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Trailblazer: Salman Khan

Need some help with your homework? Look no further than Khan Academy.

The website features over 1,800 mini-lectures on subjects including mathematics, history, finance, physics, chemistry, astronomy, and economics.

All online tutorials are produced and narrated by Salman Khan, who has a master’s in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT. Usually under 15 minutes in length, the videos are low-tech and conversational, with Khan using step-by-step doodles and diagrams on an electronic blackboard to explain various concepts.

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And Now: AutoFrost Puts the Icing on the Cake

How’s this for a sweet new invention: five students from Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering have built a cake-decorating robot for a class project.

Called AutoFrost, the machine combines electronic sensors, computer programming, and precise mechanics with delicious gooey confections. Just doodle your design on a basic Microsoft Paint-like program, hit the button that says, “I’m ready to design an amazing cake,” and watch the frosting begin.

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Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams at Lemelson-MIT Program

MITLLemelson-MIT InvenTeams are teams of high school students, teachers, and mentors that receive grants up to $10,000 each to invent technological solutions to real-world problems. The InvenTeam initiative, created by the Lemelson-MIT Program, is designed to excite high school students about invention, empower students through problem solving, and encourage an inventive culture in schools and communities.

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Mapping the Brain with Supercomputers

With the aid of supercomputers, we may soon have a new, extraordinary understanding of the human brain

Imagine a football stadium filled with 100,000 people on laptops, all networked together and working to solve the same computing problem. Now triple that number, and you’ll have the approximate computing power of some of the world’s most advanced supercomputers.

Machines like Jaguar and Kraken, both at the University of Tennessee, have a processing speed of about two petaflops, which means they can perform about 1015 calculations per second. Researchers are currently working towards exascale computing (that is, crunching over 1018 calculations per second), and some predict this may even be possible by the year 2020.

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Toothpaste Changes Flavor Depending on the Weather

We all brush our teeth in the morning, but what if our toothpaste did more than just fight cavities?

Engineers at MIT’s Media Lab are working on a prototype toothpaste called “Tastes Like Rain” that will tell you what the weather is like outside. They came up with the idea while working on super-mechanicals, the process of taking a basic object, such as toothpaste, and giving it dynamic properties.

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