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Faculty help bring films to life

MIT faculty are now starring in "Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination," a new exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science that combines objects from "Star Wars" films with real-world technologies.

The exhibit opened with a gala on Saturday, Oct. 29.

Joseph Sussman, JR East Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Systems, described the exhibit as linking the "imagery of the various Star Wars movies to real contemporary questions and technologies. It has a fine mix of 'pop' and educational material."

Sussman is included in the exhibition segment, "Living on Coruscant." (Coruscant is an imaginary city, seat of the Jedi government.)

Sussman, whose specialty is transportation issues in real cities, can be seen on video discussing intelligent transportation systems, high-speed rail, congestion, environmental issues and challenges facing megacities in developing countries.

"They gave my interview seven minutes of air time -- not as high exposure as Luke Skywalker or Han Solo, but not bad!" Sussman said.

Other MIT faculty who contributed to the museum's "Star Wars" exhibit include Cynthia Breazeal, associate professor in media arts and sciences; Rodney Brooks, director of the Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab and Matsushita Professor of Robotics; and Peter Dilworth, technical instructor in the MIT Media Lab.

Breazeal is director of the Robotic Life Group at the MIT Media Lab. In a video in the exhibit's Robot Object Theater segment, she discusses the merits of R2-D2 and how researchers try to duplicate traits such as mobility, perception and cognition in robots.

Dilworth's robotic dinosaur "Troody" is on display and featured in a video.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 9, 2005 (download PDF).

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