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European Space Agency Selects Tyvak International for ISS CubeSat Study

Programme to Demonstrate Small Satellite Capabilities in the ISS Environment

TORINO, ITALY (May 31, 2016) – The European Space Agency (ESA) has selected Tyvak International SRL – an originator of nanosatellite technology – to demonstrate the feasibility of having nanosatellites provide autonomous inspection and support services on the International Space Station (ISS) while in orbit.

Tyvak International will serve as the prime contractor for the “Multi-Purpose CubeSat at International Space Station (ISS)” study, conducted under the ESA General Studies Programme (GSP), meant to serve as a proving ground for the Agency’s future space-based activities.

Tyvak International was selected for this programme because of their unmatched knowledge of the nanosatellite industry and prior experience working on similar demonstrations. The ESA study is expected to be complete by early fall 2016.

“Working with ESA on such a groundbreaking effort is an honor. We look forward to developing our mutual experience in advanced nanosatellite missions and we hope one day to serve as ESA’s ‘go-to’ small satellite provider for inspection and proximity rendezvous missions,” said Tyvak International CEO Dr. Marco Villa.

Nanosatellites have the capability of providing multi-purpose platforms that can be deployed, retrieved, and refurbished by astronauts or robotically in the ISS environment.

As part of this contract, Tyvak Nanosatellites will:

  • Develop a conceptual design for the ISS base platform
  • Identify models for the platform’s launch to and deployment from the ISS
  • Identify logistics needed to support maintenance and refueling of small satellites from the ISS
  • Identify safety needs and possible constraints of having small satellite units operating autonomously in the ISS environment
  • Plan the optimal path forward to ensure full flight readiness in a short timeframe.

Subcontractors on this study include Politecnico di Torino University, and OHB System AG, Human Spaceflight Department.

About Tyvak International
Tyvak International, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Terran Orbital, provides turnkey nanosatellite solutions for civil and commercial customers around the world. At Tyvak International, we make space research and utilization more accessible today than it has ever been by leveraging unparalleled industry knowledge with state-of- the-art technology to develop solutions at a fraction of the cost of traditional spacecraft developers. Tyvak International’s systems are adaptable, have low power consumption and are easily customizable to support multiple applications. Visit tyvak.eu for more information.
The view expressed in this press release can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the European Space Agency.

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Robot Surgeons Are Taking Over the Operating Room

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Advanced surgical robots are already helping doctors perform operations with previously unimaginable precision. But fairly soon, doctors may be able to hand the scalpel over entirely—at least for simple, repetitive procedures—freeing up human surgeons’ valuable time for more complex work.

Some of the latest surgical robots can already plan and execute simple surgical tasks entirely on their own, select optimal approaches and tools, and even use deep learning to observe and replicate new procedures. So we’ve rounded up a few of the coolest robo-surgeons just for you.

Read more about this technological revolution in the O.R.: Would You Trust a Robot Surgeon to Operate on You?

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How to Build a Moral Robot

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Whether it’s in our cars, our hospitals or our homes, we’ll soon depend upon robots to make judgement calls in which human lives are at stake.

That’s why a team of researchers is attempting to model moral reasoning in a robot. In order to pull it off, they’ll need to answer some important questions: How can we quantify the fuzzy, conflicting norms that guide human choices? How can we equip robots with the communication skills to explain their choices in way that we can understand? And would we even want robots to make the same decisions we’d expect humans to make? 


TRANSCRIPT

NARRATOR: How do you teach a robot right from wrong?

It’s a question straight out of a sci-fi movie—but it’s also something we may have to grapple with a lot sooner than you might think.

Take a self-driving car, that has to choose between hitting a child or slamming its own passenger into a barrier.

Or imagine a rescue robot that detects two injured people in the rubble of an earthquake, but knows it doesn’t have time to save both.

BERTRAM MALLE: How does that robot decide which of these people to try to save first? That’s something we as a community actually have to figure out.

NARRATOR: It’s a moral dilemma. Which is why a team of scientists is attempting to build moral robots.

If autonomous robots are going to hang with us, we’re going to have to teach them how to behave—which means finding a way to make them aware of the values that are most important to us.

Matthias Scheutz is computer scientist at Tufts who studies human robot interaction—and he’s trying to figure out how to model moral reasoning in a machine.

But with morals, things get messy pretty quickly. Even as humans, we don’t really have any concrete rules about what’s right and wrong—at least, not ones we’ve managed to agree upon. What we have instead are norms—basically thousands of fuzzy, contradictory guidelines. Norms help us predict the way the people around us will behave, and how they’ll want us to behave.

