In the News | 2014

In the News

December 17, 2014

What falling oil prices and new US sanctions mean for Russia

Diane Rehm Show

Russia’s economy is in turmoil as authorities there take drastic steps to stabilize the ruble. To help prop it up, the central bank raised a key interest rate and the Russian government has begun selling off its foreign currency reserves. The economy is being battered by a combination of western sanctions and falling oil prices.

In the News

October 29, 2014

Put it in writing

Joshua R. Itzkowitz ShifrinsonForeign Affairs

During negotiations over German reunification in 1990, did the United States promise the Soviet Union that NATO would not expand into eastern Europe? The answer remains subject to heated debate. 

In the News

September 30, 2014

3 Qs: Jim Walsh on the elusive US-Iran nuclear treaty

Peter DizikesMIT News

Can the U.S. and Iran reach a permanent agreement to restrict Iran’s nuclear program? For several months, the countries have operated under an interim agreement limiting Iran’s activities, but it expires this fall. MIT News spoke with Jim Walsh, research associate in MIT’s Security Studies Program and expert in international security and nuclear nonproliferation, about the prospects for a deal. 

In the News

August 19, 2014

A farewell to arms

Anne-Marie CorleyMIT Technology Review

As the Cold War ended, MIT researcher Thomas Neff came up with a plan to fuel U.S. nuclear plants with uranium from Russian bombs. With more than a decade of quiet diplomacy, he pulled it off.

In the News

July 17, 2014

Genetically engineering almost anything

Tim De Chant and Eleanor NelsenNova

When it comes to genetic engineering, we’re amateurs. Sure, we’ve known about DNA’s structure for more than 60 years, we first sequenced every A, T, C, and G in our bodies more than a decade ago, and we’re becoming increasingly adept at modifying the genes of a growing number of organisms. But compared with what's coming next, all that will seem like child's play.

In the News

July 17, 2014

3 Qs: Kenneth Oye on genetic engineering

Peter DizikesMIT News

Kenneth Oye, an associate professor of political science and engineering systems who studies government regulation and directs MIT’s Program on Emerging Technologies, is lead author of an article in Science today making the case that the U.S. government, and international groups, need to adapt their procedures to enable more robust discussion and evaluation on genetic engineering. MIT News asked him to discuss the topic.

In the News

June 1, 2014

Knowing the enemy

Alec Worsnop

What makes an insurgency effective and deadly? It is a question the U.S. has been posing with increasing urgency since 9/11, and it is a central research preoccupation of Alec Worsnop, a Ph.D. candidate in political science.

In the News

May 29, 2014

From conflict, cooperation

Nicole Estvanik TaylorMIT SPECTRVM

For her recent book Alliance Formation in Civil Wars, political scientist, Fotini Christia interviewed Afghan warlords and mujahideen. Her “counterintuitive” finding was that alliances among warring factions were fluid, owing more to pragmatic power dynamics than to religious or ethnic identities. She discovered, however, that identity narratives were often retrofitted to justify shifts from foe to friend and back again.

In the News

March 20, 2014

John Tirman on the warming US-Iran relationship

Peter DizikesMIT News

The U.S. and Iran have had a largely antagonistic relationship since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Could that be changing? In January, Iran and a U.S.-led group of six global powers agreed to an interim six-month deal that freezes Iran’s nuclear weapons program, in exchange for the lifting of some economic sanctions. The progress on the issue indicates that U.S.-Iran difficulties are not wholly intractable, suggests John Tirman, a principal research scientist and executive director of MIT’s Center for International Studies. 

In the News

January 31, 2014

Russian weapons removal & the cold war backpack bomb

Thomas Neff and Adam RawnsleyWNYC

When the Cold War ended, Russia was unsure what it should do with its thousands of weapons, from missiles to bombers. MIT Physicist, Dr. Thomas Neff, suggested that Moscow be allowed to sell the uranium from its retired weapons and dilute it into fuel for electric utilities in the United States, giving Russians desperately needed cash and Americans a cheap source of power. The program converted more than 20,000 Russian warheads into fodder for nuclear power plants that have since turned on one in 10 American light bulbs over the course of the past 20 years. And now, more than two decades later, the last uranium shipment arrived in the United States last month. Dr. Neff explains how he initially conceived of this program.

In the News

January 27, 2014

From warheads to cheap energy

William J. BroadThe New York Times

As the Cold War ended in the late 1980s and early ’90s, a new fear arose amid the rejoicing and relief: that atomic security might fail in the disintegrating Soviet Union, allowing its huge stockpile of nuclear warheads to fall into unfriendly hands. Many officials and scientists worried. Few knew what to do. That is when MIT physicist, Thomas L. Neff, hit on his improbable idea: turning Russian warheads Into American electricity.