Princeton’s 2011 Art of Science exhibit has gotten wide international play on the web and in print. GEO Russia, Maxisciences, 20 minutos, L’espresso, MSNBC, and The New York Times all featured galleries, so be sure to check them out. More coverage on CNN, New Scientist, Crispme, LiveScience, NotCot.org, Curator Magazine, and io9.

The image above is featured in the January print issue of Scientific American. Titled Patterning the embryo, it is by graduate student Yoosik Kim and professor Stanislav Shvartsman, both in the department of chemical and biological engineering at Princeton. Each circle is a vertical cross-sectional image of an embryo of Drosophila melanogaster — otherwise known as the common fruit fly. The images, obtained using a confocal microscope, are of embryos stained with antibodies in order to visualize molecules that subdivide the embryo into three tissue types: muscle, nervous system, and skin.

The Art of Science gallery is in the Friend Center atrium on the Princeton campus and is open 9 to 6 Monday through Friday. It will be on display through November 2012. You can also see the full gallery online.


Mark Bernstein, writing in the current issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly features some very cool robotics coming out of Princeton Engineering. Check out:

Robert Stengel‘s robo shop where “students are designing machines that seem to have minds of their own”

• a submersible arm invented by Ben Rush ’11

• a video of a manta ray robot swimming in the Woody Woo fountain

• a robotic guitar tuner invented by Luis Villaran ’11

• the legendary Princeton robot Phobetor, delivering a holiday fruitcake (see above)


Last weekend Robert J. Moore, co-founder of R.J. Metrics and a 2006 Princeton Engineering graduate, was in town to be a judge at a startup networking event organized by students

Momchil Tomov, Ryan Shea, and Vivian Qu.

If you missed the event, you may want to take in this TEDx talk that Moore gave in Philadelphia in December on the power of data.



“Thanks to impressive athleticism, high-speed video and clever computer modeling, two researchers have unraveled the hidden aerodynamics behind the playful task of skipping over a speeding rope,” writes Wired‘s Dave Mosher.

Those two researchers are former Princeton postdoc Jeffrey Aristoff and Princeton Professor Howard Stone. They published their findings Nov. 1 in Proceedings of the Royal Society A. The full Wired article is here or read more in Science. Below see a video featuring the jump-roping Jiang Li, a professor visiting from China, and a mesmerizing explanation of fluid mechanics.


SwoopTEXT,  a student communication platform invented by two 2011 Princeton graduates that enables instant and targeted group communication via text message, is getting a lot of play in the media of late.

The platform was Invented by Michael Perl, who majored in chemistry, and Michael Keaton, who majored in chemical and biological engineering. Princeton’s Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students started using SwoopTEXT last spring to broadcast live updates on graduation events.

“Within six days of releasing the platform, half the senior class opted in to receive text messages,” Keaton told the Daily Princetonian. “After graduation, we surveyed the students who had used the platform, and 95 percent of them indicated they would like to use SwoopTEXT to organize their campus groups and events.”

The Prince reports that the “the technology allows users to create and collect RSVPs for public and private events, promote events to followers and use a calendar aggregated from individual group subscriptions.” The calendar can sync up to iCal, Google Calendar and Outlook.

Read more coverage here from Techcocktail, The Vanguard, and Temple News.

Above see a video about entrepreneurial Princeton — it features the legendary Ed Zschau, whose high-tech entrepreneurship class Swooptext’s Keaton took when he was an undergraduate. SwoopTEXT won second place at the Princeton Entrepreneurship Club’s 2011 TigerLaunch competition.


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Times Higher Education has just published its world university rankings, with Princeton ranked third among engineering schools. The top five engineering schools are Caltech, MIT, Princeton, UC-Berkeley, and Stanford (in that order).

Princeton Engineering has experienced extraordinary growth of late. During the past six years, sponsored research has increased 42 percent. Over that same period, course enrollment is up more than 40 percent, graduate student enrollment is up more than 10 percent, and the undergraduate class is up nearly 40 percent, with a record-size class joining Princeton Engineering this fall.

