Publications

2016
Zaringhalam M. Failure in Science Is Frequent and Inevitable--and We Should Talk More about It. Scientific American Guest Blog [Internet]. 2016. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Science has an inside secret: we fail all the time.

2015
Pan S. The Interleaving Effect: Mixing it up Boosts Learning. Scientific American Mind [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Studying related skills or concepts in parallel is a surprisingly effective way to train your brain

Shastri A. Living in the Deep. Natural History Magazine. 2015.
Furtney M. Predicting the Next Natural Disaster. Natural History Magazine. 2015.
Hendricks R. Do metaphors make learning a piece of cake?. Learning and the Brain [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

At first glance, metaphor and science might seem to inhabit opposite ends of the things-we-learn-in-school continuum. We usually learn about metaphor through lessons on works like Langston Hughes’s Life ain’t been no crystal stair, and we associate science with topics like crystallization, the process of transferring a liquid to a solid. But metaphor is a mischief that doesn’t like to stay confined to the language arts classroom. It lurks in political discourse (the wealth gap), in music (you ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog), and – you guessed it – in education.

Droge-Young L. Blowing up biology. CASW New Horizons in Science [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

To solve a problem, sometimes you need to consider the exact opposite of what you think you know. Take trying to see the minute details of biological units, such as neurons in the brain. Instead of attempting to improve magnification on such a small scale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineer Edward Boyden asked, why not increase the size of the structure?

Lindsay G. Computer science shedding new light on black holes. CASW New Horizons in Science [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

When it comes to black holes, a change in perspective can make all the difference. Standing outside one of these massive objects in the universe, for instance, there's only darkness—the black hole's gravity is so strong that not even light escapes. But just inside the black hole, there may lie a blazing wall of fire, waiting to destroy whatever enters.

Sauer C. An earthlike home.. far, far away. CASW New Horizons in Science [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Imagine a planet where the surface temperature is so hot that rocks melt into lava—or another where two suns dip below the horizon at dusk. Settings for a science fiction plot? Not to Massachusetts Institute of Technology astrophysicist and planetary scientist Sara Seager.

Guerra S. Guardians of the genome. CASW New Horizons in Science [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Evolution—the change in heritable traits over successive generations—has long served as one of the central tenets of biology. But new research indicates much can be gained from studying regions of the genome that donot change. Termed “ultraconserved elements” or UCEs, these portions of the genome have remained unchanged for 300 to 500 million years, appearing in the same state across multiple animal species—from humans to dinosaurs to platypuses. 

Hemmelder V. Hello, is it me you're looking for? Sara Seager's quest for living worlds in space. CASW New Horizons in Science [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Unlike the early explorers who sailed vast oceans to reach faraway shores, planetary scientist Sara Seager will never set foot on new lands she may discover. Her goal is to find habitable exoplanets, worlds that are not merely outside our solar system but many light-years away.

Kamath A. Homelessness and aging: where 50 is the new 75. CASW New Horizons in Science [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Many Americans live one paycheck away from street homelessness, and those most at risk may be older, according to new research presented at Massachusetts Institute of Technology Oct. 11 by Margot Kushel, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.

Ellis K. The last first exploration of the solar system: into the Kuiper Belt. CASW New Horizons in Science [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

How do you make the outer space equivalent of a golf putt from New York City to a soup can in Los Angeles? For Alan Stern, it takes 11 years of lobbying, four years of planning and building, nine-plus years in transit, and roughly $700 million.

Zare A. Light-driven controls could illuminate the circuitry of the brain. CASW New Horizons in Science [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

"Brain control" brings to mind an image of evil scientists hidden away in a dark lab preparing an army of zombies to do their bidding. In reality, Edward Boyden, associate professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences and head of the Synthetic Neurobiology Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, hopes that controlling a mouse brain can reveal its biological circuitry.

Best C. Mapping the Earth’s microbiomes: federal agencies join forces to explore the microbial world. CASW New Horizons in Science [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Microbes are organisms that are invisible to the naked eye. They surround us but usually go unnoticed. Now the federal government has a new focus on microbes, said Jo Handelsman, associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, speaking Oct. 11 during CASW's New Horizons in Science program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. More than 10 federal agencies and departments recently joined forces to share data and draft a coordinated plan to map the Earth’s microbiomes, the collections of microbes that live in particular habitats such as in the ocean or on your skin.

Bessen J. The mighty microbes: White House initiative recognizes the huge impact of tiny bugs. CASW New Horizons in Science [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The federal government has assembled a fast-track committee to encourage research into microorganisms, reflecting their increasingly important role in human health and the Earth’s climate.

Tomes A. Need to survive in a tough environment? There's an app for that. CASW New Horizons in Science [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

For Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Penny Chisholm, the most exciting apps will not download to your phone. Only bacteria can run them.

Litwhiler M. Solving a biological puzzle: why some genes never change. CASW New Horizons in Science [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

A mysterious discovery has stumped scientists who study genetics at the cellular level for over a decade. Our genome, or collection of genes, has undergone many evolutionary changes since humankind first emerged millions of years ago, including parts of it that play a critical role in development and survival. Yet hundreds of small segments of our DNA have remained virtually unchanged not only among human beings, but across many other animal species whose lineages diverged before the time of the dinosaurs.

Gilman C. Tiny is the new huge: microthrusters for miniature satellites. CASW New Horizons in Science [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The new big thing in space is small—cubesats. A miniature satellite or cubesat is a box a few inches on a side, around a liter in volume and weighing about as much as a medium-sized pumpkin. Cubesats have been on the space scene for about 15 years, with hundreds launched, but many still regard them as little more than toys.

Yengul S. To Pluto and beyond: a journey to the outer reaches of the solar system. CASW New Horizons in Science [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

On Jan. 19, 2006, a powerful Atlas V rocket thundered off from Florida carrying NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft. It got relatively little public attention. But its acceleration was singularly brutal: the destination of its payload was Pluto, over 3 billion miles away. The nuclear-powered New Horizons craft, carrying a mere 1,000 pounds of instruments, went on to set NASA interplanetary speed records the whole way.

Bezold C. With the population on the streets aging, homelessness mimics a chronic disease. CASW New Horizons in Science [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Homelessness is like other chronic medical problems: in need of a cure. That realization came to Margot Kushel as she was working as a resident physician at San Francisco General Hospital in the 1990s, and it has shaped her work ever since. More than a third of the patients in the inpatient wards were homeless, seeking medical care for issues that were often exacerbated by life on the streets. The patients rotating in and out of the hospital faced complex health problems. They had just one thing on their side: youth.

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