Yet with basic research, it is only when the discoveries are in hand that we begin to recognize their world-changing applications. The challenges posed by the 21st century are formidable and intriguing—and MIT is uniquely capable of translating scientific breakthroughs into practical solutions.
The Laws of Physics
In February 2016, a century after Einstein changed our perception of the universe with his general theory of relativity, scientists at MIT helped to prove his theory right when they announced they had detected gravitational waves arising from the collision of two black holes 1.3 billion years ago. The waves were received at twin interferometers at the Louisiana and Washington State facilities of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).
Anyone who has wrestled with a gnarly web of power cords—or, worse, forgotten to pack them on a business trip—will appreciate WiTricity. The MIT spinoff develops technology to bring wireless power to consumer electronics and a host of other devices, including electrical cars, medical devices, and even remote undersea vehicles.
A multidisciplinary effort involving neuroscientists, biologists, computer scientists, economists, urban planners, clinicians, and engineers, the Aging Brain Initiative aims to conquer Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia by studying how the brain ages in health and decline.
At the Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines, researchers work to understand how the human brain produces intelligent behavior, and how we may be able to replicate that intelligence in machines. The multi-institute initiative brings together computer scientists, cognitive scientists, and neuroscientists to create a new field, the Science and Engineering of Intelligence.
The Origins and Evolution of Life
Sara Seager explores the vast and unknown world of exoplanets—planets that orbit stars other than our sun. The Class of 1941 Professor of Planetary Science and Professor of Physics has pioneered novel space mission concepts and innovative theories about life on other worlds.
A better understanding of how proteins interact with each other could lead to advances on multiple fronts in molecular and cellular biology, genetics, and human health. Amy E. Keating, professor of biology and biological engineering, is expanding our fundamental knowledge of these processes.