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The Boston Globe

Writing for The Boston Globe, President L. Rafael Reif emphasizes the importance of finding affordable, equitable ways to bring the global economy to net-zero carbon by 2050. “If individuals and institutions in every part of the economy and society tackle the pieces of the problem within their reach and collaborate with each other,” writes Reif, “we have a real shot — an Earthshot — at preserving a habitable world.”

The Academic Times

A new study by MIT researches finds that some masses of boson particles don’t actually exist, reports Monisha Ravisetti for The Academic Times. “[Bosons] could be dark matter particles, or they could be something that people call axions, which are proposed particles that could solve problems with the magnetic bipoles of particles,” says Prof. Salvatore Vitale. “Because they can be any of these things, that means they could also have an incredibly broad range of masses.”

Wired

Writing for Wired, Media Lab research specialist Kate Darling makes the case that robots are more like animals than people. “Despite the AI pioneers’ original goal of recreating human intelligence, our current robots are fundamentally different,” writes Darling. “They’re not less-developed versions of us that will eventually catch up as we increase their computing power; like animals, they have a different type of intelligence entirely.” 

Times Higher Ed

MIT has been ranked the top university in the world for digital entrepreneurship in a new ranking by Times Higher Education and the French consultancy Emerging. Times Higher Education notes that MIT “has a strong reputation for teaching and learning in science and technology courses. As well as undergraduate and postgraduate courses, MIT also offers a range of executive courses in digital business strategy, AI and business analytics.” 

Associated Press

Prof. Gary Gensler has been approved to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, reports Marcy Gordon for the AP. The appointment signals “an emphasis on investor protection for the Wall Street watchdog agency after a deregulatory stretch during the Trump administration,” writes Gordon.

Quartz

MIT researchers are applying machine learning algorithms typically used for natural language processing to identify coronavirus variants, reports Brian Browdie for Quartz. “Besides being able to quantify the potential for mutations to escape, the research may pave the way for vaccines that broaden the body’s defenses against variants or that protect recipients against more than one virus, such as flu and the novel coronavirus, in a single shot,” writes Browdie. 

Associated Press

Hashim Sarkis, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, speaks with AP reporter Colleen Barry about the Venice Biennale for architecture, which was postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Sarkis, who is serving as the curator, notes that he used the extra year to expand the show to seven sections “to deepen the discussion about architecture and its vital role in today’s society.”

NOVA Next

Hanna Ali of NOVA Next speaks with Prof. Desiree Plata about methane emissions and Prof. Tim Swager about his work developing sensors that could allow users to “see” methane, track down its source and mitigate impacts. “You probably hear headlines all the time, ‘Everywhere we look for plastics in the environment, we find them,’” Plata says. “The same is true of most industrial chemicals, but the problem is I can’t pull out my cell phone and take a picture of [them]. Tim’s sensors are helping to close that gap.”

New Scientist

MIT researchers have created a new audio-visual virtual reality that can provide a sense of what it’s like to be a spider by converting a spider web’s vibrations into sounds that humans can hear, reports Ian Morse for New Scientist. “The spider web can be viewed as an extension of the body of the spider, in that it lives within it, but also uses it as a sensor,” says Prof. Markus Buehler. “When you go into the virtual reality world and you dive inside the web, being able to hear what’s going on allows you to understand what you see.”

CNN

Prof. Yossi Sheffi speaks with CNN’s Zachary Wolf about how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected supply chains, impacting the supply of ketchup packets and causing delays in computer chips. “During the pandemic many industries reduced their orders and suppliers reduced their orders and capacity even further (because they anticipated that future orders will also be reduced),” says Sheffi. “When the economy came back, there was no capacity to snap right back.”

Ars Technica

Alumnus David Oh ’91, SM ’93, ScD ’97 speaks with Ars Technica reporter Eric Berger about his work serving as the technical lead for NASA’s Psyche mission, a robotic spacecraft that is set to voyage to a metallic asteroid using a propulsion technology called Hall thrusters. Berger writes that Oh, who worked on Hall thrusters as a graduate student at MIT, is “eager to learn whether Psyche may be the core of something that could have become a planet during the early days of our Solar System but ultimately didn't.”

New Scientist

In a conversation with New Scientist reporter Jonathan O’Callaghan, Prof. Tanja Bosak discusses her work with the NASA Perseverance rover’s rock reconnaissance mission. “In the middle of a pandemic, I think we needed something good to happen, and that’s why so many people wanted all the science and engineering that goes into landing a rover on Mars to succeed,” says Bosak. “As for what will happen when the samples come back – I can’t imagine. It’s going to be otherworldly.”

Boston Globe

Alumna Farah Alibay PhD ’14 speaks with Boston Globe reporter Charlie McKenna about her work with the Ingenuity helicopter, an experiment aimed at achieving flight on Mars. “If we are able to demonstrate flight, it could open up possibilities, incredible possibilities for future missions that could be scout helicopters for rovers or science helicopters for exploring Mars,” says Alibay. “It just opens up aerial explorations of Mars, then possibly other planets, too.”

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