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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.

Illustration of floating metal cubes joining together, some of their faces yellow
geometry

Computer Search Settles 90-Year-Old Math Problem

August 19, 2020

By translating Keller’s conjecture into a computer-friendly search for a type of graph, researchers have finally resolved a problem about covering spaces with tiles.

Claudia de Rham portrait
Q&A

The Physicist Who Slayed Gravity’s Ghosts

August 18, 2020

Claudia de Rham showed how theories of “massive gravity” could potentially get rid of the need for dark energy.

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 a sign reading “To Telescope” near Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.
Quantized Columns

Social Distancing From the Stars

August 11, 2020

Professional astronomers may not point their telescopes by hand anymore, but COVID-19 has still closed observatories and impeded research.

Illustration of anxious woman surrounded by mitochondria.
physiology

Mitochondria May Hold Keys to Anxiety and Mental Health

August 10, 2020

Research hints that the energy-generating organelles of cells may play a surprisingly pivotal role in mediating anxiety and depression.

insights puzzle

COVID-19 Is Raging. How Safe Is Your Backyard Party?

August 6, 2020

Awash in coronavirus data, misinformation and tremendous uncertainty, we need to put our risk analysis skills to the ultimate test.