• Starfish and Sextants

    by
    Scope Correspondent
    Every day in San Diego began the same way. I stood packed with other students in a tight lattice of ribs, elbows, and kneecaps, swaying as our rickety shuttle rumbled over the freeway, past a couple malls, and up a eucalyptus-lined hill to the university. The bus ride, just over a mile long, was almost always the most menial nine minutes of my day.
  • Spandrel

    by
    Scope Correspondent
    When I was two years old, I scared the living daylights out of my dad. He found me crouched down, inspecting the dark, fuzzy, mouse-sized body of a vole that our orange tiger cat Zeke had killed and left on the flagstones outside our door. Why wasn’t it moving? I asked. My dad, who loved nothing more than explaining things to inquisitive children, must have told me that it was dead and described what “dead” meant in terms he thought my two-year-old self might be able to understand.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.