Science & Technology

Dissecting the Green New Deal

During what’s likely the largest climate event ever held at Penn, leaders in a range of fields discussed the practicalities and implications of the resolution introduced into Congress in February aimed at stemming climate change.

Michele W. Berger

Making waves with metamaterials

Penn engineers are using a custom mechanical metamaterial, an artificial structure with properties that are defined by its geometry instead of its composition, to study how non-linear waves move in a soft, 2D system to better understand how mechanical metamaterials could be used in the future.

Penn Today Staff

Crowdsourcing 10,000 years of land use

More than 250 archaeologists from around the world contributed their knowledge to ArchaeoGLOBE, an effort to better understand the prevalence of agriculture, pastoralism, and hunting and gathering at different points in human history.

Michele W. Berger

A molecular ‘atlas’ of animal development

Scientists have studied the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans for decades, making essential contributions to basic science. In the latest milestone, a team uses cutting-edge technology to individually profile the genes expressed in more than 80,000 cells in a developing C. elegans embryo.

Katherine Unger Baillie

No evidence that testosterone reduces cognitive empathy

In the largest study of its kind, researchers found that testosterone administration did not affect cognitive empathy, a measure of the ability to recognize another’s feelings and motivations. The finding calls into question the theory that the symptoms of autism are caused by a hyper-masculinized brain.

Katherine Unger Baillie

Coding with kids

Since 2017, Penn Engineering computer science students have taught Philadelphia-area middle school students in multiple after-school coding clubs. The goals are to nurture an interest in computer science and increase confidence.

Penn Today Staff



In the News


Earth Magazine

Researchers find no link between testosterone and a lack of cognitive empathy

New research by Gideon Nave of the Wharton School found that, contrary to past research, increased testosterone levels do not impair men’s ability to empathize. “We found that there is no evidence to support this effect of testosterone, but that doesn’t rule out any possible effects,” said Nave. “From what we know, though, it seems that if testosterone does have an influence, the effect is complex, not linear.”

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Philadelphia Inquirer

Breeding has shaped dogs’ brains, MRI scans reveal

Wilfried Mai of the School of Veterinary Medicine weighed in on a study that analyzed cognitive differences between dog breeds. “The paper demonstrates very nicely differences in brain morphology with either reduction or hypertrophy [larger size] of certain brain areas that are known to be associated with specific behaviors,” he said.

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WESA Radio (Pittsburgh)

Wheels, drones and Rescue Randy: DARPA robotics competition puts mine rescue to the test

A four-legged robot from the School of Engineering and Applied Science was among robots performing underwater search and rescue in a competition. “They're doing everything completely autonomously, so every step they take is kind of a minor victory for us,” said C. J. Taylor. “We always feel that we could do better. We learn so much from each of these events and that gives us new ideas about things that we want to try.”

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Penn Live

Wildlife diseases in Pennsylvania targeted by $10 million Game Commission-Penn partnership

Julie Ellis and Lisa Murphy of the School of Veterinary Medicine commented on a new collaboration between Penn Vet and the Pennsylvania Game Commission: the Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program, based at New Bolton Center.

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Axios

Looking to AI to understand how we learn

PIK Professor Konrad Kording said, “There is a big undercurrent in neuroscience [saying] we should go back to neural networks,” which rely on technology that allows machines to learn from their mistakes.

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Philadelphia Inquirer

‘Why not fly over it?’ Uber picks New Jersey firms in ambitious bid to beat traffic congestion

Rahul Mangharam of the School of Engineering and Applied Science commented on Uber’s new air taxi venture. “It’s going to be a very congested sky,” he said. “You want to make sure that each flight plan is safe by design, and that even if they do mess up for some reason, they have a fallback option.”

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The New York Times

A feisty Google adversary tests how much people care about privacy

Joseph Turow of the Annenberg School for Communication commented on DuckDuckGo, a privacy-focused search engine. “I’m almost embarrassed to say that I don’t use it more than I do,” he said. “There is something in my head that tells me I’ll get a better search from Google, even when I don’t know if that is demonstrably correct or not.”

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Wired

Twitter and Instagram unveil new ways to combat hate—again

Jessa Lingel of the Annenberg School for Communication said “we need humans” to help parse what is and isn’t offensive language based on context. “The tech just isn’t there yet.”

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Gizmodo

This freaky robotic fish is powered by ‘blood’

James Pikul of the School of Engineering and Applied Science co-authored a study in which researchers developed a soft, robotic lionfish powered by a blood-like compound. “This robot blood is our first demonstration of storing energy in a fluid that is normally only used for actuation,” he said.

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Scientific American

How the mind emerges from the brain’s complex networks

Danielle Bassett of the School of Engineering and Applied Science co-authored an article about network neuroscience, which allows us to see the origins of mental activity in the brain. One day, they write, “a neuroscientist who knew all the principles of brain function and everything about someone’s brain could predict that person’s mental conditions—the future, as well as the past, would be present inside the person’s mind.”

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