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Forbes

Prof. Sara Seager, Prof. Robert Langer and Prof. Nancy Kanwisher have been awarded the 2024 Kavli Prize for their work in the three award categories: astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience, respectively, reports Michael T. Nietzel for Forbes. According to the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, this award honors scientists with outstanding research “that has broadened our understanding of the big, the small and the complex,” writes Nietzel. 

New York Times

Harrison White '50, PhD '55, “a theoretical physicist-turned-sociologist who upended the study of human relations and society” has died at age 94, reports Michael Rosenwald for The New York Times. “With his background in physics, Professor White viewed humans as nodes within social networks,” writes Rosenwald. “Those networks operated in complex ways that shaped economic mobility, financial markets, language and other social phenomena.”

The Atlantic

Prof. Brent Minchew speaks with Atlantic reporter Ross Anderson about his work developing new technology “that could slow down the cryosphere’s disintegration.” “I’m not going to be satisfied simply documenting the demise of these environments that I care about,” says Minchew. 

The Washington Post

Washington Post reporter Carolyn Johnson spotlights how Prof. Laura Schulz and her colleagues have been exploring why ChatGPT-4  performs well on conversation and cognitive tests, but flunks reasoning tests that are easy for young children. Schulz makes the case that to understand intelligence and create it, childhood learning processes should not be discounted. “That’s the kind of intelligence that really might give us a big picture,” Schulz explains. “The kind of intelligence that starts not as a blank slate, but with a lot of rich, structured knowledge — and goes on to not only understand everything we have ever understood, across the species, but everything we will ever understand.”

New Scientist

Prof. Netta Engelhardt talks to New Scientist’s Thomas Lawton about the possibility of singularities existing outside black holes. Theorists can now probe singularities from a deeper perspective, using insights into the possible quantum foundations of gravity. This new approach “flips the script” on how we think about singularities, says Engelhardt.

The Guardian

Prof. Susan Solomon speaks with Guardian reporter Killian Fox about her new book “Solvable: How We Healed the Earth, and How We Can Do It Again,” and her research addressing climate change. “For goodness sake, let’s not give up now, we’re right on the cusp of success,” says Solomon. “That’s the fundamental message of the book.” 

Newsweek

MIT is the world’s No.1 university for the 13th year in a row, according to the latest global university rankings from publisher QS Top Universities. 

Times Higher Education

Prof. Susan Solomon speaks with Times Higher Education reporter Matthew Reisz about her work “researching, teaching and communicating climate science while also leading seemingly endless international environmental negotiations.” Solomon recently published a new book, “Solvable: How We Healed the Earth, and How We Can Do It Again,” in which she outlines her “hope for the planet.” Says Solomon: “We are in a world bursting with change. So it’s a perfect time to be a climate scientist and study all those things.”

NBC Boston

NBC Boston reporter Matt Fortin visits the lab of Prof. Julien de Wit to learn more about his work discovering two new planets, a puffy, Jupiter-sized planet located over 1,000 light years away that has the consistency of cotton candy and an Earth-sized planet that may lack an atmosphere. “Through studying other atmospheres we get to improve our understanding of our own climate,” de Wit explains. “It’s like a sensitive mirror that helps us reflect back on us, so it’s all these different vantage points that we are gaining. That’s what exoplanetary science gives us.”

WGBH

Prof. Anna Frebel joins Arun Rath of WGBH’s All Things Considered to discuss her recent discovery of some of the universe’s oldest stars, an out-of-this-world identification made the help of MIT undergraduates Hillary Andales, Ananda Santos and Casey Fienberg. “When you meet someone new, you want to know what their name is, how old they are, maybe where they live and what they do, right?” says Frebel. “We do the same with all the astronomical objects in the sky.” 

Science

Postdoctoral researchers Marin and Lukas Vogelsang speak with Science reporter Christie Wilcox about their recent work finding “the poor color vision that newborns normally have actually helps them develop well-rounded vision overall.” “The question that really drove this study is why we are so good at recognizing faces and objects in black and white photos and movies,” explains Marin Vogelsang. “And we found an answer to this when studying children in India who were born blind and were treated for their blindness as a part of Project Prakash.”

Scientific American

Researchers at MIT have created a noise-blocking sheet of silkworm silk that could “greatly streamline the pursuit of silence,” reports Andrew Chapman for Scientific American. “The silk sheet, which is enhanced with a special fiber, expands on a technology also found in noise-canceling headphones,” explains Chapman. “These devices create silence by sampling the ambient noise and then emitting sound waves that are out of phase with those in the environment. When the ambient and emitted waves overlap, they cancel each other out.” 

Quanta Magazine

For the first time ever, researchers at MIT have observed electrons form “fractional quasiparticles without enabling the influence of a magnetic field,” reports Daniel Garisto for Quanta Magazine. This discovery “may carry the seeds of long-sought quasiparticles with stable memories that could underpin a new and powerful approach to quantum computing.” 

New Scientist

The California Institute of Technology has announced the eight distinguished scientists who will be this year’s Brown Investigators, each receiving up to $2 million over five years to support research on fundamental challenges in the physical sciences, writes Michael T. Nietzel for Forbes. Recipient Prof. Nuh Gedik will, “develop a new kind of microscopy that images electrons photo-emitted from a surface while also measuring their energy and momentum.”

Scientific American

Current AI models require enormous resources and often provide unpredictable results. But graduate student Ziming Liu and colleagues have developed an approach that surpasses current neural networks in many respects, reports Manion Bischoff for Scientific American. “So-called Kolmogorov-Arnold networks (KANs) can master a wide range of tasks much more efficiently and solve scientific problems better than previous approaches,” Bischoff explains.