All Articles

Diagram showing a colorful visualization of the simple Lie group
Abstractions blog

The ‘Useless’ Perspective That Transformed Mathematics

June 9, 2020

Representation theory was initially dismissed. Today, it’s central to much of mathematics.

The skeletons of a man and woman, showing the difference in their heights.
Abstractions blog

Males Are the Taller Sex. Estrogen, Not Fights for Mates, May Be Why.

June 8, 2020

To explain why men are on average taller than women, scientists theorized about competition for mates. But the effects of estrogen on bone growth may be answer enough.

Illustration of an extremely tired person, surrounded by empty coffee cups.

Why Sleep Deprivation Kills

June 4, 2020

Going without sleep for too long kills animals but scientists haven’t known why. Newly published work suggests that the answer lies in an unexpected part of the body.

A digital simulacrum of a protein.
abstractions blog

A Digital Locksmith Has Decoded Biology’s Molecular Keys

June 3, 2020

Neural networks have been taught to quickly read the surfaces of proteins — molecules critical to many biological processes.

An illustration of a knot that mathematicians might study using tools called invariants.
abstractions blog

In a Single Measure, Invariants Capture the Essence of Math Objects

June 2, 2020

To distinguish between fundamentally different objects, mathematicians turn to invariants that encode the objects’ essential features.

Photo of various colorful maps
Abstractions blog

In Mathematics, It Often Takes a Good Map to Find Answers

June 1, 2020

Mathematicians try to figure out when problems can be solved using current knowledge — and when they have to chart a new path instead.

A black hole shooting thunderbolts.
quantum gravity

Black Hole Paradoxes Reveal a Fundamental Link Between Energy and Order

May 28, 2020

By chewing on the problems posed by “extremal” black holes, physicists have exposed a surprising and universal connection between energy and entropy.

Animated illustration of flashing, moving wavelengths and strobing lights surrounding a pair of eyes.
Quantized Columns

Spreading the Word on a Possible Alzheimer’s Treatment

May 27, 2020

Neuroscientists could use brain waves to spur immune cells into action against the disease — but the process is almost too fantastic to believe.

Lines representing paths of particles fan out from a point and pass through a series of detectors.
Abstractions blog

Growing Anomalies at the Large Hadron Collider Raise Hopes

May 26, 2020

Collider physicists report that several measurements of particles called B mesons deviate from predictions. Alone, each oddity looks like a fluke, but their collective drift is more suggestive.