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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?

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How Claude Shannon Invented the Future

December 22, 2020

Today’s information age is only possible thanks to the groundbreaking work of a lone genius.

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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?


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