Sci & Tech

The Sari-Clad Tech at MIT

The Sari-Clad Tech at MIT

In 2004, the Ray and Maria Stata Center at MIT opened on the site of Building 20, a structure that was meant to be temporary but lasted 55 years. At the dedication, Hale Bradt, PhD ’61, emeritus professor of physics, was delighted to see a familiar image in the lobby: a black-and-white picture of a colleague from his graduate school days. The caption read, “Cosmic Ray Research lab assistant, 1959.” The photograph of the sari-clad Indian woman had appeared, off and on, in the MIT […]



Cloudburst of Computing Power

For U.S. academics, computational resources are not hard to come by.  The National Science Foundation’s Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) program, for 25 years has made computation and storage platforms available, free-of-charge to academic researchers in the United States with high-performance computing (HPC) needs. “I have been shouting FREE COMPUTING TIME from the rooftops for about 5 years now,” says Jeff Gardner, who is UW’s campus ambassador for XSEDE. “By funding a dozen or so sites across the country, NSF ensured that every researcher […]



Computer Scientists Get Wet

Computer Scientists Get Wet

In the summer of 2008, when Wired magazine ran a cover story titled “The End of Science,” former Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson wrote, “The new availability of huge amounts of data, along with the statistical tools to crunch these numbers, offers a whole new way of understanding the world. Correlation supersedes causation, and science can advance even without coherent models, unified theories, or really any mechanistic explanation at all. There’s no reason to cling to our old ways. It’s time to ask: What can science learn […]



When All Science becomes Data Science

When All Science becomes Data Science

Ed Lazowska, who holds the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at UW, believes that data-driven discovery will become the norm, as he told Science Careers in a recent interview. This new environment, he says, will create and reward researchers (like Loebman) who are well versed in both the methodologies of their specific fields and the applications of data science. He calls such people “pi-shaped” because they have two full legs, one in each camp. “All science is fast becoming what is called data […]



Pollinating His Own Science

Pollinating His Own Science

Even a graduate student working on a pressing, real-world problem needs diversions. Noah Wilson-Rich went to the Topsfield agricultural fair, an annual event in Essex County, Massachusetts and was drawn to the Bee House with its observational hives. Local honey was on sale, and apiarists were on hand to talk about what they do. The young entomologist—whose knowledge about insects had so far come largely from textbooks—put his name on the sign-up sheet for a beekeeping course. Before long, he was a certified beekeeper. Back […]



Take my taxi to the moon

Take my taxi to the moon

Susmita Mohanty, the founder of India’s first private space company, Earth2Orbit, wants India to claim bigger piece of the space-launch pie.She is CEO of Earth2Orbit, which recently launched its first client satellite. An aerospace entrepreneur and spaceship designer, she has worked at NASA and Boeing, and holds a PhD in aerospace architecture How active is India’s space programme? The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which was founded in 1969, launches rockets, builds and uses satellites extensively for earthly applications and has recently started planetary exploration. […]



Freedom isn’t free

Freedom isn’t free

In the acknowledgements section of NW, her 2012 bestseller, Zadie Smith thanked a computer application called “Freedom” for “creating the time” she needed to finish the book. It may be the highest-profile printed acknowledgment of a computer program in a work of fiction—The New York Times put NW on its list of the ten best books of 2012—and Smith is not alone in her admiration. The Economist called Freedom “the virtual equivalent of retiring to a remote getaway, or going on a writers’ retreat, to […]



India’s IT Guy

India’s IT Guy

F.C.Kohli says it is time for the government to encourage domestic software development—especially software that can “speak” Indian languages. “Only then can we develop India-unique application systems to improve efficiencies within the country,” he says. “Then the computer can become a real instrument for national growth.”Since retiring in 2000, Kohli has been working in an honorary capacity with the Tata Group to find ways of using computers as tools for India’s development. A voracious reader who devours thrillers and statistical reports alike, he was appalled […]



Research that lights up lives

Research that lights up lives

Here is a picture that represents the gestation of Project Prakash. In order to get a first-hand sense of childhood blindness in India, Prof. Pawan Sinha visited a few places in the country, distant from the ambit of urban medical care facilities. Here he is working in a village with a young girl who gained sight in one eye at the age of 7 years. She is 11 years old in this picture. Also seen in the picture is Dr. Asim Sil, an ophthalmologist who […]



India’s IT Guy

India’s IT Guy

The year was 1969. F. C. Kohli had just computerized control of the power grid serving the city of Mumbai (then known as Bombay.) It had been an impressive feat for him as general manager of Tata Electric, a sign he was well on his way to leading the company. But the Tata Group, India’s largest conglomerate, had other plans for Kohli. He was asked to help get Tata Consultancy Services, its fledgling information technology services company, off the ground as its general manager. “TCS was […]