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Solar energy farms could offer second life for electric vehicle batteries

Solar energy farms could offer second life for electric vehicle batteries

Karl-Lydie Jean-BaptisteEmail: Phone: (617) 253-1682MIT News1 images for downloadMedia can only be downloaded from the desktop version of this website.As electric vehicles rapidly grow in popularity worldwide, there will soon be a wave of used batteries whose performance is no longer sufficient for vehicles that need reliable acceleration and range. But a new study shows that these batteries could still have a useful and profitable second life as backup storage for grid-scale solar photovoltaic installations, where they could perform for more than a decade in this less demanding role.The...

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3d ago
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Study unveils details of how a widely used catalyst splits water

Study unveils details of how a widely used catalyst splits water

Karl-Lydie Jean-BaptisteEmail: Phone: (617) 253-1682MIT News1 images for downloadMedia can only be downloaded from the desktop version of this website.A crystalline compound called ruthenium dioxide is widely used in industrial processes, where it’s particularly important for catalyzing a chemical reaction that splits molecules of water and releases oxygen. But the exact mechanism that takes place on this material’s surface, and how that reaction is affected by the orientation of the crystal surfaces, had never been determined in detail. Now, a team of researchers at MIT and several other...

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4d ago
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3 Questions: The rapidly unfolding future of smart fabrics

3 Questions: The rapidly unfolding future of smart fabrics

Abby AbazoriusEmail: Phone: 617-253-2709MIT News Office2 images for downloadMedia can only be downloaded from the desktop version of this website.In an opinion piece published in the journal Matter, members of the Fibers@MIT research group recently laid out a detailed vision for how the rapidly growing field of  advanced fibers and fabrics could transform many aspects of our lives. For example, “smart clothing” might continuously monitor temperature, heart rate, and other vital signs, then analyze the data and give warnings of potential health conditions. Headed by Professor Yoel Fink, the...

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May 12
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To catch an interstellar visitor, use a solar-powered space slingshot

To catch an interstellar visitor, use a solar-powered space slingshot

Sara CodyEmail: Phone: 617-253-1564Department of Aeronautics and AstronauticsIn 2017, a telescope in Hawaii detected our first celestial visitor from another solar system — a big deal, since we haven’t quite figured out how to visit them ourselves yet. ‘Oumuamua, the cigar-shaped interstellar object (ISO) whose name roughly translates to “first distant messenger” in Hawaiian, will certainly not be the last visitor to pass through. If the story of our universe is written in the stars, even a tiny fragment traveling a long way for a short visit provides a tremendous opportunity for scientific...

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May 11
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Researchers map tiny twists in “magic-angle” graphene

Researchers map tiny twists in “magic-angle” graphene

Abby AbazoriusEmail: Phone: 617-253-2709MIT News Office1 images for downloadMedia can only be downloaded from the desktop version of this website.Made of a single layer of carbon atoms linked in a hexagonal honeycomb pattern, graphene’s structure is simple and seemingly delicate. Since its discovery in 2004, scientists have found that graphene is in fact exceptionally strong. And although graphene is not a metal, it conducts electricity at ultrahigh speeds, better than most metals.In 2018, MIT scientists led by Pablo Jarillo-Herrero and Yuan Cao discovered that when two sheets of graphene...

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May 11
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How many jobs do robots really replace?

How many jobs do robots really replace?

Abby AbazoriusEmail: Phone: 617-253-2709MIT News Office1 images for downloadMedia can only be downloaded from the desktop version of this website.This is part 1 of a three-part series examining the effects of robots and automation on employment, based on new research from economist and Institute Professor Daron Acemoglu.  In many parts of the U.S., robots have been replacing workers over the last few decades. But to what extent, really? Some technologists have forecast that automation will lead to a future without work, while other observers have been more skeptical about such scenarios.Now...

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May 9
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Neuroscientists find memory cells that help us interpret new situations

Neuroscientists find memory cells that help us interpret new situations

Abby AbazoriusEmail: Phone: 617-253-2709MIT News Office1 images for downloadMedia can only be downloaded from the desktop version of this website.Imagine you are meeting a friend for dinner at a new restaurant. You may try dishes you haven’t had before, and your surroundings will be completely new to you. However, your brain knows that you have had similar experiences — perusing a menu, ordering appetizers, and splurging on dessert are all things that you have probably done when dining out.MIT neuroscientists have now identified populations of cells that encode each of these distinctive...

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May 8
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Study: Life might survive, and thrive, in a hydrogen world

Study: Life might survive, and thrive, in a hydrogen world

Abby AbazoriusEmail: Phone: 617-253-2709MIT News OfficeAs new and more powerful telescopes blink on in the next few years, astronomers will be able to aim the megascopes at nearby exoplanets, peering into their atmospheres to decipher their composition and to seek signs of extraterrestrial life. But imagine if, in our search, we did encounter alien organisms but failed to recognize them as actual life.That’s a prospect that astronomers like Sara Seager hope to avoid. Seager, the Class of 1941 Professor of Planetary Science, Physics, and Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, is looking beyond...

