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Contemplating the End of Physics

November 24, 2020

Has physics reached the limits of what we can discover — or are the possibilities only just beginning?

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Some Math Problems Seem Impossible. That Can Be a Good Thing.

November 18, 2020

Struggling with math problems that can’t be solved helps us better understand the ones we can.

Illustration of red spools with strands of DNA as the thread, with a blue brain in the background.
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The Epigenetic Secrets Behind Dopamine, Drug Addiction and Depression

October 27, 2020

New research links serotonin and dopamine not just to addiction and depression, but to the ability to control genes.

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The Simple Math Problem We Still Can’t Solve

September 22, 2020

Despite recent progress on the notorious Collatz conjecture, we still don’t know whether a number can escape its infinite loop.

An abstract illustration showing broken tools, cubes, numbers and other abstract representations of impossible math
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When Math Gets Impossibly Hard

September 14, 2020

Mathematicians have long grappled with the reality that some problems just don’t have solutions.

Photo of a sign reading “To Telescope” near Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.
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Social Distancing From the Stars

August 11, 2020

Professional astronomers may not point their telescopes by hand anymore, but COVID-19 has still closed observatories and impeded research.

Animated illustration of a hand emerging from a black hole, while drawing the black hole by connecting dots flashing 0 and 1.
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Spotting Quantum Black Holes in the Lab

July 15, 2020

Can we test speculations about how quantum physics affects black holes and the Big Bang?

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The Math of Social Distancing Is a Lesson in Geometry

July 13, 2020

How to safely reopen offices, schools and other public spaces while keeping people six feet apart comes down to a question mathematicians have been studying for centuries.

Illustration showing an austere number line on one side and various interesting objects on the the other, including a dodecahedron, an armillary sphere, flowers and plants.
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The Two Forms of Mathematical Beauty

June 16, 2020

Mathematicians typically appreciate either generic or exceptional beauty in their work, but one type is more useful in describing the universe.

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A regular column in which top researchers explore the process of discovery.