We cannot predict how long we each live, but can our genes? For as long as longevity has been a desirable good, it has never been equally distributed across humanity, not even within families. The role of heritable traits in longevity is still debated. Previous genomic studies have reported a low heritability for longevity. However, inadequate sample sizes prevent these studies from examining the influence of … Continue reading Crowdsourced Data Helps Scientists Construct the World’s Largest Family Tree
Qubits, the quantum analog of a digital bit, are envisioned as the building blocks of the future of computation. The quantum bit is special because of its ability to be in simultaneous values of 0 and 1, while digital bits can only be a 0 or a 1, not both. The calculations of quantum problem become exponentially more difficult as larger qubit computations are required: … Continue reading Performing a 51 qubit computation
This is a short video of a robot in the Kishony and Springer labs at Harvard Medical School. We often conduct experiments that require watching what happens to microbes in a variety of conditions over time. This custom configured and programmed machine allows us to measure up to 44 plates for days at a time. It can collect over 500,000 data points a day, enabling … Continue reading Experimenting with robots!
Presented by Anjali Tripathi How many planets are there? What are they like? In this lecture, we will talk about the variety of planets that are found beyond the Solar System. These so-called exoplanets have been discovered near and far, throughout the Galaxy. We’ll talk about the detection of these planets and their location in space, as well as their location relative to their host … Continue reading Exploring Planets Near and Far
Presented by Jessica Kunke, Lei Zhu, Stephen Portillo The natural world is so complex and unpredictable that it might seem math could never be a sufficient tool to understand it. Our lecture aims to widen this view of math and explore how mathematical models and chaos theory give us insights into nature. The first part of our lecture introduces the concepts of math models and … Continue reading Math in Nature: Finding order in chaos
Presented by Diego Munoz, Michael Long, and Amanda Peters Randles Scientific evidence indicates that the laws of physics are the same in systems throughout the entire Universe – whether those systems be microscopic, or intergalactic. Thus, the same principles apply here on Earth as in distant galaxies. Our understanding of, for example, fluid dynamics or gravity can be applied across boundaries that otherwise make different … Continue reading The Universe in a (Pretty Big) Box: From Cells to Galaxies Using Supercomputers
The Turing Centenary Conference was held this June at Cambridge University. Cambridge had special significance for Alan Turing, as he spent his formative undergraduate years there and returned there shortly after his PhD. The conference brought together many well known researchers from theoretical computer science, mathematical biology, and philosophy — a fitting celebration for the diversity of Turing’s interests. There was a strand of ideas … Continue reading Designed intelligence: Field notes from the Turing Centenary Conference
Barbara Liskov is an Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she is a member of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. She has spent the past forty or so years finding and describing new ways to make computer programs work better. In addition to many other projects, she currently works on writing programs that make data safer. Dr. Liskov … Continue reading An interview with Professor Barbara Liskov, 2008 recipient of the Turing Award
Can we build a functional brain using computers? In order to answer that question, we need to know how the brain is built in nature. The human brain is composed of more than 10 billion cells called neurons that can be electrically activated upon stimulation. Neurons produce special proteins called ion channels that are inserted in their cell membranes. These channels allow ions (i.e., electrically … Continue reading Modeling the brain with computers
Cars that drive themselves. A program that trounces the best human players at Jeopardy! A machine that defeats the world champion at chess. It would seem that the quest to create human-level artificial intelligence (AI) is making astounding progress, and the end is in sight. But is it? This year, Google’s self-driving car was granted a special license plate by the State of Nevada, allowing … Continue reading Artificial intelligence: Will computers pass the Turing test by 2029? Does it matter?