Early social-brain signatures; evading in-flight lightning s trikes; seismic imaging blind to water

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology
March 16, 2018

MIT News: top stories

A weekly digest of the Institute’s research and innovation

Study finds early signatures of the social brain

Children as young as 3 have brain network devoted to interpreting thoughts of other people.

Evading in-flight lightning strikes

MIT study shows electrically charging planes would reduce their risk of being struck by lightning.

Scientists find seismic imaging is blind to water

Findings may lead scientists to reinterpret seismic maps of the Earth's interior.

“Body on a chip” could improve drug evaluation

Human tissue samples linked by microfluidic channels replicate interactions of multiple organs.

The autonomous “selfie drone”

Alumni’s video-capturing drone tracks moving subjects while freely navigating any environment.

A blueprint for regeneration

Whitehead Institute researchers uncover framework for how stem cells determine where to form replacement structures.

In the Media

Researchers from Sloan and the Media Lab examined why false news spreads on Twitter more quickly than factual information. “Twitter bots amplified true stories as much as they amplified false ones,” writes Robinson Meyer for The Atlantic. “Fake news prospers, the authors write, ‘because humans, not robots, are more likely to spread it.’”

Prof. Linda Griffith has developed ten miniature models of human organs “to create the closest we’ve come yet to a human-on-a-chip,” writes Jessica Hamzelou for New Scientist. “This is still only a minimal representation of a human,” said Griffith, but this kind of system could eventually eliminate the need for animal testing.

A study led by graduate student Hilary Richardson provides evidence that by age 3, children “have begun developing brain networks used to understand the beliefs and feelings of others,” writes Laney Ruckstuhl for The Boston Globe. “Richardson said researchers previously believed the networks used in theory of mind reasoning were not developed until at least age 4,” explains Ruckstuhl.

New research from visiting scientist Judah Cohen suggests that “severe winter weather in the United States is often tied to (relatively) high heat in the North Pole,” writes Eleanor Cummins for Popular Science. “If the Arctic is cold, that favors less severe winter in the eastern U.S.,”said Cohen. “When the Arctic is warm, it’s the opposite relationship.”

around campus

From coolants to a carbon-constrained world

An early calling for clean energy propels undergraduate Ka-Yen Yau’s research on the next generation of nuclear technology.

A new era in fusion research at MIT

MIT Energy Initiative founding member Eni announces support for key research through MIT Laboratory for Innovation in Fusion Technologies.

Contact lenses that deliver drugs directly to the eye win health care prize

Eight teams pitched novel inventions at MIT Sloan Healthcare Innovations Prize competition.

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