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Abstractions blog

Distorted galaxies
Abstractions blog

A New Cosmic Tension: The Universe Might Be Too Thin

September 8, 2020

Cosmologists have concluded that the universe doesn’t appear to clump as much as it should. Could both of cosmology’s big puzzles share a single fix?

An illustration of an ant walking in a straight line around a dodecahedron.
Abstractions blog

Mathematicians Report New Discovery About the Dodecahedron

August 31, 2020

Three mathematicians have resolved a fundamental question about straight paths on the 12-sided Platonic solid.

Photo of Marijn Heule walking among computer processors
Abstractions blog

Computer Scientists Attempt to Corner the Collatz Conjecture

August 26, 2020

A powerful technique called SAT solving could work on the notorious Collatz conjecture. But it’s a long shot.

Photograph of a bat in flight.
Abstractions blog

Can Vaccines for Wildlife Prevent Human Pandemics?

August 24, 2020

Studies suggest that self-disseminating vaccines could prevent the “spillover” of animal viruses into humans as pandemic diseases.

An animation of a particle collision
Abstractions blog

The Mathematical Structure of Particle Collisions Comes Into View

August 20, 2020

Physicists have identified an algebraic structure underlying the messy mathematics of particle collisions. Some hope it will lead to a more elegant theory of the natural world.

Photo of emperor penguins huddling together for warmth, with two sticking their heads out
Abstractions blog

Math of the Penguins

August 17, 2020

Emperor penguins display rigorously geometric spacing and mathematical efficiency when they huddle together for warmth, which may reveal secrets to their overall health.

Earth from space.
Abstractions blog

Global Wave Discovery Ends 220-Year Search

August 13, 2020

An 18th-century physicist first predicted the existence of a chorus of atmospheric waves that swoop around Earth. Scientists have finally found them.

Photo of 12 petri dishes holding brightly colored fungi.
Abstractions blog

‘Zombie’ Microbes Redefine Life’s Energy Limits

August 12, 2020

A new model shows that the denizens of a vast, ancient biome beneath the seafloor use barely enough energy to stay alive — and broadens understanding of what life can look like.

Photo of one of the Russian sturgeon-paddlefish hybrids called sturddlefish.
Abstractions blog

Extra DNA May Make Unlikely Hybrid Fish Possible

August 5, 2020

The unintentional creation of “sturddlefish” hybrids may illuminate the genomic mechanisms that govern whether species can interbreed.