A piece by Associated Press reporter Anick Jesdanun on the future of the internet is getting wide play this week.

Naturally, Jesdanun quotes Princeton computer scientist Larry Peterson, who as director of PlanetLab and chair of the planning group for GENI is a world-class authority on computer networking.

Different outlets are running versions of Jesdanun’s story. Pick your flavor:

Technology Review


Sydney Morning Herald

You can listen to Peterson on a recent edition of NPR’s Talk of the Nation devoted to forecasting the future of the internet. Web mavens should also look into CoBlitz, an initiative that Peterson is involved with that promises to revolutionize Internet distribution of rich content like video.



In his manifesto today in the New York Times Magazine, Thomas Friedman says the “green” movement needs a new identity.

“I want to rename ‘green,’ Friedman writes. “I want to rename it geostrategic, geoeconomic, capitalistic and patriotic. I want to do that because I think that living, working, designing, manufacturing and projecting America in a green way can be the basis of a new unifying political movement for the 21st century. A redefined, broader and more muscular green ideology is not meant to trump the traditional Republican and Democratic agendas but rather to bridge them when it comes to addressing the three major issues facing every American today: jobs, temperature and terrorism.”

Not surprisingly, later in the piece Friedman highlights Princeton researchers Rob Socolow and Stephen Pacala’s wedge solution to the carbon problem. One important piece of the wedge approach is carbon storage. Princeton alum Kyle Meng, now at the Environmental Defense Fund, has written an article in the April edition of Energy Policy that outlines opportunities for low-cost carbon storage in China. His coauthors are Michael Celia, chairman of the civil and environmental engineering department at Princeton, and Robert Williams, senior research scientist at the Princeton Environmental Institute. Meng will be participating in the 2007 meeting of the International Energy Workshop in June at Stanford.

The Friedman piece is available online only to premium subscribers. But check out this video, which features the artists the Times commissioned to create “green” flags to illustrate Friedman’s article.



The Princeton Autonomous Vehicle Engineering team has cleared the latest hurdle in its quest to make it to the finals in the Pentagon’s urban challenge competition for self-driving vehicles. The team just announced that it has met today’s Friday the 13th deadline and submitted a video demonstrating its progress. The demonstration video shows the driverless vehicle smoothly navigating a course on Princeton’s Forrestal campus, effortlessly starting and stopping and changing lanes all by itself.

A couple of weeks ago, Don Polec at ABC Action News 6 in Philadelphia featured the team’s work in a piece that was broadcast in different markets nationwide, from Alaska to Florida. Patrick Regan, the award-winning science journalist at NJN News, has also featured the undergraduate team’s self-driving Ford Escape hybrid.

You can see all this coverage, as well as the submission video, by visiting PAVE’s website.

The team has even garnered international coverage. LUSA, a Portuguese news syndicate, wrote about PAVE for its readers. For your amusement, here is the Babelfish translation

of the original story in Portuguese.

By the way, that’s PAVE faculty adviser Alain Kornhauser jogging alongside the vehicle in the DARPA submission video. Kornhauser, a professor of operations research and financial engineering at Princeton, is a founder of ALK Technologies, which will be hosting a transportation technology summit in Princeton on April 24.



On Tuesday, Rep. Rush Holt held a press conference at which he demanded that the FBI resume its investigation into the anthrax postal attacks in Princeton of five years ago.

While the post-9-11 anthrax attacks remain unsolved, today’s issue of the journal Science offers a new weapon in the war on terrorism: a laser technique that can detect, on the fly, bioterrorism agents like anthrax.

The post-9/11 anthrax scares pointed up a new vulnerability in national security: detection of anthrax was slow and unwieldy. The laser technology would allow the Post Office to detect anthrax within a tenth of a second and allow for real-time environmental monitoring, according to Marlan Scully, the lead author of the paper. Scully holds joint appointments at Princeton’s School of Engineering and at Texas A&M.

Scully, known as the quantum cowboy, began his anthrax investigations shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, when his son, a commercial airline pilot, challenged him to come up with a way to test potentially dangerous substances in real time.

Photomicrograph of anthrax (bacillus anthracis)



In the current issue of Time magazine — a “survival guide” to global warming — writer Michael Lemonick highlights the much-lauded carbon-stabilization concept developed at Princeton.

“While the solution to global warming seems dauntingly complex, physicist Robert Socolow and ecologist Stephen Pacala have come up with a remarkably straightforward way of approaching it,” writes Lemonick. “To stabilize the world’s carbon emissions, they propose not chasing a single magic bullet but harnessing seven different categories of reduction, using available technology. Their goal is to draw a road map for reducing CO2 emissions that is both realistic and effective.”

You can read the Lemonick piece here. Socolow, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton, also recently testified before the Senate on the future of energy in the United States. For those who will be in Princeton on April 12, Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, will deliver the 2007 Taplin Environmental Lecture, sponsored by the Princeton Environmental Institute. The topic of Sachs’s talk is “Negotiating the Post-Kyoto Climate Change Framework.”



The online literary journal Wild River Review features computer scientist David Dobkin.

