New method developed for producing some metals

The MIT researchers were trying to develop a new battery, but it didn’t work out that way. Instead, thanks to an unexpected finding in their lab tests, what they discovered was a whole new way of producing the metal antimony—and potentially a new way of smelting other metals, as well.

The discovery could lead to metal-production systems that are much less expensive and that virtually eliminate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with most traditional metal smelting. Although antimony itself is not a widely used metal, the same principles may also be applied to producing much more abundant and economically important metals such as copper and nickel, the researchers say.

The surprising finding is reported this week in the journal Nature Communications, in a paper by Donald Sadoway, the John F. Elliott Professor of Materials Chemistry; postdoc Huayi Yin; and visiting scholar Brice Chung.

“We were trying to develop a different electrochemistry for a battery,” Sadoway explains, as an extension of the variety of chemical formulations for the all-liquid, high temperature storage batteries that his lab has been developing for several years. The different parts of these batteries are composed of molten metals or salts that have different densities and thus inherently form separate layers, much as oil floats on top of water. “We wanted to investigate the utility of putting a second electrolyte between the positive and negative electrodes” of the liquid battery, Sadoway says.

Read more.

FREE ENTERTAINMENT IN BOSTON. Are you the type of person that enjoys restaurants like Dick’s Last Resort? Don’t really feel like paying Faneuil hall prices? Don’t worry, I’ve got the place for you. The owner of the Tannery Outlet on Boylston street is racist, homophobic and incredibly rude. Just ask him if the buy one get one 50% off sign applies to merchandise it’s next to. I dare you! Try on three pairs of shoes and decide you don’t want any. Heaven, ask for a size. You won’t be disappointed. Fraternities and Sororities, I suggest you have pledges visit this store and ask for discounts. Observe from the back. I don’t think anyone will be disappointed. He’s called people fags, fat, poor, ugly, and screams obscenities on the regular. Don’t believe me? Here’s a link to the Yelp reviews. Great read:

Just make sure you go to the seedy outlet location and not the multilevel Tannery. They are both on Boylston.

Oh, and if you do go, be sure to add your story. I want to read it. #tannerychallenge
Dr. Shirley Jackson

Shirley Ann Jackson made your cellphone possible.

To start, I am beyond pissed off that google searching “Dr. Shirley Jackson” was corrected to Shirley Ann Jackson. Way to go, google.

Dr. Shirley Jackson was the first African-American woman to graduate from MIT. That would be the same institute astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and physicist Richard Feynman graduated from.

Her research made touch tone phone, fibre optics and solar cells reality. She also made caller ID and call waiting possible.

Dr. Shirley Jackson is a brilliant women who deserves a great deal of recognition most of us are not giving her.


The Department of Outstanding Origami is dying to get its hands on one of these tiny origami robots. A team of MIT scientists just unveiled their awesome Untethered Miniature Origami Robot at the 2015 International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Seattle.

The itty-bitty robot is made of a sheet of heat-sensitive material and a tiny cubic neodymium magnet. When placed on a heating element it’s able to self-assemble, walk on different surfaces, climb, swim, burrow, and carry objects up to twice its own weight.

From the MIT research paper:

“The robot is controlled using an external magnetic field exerted by embedded coils underneath the robot. Equipped with just one permanent magnet, the robot features a lightweight body yet can perform many tasks reliably despite its simplicity. The minimal body materials enable the robot to completely dissolve in a liquid environment, a difficult challenge to accomplish if the robot had a more complex architecture. This study is the first to demonstrate that a functional robotic device can be created and operated from the material level, promising versatile applications including use in vivo.”

A miniature robot that can self-assemble, move about, and dissolve itself has great potential for medical applications inside the human body. Imagine an even tinier version with additional sensors that could be used to seek out and clean clogged arteries or treat cancer cells. Science is awesome.

To learn more about this amazing project visit IEEE or read the MIT research paper.

You can read more about it over at IEEE and in this research paper.

[via Colossal, Nerdist, and Twisted Sifter]

Mastering Tests: Draft a Study Plan

(taken from MITs Centre for Academic Excellence, accessible here!)

