All Articles

Animation showing multiple particles of light flowing together and leaving blue trails
Abstractions blog

Graced With Knowledge, Mathematicians Seek to Understand

April 8, 2020

A landmark proof in computer science has also solved an important problem called the Connes embedding conjecture. Mathematicians are working to understand it.

theoretical physics

Does Time Really Flow? New Clues Come From a Century-Old Approach to Math.

April 7, 2020

The laws of physics imply that the passage of time is an illusion. To avoid this conclusion, we might have to rethink the reality of infinitely precise numbers.

Langlands program

‘Amazing’ Math Bridge Extended Beyond Fermat’s Last Theorem

April 6, 2020

Mathematicians have figured out how to expand the reach of a mysterious bridge connecting two distant continents in the mathematical world.

Image of LIGO’s mirror.
Abstractions blog

To Make the Perfect Mirror, Physicists Confront the Mystery of Glass

April 2, 2020

Sometimes a mirror that reflects 99.9999% of light isn’t good enough.

insights puzzle

How to Design a Perpetual Energy Machine

April 1, 2020

This April, find the fatal flaws in two paradoxical claims — one about a perpetual source of energy and the other about whether you will ever see the solution to these puzzles.

Photo of two mathematicians drawing on a chalkboard
topology

Mathematics as a Team Sport

March 31, 2020

When 50 mathematicians spend a week in the woods, there’s no telling what will happen. And that’s the point.

Abstractions blog

Why Do Matter Particles Come in Threes? A Physics Titan Weighs In.

March 30, 2020

Three progressively heavier copies of each type of matter particle exist, and no one knows why. A new paper by Steven Weinberg takes a stab at explaining the pattern.

insights puzzle

Solution: ‘Is It Turtles All the Way Down?’

March 27, 2020

While the age-old chicken-and-egg paradox is easily answered, the question of infinite regress in physics is far from resolved.

A split level photo shows algae growing on rocks both above and below the surface of the water at a margin of a Welsh glacial lake.
Abstractions blog

Billion-Year-Old Algae and Newer Genes Hint at Land Plants’ Origin

March 26, 2020

A recently unearthed fossil and new genomic discoveries are filling important gaps in scientists’ understanding of how primitive green algae eventually evolved into land vegetation.