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Abstractions blog

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.

Computer simulation of gravitational waves produced by a binary neutron star merger.
Abstractions blog

‘Radical Change’ Needed After Latest Neutron Star Collision

February 20, 2020

A recent neutron star merger has defied astronomers’ expectations, leading them to question longstanding ideas about neutron stars and the supernovas that create them. “We have to go back to the drawing board.”

Illustration of an RNA sequence, with an arrow pointing from one end to the other, and a sequence of complementary nucleotides, with an arrow pointing the other way.
Abstractions blog

New Clues About ‘Ambigram’ Viruses With Strange Reversible Genes

February 12, 2020

For decades, scientists have been intrigued by tiny viruses whose genetic material can be read both forward and backward. New research begins to explain this puzzling property.