Transforming the Next Century

author: Rafael Reif, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
author: Tomas Lozano-Perez, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
author: Jeffrey H. Shapiro, Research Laboratory of Electronics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MIT
published: March 27, 2012,   recorded: May 2003,   views: 2222
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Description

This panel serves as a fitting finale to the 100th anniversary celebration of EECS, focusing as it does on a fundamental shift in electrical engineering and computing toward biology, and toward a physics of the nearly unimaginable.

Tomas Lozano-Perez describes how the designs of nature serve as both models and modeling clay for engineers. Researchers have learned to extract pieces of DNA and paste them onto “chips” to determine what type of proteins are expressed from particular segments of genetic code. They are pursuing a “wiring diagram” of the extremely complex and wireless workings of human cells. And the ultimate prize is a bioengineered drug, fashioned from molecules that can bind precisely with a protein to disable the reproductive machinery of a virus like HIV.

Jeffrey Shapiro is working at the intersection of quantum mechanics and engineering. He is developing ways to manipulate photons to achieve not only more secure communications (quantum cryptography), but to attain the far more futuristic goal of quantum computing. Of course, once you have quantum computers, you’re going to network them and so you’ll need a quantum Internet – and for that, the only hope is quantum teleportation. That may sound like Star Trek squared, but Shapiro expects to see laboratory demonstrations of qubit teleportation within five years.

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