MATTHIAS SCHEUTZ: Right now the major challenge for even thinking about how robots might be able to understand moral norms is that we don’t understand on the human side how humans represent and reason if possible with moral norms.

NARRATOR: The big trick—especially if you’re a robot—is that none of these norms are absolute. In one situation, a particular norm or value will feel extremely important. But change the scenario, and you completely alter the rules of the game.

So how can we build a robot that can figure out which norms to follow, and when?

Thats’ where the social psychologists at Brown Univeristy come in. They’ve started by compiling a list of words, ideas and rules that people use to talk about morality—a basic moral vocabulary.  The next step is figuring out how to quantify this vocabulary: How are those ideas related and organized in our minds?

One theory is that the human moral landscape might look a lot like a semantic network, with clusters of closely related concepts that we become more or less aware of depending on the situation.

MALLE: Our hypothesis is that in any particular context, a subset of norms is activated—a particular set of rules related to that situation. That subset of norms is then available to guide action, to recognize violations, and allow us to make decisions.

NARRATOR: The key here is that the relationships between these subnetworks is actually something you can measure. Malle starts off by picking a scenario—say, a day at the beach—and asking a whole bunch of people how they think they’re supposed to behave. What are they supposed to do? And what are they absolutely not supposed to do?

The order in which the participants mention certain rules, the number of times they mention them, and the time it takes between mentioning one idea and another—those are all concrete values. By collecting data from enough different situations, Malle thinks he’ll be able to build a rough map of a human norm network. In the future, a robot might come equipped with a built-in version of that map. That way it could call up the correct moral framework for whatever situation is at hand.

But even if that robot could perfectly imitate a human’s decision making process—is that something we’d really want? Malle suspects that we might actually want our robots to make different decisions than the ones we’d want other humans to make. To test this, he asks his research subjects to imagine a classic moral dilemma.

Picture a runaway trolley in a coal mine, that’s lost use of its brakes. The trolley has four people on board and is hurtling toward a massive brick wall. There’s an alternate safe track, but a repairman is standing on it—and he’s oblivious to what’s happening.

Another worker nearby sees the situation. He can pull a lever that would switch the train onto the second track, saving the passengers in the trolley but killing the  repairman. He has to choose.  

MALLE: So the fundamental dilemma is will you intervene and kill one person to save four? Or are you going to let fate take its course, and most likely four people will die.

NARRATOR: Malle presents this scenario a few different ways: some of the participants watch a human make the decision, some see a humanoid robot, and some see a machine-like robot. Then he asks participants to judge the decision the worker made.

Generally, participants blame the human worker more when he flips the switch—saving four lives but sacrificing one—than when he does nothing. Apparently, watching another person make a cold, calculated decision to sacrifice a human life makes us kind of queasy.  

But evidence suggests that we might actually expect a robot to flip the switch. The participants in Malle’s experiment blamed the robot more if it didn’t step in and intervene. And the more machine-looking the robot was, the more they blamed it for letting the four people die.

There’s one more interesting twist to this. If the robot or human in the story made an unpopular decision—but then gave a reason for that choice—participants blamed that worker less.

And this is really, really important, because it gets at a fundamental skill that robots are going to need: communication.

Back in Matthias Scheutz’s lab at Tufts, they’re working on that exact problem. They’ve programmed a little autonomous robot to follow some simple instructions: it can sit down, stand up, and walk forward.

But they’ve also given it an important rule to follow: Don’t do anything that would cause harm to yourself or others. If a researcher gives the robot an instruction that would violate that rule, the robot doesn’t have to follow that instruction. And it will tell you why it won’t.

The researcher can then give the robot new information. And the robot will update its understanding of its little world and decide on a different course of action.

This communication is essential because moral norms aren’t fixed. We argue and reason about morality—and often, we learn from each other and update our values as a group. And any moral robot will need to be part of that process.

We’re still a long way from building truly moral robot. But this is what the very first steps might look like.

NOTE: Transcripts are created for the convenience of our readers and listeners and may not perfectly match their associated interviews and narratives. The authoritative record of IEEE Spectrums video programming is the video version.

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[VIDEO] How to Set Up the DHT11 Humidity Sensor on the Raspberry Pi

Get accurate humidity and temperature readings on the Raspberry Pi with the DHT11 digital humidity and temperature sensor.

