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Fast Company

Fast Company reporter Nate Berg spotlights the work of Liminal, a non-profit research group developed by students from MIT and Harvard that is focused on sustainable development in small towns. “Liminal brought 18 architecture and urbanism students from MIT to Abruzzo for a three-week immersion in the region,” writes Berg, “to learn about local priorities and develop design visions for the future of its small towns.”

Popular Mechanics

Researchers from MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) and Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS) are working on making commercial nuclear fusion a reality, reports Juandre for Popular Mechanics. “CFS will build [the tokamak] SPARC and develop a commercial fusion product, while MIT PSFC will focus on its core mission of cutting-edge research and education,” says Prof. Dennis G. Whyte, director of the PSFC. 

Radio Boston (WBUR)

Associate Provost Richard Lester and Prof. Noelle Selin speak with Tiziana Dearing, host of Radio Boston, about MIT’s Climate Grand Challenges. “To me, the Climate Grand Challenges effort really represents that we’re kind of at a frameshift when thinking about the climate problem. It’s not just a problem that some people can work on,” says Selin. “A climate challenge is a whole of society challenge, and therefore it really has to be a whole of MIT challenge.” Lester adds he hopes the challenges will “inspire a new generation of students to roll up their sleeves, put their shoulders to the wheel and help us solve this problem.”

VoxDev

VoxDev spotlights the work of Prof. Abhijit Banerjee, Prof. Esther Duflo and graduate student Garima Sharma in studying the long-term effects targeted programs have on helping poor households escape the poverty trap. “Using a randomized controlled trial that tracked these households four, seven and ten years after the intervention, the authors find that ten years later, treated households consume about 20% more than control group households and earn about 30% more,” writes VoxDev.

State House News

MIT President L. Rafael Reif and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry discussed the urgency of addressing climate change during the Climate Grand Challenges Showcase event, reports Chris Lisinski for the State House News Service. “Climate change has been called a ‘super wicked’ problem. In Boston, that might sound like a local way of saying ‘really hard,’ but this phrase is actually a technical term,” Reif said. “It describes any enormously complex societal problem that has no single right answer and no clear finish line as well as multiple stakeholders with conflicting priorities and no central authority empowered to solve it.”

Bloomberg News

Bloomberg News reporter Janet Wu speaks with President L. Rafael Reif and Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry during the Institute’s Climate Grand Challenges showcase event. “If you can capture the emissions -- literally, genuinely -- then you’re reducing the problem,” said Kerry of the importance of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions.

Boston Business Journal

MIT announced five projects "targeting the world's toughest climate riddles" that were selected following a rigorous two-year competition, reports Benjamin Kail for Boston Business Journal. “Climate Grand Challenges represents a whole-of-MIT drive to develop game-changing advances to confront the escalating climate crisis, in time to make a difference,” says President L. Rafael Reif.

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.”

NBC Boston

Carol R. Saivetz, a senior advisor for MIT’s Security Studies Program, speaks with NBC Boston about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “The claims that this was all about NATO expansion are really false,” says Saivetz. “I think it’s much more about Putin’s imperial ambitions and this whole idea that unless he can put back together the Soviet Union that somehow Russia is not a great power.”

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.”

CNN

A new report by researchers from MIT’s Civic Data Design Lab, the Migration Policy Institute and the World Food Programme investigates the motivations and costs of migration from Central America, and finds that migrants spend $2.2 billion every year trying to reach the U.S., reports Catherine E. Shoichet for CNN.  "That is an extreme amount of money," explains Prof. Sarah Williams. "That $2.2 billion is all paid for by the migrants themselves, so the risks, both in terms of debt and personal risk, is borne by the migrant."

Reuters

Reuters reporter Toby Sterling spotlights how MIT researchers have been working with Amsterdam’s Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions to develop a self-driving watercraft for transporting passengers, goods and trash through the canals. “We have a lot of open water available in the canals,” says Stephan van Dijk, Amsterdam’s Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions Innovation Director. “So, we developed a self-driving, autonomous ship to help with logistics in the city and also bringing people around.” 

Fast Company

A new study by MIT economists finds that sleeping more may not improve performance or well-being, especially if night-time sleeping is often interrupted, reports Arianne Cohen for Fast Company. “The researchers say their findings suggest that sleep quality may be essential,” writes Cohen. “Participants experienced many nightly sleep interruptions, a saga familiar to anyone who lives with children.”

Issues in Science and Technology

Writing for Issues in Science and Technology, President L. Rafael Reif examines Vannevar Bush’s groundbreaking 1945 Science, the Endless Frontier report and considers how our needs today have changed. “To meet this moment, we need to ensure that our federally sponsored research addresses questions that will enhance our competitiveness now and in the future,” writes Reif. “Our current system has many strengths…but we must not allow these historical advantages to blind us to gaps that could become fatal weaknesses.”

Financial Times

Profs. Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee speak with Financial Times reporter Martin Sandbu about the need for better economic “plumbing,” the shortcomings of policy to address climate change and the state of the profession of economics. Duflo notes that before the pandemic there had been improvement in quality of life around the world, "in part because of more focus on these quality of life issues and, I would argue, a little bit more attention given to plumbing and setting pragmatic objectives and programs as opposed to aiming for some more elusive growth.”