The Reading Revolution

For years scientists have asserted that language is the one characteristic that sets humans apart from animals. The ability to speak and communicate is believed to have emerged around 50,000 years ago, along with the development of tools, and the increase in brain size. Scientists have identified the Broca’s and Wernicke’s regions as associated with …

MIT Scientists Produce Hybrid Material

According to a paper published in Nature Materials, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) scientists recently have incorporated inorganic matter with living cells to develop a material that has properties of living and non-living things using E.coli bacteria. Led by Timothy Lu, a professor of electrical engineering and biological engineering, MIT researchers used E.coli bacteria to …

Reconstructing Memories

On September 11, 2001, when I was seven years old, I sat in an elementary school classroom, watching footage of a plane crashing into the Twin Towers on a small television screen. My mother tells me she also remembers exactly what she was doing when the world found out about Princess Diana’s death. Nearly everyone …

Are You Nothing More (Or Less) Than A Soft Machine?

There is something tantalizingly romantic to me about the objectivity of science. There is something about how the structure of a tail of a twirling galaxy, and that of a hurricane hurdling around its eye, is fundamentally the same. One could even say these entropic laws provide the crystal resolution of an inevitable architecture at …

To know where we are with Geographic Information Systems is to understand who we are.

“A place is what it is because of its location. Where we are is who we are.” Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa did not take geography for granted. He understood that a place is a space with an identity. Throughout his work Pessoa created multiple personalities to write his poetry, so much so that his literary …

Reading Between the Atoms – Writing on the Nanoscale

“Why can’t we write the entire twenty-four volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica on the head of a pin?” Richard Feynman offered up this daunting challenge (with a rather paltry $1000 prize) at his famous 1959 Caltech lecture “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” – a seminal event in the history of nanotechnology. In 1985, …

Evolution and Consciousness

Archaeopteryx, found in 1861, was the first transitional fossil discovered that suggested intermediate forms between feathered dinosaurs and modern birds. Unearthed just years after Darwin published “On the Origin of Species”, Archaeopteryx seemed to support Darwin’s theories about evolution. Since then, 28 other transitional species between birds and dinosaurs have been discovered, as well as …

Genome editing just got a lot easier

This post is cross-posted with the PLOS Student Blog If you’ve recently taken a glimpse at the front page of any major science news outlet, it is likely you are no stranger to an emerging genome editing technology known as CRISPR/Cas9. With the help of RNA, Cas9 (a bacterial enzyme) can be programmed to target specific …

The Art of Science and the Science of Art

Every year, the Townsend Center for the Humanities invites a cultural icon to campus as the Avenali Chair in the Humanities, and every year, the Avenali Chair in the Humanities delivers a lecture. It’s an amazing opportunity to hear from fascinating individuals, but I found about this only because last year’s speaker was none other …