Tag: School of Science

NASA selects three MIT alumni for astronaut training

On Monday, MIT confirmed once again its status as a popular launchpad for future astronauts. NASA announced that three MIT alumni are among its 10-member astronaut candidate class of 2021. Marcos Berríos ’06, who graduated from the Department of Mechanical Engineering; Christina Birch PhD ’15, who earned a doctorate from the Department of Biological Engineering, […]

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Study reveals a protein’s key contribution to heterogeneity of neurons

The versatility of the nervous system comes from not only the diversity of ways in which neurons communicate in circuits, but also their “plasticity,” or ability to change those connections when new information has to be remembered, when their circuit partners change, or other conditions emerge. A new study by neuroscientists at The Picower Institute […]

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Technique enables real-time rendering of scenes in 3D

Humans are pretty good at looking at a single two-dimensional image and understanding the full three-dimensional scene that it captures. Artificial intelligence agents are not. Yet a machine that needs to interact with objects in the world — like a robot designed to harvest crops or assist with surgery — must be able to infer […]

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Feast or forage? Study finds circuit that helps a brain decide

MIT neuroscientists have discovered the elegant architecture of a fundamental decision-making brain circuit that allows a C. elegans worm to either forage for food or stop to feast when it finds a source. Capable of integrating multiple streams of sensory information, the circuit employs just a few key neurons to sustain long-lasting behaviors and yet flexibly switch […]

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Generating a realistic 3D world

While standing in a kitchen, you push some metal bowls across the counter into the sink with a clang, and drape a towel over the back of a chair. In another room, it sounds like some precariously stacked wooden blocks fell over, and there’s an epic toy car crash. These interactions with our environment are […]

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Jelena Vučković delivers 2021 Dresselhaus Lecture on inverse-designed photonics

As her topic for the 2021 Mildred S. Dresselhaus Lecture, Stanford University professor Jelena Vučković posed a question: Are computers better than humans in designing photonics? Throughout her talk, presented on Nov. 15 in a hybrid format to more than 500 attendees, the Jensen Huang Professor in Global Leadership at Stanford’s School of Engineering offered […]

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Six MIT students named 2023 Schwarzman Scholars

Five MIT seniors — Sihao Huang, William Kuhl, Giramnah Peña-Alcántara, Sreya Vangara, and Kelly Wu — and graduate student Tingyu Li have been awarded 2022-23 Schwarzman Scholarships. They will head to Tsinghua University in Beijing next August to pursue a one-year master’s degree in global affairs. The students will also receive leadership training, career development, […]

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The intersection of math, computers, and everything else

Shardul Chiplunkar, a senior in Course 18C (mathematics with computer science), entered MIT interested in computers, but soon he was trying everything from spinning fire to building firewalls. He dabbled in audio engineering and glass blowing, was a tenor for the MIT/Wellesley Toons a capella group, and learned to sail. “When I was entering MIT, […]

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Immune system-stimulating nanoparticle could lead to more powerful vaccines

A common strategy to make vaccines more powerful is to deliver them along with an adjuvant — a compound that stimulates the immune system to produce a stronger response. Researchers from MIT, the La Jolla Institute for Immunology, and other institutions have now designed a new nanoparticle adjuvant that may be more potent than others […]

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TESS discovers a planet the size of Mars but with the makeup of Mercury

Ultra-short-period planets are small, compact worlds that whip around their stars at close range, completing an orbit — and a single, scorching year — in less than 24 hours. How these planets came to be in such extreme configurations is one of the continuing mysteries of exoplanetary science. Now, astronomers have discovered an ultra-short-period planet […]

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Climate modeling confirms historical records showing rise in hurricane activity

When forecasting how storms may change in the future, it helps to know something about their past. Judging from historical records dating back to the 1850s, hurricanes in the North Atlantic have become more frequent over the last 150 years. However, scientists have questioned whether this upward trend is a reflection of reality, or simply […]

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MIT ID cards go digital

MIT community members have a new and easier way to navigate campus life at the Institute: the MIT Mobile ID, a digital version of the MIT ID card for iOS and Android devices. Developed prior to the pandemic and released by Information Systems and Technology (IS&T), the MIT Mobile ID can be used just like […]

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Chemist and MLK Jr. Scholar Robert Gilliard explores new frontiers in synthetic chemistry

Almost 15 years ago, Robert Gilliard posed for a photo in front of MIT’s Great Dome. At the time, he was an undergraduate at Clemson University visiting MIT with his research advisor, former MIT postdoc and Clemson University professor Rhett Smith. Just last month, Gilliard arranged a similar photo in front of the dome. This […]

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Featured video: A musical encore for a re-imagined library

Play video When MIT’s Hayden Library was originally dedicated in 1950, Czech-born composer Bohuslav Martinů was commissioned to write his “Piano Trio in D Minor” to mark the occasion. The piece received its world premiere in a performance by MIT professors Klaus Liepmann on violin and Gregory Tucker on piano, and George Finckel of Bennington […]

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How molecular clusters in the nucleus interact with chromosomes

A cell stores all of its genetic material in its nucleus, in the form of chromosomes, but that’s not all that’s tucked away in there. The nucleus is also home to small bodies called nucleoli — clusters of proteins and RNA that help build ribosomes. Using computer simulations, MIT chemists have now discovered how these […]

