• A burst for Bursts

    The other day I starred the following headline in my RSS feed: “Any Two Pages on the Web Are Connected By 19 Clicks or Less.” I didn’t read it immediately because it sounded like vaguely familiar old news that I could probably return to later. But this morning in our office’s daily editorial meeting, I […]

  • Nemo and the inner workings of climate change models

    After winter storm ‘Nemo’ dropped two feet of snow on us a couple weeks ago, it took the City of Boston two days to plow one of the roads leading to my home. The other was still buried beneath a thick, icy blanket for another day. The term “global warming” has been sitting on our […]

  • Researcher gives subjects their voice

    Associate professor Rupal Patel has created a way to give people with speech disorders a personalized synthetic voice that resembles their true vocal identity.

  • AAAS 2013: Environmental Challenges and Adaptation in Cities

    “If we want to use research to inspire action by cities and have that research be inspired by what cities currently do to affect their vulnerabilities, it really means we must work closely together with decision making communities and stakeholder groups,” said Northeastern professor Matthias Ruth, who holds joint appointments with the School of Public […]

  • AAAS 2013: Predicting human behavior

    If you’ve driven on the highway, you’ve seen it: The traffic jam appears out of nowhere and disappears just as mysteriously.  We blame the cars around us for their poor driving skills, and slam on our own breaks. During an AAAS annual meeting session hosted by Northeastern professor Albert-László Barabási, Northwestern professor Dirk Helbing showed […]

  • AAAS 2013: The science of politics

    Until yesterday, I hadn’t thought too much about the term “political science.” I probably first heard it in high school or college, when I accepted it as an item of potential academic study that I would not pursue and went on with my life (I consider politics to be the single most abstract and frustrating […]

  • Weekly Webcrawl: Love is in the ‘sphere

    The sclogosphere went nuts yesterday with love-related science posts. Here are few that caught my eye: The physics of sunsets only makes them more romantic, argues Ethan Siegel on ScienceBlogs. Apparently continuing fractions are romantic, too. A couple years ago, researchers came up with a mathematical model to predict the success of relationships.Others say that oxytocin is […]

  • AAAS 2013: Communicating science to policy makers

    Several Northeastern scientists are presenting at the AAAS meeting this weekend trying in part to connect with policy makers and science writers. “The hope is to have a tangible impact on the global challenges that the University’s use-inspired approach to science attempts to affect,” said Tim Leshan, vice president for government relations. But how can […]

  • Complex systems made simple

    Network scientists at Northeastern have designed an algorithm capable of identifying the subset of components that reveal a complex system’s overall nature.

  • How to start a termite ‘orgy’

    In new research, Rebeca Rosengaus, an associate professor in the department of marine and environmental sciences, and her student Tamara Hartke turn an old theory of termite behavior on its head.

  • The secrets of spider silk

    Steve Cranford, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, studies spider silk and other natural materials for insight into designing more robust synthetic structures.

  • 3Qs: ‘Driving’ a new pair of arms

    Learning how to control a new pair of arms would be like learning how to drive a car, says Christopher Hasson, a sensorimotor control expert and a newly appointed assistant professor in the department of physical therapy.

  • Weekly Webcrawl: singing whales, soaring starlings, and squid sex

    Time for the second installment of my Weekly Webcrawl series. It was a busy week in science news. Here are a few highlights: If you’re ever feeling lonely, just visit this website and Hawaiian whales will sing to you in real time. It was a good news week for animal sex: Giant-squid were filmed in […]

  • 3Qs: Health in America

    Katherine Tucker, professor of nutritional epidemiology in the department of Health Sciences and coauthor of a new textbook on nutrition and disease, says that following a healthy diet could prevent diabetes, heart disease, and many forms of cancer.

  • Alert 101: Airport Screening Technologies

    Here’s a great video produced by the DHS Center of Excellence, ALERT, or Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats (what is it about engineers and acronyms?!). ALERT 101 is a new series featuring the center’s unique technologies and research areas. This one explains millimeter wave and back scatter airport screening systems. For more info on […]

  • Stop worrying about it: distraction fuels better decisions

    I’m pretty much the world’s worst decision maker. This is especially true at restaurants. The other day I made the waiter save me for last and then, after six other orders, I still needed him to walk me through the menu like a private tutor. I was vaguely pleased with my final choice, but I […]

  • Why so persistent?

    Persistence — it’s what keeps us all surviving. If it weren’t for this lovely quality, we’d just give up and crawl under a rock somewhere because it’s all just so darn difficult out there in the world. Same’s true for every bacterial infection we know of, the chronic ones in particular. Persistence is paramount. Think […]

  • Weekly Webcrawl: From cyborg music to zombie-roaches

    Welcome to a new series that I will be bringing your way every Friday. In no particular order, my favorite science things this week, brought to you by the interwebs: Last week professors around the country were in a tizzy when their profession was called out as the least stressful job of 2013. This week, […]

  • How chemists think

    Complex decision-making requires us to select the most important information and throw out the rest, according to John Coley, an associate professor of psychology.

  • How to keep them coming back for more

    “It totally blew my mind.” That’s what graduate student Laura Pfeifer Vardoulakis said of her encounter with work taking place in Timothy Bickmore’s lab in the College of Computer and Information Science. Bickmore is one of the few researchers starting to develop medical technologies that target patients and individuals instead of clinicians. “When I came […]

  • Virtual, meet Reality

    I’ve written about Dagmar Sternad‘s work a few times, here and here and most recently here, when she had a bunch of middle schoolers come hang out in her lab for an afternoon. Her team uses robotic machines to capture data on simple movement tasks, such as carrying a cup of coffee or bouncing a […]

  • Story behind the story: Carla Mattos

    There’s always a story behind the story. When I talk to researchers about new papers or grants, I ask way more questions than I can possibly cover in the body of a News@Northeastern article. One of my favorite questions to ask is “how did you get interested in this line of work?” It almost always […]

  • Economics research promotes malaria testing

    Research by Northeastern economist William Dickens shows that making malaria tests available in countries like Uganda leads to more effective treatment of the insect-borne disease.

  • Paper towels that pack a punch against bacteria

    Of the three ways we can dry our hands after scrubbing down, the paper towel method tends to be the most hygienic. When I asked chemical engineering professor and chair Tom Webster how this could possibly be, he told me that air dryers can actually blow bacteria onto other surfaces, causing further contamination down the […]

  • Validation for flu prediction

    In 2009, Northeastern University network scientist Alessandro Vespignani developed a computational model that predicted the spread of the H1N1 virus. Three years later, new studies show that these predictions were highly accurate.

  • Humanities scholars ‘Camp’ out

    Northeastern on Wednesday hosted “THATCamp,” a so-called “unconference” that offered attendees a unique way to navigate the novel field of digital humanities.