In the interview with Joy Stocke, Dobkin, who is a professor and dean of faculty at Princeton, explains some of the challenges behind trying to develop a 3-D version of Google.

“Imagine that we’re fifty years forward, which is probably really ten years forward, and we’re teenagers, and we want to build our avatars (computer images of ourselves and our world) for a game we’re playing,” Dobkin said. “And our avatar consists of building a model of a room so we need to find a chair somewhere. How do we tell Google that we want to look for a chair? We’ve already crawled the Web and have gotten somewhere between thirty and fifty thousand models of chairs.

“How do we know that the image we’ve pulled up is a chair rather than an airplane? And when we find one chair, how do we find other chairs? We all know how to type, so typing in the word chair is easy. The problem on the front end is that constructing a picture of a three-dimensional rendering of a chair is not so easy. So, if we type in the word chair we would get pictures of chairs, some of them beach chairs, some of them desk chairs.”

Sometimes, he notes, what you will turn up is not a chair at all but rather a person with the title of chairman.

Dobkin also explores fractals, ponders the language of nature, and elaborates on his world-class collection of snow domes.

You can read the full interview of Dobkin here. It is part of a series highlighting the scientists and artists who collaborated to create works for the late, lamented Quark Park.

In a previous issue of Wild River, Stocke interviews sculptor Jonathan Shor about the paleo-techno lithophone he created with Princeton computer scientist Perry Cook for Quark Park.



One of the richest purses in architecture is the Latrobe Prize, $100,000 awarded every other year in honor of the United States’ founding father of architecture, Benjamin Latrobe.

This year’s prize, officially announced this week, goes to Princeton’s Center for Architecture, Urbanism and Infrastructure to fund a project with the ambitious goal of transforming the Upper Bay of the New York Harbor into a Central Park of the 21st century.

Guy Nordenson, professor of architecture, is the principal investigator on the project. “Guy has been investigating the interplay between architecture and engineering for a long time,” co-investigator James Smith told EQN.

Smith, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Princeton, said that his role in the project is to assess the hazards of restructuring the area into a grand public space. “It is a complex ecosystem that has been dramatically altered for several hundred years by human activities,” he said. “Restructuring it will require a great deal of sensitivity.”

As an investigator in the National Science Foundation’s Long Term Ecological Research Program, Smith has been wrestling with big hydrologic issues in Baltimore that have direct relevance to the Latrobe project. Both projects, he said, address the question of how to create a sustainable environment in a highly urban area.

Smith’s work in small-particulate detection also bears on the project. As part of MIRTHE, the new NSF-funded engineering center at Princeton that promises to revolutionize sensor technology, he is working with other researchers to build a new generation of environmental sensors. “Fine particulate matter is one of the major health issues in New Jersey and New York,” Smith said.

That’s the beginning of interesting research from Smith. He has just coauthored a marvelously counter-intuitive research paper with graduate student Alexandros Ntelekos on how the urban environment alters the nature of thunderstorms. You can find that paper here




The current issue of The Economist magazine features a story on a fascinating plan by Princeton’s Martin Wikelski to outfit birds and insects with radio transmitters and track them by satellite.

The project — called ICARUS for the International Cooperation for Animal Research Using Space — “would revolutionise the way animal behaviour is studied, by allowing pests and disease carriers to be followed as well as by providing the answers to some important conservation questions,” The Economist writes.

Jeremy Kasdin, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton who leads the satellite-design team, told The Economist that he is hopeful this ambitious effort can be achieved by modifying off-the-shelf equipment.

Last spring, undergraduate students in a class taught by Kasdin and Edgar Choueiri designed exactly such a satellite system. Kasdin and some of the students recently demonstrated a computer simulation of the idea to researchers at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Read the complete Economist article online.



Wired News writes about a new underwater glider at the University of Washington that can dive three times deeper than existing gliders.

“Reaching a depth of 2,700 meters [nearly 9,000 feet] is quite a feat and promises to extend the nature and type of missions that can be carried out by gliders,” Wired News quotes Naomi Ehrich Leonard as saying. “You could even imagine a heterogeneous fleet of gliders working in tandem at different depths to explore this otherwise impenetrable undersea.”

Leonard, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton, just completed a field experiment in Monterey Bay, Calif. in August during which an entire fleet of undersea robots for the first time worked together without the aid of humans to carefully observe the ocean.

You can plumb the depths of Leonard’s research here. See the full Wired News story for more on the University of Washington’s Deepglider.

Photo courtesy of Charlie Eriksen, University of Washington



Researchers have bioengineered an implantable scaffold that may one day help a certain kind of knee ligament, commonly torn during sports injuries, repair itself.

The scaffold, seeded with ligament cells, has been shown to regenerate new tissue in the damaged anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of rabbits.

“It is my hope that these studies will lead to a revolutionary new treatment strategy for patients suffering from ACL tears,” Cato Laurencin, a professor of orthopaedic surgery and biomedical engineering at the University of Virginia, told Agence France-Presse.

Laurencin, who received his undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Princeton, is the lead author of a paper describing the technique in the Feb 20-23 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Washington Post also covered the story.

For those who prefer to read about this innovation in French, here is a piece from 20 minutes.fr.