• Chill Out to Power Up

    by
    Scope Correspondent
    Looking for inspiration in these dark times? Meet the conductor. In most respects, the conductor is a pretty ordinary bundle of atoms. Peek through the insulating rubber, and you’ll notice him hard at work inside your local lamp cord or power line. The conductor is a transporter—his job is to usher electricity as quickly as possible from where it’s made (say, a power plant) to where it’s meant to be.
  • How to De-Clutter (and Re-Clutter) the Universe

    by
    Scope Correspondent
    Do you ever look around your apartment and think, where did all this stuff come from? Maybe some of your clothes or books or tchotchkes are unnecessary, and you could stand to de-clutter. Or, to take the very long view—the universe’s view—not only are your books not necessary, but neither are most of the elements that make up your books, your other possessions, or indeed you yourself.
  • An Unexpected Phenomenon

    by
    Scope Correspondent
    In the 1920s, a group of young women began showing symptoms of a horrific, but unknown, disease. Many developed mouth sores and lost weight. Some found their jaws extending into a cancerous mimicry of a pharaoh’s beard, tumors sprouting from their bones. Their blood cells and body tissues died, causing anemia and necrosis.
  • Dark Matter: The Missing Link

    by
    Scope Correspondent
    Nobody realized that something was missing until 1932. That was the year that Jan Hendrik Oort made a startling discovery. The Dutch astronomer was measuring the speed of stars in our galaxy, and something was wrong with his calculations. Just as it keeps humans tethered to the Earth, and the Earth looping around the Sun, gravity keeps all the stars in a galaxy clustered together. Oort knew that any stars he observed in the galaxy were held in by gravity. But gravity depends on mass, and a lot of gravitational pull requires a lot of material.
  • Slower Wind Speeds Spell Rapid Environmental Change

    by
    Scope Correspondent
    Winds of change are coming, and they’re bringing poised to upend entire ecosystems. Over the last 30 years, average surface wind speeds over areas in Europe, Central Asia, Eastern Asia and North America have slowed by about 10 percent. The potential effects of “global stilling” could affect land, air and aquatic systems worldwide.
  • Underwater ‘superglue’ developed from mussels and bacteria

    by
    Scope Correspondent
    Mussels, pounded by the oceans’ waves, fasten themselves to rocks as a matter of survival. Bacteria cast protein nets to hold onto surfaces for dear life. Now MIT researchers have combined the two in a clever new way, producing the best-ever underwater glue inspired by Mother Nature—and a potential replacement for today’s surgical stitches.

Going Beyond Compost

Andrei Ivanov and Anna Nowogrodzki report:  Spencer Wenck, MIT ’15, went to Bluefields, Nicaragua during January 2015 to build a system to transform organic waste from a problem into a valuable resource–more valuable than just compost. The pay dirt? Fat, juicy fly larvae that can be sold as chicken feed. Chickens love to eat them, and other quality, protein-rich chicken feed is scarce and pricy in Bluefields. Listen here to find out just how this works.