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University World News

Prof. M Amah Edoh is offering a new course on OpenCourseWare examining reparations for slavery and colonization and “will invite the participation of activists and members of the global public,” reports Sharon Dell for University World News.  Edoh explains that the course is aimed at “bringing the world into the classroom but also opening the classroom into the world.”

Stat

Writing for STAT, Prof. Susan Silbey and Prof. Ruthanne Huising of Emlyon Business School make the case that to prevent lab leaks, there should be a greater emphasis placed on biosafety. “The global research community does not need more rules, more layers of oversight, and more intermediary actors,” they write. “What it needs is more attention and respect to already known biosafety measures and techniques.”

Wired

In an article for Wired, Prof. Amy Moran-Thomas writes about racial bias in pulse oximeters, noting that oximeters designed to work equitably existed in the 70s. “As part of AI’s growing role in health care, a wide range of noninvasive sensors are being developed with the pulse oximeter as their model,” writes Moran-Thomas. “Without care, a coming generation of optical color sensors could easily reproduce the unequal errors for which pulse oximetry is now known across many other areas of medicine.”

Slate

Graduate student Crystal Lee speaks with Slate reporter Rebecca Onion about a new study that illustrates how social media users have used data visualizations to argue against public health measures during the Covid-19 pandemic. “The biggest point of diversion is the focus on different metrics—on deaths, rather than cases,” says Lee. “They focus on a very small slice of the data. And even then, they contest metrics in ways I think are fundamentally misleading.”

CNN

CNN reporter Jacque Smith highlights Prof. Amy Moran-Thomas’ work calling attention to how pulse oximeters can overestimate oxygen levels in darker-skinned patients.

The Guardian

A new MIT study of the Dead Sea scrolls found “salts used on the writing layer of the Temple scroll [that] are not common to the Dead Sea region,” reports Nicola Davis for The Guardian. “These salts are not typical for anything we knew about associated with this period and parchment making,” explains Prof. Admir Masic.

Xinhuanet

A new study by MIT researchers shows that the Sahara desert and North Africa alternate between wet and dry conditions every 20,000 years, reports the Xinhua news agency. The researchers found that the “climatic pendulum was mainly driven by changes to the Earth's axis as the planet orbits the sun, which in turn affect the distribution of sunlight between seasons.”

Salon

In an article published by Salon, Prof. Heather Paxson examines the American artisanal cheese industry. Paxson writes that, “food-making traditions in the United States are often animated by personal narratives of innovation rather than, as in Europe, adherence to customary tradition.”

Scientific American

In an article for Scientific American, Layla Eplett writes about Prof. Heather Paxson’s book on American artisanal cheese culture. Eplett writes that after observing the increasing number of artisanal cheese shops, Paxson was inspired to visit "artisanal cheesemakers throughout the US who revealed diverse backgrounds and motivations for learning the craft.”

Fortune- CNN

A study co-authored by Prof. Susan Silbey found that many women leave engineering because of sexism at school and in the workplace, writes Valentina Zarya for Fortune. The researchers found that “female engineers’ first substantive experiences with sexism occurred in school, with many women describing being treated differently by professors and classmates.”

CNN

A study co-authored by Prof. Josh McDermott dispels the theory that musical preference is rooted in biology, writes Jacqueline Howard for CNN. "We need to accept and document the differences in how other cultures hear the world. The opportunities to do so are rapidly diminishing with the diffusion of Western music around the world,” says McDermott.

The Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Akst writes that MIT researchers have found that our musical tastes are culturally instilled. The researchers played consonant and dissonant chords from members of a remote Amazonian tribe and found that “they had no preference for one sound over the other—unlike the large majority of North Americans and Europeans, who prefer consonance.”

Wired UK

Taste in music is based on culture and not biology according to a new study by Prof. Josh McDermott, writes Emily Reynolds for Wired UK. The Tsimane' tribe the researchers surveyed plays music one line at a time, not simultaneously like Western countries, and they had no preference for dissonant and consonant sounds.

Boston Globe

A new study co-authored by Prof. Josh McDermott finds that musical preference may stem from cultural origins, writes Vivian Wang for The Boston Globe. “It raises the possibility that things vary a lot more from culture to culture than people might have wanted to accept,” says McDermott. 

Wired

A paper co-authored by Prof. Josh McDermott examines the musical preferences of a society with minimal exposure to Western culture, writes Chelsea Leu for Wired. “Maybe an innate bias for consonance exists, but that doesn’t mean every culture develops it,” Leu writes regarding the society’s lack of preference for consonant or dissonant sounds.