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Quanta Science Podcast

English, Sciences, 1 season, 236 episodes, 3 days, 5 hours, 53 minutes
About
Listen to Quanta Magazine's in-depth news stories about developments in mathematics, theoretical physics, theoretical computer science and the basic life sciences. Quanta, an editorially independent magazine published by the Simons Foundation, seeks to enhance public understanding of basic research. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org.
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Inside Scientists' Life-Saving Prediction of the Iceland Eruption

The Reykjanes Peninsula has entered a new volcanic era. Innovative efforts to map and monitor the subterranean magma are saving lives. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Fire Water” by Saidbysed.
4/3/202422 minutes, 15 seconds
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Echoes of Electromagnetism Found in Number Theory

A new magnum opus posits the existence of a hidden mathematical link akin to the connection between electricity and magnetism. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Clover 3” by Vibe Mountain.
3/20/202420 minutes, 39 seconds
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Tiny Language Models Come of Age

To better understand how neural networks learn to simulate writing, researchers trained simpler versions on synthetic children’s stories. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Thought Bot” by Audionautix.
3/6/202420 minutes, 48 seconds
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Rogue Worlds Throw Planetary Ideas Out of Orbit

Scientists have recently discovered scores of free-floating worlds that defy classification. The new observations have forced them to rethink their theories of star and planet formation. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Light Gazing” by Andrew Langdon.
2/21/202421 minutes, 48 seconds
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What Makes Life Tick? Mitochondria May Keep Time for Cells

Every species develops at its own unique tempo, leaving scientists to wonder what governs their timing. A suite of new findings suggests that cells use basic metabolic processes as clocks. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Pulse” by Geographer.
2/7/202423 minutes, 58 seconds
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An Old Conjecture Falls, Making Spheres a Lot More Complicated

The telescope conjecture gave mathematicians a handle on ways to map one sphere to another. Now that it has been disproved, the universe of shapes has exploded. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Slow Burn” by Kevin MacLeod.
1/24/202416 minutes, 37 seconds
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Even Synthetic Life Forms With a Tiny Genome Can Evolve

By watching “minimal” cells regain the fitness they lost, researchers are testing whether a genome can be too simple to evolve. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Hidden Agenda” by Kevin MacLeod.
1/10/202415 minutes, 21 seconds
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Selfish, Virus-Like DNA Can Carry Genes Between Species

Genetic elements called Mavericks that have some viral features could be responsible for the large-scale smuggling of DNA between species. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Clover” by Vibe Mountain.
12/20/202313 minutes, 9 seconds
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Exoplanets Could Help Us Learn How Planets Make Magnetism

New observations of a faraway rocky world that might have its own magnetic field could help astronomers understand the seemingly haphazard magnetic fields in our own solar system. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Light Gazing” by Andrew Langdon.
12/6/202312 minutes, 47 seconds
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To Move Fast, Quantum Maze Solvers Must Forget the Past

Quantum algorithms can find their way out of mazes exponentially faster than classical ones, at the cost of forgetting the paths they took. A new result suggests that the trade-off may be inevitable. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Confusing Disco” by Birocratic.
11/21/202315 minutes, 56 seconds
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Underground Cells Make 'Dark Oxygen' Without Light

In some deep subterranean aquifers, cells have a chemical trick for making oxygen that could sustain whole underground ecosystems. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Pulse” by Geographer.
11/8/202313 minutes, 37 seconds
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How the Brain Protects Itself From Blood-Borne Threats

To buffer the brain against menaces in the blood, a dynamic, multi-tiered system of protection is built into the brain’s blood vessels. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Good Times” by Patrick Patrikios.
10/25/202312 minutes, 9 seconds
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JWST Spots Giant Black Holes All Over the Early Universe

Giant black holes were supposed to be bit players in the early cosmic story. But recent James Webb Space Telescope observations are finding an unexpected abundance of the beasts. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Light Gazing” by Andrew Langdon.
10/11/202325 minutes, 5 seconds
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Is It Real or Imagined? How Your Brain Tells the Difference.

