Composer Christine Southworth ‘02 (center) stands between two singers who performed her “Zap!” at the Museum of Science as part of the Cambridge Science Festival held in April. “Zap!” is a musical composition for flutes, guitar, cello, bass, piano, robots, human voices, and the museum’s 40-foot-tall Van de Graaff generator, which provides static and flashing lights. The generator, the largest of its kind, is capable of producing up to 1.5 million volts of electricity. Designed and built at MIT in the 1930s, it was originally used in early atom-smashing and high-energy-x-ray experiments; in 1956, MIT gave the generator to the museum, where it is now used in daily demonstrations of lightning and electricity. “Zap!” is an offshoot of a project started by Southworth and Leila Hasan ‘01, MEng ‘01, called Ensemble Robot, a small collection of robotic musicians that produce both simple and complex patterns of sound from acoustic sources including strings, pipes, drums, and wooden keys. “Zap!” employs several of these robots as well as human musicians.
Image Credit: Paul Weiner
The big new idea for making self-driving cars that can go anywhere
The mainstream approach to driverless cars is slow and difficult. These startups think going all-in on AI will get there faster.
Inside Charm Industrial’s big bet on corn stalks for carbon removal
The startup used plant matter and bio-oil to sequester thousands of tons of carbon. The question now is how reliable, scalable, and economical this approach will prove.
The dark secret behind those cute AI-generated animal images
Google Brain has revealed its own image-making AI, called Imagen. But don't expect to see anything that isn't wholesome.
The hype around DeepMind’s new AI model misses what’s actually cool about it
Some worry that the chatter about these tools is doing the whole field a disservice.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.