The Vast Potential of Atomic-Scale Microscopy

When Ondrej Krivanek first considered building a device to boost the resolution of electron microscopes, he asked about funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. “The response was not positive,” he says, laughing. He heard through the grapevine that the administrator who held the purse strings declared that the project would be funded “over his dead body.”     

“People just felt it was too complicated, and that nobody would ever make it work,” says Krivanek. But he tried anyway.  After all, he says, “If everyone expects you to fail, you can only exceed expectations.”

The correctors that Krivanek, Niklas Dellby, and other colleagues subsequently designed for the scanning transmission electron microscope did exceed expectations. They focus the microscope’s electron beam, which scans back and forth across the sample like a spotlight, and make it possible to distinguish individual atoms and to conduct chemical analysis within a sample. For his pioneering efforts,

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The oceans contain vast mineral resources. Can the deep sea be mined without catastrophic results?

There is an adage among miners: if it can’t be grown, it must be mined. 

Almost everything we use relies on mining. Phones and computers contain elements like aluminum, nickel, and lithium. Plastic is made from petroleum products extracted from fossil fuels in the ground. Even your toothpaste is chock full of mined materials. 

The growing human population places an increasing demand on the non-renewable resources that come from Earth’s crust. Technological advances and the search for renewable energy sources could exacerbate the situation. As our terrestrial mineral resources diminish, governments, researchers, and corporations have proposed searching for resources in a new location: thousands of meters beneath the surface of the ocean. 

In the 1970s, researchers began exploring the potential of extracting minerals from the seafloor after discovering fields of potato-sized polymetallic nodulesand massive mineral-spewing underwater volcanoes, called hydrothermal vents. A seemingly endless supply of metal ores resided in the

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MIT’s Driverless Boat Takes on Amsterdam’s Vast Canal Network

If you’re going to test an autonomous boat then there’s surely no better place do it than on Amsterdam’s vast network of canals.

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Senseable City Lab have been developing an autonomous boat for the last five years with a view to one day using the vessel to transport people, ship goods, or clean up waterways in urban areas.

The second version of “Roboat” is two meters long, has four propellers, and, just like autonomous cars that tend to grab all the headlines when it comes to self-driving technology, operates using a suite of sensors and powerful software to help ensure safe travel.

The research team recently conducted a successful test of Roboat on the canals of Amsterdam, navigating the narrow waterways for three hours with an impressive error margin of just seven inches (17.8 cm). You can see it in action in

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