Why do smoke alarms keep going off even when there's no smoke?

An electrical engineer explains how smoke detectors work, and how to reduce the chances of a false positive.

MVS Chandrashekhar, Assistant professor of electrical engineering, University of South Carolina • conversation
Jan. 8, 2021 ~5 min

curiosity electrical-engineering curiosity-question multimedia fire-safety

Scientists discover slimy microbes that may help keep coral reefs healthy

The bacteria scrub out nitrogen, potentially defending against certain nutrient overloads.

Jennifer Chu | MIT News Office • mit
Jan. 8, 2021 ~7 min

chemistry environment bacteria biology microbes research school-of-science oceanography-and-ocean-engineering eaps ocean-science

RNA molecules are masters of their own destiny

Research suggests the products of transcription — RNA molecules — regulate their own production through a feedback loop.

Eva Frederick | Whitehead Institute • mit
Jan. 5, 2021 ~8 min

physics chemistry genetics biology rna research drug-development school-of-engineering school-of-science whitehead-institute chemical-engineering

Turning microbiome research into a force for health

A diverse group of researchers is working to turn new discoveries about the trillions of microbes in the body into treatments for a range of diseases.

Zach Winn | MIT News Office • mit
Jan. 5, 2021 ~10 min

health medicine bacteria startups broad-institute microbes disease research drug-development school-of-engineering innovation-and-entrepreneurship-ie alumniae biological-engineering

Killer cotton and planes dropping moths wiped out these pests

The invasive pink bollworm has inflicted tens of millions of dollars in damage annually. Biotech cotton and sterile moths helped eradicate it in the US.

Rose Brandt-Arizona • futurity
Dec. 22, 2020 ~7 min

insects pesticides genetic-engineering crops earth-and-environment cotton

Top MIT research stories of 2020

The year’s popular research stories include astronomical firsts, scientific breakthroughs, and engineering milestones addressing Covid-19 and other global problems.

MIT News Office • mit
Dec. 22, 2020 ~5 min

covid-19 pandemic research school-of-architecture-and-planning school-of-engineering school-of-science mit-sloan-school-of-management school-of-arts-humanities-and-social-sciences

Why do different countries have different electric outlet plugs?

There are 15 different kinds of electrical outlets around the world. One standard would be more convenient, but no one wants to change theirs.

Theodore J. Kury, Director of Energy Studies, University of Florida • conversation
Dec. 21, 2020 ~6 min

electricity electric-grid safety curious-kids curious-kids-us electrical-grid electrical-engineering voltage thomas-edison nikola-tesla building-standards

Making smart thermostats more efficient

A smart thermostat quickly learns to optimize building microclimates for both energy consumption and user preference.

Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems • mit
Dec. 18, 2020 ~6 min

machine-learning internet-of-things climate-change data research school-of-engineering electrical-engineering-computer-science-eecs algorithms idss laboratory-for-information-and-decision-systems-lids analytics mit-schwarzman-college-of-computing skoltech

With campus as a test bed, climate action starts and continues at MIT

MIT serves as a laboratory for a multifaceted approach to address the Institute’s own contributions to climate change.

Nicole Morell | MIT Office of Sustainability • mit
Dec. 18, 2020 ~10 min

sustainability climate-change energy energy-efficiency emissions research renewable-energy community mechanical-engineering urban-studies-and-planning campus-buildings-and-architecture facilities campus-services

Gene edit could get oil from plant leaves

New research with CRISPR suggests vegetable oil could come from the leaves of plants like sorghum or soybeans.

Austin Fitzgerald-Missouri • futurity
Dec. 18, 2020 ~4 min

agriculture food plants genetic-engineering science-and-technology vegetable-oils