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Inside Climate News

MIT spinoff Electrified Thermal Solutions is developing electrically charged bricks that generate and store heat as part of an effort to one day replace fossil fuels, reports Phil McKenna for Inside Climate News. “If you are running an industrial plant where you’re making cement or steel or glass or ceramics or chemicals or even food or beverage products, you burn a lot of fossil fuels,” explains Daniel Stack SM '17, PhD '21, chief executive of Electrified Thermal Solutions. “Our mission is to decarbonize industry with electrified heat.”

Scientific American

Current AI models require enormous resources and often provide unpredictable results. But graduate student Ziming Liu and colleagues have developed an approach that surpasses current neural networks in many respects, reports Manion Bischoff for Scientific American. “So-called Kolmogorov-Arnold networks (KANs) can master a wide range of tasks much more efficiently and solve scientific problems better than previous approaches,” Bischoff explains.

Financial Times

Financial Times reporter Robin Wigglesworth spotlights Prof. Daron Acemoglu’s new research that predicts relatively modest productivity growth from AI advances. On generative AI specifically, Acemoglu believes that gains will remain elusive unless industry reorients “in order to focus on reliable information that can increase the marginal productivity of different kinds of workers, rather than prioritizing the development of general human-like conversational tools,” he says.

CBS

Ara Mahar, a technical associate at the McGovern Institute, speaks with CBS News about what inspired their interest in kimonos – a traditional Japanese garment. “Mahar became so enamored [with the kimono] they moved to Japan to formally study it in 2016,” explains CBS. “Mahar became an expert, and moved back to Boston two years later. Mahar now gives demonstrations and lectures throughout the area.” 

Smithsonian Magazine

Researchers at MIT and elsewhere have found that the sun’s magnetic field “could form much closer to the star’s surface than previously thought,” reports Will Sullivan for Smithsonian Magazine. “The findings could help improve forecasts of solar activity that can affect satellites, power grids and communications systems on Earth—and produce magnificent auroras,” explains Sullivan. 

The Boston Globe

Senior Research Scientist C. Adam Schlosser, deputy director of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, speaks with Joshua Miller of The Boston Globe about the 11th consecutive month of record high global temperatures and the overall pace of climate change. The rising temperatures fall “very consistently with what the science is telling us about human interference with climate,” Schlosser explains. 

WBUR

Prof. David Autor is a guest of Meghna Chakrabarti on WBUR’s On Point, discussing his research on the potential impact of AI on the workforce. Autor says “AI is a tool that can enable more people with the right foundational training and judgment to do more valuable work.”

Gizmodo

Astronomers at MIT and elsewhere have determined how to measure the spin of a nearby supermassive black hole using a new calculation method, reports Isaac Schultz for Gizmodo. The team “managed to deduce a supermassive black hole’s spin by measuring the wobble of its accretion disk after a star has been disrupted—a polite word for torn up—by the gigantic object,” explains Schultz. “They found the black hole’s spin was less than 25% the speed of light—slow, at least for a black hole.” 

New York Times

Called the “Frank Lloyd Wright of computers,” technology visionary C. Gordon Bell ’57, SM '57, “the master architect in the effort to create smaller, affordable, interactive computers that could be clustered into a network,” has died. “He was among a handful of influential engineers whose designs formed the vital bridge between the room-size models of the mainframe era and the advent of the personal computer,” notes Glenn Rifkin for The New York Times

Featured Multimedia

Sheila Xu ’14 never imagined she could become a pilot, but she says MIT put her on that path. Born deaf to hearing parents, Xu first learned American Sign Language and connected with the Deaf* community as an undergraduate. These experiences inspired her to want to open doors for more people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The MIT Bike Lab is a student-run bike shop that provides bike repair and maintenance services to the MIT community. Founded by Mechanical Engineering student Bianca Champenois SM ’22, the Bike Lab is a place for hands-on learning and problem solving, and it aims to motivate the community toward sustainable transportation practices.

MIT CSAIL researchers enhance robotic precision with sophisticated tactile sensors in the palm and agile fingers, setting the stage for improvements in human-robot interaction and prosthetic technology.

Alumni leave MIT armed with knowledge and a whole lot of memories. During Tech Reunions in 2023, the MIT Alumni Association asked returning alums what else they had held onto since leaving campus. Find out who’s holding on to their old fencing gear and who has something from the library they forgot to return.

Liane Makatura is a computer scientist, mathematician, and human-centered designer who strives to leverage technology in a way that facilitates creativity and innovation. In particular, she enjoys creating computational tools that make it easier for people to design and manufacture physical objects that achieve specific goals in terms of both form and function.

Researchers in the Future Sketches group at the MIT Media Lab conduct research around textiles and memory. Most recently, using conductive thread technologies, team members have created fabrics that can "speak" their own stories through elements like sound and light.

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