Tufts Professor Receives a Boost from Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group

Regeneration of anatomy is foreign to humans, yet common in nature. When a caterpillar metamorphoses into a butterfly, it destroys its neural structure to form a new brain. A flatworm Planaria can be cut to 250 pieces, and every piece will regenerate the necessary body parts to become an independent organism. Its tail will regrow a head, while its head will regrow a tail. However, … Continue reading Tufts Professor Receives a Boost from Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group

Looking to Nature for the Next Generation of Robots (Part 2)

This research in mimicking the capabilities of tobacco hornworms has expanded to include developing a completely new generation of robots.  Modern robots are typically rigid and stiff because they are derived from early robots optimized for factory assembly lines. Professor Trimmer wants to change that.  He sees a robot that is not only soft and flexible, but also made from natural materials.  He is currently … Continue reading Looking to Nature for the Next Generation of Robots (Part 2)

Looking to Nature for the Next Generation of Robots (Part 1)

Have you ever wondered where Velcro came from, or how a Kindle screen can be read in the sunlight? A quick internet search reveals that both of these technologies were human ideas inspired by fundamental properties of nature. Ever since our ancestors had gained the ability to think in a complex manner, humans have continually studied the other multicellular organisms that surround them.  Early on, … Continue reading Looking to Nature for the Next Generation of Robots (Part 1)

Call for a Mutual Understanding of Scientific Research

Research carries unprecedented validity and authority in today’s rapidly advancing society, where we are constantly looking for the next big breakthrough or some knowledge that is completely counterintuitive to our intuitions. Each week, we hear about how there is a new treatment for a previously incurable disease or how we are at the brink of deciphering the mysteries of the brain. With a growing discrepancy … Continue reading Call for a Mutual Understanding of Scientific Research

Why is traditional altruism so ineffective?

While this question may sound like what you would hear in philosophy classes, Harvard’s Psychology Professor Joshua Greene took an experimental approach to respond, using the development of neural imaging techniques and the discovery of synaptic plasticity. By incorporating new neuroscience technology, Greene was able to embark his journey in a new field of psychology research, moral cognition, which explores the underlying cognitive mechanisms of moral … Continue reading Why is traditional altruism so ineffective?

Next step for Neuroscience: Neurobiological engineering (part 2)

Breakthrough had the privilege of listening to Dr. Jasanoff and Dr. Boyden speak at Sidney Pacific Presidential Fellows Distinguished Lecture at MIT, where they introduced the history of neuroimaging, limits and challenges of the current techniques, and the future role they hope neurobiological engineering will take in order to deepen our understanding of the brain. Part one will introduce the professors and give an overview of the history … Continue reading Next step for Neuroscience: Neurobiological engineering (part 2)

Next step for Neuroscience: Neurobiological engineering (part 1)

Breakthrough had the privilege of listening to Dr. Jasanoff and Dr. Boyden speak at Sidney Pacific Presidential Fellows Distinguished Lecture at MIT, where they introduced the history of neuroimaging, limits and challenges of the current techniques, and the future role they hope neurobiological engineering will take in order to deepen our understanding of the brain. Part one will introduce the professors and give an overview of the history … Continue reading Next step for Neuroscience: Neurobiological engineering (part 1)

Planaria, the incredible regenerating worm

What does it mean to be a regenerative organism? Well, unlike simple healing that happens when you get a paper cut, and new skin forms, regeneration involves the formation of multiple tissues and complex shapes. Your first reaction to regeneration may be to think of something like in Hercules when he fights the Hydra monster that upon having its head amputated immediately grows two more. When found in … Continue reading Planaria, the incredible regenerating worm

Modeling Moral Competence in Robots: Interview with Professor Scheutz (Part 3)

This is part three of a three-part series taken from an interview between Professor Matthias Scheutz, the director of the Tufts Human-Robot Interaction Lab, and Breakthrough’s Josh Lee. You can read Part One here and Part Two here. Q) Socially autonomous robots with moral competence, as you have stated in your papers, seem to be computationally possible and could indeed be materialized in the future. … Continue reading Modeling Moral Competence in Robots: Interview with Professor Scheutz (Part 3)

Why Women Miscarry, and How Miscarriage Stigma Needs to End

I first heard about the stigma surrounding miscarriages in a post that Mark Zuckerberg made on Facebook, announcing his wife Pricilla’s pregnancy, and how they went through three previous miscarriages before they got to this point. He writes, “It’s a lonely experience. Most people don’t discuss miscarriages because you worry your problems will distance you or reflect upon you — as if you’re defective or did something … Continue reading Why Women Miscarry, and How Miscarriage Stigma Needs to End