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May 5
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Sensors woven into a shirt can monitor vital signs

Sensors woven into a shirt can monitor vital signs

Sarah McDonnellEmail: Phone: 617-253-8923MIT News Office3 images for downloadMedia can only be downloaded from the desktop version of this website.MIT researchers have developed a way to incorporate electronic sensors into stretchy fabrics, allowing them to create shirts or other garments that could be used to monitor vital signs such as temperature, respiration, and heart rate.The sensor-embedded garments, which are machine washable, can be customized to fit close to the body of the person wearing them. The researchers envision that this type of sensing could be used for monitoring people...

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May 3
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CRISPR-based diagnostic chips perform thousands of tests simultaneously to detect viruses

CRISPR-based diagnostic chips perform thousands of tests simultaneously to detect viruses

The following press release was issued today by the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.Researchers have developed a new technology that flexibly scales up CRISPR-based molecular diagnostics, using microfluidics chips that can run thousands of tests simultaneously. A single chip’s capacity ranges from detecting a single type of virus in more than 1,000 samples at a time to searching a small number of samples for more than 160 different viruses, including the Covid-19 virus.Called Combinatorial Arrayed Reactions for Multiplexed Evaluation of Nucleic acids (CARMEN), this technology — validated...

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May 1
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Cities with strong social distancing see stronger economic recoveries | MIT Sloan

Cities with strong social distancing see stronger economic recoveries | MIT Sloan

Critics fear social distancing edicts hurt the economy, but research on the 1918 flu pandemic reveals an aggressive response can help spur economic recovery.open share linksclose share linksCurbing the spread of COVID-19 with quarantines, school closings, and social distancing doesn’t just lower mortality rates — it can also help strengthen an economic recovery, according to a  co-authored by an MIT Sloan researcher.By comparing economic outcomes in U.S. cities that acted swiftly and aggressively to combat the 1918 flu pandemic to cities that lagged in their response, researchers found that...

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Apr 29
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The data speak: Stronger pandemic response yields better economic recovery

The data speak: Stronger pandemic response yields better economic recovery

Abby AbazoriusEmail: Phone: 617-253-2709MIT News Office1 images for downloadMedia can only be downloaded from the desktop version of this website.The research described in this article has been published as a working paper but has not yet been peer-reviewed by experts in the field.With much of the U.S. in shutdown mode to limit the spread of the Covid-19 disease, a debate has sprung up about when the country might “reopen” commerce, to limit economic fallout from the pandemic. But as a new study co-authored by an MIT economist shows, taking care of public health first is precisely what...

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Apr 27
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Researchers identify cells likely targeted by Covid-19 virus

Researchers identify cells likely targeted by Covid-19 virus

Sarah McDonnellEmail: Phone: 617-253-8923MIT News OfficeResearchers at MIT; the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard; and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard; along with colleagues from around the world have identified specific types of cells that appear to be targets of the coronavirus that is causing the Covid-19 pandemic.Using existing data on the RNA found in different types of cells, the researchers were able to search for cells that express the two proteins that help the SARS-CoV-19 virus enter human cells. They found subsets of cells in the lung, the nasal passages, and the...

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Apr 23
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The COVID Crisis Is Reinforcing the Hunger Industrial Complex

The COVID Crisis Is Reinforcing the Hunger Industrial Complex

The unholy alliance between food banks and corporate America has shown itself to be more interested in maintaining the problem of hunger than actually solving it.“When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” –Brazilian Archbishop Dom Hélder CâmaraEven before the Covid-19 pandemic, normal wasn’t so great for the working poor in America. Despite a 10-year recovery, 12 percent of the nation food insecure in 2018. The minimum wage at $7.25 in 21 states. Low wages, unstable schedules, soaring rents in many cities, and...

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mitpress
Apr 22
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Nanosensor can alert a smartphone when plants are stressed

Nanosensor can alert a smartphone when plants are stressed

Sarah McDonnellEmail: Phone: 617-253-8923MIT News Office1 images for downloadMedia can only be downloaded from the desktop version of this website.MIT engineers have developed a way to closely track how plants respond to stresses such as injury, infection, and light damage, using sensors made of carbon nanotubes. These sensors can be embedded in plant leaves, where they report on hydrogen peroxide signaling waves.Plants use hydrogen peroxide to communicate within their leaves, sending out a distress signal that stimulates leaf cells to produce compounds that will help them repair damage or...

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Apr 18
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Proteins may halt the severe cytokine storms seen in Covid-19 patients

Proteins may halt the severe cytokine storms seen in Covid-19 patients

Sarah McDonnellEmail: Phone: 617-253-8923MIT News Office2 images for downloadMedia can only be downloaded from the desktop version of this website.One of the defining features of Covid-19 is the excessive immune response that can occur in severe cases. This burst of immune overreaction, also called a cytokine storm, damages the lungs and can be fatal.A team of MIT researchers has developed specialized proteins, similar in structure to antibodies, that they believe could soak up these excess cytokines.“The idea is that they can be injected into the body and bind to the excessive cytokines as...

