by Rahul Jayaram '21
Do you struggle to find your keys? Don’t worry. More important information took their location in your memory. Most people have trouble recalling this simple piece of information at some point, and wish to have the ability to remember everything. While such a super power seems amazing, forgetting is actually an important part of how our brains learn and function. In fact, the mechanism of eliminating unneeded information from our memory is so critical to the human mind that scientists have developed a synthetic material that imitates the way we forget. The implications of such a feat show great promise in the present-day artificial intelligence renaissance.
by Claire Bekker '21
The Trump administration has taken a clear stance on climate change: it doesn’t exist. From a Chinese hoax to a liberal fallacy, they have branded climate change with various misnomers. Yet they refuse to call it what it is: reality.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the current administration has not only been turning a blind eye to the warnings of environmental advocates and scientists, but now, has taken the next step to dismantle environmental regulations by repealing the Clean Power Plan. Created under the Obama administration, the Clean Power Plan (CPP) made goals for each state to reduce power plant emissions; under the plan, they estimated a net reduction of 32% from 2005 levels by 2030[ 1]. For the United States, the policy was essential to meeting the Paris Agreement, as the power sector accounts for a third of greenhouse gas emissions . Yet now that President Trump plans to withdraw from the agreement, it will be discarded.
by Olivia Woodford-Berry, '19
For many geological and environmental scientists, the inauguration of President Trump came with a wave of apprehension. The conflict between industry and environmental research continues to play out in political dialogues, and many scientists fear that the government will push science out of the budgets.
by Rahul Jayaraman '19
In 1916, Einstein formulated his general theory of relativity, which posits that spacetime can be thought of as an infinite fabric that is disrupted by the presence of massive objects. When two of these massive objects interact through the gravitational force, Einstein predicted that they send out little ripples in the fabric of spacetime (similar to waves on the ocean). These ripples are known as “gravitational waves, and they can be felt across the universe, up to billions of years after they were generated -- helping us study conditions in the infant cosmos.
by Navya Baranwal '20
Are you feeling a little sick? Let’s check your tattoo!
Lying at the intersection of self-expression and art, tattoos evoke certain ideas and pieces of one’s identity. While tattoos have long belonged in the art arena for several years now, current research is showing that tattoos may have scientific applications--they can tell us about our health.
Adrienne Parsons, PhD '21
In 2015, Sandra was granted freedom from unlawful imprisonment. Having ancestral roots in Sumatra and Borneo, being born in Germany, and being held captive in Argentina, Sandra did not speak the language of her captors and was unable to advocate for herself during her twenty-year confinement. Luckily, a landmark appeals case successfully argued for Sandra’s freedom by invoking her human right of habeas corpus. The catch? Sandra is an orangutan.
by Claire Bekker '21
How can ecosystems affect human health? How could forests prevent childhood disease? Researchers are investigating these connections in the context of climate change and environmental degradation. Especially in developing countries, there is a clear connection between ecosystem loss and infectious disease. Up to 24% of the global burden of disease (GBD) can be attributed to poor environmental quality . Diseases that disproportionately affect children, such as malaria, respiratory infections, and diarrheal diseases, are often linked to poor environmental health. In fact, diarrheal disease, which is caused by contaminated surface water, is the second leading cause of death for children under the age of five . This led researchers to investigate the link between diarrheal disease and the environment.
by Rahul Jayaram '21
Of all the organs in the body, the brain is undoubtedly one of the most enigmatic. Today, there is still so much that is unknown in the field of neuroscience, and one can never predict when new discoveries will be made. The mechanisms behind how our brain maintains cellular health were always believed to be in a separate realm from the rest of our body. Just days ago, scientists discovered a game-changing facet about how the brain functions that has the potential to change the future of neuroscience research.
Sumaiya Sayeed '20
by Mitchell Yeary '19
For a lot of people, genetically engineering humans are a possibility only in Gattica. Yet there are more and more technologies coming out that put us closer to that reality. One of the most recent technologies, CRISPR, emerged a few years ago as an improved way to deactivate certain genes in cells, or create “knock-out” lines (a line of cells with certain genes that don’t function). Here, I will briefly explain CRISPR and its different applications as a genomic engineering technology.
Starting with the basics, CRISPR-Cas9 as a potential genome editing system was put forth four or five years ago and was quickly leveraged so that we could start to target specific genes in the genome. There are two parts to this system. There first part is the CRISPR portion, which stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, essentially the type of DNA sequence that is recognized by the second part, a protein. When used as a genome editing technology, guide RNAs, which can bind to DNA, are built so that they match a section of whatever gene is being edited, and these are the CRISPR portion of the technology. The other necessary part of the guide RNA, is a loop on the end that forms beacon for Cas9, which is recruited to the site. Cas9, the second element in the system, ends up binding and then cutting the portion of the DNA that the guide RNA bound to in the beginning. By using guide RNA to selecting critical points in a gene, researchers can introduce mutations, and disable different genes.