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sphere packing

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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.

Black and white photo of John Conway against a black background
Abstractions blog

John Conway Solved Mathematical Problems With His Bare Hands

April 20, 2020

The legendary mathematician, who died on April 11, was curious, colorful and one of the greatest problem-solvers of his generation.

Art for "How Feynman Diagrams Revolutionized Physics"
sphere packing

Out of a Magic Math Function, One Solution to Rule Them All

May 13, 2019

Mathematicians used “magic functions” to prove that two highly symmetric lattices solve a myriad of problems in eight- and 24-dimensional space.

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Q&A

In Praise of Simple Problems

January 9, 2018

The mathematician Richard Schwartz finds the hidden depth lurking in simple mathematical puzzles.

geometry

Sphere Packing Solved in Higher Dimensions

March 30, 2016

The Ukrainian mathematician Maryna Viazovska has solved the centuries-old sphere-packing problem in dimensions eight and 24.

Photograph of Saturn and its moons.
Mathematics

A New Tool to Help Mathematicians Pack

December 20, 2013

Improvements in how densely spheres and other shapes can be packed together could lead to advances in materials science, deep space communication and theoretical physics.