Category Archives: Science & Technology

Pluto’s icy, slushy heart

Data from New Horizons mission suggest a water-ice ocean lies beneath Pluto’s heart-shaped basin by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Beneath Pluto’s “heart” lies a cold, slushy ocean of water ice, according to data from NASA’s New Horizons mission. In a paper published

Researchers create synthetic cells to isolate genetic circuits

Encapsulating molecular components in artificial membranes offers more by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office CAMBRIDGE, MA — Synthetic biology allows scientists to design genetic circuits that can be placed in cells, giving them new functions such as producing drugs or other useful molecules. However, as

Faster programs, easier programming

New system lets nonexperts optimize programs that run on multiprocessor chips CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Dynamic programming is a technique that can yield relatively efficient solutions to computational problems in economics, genomic analysis, and other fields. But adapting it to computer chips with multiple “cores,” or processing

Artificial-intelligence system surfs web to improve its performance

“Information extraction” system helps turn plain text into data for statistical analysis by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Of the vast wealth of information unlocked by the Internet, most is plain text. The data necessary to answer myriad questions — about, say, the

A new twist on airplane wing design

“Morphing” wing could enable more efficient plane manufacturing and flight by David L Chandler, MIT News Office CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — When the Wright brothers accomplished their first powered flight more than a century ago, they controlled the motion of their Flyer 1 aircraft using wires and

Making computers explain themselves

New training technique would reveal the basis for machine-learning systems’ decisions by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In recent years, the best-performing systems in artificial-intelligence research have come courtesy of neural networks, which look for patterns in training data that yield useful predictions

Mapping serotonin dynamics in the living brain

Imaging technique that creates 3-D video of serotonin transport could aid antidepressant development by Rob Matheson, MIT News CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that’s partly responsible for feelings of happiness and for mood regulation in humans. This makes it a common target for antidepressants,

A new player in appetite control

Brain cells that provide structural support also influence feeding behavior, study shows by Anne Trafton, MIT News CAMBRIDGE, MA – MIT neuroscientists have discovered that brain cells called glial cells play a critical role in controlling appetite and feeding behavior. In a study of mice,

To produce biopharmaceuticals on demand, just add water

 Freeze-dried cellular components can be rehydrated to churn out useful proteins. by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office CAMBRIDGE, MA — Researchers at MIT and other institutions have created tiny freeze-dried pellets that include all of the molecular machinery needed to translate DNA into proteins, which

Water vapor sets some oxides aflutter

Newly discovered phenomenon could affect materials in batteries and water-splitting devices by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — When one type of an oxide structure called perovskite is exposed to both water vapor and streams of electrons, it exhibits behavior that researchers