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  • Audio explainer: Exploring the fields of bioprinting and biohybrid materials

    January 23, 2020
  • Explained: Detecting the threat of nuclear weapons

    Professor of nuclear science and engineering Scott Kemp describes the science behind the search for clandestine nuclear sites.

    June 8, 2018
  • Explained: Neural networks

    Ballyhooed artificial-intelligence technique known as “deep learning” revives 70-year-old idea.

    April 14, 2017
  • Explained: Greenhouse gases

    Carbon dioxide isn’t the only one that matters, and the gases vary widely in potency and duration.

    January 30, 2017
  • Explained: chemical vapor deposition

    Technique enables production of pure, uniform coatings of metals or polymers, even on contoured surfaces.

    June 19, 2015
  • Explained: Hydrophobic and hydrophilic

    Better understanding of how surfaces attract or repel water could improve everything from power plants to ketchup bottles.

    July 16, 2013
  • Explained: Graphs

    A simple tool for representing relationships between data, devices or almost anything else has ubiquitous applications in computer science.

    December 17, 2012
  • Explained: Margin of error

    When you hear poll results reported with a certain margin of error, that’s only part of the story.

    October 31, 2012
  • Explained: Femtoseconds and attoseconds

    As electronic and optical devices get ever faster, terms for ever-smaller increments of time are coming into wider use.

    September 18, 2012
  • Explained: Near-miss asteroids

    What to do in the event of an asteroid streaking toward Earth? Activate the asteroid ‘fire drill.’

    June 29, 2012
  • Explained: Sigma

    How do you know when a new finding is significant? The sigma value can tell you — but watch out for dead fish.

    February 9, 2012
  • Explained: Measuring earthquakes

    How do scientists measure jolts such as the recent disaster in Japan? Hint: They don’t use the Richter scale.

    May 10, 2011
  • Explained: Ad hoc networks

    Decentralized wireless networks could have applications in distributed sensing and robotics and maybe even personal communications.

    March 10, 2011
  • Explained: Transiting exoplanets

    How astronomers learn whether a planet is habitable by observing slight changes in light emanating from its parent star.

    January 27, 2011
  • Explained: Currency wars

    Countries are clashing over their currency prices. Why?

    November 15, 2010
  • Explained: Defining recessions

    It’s not what conventional wisdom holds, as an MIT economist — who heads the bureau charged with identifying U.S. downturns — makes clear.

    September 29, 2010
  • 3 questions: P vs. NP

    After glancing over a 100-page proof that claimed to solve the biggest problem in computer science, Scott Aaronson bet his house that it was wrong. Why?

    August 17, 2010
  • Explained: the Doppler effect

    The same phenomenon behind changes in the pitch of a moving ambulance’s siren is helping astronomers locate and study distant planets.

    August 3, 2010
  • Explained: Bandgap

    Understanding how electrons get excited is crucial to creating solar cells and light-emitting diodes

    July 23, 2010
  • Explained: Phonons

    When trying to control the way heat moves through solids, it is often useful to think of it as a flow of particles.

    July 8, 2010