New experiments show that the brain distinguishes between perceived and imagined mental images by checking whether they cross a “reality threshold.” Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Who’s Using Who” by The Mini Vandals.
9/27/202318 minutes, 27 seconds
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Chatbots Don't Know What Stuff Isn't

Today’s language models are more sophisticated than ever, but they still struggle with the concept of negation. That’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Hidden Agenda” by Kevin MacLeod.
9/13/202316 minutes, 59 seconds
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Global Microbiome Study Gives New View of Shared Health Risks

The most comprehensive survey of how we share our microbiomes suggests a new way of thinking about the risks of developing some diseases that aren’t usually considered contagious. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Transmission” by John Deley and the 41 Players.
8/30/202321 minutes, 7 seconds
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Physicists Use Quantum Mechanics to Pull Energy out of Nothing

The quantum energy teleportation protocol was proposed in 2008 and largely ignored. Now two independent experiments have shown that it works. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Pulse” by Geographer.
8/16/202319 minutes, 26 seconds
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How Loneliness Reshapes the Brain

Feelings of loneliness prompt changes in the brain that further isolate people from social contact. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Slow Burn” by Kevin MacLeod.
8/2/202321 minutes, 28 seconds
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Gene Expression in Neurons Solves a Brain Evolution Puzzle

The neocortex of our brain is the seat of our intellect. New data suggests that mammals created it with new types of cells that they developed only after their evolutionary split from reptiles. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Pulse” by Geographer.
7/19/202319 minutes, 41 seconds
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Machines Learn Better if We Teach Them the Basics

A wave of research improves reinforcement learning algorithms by pre-training them as if they were human. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Quasi Motion” by Kevin MacLeod.
7/5/202320 minutes, 41 seconds
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The Cause of Depression Is Probably Not What You Think

Depression has often been blamed on low levels of serotonin in the brain. That answer is insufficient, but alternatives are coming into view and changing our understanding of the disease. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Redwood Trail” by Audionautix.
6/21/202321 minutes, 48 seconds
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Ants Live 10 Times Longer by Altering Their Insulin Responses

Queen ants live far longer than genetically identical workers. Researchers are learning what their longevity secrets could mean for aging in other species. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Good Times” by Patrick Patrikios.
6/7/202317 minutes, 56 seconds
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How the Brain Distinguishes Memories From Perceptions

The neural representations of a perceived image and the memory of it are almost the same. New work shows how and why they are different. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Light Gazing” by Andrew Langdon.
5/24/202313 minutes, 58 seconds
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What Causes Alzheimer's? Scientists Are Rethinking the Answer. (Pt 2)

If plaques of amyloid protein in the brain aren’t the root cause of Alzheimer’s disease, what is? Researchers investigating alternative possibilities have faced resistance from the biomedical establishment for decades, but intriguing theories about the role of defects in protein processing and the immune system have emerged. (Part 2 of two episodes.)
5/10/202341 minutes, 24 seconds
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What Causes Alzheimer's? Scientists Are Rethinking the Answer. (Pt. 1)

After decades in the shadow of the reigning model for Alzheimer’s disease, alternative explanations are finally getting the attention they deserve. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Redwood Trail” by Audionautix.
4/26/202334 minutes, 27 seconds
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Astronomers Say They Have Spotted the Universe's First Stars

Theory has it that “Population III” stars brought light to the cosmos. The James Webb Space Telescope may have just glimpsed them. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Light Gazing” by Andrew Langdon.
4/12/202314 minutes, 36 seconds
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New Chip Expands the Possibilities for AI

An energy-efficient chip called NeuRRAM fixes an old design flaw to run large-scale AI algorithms on smaller devices, reaching the same accuracy as wasteful digital computers. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Cast of Pods” by Doug Maxwell.
3/29/202318 minutes, 55 seconds
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How Supergenes Fuel Evolution Despite Harmful Mutations

Supergenes that lock inherited traits together are widespread in nature. Recent work shows that their blend of genetic benefits and risks for species can be complex. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Chee Zee Jungle – Primal Drive” by Kevin MacLeod.
3/15/202318 minutes, 56 seconds
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Brightest-Ever Space Explosion Reveals Possible Hints of Dark Matter

