February 2009

403 Forbidden errorTry to access a page on the stuff.mit.edu students’ Web portal that you’re not allowed to see and you’ll find the standard 403 Forbidden error message but also a link to the StoryFun service. Plug some nouns, verbs, and adjectives into a form and you have Mad Libs with titles such as Course Description, The Tale of a Webserver, and The Lady and the Engineer.

One of my favorite things about living in Boston is the number of great musicians who stop by on a regular basis. dsc01191

I’m from a small town in Pennsylvania, and while I went to a few concerts in high school, I always had to travel at least an hour to get to the venue. Nowadays, I can hop on the T! regina

Since my freshman year, I’ve seen Jamie Cullum, Regina Spektor, Jason Mraz, and John Legend at the Orpheum Theater, Chick Corea & Bela Fleck at Symphony Hall, Dave Brubeck at Berklee, and John Mayer at UMass Amherst and then again in Mansfield, MA.

Some of these concert tickets were given to me as gifts from friends/family but the rest were really great seats that I purchased for below face value on Craig’s List – another awesome resource when you live in a big city.

John Mayer is my favorite musician of all time (for real, yo!) and I’ve bebrubecken listening to his concerts from the summer (which are streamed online) all day.

Here’s the audio from his concert I went to in July, in case you’re a fan too. He talks a lot about the Boston area, since he went to Berklee before he dropped out of college and became a rock star. I think that will probably be my path too. 😉


MIT also brings performers for Spring Weekend and subsidizes the concert ticket prices to something like $10 per ticket. During my freshman year, I went to the (a bit out of character for MIT) Ying Yang Twins concert and last year – Third Eye Blind and Howie Day. It’s just been announced that Ben Folds has been secured for Spring Weekend 2009. I LOVE Ben Folds; I feel so lucky! April can’t get here soon enough! If you’re in town, you should join in on the fun.

MIT Media Lab grad student Alex Dragulescu is a Romanian visual artist who extracts information and patterns from spam emails, blogs, computer viruses, and more and creates visualizations of the information.

Check out his Spam Architecture series, 3-D models of junk email, and his Spam Plants (shown below), developed using the ASCII values found in the text of spam messages.

Spam plant by Media Lab grad student Alex Dragulescu

Spam plant by Media Lab grad student Alex Dragulescu

Yesterday we published a story on the MITAA homepage about whether or not now is a good time to launch a start-up, and one of the alums who I spoke to was Ted Acworth MBA ’07, founder of Artaic.

The story was not centered wholly on Artaic, so it didn’t make sense to include a torrent of photos of their work… but (thank goodness for this blog), now I’d like to take a few minutes to share some photos from their Web site.

(In case you didn’t read the story, Artaic uses custom graphics software and robotics to manufacture high-end mosaics for places like restaurants, hotels, and offices… though you could put one in your home—I’m sure it would be gorgeous.)

Anyway, take a look at their work. It’s incredible! We always knew MIT had great technological talent, but this is art.




View more images of Artaic’s mosaics on their Web site.

Economist Steven D. Levitt PhD ’94 added this Daily Bleg to his New York Times Freakonomics blog: A Way to Show Employers What You Can Do Before You Get the Job.

Project an image on any surface.

Project an image on any surface.

MIT Media Lab grad student Pranav Mistry ’08 and colleagues dazzled folks at TED with a wearable computing system that turns any surface into an interactive display screen.

Voodoo Correlations in Social Neuroscience,” a paper posted online by grad student Ed Vul about his work with MIT neuroscientist Nancy Kanwisher ’80, PhD ’86, created an online debate before the formal journal publication.

Buff up your detective skills with 50 Useful Open Courseware Links for Private Eyes & Digital Snoops, posted by the e-Justice Blog.

Tufts Professor and policy maven Kathleen A. Merrigan PhD ’00 has been nominated for the #2 position in the USDA by the Obama administration.

A woman sits in the Eero Saarinen chapel on campus. Photo: j9lyn, Flickr

A woman sits in the Eero Saarinen chapel on campus. Photo: Janine Lyn*

I’ve heard a lot of people on and around campus talking about stress—stress about problem sets, job security, the last throes of winter, etc.  It seems everyone could use a little R&R, which is why I was happy to find some information on mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) posted by MIT Medical.

MBSR has been heavily researched and utilized by Jon Kabat Zinn PhD ’71, professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he was founding executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, and founder (in 1979) and former director of its world-renowned Stress Reduction Clinic.

Curious? Learn more about MBSR, try a few guided practices, or read more about the science of meditation—including how imaging technology allows scientists to document monks’ brain activity and where Jon Kabat Zinn fits in.

*See more photos by photographer Janine Lyn on Flickr

I have just gotten back from BU, where I competed in the 2009 Boston University Ballroom Competition. The MIT team did very well overall, and a lot of MIT couples made finals in all styles. For me it was the first competition dancing Gold Latin in which I felt actually prepared to dance at this level. It went well, Kelly and I placed 5th in the Cha Cha/Rumba and Samba/Jive finals, event though we were competing against couples which had started dancing one, two or more years before us.

The post-competition show was amazing, starring World Champions: Stefano Di Filippo and Anna Melnikova! Their performance was amazing, in spite of having danced in Slovakia just yesterday. After seeing them, I am very motivated to improve over the next three weeks, before the next competiton at Harvard!

Tonight, on the phone with my mother, I was talking about how strange it is that just last year I was a sophomore but next year, I will be a senior.  Think about that statement while not considering that I’m currently a junior; it becomes much more dramatic! Anyway, it’s especially weird in that I often forget I’ve even graduated from high school. I was reminded of this today when a friend of mine introduced me to her prefrosh, a junior in high school interested in Naval Engineering. dsc01332

My friend explained to her that MIT’s version of that used to be course 13, Ocean Engineering, but OE (can I use that acronym??) is now part of course 2, Mechanical Engineering (in case you’re getting rusty with your numbers!), since a lot of the basic principles are the same. Hmmm, good to know!

To be honest, I’m totally jealous of prefrosh. I SO wish I could go back to that period of time prior to coming to MIT and post getting in to colleges. Imagining yourself at various schools and knowing that your life, and many great experiences, are only about to begin is one of the best feelings in the world.

More than one hundred members of the MIT community participated in the Day in the Life of MIT project documenting 24 hours in photographs. They collectively snapped more than 60,000 pictures, and this Web site is the repository. View the images on timelines and compare up to four participants’ days.

Sure it’s from 2005, but that’s why they call it a walk down memory lane.

Screen shot of the Day in the Life of MIT project

Screen shot of the Day in the Life of MIT project

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