3Qs: Discovery of Earth-​​like planet suggests ‘we might not be alone’

A newly dis­cov­ered planet called Proxima b is tan­ta­liz­ingly close to Earth and lies within the right dis­tance of its star to sup­port life. For Cor­dula Robinson, asso­ciate teaching pro­fessor in the Geospa­tial Infor­ma­tion Tech­nology pro­gram, the dis­covery sug­gests that “life out­side of our solar system is a pos­si­bility.” Here, she explains why all of us should take note of our nearest inter­stellar neighbor.

3Qs: Exploration and collaboration are taking gaming to the next level

Two of the most unique—and poten­tially revolutionary—games of all-​​time were released this summer, in “Pokémon Go” and “No Man’s Sky.” The seem­ingly very dif­ferent games share a striking sim­i­larity that says a lot about the future of the gaming industry. Here, Casper Harteveld, assis­tant pro­fessor of game design, explains why.

3Qs: Will states follow Feds’ lead on phasing out private prisons?

The Jus­tice Depart­ment will be phasing out the use of pri­vate prisons, citing safety con­cerns as well as their lack of reha­bil­i­ta­tive ser­vices. We asked Natasha Frost, a mass incar­cer­a­tion expert, to explain how this direc­tive might affect for-​​profit prisons at the state level and whether the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion could impact the DOJ’s new policy.

3Qs: The legal fallout of American swimmers’ robbery claim in Brazil

Brazilian law enforce­ment offi­cials said on Thursday that the Amer­ican swim­mers who claimed to have been robbed at gun­point during the Rio de Janeiro Games had fab­ri­cated the story. We asked law pro­fessor Dan Danielsen to explain where this inter­na­tional drama might go from here, with a par­tic­ular focus on the legal con­se­quences facing the swim­mers and the tepid rela­tion­ship between Amer­ican and Brazilian officials.

The life and career of an engineering ‘genius’

Beaten by the KGB, branded an anti-​​Soviet activist, and black­balled from acad­emia, Alexander Gorlov fled the Soviet Union, immi­grating to America, where he joined the North­eastern fac­ulty in 1976. Gorlov died in June at the age of 85, leaving behind an impres­sive legacy of inven­tion and cre­ativity, including a tur­bine that gar­nered him inter­na­tional acclaim.

3Qs: How to tame the Twitter haters

A score of Twitter users were banned by the social media ser­vice last week for hurling a spate of vile remarks at Ghost­busters star Leslie Jones. To find out how online anonymity affects the way people act toward each other and what social media sites like Twitter could do to curb tar­geted attacks, we turned to North­eastern assis­tant pro­fessor Joseph Reagle, an expert on internet trolling.

3Qs: What can a crime drama teach us about justice?

Law pro­fessor Jes­sica Silbey will dis­cuss the his­tory of law in Amer­ican film on Wednesday at a Law Library of Con­gress event. Here, she looks at the pit­falls of crime shows, names her favorite legal drama, and explains how the depic­tion of law in film has changed over the past 125 years.

3Qs: Why for-​​profit prisons are on the rise

Pri­vate prisons are a par­tic­u­larly hot topic these days, the set­ting of the Net­flix dramedy Orange is the New Black and the sub­ject of a recent 35,000-word Mother Jones exposé. Here, Natasha Frost, asso­ciate pro­fessor in Northeastern’s School of Crim­i­nology and Crim­inal Jus­tice, explains how for-​​profit prisons are changing the crim­inal jus­tice system.

3Qs: Will ‘superbug’ in Rio’s waters harm Olympic athletes?

A new study from a team of Brazilian sci­en­tists has found that a drug-​​resistant bac­terium has been growing off two city beaches bor­dering Gua­n­abara Bay, where Olympic sailors will com­pete next month. We asked Daniel Faber, pro­fessor of soci­ology and director of Northeastern’s Envi­ron­mental Jus­tice Research Col­lab­o­ra­tive, to dis­cuss the social, polit­ical, and sci­en­tific impli­ca­tions of the findings.

3Qs: Donald Trump’s acrimonious relationship with the press

Trump’s recent move to revoke the press cre­den­tials for The Wash­ington Post will back­fire on the pre­sump­tive Repub­lican pres­i­den­tial nom­inee, says Jonathan Kauf­mann, director of Northeastern’s School of Jour­nalism. “Ban­ning the Post from his ral­lies can only hurt Trump,” he explains. “Reporters are resourceful and they will get the news.”

Northeastern honors community’s highest achievements

The uni­ver­sity cel­e­brated the highest achieve­ments of stu­dents, fac­ulty, and staff at the sixth annual Aca­d­emic Honors Con­vo­ca­tion on Thursday after­noon in East Village.