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symmetry

Colorful illustration of 5 plants with their roots exposed. Each plant forms the shape of a number,
number theory

New Number Systems Seek Their Lost Primes

March 2, 2017

For centuries, mathematicians tried to solve problems by adding new values to the usual numbers. Now they’re investigating the unintended consequences of that tinkering.

animated gif of a fractal tunnel
theoretical physics

Physicists Uncover Geometric ‘Theory Space’

February 23, 2017

A decades-old method called the “bootstrap” is enabling new discoveries about the geometry underlying all quantum theories.

Pencils Down: Experiments in Education

A Wormhole Between Physics and Education

October 18, 2016

The theoretical particle physicist Helen Quinn has blazed a singular path from the early days of the Standard Model to the latest overhaul of science education in the United States.

As neutrinos change “flavors” they may illuminate the differences between matter and antimatter.
particle physics

Neutrinos Hint of Matter-Antimatter Rift

July 28, 2016

A hint that neutrinos behave differently than antineutrinos suggests an answer to one the biggest questions in physics.

Abstractions blog

A Quasicrystal’s Shocking Origin

July 8, 2016

By blasting a stack of minerals with a four-meter-long gun, scientists have found a new clue about the backstory of a very strange rock.

Abstractions blog

The Universe Is Not a Snowflake

June 22, 2016

Nature’s laws are beautiful because they strike a compromise between boring symmetry and confusing asymmetry, physicists say.

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.

Quantized Columns

Time’s (Almost) Reversible Arrow

January 7, 2016

The irreversibility of time may be a clue as to what makes up the universe’s dark matter.

Mathematics

Hope Rekindled for Perplexing Proof

December 21, 2015

Three years ago, a solitary mathematician released an impenetrable proof of the famous abc conjecture. At a recent conference dedicated to the work, optimism mixed with bafflement.