Ten not-to-be missed stories from 2015
Princeton faculty members and their research teams produce numerous high-quality studies each year. We've selected ten not-to-be-missed stories from 2015 - plus one bonus article.
Severe tropical cyclones could hit a number of coastal cities worldwide that are widely seen as unthreatened by such powerful storms, according to computer models from researchers at Princeton and MIT. The researchers call these potentially devastating storms Gray Swans in comparison with the term Black Swan, which has come to mean truly unpredicted events that have a major impact.
The "living" bridges that army ants of the species Eciton hamatum build with their bodies are more sophisticated than scientists knew, reported researchers from Princeton University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The ants use collective intelligence to automatically assemble when they detect congestion along their raiding trail, and disassemble when normal traffic has resumed.
The human brain uses memories to make predictions about what it expects to find in familiar contexts, according to experiments by researchers at Princeton University and the University of Texas-Austin. When those subconscious predictions are shown to be wrong, the related memories are weakened and are more likely to be forgotten.
Despite advances in health care and quality of life, white middle-aged Americans have seen overall mortality rates increase over the past 15 years, representing an overlooked "epidemic" with deaths comparable to the number of Americans who have died of AIDS, according to new Princeton University research.
Scientists at Princeton have predicted a new phase of superionic ice, a special form of ice that could exist on Uranus and Neptune. Unlike water or regular ice, superionic ice is made up of water molecules that have dissociated into charged atoms called ions, with the oxygen ions locked in a solid lattice and the hydrogen ions moving like the molecules in a liquid.
A new study from Princeton University researchers sheds light on what happens during the handing over of genetic control from mother to offspring early in development. The research describes the transition that an embryo goes through when switching from using its mother's genes to using its own genes to make proteins and cellular machinery.
Researchers have found an automated way to identify and eliminate those stray soda cans, roaming cars and photobombing strangers that can send favorite photos to the recycle bin. The team from Princeton and the software company Adobe have developed a one-click system to remove distracting elements from photos.
Princeton University researchers have built a rice grain-sized laser powered by single electrons tunneling through artificial atoms known as quantum dots. The tiny microwave laser, or "maser," is a demonstration of the fundamental interactions between light and moving electrons.
Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), which is managed by Princeton University, have developed a detailed model of the source of a puzzling limitation on fusion reactions. Overcoming the limit could facilitate the development of fusion as a safe, clean and abundant source of energy for generating electricity.
Thanks to a growing earthquake detection network and superfast computers, geoscientists are now able to explore the Earth's interior, a region that has been more inaccessible than the deepest ocean or the farthest planet in our solar system.
Bonus story (#11):
Princeton University professor Angus Deaton was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in economics for his contributions to understanding consumption at the individual level and in aggregate. "His research concerns issues of immense importance for human welfare," stated the Nobel Prize citation.