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MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab has been tapped by the government for an E-mail project intended to bring government in closer touch with its citizens.

According to the magazine MacWEEK, the lab has been contracted to create an intelligent E-Mail system with AI agents that automatically analyze incoming E-Mail and filter it to appropriate government staffers. This will shorten the time it takes to send relevant information back to citizens.

Professor Woodie Flowers, MIT's scientific ambassador, is ending his stint as host of the public television series, Scientific American Frontiers.

He has won accolades for his work from the public, and no less so from those who worked with him.

Karen Stefanelli, vice president for research and development of Media Management Services, Inc., made this clear in a recent letter to President Charles M. Vest.

"Through the series, the school outreach program and his other activities, Woodie has made a great contribution to K-12 science education," said Ms. Stefanelli, whose company developed the school outreach program connected with the PBS series on behalf of the underwriter, GTE Corporation.

"I had the pleasure of attending a number of personal appearances Woodie made for Frontiers at junior and senior high schools around the country and saw first-hand his effect on kids. They were thrilled to meet a `real' scientist, and one from MIT at that. He put a human face on your distinguished school. My guess is that you'll be receiving many applications from students who had the chance to meet and talk with him at these events."

Ms. Stefanelli also noted that Dr. Flowers, School of Engineering Professor of Teaching Innovation, was part of the Frontiers team that received an Emmy award for a live videoconference for science teachers hosted by Dr. Flowers and broadcast on PBS last year.

"It was a great learning (make that nerve-wracking!) experience for all of us involved, and without Woodie's characteristic willingness to try something new, it would never have happened," Ms. Stefanelli said in her letter.

Scientists and engineers from universities and companies throughout the nation, Japan and Korea gathered at MIT on June 29 and 30 for a symposium honoring Dr. Ernest Rabinowicz, professor of mechanical engineering and widely-known authority on tribology, on his retirement after 43 years at the Institute.

The symposium, co-sponsored by MIT and the National Science Foundation, was organized by Dr. Nannaji Saka, principal research scientist in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and associate director of the Tribology Research Program. It featured the presentation of papers on "Tribology and Surface Engineering." Tribology is the science that deals with the design, friction, wear and lubrication of interacting surfaces in relative motion, such as bearings or gears.

The participants were welcomed to the sessions at the Center for Advanced Engineering Study by Dr. Nam P. Suh, Ralph E. and Eloise F. Cross Professor of Manufacturing and head of the department. A banquet was held at the Marriott Hotel.

Professor Rabinowicz received his BA degree in physics in 1947 and PhD in physical chemistry in 1950 from Cambridge University in England. He came to MIT in 1950 as a member of the research staff before joining the faculty in 1954. He was promoted to full professor in 1967.

He has published two books, An Introduction to Experimentation and Friction and Wear of Materials, and three others in collaboration with colleagues. He also has authored more than 150 technical articles in the fields of tribology, radio tracers, electric contacts, stick-slip, friction and wear of titanium, surface studies, exoelectrons, and mechanical reliability. His writings includes several encyclopedia articles.

A note on an unusual restaurant:

Poppa & Goose, a new establishment located at 69 First Street in Cambridge, is the brainchild of several MIT, Harvard and Tufts graduates who want to reach out to international students.

"The idea for Poppa & Goose was partly inspired by our experiences as international undergraduates in Cambridge," they say in a letter to the MIT international community. "We knew of many foreign students who came to the Cambridge area, studied for their degrees and left without ever having had any meaningful contact with the community.

"We wanted foreign students to be more integrated with the Cambridge community and for the Cambridge community to be more exposed to international culture. And what a better way to do that than through the universal appreciation and love of food."

Poppa & Goose, they add, will be more than a restaurant but also a place where people can learn to cook the restaurant's dishes in cooking classes conducted at the restaurant by volunteering international students.

Dr. John P. Longwell, professor emeritus of chemical engineering and senior lecturer, chaired a National Research Council committee that identified a variety of technologies that could potentially be used in destroying the nation's stockpile of chemical agents and munitions.

The committee's report, published in June, examines the technologies in detail and outlines a number of requirements and considerations to be used in evaluating these technological processes.

"The committee found that there are many technologies that in various combinations could potentially be used to replace or augment incineration," Dr. Longwell said. An assessment as to whether these alternatives represent a significant improvement to safety and, therefore, warrant additional development costs still needs to be conducted, he said.


The Council on Competitiveness' newsletter, "Challenges," has featured a recent study by MIT and the PA Consulting Group and its finding that US firms are less likely to link technology to a company's overall strategy than their European and Japanese counterparts. Dr. Edward B. Roberts, David Sarnoff Professor of Management of Technology, directed the study, which examined how companies around the world manage technology. "The Japanese have created corporate structures of governance that permit the voice of technology in the company to get right up to the top in the firm to make studies," Professor Roberts told the newsletter.

A version of this article appeared in the August 4, 1993 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 2).

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