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Apr 16
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New “refrigerator” super-cools molecules to nanokelvin temperatures

New “refrigerator” super-cools molecules to nanokelvin temperatures

Abby AbazoriusEmail: Phone: 617-253-2709MIT News Office3 images for downloadMedia can only be downloaded from the desktop version of this website.For years, scientists have looked for ways to cool molecules down to ultracold temperatures, at which point the molecules should slow to a crawl, allowing scientists to precisely control their quantum behavior. This could enable researchers to use molecules as complex bits for quantum computing, tuning individual molecules like tiny knobs to carry out multiple streams of calculations at a time.While scientists have super-cooled atoms, doing the...

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Apr 16
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Bluetooth signals from your smartphone could automate Covid-19 contact tracing while preserving privacy

Bluetooth signals from your smartphone could automate Covid-19 contact tracing while preserving privacy

Abby AbazoriusEmail: Phone: 617-253-2709MIT News Office1 images for downloadMedia can only be downloaded from the desktop version of this website.Imagine you’ve been diagnosed as Covid-19 positive. Health officials begin contact tracing to contain infections, asking you to identify people with whom you’ve been in close contact. The obvious people come to mind — your family, your coworkers. But what about the woman ahead of you in line last week at the pharmacy, or the man bagging your groceries? Or any of the other strangers you may have come close to in the past 14 days?A team led by MIT...

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Apr 12
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"Murder Most Foul" and the Haunting of America

"Murder Most Foul" and the Haunting of America

Bob Dylan’s epic new song isn't just about the assassination of JFK. It's about how an event takes on meaning beyond itself, and the role of spirit in the national life.One of the struggles of American literature in the new century has been to grasp the totality, not merely of spiritual and moral changes in daily life, but of the very range of events that have overtaken us. The proliferation of media, the speed of the news cycle, and the churning production of new forms of celebrity make up the chaotic backdrop to what used to be understood as “events” — major political changes, economic...

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Apr 3
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New sensors could offer early detection of lung tumors

New sensors could offer early detection of lung tumors

Sarah McDonnellEmail: Phone: 617-253-8923MIT News Office1 images for downloadMedia can only be downloaded from the desktop version of this website.People who are at high risk of developing lung cancer, such as heavy smokers, are routinely screened with computed tomography (CT), which can detect tumors in the lungs. However, this test has an extremely high rate of false positives, as it also picks up benign nodules in the lungs.Researchers at MIT have now developed a new approach to early diagnosis of lung cancer: a urine test that can detect the presence of proteins linked to the disease....

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Apr 12
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The force is strong in neutron stars

The force is strong in neutron stars

Abby AbazoriusEmail: Phone: 617-253-2709MIT News Office1 images for downloadMedia can only be downloaded from the desktop version of this website.Most ordinary matter is held together by an invisible subatomic glue known as the strong nuclear force — one of the four fundamental forces in nature, along with gravity, electromagnetism, and the weak force. The strong nuclear force is responsible for the push and pull between protons and neutrons in an atom’s nucleus, which keeps an atom from collapsing in on itself.In atomic nuclei, most protons and neutrons are far enough apart that physicists...

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Mar 13
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How the brain encodes landmarks that help us navigate

How the brain encodes landmarks that help us navigate

Sarah McDonnellEmail: Phone: 617-253-8923MIT News Office1 images for downloadMedia can only be downloaded from the desktop version of this website.When we move through the streets of our neighborhood, we often use familiar landmarks to help us navigate. And as we think to ourselves, “OK, now make a left at the coffee shop,” a part of the brain called the retrosplenial cortex (RSC) lights up.While many studies have linked this brain region with landmark-based navigation, exactly how it helps us find our way is not well-understood. A new study from MIT neuroscientists now reveals how neurons...

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Mar 10
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How plants protect themselves from sun damage

How plants protect themselves from sun damage

Sarah McDonnellEmail: Phone: 617-253-8923MIT News Office1 images for downloadMedia can only be downloaded from the desktop version of this website.For plants, sunlight can be a double-edged sword. They need it to drive photosynthesis, the process that allows them to store solar energy as sugar molecules, but too much sun can dehydrate and damage their leaves.A primary strategy that plants use to protect themselves from this kind of photodamage is to dissipate the extra light as heat. However, there has been much debate over the past several decades over how plants actually achieve...

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Mar 10
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How to deflect an asteroid

How to deflect an asteroid

MIT engineers devise a decision map to identify the best mission type to deflect an incoming asteroid. On April 13, 2029, an icy chunk of space rock, wider than the Eiffel Tower is tall, will streak by Earth at 30 kilometers per second, grazing the planet’s sphere of geostationary satellites. It will be the closest approach by one of the largest asteroids crossing Earth’s orbit in the next decade. Observations of the asteroid, known as 99942 Apophis, for the Egyptian god of chaos, once suggested that its 2029 flyby would take it through a gravitational keyhole — a location in Earth’s...

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Jennifer Chu
Feb 23
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