Sci & Tech

The Download with a map-and-compass guy

The Download with a map-and-compass guy

  Harvard professor John Huth is an experimental particle physicist who was on the team that discovered the Higgs boson. He teaches an undergraduate course on primitive navigation at the university, and is the author of The Lost Art of Finding Our Way. The professor, whose love for the outdoors takes him beyond the pale of cellphone coverage, spoke to The Download about his digital habits. What wakes you up each morning? Changing light levels at dawn wake me during spring, summer, and autumn.  When […]



Technological Indian

Technological Indian

In recent years, India sent a space probe to orbit Mars; Indian-born engineers were named chief executives of two top technology firms in the world. For most of the 20th century, when the very idea of a high-tech India seemed improbable, the foundation was actually being laid to make the dream a reality. In his new book The Technological Indian American science historian Ross Bassett, who analyzed the careers of 850 Indians who earned engineering degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) between 1880 and […]



Ethan Zuckerman: ‘I go to Reddit for the cat pictures’

Ethan Zuckerman: ‘I go to Reddit for the cat pictures’

Ethan Zuckerman is the director of the MIT Center for Civic Media. Over a decade ago, the Internet scholar co-founded GlobalVoicesOnline.org, a site to help guide readers through the maze of citizen journalism from several countries. He is the author of Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection. What wakes you up? My son, when I’m lucky enough to be at home in western MA. He’s six, and our morning ritual involves blueberry waffles and Disney cartoons recorded on the DVR, so my first media of […]



The Download with An Old-Fashioned Novelist

The Download with An Old-Fashioned Novelist

Allegra Goodman is a novelist who lives in Cambridge, MA. She is married to David Karger, a professor at MIT. She is a mother of four. She uses a computer to write, but she prints out the draft, and edits by hand. Then, she types in all the “30,000 changes.” What wakes you up? I am a morning person and I wake up without an alarm clock. How do you get your news? I get my news from “The New York Times” paper edition—but I […]



The Download with Prof. Sherry Turkle

The Download with Prof. Sherry Turkle

  Sherry Turkle, a professor at MIT and a psychologist by training researches the relationship between humans and technology. Her recent writing has focused on how new forms of communication – email, texting, and social media – are affecting our lives. In her latest book, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in A Digital Age, her message is clear: Stop Googling, Let’s Talk. And yet the tech critic is, by no means, a Luddite. Prof. Turkle talks to Beta Boston about her digital habits. Yes, she […]



End of life Planning

End of life Planning

After you are gone, should your Facebook profile be deleted? Do you have a health care proxy who will make medical decisions for you when you can’t? Burial or cremation? And what music should be played at your funeral? An emerging startup called Cake wants to make advance care and end-of-life planning a simpler process for all of us – a piece of cake, if you will. The Cake team was a finalist in this year’s MassChallenge startup accelerator. They are collaborating with Brigham Innovation […]



A Camera That Can See Through Walls

A Camera That Can See Through Walls

Humans cannot see through walls. Even out in the open, they can’t see too far on a foggy day. Ditto for search-and-rescue robots or self-driving cars with cameras for eyes. MIT researchers have hit upon a way to give those cameras an ability to see through walls and bad weather. While most materials will stop visible light dead in its tracks, radio waves and microwaves with their longer wavelength can go straight through these objects. Still, conventional microwave or radar-detecting systems are huge, complex, and […]



Jellies tell the story of the oceans’ woes

Jellies tell the story of the oceans’ woes

Almost everything humans are doing to the ocean that is bad for most marine organisms – overfishing, pollution, rising sea temperatures, acidification, coastal construction, and the like – turns out to be good for jellies. “Like the proverbial miner’s canary, jellyfish act as environmental indicators,” said conceptual artist Mark Dion. “Only instead of dying in this degraded environment they thrive. Dion’s latest installation, “The Trouble with Jellyfish,” opens Friday at Le Laboratoire in Kendall Square. Read more here. html. pdf.



Pill-tracking App helps you get the best deals on drugs too

Pill-tracking App helps you get the best deals on drugs too

Medisafe, the Israeli tech startup that moved to Boston over the winter, launched an app in 2013, which currently helps some 2 million users stay on top of their meds. If you missed a dose, your loved one will get an alert to remind you. Still, forgetfulness may not be the only reason why patients skip pills, the app makers have realized. So, the app maker now included a feature that addresses a major stumbling block for some patients – the cost of the drugs. […]



One scan to detect clots could replace many

One scan to detect clots could replace many

Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have invented a new molecular probe which, upon injection into a vein, will travel through the body and find blood clots wherever they are present. Peter Caravan, director of the Institute for Innovation in Imaging at MGH, presented his team’s findings at the 250th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, which wrapped up in Boston Wednesday. “We have invented a new molecular probe which, upon injection into a vein, will travel through the body and find blood clots wherever […]