December 6, 2017
The discovery of the oldest and most distant black hole ever observed could provide scientists with insights into the early stages of our universe, reports Will Dunham for Reuters. “This object provides us with a measurement of the time at which the universe first became illuminated with starlight,” explains Prof. Robert Simcoe.
In an article for Forbes, AgeLab Director Joseph Coughlin writes about the physical and emotional impacts of social isolation and loneliness. Coughlin stresses the importance of “developing new solutions for our modern epidemic of social disconnectedness -- whether they are new technologies, community initiatives, forward-thinking policies, or just plain increased awareness.”
Graduate student Vishal Patil speaks with NPR’s Rebecca Hersher about his work determining how to snap dry spaghetti in two. Patil found that, “when you twist it, you don't have to bend it as much before it breaks. When there's less bending in it, the snap-back — as the spaghetti tries to become a straight rod again — is weakened, so that no more fractures can occur.”
Prof. Charles Stewart III writes for The Washington Post about a new report from the MIT-run Elections Performance Index (EPI) showing that election administration improved from 2012 to 2016. “The latest EPI shows that we can use objective metrics to chart any policy change aimed at improving voting, and that it’s not as difficult as we thought,” explains Stewart.
Media Lab researchers have developed a desk that transforms based on the user’s mood, reports Madis Kabash for Quartz. Kabash explains that the desk collects, “over 30 biological signals including heart-rate, facial-expressions, and posture,” and then adjusts lighting, changes images on a screen and plays different sounds on a speaker to help the user destress.
FOX News reporter James Rogers writes that MIT researchers have detected a new galaxy cluster that had been obscured by the bright light emitted from a supermassive black hole. “Located just 2.4 billion light-years from Earth, the cluster consists of hundreds of individual galaxies,” Rogers explains.