on the tiny animals using femtosecond laser pulses, which made it possible to sever a single axon, the tiny filament that delivers the output from a nerve cell, inside a living C. elegans. The damaged neurons were able to completely regenerate within 24 hours.

Now, Yanik plans to conduct large numbers of such tests all at once on a single chip, as a way of screening different chemical compounds and genes that might speed regeneration of the damaged neurons or inhibit their degeneration. "These high-throughput technologies could be used for the discovery of new drugs and genetic targets" he says.

A similar technology his group is developing could be used to screen the effects of a variety of potential drugs on primary mammalian neurons as well as human neurons derived from embryonic stem cells. "We can treat them with drug candidates, and then observe how that would affect regeneration or degeneration of the neurons at subcellular resolution" he says.

To produce neurons that more closely resemble those in a living body, Yanik's team is also working on building three-dimensional structures to provide tiny scaffolds for the growth of neurons in the lab.

Earlier in his career, Yanik invented a physical mechanism to bring light to a standstill on a chip then start it moving again as a possible way of storing information.

Given his wide interests, Yanik appreciates the flexibility of the Packard award, which can be applied to other work as his research develops. "I plan to spend it on high-risk, high-impact work," he says.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 17, 2007 (download PDF).

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