November 2016


Image: Nick Fair

Science & Tech

MIT launches new venture for world-changing entrepreneurs

MIT President L. Rafael Reif has announced the creation of The Engine, a new kind of enterprise designed to support startup companies working on scientific and technological innovation with the potential for transformative societal impact. Learn more at


MIT Lincoln Laboratory garners six 2016 R&D 100 Awards

Presented annually since 1962, the R&D 100 Awards recognize the 100 technology products judged by a panel of R&D Magazine editors and outside experts as the year’s most significant new developments.  At their recent honors banquet, Lincoln Lab was honored for its role in developing six new technologies, including innovations in air traffic safety, biomedical devices, and magnetic field detection. Learn more at http://news.mit.edu/2016/mit-lincoln-laboratory-garners-six-rd-100-awards-1121

Creating videos of the future

Living in a dynamic physical world, it’s easy to forget how effortlessly we understand our surroundings. With minimal thought, we can figure out how scenes change and objects interact. But what’s second nature for us is still a huge problem for machines. With the limitless number of ways that objects can move, teaching computers to predict future actions can be difficult. Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have now moved a step closer, developing a deep-learning algorithm that from a still image can create a brief video that simulates the future of that scene. Learn more at http://news.mit.edu/2016/creating-videos-of-the-future-1129

Energy & Environment

Turning greenhouse gas into gasoline

A new catalyst material developed by chemists at MIT provides key insight into the design requirements for producing liquid fuels from carbon dioxide, the leading component of greenhouse gas emissions. The findings suggest a route toward using the world’s existing infrastructure for fuel storage and distribution, without adding net greenhouse emissions to the atmosphere. Learn more at http://news.mit.edu/2016/greenhouse-gas-into-gasoline-1115


Data-driven diabetes management

Diabetes is a growing epidemic, and now the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. Research suggests many people with diabetes aren’t provided adequate resources to follow prescribed dose regimens, so they become “nonadherant,” which leads to serious health issues and increased health care costs. Now MIT spinout Common Sensing aims to solve the nation’s diabetes-management issues by going digital. The startup’s smart insulin-pen cap logs insulin intake data on an app and in the cloud, to help patients better manage their regimen. Moreover, the cap gives doctors a detailed view into patients’ insulin habits and how they affect blood-glucose levels, for more targeted care. Learn more at http://news.mit.edu/2016/startup-common-sensing-data-driven-diabetes-insulin-management-1116

Researchers create synthetic cells to isolate genetic circuits

Synthetic biology allows scientists to design genetic circuits that can be placed in cells, giving them new functions such as producing drugs or other useful molecules. However, as these circuits become more complex, the genetic components can interfere with each other, making it difficult to achieve more complicated functions.  MIT researchers have now demonstrated that these circuits can be isolated within individual synthetic “cells,” preventing them from disrupting each other. They can also control communication between these cells, allowing for circuits or their products to be combined at specific times. Learn more at http://news.mit.edu/2016/synthetic-cells-isolate-genetic-circuits-1114