A Tall Order: Using Machine Learning to Predict Height from Genetic Variation

A machine learning algorithm trained using 500,000 genetic profiles can predict the height of an individual within about one inch based solely on their genes. Such an algorithm shows great promise for accurate risk assessment of complex diseases and identifying targets for therapy. However, further validation is required to evaluate how the tool will extend to more genetically diverse populations, and standardized methods for assessing genetic variation are necessary. Continue reading A Tall Order: Using Machine Learning to Predict Height from Genetic Variation

Hey, Can You Put That Out? My Planet is Dying

You’ve probably heard that cigarettes are bad for you, and it has always been a safe bet to assume that they’re bad for the environment too. A comprehensive analysis of the entire tobacco supply chain by researchers at the Imperial College of London shows just how devastating the industry continues to be for global environmental health. Check out Trevor Haynes’ article to learn more. Continue reading Hey, Can You Put That Out? My Planet is Dying

Signs of Life: Searching for Plants on Other Planets

If you travel into deep space and look back at Earth through a sophisticated telescope, you could measure what’s called the vegetation red edge (VRE). The vegetation red edge is a mixture of red and infrared light that is reflected by plants on Earth’s surface. Because of clouds, ice masses, and large oceans, the vegetation red edge on Earth is actually fairly small and difficult … Continue reading Signs of Life: Searching for Plants on Other Planets

October 17 – A Star Trek: A Voyage to Discover Sources of Cosmic Signals in Our Universe

Time: 7-9 p.m., Wednesday, October 17th Location: Armenise Amphitheater at Harvard Medical School, 200 Longwood Avenue, Boston (link to directions) Speakers: Nicholas Deporzio, Nicolo Foppiani, and Zoe Zhu Gazing at the sky on a clear night, you might see the bright band of stars – that is the Milky Way, the galaxy we live in. Have you ever wondered about what the center of a galaxy really looks … Continue reading October 17 – A Star Trek: A Voyage to Discover Sources of Cosmic Signals in Our Universe

October 10 – Altered State of Mind: How psychedelics modify the brain, behavior, and perception

Time: 7-9 p.m., Wednesday, October 10th Location: Armenise Amphitheater at Harvard Medical School, 200 Longwood Avenue, Boston (link to directions) Speakers: Jess Kanwal, Matthew Smith, and Kyobi Skutt-Kakaria For at least 7,000 years, humans around the world have chosen to ingest plants and fungi containing psychedelic compounds. In the modern era, scientists are learning more about how psychedelics alter the function of our brains. In this lecture, we … Continue reading October 10 – Altered State of Mind: How psychedelics modify the brain, behavior, and perception

Sleepless Flies Lead Normal Lives

by Jamilla Akhund-Zade figures by Rebecca Senft Anyone who has had the misfortune of missing a night of sleep would not need convincing that sleep is important for well-being. Decades of studies concur with what is already commonly known – sleep is vital for the health of the body and the brain, and lack of sleep can be deadly. Yet contrary to our current understanding, … Continue reading Sleepless Flies Lead Normal Lives

Be the coolest house on the block with a fresh coat of a new polymer material

This summer, heat waves hit the Northern Hemisphere with temperatures upward of 100°F, highlighting one of the biggest current worldwide challenges: keeping buildings (and the people inside them) cool. A group of researchers from Columbia University may have an answer. They’ve designed a new material that chills buildings by reflecting sunlight. Instead of getting rid of heat that has already slipped into the building, this … Continue reading Be the coolest house on the block with a fresh coat of a new polymer material

A Centuries-Old Mathematical Puzzle May Finally Have an Answer

As kids, we are taught about the existence of prime numbers: numbers that are only divisible by themselves and one. The first few are easy to recognize just by counting: two, three, five… But the larger the counting goes, the less obvious the prime. The ability to predict where the prime numbers lay on the number line has haunted mathematicians and scientists for centuries, but … Continue reading A Centuries-Old Mathematical Puzzle May Finally Have an Answer

Make No Bones About It: Human skeletal stem cells discovered for first time

Human stem cells are specialized cells that can be harvested from the body and engineered to turn into various tissues and organs. Perhaps the greatest potential use of stem cells is the generation of new tissues for organ transplants. Unfortunately, scientists have long struggled to find skeletal stem cells that can reliably turn into bone, cartilage, and supportive tissues of the skeleton. In a study … Continue reading Make No Bones About It: Human skeletal stem cells discovered for first time

A Fly’s Favorite Color

by Michelle Frank figures by Abagail Burrus It’s a classic kindergarten icebreaker: which do you like better, blue or green? Would you rather wear pink or orange? What’s your favorite color? While these preferences might seem like markers of human personality, Homo sapiens aren’t the only animal to have a preferred hue. When given a choice, even insects show a preference for one shade of … Continue reading A Fly’s Favorite Color