April 12, 2018
An international research team, led by postdoctoral fellow Carl Rodriguez, has found that dense star clusters could be a breeding ground for black holes, writes Elise Takahama for The Boston Globe. These star clusters “can create a new black hole that’s more massive and the new massive one can find itself another companion and potentially merge again,” Rodriguez explains.
In an article for Physics World about unique scales of measurement, Stephen Ornes highlights the “smoot,” a measurement of distance equivalent to the height of MIT alumnus Oliver Smoot. Ornes, who spoke with Smoot for the story, notes that he “eventually led the leading organizations behind setting standards of measurement.”
BBC News reporter David Robson writes that MIT researchers have devised a simple test to help determine whether you are communicating with a chatbot or a human. Robson writes that the findings suggest “knowingly flouting a taboo and provoking, rather than simply describing, an emotion might be the most straightforward way of conveying your shared humanity.”
Vox reporter David Roberts writes about a new study by MIT researchers examining what factors contributed to bringing down the cost of solar panels. Roberts writes that the researchers found “policies that create incentives for private investors to develop and deploy solar panels are responsible for well over half of the decline in solar PV costs.”
In an article for The Wall Street Journal, Senior Lecturer Robert Pozen writes that Congress should pass legislation allowing small employers to band together to provide employees access to a common retirement plan. Pozen notes that the new plan “also ought to further reduce the retirement-coverage gap by addressing the needs of part-time and seasonal employees.”
Boston Herald reporter Jordan Graham writes that an MIT startup, Accion Systems, is developing a new satellite propulsion technology that could make engines significantly cheaper and more efficient. Graham explains that, “Accion uses a propulsion system called ion electrospray, which shoots ions through holes in the thruster, sending the device in the opposite direction in space.”