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Nature

Nature reporter Elie Dolgin writes that a new study by MIT researchers explores the role of the gene variant APOE4 in Alzheimer’s, and finds that the gene is linked with faulty cholesterol processing in the brain, impacting the insulation around nerve cells and potentially causing memory and learning deficits. “The work suggests that drugs that restore the brain’s cholesterol processing could treat the disease,” writes Dolgin. 

The Boston Globe

MIT and a number of other local institutions have launched Landmark Bio, a cell and gene therapy manufacturing firm aimed at helping small startups develop experimental therapies that are reliable, consistent, and large enough to be used in clinical trials, reports Ryan Cross for The Boston Globe.

The Boston Globe

MIT researchers have used the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) to successfully generate oxygen on Mars, reports Martin Finucane for The Boston Globe. “This is the first demonstration of actually using resources on the surface of another planetary body and transforming them chemically into something that would be useful for a human mission,” says Prof. Jeffrey Hoffman. “It’s historic in that sense.”

Forbes

Prof. Ariel Furst, and alumna Claire Beskin and Loewen Cavill were named the winners of the first annual MIT Female Founders Pitch, reports Stephanie MacConnell for Forbes. Furst’s company, Pharmor, has developed an inexpensive protective coating that allows microbes to be produced and transported in non-ideal conditions. Beskin’s company, Empallo, uses machine learning to unlock information on siloed patient data. And Cavill’s company, AuraBlue, has developed a wearable device that can predict hot flashes and enable a cooling pad to counteract the change in body temperature in menopausal women.

AccuWeather

Prof. Desiree Plata speaks with AccuWeather senior on-air meteorologist Geoff Cornish about her research in using zeolite clay to control and remove methane emissions from the air.  “So, the really interesting thing about zeolite is it has these cool pore spaces so when you drop copper into those pore spaces it can grab onto a methane molecule and attach an oxygen atom to it and that helps convert that methane into carbon dioxide which is a much less potent greenhouse gas and so the net benefit to the climate can be quite dramatic,” explains Plata.

The Washington Post

William E. Stoney Jr. ’49, MS ’62, an aeronautical engineer who made great contributions in developing early rockets during NASA’s space race and lead engineering on the Apollo program died at the age of 96 on May 28, 2022, reports Emily Langer for The Washington Post. Stoney “served in top engineering roles during the Apollo program, whose signal accomplishment was the moon landing by astronaut Neil Armstrong in 1969,” writes Langer. “That year, Mr. Stoney received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal for his work on the Apollo mission.”

New York Times

Prof. Gang Chen speaks with New York Times reporter Ellen Barry about the damage inflicted by the “China Initiative.” “My love is science. I did not want politics, right?” says Chen. “But I learned that you can’t get away. Politics impacts everybody. So if there are things that are not right, we all need to speak out.”

Economist

The Economist highlights new work by MIT researchers investigating the impact of automation on the labor market. A study by graduate student Joonas Tuhkuri finds that at Finnish firms “adoption of advanced technologies led to increases in hiring.” Meanwhile a new book by Profs. David Autor, David Mindell and Elisabeth Reynolds concludes that “even if robots do not create widespread joblessness, they may have helped create an environment where the rewards are ‘skewed towards the top.’”

TechCrunch

Ikigai, an MIT startup, is building automated workflows where human decision making will be a part of the process, reports Ron Miller for Tech Crunch. “What we saw is that there are use cases… [that involve] manual processes in the organizations that were extremely difficult to automate because a fundamental step involved humans making judgements or decisions with data, and where both the data and rules they’re operating on would change very often,” co-founder and CEO Vinayak Ramesh M.Eng ‘18, ‘12 tells Miller.

National Geographic

MIT scientists have mapped out the web of a tropical tent-web spider and assigned each strand a tone audible to humans reports, Hicks Wogan for National Geographic. “We’re trying to give the spider a voice, and maybe someday, communicate with the arachnid via vibrations,” explains Prof. Markus Buehler.

Smithsonian Magazine

MIT researchers have been working to turn polyethylene plastics into woven fabrics, reports Smithsonian Magazine reporter Frederick Reimers. “We strongly believe that adoption of PE textiles will be very beneficial for the world from the sustainability standpoint,” says Principal Research Scientist Svetlana Boriskina tells Reimers. 

CNN

Astronaut Raja Chari SM ‘01 was among the four astronauts on the Crew-3 mission that departed Wednesday for a six-month science and research mission, reports CNN writer Jackie Wattles. “The research the Crew-3 astronauts will oversee includes an attempt to grow a ‘perfect crystal’ to enhance our understanding of biological processes, a test of the impact of diet on astronaut health, and the testing of a smartphone video guidance sensor for guidance, navigation, and control of the Astrobee free-flying robot,” explains Wattles.

The Washington Post

Prof. Julie Shah speaks with Washington Post reporter Tatum Hunter about whether AI technologies will ever surpass human intelligence. “Any positive or negative use or outcome of this technology isn't predetermined. We have a lot of choices that we make,” Shah says. “And these should not be decisions that are left solely to technologists. Everybody needs to be involved because this technology has such a broad impact on all of us.”

Forbes

Forbes contributor Bruce Y. Lee writes that MIT researchers have found that lack of sleep can affect a person’s gait and that catching up on sleep can improve gait control for those who are chronically sleep deprived. Lee writes that the findings demonstrate how, “lack of sleep may affect your ability to move your body and navigate in subtle ways.”

Reuters

Reuters reporter Nancy Lapid writes that researchers from MIT and other institutions have found that Covid-19 can infect cells in the inner ear, which “may help explain the balance problems, hearing loss and tinnitus, or ringing in the ears experienced by some COVID-19 patients.”