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Photo of Darden sitting on her couch and smiling

The NASA Engineer Who’s a Mathematician at Heart

January 19, 2021

Christine Darden worked at NASA for 40 years, helping make supersonic planes quieter and forging a path for women to follow in her footsteps.

Illustration of mathematicians descending through a cavern whose walls are lined with polynomials.

Mathematicians Resurrect Hilbert’s 13th Problem

January 14, 2021

Long considered solved, David Hilbert’s question about seventh-degree polynomials is leading researchers to a new web of mathematical connections.

Quantized Academy

The Crooked Geometry of Round Trips

January 13, 2021

Imagine if we lived on a cube-shaped Earth. How would you find the shortest path around the world?


A Prodigy Who Cracked Open the Cosmos

January 12, 2021

Frank Wilczek has been at the forefront of theoretical physics for the past 50 years. He talks about winning the Nobel Prize for work he did as a student, his solution to the dark matter problem, and the God of a scientist.

A hollow, cylindrical skeleton formed from a lattice of glass strands shown against a black background.
Abstractions blog

The Curious Strength of a Sea Sponge’s Glass Skeleton

January 11, 2021

A glass sponge found deep in the Pacific shows a remarkable ability to withstand compression and bending, on top of the sponge’s other unusual properties.

Video artwork showing yellow blobs move, merge, split, shrink and enlarge inside a clear cube.
molecular biology

A Newfound Source of Cellular Order in the Chemistry of Life

January 7, 2021

Inside cells, droplets of biomolecules called condensates merge, divide and dissolve. Their dance may regulate vital processes.

The Milky Way galaxy shown in X-rays.
Abstractions blog

Galaxy-Size Bubbles Discovered Towering Over the Milky Way

January 6, 2021

For decades, astronomers debated whether a particular smudge was close-by and small, or distant and huge. A new X-ray map supports the massive option.

An animation showing chaotic swirls of purple coalesce into a single line
Abstractions blog

New Quantum Algorithms Finally Crack Nonlinear Equations

January 5, 2021

Two teams found different ways for quantum computers to process nonlinear systems by first disguising them as linear ones.

number theory

How I Learned to Love and Fear the Riemann Hypothesis

January 4, 2021

A number theorist recalls his first encounter with the Riemann hypothesis and breaks down the math in a new Quanta video.