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Popular Science

Using machine learning techniques, MIT researchers analyzed social media sentiment around the world during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic and found that the “pandemic precipitated a dramatic drop in happiness,” reports Charlotte Hu for Popular Science. “We wanted to do this global study to compare different countries because they were hit by the pandemic at different times,” explains Prof. Siqi Zheng, “and they have different cultures, different political systems, and different healthcare systems.”

New York Times

A new study co-authored by MIT researchers finds that China’s ban on cryptocurrencies sent the process of creating new coins to other locations in the world that use less renewable energy, reports Hiroko Tabuchi for The New York Times. The researchers found that “Bitcoin miners lost their access to hydropower from regions within China that had powered their computers with cheap, plentiful, renewable energy during the wet summer months.”

Science

Writing for Science, Prof. Gang Chen emphasizes the need for universities and funding agencies to stand up for faculty who are wrongfully prosecuted. “What gave me hope and ultimately saved me is a lesson for all universities. MIT leadership, under President L. Rafael Reif, supported me morally and financially after I was detained at the airport, and the university made its support public soon after I was arrested,” writes Chen. He adds, “I urge university leaders, trustees, and alumni associations to protect their faculty from a campaign that is misdirected. The talent loss and terror lobbed upon faculty are weakening their institutions, supporting harmful bias, and ruining lives.”

CBS News

Jim Axelrod of CBS News speaks with Professor Gang Chen about his ordeal following charges he faced – all now dismissed – under the “China Initiative.” Describing the accusations against Chen as “a massive jolt,” President L. Rafael Reif said, “I felt it was an attack on all Chinese Americans in America, particularly in academia.” Added Chen, a U.S. citizen for more than two decades, “We thought we had achieved the American Dream. Until this nightmare happened.”

Bloomberg

Bloomberg reporter Chris Anstey spotlights a new study by MIT researchers that finds that during the Covid-19 pandemic people have been taking cues from their neighbors as to whether it is safe to resume social activities like dining in restaurants. “We felt that in [some] uncertain times, such information might be particularly valuable,” said Prof. Siqi Zheng. “If others think it’s safe to go out, then maybe I should feel safe. To be sure, we were also prepared for the opposite reaction, that people would hunker down and try to avoid crowds.”

New York Times

Prof. Gang Chen speaks with New York Times reporter Ellen Barry about the damage inflicted by the “China Initiative.” “My love is science. I did not want politics, right?” says Chen. “But I learned that you can’t get away. Politics impacts everybody. So if there are things that are not right, we all need to speak out.”

The Boston Globe

Writing for The Boston Globe, Prof. Gang Chen calls for a thorough review of the Justice Department’s China Initiative and the “critical mistakes on the part of the FBI, federal prosecutors, and other federal investigative agencies.” Chen writes: “As a nation, we can be more true to our ideals — and a better world leader — by acknowledging our wrongdoings and learning from our mistakes rather than blindly pressing forward.”

Bloomberg

Prof. Carlo Ratti has proposed a 51-story skyscraper for China’s technology hub of Shenzhen that would produce crops to feed populations of up to 40,000 per year, reports Bloomberg News. “Ratti envisions his farmscraper as a self-contained food supply chain, where the crops can be cultivated, sold and eaten all within the same building.”

Bloomberg Businessweek

Bloomberg Businessweek reporter Shawn Donnan spotlights Prof. David Autor’s series of research papers examining the impact of the surge of Chinese imports on the overall American economy and specific regions of the country. Autor and his colleagues make the case that “well-funded, targeted government policies could have helped prevent the economic blight that engulfed many affected communities.”

The Washington Post

MIT Prof. M. Taylor Fravel and University of Pennsylvania Prof. Fiona Cunningham explores what China’s investment in its nuclear arsenal means for U.S. – China relations in a piece for The Washington Post. “Two shifts in China’s nuclear thinking may be happening. First, Chinese leaders believe that they now need to threaten the United States with greater nuclear damage to deter a U.S. nuclear first-strike: a handful of warheads is no longer enough,” they write. “Second, China’s leaders may be finding Beijing’s promises not to engage in a nuclear arms race increasingly difficult to fulfill — or less of a priority than deterring U.S. nuclear use with more confidence.”

Financial Times

Writing for the Financial Times, research fellow Laura Grego examines why China is developing new nuclear delivery systems and modernizing its weapons arsenal. “One core driver is to make clear to an unconvinced United States that it is vulnerable to Chinese nuclear retaliation despite enormous investments in missile defenses,” writes Grego. “Many of the technologies China is pursuing, including those believed to have been tested this summer, are designed to overwhelm or evade such defenses.” 

Times Higher Ed

Times Higher Ed reporter Matthew Reisz memorializes Prof. Jing Wang, “a literary scholar who became a leading expert in Chinese literature and digital media.” Prof. Emma Teng remembers Wang as “an innovator, activist and passionate teacher” whose “long career was defined by her intellectual curiosity, drive and energy, and unwavering integrity.”

Financial Times

R. David Edelman of MIT’s Internet Policy Research Initiative speaks with John Thornhill of the Financial Times’ TechTonic podcast about AI and the military.

Marketplace

President L. Rafael Reif speaks with Sabri Ben-Achour of Marketplace about the importance of the Senate passing a new bill that invests in research and development. “We are in a science and technology race for the future,” says Reif. “It is with science and technology that we address things like Covid and the biggest challenges the world has; the health of our economy, our security. That is key to all of the above.”

The Washington Post

Writing for The Washington Post, Prof. M. Taylor Fravel explores how Chinese and Indian forces have disengaged and created a buffer zone at Pangong Lake on their disputed border. “The disengagement and buffer zone creates space for further talks,” writes Fravel. “In the short term, discussions have already begun to address disengagement in other “friction areas” such as Gorga/Hot Springs. Longer term, political talks about the border may be possible if a complete de-escalation occurs.”