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Emergent reductionism flower
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To Solve the Biggest Mystery in Physics, Join Two Kinds of Law

September 7, 2017

Reductionism breaks the world into elementary building blocks. Emergence finds the simple laws that arise out of complexity. These two complementary ways of viewing the universe come together in modern theories of quantum gravity.

fidget spinners
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Symmetry, Algebra and the Monster

August 17, 2017

To begin to understand what mathematicians and physicists see in the abstract structures of symmetries, let’s start with a familiar shape.

Maryam Mirzakhani
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The Beautiful Mathematical Explorations of Maryam Mirzakhani

July 24, 2017

After her untimely death, Maryam Mirzakhani’s life is best remembered through her work.

Illustration: diver searching for new math
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Quantum Questions Inspire New Math

March 30, 2017

In order to fully understand the quantum world, we may have to develop a new realm of mathematics.

2D knots illustration by James O'Brien
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Inside the Knotty World of ‘Anyon’ Particles

February 28, 2017

A new class of quantum particle is about to emerge from the tangled considerations of quantum statistics.

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Using Mathematics to Repair a Masterpiece

September 29, 2016

The author shows how new mathematical techniques can be used to revitalize a 650-year-old work of art.

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How Feynman Diagrams Almost Saved Space

July 5, 2016

Richard Feynman’s famous diagrams weren’t just a way to do calculations. They represented a deep shift in thinking about how the universe is put together.

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Entanglement Made Simple

April 28, 2016

How quantum entanglement connects with the “many worlds” of quantum theory.

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Is AlphaGo Really Such a Big Deal?

March 29, 2016

The Go-playing program teaches itself to replicate something very much like human intuition, an advance that promises far-reaching consequences.