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Abstractions blog

How Randomness Can Make Math Easier

July 9, 2019

Randomness would seem to make a mathematical statement harder to prove. In fact, it often does the opposite.

Art for "Universal Pattern Explains Why Materials Conduct"
mathematical physics

Universal Pattern Explains Why Materials Conduct

May 6, 2019

Mathematicians have found that materials conduct electricity when electrons follow a universal mathematical pattern.

Art for "Scientists Discover Exotic New Patterns of Synchronization"
patterns

Scientists Discover Exotic New Patterns of Synchronization

April 4, 2019

In a world seemingly filled with chaos, physicists have discovered new forms of synchronization and are learning how to predict and control them.

Art for "With Ruler and Compass, Amateur Mathematician Tames Fiendish Problem"
geometry

Amateur Mathematician Finds Smallest Universal Cover

November 15, 2018

Through exacting geometric calculations, Philip Gibbs has found the smallest known cover for any possible shape.

Art for "The Universal Pattern Popping Up in Math, Physics and Biology"
In Theory

The Universal Pattern Popping Up in Math, Physics and Biology

August 23, 2018

Quanta’s In Theory video series returns with an exploration of a mysterious mathematical pattern found throughout nature.

Art for "A Math Theory for Why People Hallucinate"
neuroscience

A Math Theory for Why People Hallucinate

July 30, 2018

Psychedelic drugs can trigger characteristic hallucinations, which have long been thought to hold clues about the brain’s circuitry. After nearly a century of study, a possible explanation is crystallizing.

Crystal diffraction art for "A Chemist Shines Light on a Surprising Prime Number Pattern"
prime numbers

A Chemist Shines Light on a Surprising Prime Number Pattern

May 14, 2018

When a crystallographer treated prime numbers as a system of particles, the resulting diffraction pattern created a new view of existing conjectures in number theory.

Illustration of pentagon tiling
Quantized Academy

The (Math) Problem With Pentagons

December 11, 2017

Triangles fit effortlessly together, as do squares. When it comes to pentagons, what gives?

Marjorie Rice
Abstractions blog

Marjorie Rice’s Secret Pentagons

July 11, 2017

A California housewife who in the 1970s discovered four new types of tessellating pentagons is dead at 94.