August 2018


Image: MIT

Science & Tech


Novel optics for ultrafast cameras create new possibilities for imaging

MIT researchers have developed novel photography that captures images based on the timing of reflecting light inside the optics, instead of the traditional approach that relies on the arrangement of optical components. These new principles, the researchers say, open doors to new capabilities for time- or depth-sensitive cameras, which are not possible with conventional photography optics.

Specifically, the researchers designed new optics for an ultrafast sensor called a streak camera that resolves images from ultrashort pulses of light. Streak cameras and other ultrafast cameras have been used to make a trillion-frame-per-second video, scan through closed books, and provide depth map of a 3-D scene, among other applications. Read more here.

Holding law-enforcement accountable for electronic surveillance
When the FBI filed a court order in 2016 commanding Apple to unlock the iPhone of one of the shooters in a terrorist attack in San Bernandino, California, the news made headlines across the globe. Yet every day there are tens of thousands of court orders asking tech companies to turn over Americans’ private data. Many never see the light of day, leaving a whole privacy-sensitive aspect of government power immune to judicial oversight and lacking in public accountability.

To protect the integrity of ongoing investigations, these requests require some secrecy: Companies usually aren’t allowed to inform individual users that they’re being investigated, and the court orders themselves are also temporarily hidden from the public. In many cases, however, charges never actually materialize, and the sealed orders usually end up forgotten by the courts that issue them, resulting in a severe accountability deficit. To address this issue, researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and Internet Policy Research Initiative (IPRI) have proposed a new cryptographic system to improve the accountability of government surveillance while still maintaining enough confidentiality for the police to do their jobs. Read more here.



Study suggests glaucoma may be an autoimmune disease
Glaucoma, a disease that afflicts nearly 70 million people worldwide remains something of a mystery, despite its prevalence. Little is known about the origins of the disease, which damages the retina and optic nerve and can lead to blindness.

A new study from MIT and Massachusetts Eye and Ear has found glaucoma may in fact be an autoimmune disorder. In a study of mice, researchers showed that the body’s own T cells are responsible for the progressive retinal degeneration seen in the disease. Furthermore, these T cells appear to be primed to attack retinal neurons as the result of previous interactions with bacteria that normally live in our body.The discovery suggests that it could be possible to develop new treatments for glaucoma by blocking this autoimmune activity, the researchers say. Read more here.

Artificial intelligence model “learns” from patient data to make cancer treatment less toxic
MIT Media Lab researchers are employing novel machine-learning techniques to improve the quality of life for patients by reducing toxic chemotherapy and radiotherapy dosing for glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer, whose therapy involves strong pharmaceuticals that cause debilitating side effects in patients. The researchers have presented a model that could make dosing regimens less toxic but still effective, powered by a “self-learning” machine-learning technique. Read more here.