Category Archives: MIT

Daron Acemoglu in Conversations with Tyler

Source: Conversations with Tyler, Dec 2019

what makes China exceptional is that — like no other despotic, extractive society in history — it has a complete obsession with innovation and technology.

China is the first society that’s really systematically trying to do that. China wants to keep the despotic control of the Chinese Communist Party while at the same time be a leader in digital technology, leader in Telecom, leader in AI, and it’s pouring a lot of resources. It’s providing incentives, and the question is whether this is going to succeed. My view is, it is not a complete failure, but it’s not going to be a huge success.

there are tensions. You really need — you called it individualism. I’m happy to call it that. I would have called it something differently. But you need that individualism spark. You need that experimentation for the most radical type of innovations to take place, and China is missing that. It’s going to try to pour more and more resources to make up for it, but I’m not sure whether it’s going to work.

The Science and Math of Oobleck

Source: MIT News, Oct 2019

When you mix cornstarch and water, weird things happen. Swish it gently in a bowl, and the mixture sloshes around like a liquid. Squeeze it, and it starts to feel like paste. Roll it between your hands, and it solidifies into a rubbery ball. Try to hold that ball in the palm of your hand, and it will dribble away as a liquid.

Most of us who have played with this stuff know it as “oobleck,” named after a sticky green goo in Dr. Seuss’ “Bartholomew and the Oobleck.” Scientists, on the other hand, refer to cornstarch and water as a “non-Newtonian fluid” — a material that appears thicker or thinner depending on how it is physically manipulated.

Now MIT engineers have developed a mathematical model that predicts oobleck’s weird behavior. Using their model, the researchers accurately simulated how oobleck turns from a liquid to a solid and back again, under various conditions.

In all scenarios, the simulations matched the experimental data and reproduced the motion of the oobleck, replicating the regions where it morphed from liquid to solid, and back again.

To see how their model could predict oobleck’s behavior in more complex conditions, the team simulated a pronged wheel driving at different speeds over a deep bed of the slurry. They found the faster the wheel spun, the more the mixture formed what Baumgarten calls a “solidification front” in the oobleck, that momentarily supports the wheel so that it can roll across without sinking.

Kamrin and Baumgarten say the new model can be used to explore how various ultrafine-particle solutions such as oobleck behave when put to use as, for instance, fillings for potholes, or bulletproof vests. They say the model could also help to identify ways to redirect slurries through systems such as industrial plants.

“With industrial waste products, you could get fine particle suspensions that don’t flow the way you expect, and you have to move them from this vat to that vat, and there may be best practices that people don’t know yet, because there’s no model for it,” Kamrin says. “Maybe now there is.”

Harvard: Educate Leaders; MIT: Nurture Geniuses

Source: Marginal Revolution, Sep 2019

Using publicly released reports, we examine the preferences Harvard gives for recruited athletes, legacies, those on the dean’s interest list, and children of faculty and staff (ALDCs). Among white admits, over 43% are ALDC. Among admits who are African American, Asian American, and Hispanic, the share is less than 16% each.

Our model of admissions shows that roughly three quarters of white ALDC admits would have been rejected if they had been treated as white non-ALDCs. Removing preferences for athletes and legacies would significantly alter the racial distribution of admitted students, with the share of white admits falling and all other groups rising or remaining unchanged.

A Totally Black Diamond

Source: MIT News, Sep 2019

… a 16.78-carat natural yellow diamond from LJ West Diamonds, estimated to be worth $2 million, which the team coated with the new, ultrablack CNT material. The effect is arresting: The gem, normally brilliantly faceted, appears as a flat, black void.

AI Startups & AI Skills Impact on Pay

Source:, Aug 2019

JCR Licklider – Ideas for the Digital Age

Source: Wikipedia, Aug 2019

Licklider became interested in information technology early in his career. His ideas foretold of graphical computing, point-and-click interfaces, digital libraries, e-commerce, online banking, and software that would exist on a network and migrate wherever it was needed. Much like Vannevar Bush‘s, Licklider’s contribution to the development of the Internet consists of ideas, not inventions. He foresaw the need for networked computers with easy user interfaces.

Licklider was instrumental in conceiving, funding and managing the research that led to modern personal computers and the Internet. In 1960 his seminal paper on “Man-Computer Symbiosis[23] foreshadowed interactive computing, and he went on to fund early efforts in time-sharing and application development, most notably the work of Douglas Engelbart, who founded the Augmentation Research Center at Stanford Research Institute and created the famous On-Line System where the computer mouse was invented.

Related Resources:, date indeterminate

Licklider at DARPA

DARPA (Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)has provided leadership and funding in a number of world-changing projects.

Quoting from

In October 1962 Licklider was appointed head of the DARPA information processing office, part of the United States Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. He would then convince Ivan Sutherland, Bob Taylor, and Lawrence G. Roberts that an all-encompassing computer network was a very important concept.

When Licklider began his work at ARPA, there were no Ph.D. programs in computer science at American universities. ARPA began handing out grants to promising students, a practice that convinced MIT, Stanford, University of California at Berkeley, and Carnegie Mellon University to start their own graduate programs in computer science in 1965. This is certainly one of Lidlicker’s most lasting legacies.

SCIHI.Org, Mar 2019

During his active years in computer science, Licklider managed to conceive, manage, and research the fundamentals that led to modern computers and the Internet as we know it today.

His 1960 scientific paper on the Man-Computer Symbiosis was revolutionary and foreshadowed interactive computing. This inspired many other scientists to continue early efforts on time-sharing and application development. One of the scientists funded by Licklider’s efforts was the famous American computer scientist Douglas Engelbart, whose efforts led to the invention of the computer mouse.[4]

In August 1962, in a series of memos, Licklider described a global computer network that contained almost all the ideas that now characterize the Internet.

With a huge budget at his disposal, he hired the best computer scientists from Stanford University, MIT, UCLA, Berkeley and selected companies for his ARPA research. He jokingly described this approximately a dozen or so researchers, with whom he had a close exchange, as the “Intergalactic Computer Network“.

About six months after starting his work, he distributed an opinion in this unofficial panel, criticizing the problems of the proliferating multiplication of different programming languages, debugging programs and documentation procedures and initiating a discussion on standardization, as he saw this as a threat to a hypothetical, future computer network.

MIT Micromasters –> MIT Degrees

Source: MIT News, Aug 2019

MIT President Rafael Reif

  • ” the second person to set foot on the moon was Buzz Aldrin, ScD ’63—the first astronaut to have a doctoral degree. “
  • “Of the 12 humans who have walked on the moon, four graduated from MIT.”