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Abstractions blog

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.

Black and white photo of John Conway against a black background
Abstractions blog

John Conway Solved Mathematical Problems With His Bare Hands

April 20, 2020

The legendary mathematician, who died on April 11, was curious, colorful and one of the greatest problem-solvers of his generation.

Abstractions blog

Neutrino Asymmetry Passes Critical Threshold

April 15, 2020

The first official evidence of a key imbalance between neutrinos and antineutrinos provides one of the best clues for why the universe contains something rather than nothing.

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.