The post [VIDEO] How to Set Up the DHT11 Humidity Sensor on the Raspberry Pi appeared first on Circuit Basics.

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MIT receives six historical preservation awards

The MIT Museum was a fitting venue for the Cambridge Historical Commission’s Annual Preservation Awards program on May 25. Before the ceremony, which recognized 22 preservation projects throughout Cambridge, Massachusetts, guests were invited to view the MIT2016 centennial exhibit, “Imagining New Technology: Building MIT in Cambridge.” Historical Commission Executive Director Charlie Sullivan had worked closely with the MIT Museum to plan the exhibit and was featured in the Institute’s centennial documentaries.

The annual preservation awards ceremony — now in its 20th year — honors property owners and individuals who conserve and protect the city’s historically significant architecture. This year, in recognition of the Institute’s 100th year in Cambridge, the Historical Commission decided to bring attention to six building renewal projects on the MIT campus.

“It’s unprecedented for one organization to receive so many awards,” offered Sullivan as he introduced MIT’s projects. “It’s a reflection of the Institute’s increased commitment to preservation in recent years.“ 

In providing a welcome to attendees at the event, Executive Vice President and Treasurer Israel Ruiz congratulated the Historical Commission on its 20th anniversary of presenting the awards, noting, “Cambridge is a special city with an important heritage and history.” Ruiz also thanked the Commission for placing a spotlight on MIT projects. “Over the last decade, MIT has been engaged in a very deliberate and thoughtful process to evaluate all of its buildings and take steps to repair and restore those that need attention.” Ruiz was referring to the Institute’s comprehensive capital renewal program, which has resulted in improvements to systems and structures in many buildings across campus.

Gary Tondorf-Dick, program manager for capital projects in MIT’s Department of Facilities and a trained architectural historian, worked as a program manager or as an advisor on all six of the projects honored by the Historical Commission. “These are beautiful buildings. Of course, we wanted to retain the original designs, and we had the benefit of being able to utilize modern restoration technologies,” he said. MIT sought specific expertise on every project, whether related to windows, mortar, ornamental steel, roof materials, or other building features. “We found the best people that we could,” Tondorf-Dick said. “I know that the project teams are so proud to have had the opportunity to bring new life to these buildings.” Referring to the Institute’s motto of “mind and hand,” Tondorf-Dick, added, “I feel that each team embodied MIT’s motto of ‘mens et manus’ as they worked painstakingly to renew and restore facilities where math, economics, music, theater, and other academic subjects are taught.”

Thayer Donham, senior planner in the Office of Campus Planning, also worked on the six projects. While accepting one of the awards on behalf of the Institute, she reflected, “It’s a privilege for me to be able to work with these incredibly talented teams of architects and specialists as we serve as stewards for MIT’s assets.”

The six restorations honored by the Historical Commission include:

Building 2 (Simons Building) renovation: This project’s award recognized the building’s rooftop addition and creative adaptation of interior spaces. Sullivan said at the ceremony that he had been skeptical about the fourth floor addition, but now sees it as an “entirely appropriate intervention.” Building 2 is one of the 100-year-old Beaux Arts buildings designed by William Welles Bosworth at the heart of the MIT campus. The renovation project included restoration of the building’s masonry and façade window wall systems as well as the original lenticular glass transoms, sidelights, and corridor door panels. The previously concealed structure in the ziggurat was exposed to show the original concrete construction. 

Building W31 (duPont Athletic Center) masonry restoration: This majestic and iconic building at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Vassar Street was originally built in 1903 as the city’s armory. The project included the rebuilding of the 113-year-old upper façade, slate roof, and entrance arch, including the brick and granite parapets. Windows and doors were carefully replaced to match the building’s original profile and style. The Massachusetts Avenue entrance was renovated to provide accessibility while reflecting the building’s architectural character.

Building E52 (Morris and Sophie Chang Building) sensitive modernization: The complete renovation of the former headquarters of the Lever Brothers Company and later MIT’s original Sloan School of Management building features a glass-enclosed seventh-floor addition. Sullivan told the crowd that the addition is the “most glorious meeting space on the campus, or even in the Boston area.” The project team responded during the ceremony by saying that they call the Samberg Conference Center space “the Best Room Ever.” The building, which is in the Streamline Moderne style, was designed in 1938 by Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon, the architects of the Empire State Building in New York City. Features including the canopy over the Memorial Drive entrance and the exterior limestone were carefully restored to highlight the original architecture.

