Science In Mind

Globe reporter Carolyn Y. Johnson chronicles the discoveries, ideas, inventions, and people that make Boston a scientific hub.

Boston scientists find gene mutations that are a precursor of blood cancer

The mutations markedly increase the risk of blood cancer, an important step toward developing early detection and prevention strategies.

Doctors look to personalize cancer care

Physicians and researchers have identified novel drug combinations that show promise against cancer cells that have developed a resistance to therapy.

Flawed gene may cut heart disease risk

People with a flawed gene have better heart health than those with the normal, functioning gene.

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Three from Mass. win $3 million Breakthrough Prizes

The prizes are aimed at honoring achievement and fostering general interest in science.

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Harvard researchers unravel evolution of genitalia

When the first animals scrambled out of the water to live on land, they needed a new way to reproduce.

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MIT scientist proposes asteroids as destinations before Mars

Asteroids offer appealing destinations for testing equipment and protocols as scientists prepare to send humans to Mars.

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Highest altitude settlements from ice age discovered

The human settlements date back to 12,400 years ago in the Peruvian Andes and sit more than 14,000 feet above sea level.

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Some genes may thwart disease

Our genes may not only make us susceptible to diseases, they may also protect us from them.

Stem cell research offers hope on type 1 diabetes

A procedure that creates millions of insulin-producing cells could be a paradigm shift in the treatment of type 1 diabetes.

Rare cancer recoveries could be key to wider treatments

Researchers are using an arsenal of biomedical tools to unlock the secrets of people who respond well to experimental drugs.

Nobel winner honed super-zoom microscopes at Woods Hole

Physicist Eric Betzig made regular summer pilgrimages to Woods Hole with a microscope in the back of a minivan.

Nobel winner honed super-zoom microscopes at Woods Hole

Physicist Eric Betzig made regular summer pilgrimages to Woods Hole with a microscope in the back of a minivan.

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MIT team suggests autism may be tied to ability to predict

MIT scientists propose a common thread that could explain many of the facets of the disorder.

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Haystack Observatory celebrates 50th birthday

The celebration gave a rare peek into the long history of Haystack and its future.

Ebola cases from infected travelers likely to increase as the outbreak rages on

When the first case of Ebola was diagnosed in the U.S. on Sunday, Northeastern University researcher Alessandro Vespignani was not at all surprised. For weeks, the data scientist, who designs and runs big computer simulations of infectious disease outbreaks, has been carefully tweaking a model to project the spread of the virus both in Africa and as it might be imported to other countries carried by international travelers.

Suburban science curiosity: MIT’s Haystack Observatory celebrates 50 years

WESTFORD — It’s not every resolution drafted for the Legislature that mentions the layers of Earth’s atmosphere and name-drops Einstein’s theory of general relativity. But last week, scientists and engineers gathered on a suburban hillside to celebrate the history and future of a large and little-known radio telescope housed in a dome that looks more like the one at Epcot Center than anything else, all capped off by a reading of a new Massachusetts House of Representatives resolution to wish the telescope a happy 50th birthday.

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Harvard-led team’s cosmic inflation discovery uncertain

New data raise doubts about what was considered smoking gun evidence in favor of the theory of cosmic inflation — the “bang” of the Big Bang.

Study suggests violence is an evolutionary adaptation

New research found that human behaviors such as feeding animals or disturbing their habitat didn’t appear to cause more killings.

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Analysis of DNA reaping big gains

In the space of a few short years, DNA sequencing has changed from a technology whose medical promise is largely theoretical to a regularly-used tool.

Science in mind

Don’t just photograph life’s highlights, study suggests

We underestimate the pleasure we’ll gain from rediscovering the mundane, according to a new study.

Harvard lab delves into Ebola outbreak

Working with five African colleagues who have died, scientists have analyzed the genes of the virus for new insights.

New studies erase traumatic memories in mice

A growing body of work shows that, at least in rodents, triggering brain circuits can alter remembrance.

SCIENCE IN MIND

Top female math scholar tells her story of achievement

Maryam Mirzakhani became the first woman to win the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics.