A recent gamma-ray burst known as the BOAT — “brightest of all time” — appears to have produced a high-energy particle that shouldn’t exist. For some, dark matter provides the explanation. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Pulse” by Geographer.
3/1/202312 minutes, 19 seconds
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Inside the Proton, the 'Most Complicated Thing You Could Possibly Imagine'

The positively charged particle at the heart of the atom is an object of unspeakable complexity, one that changes its appearance depending on how it is probed. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Light Gazing” by Andrew Langdon.
2/16/202316 minutes, 34 seconds
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High-Temperature Superconductivity Understood at Last

A new atomic-scale experiment all but settles the origin of the strong form of superconductivity seen in cuprate crystals, confirming a 35-year-old theory. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Quasi Motion” by Kevin MacLeod.
2/1/202315 minutes, 21 seconds
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Record-Breaking Robot Highlights How Animals Excel at Jumping

Robots can surpass the limitations on how high and far animals can jump, but their success only underscores nature’s ingenuity in making the most of what’s available. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Pixel Peeker Polka” by Kevin MacLeod.
1/18/202320 minutes, 3 seconds
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A Good Memory or a Bad One? One Brain Molecule Decides.

When the brain encodes memories as positive or negative, one molecule determines which way they will go. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Retro” by Wayne Jones.
1/4/202320 minutes, 20 seconds
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Old Problem About Mathematical Curves Falls to Young Couple

Eric Larson and Isabel Vogt have solved the interpolation problem — a centuries-old question about some of the most basic objects in geometry. Some credit goes to the chalkboard in their living room. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Good Times” by Patrick Patrikios.
12/21/202220 minutes, 34 seconds
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How the Physics of Nothing Underlies Everything

The key to understanding the origin and fate of the universe may be a more complete understanding of the vacuum. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Pulse” by Geographer.
12/7/202216 minutes, 57 seconds
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Geometric Analysis Reveals How Birds Mastered Flight

Partnerships between engineers and biologists have begun to reveal how birds evolved their superb maneuverability. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Running Out” by Patrick Patrikios.
11/23/202217 minutes, 59 seconds
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How the 'Diamond of the Plant World' Helped Land Plants Evolve

Structural studies of the robust material called sporopollenin reveal how it made plants hardy enough to reproduce on dry land. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Redwood Trail” by Audionautix.
11/9/202217 minutes, 12 seconds
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Protein Blobs Linked to Alzheimer's Affect Aging in All Cells

Protein buildups like those seen around neurons in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other brain diseases occur in all aging cells, a new study suggests. Learning their significance may reveal new strategies for treating age-related diseases. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Aimless Amos” by Rondo Brothers.
10/26/202222 minutes, 33 seconds
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The Brain Has a 'Low-Power Mode' That Blunts Our Senses

Neuroscientists uncovered an energy-saving mode in vision-system neurons that works at the cost of being able to see fine-grained details. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Unanswered Questions” by Kevin MacLeod.
10/12/202218 minutes, 20 seconds
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Researchers Achieve 'Absurdly Fast' Algorithm for Network Flow

Computer scientists can now solve a decades-old problem in practically the time it takes to write it down. Read more at quantamagazine.org. Music is “Aimless Amos” by Rondo Brothers.
9/28/202218 minutes, 6 seconds
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Graduate Student's Side Project Proves Prime Number Conjecture

Jared Duker Lichtman, 26, has proved a longstanding conjecture relating prime numbers to a broad class of “primitive” sets. To his adviser, it came as a “complete shock.” Read more at quantamagazine.org. Music is “Thought Bot” by Audionautix.
9/14/202212 minutes, 43 seconds
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Physicists Rewrite the Fundamental Law That Leads to Disorder

The second law of thermodynamics is among the most sacred in all of science, but it has always rested on 19th century arguments about probability. New arguments trace its true source to the flows of quantum information. Read more at quantamagazine.org. Music is “Pulse” by Geographer.
8/31/202227 minutes, 6 seconds
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Secrets of the Moon's Permanent Shadows Are Coming to Light