For a broad look at the burgeoning number of collaborations between Princeton Engineering and industry, download a copy of EQuad News magazine.


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Fourth-year graduate student Jamol Pender (at right in photo) last week was named the winner of the INFORMS 2011 New Jersey chapter student contest. Pender, who is in the department of operations research and financial engineering, is researching queueing theory inspired by problems in communications centers.

Pender is president of the Wesley L. Harris Scientific Society at Princeton. His thesis adviser is William Massey. By the way, Pender was recently featured in this piece on a summer mentoring program at Princeton.


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The BBC reports today that “a miniature magic carpet made of plastic has taken flight in a laboratory at Princeton University.”

The mini magic carpet is a sheet of conductive plastic driven by “ripple power” — waves of electrical current that push thin pockets of air underneath from the front to the rear. It was created by Princeton graduate student Noah Jafferis, in the lab of James Sturm, professor of electrical engineering and director of the Princeton Institute for the Science and Technology of Materials.

The device actually is more like a hovercraft than an airplane. “It has to keep close to the ground, because the air is then trapped between the sheet and the ground,” Jafferis told the BBC. “As the waves move along the sheet it basically pumps the air out the back.”

Jafferis was inspired by a mathematical paper he read shortly after starting his Ph.D. studies at Princeton, the BBC reports. He had been working on a project with nano-inks with the goal of  printing electronics on flexible plastic sheets when he got the idea to combine electronics and plastic sheets in a revolutionary new way. At first glance, according to the BBC, the idea “seemed to have more in common with 1001 Nights than 21st-Century engineering.”

Sturm said that at times the project seemed “far out,” but that the underlying principles and approaches that Jafferis decided to pursue were always fundamentally solid and realistic.

“What was difficult was controlling the precise behaviour of the sheet as it deformed at high frequencies,” he said. “Without the ability to predict the exact way it would flex, we couldn’t feed in the right electrical currents to get the propulsion to work properly.”

Jafferis recently published research in Applied Physics Letters describing the device, which currently moves at the speed of about a centimeter a second.


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In an essay published today on Climate Central and in The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Robert Socolow revisits the revolutionary “wedges” approach to climate change that he and Steve Pacala laid out in the journal Science back in 2004.

Socolow’s conclusion: the core messages of the wedges model are as valid today as they were seven years ago. However, Socolow says, “public resistance can be partially explained by shortcomings in the way advocates of forceful action have presented their case. Addressing these shortcomings might put the world back on the course we identified.”

Socolow, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and co-director of the Carbon Mitigation Initiative, and Pacala, director of the Princeton Environmental Institute, in 2004 proposed “stabilization wedges,” a quantitative approach to measuring the level of effort associated with one of seven (now nine) mitigation strategies using existing technologies, from fuel efficiency to caps on CO2 emissions.

So why has progress been so slow on curbing the global carbon-dioxide emissions? “Familiar answers include the recent recession, the political influence of the fossil fuel industries, and economic development imperatives in countries undergoing industrialization,” writes Socolow. “But, I submit, advocates for prompt action, of whom I am one, also bear responsibility for the poor quality of the discussion and the lack of momentum. Over the past seven years, I wish we had been more forthcoming with three messages: We should have conceded, prominently, that the news about climate change is unwelcome, that today’s climate science is incomplete, and that every ‘solution’ carries risk. I don’t know for sure that such candor would have produced a less polarized public discourse. But I bet it would have. Our audiences would have been reassured that we and they are on the same team — that we are not holding anything back and have the same hopes and fears.”

Today’s essay was published with nine remarks solicited in advance from a wide range of commentators, including Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences, Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), and climate-change skeptic Freeman Dyson.

Andrew Revkin has just published a report on Socolow’s essay on his Dot.Earth blog.


Fast Company has a charming video interview of Smule cofounder Ge Wang, who earned his doctorate in computer science from Princeton in 2008. Ge talks about growing up in Beijing listening to Western classical music taped from the radio by his grandfather, about learning to play the accordian, and about how, at age 14, music hit him “squarely in the chest.”

Here is another great video interview of Ge.