Science & Technology

Ice cream conundrum

The refreshing delight of ice cream on a hot summer day has its dangers: tooth sensitivity and the familiar feeling of “brain freeze.” Scientists break down the causes of the discomfort we are so willing to endure.

Jacob Williamson-Rea

Serving those who serve

In preparation for a career as a physician with the Military Health System, Ryan Leone is spending his summer in Falls Church, Va., interning with the Defense Health Agency.

Jill DiSanto

A ‘smart-connected cup’ to fight Zika

By combining a a Thermos, a microfluidics chip and a smartphone, researchers have found a way to bring Zika testing to sites where clinical laboratories aren’t present but diagnostics are needed.

Penn Today Staff

ModLab’s ‘SMORES’ are expanding robot autonomy

A self-assembling modular robot for extreme shapeshifting (SMORES) is designed to experience environmental features and modify its movement and function in response, bringing a new level of autonomy to the world of robotics.

Penn Today Staff

Looking to the stars

This year's Simons Observatory Collaboration conference included a community star party that consisted of a panel, a mixer with astronomers, and stargazing.

Ali Sundermier

In the News

Philadelphia Inquirer

Penn physicists win $3 million Breakthrough Prize

The School of Arts and Sciences’ Charles Kane and Eugene Mele have been awarded the 2019 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for their work developing a two-dimensional topological insulator, which forces electrons to travel in an orderly fashion. The material could some day be used to improve energy efficiency.


Smithsonian Magazine

Scientists break the rules of reproduction by breeding mice from single-sex parents

The Perelman School of Medicine’s Marisa Bartolomei offered commentary on same-sex reproductive experiments, which have proven easier in bimaternal than bipaternal pairings.


Philadelphia Inquirer

Guess what these young dinosaurs ate when their parents weren’t looking

Peter Dodson of the School of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Arts and Sciences offered commentary on young dinosaurs’ ability to independently forage for vegetation. “It seems like a pretty fair bet that there wasn’t parental care,” said Dodson.


The New York Times

Life with no males? These termites show that it’s possible

Tanya Dapkey of the School of Arts and Sciences discussed asexual termites, saying there was much to learn from “societies in nature run without any input from males.”


WHYY (Philadelphia)

A Philly-Pittsburgh Hyperloop? State House resolution calls for feasibility study

Megan Ryerson of the School of Design discussed the feasibility and wisdom of investing in Hyperloop lines between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. “… It could really change the distribution of economic activities across cities that, right now, we think of as so distant,” said Ryerson.


National Geographic

This tiny fish can recognize itself in a mirror. Is it self-aware?

PIK Professor Michael Platt commented on an animal sentience study. While he found the research “fascinating and well-executed,” he pointed out that the study doesn’t necessarily confirm that animals have a human-like sense of self.


Quartz India

Google sees gold in Indian languages

The Wharton School’s Kartik Hosanagar weighed in on Nevlekha, a new platform from Google that uses AI to render PDFs in Indian languages editable, making them easier to share online. “It’s only one of a series [of moves] Google will need if it hopes to penetrate the hundreds of millions of Indians,” said Hosanagar.


Philadelphia Inquirer

Should Philly join New York City in capping Uber and Lyft?

Erick Guerra of the School of Design weighed in on the effects of ride-sharing apps on cities, saying, “I’m confident Uber and Lyft have contributed in some small way to the increase in congestion but not nearly as much as the economic growth and increase in population.”



Radio: Incredible dignity in the face of a terrible tragedy

Lauren Sallan of the School of Arts and Sciences discussed “mass extinction events,” defined as “an event that wipes out biodiversity at orders of magnitude far above what we call ‘background extinction’—wiping out, say, 60 percent of species or species that wouldn't be expected to die off.”


“PBS NewsHour”

An 11-year-old changed election results on a replica Florida state website in under 10 minutes

The School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Matt Blaze discussed a hacking experiment, saying it was “not surprising that these precocious, bright kids would be able to do it because the websites that are on the internet are vulnerable…. What was interesting is just how utterly quickly they were able to do it.”