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One year on this giant, blistering hot planet is just 16 hours long

The hunt for planets beyond our solar system has turned up more than 4,000 far-flung worlds, orbiting stars thousands of  light years from Earth. These extrasolar planets are a veritable menagerie, from rocky super-Earths and miniature Neptunes to colossal gas giants. Among the more confounding planets discovered to date are “hot Jupiters” —  massive balls […]

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Nanograins make for a seismic shift

In Earth’s crust, tectonic blocks slide and grind past each other like enormous ships loosed from anchor. Earthquakes are generated along these fault zones when enough pressure builds for a block to stick, then suddenly slip. These slips can be caused by several factors that reduce friction within a fault zone, such as hotter temperatures […]

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Getting quantum dots to stop blinking

Quantum dots, discovered in the 1990s, have a wide range of applications and are perhaps best known for producing vivid colors in some high-end televisions. But for some potential uses, such as tracking biochemical pathways of a drug as it interacts with living cells, progress has been hampered by one seemingly uncontrollable characteristic: a tendency […]

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Investigating pathogens and their life cycles, for the benefit of society

Desmond Edwards was a little kid when first learned about typhoid fever. Fortunately, he didn’t have the disease. He was looking at a cartoon public health announcement. The cartoon, produced by the Pan American Health Organization, was designed to educate people in his home country of Jamaica about the importance of immunizations for diseases like […]

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A stealthy way to combat tumors

Under the right circumstances, the body’s T cells can detect and destroy cancer cells. However, in most cancer patients, T cells become disarmed once they enter the environment surrounding a tumor.  Scientists are now trying to find ways to help treat patients by jumpstarting those lackluster T cells. Much of the research in this field, […]

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How ultracold, superdense atoms become invisible

An atom’s electrons are arranged in energy shells. Like concertgoers in an arena, each electron occupies a single chair and cannot drop to a lower tier if all its chairs are occupied. This fundamental property of atomic physics is known as the Pauli exclusion principle, and it explains the shell structure of atoms, the diversity […]

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At UN climate change conference, trying to “keep 1.5 alive”

After a one-year delay caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, negotiators from nearly 200 countries met this month in Glasgow, Scotland, at COP26, the United Nations climate change conference, to hammer out a new global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for climate impacts. A delegation of approximately 20 faculty, staff, and students from […]

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Carina Letong Hong named a 2022 Rhodes Scholar for China

Carina Letong Hong from Guangzhou, China, is a winner of the Rhodes Scholarship (China Constituency). As a Rhodes Scholar, she will pursue graduate studies in mathematics at Oxford University. At MIT, Hong is a junior double-majoring in mathematics and physics. She hopes to become an academic and devote her life to solving conjectures and building […]

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The poetry of physics

“With skin brushed then tangled, with the apple touched at the supermarket then tangled,with the tear wiped then woven away,tangled with even things very distant like Mars dust,that unravel themselves when /touched by our gaze…”  —Excerpt from Miriam Manglani’s poem “Makinde’s Quantum World,” about Makinde Ogunnaike’s quantum physics research Senior MIT physics doctoral student Olumakinde […]

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Studying learner engagement during the Covid-19 pandemic

While massive open online classes (MOOCs) have been a significant trend in higher education for many years now, they have gained a new level of attention during the Covid-19 pandemic. Open online courses became a critical resource for a wide audience of new learners during the first stages of the pandemic — including students whose […]

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New material could be two superconductors in one

MIT physicists and colleagues have demonstrated an exotic form of superconductivity in a new material the team synthesized only about a year ago. Although predicted in the 1960s, until now this type of superconductivity has proven difficult to stabilize. Further, the scientists found that the same material can potentially be manipulated to exhibit yet another, […]

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This light-powered catalyst mimics photosynthesis

By mimicking photosynthesis, the light-driven process that plants use to produce sugars, MIT researchers have designed a new type of photocatalyst that can absorb light and use it to drive a variety of chemical reactions. The new type of catalyst, known as a biohybrid photocatalyst, contains a light-harvesting protein that absorbs light and transfers the […]

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A key brain region responds to faces similarly in infants and adults

Within the visual cortex of the adult brain, a small region is specialized to respond to faces, while nearby regions show strong preferences for bodies or for scenes such as landscapes. Neuroscientists have long hypothesized that it takes many years of visual experience for these areas to develop in children. However, a new MIT study […]

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For stem cells, bigger doesn’t mean better

MIT biologists have answered an important biological question: Why do cells control their size? Cells of the same type are strikingly uniform in size, while cell size differs between different cell types. This raises the question of whether cell size is important for cellular physiology. The new study suggests that cellular enlargement drives a decline in […]

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Radio-frequency wave scattering improves fusion simulations

In the quest for fusion energy, understanding how radio-frequency (RF) waves travel (or “propagate”) in the turbulent interior of a fusion furnace is crucial to maintaining an efficient, continuously operating power plant. Transmitted by an antenna in the doughnut-shaped vacuum chamber common to magnetic confinement fusion devices called tokamaks, RF waves heat the plasma fuel […]

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