News Briefs

News Briefs

Racy wristbands

“That’s a nice dress. It would look great on my floor.”

At a “South by Southwest” party hosted by the MIT Media Lab in Austin, Texas this past Saturday, wristbands were distributed to party attendees with a variety of flirtatious messages.

“Do you wash your clothes with Windex? Cause I can see myself in your pants.” said another.

The wristbands were apparently controversial, inciting the Media Lab to apologize on its blog yesterday. “They were offensive and in no way reflect the sentiments of the MIT Media Lab,” read the blog post. “We don’t like — and certainly don’t want to support or disseminate — offensive messaging. We appreciate those of you who noticed the wristbands and pointed them out to us; please accept our sincere apology.”

The blog post mentions that the wristbands were distributed by the venue (The Parish Underground) and the organizers did not know about them beforehand.

SXSW is an entertainment and interactive technology conference that’s held in Austin every year. It is a collaboration between the Media Lab, Knight Foundation, and Mozilla.

Ed Boyden wins brain prize

Ed Boyden, an associate professor in brain and cognitive sciences and the Media Lab, won the 2013 Grete Lundbeck European Brain Research Prize yesterday. The award is one million Euros.

The prize is given by the Lundbeck Foundation of Denmark for outstanding brain research.

Boyden received his work for pioneering optogenetics, a technology he developed to control brain activity using light.

Lemelson Prize

Nikolai Begg, a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering, just won the Lemelson-MIT student prize for his work making surgical procedures less invasive. He will receive $30,000 to continue his work in “puncture access procedures.”

Many minimally invasive surgeries begin with a small puncture made by the surgeon. Despite these incisions being minimal, they often plunge through more tissue than needed — a result of the surgeon’s human reaction time. Begg has invented a force-sensing device with a blade that retracts within 1/100 of a second after passing through skin tissue. This creation minimizes damage, and can scale to a variety of medical puncture devices.

Begg shares the Lemelson-MIT Collegiate Student Prize with two students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, respectively.

—Jessica J. Pourian