Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Molecular & Clinical Diagnostics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

AAAS Annual Meeting Puts MIT Science and Technology on Display

Published: Friday, February 22, 2013
Last Updated: Friday, February 22, 2013
Bookmark and Share
The 2013 conference, held last week in Boston, featured research presentations, hands-on demonstrations.

The annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) took place Feb. 14-18 at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center. The gathering highlighted a diverse roster of MIT researchers presenting work on everything from human-robot interactions to the convergence of biology and engineering, as well as hands-on demonstrations ranging from tiny model rockets to Lego models of chemical reactions in the atmosphere.

Nearly 10,000 scientists and citizens registered for the conference, including more than 900 journalists from around the world. MIT was represented by about a dozen faculty members and other speakers who presented talks on their research, as well as by students and staffers who engaged in demonstrations at the event’s Family Science Days.

In the dark

Samuel Ting, the Thomas P. Cabot Professor of Physics, summarized 18 years of work to develop a $1.5 billion set of instruments for the International Space Station. Some in attendance had expected that he might use the occasion to present the long-awaited first results of experiments designed to search for direct signs of dark matter in the universe, but Ting said the research team, which consists of six separate groups, was still finishing its analysis of the data and expected to make an announcement in several weeks.

“Everybody has their own interpretations,” Ting said, noting that one of the six teams “has very different theories” from the others. “Certainly we are not going to publish something if it’s not worthwhile.”

Ting said the experiment has examined about 25 billion “events” — impacts by cosmic rays — to search for differences in the ratio of electrons to their antimatter counterparts, called positrons, and for any differences in emissions from different parts of the sky.

Converging on convergence


In another session, Institute Professor Phillip Sharp said that scientific convergence — the ongoing merger of the life, physical and engineering sciences — represents an important new research model for biomedicine. “Convergence will be the emerging paradigm for how medical research will be conducted in the future,” he said, but added that serious policy challenges that must be resolved in order to realize this potential.

Speaking in the same session, Tyler Jacks, the David H. Koch Professor of Biology and director of MIT’s David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, added that this radically new approach holds the potential to chart a new course in cancer research by revolutionizing the disease’s diagnosis, monitoring and treatment.

On a similar theme, Institute Professor Robert Langer spoke on “Challenges and Opportunities at the Confluence of Biotechnology and Nanomaterials.” He described great progress in recent years in the development and commercialization of biomedical innovations through collaboration with materials scientists and engineers.

Hundreds of families, billions of experiments

On Saturday and Sunday, hundreds of families flocked to the AAAS meeting for Family Science Days, which included a series of talks, exhibits and hands-on activities. There, Angela Belcher, the W.M. Keck Professor of Energy, described her lab’s work to harness the power of biological organisms to create new technologies.

“How many of you have ever done a billion experiments?” she asked a group of parents and children, none of whom raised their hands.

In her lab, Belcher explained, it is now possible to do a billion experiments at once, using a beaker full of viruses to extract elements from water and assemble them into batteries or solar cells. She then demonstrated such a virus-built battery in action — a demonstration that she said she had also shown to President Barack Obama during his 2009 visit to MIT.

Other hands-on activities used Lego blocks to show the molecular structure of DNA; gave children a chance to launch tiny, antacid-powered “rockets” made from paper and empty film canisters; and demonstrated airplane-wing function using a miniature wind tunnel and vapor from dry ice. MIT’s D-Lab, which aims to create technologies for use in developing nations, mounted an exhibit that gave children a chance to try out some D-Lab inventions — including devices for shelling corn and for making charcoal briquettes out of charred agricultural waste.

The human side of science

Other talks at the AAAS conference explored subjects in the social sciences, or at the interface between science, technology and the arts. Michel DeGraff, an associate professor of linguistics, described his analysis of Haitian Creole, which has shown that in many ways its structures are more complex than those of related languages. Felice Frankel, a research scientist at MIT’s Center for Materials Science and Engineering, delivered a lecture in which she showed how diagrams, photographs and other research graphics could be improved through a focus on conveying only the most important information in an image.

