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Photo of Freeman Dyson standing in a meadow in front of a forest
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Remembering the Unstoppable Freeman Dyson

April 13, 2020

Freeman Dyson — physicist, mathematician, writer and idea factory — died on February 28, but his vitality lives on.

An artist’s conception of how sensory signals from the eye are map onto the brain in a slightly distorted way.
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The Brain Reshapes Our Malleable Senses to Fit the World

March 24, 2020

How does experience alter our perceptions? This adapted book excerpt from We Know It When We See It describes how the brain’s visual system rewires itself to make the best use of its neural resources.

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How Rational Math Catches Slippery Irrational Numbers

March 10, 2020

Finding the best way to approximate the ever-elusive irrational numbers pits the infinitely large against the infinitely small.

Illustration of a connection between a bat and a human, with a backdrop of coronaviruses.
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The Animal Origins of Coronavirus and Flu

February 25, 2020

Zoonotic diseases like influenza and many coronaviruses start out in animals, but their biological machinery often enables them to jump to humans.

Illustration of interstellar objects entering our solar system
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The Age of Interstellar Visitors

January 29, 2020

As astronomers get better at finding the comets and asteroids of other stars, they’ll learn more about the universe and our place in it.

Steven Strogatz listens to a podcast guest speak about many scientific and mathematical subjects.
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Why I’m Hosting The Joy of x Podcast

January 15, 2020

The noted mathematician and author Steven Strogatz explains why he wanted to share intimate conversations with leading researchers from diverse fields in his new podcast.

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How Simple Math Can Cover Even the Most Complex Holes

January 8, 2020

No one knows how to find the smallest shape that can cover all other shapes of a certain width. But high school geometry is getting us closer to an answer.

Illustration of pathogens, vaccines, and other necessary factors for eradicating a disease.
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How to Permanently End Diseases

December 3, 2019

Smallpox was eradicated relatively quickly, but other diseases have proved harder to eliminate. The reasons are a mix of biology and psychology.

An illustration of a mathematician staring up at an infinite pile of cubes of varying sizes and colors.
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Why the Sum of Three Cubes Is a Hard Math Problem

November 5, 2019

Looking for answers in infinite space is hard. High school math can help narrow your search.