Building W16 (Kresge Auditorium) curtain wall restoration: Designed by Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen, the Kresge Auditorium required renovations to its 60-year-old curtainwall window system. A laser-based dimensional survey of the existing facade was utilized in order to create a stainless steel replication that would match Saarinen’s original design. Because of the building’s unique circumstances, the project required a broad-based “design-assist” approach involving the collaborative work of many design and fabrication specialists.

Building W15 (MIT Chapel) restoration of moat and entrance structure: The project team worked carefully with design and fabrication specialists, including glass restoration artisans, to restore the concrete, waterproofing, ornamental steel, and leaded glass in one of the most visited buildings on the MIT campus. Authentically restoring the structure to its original Eero Saarinen design required the installation of handblown restoration glass from Leipzig, Germany. The fragile aluminum Chapel spire was removed, repaired, and reinstalled.

Building NW23 (195 Albany Street) restoration and adaptive reuse: A former commercial lab building that is one in a set of four matching warehouse facilities constructed in 1924, the restored structure is now the home of the Department of Facilities and the Office of Campus Planning. The project included a new roof and windows, and a complete renovation of the interior spaces featuring a new lobby and reconfigured main entrance.


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Looking Ahead 4 Tomorrow’s Materials

Materials have always been about enthusiasm. Materials are a dream that we have realized. Everything is possible, it’s just that we have to make it happen,” says Mark Miodownik, the author behind the popular book Stuff Matters, in the fourth film of the Looking Ahead series.

The age of new materials

Throughout history, materials and advances in material technology have influenced humankind. Now we just might be on the verge of the next shift in this type of technology, enabling products and functions we never believed possible.

Demands from industry are requiring that materials be lighter, tougher, thinner, denser and more flexible or rigid, as well as to be heat- and wear-resistant. At the same time, researchers are pushing the boundaries of what we imagine is possible, seeking to improve and enhance existing materials and at the same time come up with completely new materials that, while years away from day-to-day use, take us down entirely new technological pathways.

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The sky is the limit

Based on the research we’re seeing today, the field of applied material science is set to move in new, almost science-fiction-like directions. Looming resource scarcity is demanding innovations and out-of-the-box thinking.

On the materials front, composites with such desirable attributes as low weight, high strength and high durability look likely to take a larger market share, and more of these materials will likely be based on renewable resources, as the need for this becomes greater.

The most promising jewel in this arena is graphene. Only a single atom thick (1 million times thinner than a human hair), but 200 times stronger than steel by weight, extremely flexible, super light and almost transparent with great heat and electricity conductivity. It’s the stuff legends are made of.

In fact, researchers at Nankai University in Tianjin, China, recently found that a graphene sponge can turn light into energy, thus taking humankind one step closer to a fuel-free spacecraft, one that runs by the light of the sun.

Heading for the graphene revolution

Other potential areas of application for graphene range from water purification and energy storage to household goods, computers and other electronics. Meanwhile, although graphene-related patents are increasing by the thousands, widespread industrial adoption of graphene is limited by the expense of producing it – but that may be about to change. Researchers at the University of Glasgow have found a way to produce large sheets of graphene at a cost some 100 times cheaper than the previous production method.

Synthetic skin, capable of providing sensory feedback to people with limb prostheses, is one of the many possibilities that could grow out of this development. “Graphene could help provide an ultraflexible, conductive surface that could provide people with prosthetics capable of providing sensation in a way that is impossible for even the most advanced prosthetics today,” says Dr. Ravinder Dahiya, who led the research team at the University of Glasgow.

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If it’s broken, let it fix itself

Nanocomposite research is opening up the possibility of materials that fix themselves, much the way the human body heals itself. Researchers at the Beckman Institute’s Autonomous Materials Systems Group at the University of Illinois in the United States are working on fiber-composite materials with self-healing properties that involve the integration of healing agents that are released to mix and polymerize when a defect is detected.

“Materials that heal themselves are coming,” says material scientist Mark Miodownik in the new Looking Ahead film, Tomorrow’s materials. For now, what’s technically possible isn’t close to being reasonable economically, but the possibility of fixing anything on the fly, from airplane wings to bike frames to car parts crucial to the safety of vehicles and passengers, is on the horizon. And it will have massive impact on product development, life cycle and sustainability. Researchers are even working on materials that will allow a roadway to repair itself instead of waiting for an overworked, understaffed maintenance crew.

