New gene-editing system enables large-scale studies of gene function.
MIT ON TV
Mark your calendar for the following shows that will feature MIT research:
- A one-hour special called "Regenerating Life" began airing on the Discovery Health Channel on January 30. The show features interviews with Professors Robert Langer and Linda Griffith of chemical engineering on tissue engineering. It will also air March 5 at 9pm and midnight, the night of March 9 at 10pm and 1am, and March 11 at 5pm.
CBS Evening News is scheduled to run a story this Friday, Feb. 18 at 6:30pm on technology to help the elderly. Researchers at MIT's AgeLab, led by Dr. Joseph Coughlin, were interviewed at length by correspondent Thaia Ossuras. Topics include AgeLab work on older drivers and an in-home health station.
ASTRONOMY IN THE NEWS
More than 130 papers from around the country ran stories in late January about a nearby black hole and other observations reported by MIT astronomers at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
Professor of Physics Claude Canizares, director of the Center for Space Research (CSR), led a team that reported the dramatic dispersal of oxygen and other elements from an exploding star. "These might be called the fountains of life because it was the explosion of such supernovae that provided the oxygen on Earth," he said in an Associated Press story.
"Understanding supernovae helps us to learn about the processes that formed chemical elements like those which are found on Earth and are necessary for life," said Dr. Kathryn Flanagan, one of Professor Canizares's collaborators on the work. Their observations were made with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.
The discovery of the black hole nearest Earth also received significant media attention. Drs. Donald Smith and Ronald Remillard of CSR reported the work with a colleague from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
Stories on the two research findings ran in newspapers ranging from the San Jose Mercury News to the (Ames, IA) Daily Tribune. (Also see MIT Tech Talk, January 26, 2000.)
SCIENCE ON THE WEB
MIT Research Digest is included in a list of "scientific resources on the web" prepared by Scientific Computing & Instrumentation. The magazine's January issue reports that the Research Digest web site "provides an archive of article summaries from December 1994 to present... Each article is a description of research being carried out at the school, covering a wide range of scientific disciplines" and includes links to related sites. Recent articles include "The Physics of Crumpling," "R&D on R&D Budgets," and "Milestones in Cancer Research." Research Digest is produced by the News Office.
CLIPS & QUOTES
- Contrary to popular opinion, "there is no biological event in the brain" that makes it easier to learn language as a child, Suzanne Flynn, professor of second-language acquisition and linguistics, told the Quincy Patriot Ledger in a January 24 article about studying language.
"The ability to learn language remains for people's entire life. It's very encouraging. You don't need a gift or any special talent. You really just have to want to do it." Professor Flynn noted, however, that "it's hard to get rid of your accent the older you get."
- "What is today's most important unreported story?" That's the question John Brockman, creator of the online salon Edge, asked "100 of the world's top thinkers," including Rodney Brooks (director of the Artificial Intelligence Lab and the Fujitsu Professor of Computer Science and Engineering), according to the San Jose Mercury News (January 10). Professor Brooks' response: "No one seems to recognize that people are 'morphing into machines,' with devices such as inner-ear implants, retina chips and robotic limbs."
- In a January 2 Copley News Service article about "hacking" Furbys, Professor Michael Hawley of the Media Lab noted that one of the interactive pets has "four times the computer processing power and 30 times the computer memory of the Apollo lunar landing module that put Americans on the moon."
The final word in a February 15 article in Heart & Soul magazine about getting pain relief from magnets comes from James Livingston, a senior lecturer in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering: "Use caution. Buy that cute magnetized bracelet if it's in your budget... But until more definitive research is done, don't spend a fortune thinking you've purchased pain relief's version of the Holy Grail."
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 16, 2000.