Robots are about to venture into the sunless depths of lunar craters to investigate ancient water ice trapped there, while remote studies find hints about how water arrives on rocky worlds. Read more and explore infographics at quantamagazine.org.
8/17/202222 minutes, 57 seconds
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Deep Learning Poised to 'Blow Up' Famed Fluid Equations

For centuries, mathematicians have tried to prove that Euler’s fluid equations can produce nonsensical answers. A new approach to machine learning has researchers betting that “blowup” is near. Read more at quantamagazine.org. Music is “Pulse” by Geographer.
8/3/202221 minutes, 55 seconds
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Researchers Identify 'Master Problem' Underlying All Cryptography

The existence of secure cryptography depends on one of the oldest questions in computational complexity. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Transmission” by John Deley and the 41 Players.
7/19/202222 minutes, 29 seconds
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Brain Chemical Helps Signal to Neurons When to Start a Movement

Dopamine, a neurochemical often associated with reward behavior, also seems to help organize precisely when the brain initiates movements. It’s the latest revelation about the power of neuromodulators. Read more at quantamagazine.org. Music is “Pulse” by Geographer.
7/6/202217 minutes, 2 seconds
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This Animal's Behavior Is Mechanically Programmed

Biomechanical interactions, rather than neurons, control the movements of one of the simplest animals. The discovery offers a glimpse into how animal behavior worked before neurons evolved. The post This Animal’s Behavior Is Mechanically Programmed first appeared in Quanta Magazine. Music is “Running Out” by Patrick Patrikios.
6/22/202225 minutes, 7 seconds
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Tiny Galaxies Reveal Secrets of Supermassive Black Holes

Dwarf galaxies weren’t supposed to have big black holes. Their surprise discovery has revealed clues about how the universe’s biggest black holes could have formed. Read more at QuantaMagazine.org. Music is “Light Gazing” by Andrew Langdon.
6/8/202216 minutes, 23 seconds
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A Deepening Crisis Forces Physicists to Rethink Structure of Nature's Laws

Physicists are reexamining a longstanding assumption: that big stuff consists of smaller stuff. The post A Deepening Crisis Forces Physicists to Rethink Structure of Nature’s Laws first appeared on Quanta Magazine
5/25/202240 minutes, 26 seconds
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New Map of Meaning in the Brain Changes Ideas About Memory

Researchers have mapped hundreds of semantic categories to the tiny bits of the cortex that represent them in our thoughts and perceptions. What they discovered might change our view of memory. The post New Map of Meaning in the Brain Changes Ideas About Memory first appeared on Quanta Magazine
5/11/202219 minutes, 42 seconds
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Machine Learning Gets a Quantum Speedup

Two teams have shown how quantum approaches can solve problems faster than classical computers, bringing physics and computer science closer together. The post Machine Learning Gets a Quantum Speedup first appeared on Quanta Magazine
4/27/202220 minutes, 33 seconds
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Secrets of Early Animal Evolution Revealed by Chromosome 'Tectonics'

Large blocks of genes conserved through hundreds of millions of years of evolution hint at how the first animal chromosomes came to be. The post Secrets of Early Animal Evolution Revealed by Chromosome ‘Tectonics’ first appeared on Quanta Magazine
4/14/202218 minutes, 22 seconds
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A Solution to the Faint-Sun Paradox Reveals a Narrow Window for Life

We might have a past faint sun to owe for life’s existence. This has consequences for the possibility of life outside Earth. The post A Solution to the Faint-Sun Paradox Reveals a Narrow Window for Life first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/31/202225 minutes, 20 seconds
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Evolution 'Landscapes' Predict What's Next for COVID Virus

Studies that map the adaptive value of viral mutations hint at how the COVID-19 pandemic might progress next. The post Evolution ‘Landscapes’ Predict What’s Next for COVID Virus first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/18/202225 minutes, 28 seconds
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Flying Fish and Aquarium Pets Yield Secrets of Evolution

New studies reveal the ancient, shared genetic “grammar” underpinning the diverse evolution of fish fins and tetrapod limbs. The post Flying Fish and Aquarium Pets Yield Secrets of Evolution first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/3/202216 minutes, 59 seconds
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Mathematicians Outwit Hidden Number Conspiracy

