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The iconic MIT home page Spotlight features a daily-changing image and design that focuses on advances in research, technology and education taking place at the Institute. Though some Spotlights do run multiple days - for example Friday's spot usually runs through the weekend, we work very hard to maintain the daily-changing tradition. We've combed our servers and have compiled a digital archive of the Institute home page through the years - well over 2000 images. Enjoy!
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Brain imaging pioneerToday’s Spotlight features a photograph, taken by Bryce Vickmark, of Edward Boyden, an associate professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences at MIT.

How is the mind formed, and what does it mean to be human?

These are the questions that intrigue Edward Boyden, an associate professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences at MIT.

To answer them, we will need a much deeper understanding of how the brain works, according to Boyden, who leads the synthetic neurobiology research group at the MIT Media Laboratory and the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT.

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The MIT home page Spotlight showcases the research, technology and education advances taking place at the Institute every day.

What makes it as a Spotlight image is an editorial decision by the MIT News Office based on factors that include timeliness, promotion of MIT's mission, the balance of interest to both internal and external audiences, and appropriateness.

We do welcome ideas and submissions for spotlights from community members, but please note we are not able to accommodate all requests. We are unable to run event previews or promotions as spotlights; for those looking to promote an event, we are happy to include your listing as an event headline on the homepage (when space is available). For more information, e-mail the spotlight team.

Request a Spotlight or Event Headline, here.
Stars in the making

Stars in the making

Today’s Spotlight uses an illustration, courtesy of the European Space Organization/M. Kornmesser, of ULAS J1120+0641, the far-distant quasar researchers studied to peer far back in time to the era of the first stars.

As far back in time as astronomers have been able to see, the universe has had some trace of heavy elements, such as carbon and oxygen. These elements, originally churned from the explosion of massive stars, formed the building blocks for planetary bodies, and eventually for life on Earth.

Now researchers at MIT, the California Institute of Technology, and the University of California at San Diego have peered far back in time, to the era of the first stars and galaxies, and found matter with no discernible trace of heavy elements. To make this measurement, the team analyzed light from the most distant known quasar, a galactic nucleus more than 13 billion light‑years from Earth.

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