All Articles

Illustration of pathogens, vaccines, and other necessary factors for eradicating a disease.
Quantized Columns

How to Permanently End Diseases

December 3, 2019

Smallpox was eradicated relatively quickly, but other diseases have proved harder to eliminate. The reasons are a mix of biology and psychology.

Animation of a black hole rotating.
Abstractions blog

Black Hole Singularities Are as Inescapable as Expected

December 2, 2019

For the first time, physicists have calculated exactly what kind of singularity lies at the center of a realistic black hole.

An overhead shot of an engineer working on a metal tank with pipes and cables coming out of it.
Abstractions blog

Top Dark Matter Candidate Loses Ground to Tiniest Competitor

November 27, 2019

Physicists have long searched for hypothesized dark matter particles called WIMPs. Now, focus may be shifting to the axion — an ultra-lightweight particle whose existence would solve two mysteries at once.

A brain full of “explosive” activity may lead to an earlier death than one with steadier “candles” of activity.
aging

Longevity Linked to Proteins That Calm Overexcited Neurons

November 26, 2019

New research makes a molecular connection between the brain and aging — and shows that overactive neurons can shorten life span.

An illustration of a woman sitting in a field embroidering a flower pattern. Around her grow wildflowers that appear to be randomly distributed but whose colors reveal a hidden pattern.
number theory

Mathematicians Catch a Pattern by Figuring Out How to Avoid It

November 25, 2019

We finally know how big a set of numbers can get before it has to contain a pattern known as a “polynomial progression.”

insights puzzle

Solution: ‘Randomness From Determinism’

November 22, 2019

Readers’ modifications of a bean machine showed how deterministic laws are capable of producing random-seeming behavior.

Saturn’s rings colored by particle size.
planetary science

Are Saturn’s Rings Really as Young as the Dinosaurs?

November 21, 2019

A surprisingly youthful estimate of the age of the rings has stirred a backlash.

Q&A

The Architect of Modern Algorithms

November 20, 2019

Barbara Liskov pioneered the modern approach to writing code. She warns that the challenges facing computer science today can’t be overcome with good design alone.

Illustration of a circle representing a black hole on a flat black plane with a multicolored bridge rising out of the plane and spanning from the inside to the outside of the circle.
Abstractions blog

Hologram Within a Hologram Hints at Fate of Black Holes

November 19, 2019

Calculations involving a higher dimension are guiding physicists toward a misstep in Stephen Hawking’s legendary black hole analysis.