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Fluid dynamics

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Smithsonian Magazine

Researchers at MIT and elsewhere have found that the sun’s magnetic field “could form much closer to the star’s surface than previously thought,” reports Will Sullivan for Smithsonian Magazine. “The findings could help improve forecasts of solar activity that can affect satellites, power grids and communications systems on Earth—and produce magnificent auroras,” explains Sullivan. 

BBC Science Focus

BBC Science Focus reporter Alex Hughes spotlights a new study by MIT scientists that suggests more heavy snowfall and rain linked to climate change could increasingly contribute to earthquakes worldwide. “The researchers made these conclusions based on how weather patterns in northern Japan have seemingly contributed to a new 'swarm' of earthquakes,” writes Hughes, “a pattern of multiple, ongoing quakes – that is thought to have begun in 2020.”

NBC News

A new study conducted by MIT researchers suggests “heavy snowfall could be a factor in triggering swarms of earthquakes,” reports Evan Bush for NBC News. "Those big snowfall events seem to correlate well with the start of these big earthquake swarms," says Prof. William Frank. "We shouldn’t forget the climate itself can also play a role in changing the stress state at depth where earthquakes are happening." 

The Boston Globe

MIT researchers have developed a new satellite observation technique that can gauge how fast rivers flowed on Mars billions of years ago and how fast they currently flow on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, reports Talia Lissauer for The Boston Globe. “We can use these other worlds to help us understand what keeps planetary climate stable, or in some cases, what allows planetary climate to change really drastically over time like on Mars,” says Prof. Taylor Perron.

Forbes

Researchers from MIT have developed a new satellite observation technique that can help gauge the strength of ancient rivers on Mars and active liquid methane rivers on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, reports Jamie Carter for Forbes. “What’s exciting about Titan is that it’s active, and on Mars, it gives us a time machine, to take the rivers that are dead now and get a sense of what they were like when they were actively flowing,” says Prof. Taylor Perron. “With this technique, we have a method to make real predictions for a place where we won’t get more data for a long time.”

Gizmodo

Using a new satellite observation technique, researchers from MIT and elsewhere have determined the flow of dried-up rivers on Mars and currently active liquid methane rivers on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. “Both kinds are of scientific interest because they could reveal the role rivers play in shaping the worlds’ environments,” reports Isaac Schultz for Gizmodo.

IEEE Spectrum

MIT researchers have developed a new compact, lightweight design for a 1-megawatt electrical motor that “could open the door to electrifying much larger aircraft,” reports Ed Gent for IEEE Spectrum. “The majority of CO2 is produced by twin and single-aisle aircraft which require large amounts of power and onboard energy, thus megawatt-class electrical machines are needed to power commercial airliners,” says Prof. Zoltán Spakovszky. “Realizing such machines at 1 MW is a key stepping stone to larger machines and power levels.”

NPR

Graduate student Crystal Owens speaks with NPR correspondent Miles Parks about her study which sought to find out the perfect ratio for breaking apart an Oreo cookie. “What we actually found was that all of the results were basically the same,” says Owens. “You can’t do it wrong because there’s no way to do it right.”

The Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal reporter Aylin Woodward writes about how graduate student Crystal Owens and undergraduate Max Fan set out to solve a cookie conundrum: whether there was a way to twist apart an Oreo and have the filling stick to both wafers. Woodward writes that for Owens, the research “was a fun, easy way to make her regular physics and engineering work more accessible to the general public.”

US News & World Report

Researchers at MIT have found indoor humidity levels can influence the transmission of Covid-19, reports Dennis Thompson for US News & World Report. “We found that even when considering countries with very strong versus very weak Covid-19 mitigation policies, or wildly different outdoor conditions, indoor — rather than outdoor — relative humidity maintains an underlying strong and robust link with Covid-19 outcomes,” explains Prof. Lydia Bourouiba.

Fortune

MIT researchers have found that relative humidity “may be an important metric in influencing the transmission of Covid-19,” reports Sophie Mellor for Fortune, “Maintaining an indoor relative humidity between 40% and 60% – a Goldilocks climate, not too humid, not too dry – is associated with relatively lower rates of Covid-19 infections and deaths,” writes Mellor.

BBC

Prof. Lydia Bourouiba speaks with BBC CrowdSource presenter Marnie Chesterton about her work in understanding how bodily fluids such as snot and spittle spread after leaving the body using high speed cameras.  “What is very clear is that we emit… droplets of a continuum of sizes but they are not coming out alone,” explains Bourouiba. “They are coming out with an air that is in our lungs, that is hot and moist and turbulent, which changes the physical dynamics of the emission and how the drops will evolve.”

Popular Mechanics

Researchers at MIT have created a 3D-printable Oreometer that uses twisting force to determine if it is possible to evenly split an Oreo cookie, reports Juandre for Popular Mechanics. “While studying the twisting motion, the engineers also discovered the torque required to successfully open an Oreo is about the same as what’s needed to turn a doorknob—a tenth of the torque required to open a bottle cap,” writes Juandre.

USA Today

A group of MIT scientists led by PhD candidate Crystal Owens has developed an Oreometer, a device used to determine if it is possible to evenly split an Oreo cookie every time, reports Maria Jimenez Moya for USA Today. “One day, just doing experiments, and, all of a sudden we realized that this machine would be perfect for opening Oreos because it already has … the fluid in the center, and then these two discs are like the same geometry as an Oreo,” says Owens.

Gizmodo

MIT researchers have developed an “Oreometer” to test the optimal way to split an Oreo cookie, an exercise in rheology, or the study of how matter flows, reports Isaac Shultz for Gizmodo. "Our favorite twist was rotating while pulling Oreos apart from one side, as a kind of peel-and-twist, which was the most reliable for getting a very clean break,” explains graduate student Crystal Owens.