Light_bending.jpgLight has become one of our most powerful servants, carrying information ranging from a chat room "LOL" to an entire digitized movie through hundreds of miles of fiber optics in seconds. But like many servants, light is sometimes uncooperative. Among other things, it doesn't like to go around tight corners. Cornell and Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have a solution that could offer increased bandwidth for fiber-optic communication, both in long-haul transmission and in the dense traffic in large data centers.

"We are tricking the light into thinking it's going in a straight line," explained Michal Lipson, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.

The trick is an irregularly shaped waveguide designed in a collaboration between Lipson's research group and MIT mathematician Steven Johnson's. They reported their work in the Nov. 20 issue of the journal Nature Communications. Lucas Gabrielli, a recently graduated Ph.D. student in Lipson's group, is first author.


Optimizing school bus routes is a lot more complicated than one might think. The International School of Geneva handed their problem over to a group of EPFL mathematicians.

“Our student population is increasing rapidly,” observes Michel Chinal, Director General of the International School of Geneva. And the rising number of parents picking up and dropping off their children is creating traffic problems in the village of Founex, just outside Geneva. The bus service offered by the school is too slow. “Parents often say that they would like to sign their children up, but the bus ride is too long.” The buses pick up students in an area bounded by Morges, Geneva and neighboring France. So how can they improve the routes of 11 different buses carrying a total of 283 students to and from school? That’s the problem that was given to the mathematicians in EPFL’s Discrete Optimization Group.

MathCloud.jpgMath class may never be the same. When asked to create a right triangle, high-school students in four rural North Carolina school districts now turn to their laptops and begin stretching lines and tracing points. Once completed, students can drag the triangle in multiple directions and observe its behavior. Shifting a line eliminates the hallmark 90 degree angle. The right triangle morphs into an isosceles triangle.

Princeton engineers have made a breakthrough in an 80-year-old quandary in quantum physics, paving the way for the development of new materials that could make electronic devices smaller and cars more energy efficient.

By reworking a theory first proposed by physicists in the 1920s, the researchers discovered a new way to predict important characteristics of a new material before it's been created. The new formula allows computers to model the properties of a material up to 100,000 times faster than previously possible and vastly expands the range of properties scientists can study.

Andrea Bertozzi, Martin Short and Jeffrey BrantinghamUCLA scientists work with L.A. police to identify and analyze crime 'hotspots'

by Stuart Wolpert

UCLA's Jeffrey Brantingham works with the Los Angeles Police Department to analyze crime patterns. He also studies hunter-gatherers in Northern Tibet. If you tell him his research interests sound completely unrelated, he will quickly correct you.

Dr. Latifur KhanData-mining technology is an increasingly popular way to search for patterns, correlations and trends within crime statistics, genomics data and other enormous amounts of information, and now UT Dallas researchers have created a repository of tools intended to further boost this young field.

The Data Mining Tool Repository provides researchers and developers with a number of useful data sets and tools, according to Dr. Latifur Khan, an associate professor of computer science, who developed the repository in conjunction with Dr. Mehedy Masud, a postdoctoral fellow, and students and other collaborators.

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