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Associated Press

Prof. Gary Gensler has been approved to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission, reports Marcy Gordon for the AP. The appointment signals “an emphasis on investor protection for the Wall Street watchdog agency after a deregulatory stretch during the Trump administration,” writes Gordon.


MIT researchers have created 3D models of spiderwebs to help transform the web’s vibrations into sounds that humans can hear, writes Angela Moore for Reuters. “Spiders utilize vibrations as a way to communicate with the environment, with other spiders,” says Prof. Markus Buehler. “We have recorded these vibrations from spiders and used artificial intelligence to learn these vibrational patterns and associate them with certain actions, basically learning the spider’s language.” 


Hanna Ali of NOVA Next speaks with Prof. Desiree Plata about methane emissions and Prof. Tim Swager about his work developing sensors that could allow users to “see” methane, track down its source and mitigate impacts. “You probably hear headlines all the time, ‘Everywhere we look for plastics in the environment, we find them,’” Plata says. “The same is true of most industrial chemicals, but the problem is I can’t pull out my cell phone and take a picture of [them]. Tim’s sensors are helping to close that gap.”


In a new data sonification project, Prof. Markus Buehler and his colleagues have translated the vibrations of a spider’s web into music, writes Maddie Bender for Motherboard. “It shows that our human reference system isn't the only one,” says Buehler. “For something like a spider, there’s a whole different way of experiencing the world, and now we have an ability to see that.”


MIT engineers have translated the vibrations of a spider’s web into music, reports Isaac Schultz for Gizmodo. “Spiders live in this vibrational universe,” says Prof. Markus Buehler. “They live in this world of vibrations and frequencies, which we can now access. One of the things we can do with this instrument with this approach is we can, for the first time, begin to feel a little bit like a spider or experience the world like the spider does.”


Forbes contributor Andrea Morris spotlights how MIT researchers have created a virtual reality experience that allows people to experience a spider web’s vibrations as music. “Basically [we] use the tuning that a spider has created for its own purpose,” says Prof. Markus Buehler. “We're asking the question, what can we do musically there? And how can we make that into something that we can recognize and find aesthetically interesting?”  

New Scientist

MIT researchers have created a new audio-visual virtual reality that can provide a sense of what it’s like to be a spider by converting a spider web’s vibrations to sounds that humans can hear, reports Ian Morse for New Scientist. “The spider web can be viewed as an extension of the body of the spider, in that it lives within it, but also uses it as a sensor,” says Prof. Markus Buehler. “When you go into the virtual reality world and you dive inside the web, being able to hear what’s going on allows you to understand what you see.”

United Press International (UPI)

UPI reporter Brooks Hays writes that a new tool developed by researchers from MIT and other institutions can precisely control gene expression without altering the underlying gene sequence. “Scientists hope this new ability to silence any part of the human genome will lead to powerful insights into functionality of the human genome, as well as inspire new therapies for a variety of diseases and genetic disorders,” writes Hays.

The Conversation

Writing for The Conversation, Prof. Jessika Trancik explores how government policies can spark innovation in clean energy markets, helping to reduce carbon emissions. “Left to its own devices, technological change will not necessarily solve climate change, especially not in the limited time we have left to act,” writes Trancik. “But my research on technology evolution suggests that government policy can help propel this powerful process toward rapid progress and beneficial outcomes.”

New Scientist

Researchers from MIT and the Indian Institute of Technology Madras have developed a new technique to grow and culture human brain tissue in an inexpensive bioreactor, writes Christa Lesté-Lasserre for New Scientist. The researchers have now “reported the growth of a brain organoid over seven days. This demonstrates that the brain cells can thrive inside the chip.”

The Washington Post

Senior Research Scientist Stephanie Seneff co-authored an opinion piece for The Washington Post, which examines how the high level of herbicide chemicals found in Florida waterways is contributing to a record number of manatee deaths. “If we want to stop manatees from starving, we have to stop using this harmful chemical on our crops, on our lawns and in our waterways,” they conclude. 

The Atlantic

Chris Woolston highlights research from Prof. Laura Schulz as he examines the benefits of playtime for The Atlantic. “Pretending to fight dragons won’t make you any better at fighting dragons,” says Schulz, but when children play pretend, “they’re setting up a cognitive space where they can create a problem and then solve it.”


A new study by researchers from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) finds that ride-sharing services can lead to increased congestion, both in intensity and duration, reports E&T. “While mathematical models in prior studies showed that the potential benefit of on-demand shared mobility could be tremendous, our study suggests that translating this potential into actual gains is much more complicated in the real world,” says Prof. Jinhua Zhao.


CSAIL researchers have developed a new material with embedded sensors that can track a person’s movement, reports Mashable. The clothing could “track things like posture or give feedback on how you’re walking.”

Fast Company

Fast Company reporter Elizabeth Segran spotlights how CSAIL researchers have crafted a new smart fabric embedded with sensors that can sense pressure from the person wearing it. “Sensors in this new material can be used to gather data about people’s posture and body movements,” writes Segran. “This could be useful in a variety of settings, including athletic training, monitoring the health of elderly patients, and identifying whether someone has fallen over.”