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Abstractions blog

How the Neutrino’s Tiny Mass Could Help Solve Big Mysteries

October 15, 2019

The KATRIN experiment is closing in on the mass of the neutrino, which could point to new laws of particle physics and shape theories of cosmology.

insights puzzle

How Randomness Can Arise From Determinism

October 14, 2019

Playing with a simple bean machine illustrates how deterministic laws can produce probabilistic, random-seeming behavior.

foundations of mathematics

With Category Theory, Mathematics Escapes From Equality

October 10, 2019

Two monumental works have led many mathematicians to avoid the equal sign. The process has not always gone smoothly.

Photo of lithium batteries
Abstractions blog

Nobel Awarded for Lithium-Ion Batteries and Portable Power

October 9, 2019

John Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino shared the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing lithium-ion batteries, “the hidden workhorses of the mobile era.”

An illustration of a planet in front of a star.
Abstractions blog

Physics Nobel Honors Early Universe and Exoplanet Discoveries

October 8, 2019

The astronomers Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz won half of the prize for their 1995 discovery of a Jupiter-like planet orbiting a nearby star. The cosmologist James Peebles won the other half for work exploring the structure of the universe.

Climbing up the side of a high mountain peak.
Abstractions blog

Nobel Prize Awarded for Discoveries on How Cells Adapt to Oxygen

October 7, 2019

The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine honored William Kaelin Jr., Peter Ratcliffe and Gregg Semenza for their work on elucidating how cells adjust to low oxygen levels.

Illustration of DNA that combines elements of mealybug and bacterial imagery.

Cell-Bacteria Mergers Offer Clues to How Organelles Evolved

October 3, 2019

Cells in symbiotic partnership, sometimes nested one within the other and functioning like organelles, can borrow from their host’s genes to complete their own metabolic pathways.

Quantized Columns

Why I Called It ‘Quantum Supremacy’

October 2, 2019

Researchers finally seem to have a quantum computer that can outperform a classical computer. But what does that really mean?

Scanning electron micrograph of a cluster of coccolithophores.

How Jurassic Plankton Stole Control of the Ocean’s Chemistry

October 1, 2019

Only 170 million years ago, new plankton evolved. Their demand for carbon and calcium permanently transformed the seas as homes for life.