Creating a realistic and effective plan to prepare for a test includes key steps:

Start Early

  • Begin preparing when you receive the subject syllabus. The syllabus is the road map of the class.  Be sure to enter all test dates in your personal calendar or planner.
  • Clearly identify the various “tasks” that you will have to do while you study.  Use key words like “read”, “write”, “create outline”, “memorize”, “rewrite”, etc.
  • Look at your schedule and work backward to set some deadlines like “review lecture notes” or “skim textbook chapters”. Revisit these deadlines as the term progresses.
  • Seek help in a timely fashion for those areas you find difficult and challenging.

Survey the Available Time

  • Once you’ve constructed your balanced schedule for the term, look for blank spaces that can be used for extra study in exam weeks.
  • Be sure that these will be times when you’re rested.
  • A week or so before the test, take a few minutes to fill in those blanks on a copy of your weekly schedule. For example, for a test on Friday you might see:

  • Make the most of the time you have. One-hour blocks between classes can be great times to review notes, practice problems, or organize yourself before speaking with your TA. If you discount these smaller pockets of time, you could waste 4-8 hours of potential study time.
  • Make your study sessions reasonable in length, working no longer than 2 hours without a break. If you plan to spend 5 hours on Thursday studying, you should plan to take a 30-minute break in the middle to recuperate. Your mind needs time to assimilate and process the new information. Most importantly, taking breaks will make it easier to approach difficult material without becoming distracted and discouraged.
  • Sunday: 6 hours
  • Monday: 2 one-hour blocks
  • Tuesday: 2 two-hour blocks
  • Wednesday: 2 one-hour blocks
  • Thursday: 5 hours.

Set Priorities

  • Figure out areas in which you’re confident and others in which you need intensive review. Quiz and pset scores may tell you this directly. If it isn’t clear, try the following technique.
  • From your syllabus, enter each topic on one line of our Test Study Checklist. Fill in reading assignments, homework, and handouts or other material that will be tested. Leave the lecture column blank for now, since you will review all lecture notes. You may have some other blank boxes: not every topic has reading or written assignments to review.
  • Highlight the areas in which you are least confident.
  • Make note of the areas most emphasized in lecture, recitation, or psets. Information that your instructor spent extra time teaching and correcting will likely receive special attention on the exam.
  • Note on your checklist any areas in which your lecture or book notes are vague, incomplete, or misleading. Plan to compare notes with a friend in these areas.
  • If you work well in study groups, plan to cover your weaker areas (and share your strengths) in group. TAs and tutors can also help you fill in gaps.
  • Schedule review meetings early and keep the appointment, so that you don’t fall behind in your preparation.

Choose a Study Style

Break down your studies in one of two ways: Study the most critical material first or Study the material in the chronological sequence that you learned it.

  • Most critical first: Study the highest priority material first, then the secondary material, which happens to have been taught earlier, etc. As you master one level, move down to the next. This method works well if the concepts you are learning in class are not closely interrelated.
  • Chronological sequence. If the material is interrelated and continually builds on previous knowledge, then it makes more sense to take a chronological approach. Begin your studies with the material from the first class and move forward in chronological order, spending only small amounts of time in low priority areas and more time in higher priority areas. This review will give you a stronger basis from which to master the more important material when you get to it. If you choose to study in chronological order, be careful to pace yourself so that you do not leave a critical block to do the night before the exam simply because it occurs last on your checklist.
  • For both styles, spend the most time on your highest priority work, a medium-amount of time on your second-priority work, and the least time on your lowest priority work (usually by skimming it).
    Before moving on, the question of whether or not to memorize often comes up when preparing for tests.  MIT students learn early that they aren’t supposed to rely on their memories when they approach their coursework.  While this information can help students to break habits learned in high school, it is not good to apply an all or nothing approach to this subject.

It can be helpful to memorize in the following two instances.  First, commit to memory information that comes up all of the time (formulas, equations, common ways of solving problems, etc.) so that there is no chance that time will be wasted on repetitive tasks.  Second, organize material that you need to recall on a test into lists that can be mentally accessed via acronyms, etc.

Stick to Your Plan

Here are some techniques to make certain your thoughtful planning stays on track.

