There is no question that nature is the best engineer. As hard as material scientists try, replicating nature’s intricate processes and networks is a holy grail that often seems nearly unattainable. Instead of attempting to copy nature, some scientists draw inspiration from nature’s mechanisms and apply them to the synthesis of goods for human use. The field of producing materials using design principles from nature is known as bio-inspired material research.
Imagine a world where toxic chemicals abound in the air in the form of unfiltered carbon monoxide from car exhaust. Imagine a world without paper because the pulp cannot be refined into the crisp white sheets we have today. Imagine a world without fertilizer, gasoline, or even plastic. Imagine a world without life because the processes to replicate DNA now take 2.3 billion years. This is the reality of a world without catalysts, which are used to propel reactions in manufacturing, petrochemicals, the human body, and many other areas of life.
Since its founding in 1995, the Hammond Lab has been an integral part of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, developing nanoparticles that encapsulate and release drugs to reprogram cancer cells. Chemical engineering department head Paula Hammond ’84, Ph.D ’94 leads research initiatives that range from designing thin films for tissue regeneration to embedding nucleic acids into nanomaterials to silence cancer cell expression.
Consider the following thought experiment: Person A and Person B, on a tour of a chemical factory, stop to take a coffee break. Person A finds a pot containing white powder — a powder which is actually sugar, but is labeled “deadly poison.” Person A put some of this powder into Person B’s coffee; Person B drinks it and remains perfectly healthy.
Nobel Laureate Jim Allison talks cancer research, science education, and advice for aspiring researchers
Jim Allison won the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 2018 for pioneering the use of immunotherapy against cancer. In an interview with The Tech, Allison talks about the past, present, and future of cancer research, along with giving some general advice for scientists.
With new advancements in technology and the abundance of data, we can better understand the interactions between people and their urban environments. As a result, improvements in urban planning can pave the way for more efficient and environmentally cleaner cities. Researchers at the MIT Senseable City Lab aim to predict and study these improvements from a critical point of view. As conducting research to learn about people’s habits in their urban environment requires members of the lab to consider many diverse viewpoints, the Senseable City Lab is made up of a multidisciplinary team of designers, engineers, computer scientists, biologists, and social scientists. With this diversity of researchers comes a diversity of technologies being utilized in the lab. “Reflecting the diversity of the lab, and the Urban issues, we use big data analysis, machine learning techniques, but also robotics and design,” says the director of the lab, Professor Carlo Ratti.
These issues of voter registration and the lack of security in the election process caught the attention of MIT Professor Charles Stewart, Kenan Sahin Distinguished Professor of Political Science and the Founding Director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab (MEDSL). “The thing that I learned, as well as everybody else in America at the time,” said Stewart, “was that it was possible for you to be active and to vote, and for that vote not to count.”
You don’t use the Bible to learn about any quantitative theory, England explained, “because that’s not the language that it’s speaking.” However, it understands scientific reasoning, and it’s interested in the human experience, and how we as ordinary people understand what is alive and not alive.
Harvard and MIT researchers reveal first direct images of supermassive black hole.
The longest government shutdown in U.S. history ended last Friday. MIT researchers wrote to The Tech to recount how they were impacted by losses of funding, cancelled conference sessions, missed opportunities for collaborations, and more.
According to the National Institute for Mental Health, approximately 20 percent of the world is affected by brain disorders. At MIT, there are a number of groups dedicated to studying brain disorders specifically. Some labs focus on the genetic origins of neurological disorders, while others use imaging to predict and respond to indications of mental health conditions.
Ibrahim Cissé, Assistant Professor of Physics and principal investigator of Cissé Laboratory, has been interested in science for as long as he can remember — he was "very curious as a child, wanted to find out how things worked," and loved watching scientific Hollywood movies. As a young boy, he converted a storage room in his house into a laboratory, where he would tinker with electronics, taking things apart to build creations of his own.