Decades ago, a mathematician posed a warmup problem for some of the most difficult questions about prime numbers. It turned out to be just as difficult to solve, until now. The post Mathematicians Outwit Hidden Number Conspiracy first appeared on Quanta Magazine
2/17/202221 minutes, 28 seconds
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Mathematician Hurls Structure and Disorder Into Century-Old Problem

A new paper shows how to create longer disordered strings than mathematicians had thought possible, proving that a well-known recent conjecture is “spectacularly wrong.” The post Mathematician Hurls Structure and Disorder Into Century-Old Problem first appeared on Quanta Magazine
2/3/202217 minutes, 7 seconds
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Researchers Defeat Randomness to Create Ideal Code

By carefully constructing a multidimensional and well-connected graph, a team of researchers has finally created a long-sought locally testable code that can immediately betray whether it’s been corrupted. The post Researchers Defeat Randomness to Create Ideal Code first appeared on Quanta Magazine
1/20/202223 minutes, 34 seconds
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The Brain Processes Speech in Parallel With Other Sounds

Scientists thought that the brain’s hearing centers might just process speech along with other sounds. But new work suggests that speech gets some special treatment very early on. The post The Brain Processes Speech in Parallel With Other Sounds first appeared on Quanta Magazine
1/6/202219 minutes, 26 seconds
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Biologists Rethink the Logic Behind Cells' Molecular Signals

The molecular signaling systems of complex cells are nothing like simple electronic circuits. The logic governing their operation is riotously complex — but it has advantages. The post Biologists Rethink the Logic Behind Cells’ Molecular Signals first appeared on Quanta Magazine
12/23/202124 minutes, 52 seconds
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A Massive Subterranean ‘Tree’ Is Moving Magma to Earth’s Surface

Deep in the mantle, a branching plume of intensely hot material appears to be the engine powering vast volcanic activity. The post A Massive Subterranean ‘Tree’ Is Moving Magma to Earth’s Surface first appeared on Quanta Magazine
12/9/202122 minutes, 40 seconds
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One Lab’s Quest to Build Space-Time Out of Quantum Particles

For over two decades, physicists have pondered how the fabric of space-time may emerge from some kind of quantum entanglement. In Monika Schleier-Smith’s lab at Stanford University, the thought experiment is becoming real. The post One Lab’s Quest to Build Space-Time Out of Quantum Particles first appeared on Quanta Magazine
11/24/202121 minutes, 30 seconds
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The New Thermodynamic Understanding of Clocks

Investigations of the simplest possible clocks have revealed their fundamental limitations — as well as insights into the nature of time itself. The post The New Thermodynamic Understanding of Clocks first appeared on Quanta Magazine
11/11/202118 minutes, 13 seconds
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The Brain Doesn’t Think the Way You Think It Does

Familiar categories of mental functions such as perception, memory and attention reflect our experience of ourselves, but they are misleading about how the brain works. More revealing approaches are emerging. The post The Brain Doesn’t Think the Way You Think It Does first appeared on Quanta Magazine
10/28/202126 minutes, 54 seconds
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Eternal Change for No Energy: A Time Crystal Finally Made Real

Like a perpetual motion machine, a time crystal forever cycles between states without consuming energy. Physicists claim to have built this new phase of matter inside a quantum computer. The post Eternal Change for No Energy: A Time Crystal Finally Made Real first appeared on Quanta Magazine
10/14/202122 minutes, 20 seconds
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How Many Numbers Exist? Infinity Proof Moves Math Closer to an Answer.

For 50 years, mathematicians have believed that the total number of real numbers is unknowable. A new proof suggests otherwise. The post How Many Numbers Exist? Infinity Proof Moves Math Closer to an Answer. first appeared on Quanta Magazine
9/30/202127 minutes, 42 seconds
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DNA Has Four Bases. Some Viruses Swap in a Fifth.

