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Abstractions blog

Stalks and spore bodies of a slime mold rise above a smooth surface.
Abstractions blog

Out-of-Sync ‘Loners’ May Secretly Protect Orderly Swarms

May 21, 2020

Studies of collective behavior usually focus on how crowds of organisms coordinate their actions. But what if the individuals that don’t participate have just as much to tell us?

A baby lizard emerging from a transparent egg membrane.
Abstractions blog

Egg Laying or Live Birth: How Evolution Chooses

May 18, 2020

A lizard that both lays eggs and gives birth to live young is helping scientists understand how and why these forms of reproduction evolved.

A quantum knot.
Abstractions blog

‘Milestone’ Evidence for Anyons, a Third Kingdom of Particles

May 12, 2020

Anyons don’t fit into either of the two known particle kingdoms. To find them, physicists had to erase the third dimension.

Three particles moving closer together then farther apart. The region between them appears in green.
Abstractions blog

What Goes On in a Proton? Quark Math Still Conflicts With Experiments.

May 6, 2020

Two ways of approximating the ultra-complicated math that governs quark particles have recently come into conflict, leaving physicists unsure what their decades-old theory predicts.

Computer model of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
Abstractions blog

Sugary Camouflage on Coronavirus Offers Vaccine Clues

May 5, 2020

In the fight against viruses and other pathogens, scientists are looking beyond genes and proteins to the complex sugars, or glycans, on cell surfaces.

Abstractions blog

Math After COVID-19

April 28, 2020

Modern mathematics relies on collaboration and travel. COVID-19 is making it increasingly difficult.

An image of space with lines emanating from a central point, as if the viewer is traveling at warp speed.
Abstractions blog

What Might Be Speeding Up the Universe’s Expansion?

April 27, 2020

Physicists have proposed extra cosmic ingredients that could explain the faster-than-expected expansion of space.

Video of hot gas falling into a supermassive black hole.
Abstractions blog

Why Are Black Holes So Bright?

April 22, 2020

And why is the black hole at the center of our own galaxy so dim?

Destruction from 1999 Taiwan earthquake.
Abstractions blog

New Earthquake Math Predicts How Destructive They’ll Be

April 21, 2020

The “pinball” model of a slipping fault line borrows from the mathematics of avalanches.

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