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New York Times

Researchers from MIT and other institutions have developed a new virtual-reality technique that has allowed them to unearth the contents of letters written hundreds of years ago, without opening them, writes New York Times reporter William J. Broad. “The new technique could open a window into the long history of communications security,” writes Broad. “And by unlocking private intimacies, it could aid researchers studying stories concealed in fragile pages found in archives all over the world.”

New Scientist

Using X-ray imaging and algorithms, MIT researchers have been able to virtually open and read letters that been sealed for more than 300 years, writes Priti Parikh for New Scientist. “Studying folding and tucking patterns in historic letters allows us to understand technologies used to communicate,” says Jana Dambrogio, a conservator at the MIT Libraries.

The Wall Street Journal

Researchers from MIT and other institutions have used algorithms and an X-ray scanner to decipher the secrets inside a letter that has been sealed since 1697, reports Sara Castellanos for The Wall Street Journal. “This is a dream come true in the field of conservation,” said Jana Dambrogio, the Thomas F. Peterson Conservator at MIT Libraries.

Mashable

Mashable spotlights how MIT researchers have developed a new type of amputation surgery that could “help amputees better control their residual muscles and sense where their ‘phantom limb’ is in space.” 

The Boston Globe

Postdoc Shriya Srinivasan has devised a new way to perform amputation surgery that would reconnect dangling nerves to the skin and help restore a patient’s sense of touch, reports Anissa Gardizy for The Boston Globe. “I would hope that in the next 10 years, people are offered the ability to have these advanced techniques incorporated into their initial surgery,” she said.

El Pais

Prof. Dava Newman speaks with Esther Paniagua of El País about her goals for her new role as director of the MIT Media Lab. “We want to accelerate positive change for people,” says Newman in this interview, which is in Spanish. “Trying to answer the big questions: equity, justice, inequality, climate and sustainability, people and communication, and education and learning.”

Bloomberg

Bloomberg reporters Benjamin Bain, Jennifer Epstein and Robert Schmidt spotlight the work Prof. Gary Gensler, who has been nominated as the next chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Gensler “not only knows how to mobilize a bureaucratic federal agency but also understands the often impenetrable ways that Wall Street makes money -- and how firms use that complexity to turn regulation in their favor.”

Associated Press

President-elect Joe Biden has selected Prof. Gary Gensler to serve as the next chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, reports Marcy Gordon and Zeke Miller for the AP. Gensler “was an assistant Treasury secretary in the Clinton administration and later headed the CFTC during Barack Obama’s term. With a background of having worked for nearly 20 years at Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs, Gensler surprised many by being a tough regulator of big banks as CFTC chairman.”

NBC News

NBC News reporter Martha White writes that Prof. Gary Gensler has been selected as President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission. “Gensler is a terrific choice to head the agency," said Barbara Roper, director of investor protection at the Consumer Federation of America. "He’s as knowledgeable about the markets as anyone on Wall Street, so he can’t be intimidated. He’s a seasoned regulator who knows how to get things done.”

New York Times

Prof. Gary Gensler will be the Biden administration’s pick to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, reports Matthew Goldstein, Lauren Hirsch and Andrew Ross Sorkin for The New York Times. “Mr. Gensler is a veteran regulator who played a central role in bringing the big banks to heel in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, giving new teeth to a watchdog agency.”

Fast Company

Writing for Fast Company, Prof. Ramesh Raskar explores how to help improve distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine. Raskar and his co-author write that, “We must apply modern techniques like data analytics, user research, and usability testing to learn about the vaccine and immunization process from the perspective of different Americans, all while preserving privacy and people’s right to remain anonymous.” 

Stat

Writing for STAT, Prof. Kevin Esvelt explores how we can stop the spread of the B-117, a variant of SARS-CoV-2. Going forward, Esvelt and his co-author argue that “over the next few years we must build a genomic monitoring system to detect evolutionary changes in viral, bacterial, and other pathogens that could require new measures to protect public health, and that could detect new pandemic pathogens of any provenance early enough to intervene.”

The Boston Globe

Writing for The Boston Globe, Prof. Ramesh Raskar underscores the importance of ensuring that every American has the opportunity to receive the Covid-19 vaccine without cost or without giving up their privacy. “By effectively communicating the privacy benefits of decentralized data collection and anonymized data reporting, mobile apps might diminish barriers to vaccination that exist due to privacy concerns,” writes Raskar.

TechCrunch

TechCrunch reporter Devin Coldewey writes that Prof. Dava Newman has been selected as the new director of the MIT Media Lab. Coldewey notes that Newman is "starting off the job by emphasizing one of the best qualities a leader should have: listening to the people she’ll be leading.”

WBUR

Prof. Dava Newman speaks with WBUR’s Max Larkin about being selected as the new director of the MIT Media Lab. Larkin highlights how Newman, an aerospace engineer and former deputy administrator of NASA, “comes into the role with a stellar resume.” Newman remarks that “superstars and genius come in all forms and shapes.” As director, she says she hopes to celebrate the lab’s “‘infinite diversity in infinite combinations.’”