ALS gene's function identified; self-driving cars on rural r oads; confidential genomic studies

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology
May 11, 2018

MIT News: top stories


A weekly digest of the Institute’s research and innovation



Biologists discover function of gene linked to familial ALS


Study in worms reveals gene loss can lead to accumulation of waste products in cells.




Self-driving cars for country roads


Today’s autonomous vehicles require hand-labeled 3-D maps, but CSAIL’s MapLite system enables navigation with just GPS and sensors.




Protecting confidentiality in genomic studies


Cryptographic system could enable “crowdsourced” genomics, with volunteers contributing information to privacy-protected databases.




For food-aid recipients, information is power


A simple card explaining a government aid program leads to more rice for poor villagers in Indonesia.




Fundamental equations guide marine robots to optimal sampling sites


New principled approach helps autonomous underwater vehicles explore the ocean in an intelligent, energy-efficient manner.




Clearing the air over Southeast Asia


Study finds reducing biomass burning is not enough to significantly improve air quality in Southeast Asia.



In the Media



In an article for Salon, Associate Prof. Noelle Eckley Selin and postdoc Sae Yun Kwon discuss their latest research, which examined emissions in China. They write that although mercury pollution is often associated with fish consumption, “China’s future emissions trajectory can have a measurable influence on the country’s rice methylmercury” levels, as well. 




CSAIL researchers have developed a system that uses LIDAR and GPS to allow self-driving cars to navigate rural roads without detailed maps, writes Tracey Lindeman of Motherboard. Autonomous ride-hailing or car-sharing is important in rural communities because “the carless in these areas have few transportation options; many small communities don’t even have public buses,” notes Lindeman.




In a commentary on CNBC, graduate student J. Daniel Kim and a co-author describe research with Prof. Pierre Azoulay and the U.S. Census Bureau on the average age of successful entrepreneurs. By working with the U.S. Census Bureau, they were able “to examine all businesses launched in the U.S. between 2007 and 2014, encompassing 2.7 million founders.”



around campus



Mircea Dincă: Searching for materials that collect and store energy


A lifelong fascination with chemistry has led to research on exotic new materials with environmental advantages.




Spinning data into sound


An interdepartmental collaboration brings out the music of nuclear fusion.




3Q: Hazel Sive on MIT-Africa


Faculty director discusses the future of the initiative and Africa’s position as a global priority for the Institute.




Computation counts


Students are flocking to 6.00 (Introduction to Computer Science and Programming Using Python), where they learn not just coding but computational thinking.



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