At Harvard, tiny robots ‘swarm’ into shape

Three Harvard researchers have assembled a massive swarm of simple, three-legged robots that can work as team.

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Harvard-trained mathematician is the first woman to win the ‘Nobel prize of math’

On Tuesday, Maryam Mirzakhani became the first woman to win the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics -- a recognition for her work on geometric problems such as understanding curved surfaces and doughnuts. The Fields Medal is sort of like the Nobel prize, except perhaps even more competitive, since it is awarded once every four years and limited to researchers under the age of 40.

Brigham researcher in flawed stem cell study will step down

The researcher, who oversaw a discredited study that described a simple method for creating stem cells, will take a one-year sabbatical.

Origami robot folds itself up, scuttles away

Harvard and MIT researchers published a proof-of-concept study that demonstrates how cheap, self-folding robots could work.

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Harvard researchers may have found clue to how ALS works

ALS may result from toxic interaction between brain cells. The findings suggest a possible new approach for developing drugs.

Coauthor of retracted stem cell papers commits suicide

The Japanese scientist coauthored papers that claimed powerful stem cells could be created through an acid bath technique.

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Measuring cultural evolution by tracking where notable people were born, died

An international team of researchers crunched three giant databases to map the geographical creep of culture over two millennia.

Next Mars rover to include MIT-led instrument

The rover will carry MOXIE, an instrument able to produce oxygen.

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Pollution may be a clear sign of life - maybe not-so intelligent - out there

On the off-chance aliens are wrecking their home planet, we might be able to catch them in the act, according to a team of scientists.

Tests suggest limits to Vertex’s cystic fibrosis treatment

Two teams of scientists showed that the medications in the two-drug regimen interfere with each other.

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Scientists report sexual harassment at field sites

In a stark paper published Wednesday, most respondents reported they had personally experienced sexual harassment.

Harvard scientists want gene-manipulation debate

A new technology could potentially allow researchers to block mosquitoes’ ability to spread malaria, or make weeds more vulnerable to pesticides.

Cancer cells may guide treatment

A Boston-based team published proof Thursday that one of the most alluring ideas in cancer treatment can work.

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Astronomers invite public to name exoplanets

The International Astronomical Union announced plans to crowdsource the naming of new planets and their suns.

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Study finds mutations in lung cancer DNA

The large and comprehensive study of the most common kind of lung cancer could help scientists devise new treatments.

People prefer electric shocks to time alone with thoughts

A startling new study finds that people don’t much enjoy spending even 10 minutes alone with their thoughts.

Electrifying stem cell finding retracted

Amid allegations of fraud, a bombshell stem cell discovery using an acid bath was withdrawn by the journal that published the work.

Undiagnosed-diseases center to open in Boston

The National Institutes of Health will expand its efforts to treat patients with baffling symptoms by creating six centers, including one in Boston.

Study finds top male scientists tilt toward hiring men

The most prominent male faculty in the life sciences at top US research institutions are training fewer women scientists than others, a study found.

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Fossilized feces show Neanderthals ate their vegetables

Samples suggest the Neanderthal diet was dominated by meat, but there was also a strong signal of plant consumption.

Science in Mind

Why are people willing to help future generations?

A team from Harvard and Yale universities have crafted an experiment that begins to unravel how people decide to make sacrifices today that benefit future generations.

Why are people willing to help future generations? Study has implications for climate-change policies

Drawing on wide-ranging expertise in evolutionary biology, psychology, math, and economics, a team from Harvard and Yale universities have crafted an experiment that begins to unravel how people decide to make sacrifices today that benefit future generations.

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Key to curing Alzheimer’s may be changing drug development funding

Based on current rates, it could take 260 years until the next Alzheimer’s drug is approved, an MIT economist says.

A less-than-final answer about the Big Bang

It turns out a key discovery may actually be just starlight.

‘Big Bang’ evidence could have been galactic dust

The paper presenting the results was published with an important caveat.

MIT biomedical engineer Robert Langer wins $500,000 Kyoto Prize

Robert Langer received $500,000 for the Kyoto Prize for Advanced Technology.

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Hype over stem cell science may prey on families’ hope

A massive effort is afoot to speed the development of cures. But do we sometimes move too fast?