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Scientific American

Prof. Larry Guth and University of Oxford Prof. James Maynard have improved a previously discovered mathematical estimate contributing to the process of solving the Riemann hypothesis – an open question in number theory and mathematics, reports Manon Bischoff for Scientific American. Guth and Maynard have “provided new food for thought to tackle the 160-year-old puzzle,” writes Bischoff.  

USA Today

Sonia Vallabh and Eric Minikel, senior group leaders from the Broad Institute have created a gene-editing tool to combat prion diseases, reports Karen Weintraub for USA Today. The approach “should also work against diseases such as Huntington's, Parkinson's, ALS and even Alzheimer's, which result from the accumulation of toxic proteins,” Weintraub writes.

The Boston Globe

Writing for The Boston Globe, Cady Coleman ’83 reflects on her career as an astronaut and Air Force colonel. “I am an astronaut,” writes Coleman. “Even after 24 years at NASA, two space shuttle missions, and six months living aboard the International Space Station, it thrills me to say those words, and yet there is a part of me that’s still surprised by them.”  

Sing for Science

Prof. David Kaiser joins Grammy winning producer Jack Antonoff and host Matt White of Sing for Science to discuss the nature and perception of time. Kaiser helps illustrate, “the idea that we're experiencing things that can seem to take a long time or short time, and that has to do with our state in the world, and not only about what the clock is saying on the wall.”

Boston Globe

MIT scientists have developed a new model to analyze movements across the Antarctic Ice Sheet, “a critical step in understanding the potential speed and severity of sea level rise,” writes Ava Berger for The Boston Globe. “The flow of glaciers is really the thing that could lead to catastrophic sea level rise scenarios,” explains Prof. Brent Minchew. The findings take “a really big and important step toward understanding what the future is going to look like.”  

Mashable

Applying models that simulate erosion on Earth to Saturn’s largest moon, MIT scientists have determined that waves of methane and ethane on Titan likely shaped the moon’s coastlines, writes Elisha Sauers for Mashable. “If Titan's oceans exhibit waves, that could give scientists insight into the moon's climate,” Sauers writes. “They could then begin predicting the strength of wind on this world and infer what direction it's often blowing — factors that might be necessary to power such waves.”

Economist

MIT researchers have improved upon the diffusion models used in AI image generation, reports Alok Jha for The Economist. Working with electrically charged particles, the team created “Poisson flow generative models,” which “generate images of equal or better quality than state-of-the-art diffusion models, while being less error-prone and requiring between ten and 20 times fewer computational steps,” Jha explains. 

Newsweek

MIT scientists have found that lakes and seas made of methane may have shaped Titan’s shores, writes Jess Thomson for Newsweek. “This discovery could allow astronomers to learn even more about the conditions on Titan,” writes Thomson. “Knowing that waves carved out the coast enables them to predict how fast and strong the winds on the moon are and from which direction they blow.” 

Gizmodo

Gizmodo reporter Passant Rabie spotlights new research by MIT geologists that finds waves of methane on Titan likely eroded and shaped the moon’s coastlines. “If we could stand at the edge of one of Titan’s seas, we might see waves of liquid methane and ethane lapping on the shore and crashing on the coasts during storms,” explains Prof. Taylor Perron. “And they would be capable of eroding the material that the coast is made of.” 

The New York Times

Prof. Evelina Fedorenko has uncovered evidence that the human brain uses language for communicating, not reasoning, writes Carl Zimmer for The New York Times. “Other regions in the brain are working really hard when you’re doing all these forms of thinking, but it became clear that none of those things seem to engage language circuits,” she says. 

BBC News

Prof. Hugh Herr joins the BBC’s Shiona McCallum to discuss a program by the K. Lisa Yang Center for Bionics aimed at bringing prosthetics to those who suffered forced amputations during the Sierra Leone Civil War. “When we train a young person on how to construct an arm or leg prothesis we’ve impacted the country for solidly forty years,” Herr says. “That person’s going to be living in that country and contributing to their community for a very long time. That’s exciting.” 

CNN

Researchers at MIT have discovered the composition of primordial black holes, “potentially discovering an entirely new type of exotic black hole in the process,” reports Jacopo Prisco for CNN. “We were making use of Stephen Hawking’s famous calculations about black holes, especially his important result about the radiation that black holes emit,” says Prof. David Kaiser. “These exotic black holes emerge from trying to address the dark matter problem — they are a byproduct of explaining dark matter.”

The Wall Street Journal

Postdoctoral associate Adam Forrest Kay’s book “Escape From Shadow Physics: The Quest to End the Dark Ages of Quantum Theory,” is reviewed by Andrew Crumey for The Wall Street Journal. “Consistently interesting” and “energetically written,” the book, “eloquently explains the history behind hydrodynamic quantum analogs,” writes Crumey.  

Newsweek

MIT researchers have created an amber-like material that preserves DNA so it can store data, improving on current methods that use particles of silica or require freezing, reports Pandora Dewan for Newsweek. The team “demonstrated their material by embedding and subsequently removing a DNA sequence encoding the music for the Jurassic Park theme song,” Dewan explains. “Following this process, they sequenced the molecule and confirmed that no errors had been introduced into the DNA sequence.”

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.