In a keynote address before a packed auditorium, Sherry Turkle, the Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology, described her concern at the growing trend of transferring a variety of human-centered tasks, such as the care of children and the elderly, from human caregivers to robots. People too readily act as if machines have personalities, and even feelings, she said. This “new normal,” she added, “comes with a price,” and may ultimately change human relationships for the worse.


Further Information
Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,400+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 3,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Bacterial Computing
The “friendly” bacteria inside our digestive systems are being given an upgrade, which may one day allow them to be programmed to detect and ultimately treat diseases such as colon cancer and immune disorders.
Monday, July 13, 2015
Chemists Design a Quantum-Dot Spectrometer
New instrument is small enough to function within a smartphone, enabling portable light analysis.
Friday, July 03, 2015
Diagnosing Cancer with Help from Bacteria
Engineered probiotics can detect tumors in the liver.
Friday, May 29, 2015
Using Sound Waves To Detect Rare Cancer Cells
Acoustic device can rapidly isolate circulating tumor cells from patient blood samples.
Tuesday, April 07, 2015
MIT And MGH Form Strategic Partnership
First set of grants support projects designed to improve diagnostic accuracy and cost-effectiveness.
Friday, October 17, 2014
Biologists Find An Early Sign Of Cancer
Patients show boost in certain amino acids years before diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
New Sensor Tracks Zinc in Cells
Shifts in zinc’s location could be exploited for early diagnosis of prostate cancer.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
New Approach to Global Health Challenges
MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science brings many tools to the quest for new disease treatments and diagnostic devices.
Friday, September 27, 2013
Brain Scans May Help Diagnose Dyslexia
Differences in a key language structure can be seen even before children start learning to read.
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Device Finds Stray Cancer Cells in Patients’ Blood
A microfluidic device that captures circulating tumor cells could give doctors a noninvasive way to diagnose and track cancers.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Tiny Tools Help Advance Medical Discoveries
MIT researchers are designing tools to analyze cells at the microscale.
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
Improving the Accuracy of Cancer Diagnoses
New spectroscopy technique could help doctors better identify breast tumors.
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
New Technology May Enable Earlier Cancer Diagnosis
Nanoparticles amplify tumor signals, making them much easier to detect in the urine.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Oscillating Microscopic Beads Could be Key to Biolab on a Chip
MIT team finds way to manipulate and measure magnetic particles without contact, potentially enabling multiple medical tests on a tiny device.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Mapping Neurological Disease
New algorithm can analyze information from medical images to identify diseased areas of the brain and connections with other regions.
Wednesday, September 05, 2012
Scientific News
Long Telomeres Associated with Increased Lung Cancer Risk
Genetic predisposition for long telomeres predicts increased lung adenocarcinoma risk.
Paving the way to Better Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis
Aïcha BenTaieb will present her invention for automated identification of ovarian cancer’s many subtypes at an international conference this fall.
The Genetic Roots of Adolescent Scoliosis
Scientists at the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences in collaboration with Keio University in Japan have discovered a gene that is linked to susceptibility of Scoliosis.
Diagnostic Test Developed for Enterovirus D68
researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a diagnostic test to quickly detect enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), a respiratory virus that caused unusually severe illness in children last year.
Tracking Breast Cancer Before it Grows
A team of scientists led by University of Saskatchewan researcher Saroj Kumar is using cutting-edge Canadian Light Source techniques to screen and treat breast cancer at its earliest changes.
The Light of Fireflies for Medical Diagnostics
EPFL scientists have exploited the light of fireflies in a new method that detects biological molecules without the need for complex devices and high costs.
Could a simple saliva test detect Alzheimer's?
Researchers have presented findings suggesting that a simple, non-invasive diagnostic for Alzheimer's could be within reach.
Cheap Diagnostics with a Portable "Paper Machine"
Scientists have developed a cheap, portable system for point of care diagnostics for a range of infectious diseases, genetic conditions and cancer.
New Variant of Streptococcal Bacteria
Scientists have discovered a new variant of streptococcal bacteria that has contributed to a rise in disease cases in the UK over the last 17 years.
New Insights into “Antenna” of Human Cells
Scientists from the University of Leeds have uncovered the most comprehensive list yet of genes implicated in a group of common inherited diseases.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,400+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
3,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FREE!