WHY IT MATTERS Coming up with an idea is easy. Coming up with the right one takes work. With design thinking, throwing out what you think you know and starting from scratch opens up all kinds of possibilities. What is design thinking? Design thinking is an innovative problem-solving process rooted in a set of…

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A theoretician, a hardware builder, and a project organizer share the honor.


From almost the moment their discovery was announced, everyone agreed that the first sighting of gravitational waves was going to win a Nobel Prize. The only questions were when and who would receive the honor. Both of those questions have now been answered. When is now, and who turned out to be three individuals who contributed to the project in very different ways.


Caltech’s Kip Thorne, a theoretician who made sure we knew what a gravitational wave would look like when we saw it, was one honoree. He was joined by Rainer Weiss, an MIT scientist who helped build some of the first prototype detectors that would eventually inspire the LIGO design, and Barry Barish, another Caltech physicist who was put in charge of the LIGO collaboration and became instrumental in ensuring that the hardware was built and that a large international collaboration was present to operate it and analyze the results.


While LIGO was a stunning success, its history suggests that there were countless ways it and the entire field of gravitational wave physics might have failed. And those ways all lead back to the very person whose work suggested that space-time itself could experience ripples.

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The island of Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania in Eastern Africa, expects its shoreline to shrink due to rising sea levels. As a developing country, there are few national resources to gain an understanding of how its communities will be impacted by this challenge.
Tanzania Flying Labs, a regional outpost of the global nonprofit WeRobotics, has partnered with locals to create a high-resolution map of the island using drones. Drone imagery provides evidence to comprehend the changes to the coastline as well as the effects on the island’s ring of protective mangrove forests and human settlements.

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