From ocean waves to sound waves

While Young still maintains a love for the ocean, she devotes her professional life to music. Her compositions and audiovisual projects draw from Eastern European folk music, the early Renaissance, and modern music. In 2019, Carnegie Hall commissioned her piece Out of whose womb came the ice, which explores the history of Ernest Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctic […]

A path to technology: from China to Silicon Valley

Zhu says she always saw the tech field as her destiny. The daughter of two professors, she was raised in China in a fiercely competitive family. When she was 12, her dad was a visiting professor in the US and told stories about the innovation he saw in Silicon Valley. Named one of the most […]

What does neuroscience-inspired art look like?

The idea for the exhibit had been brewing for a while, he says, but in the summer of 2020, a call from the Cambridge Arts Council for projects to address racial and social injustice compelled him to act. He connected with a local poet, with whom he now oversees 21 participants: scientists (including Daniel Chonde […]

From the archives: How we covered fusion power

October 1983 From “The Trouble with Fusion”: The goal of the fusion program is to produce a reactor fueled by deuterium and tritium, isotopes of hydrogen containing one and two extra neutrons. This choice of fuel eases the problem of achieving an energy-producing reaction, but also has features that make it more difficult to turn […]

The end of passwords

The process is already underway. Enterprise-oriented companies like Okta and Duo, as well as personal identity providers like Google, offer ways for people to log in to apps and services without having to enter a password. Apple’s facial recognition system has taken biometric login mainstream. Most notably, Microsoft announced in March 2021 that some of […]

AI for protein folding

That changed with DeepMind’s AlphaFold2. The software, which uses an AI technique called deep learning, can predict the shape of proteins to the nearest atom, the first time a computer has matched the slow but accurate techniques used in the lab.  Scientific teams around the world have started using it for research on cancer, antibiotic […]

Proof of stake

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin use huge amounts of electricity. In 2021, the Bitcoin network consumed upwards of 100 terawatt-hours, more than the typical annual energy budget of Finland.  Proof of stake offers a way to set up such a network without requiring so much energy. And if all goes as planned, Ethereum, which runs all […]

Long-lasting grid battery

For a few seconds on a sunny afternoon last April, renewables broke a record for California’s main electric grid, providing enough power to supply 94.5% of demand. The moment was hailed as a milestone on the path to decarbonization. But what happens when the sun sets and the breeze stops? Handling the fluctuating power production […]

Synthetic data for AI

Last year, researchers at Data Science Nigeria noted that engineers looking to train computer-vision algorithms could choose from a wealth of data sets featuring Western clothing, but there were none for African clothing. The team addressed the imbalance by using AI to generate artificial images of African fashion—a whole new data set from scratch.  Such […]

Malaria vaccine

The malaria parasite, a notoriously deadly foe, has evolved countless ways to evade immune detection and thrive in human hosts. Mainly concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for roughly 95% of cases, malaria kills more than 600,000 people a year, a majority of them children younger than five years old.  Last October, after years of […]