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Civil and environmental engineering

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CBS News

Prof. Yossi Sheffi speaks with David Pogue of CBS Sunday Morning about what’s causing the current supply chain breakdowns. "The underlying cause of all of this is actually a huge increase in demand,” says Sheffi. “People did not spend during the pandemic. And then, all the government help came; trillions of dollars went to households. So, they order stuff. They order more and more stuff. And the whole global markets were not ready for this."

The Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal reporter Sara Castellanos spotlights Prof. Markus Buehler’s work combining virtual reality with sound waves to help detect subtle changes in molecular motions. Castellanos notes that Buehler and his team recently found, “coronaviruses can be more lethal or infectious depending on the vibrations within the spike proteins that are found on the surface of the virus.”

Motherboard

A team of researchers led by MIT visiting scientist Judah Cohen has found that climate change is amplifying winter weather disasters, including the rare cold snap in Texas and other southern states in February 2021, reports Becky Ferreira for Motherboard. “The team used both observational data and climate models to expose ‘stretching events’ in the polar vortex that cause its circular shape to become elongated across the Arctic,” writes Ferreira. “This phenomenon ‘is linked with extreme cold across parts of Asia and North America.’”

The Guardian

A new study co-authored by MIT researchers finds that climate change is likely causing more extreme winter weather, reports Hallie Golden for The Guardian. The researchers found that changes in the Arctic brought on by climate change “actually increased the chances of tightly spinning winds above the North Pole, known as the Arctic stratospheric polar vortex, being stretched and thus boosting the chances of extreme weather events in the US and beyond.”

New Scientist

New Scientist reporter Adam Vaughan writes that a new study led by visiting scientist Judah Cohen finds that climate change may be causing more extreme winter weather in North America and Eurasia. “If you expected global warming to help you out with preparing for severe winter weather, our paper says the cautionary tale is: don’t necessarily expect climate change to solve that problem for you,” says Cohen. “This is an unexpected impact from climate change that we didn’t appreciate 20 years ago.”

Dezeen

Dezeen reporter Rima Sabina Aouf writes that MIT researchers have created an inflatable prosthetic hand that can be produced for a fraction of the cost of similar prosthetics. “The innovation could one day help some of the 5 million people in the world who have had an upper-limb amputation but can't afford expensive prostheses.”

Wired

Wired reporter Max G. Levy writes that MIT researchers have developed a glue inspired by barnacles that can adhere to wet tissues and stop bleeding in seconds. “For us, everything is a machine, even a human body,” says research scientist Hyunwoo Yuk. “They are malfunctioning and breaking, and we have some mechanical way to solve it.”

Mashable

Engineers at MIT have developed a soft, inflatable, neuroprosthetic hand that allows users to carry out a variety of tasks with ease, reports Emmett Smith for Mashable. “People who tested out the hand were able to carry out quite complex tasks, such as zipping up a suitcase and pouring a carton of juice.”

ABC News

Prof. Lydia Bourouiba speaks with ABC News about how schools can use ventilation and masks to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. “If we're not wearing a mask, that contamination is building up, particularly when we're in a classroom for hours," says Bourouiba. "But there are simple measures when we bring in fresh air from the outside that are very effective."

Associated Press

A new study by researchers from MIT and Tulane finds that the MBTA subway network faces the threat of flooding caused by rising sea levels over the new 50 years, reports the Associated Press. “A 100-year storm would completely inundate the Blue Line and large portions of the Red and Orange lines by 2030, researchers found. By 2070, a 100-year storm would flood nearly the entire network.”

The Boston Globe

A new study by researchers from MIT and Tulane University finds that rising seas have the potential to inundate the MBTA’s network and underscores the importance of fortifying the system’s infrastructure, reports Andrew Brinker for The Boston Globe. “Severe flooding is a grave challenge for the T,” explains graduate student Michael Martello.

The Wall Street Journal

A new paper co-authored by Prof. James Poterba finds that not all projects to enhance infrastructure are worth investing in, reports David Harrison for The Wall Street Journal. “If we are going to commit a significant amount of resources to new infrastructure projects or to maintain our existing infrastructure, bringing some discipline to the way we decide what we’re spending on is an important element of this,” says Poterba.

TopUniversities.com

Provost Marty Schmidt speaks with TopUniversities.com reporter Chloe Lane about how MIT has maintained its position as the top university in the world on the QS World University Rankings for 10 consecutive years. “I am honored to have been a part of the MIT community for almost 40 years,” says Schmidt. “It’s a truly interdisciplinary, collaborative, thought-provoking place that encourages experimentation and pushes you to expand your mind. I think it’s a wonderful place to call home.”

The Conversation

Writing for The Conversation, MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub Co-Director Randolph Kirchain and postdoctoral associate Hessam AzariJafari explore how building lighter-colored, more reflective roads could potentially help lower air temperatures and reduce heat waves. “As cities consider ways to combat the effects of climate change, we believe strategically optimizing pavement is a smart option that can make urban cores more livable,” they write.

Science

A new study by MIT researchers finds that air pollution can enhance lightning sparked by wildfires, reports Nikk Ogasa for Science.  Ogasa notes that the researchers “also found that air pollution did more than enhance lightning; wildfire smoke more than tripled the intensity of thundershowers.”