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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.”

CNN

Prof. Yossi Sheffi speaks with CNN’s Zachary Wolf about how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected supply chains, impacting the supply of ketchup packets and causing delays in computer chips. “During the pandemic many industries reduced their orders and suppliers reduced their orders and capacity even further (because they anticipated that future orders will also be reduced),” says Sheffi. “When the economy came back, there was no capacity to snap right back.”

Ars Technica

Alumnus David Oh ’91, SM ’93, ScD ’97 speaks with Ars Technica reporter Eric Berger about his work serving as the technical lead for NASA’s Psyche mission, a robotic spacecraft that is set to voyage to a metallic asteroid using a propulsion technology called Hall thrusters. Berger writes that Oh, who worked on Hall thrusters as a graduate student at MIT, is “eager to learn whether Psyche may be the core of something that could have become a planet during the early days of our Solar System but ultimately didn't.”

New Scientist

In a conversation with New Scientist reporter Jonathan O’Callaghan, Prof. Tanja Bosak discusses her work with the NASA Perseverance rover’s rock reconnaissance mission. “In the middle of a pandemic, I think we needed something good to happen, and that’s why so many people wanted all the science and engineering that goes into landing a rover on Mars to succeed,” says Bosak. “As for what will happen when the samples come back – I can’t imagine. It’s going to be otherworldly.”

Boston Globe

Alumna Farah Alibay PhD ’14 speaks with Boston Globe reporter Charlie McKenna about her work with the Ingenuity helicopter, an experiment aimed at achieving flight on Mars. “If we are able to demonstrate flight, it could open up possibilities, incredible possibilities for future missions that could be scout helicopters for rovers or science helicopters for exploring Mars,” says Alibay. “It just opens up aerial explorations of Mars, then possibly other planets, too.”

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.”

McGonigal's Chronicles: Making Montana Connections

McGonigal’s Chronicles, a new podcast celebrating extraordinary people with Montana connections, recently launched with an appearance by Professor Dava Newman. In conversation with the host, Tim McGonigal of Montana Television Network, Newman discusses growing up in Big Sky Country, her excitement about becoming director of the MIT Media Lab, and the importance of role models. “All little folks have a great dream, and I think it’s all of our responsibility then to help empower them, help their dreams come true,” says Newman.

WBUR

The MIT List Visual Arts Center is hosting the Max Wasserman Forum: Another World, which features “two prerecorded panel discussions that’ll touch upon subjects pertaining to art in the digital realm,” reports Magdiela Matta for WBUR. “This event will leave you thinking more critically about moving toward a future where there’s a world of endless possibilities in how we present media,” Matta writes.

Boston Globe

A group of MIT scientists has announced a new plan, called the Future Founders Initiative, aimed at addressing gender inequities in the biotech industry, reports Anissa Gardizy for The Boston Globe. “If we can’t advance discoveries at the same rate for women and men, that means there are drugs, therapies, devices, and diagnostics that are not getting to where they can actually benefit people,” says President Emerita Susan Hockfield. “If as a region we want to continue to lead the world, the best thing to do is not squander our resources.”

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.”

Women in Economics Podcast

Prof. Nancy Rose speaks with Mary Suiter of the Women in Economics podcast about what led her to study economics, her time working at the U.S. Department of Justice, and why teaching and mentoring are so important to her. “A couple of extraordinarily influential teachers are the reason I’m an economist today, and so part of it is just trying to pass on my enthusiasm for economics and my appreciation for what it’s enabled me to do to students,” says Rose.

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.”

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