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Abstractions blog

Animation showing multiple particles of light flowing together and leaving blue trails
Abstractions blog

Graced With Knowledge, Mathematicians Seek to Understand

April 8, 2020

A landmark proof in computer science has also solved an important problem called the Connes embedding conjecture. Mathematicians are working to understand it.

Image of LIGO’s mirror.
Abstractions blog

To Make the Perfect Mirror, Physicists Confront the Mystery of Glass

April 2, 2020

Sometimes a mirror that reflects 99.9999% of light isn’t good enough.

Abstractions blog

Why Do Matter Particles Come in Threes? A Physics Titan Weighs In.

March 30, 2020

Three progressively heavier copies of each type of matter particle exist, and no one knows why. A new paper by Steven Weinberg takes a stab at explaining the pattern.

A split level photo shows algae growing on rocks both above and below the surface of the water at a margin of a Welsh glacial lake.
Abstractions blog

Billion-Year-Old Algae and Newer Genes Hint at Land Plants’ Origin

March 26, 2020

A recently unearthed fossil and new genomic discoveries are filling important gaps in scientists’ understanding of how primitive green algae eventually evolved into land vegetation.

An animation showing a 3-by-3 Latin square, with numbers color coded, and the equivalent graph.
Abstractions blog

‘Rainbows’ Are a Mathematician’s Best Friend

March 18, 2020

“Rainbow colorings” recently led to a new proof. It’s not the first time they’ve come in handy.

Swirling video.
Abstractions blog

Axions Would Solve Another Major Problem in Physics

March 17, 2020

In a new paper, physicists argue that hypothetical particles called axions could explain why the universe isn’t empty.

Cosmic reionization video.
Abstractions blog

How the Cosmic Dark Ages Snuffed Out All Light

March 2, 2020

The recent discovery of some of the first galaxies in the universe illuminates the darkest era in cosmic history.

Antares photograph.
Abstractions blog

New Wrinkle Added to Cosmology’s Hubble Crisis

February 26, 2020

A problem confronts cosmology: Two independent measurements of the universe’s expansion give incompatible answers. Now a third method, advanced by an astronomy pioneer, appears to bridge the divide.

Two arrows that are intertwined for most of their length but then point in different directions.
Abstractions blog

In Brain Waves, Scientists See Neurons Juggle Possible Futures

February 24, 2020

Faced with a decision, the brain weighs its options by bundling them into rapidly alternating cycles of brain waves.

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