ENDLESS FRONTIER:
INNOVATIONS IN SCIENCE & ENGINEERING

November 2017

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Energy & Environment

MIT Solar water purifier is serving 600 Puerto Ricans daily
In late October, Puerto Ricans in the coastal town of Loíza stood in a line that stretched seven blocks, waiting hours for bags of ice and bottles of water. Dirty sewer water flooded a canal in the town. At least one person had died from the bacterial disease leptospirosis, likely from drinking the contaminated water. There was no power.

That was the scene when a disaster response team from MIT's Lincoln Laboratory and Infinitum Humanitarian Systems and supported by the Roddenberry Foundation visited. Some residents had been without electricity for 45 days, since Hurricane Irma. The rest was knocked out by Hurricane Maria. But five days later, taps outside the Boys and Girls Club in Loíza ran with clean, safe drinking water, thanks to an off-grid, battery-less system designed by Lincoln Labs and IHS that will be operated indefinitely by the Club. Learn more here.

Designing your own transit system: MIT-designed tool lets people test realistic changes to local transit networks Have you ever wanted to change your city’s public transit system? A new digital tool developed by an MIT team lets people design alterations to transit networks and estimate the resulting improvements, based on existing data from urban transit systems. The team, led by Christopher Zegras, a professor in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, has already tested the tool with residents in four major U.S. cities — Atlanta, Boston, New Orleans, and San Francisco — as well as in London and Santiago de Chile, and is now planning additional projects in Chile, Colombia, and South Africa. Now the researchers have released a report evaluating how the tool, called CoAXs, has fared during these tests. Learn more here.

Health/Convergence

CRISPR-carrying nanoparticles edit the genome
In a new study, MIT researchers have developed nanoparticles that can deliver the CRISPR genome-editing system and specifically modify genes in mice. The team used nanoparticles to carry the CRISPR components, eliminating the need to use viruses for delivery. Using the new technique, the researchers were able to cut out certain genes in about 80 percent of liver cells, the best success rate ever achieved with CRISPR in adult animals.  Learn more here.


Science & Tech

Scientists demonstrate one of largest quantum simulators yet, with 51 atoms
Physicists at MIT and Harvard University have demonstrated a new way to manipulate quantum bits of matter. In a paper published today in the journal Nature, they report using a system of finely tuned lasers to first trap and then tweak the interactions of 51 individual atoms, or quantum bits. The team’s results represent one of the largest arrays of quantum bits, known as qubits, that scientists have been able to individually control. Learn more here.