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The information age is also the age of information overload. Companies, governments, researchers, and private citizens are accumulating digital data at an unprecedented rate, and amid all those quintillions of bytes could be the answers to questions of vital human interest: What environmental conditions contribute most to disease outbreaks? What sociopolitical factors contribute most to educational success? What player statistics best predict a baseball team’s win-loss record?

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(MIT News: Cambridge, MA) -- Whatever your profession, systems thinking is critical for success in the global economy, according to speakers at the 2011 MIT SDM Conference on Systems Thinking for Contemporary Challenges.

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For many scientists working in the field of climate research, one of the most alarming trends has nothing to do with the climate itself: It’s the poll numbers showing that even as scientific projections of global climate change get ever more certain, public perceptions about climate change are getting ever more skeptical.

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Most technologies for harnessing the sun’s energy capture the light itself, which is turned into electricity using photovoltaic materials. Others use the sun’s thermal energy, usually concentrating the sunlight with mirrors to generate enough heat to boil water and turn a generating turbine. A third, less common approach is to use the sun’s heat—also concentrated by mirrors—to generate electricity directly, using solid-state devices called thermophotovoltaics, which have their roots at MIT dating back to the 1950s.

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Continual product and process innovation are crucial for commercially successful products to maintain their industry dominance, according to MIT Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) industry co-director Vah Erdekian.

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The ability to see through walls is no longer the stuff of science fiction, thanks to new radar technology developed at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory.

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There’s good news and bad news about the United States’ ongoing deficit and debt problems, according to high-profile economists who discussed the subject recently at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

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Ask someone with her hands in her lap to pick up a coffee mug on the table she’s sitting at, and she’ll extract her hand from under the table and stretch her arm out toward the mug. Instruct an autonomous robot to perform the same feat, and it may think for a few seconds, zigzag its robotic hand back and forth under the table, then perform what looks like calisthenics for a few seconds more before finally reaching for the mug.

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A new way to analyze how coatings of tiny particles alter the properties of transparent plastic could help researchers create lightweight windows with nearly the strength of glass. The same method could also lead to high-strength, scratch-resistant coatings that could be applied to many different materials, according to the MIT researchers who developed the analysis.

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By: MIT News

The migration of manufacturing from the United States to Asia could be having a significant impact on which advanced technologies are commercialized. Specifically, there is evidence that the shift in manufacturing is curtailing the development of emerging technologies in areas such as optoelectronics and advanced materials for the automotive industry.