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planetary science

Wandering Space Rocks Help Solve Mysteries of Planet Formation

July 16, 2019

After an interstellar asteroid shot past the sun, scientists realized that there’s probably a lot of itinerant rocks out there.

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geometry

Random Surfaces Hide an Intricate Order

July 2, 2019

Mathematicians have proved that a random process applied to a random surface will yield consistent patterns.

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artificial intelligence

Where We See Shapes, AI Sees Textures

July 1, 2019

To researchers’ surprise, deep learning vision algorithms often fail at classifying images because they mostly take cues from textures, not shapes.

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taxonomy

What’s in a Name? Taxonomy Problems Vex Biologists

June 24, 2019

Researchers struggle to incorporate ongoing evolutionary discoveries into an animal classification scheme older than Darwin.

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cell biology

Bacterial Complexity Revises Ideas About ‘Which Came First?’

June 12, 2019

Contrary to popular belief, bacteria have organelles too. Scientists are now studying them for insights into how complex cells evolved.

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genomics

Ancient DNA Yields Snapshots of Vanished Ecosystems

May 29, 2019

Surviving fragments of genetic material preserved in sediments allow scientists to see the full diversity of past life — even microbes.

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quantum information theory

Computer Scientists Expand the Frontier of Verifiable Knowledge

May 23, 2019

The universe of problems that a computer can check has grown. The researchers’ secret ingredient? Quantum entanglement.

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chaos theory

The Hidden Heroines of Chaos

May 20, 2019

Two women programmers played a pivotal role in the birth of chaos theory. Their previously untold story illustrates the changing status of computation in science.

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ecology

Heat-Loving Microbes, Once Dormant, Thrive Over Decades-Old Fire

April 16, 2019

In harsh ecosystems around the world, microbiologists are finding evidence that “microbial seed banks” protect biodiversity from changing conditions.