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Illustration showing a human figure sitting on a large straw, gazing at different topological figures.
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Topology 101: The Hole Truth

January 26, 2021

The relationships among the properties of flexible shapes have fascinated mathematicians for centuries.

Close-up photograph of a soap bubble with a spot on it that looks as though it must have come from a collision.
Abstractions blog

Physicists Study How Universes Might Bubble Up and Collide

January 25, 2021

Since they can’t prod actual universes as they inflate and bump into each other in the hypothetical multiverse, physicists are studying digital and physical analogs of the process.

Abstractions blog

Secret Ingredient Found to Power Supernovas

January 21, 2021

Three-dimensional supernova simulations have solved the mystery of why they explode at all.

Looping video of chloroplasts moving within the walled cells of the pond plant Elodea.
Abstractions blog

Plant Cells of Different Species Can Swap Organelles

January 20, 2021

In grafted plants, shrunken chloroplasts can jump between species by slipping through unexpected gateways in cell walls.


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Photo of Christine Darden in a gray suit, seated reading a book in her home

The NASA Engineer Who’s a Mathematician at Heart

Christine Darden worked at NASA for 40 years, helping make supersonic planes quieter and forging a path for women to follow in her footsteps.

Illustration of mathematicians descending through a cavern whose walls are lined with polynomials.

Mathematicians Resurrect Hilbert’s 13th Problem

January 14, 2021

Long considered solved, David Hilbert’s question about seventh-degree polynomials is leading researchers to a new web of mathematical connections.

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The Crooked Geometry of Round Trips

January 13, 2021

Imagine if we lived on a cube-shaped Earth. How would you find the shortest path around the world?


A Prodigy Who Cracked Open the Cosmos

January 12, 2021

Frank Wilczek has been at the forefront of theoretical physics for the past 50 years. He talks about winning the Nobel Prize for work he did as a student, his solution to the dark matter problem, and the God of a scientist.

A hollow, cylindrical skeleton formed from a lattice of glass strands shown against a black background.
Abstractions blog

The Curious Strength of a Sea Sponge’s Glass Skeleton

January 11, 2021

A glass sponge found deep in the Pacific shows a remarkable ability to withstand compression and bending, on top of the sponge’s other unusual properties.