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Reif Elected President of MIT

Provost L. Rafael Reif was elected last week as president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He will replace neuroscientist Susan Hockfield, who was the first life scientist to lead MIT, on July 2.

In other technology news, paralyzed patients have been able to control a robotic arm with their minds. The result brings scientists a step closer to restoring mobility for people with spinal cord injuries, lost limbs and other conditions that limit movement.

Japanese researchers have broken the record for wireless data transmission in the terahertz band, an uncharted part of the electromagnetic spectrum. They say the data rate is 20 times higher than the best commonly used wi-fi standard.

With highly advanced milking machines on some dairy farms and a fully automated robot tractor set to hit the market this fall, robots could be coming to a farm near you.

Geophysicists are using computers to simulate the behavior of the world's most studied 25 kilometers of fault, the Parkfield segment of the San Andreas fault in central California. Researchers report that a relatively sophisticated model of the Parkfield segment can produce quakes that bear a striking resemblance to real ones.

Scientists have developed a way to generate electricity using viruses. The researchers built a generator with a postage stamp-sized electrode and based on a small film of specially engineered viruses. When a finger tapped the electrode, the viruses converted the mechanical energy into electricity.

A new wireless system for restoring sight simplifies what needs to be implanted and transmits both visual data and power directly to the implants, eliminating the need for any bulky external power source.

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PODCAST & VIDEO: Engineering Around Extreme Events

Extreme events, such as super floods and hurricanes, are becoming more common, so civil engineers are trying to adapt civil infrastructure such as bridges to these unpredictable and sometimes devastating meteorological events. Engineer Ana Barros discusses how engineering can prepare us for extreme weather events, but also how changing climate and population conditions can affect the ability of infrastructure to hold up over time.

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