The DNA of some viruses doesn’t use the same four nucleotide bases found in all other life. New work shows how this exception is possible and hints that it could be more common than we think. The post DNA Has Four Bases. Some Viruses Swap in a Fifth. first appeared on Quanta Magazine
9/16/202115 minutes
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The Mystery at the Heart of Physics That Only Math Can Solve

The accelerating effort to understand the mathematics of quantum field theory will have profound consequences for both math and physics. The post The Mystery at the Heart of Physics That Only Math Can Solve first appeared on Quanta Magazine
9/2/202136 minutes, 46 seconds
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Radioactivity May Fuel Life Deep Underground and Inside Other Worlds

New work suggests that the radiolytic splitting of water supports giant subsurface ecosystems of life on Earth — and could do it elsewhere, too. The post Radioactivity May Fuel Life Deep Underground and Inside Other Worlds first appeared on Quanta Magazine
8/19/202123 minutes, 36 seconds
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DNA of Giant ‘Corpse Flower’ Parasite Surprises Biologists

The bizarre genome of the world’s most mysterious flowering plants shows how far parasites will go in stealing, deleting and duplicating DNA. The post DNA of Giant ‘Corpse Flower’ Parasite Surprises Biologists first appeared on Quanta Magazine
8/5/202124 minutes, 6 seconds
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Scientists Pin Down When Earth’s Crust Cracked, Then Came to Life

New data indicating that Earth’s surface broke up about 3.2 billion years ago helps clarify how plate tectonics drove the evolution of complex life. The post Scientists Pin Down When Earth’s Crust Cracked, Then Came to Life first appeared on Quanta Magazine
7/22/202121 minutes, 17 seconds
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A New Twist Reveals Superconductivity’s Secrets

An unexpected superconductor was beginning to look like a fluke, but a new theory and a second discovery have revealed that emergent quasiparticles may be behind the effect. The post A New Twist Reveals Superconductivity’s Secrets first appeared on Quanta Magazine
7/8/202121 minutes, 14 seconds
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Statistics Postdoc Tames Decades-Old Geometry Problem

To the surprise of experts in the field, a postdoctoral statistician has solved one of the most important problems in high-dimensional convex geometry. The post Statistics Postdoc Tames Decades-Old Geometry Problem first appeared on Quanta Magazine
6/24/202121 minutes, 32 seconds
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Mathematicians Set Numbers in Motion to Unlock Their Secrets

A new proof demonstrates the power of arithmetic dynamics, an emerging discipline that combines insights from number theory and dynamical systems. The post Mathematicians Set Numbers in Motion to Unlock Their Secrets first appeared on Quanta Magazine
6/10/202126 minutes, 13 seconds
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Artificial Neural Nets Finally Yield Clues to How Brains Learn

The learning algorithm that enables the runaway success of deep neural networks doesn’t work in biological brains, but researchers are finding alternatives that could. The post Artificial Neural Nets Finally Yield Clues to How Brains Learn first appeared on Quanta Magazine
5/27/202120 minutes, 22 seconds
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Brain’s ‘Background Noise’ May Hold Clues to Persistent Mysteries

By digging out signals hidden within the brain’s electrical chatter, scientists are getting new insights into sleep, aging and more. The post Brain’s ‘Background Noise’ May Hold Clues to Persistent Mysteries first appeared on Quanta Magazine
5/13/202128 minutes, 31 seconds
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Rumbles on Mars Raise Hopes of Underground Magma Flows

Small and cold, Mars has long been considered a dead planet. But a series of recent discoveries has forced scientists to rethink how recently its insides stopped churning — if they ever stopped at all. The post Rumbles on Mars Raise Hopes of Underground Magma Flows first appeared on Quanta Magazine
4/29/202122 minutes, 28 seconds
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Mathematicians Resurrect Hilbert’s 13th Problem

Long considered solved, David Hilbert’s question about seventh-degree polynomials is leading researchers to a new web of mathematical connections. The post Mathematicians Resurrect Hilbert’s 13th Problem first appeared on Quanta Magazine
4/15/202120 minutes, 10 seconds
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A Newfound Source of Cellular Order in the Chemistry of Life

Inside cells, droplets of biomolecules called condensates merge, divide and dissolve. Their dance may regulate vital processes. The post A Newfound Source of Cellular Order in the Chemistry of Life first appeared on Quanta Magazine
4/1/202128 minutes, 9 seconds
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The Mystery of Mistletoe’s Missing Genes

