MIT News

A High-Obliquity Planet Could Be Habitable

December 17, 2014

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High Obliquity Planet Could Be Habitable

A newly published study from scientists at MIT reveals that even a high-obliquity planet with a nearly horizontal axis could potentially support life, so long as the planet were completely covered by an ocean. Nearly 2,000 planets beyond our solar system have been identified to date. Whether any of these exoplanets are hospitable to life […]

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New Mathematical Relationship for Superconductors

December 16, 2014

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New Mathematical Relationship for Superconductors

Engineers from MIT have discovered a new mathematical relationship between material thickness, temperature, and electrical resistance that appears to hold in all superconductors. The result could shed light on the nature of superconductivity and could also lead to better-engineered superconducting circuits for applications like quantum computing and ultralow-power computing. The findings are described in the […]

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Valleytronics Help Researchers Move Toward a New Kind of 2D Microchip

December 15, 2014

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A New Kind of 2D Microchip

Using an approach called valleytronics, a team of researchers has cleared hurdles toward a new kind of 2D microchip that uses different electron properties. New findings from a team at MIT and other institutions could provide a pathway toward a kind of two-dimensional microchip that would make use of a characteristic of electrons other than […]

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Intense Volcanism May Have Played a Role in Dinosaurs Extinction

December 12, 2014

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What Really Killed the Dinosaurs

MIT scientists used precisely dated rocks from the Deccan Traps to reveal evidence that a major volcanic eruption began just before the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs, possibly playing a role in the extinction. Sixty-six million years ago, an asteroid more than five miles wide smashed into the Earth at 70,000 miles per […]

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Neuroscientists Reveal Fundamental Discovery about Cortical Neurons

December 11, 2014

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Neuroscientists Reveal Fundamental Discovery about Cortical Neurons

Neuroscientists from the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory uncover a fundamental discovery about cortical neurons, showing that inhibitory neuron functionality is not an immutable property of cortical cells, but a consequence of more complex network dynamics. The two major types of neuron in the brain’s cerebral cortex are connected by intricate cortical circuits that […]

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Gene-Editing System Allows Rapid, Large-Scale Studies of Gene Function

December 11, 2014

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Researchers Develop a New Technique to Study Gene Function

Using a gene-editing system that was originally developed to delete specific genes, researchers from MIT developed a new technique to reliably turn on any gene of their choosing in living cells. This new application for the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing system should allow scientists to more easily determine the function of individual genes, according to Feng Zhang, […]

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New Wireless Sensor Detects Hazardous Chemicals or Food Spoilage

December 9, 2014

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New Sensor Detects Gases Wirelessly

Researchers from MIT have developed a new wireless sensor that can transmit information on hazardous chemicals or food spoilage to a smartphone. MIT chemists have devised a new way to wirelessly detect hazardous gases and environmental pollutants, using a simple sensor that can be read by a smartphone. These inexpensive sensors could be widely deployed, […]

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MIT Startup LiquidPiston Develops a More Efficient Rotary Engine

December 5, 2014

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Rotary Engine More Efficient than Counterparts

A new rotary engine from MIT startup LiquidPiston is lighter, quieter, and more efficient than its counterparts. Noise, excessive vibration, and relative inefficiency are drawbacks of the piston-based internal combustion engines (ICE) that power today’s lawn and garden equipment, such as leaf blowers and lawn trimmers. But now MIT startup LiquidPiston has developed a rotary […]

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New Computer Model Designs Complicated 3D Structures from DNA

December 4, 2014

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MIT Engineers Design Complex DNA Shapes

Biological engineers from MIT have developed a new computer model that enables them to design the most complicated 3D structures ever made from DNA, including rings, bowls, and geometric structures such as icosahedrons that resemble viral particles. This design program could allow researchers to build DNA scaffolds to anchor arrays of proteins and light-sensitive molecules […]

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Small Volcanoes Underestimated in Climate Models

December 3, 2014

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Small Volcanoes Make a Difference in Global Warming

A new study from MIT shows that the effects of smaller eruptions have been underestimated in climate models, revealing that relatively small volcanic eruptions can increase aerosol particles in the atmosphere, temporarily mitigating the global warming caused by greenhouse gases. The impact of such smaller eruptions has been underestimated in climate models, the researchers say, […]

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Small Impacts Likely Erased Much of Earth’s Primordial Atmosphere

December 2, 2014

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Small Impacts Likely Erased Much of the Earth’s Primordial Atmosphere

A newly published study reveals that small space rocks, or planetesimals, may have bombarded Earth around the time the moon was formed, kicking up clouds of gas with enough force to permanently eject small portions of the atmosphere into space. Today’s atmosphere likely bears little trace of its primordial self: Geochemical evidence suggests that Earth’s […]

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New Biotech Innovation Reduces Unpredictability in Biological Circuits

December 1, 2014

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New Biotech Device Could Make Large Biological Circuits Practical

A new biotech device from MIT reduces the unpredictability of biological components and could ultimately allow such circuits to behave nearly as predictably as their electronic counterparts. Researchers have made great progress in recent years in the design and creation of biological circuits — systems that, like electronic circuits, can take a number of different […]

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New 2D Materials Exhibit Exotic Quantum Properties

November 21, 2014

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2D Quantum Materials Exhibit Quantum Spin Hall Effect

A newly published study from MIT details a theoretical analysis showing that a family of two-dimensional materials exhibits exotic quantum properties that may enable a new type of nanoscale electronics. These materials are predicted to show a phenomenon called the quantum spin Hall (QSH) effect, and belong to a class of materials known as transition […]

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Engineers Use Voltage to Control Magnetic Memory

November 20, 2014

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Researchers Control a Material with Voltage

New research details how a MIT-based team has made important strides in the concept of using an electrical signal to control a magnetic memory. A new way of switching the magnetic properties of a material using just a small applied voltage, developed by researchers at MIT and collaborators elsewhere, could signal the beginning of a […]

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Quantum-Dot Technology Ready to Improve LCD TVs

November 19, 2014

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Quantum-Dot Technology Improves TV Color Gamut

New quantum-dot technology is set to make LCD TVs more colorful and energy-efficient, all while costing less than OLED displays and other color gamut boosting methods. If LCD TVs start getting much more colorful — and energy-efficient — in the next few years, it will probably be thanks to MIT spinout QD Vision, a pioneer […]

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