  • Choose a good time and location to study.
  • Bring your checklist and stay on task. If you get stuck on a concept or problem, make a note on your checklist to speak with your TA, then move along. If you do fall behind, try to schedule an extra hour to catch up. But don’t panic: your study plan is a guideline, not an absolute.
  • Practice. Rework psets and sample problems from the textbook, noting how and why techniques are implemented. If you can’t explain the reasoning behind a process, you don’t understand it enough to get full credit on a test.
  • Note similarities and differences among problems. This helps to cultivate the skill of thinking flexibly. How and why does a solution work? How else could a problem be solved? How does the knowledge you are acquiring relate with other concepts?
  • Keep a list of formulae and major concepts. As you study, jot down items that you need to memorize. Review this material when you are caught standing in line or with time to spare between classes.
  • Selectively review your texts. Do not reread your textbook; you have already done it once and to do so again would overload you. Review only sections you have highlighted, any notes you made in the margins, formulae, definitions, and chapter summaries. You should be refreshing your memory and clarifying information, not assimilating it in extreme detail.
  • Don’t over-prepare. Is your study plan too ambitious and unrealistic? Trying to gain a “perfect” understanding of all the material can overwhelm and paralyze you. While it’s true that MIT exam questions often challenge you to apply concepts creatively, there is no way to anticipate every possible application of what you are learning. Thinking flexibly is a skill you will develop with practice, not by extreme studying. Construct and follow a reasonable study plan, and remember that instructors are testing what you can be reasonably be expected to know—a finite and manageable amount of work.
  • Too little time? Do you not have enough time to cover everything on your moderate and realistic list? Unfortunately, you will have to choose which things to study, and plan not to cover the rest. Only you will be able to judge which information is most critical to you, but remember that some studying is always better than no studying. Don’t give up because it’s impossible to learn everything. Incremental progress is still progress, so cover what you can well. Quality, not quantity, is the key.

MIT's Ray and Maria Stata Center

The Ray and Maria Stata Center or Building 32 is a 720,000-square-foot academic complex designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Frank Gehry for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is home to MIT’s computer science and electrical engineering department as well as the linguists and philosophy department.
A Master List of 1,150 Free Courses From Top Universities: 35,000 Hours of Audio/Video Lectures
“The list lets you download audio & video lectures from schools like Stanford, Yale, MIT, Oxford and Harvard. Generally, the courses can be accessed via YouTube, iTunes or university web sites, and you can listen to the lectures anytime, anywhere, on your computer or smart phone.” Open Culture, July 2015.

“Right now you’ll find 133 free philosophy courses, 85 free history courses, 120 free computer science courses, 71 free physics courses and 55 Free Literature Courses in the collection, and that’s just beginning to scratch the surface. You can peruse sections covering Astronomy, Biology, Business, Chemistry, Economics,Engineering, Math, Political Science, Psychology and Religion.”

“The complete list of courses can be accessed here: 1,200 Free Online Courses from Top Universities” - Open Culture, July 2015.


  1. Oxford University Museum of Natural History via Wikimedia Commons
  2. Oxford University Museum of Natural History via Wikimedia Commons

You cannot graduate from MIT unless you pass a swimming test. 

Why does MIT have a swim test?

Carrie Moore, director of physical education for MIT, says the test serves an important purpose.

It’s is a self-survival skill. Research shows that most drownings occur in families where parents don’t know how to swim. Swimming also opens up several opportunities for students to take advantage of other water sports at MIT.”

“Two days before graduation in 1952, I received a note from the registrar’s office that there was no record of my having passed the swimming certification. My diploma would be held until I passed it,” Dan Lufkin ’52, SM ’58.

“At MIT I tried to ignore the swimming requirement and at the start of my last semester, they informed me I still had to pass the swim test!” Glenn Nelson ’73.

“It was swimming that almost kept me from graduating. I had never learned to swim. MIT’s wonderful physical education teacher, Doc Smith got me swimming and diving,” Larry Constantine ’67.



The field of 3D printing grows increasingly astonishing with each passing day. Today we learned that the Mediated Matter group at the MIT Media Lab and the MIT Glass Lab collaborated on the development of 3D printing glass objects. They produced a kiln-like printer that uses molten glass to create intricate glass vessels. The glass objects are beautiful, but the printing process itself is also incredibly stunning.

Glass 3D printing (or G3DP) is based on a dual-heated chamber concept, with the top chamber heating the glass and lower chamber slowly cooling it to prevent internal stresses. The top chamber operates at approximately 1900°F, and funnels the molten material through an alumina-zircon-silica nozzle into its programmable shapes.”

This is cutting-edge technology working with a substance humanity first created 4,500 years ago in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. That’s pretty awesome.

Watch this hypnotic video from Mediated Matter to get a better look at how their amazing device works:

[via Colossal]