All Articles

A drawing of a piece of folded paper going back and forth between paper airplane and paper bird shapes.
Abstractions blog

Some Proteins Change Their Folds to Perform Different Jobs

February 3, 2021

Unusual proteins that can quickly fold into different shapes provide cells with a novel regulatory mechanism.

Colorful isualization of the 59 isolated examples of tetrahedra that have rational dihedral angles
geometry

Tetrahedron Solutions Finally Proved Decades After Computer Search

February 2, 2021

Four mathematicians have cataloged all the tetrahedra with rational angles, resolving a question about basic geometric shapes using techniques from number theory.

Blue faults of Cerberus Fossae
planetary science

Rumbles on Mars Raise Hopes of Underground Magma Flows

February 1, 2021

Small and cold, Mars has long been considered a dead planet. But a series of recent discoveries has forced scientists to rethink how recently its insides stopped churning — if they ever stopped at all.

Looping video shows a constantly shifting set of curves and a moving keyhole view of the pandemic coronavirus.
COVID-19

The Hard Lessons of Modeling the Coronavirus Pandemic

January 28, 2021

In the fight against COVID-19, disease modelers have struggled against misunderstanding and misuse of their work. They have also come to realize how unready the state of modeling was for this pandemic.

Historical star chart of the constellation Monoceros.
Abstractions blog

‘Unicorn’ Discovery Points to a New Population of Black Holes

January 27, 2021

Small black holes were nowhere to be found, leading astronomers to wonder if they didn’t exist at all. Now a series of findings, including a “unicorn” black hole, has raised hopes of solving the decade-long mystery.

Illustration showing a human figure sitting on a large straw, gazing at different topological figures.
Quantized Columns

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.