RIDE WITH THE WIND
A Discovery Channel production team used the aeronautics and astronautics department's wind tunnel to tape an episode on the aerodynamics of cycling for a series called "Extreme Vehicles." On October 27, the production team taped Tyler Hamilton of Brookline, a member of the US Postal Service cycling team that won last summer's Tour de France; cyclist Karen Smyers, who took second place in the women's division of the Iron Man Triathalon this year; and Grant Bower, R&D manager for a racing bicycle company, who flew in from the West Coast with his recumbent bike just for the occasion.
FROM EPA TO DUSP
John P. DeVillars, who is stepping down in January as the New England administrator for the US Environmental Protection Agency, will teach a course on "Environmental Leadership in the Public and Private Sector" next semester in the Department of Urban Studies And Planning. He began preparing for the course in September and has participated in other courses at MIT as a speaker. Mr. DeVillars recently announced he will leave the EPA in January to teach and to undertake an environmental business venture.
An article in the August 3 issue of the Christian Science Monitor on "smart materials" extensively quoted Professor Harry Tuller of materials science and engineering. Smart materials can change in desirable ways in response to their environment, he explained. "When we put our finger on a hot stove, we pull it back from the stove. A really smart material system is like that. It is one in which there is an automatic response in the right direction without a lot of additional microprocessing power," said Professor Tuller, who is working on an electroceramic helicopter rotor that can continuously change shape in midflight when zapped with electrical charges, which could improve the performance and reliability of helicopter flight.
The Economist (October 16) had high praise for Insisting on the Impossible, the biography of Polaroid founder Edwin Land written by Victor McElheny, visiting scholar in the Program in Science, Technology and Society and former director of the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships program. In its review, the magazine wrote, "Mr. McElheny shows you the corporate entity, its culture, its joys and its frustrations by piecing together the many bits of a remarkable jigsaw he accumulated over decades, getting, in the process, inside the founder's incessantly creative brain... Nobody would say this was Polaroid's version. But it is not an outsider's either. Mr. McElheny made himself an insider, not by being invited in, but by patiently thinking his way into a detailed understanding of how Land and his company worked."
IN THE NEWS
Good Morning America ran a two-day series on tissue engineering on September 27 and 28 that featured MIT research. Dr. Robert Langer, the Germeshausen Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, gave GMA reporter Michael Guillen a tour of his lab. The interview ran the second day of the series.
Compiled by Denise Brehm and Elizabeth Thomson.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 17, 1999.