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Plastics Today

Researchers from MIT and Duke have discovered that introducing weaker bonds into a material can produce stronger polymers, reports Norbert Sparrow for Plastics Today. “Side-chain cross-linked polymers are probably the most widely used type of polymer network,” says postdoc Shu Wang. “The concept [outlined] in our paper should work for all polymer networks that are side-chain cross linked.”

Nature

Prof. Nergis Mavalvala, dean of the MIT School of Science, and postdoc Victoria Xu speak with Nature reporter Davide Castelvecchi about the upgrades to the LIGO gravitational wave detectors that have significantly increased their sensitivity. “The improvements should allow the facility to pick up signals of colliding black holes every two to three days, compared with once a week or so during its previous run." 

The Conversation

Upgrades made to the LIGO gravitational wave detectors “will significantly boost the sensitivity of LIGO and should allow the facility to observe more-distant objects that produce smaller ripples in spacetime,” writes Pennsylvania State University Prof. Chad Hanna in a piece for The Conversation.

Mashable

Astronomers from MIT and elsewhere have become the first to witness a star consume an entire planet, reports Elisha Sauers for Mashable. “The new study confirms that when a sun-like star nears the end of its life, it expands into a red giant, 100 to 1,000 times its original size, eventually overtaking nearby planets,” explains Sauers. “Such events are thought to be rare, occurring only a few times each year throughout the galaxy.”

Smithsonian Magazine

A team of astronomers, including researchers from MIT, witnessed a star swallowing up an entire planet for the first time, reports Margaret Osborne for Smithsonian Magazine. “For decades, scientists have only been able to witness the before and after of such planetary engulfment,” writes Osborne.

CNN

Researchers from MIT and elsewhere have observed, for the first time, a dying star consuming a planet, reports Jack Guy for CNN. “The fact that the solar system planets would get engulfed into the sun in the future was something I had read first in high school, so it was surreal to realize that we may have found the first ever example of catching a similar event in real time,” says postdoc Kishalay De.

Reuters

Reuters reporter Will Dunham writes that scientists from MIT and elsewhere have “observed a star, bloated in its old age, swallowing a Jupiter-like planet, then expelling some material into space in an energetic belch.” Postdoc Kishalay De notes that "this planet doesn't go out without a fight. Even before it is engulfed whole, our data provides evidence that the planet tries to rip out the star's surface layers with its own gravity. But the star happens to be a thousand times more massive so the planet can't do much and eventually makes the plunge.”

The Washington Post

Researchers from MIT, Harvard, Caltech and elsewhere have spotted a hot, Jupiter-sized world being ingested by a sun-like star, reports Kasha Patel for The Washington Post. “The hope is that we would actually be able to use this entire new suite of instruments to try to find every single planet being engulfed in our galaxy in real time,” explains postdoc Kishalay De. “That’s only going to become possible now because of this discovery and together with the availability of instrumentation.”

NPR

Postdoc Kishalay De speaks with NPR’s Nell Greenfieldboyce about how he and his colleagues have observed, for the first time, a sun-like star consuming an orbiting planet. "We weren't quite looking for this. We were looking for similar things, but not quite this," says De. "Like a lot of discoveries in science, this happened to be an accidental discovery that really opened our eyes to a new type of phenomenon."

The New York Times

New York Times reporter Becky Ferreira spotlights how astronomers from MIT, Harvard, Caltech and elsewhere have spotted a dying star swallowing a large planet, “offering the first direct glimpse of a gnarly process called planetary engulfment that most likely awaits Earth in the deep future.” Postdoc Kishalay De explains that: “Finding an event like this really puts all of the theories that have been out there to the most stringent tests possible. It really opens up this entire new field of research.”

New Scientist

A team of astronomers from MIT and other institutions have detected a “sun-like star gobbling up a planet and belching out a blast of light and energy,” reports Leah Crane for New Scientist. “In the past, all of the evidence that we’ve had of stars eating planets is from looking at stars that have done that hundreds of thousands of years ago,” says postdoc Kishalay De. “But we have never caught a star red-handed eating a planet.”

Associated Press

AP reporter Marcia Dunn writes that scientists from MIT, Harvard, Caltech and elsewhere have “caught a star in the act of swallowing a planet — not just a nibble or bite, but one big gulp.” Dunn explains that: “Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher Kishalay De spotted the luminous outburst in 2020 while reviewing sky scans taken by the California Institute of Technology’s Palomar Observatory. It took additional observations and data-crunching to unravel the mystery: Instead of a star gobbling up its companion star, this one had devoured its planet.”

The Guardian

Astronomers from MIT, Harvard, Caltech and other institutions have, for the first time, captured the moment when a star swallows a nearby planet, reports Ian Sample for The Guardian. “Like a lot of discoveries in science, this happened to be an accidental discovery that really opened our eyes to a new type of phenomenon,” explains postdoctoral scholar Kishalay De. “This is going to be the final fate of Earth.”

WHDH 7

Researchers at MIT have created a four-legged robot called DribbleBot, reports Caroline Goggin for WHDH. The robot “can dribble a soccer ball under the same conditions as humans, using onboard sensors to travel across different types of terrain.”

Popular Science

Popular Science reporter Andrew Paul spotlights how researchers from MIT CSAIL have developed a soccer-playing robot, dubbed DribbleBot, that can handle a variety of real-world terrains. “DribbleBot showcases extremely impressive strides in articulation and real-time environmental analysis. Using a combination of onboarding computing and sensing, the team’s four-legged athlete can reportedly handle gravel, grass, sand, snow, and pavement, as well as pick itself up if it falls.”