by Alicia Chung

Single-cell genetic analysis on embryos generated by IVF finds suprisingly high rates of rearrangements

The gain or loss of chromosomal segments causes many problems in cell function, with malignant growth being the most worrying. Screening for such abnormalities is standard practice in fertility clinics for embryos generated by in vitro fertilization, and it has revealed that these embryos, sometimes donated for the generation of human embryonic stem cell lines, often possess chromosome imbalances. In a recent study published in Nature Medicine, Joris Vermeesch and colleagues at the Center for Human Genetics at the Catholic University Leuven, in Belgium, used high-resolution single-cell genetic analysis to show that such abnormalities are also found in embryos generated by in vitro fertilization from fertile young women (less than 35 years old) and are likely to be an inherent feature of early human development1.

Professor says Vegas gambling machines designed to get people to 'play to extinction'

Natasha Schull recalls how in the late 1990s she began observing people in Las Vegas transfixed for hours at video poker and slot machines. What, she wondered, kept them glued to machines until they lost all they had to lose?

After more than a decade of research that included lengthy observations and interviews focused on gambling machines, Schull is publishing her conclusions on how closely guarded, proprietary mathematical algorithms and immersive, interactive technology are used to keep people gambling until they -- in the industry jargon -- "play to extinction."

Computational biology and bioinformatics develop and apply techniques from applied mathematics, statistics, computer science, physics and chemistry to the study of biological problems, from molecular to macro-evolutionary. By drawing insights from biological systems, new directions in mathematics and other areas may emerge.

Researchers use lasers to induce gamma brain waves in mice

Deborah Halber, Picower Institute April 26, 2009

Scientists have studied high-frequency brain waves, known as gamma oscillations, for more than 50 years, believing them crucial to consciousness, attention, learning and memory. Now, for the first time, MIT researchers and colleagues have found a way to induce these waves by shining laser light directly onto the brains of mice.

Two MIT students placed in the top five in the prestigious William Lowell Putnam intercollegiate mathematics competition for 2008. Junior math majors Yufei Zhao and Bohua Zhan earned recognition as Putnam Fellows for their top five finishes, an award that carries a $2,500 prize. More than 3,600 students from across the country took the six-hour mathematics exam on Dec. 6, 2008. The 12-question test is given annually on the first Saturday in December. For the second year in a row, MIT's math team took third place in the team competition. Overall, 23 MIT students finished in the top 79, earning honorable mentions.

Jean Bourgain
Institute for Advanced Study

Although the concept of randomness is ubiquitous, it turns out to be difficult to generate a truly random sequence of events. The need for “pseudorandomness” in various parts of modern science, ranging from numerical simulation to cryptography, has challenged our limited understanding of this issue and our mathematical resources. In this talk, Professor Jean Bourgain explores some of the problems of pseudorandomness and tools to address them.

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