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Sustainability as a key driver

Material science and the development of new materials, as well as improvement of existing ones, look likely to play a crucial role in such areas as resource scarcity and sustainability. New materials – for example, light-absorbing building materials – could help counter global warming.

We seem to be on the verge of a new age, one that is characterized not only by digitalization and the Internet of Things but also, importantly, by new materials – materials that can make our future easier, safer and more sustainable. The sky really is the limit.

For more information, please click here.

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Episode 60: Everyone takes on the Amazon Echo

Kevin is back from Google IO this week, and so of course, we discussed the Google Home product in detail. But since voice + a personal assistant is so hot right now, we also talked about the recent Apple rumors that said it was building its own Echo-like device and opening up Siri to developers. We then talked about Pebble’s new gear, how much power my devices are sucking and Samsung’s possible decision to use Tizen instead of Android Wear on its smart watches.

Google's proposed Home speaker and AI assistant. Google’s proposed Home speaker and AI assistant.

In the spirit of Father’s Day and the start of summer, I spoke with Chris Klein the CEO of connected sprinkler maker Rachio, who talked about how a municipality could use connected sprinklers to control water usage, how to talk to your vocal users and what he learned selling Rachio in a Big Box retailer. You’ll also get my first impressions of the device. Enjoy the show.

Hosts: Kevin Tofel and Stacey Higginbotham
Guest: Rachio CEO Chris Klein

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Rootstock, Magnr, and More…

Eddy Travia joins us today as a guest on the bitcoin.com podcast, to discuss coinsilium portfolio companies.

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[VIDEO] How to Setup an LCD on the Raspberry Pi and Program It With Python

See how to connect an LCD to the Raspberry Pi in either 4 bit mode or 8 bit mode, and how to program it with Python. I’ll show you how to do the basic stuff like positioning text, turning on and off the cursor, and printing the date, time, and IP address. Then I’ll go into more advanced stuff like scrolling text, creating custom characters, and printing data from a sensor.

The post [VIDEO] How to Setup an LCD on the Raspberry Pi and Program It With Python appeared first on Circuit Basics.

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Circuit Bending With the Casio SK-5

Hack a vintage Casio keyboard synthesizer to create sounds that its designers never dreamed of


All the cool kids are coaxing crazy sounds from old electronic toys and synthesizers via the process of “circuit bending,” so we thought we’d give it a try. Circuit bending is the deliberate violation of all the careful electronic design by a device’s original creators in the name of finding interesting new audio effects. As our bending target, we used an SK-5, a 1980s-vintage Casio keyboard. We opened it up so we could wire up connectors to the sound synthesis chips and the key matrix. Then we made an external patch box to ground or cross-connect the pins of the synthesis chips, plus an Arduino Mega controlled switch box to play pre-programmed tunes.

Read more: How to Bend a Vintage Casio Keyboard

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Episode 59: Chipmakers love the smart car

This week I was at the NXP Technology Forum interviewing the semiconductor company’s CEO Rick Clemmer about smart cities and smart cars. The most interesting fact he shared was that the BMW Series 7 cars have about $300 worth of silicon inside them. To compare the estimates on the cost of chips inside the Apple iPhone 6 come to roughly $120.

The BMW Series 7 sedan packs a lot of silicon. --Image courtesy of BMW.The BMW Series 7 sedan packs a lot of silicon. –Image courtesy of BMW.

Kevin was at Google IO this week, so next week’s episode should be full of great insights, so Janko Roettgers from Variety was my cohost. He has just been to CES Asia, so we learned about the Amazon Echo of china called Ding Dong and the size of CES Asia. We also discussed new integrations for the Nest, the Amazon IoT Dash button and a then I was kicked out of the room where I was recording. So we didn’t get a chance to cover Google Home and the sound quality isn’t as great because I was live with a wobbly connection. I hope you will bear with it.

Hosts: Stacey Higginbotham and Janko Roettgers
Guest: Rick Clemmer, CEO of NXP

  • So many more things work with Nest!
  • Tips on the AWS IoT button
  • Meet the Amazon Echo of China
  • How a chip company thinks about the internet of things
  • Cramming chips in cities and cars

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Original MIT building restored for another 100 years

The MIT campus Main Group buildings, which celebrate their 100th anniversary this year, were a marvel of modern construction when they were designed and built a century ago. But some things have changed in the ensuing decades, including an increased awareness of the need for energy efficiency in a world facing climate change. Fortunately, technology has also advanced during that time, making feasible a highly efficient retrofit of the old buildings.

