What's up in

Abstractions blog

Photo of a complicated knot.
Abstractions blog

Color-Changing Material Unites the Math and Physics of Knots

February 10, 2020

Mathematicians have studied knots for centuries, but a new material is showing why some knots are better than others.

Gif of a spinning sphere that has a dappled blue, green and red pattern.
Abstractions blog

How Ancient Light Reveals the Universe’s Contents

January 28, 2020

A photograph of the infant cosmos reveals the precise amounts of dark matter and dark energy in the universe, leaving precious little room for argument.

Spindly green star-shaped cells against a black background.
Abstractions blog

Glial Brain Cells, Long in Neurons’ Shadow, Reveal Hidden Powers

January 27, 2020

The glial cells of the nervous system have been eclipsed in importance by neurons for decades. But glia are turning out to be central to many neurological functions, including pain perception.

Diagram showing blocks of different sizes colliding, along with different vectors
Abstractions blog

How Pi Connects Colliding Blocks to a Quantum Search Algorithm

January 21, 2020

A curious physicist has discovered an unexpected link between theoretical block collisions and a famed quantum search algorithm.

Abstractions blog

For Fluid Equations, a Steady Flow of Progress

January 13, 2020

A startling experimental discovery about how fluids behave started a wave of important mathematical proofs.

Abstractions blog

Biodiversity Alters Strategies of Bacterial Evolution

January 6, 2020

In evolution, context is everything: Bacteria with neighbors evolve to rebuff viruses in a different way.

A nearly homogeneous field of yellow cytoplasm spontaneously compartmentalizes itself into clumps around the dots of nuclei.
Abstractions blog

Unscrambled Eggs: Self-Organization Restores Cells’ Order

January 2, 2020

To scientists’ surprise, blended mixtures of cytoplasm can reorganize themselves into cell-like compartments with working structural components.

Supernova in galaxy NGC 5584.
Abstractions blog

No Dark Energy? No Chance, Cosmologists Contend

December 17, 2019

A study challenged the evidence for the mysterious antigravitational force known as dark energy. Then cosmologists shot back.

Illustration of brain formed by bubbles.
Abstractions blog

Sleeping Brain Waves Draw a Healthy Bath for Neurons

December 16, 2019

An organized tide of brain waves, blood and spinal fluid pulsing through a sleeping brain may flush away neural toxins that cause Alzheimer’s and other diseases.