Bees

From Dancing Bees to RoboBees: How Honeybees Behave and Why Need Them

Presented by Elizabeth Petrik, Ryan Kuzmickas, and Kevin Ma Honeybees are creating a buzz in the media lately, particularly due to the large numbers of mysterious bee deaths attributed to Colony Collapse Disorder. This lecture will explore how these amazing creatures play an important role in our economy and inspire the future of robotics, as well as what we know about the threats to bee … Continue reading From Dancing Bees to RoboBees: How Honeybees Behave and Why Need Them

The Voyager Probes: A 35 Year Galactic Road Trip

As our closest astronomical neighbors, the planets have been subjects of keen observation by astronomers for over three millennia. The twin Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft, built and launched in the 1970s, flew by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, and provided a wealth of data and photographs in the 1980s. But far beyond even the most distant planet lies an invisible boundary at the edge … Continue reading The Voyager Probes: A 35 Year Galactic Road Trip

Living Factories: Engineering Cells to Manufacture Molecules

Presented by Kevin Bonham Single-celled microorganisms are everywhere, and are intimately linked to many aspects of our life. Some can cause disease, others decompose our waste, and many even help us digest our food – there are 10 times more bacteria cells in your body than human cells! But in the last few decades, scientists have been learning how to tinker with these tiny life … Continue reading Living Factories: Engineering Cells to Manufacture Molecules

Bionic Senses: How Neuroprosthetics Restore Hearing and Sight

— Of the five senses, sight and hearing are often felt to be the most important. They allow us to interact with each other and our environment, and the loss of either sense can be devastating. Worldwide, an estimated 39 million people have severe vision loss and 360 million people have disabling hearing loss. Scientists have spent many decades studying the causes of vision and hearing loss, as well as working to understand how images and sounds are transmitted to and represented in the brain. After years of research, they are now creating technologies that can at least partially restore these senses. These technologies are called neuroprosthetics and take the form of devices that connect to brain cells to deliver information that the brain can no longer receive on its own, often due to injury or disease. Continue reading Bionic Senses: How Neuroprosthetics Restore Hearing and Sight

Spinning electricity out of thin, moving air

The sun’s beaming rays heat the Earth, but not evenly. Many attributes of the Earth – such as its atmosphere, topography, bodies of water, and rotation – contribute to uneven heat distributions, which create air movement, or wind []. Windmills use wind-generated kinetic motion to perform useful work, such as pumping water or grinding grains, whereas wind turbines use it to generate electricity []. Wind … Continue reading Spinning electricity out of thin, moving air

Electric Vehicles and Hybrids: Where are we now?

As President Eisenhower said, our “transportation systems are dynamic elements in the very name we bear—United States.  Without them, we would be a mere alliance of many separate parts.” (Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Feb 22, 1955). The automobile became a household staple and a powerful symbol of our industrialized economy, such that cars are now intimately intertwined with our lives. As we move into the … Continue reading Electric Vehicles and Hybrids: Where are we now?

Black Silicon: Working around the current limits of solar cells

For many years, sunlight has been seen as a potential gold mine of useable energy for our global needs.  Having successfully used the sun to grow food to feed the world, people are now trying to harvest the sun’s energy and convert it into electric energy.  The principle way this has been accomplished is through the use of solar cells, also known as solar photovoltaics … Continue reading Black Silicon: Working around the current limits of solar cells

Improving diagnostic testing for infectious diseases

Most visits to a doctor or hospital occur when a patient feels under the weather, but is unsure of the cause of the symptoms or the best way to treat them. For example, sniffles and a sore throat could be caused by seasonal allergies or the flu, each of which must be treated with different medications. In such cases, physicians rely on diagnostic tests to help them decide on the appropriate course of treatment.
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Climate Change: What We Know and Where We Go From Here

Presented by Elizabeth Thomas, Sujit Datta, and Atreyee Bhattacharya During the last three billion years, Earth’s climate has nurtured life. However, records of Earth’s history indicate that climate has changed dramatically with major consequences for its inhabitants. What drives such climate changes? What are the consequences? In tonight’s lecture, we discuss the effects that greenhouse gases can have, as well as a novel engineering approach … Continue reading Climate Change: What We Know and Where We Go From Here