Not that such improvements, including replacement of the soaring and architecturally impressive windows in this complex of neoclassical buildings that frame MIT’s main dome, is an easy task. In fact, the newly completed first stage of renovation — entailing a complete restoration of Building 2, which houses the Department of Mathematics — includes the largest installation of a new kind of ultra-efficient window ever carried out in the United States.

The process, starting with a detailed investigation of the building’s original design and construction methods and materials, and a search for possible replacements, began a decade ago, explains Gary Tondorf-Dick, program manager for capital projects in MIT’s Department of Facilities, who was a key advisor on the project. Replacing the historically important windows, which in many places soar three stories high, is not something that can be done with a quick trip to the nearest home-improvement store.

Although they provide good insulation, modern double-paned windows are much thicker and heavier than the original single-pane windows, which sit in custom-made metal frames, Tondorf-Dick says. Using today’s conventional windows would have required a drastic redesign and re-engineering of the whole support structure — and still would have resulted in a noticeable change in the appearance of the buildings, which are protected as historical structures.

“The Main Group is one of the most important historic architectural facilities in Cambridge,” says Richard Amster, MIT’s director of campus construction. “We had to preserve or mimic the original appearance.”

In addition, conventional double-pane windows only maintain their improved efficiency for about a decade before the inert gas between the panes, typically argon or krypton, leaks away. It took a lot of searching to find a viable alternative, but it turned out that one did exist: a new kind of double-pane window, called Nippon Spacia, developed by a Japanese company and based on an invention by Richard Collins, a professor of engineering in Australia. These windows provide a thin profile that fits the dimensions of the existing frames, and they promise decades of durability. They also have an insulating ability that is more than double that of the best argon-filled windows, he says.

Instead of inert gas, the new windows feature a vacuum in between the two panes, which are much closer together than the panes in conventional windows. The whole assembly is thin enough to fit into new metal frames designed to match the century-old originals. And whereas the flexible, petroleum-based sealing material that is conventionally applied at the edges can degrade over time, the two panes are welded together with glass that’s as durable as the panes themselves. These windows “will last 50 to 75 years,” Amster says.

Even though no further restorations of this scale have yet been scheduled for the Main Group, in doing the research and planning for the Building 2 restoration “we wanted to take a representative area” of that million-square-foot complex, to demonstrate an approach that could work for all of it, says Tondorf-Dick. The idea was to develop a set of standards for the renovations, he says, that would carry the buildings forward for at least another century.

“It was a great opportunity to be able to focus on a segment of the Main Group,” says Amster. Renovating the math building, which occupies about 10 percent of the complex, was “the first top-to-bottom renovation of a segment of the Main Group” since the buildings went up a century ago, though a variety of smaller renovation projects had been done over the years, he says.

The renovations went far beyond the windows, though that was one of the major challenges. In addition, repairs were needed on parts of the exterior limestone cladding that covers a structure whose shell is built from reinforced concrete and steel. That was a very modern and unusual construction method for the 1916 buildings and one which has helped them stand the test of time, allowing for a great deal of flexibility in rearranging the interior labs, offices, and classroom over the years.

In fact, many of the repairs needed to the exterior have nothing to do with the original construction, but rather deal with cracking that resulted from repairs back in the 1960s, Tondorf-Dick says. At that time, instead of replacing sections of missing mortar with the kind of flexible material used originally, a stiffer, rigid mortar that was thought at the time to provide greater durability was used. That mortar was so inflexible that it left only the limestone itself to crack in response to any shifting or thermal expansion of the walls, he says. In the new renovations, they returned to materials similar to those used originally.

The structure of the buildings could last for centuries, says Tondorf-Dick, thanks to that concrete-shell construction method, which was borrowed from huge industrial buildings rather than typical academic buildings in that era. But parts of the buildings, including windows, heating, and ventilation, and even interior walls, may need repairs and maintenance work every few decades, he says.

The Building 2 renovations also included one major new addition: A whole new fourth floor was added to the building, with its exterior walls set back somewhat from the main walls of the building, so that it is almost unnoticeable from ground level – an important consideration for such historic buildings. In fact, the project on the Building 2 rooftop addition and creative adaptation of interior spaces was recently honored with a preservation award from the Cambridge Historical Commission.

Overall, the renovations have proved to both work well and appeal to the building’s occupants, who are enjoying greater comfort and new, expanded interior spaces. “My hope is that we can take this model and expand it to the rest of the Main Group,” Amster says.


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