Mistletoes have all but shut down the powerhouses of their cells. Scientists are still trying to understand the plants’ unorthodox survival strategy. The post The Mystery of Mistletoe’s Missing Genes first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/18/202112 minutes, 50 seconds
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The New History of the Milky Way

Over the past two years, astronomers have rewritten the story of our galaxy. The post The New History of the Milky Way first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/4/202116 minutes, 17 seconds
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Scientists Uncover the Universal Geometry of Geology

An exercise in pure mathematics has led to a wide-ranging theory of how the world comes together. The post Scientists Uncover the Universal Geometry of Geology first appeared on Quanta Magazine
2/18/202123 minutes, 16 seconds
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The Most Famous Paradox in Physics Nears Its End

In a landmark series of calculations, physicists have proved that black holes can shed information. The post The Most Famous Paradox in Physics Nears Its End first appeared on Quanta Magazine
2/4/202137 minutes, 33 seconds
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Quantum Tunnels Show How Particles Can Break the Speed of Light

Recent experiments show that particles should be able to go faster than light when they quantum mechanically “tunnel” through walls. The post Quantum Tunnels Show How Particles Can Break the Speed of Light first appeared on Quanta Magazine
1/21/202122 minutes, 38 seconds
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Computer Scientists Break Traveling Salesperson Record

After 44 years, there’s finally a better way to find approximate solutions to the notoriously difficult traveling salesperson problem. The post Computer Scientists Break Traveling Salesperson Record first appeared on Quanta Magazine
1/7/202119 minutes, 11 seconds
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Mitochondria May Hold Keys to Anxiety and Mental Health

Research hints that the energy-generating organelles of cells may play a surprisingly pivotal role in mediating anxiety and depression. The post Mitochondria May Hold Keys to Anxiety and Mental Health first appeared on Quanta Magazine
12/16/202017 minutes, 57 seconds
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The Hidden Magnetic Universe Begins to Come Into View

Astronomers are discovering that magnetic fields permeate much of the cosmos. If these fields date back to the Big Bang, they could solve a major cosmological mystery. The post The Hidden Magnetic Universe Begins to Come Into View first appeared on Quanta Magazine
12/3/202022 minutes, 15 seconds
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Graduate Student Solves Decades-Old Conway Knot Problem

It took Lisa Piccirillo less than a week to answer a long-standing question about a strange knot discovered over half a century ago by the legendary John Conway. The post Graduate Student Solves Decades-Old Conway Knot Problem first appeared on Quanta Magazine
11/19/202016 minutes, 40 seconds
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The Grand Unified Theory of Rogue Waves

Rogue waves — enigmatic giants of the sea — were thought to be caused by two different mechanisms. But a new idea that borrows from the hinterlands of probability theory has the potential to predict them all. The post The Grand Unified Theory of Rogue Waves first appeared on Quanta Magazine
11/5/202019 minutes
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Hidden Computational Power Found in the Arms of Neurons

The dendritic arms of some human neurons can perform logic operations that once seemed to require whole neural networks. The post Hidden Computational Power Found in the Arms of Neurons first appeared on Quanta Magazine
10/22/202017 minutes, 16 seconds
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Neutrinos Lead to Unexpected Discovery in Basic Math

Three physicists stumbled across an unexpected relationship between some of the most ubiquitous objects in math. The post Neutrinos Lead to Unexpected Discovery in Basic Math first appeared on Quanta Magazine
10/8/202017 minutes, 46 seconds
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Machines Beat Humans on a Reading Test. But Do They Understand?

A tool known as BERT can now beat humans on advanced reading-comprehension tests. But it's also revealed how far AI has to go. The post Machines Beat Humans on a Reading Test. But Do They Understand? first appeared on Quanta Magazine
9/24/202031 minutes, 24 seconds
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How Jurassic Plankton Stole Control of the Ocean’s Chemistry

Only 170 million years ago, new plankton evolved. Their demand for carbon and calcium permanently transformed the seas as homes for life. The post How Jurassic Plankton Stole Control of the Ocean’s Chemistry first appeared on Quanta Magazine
9/10/202016 minutes, 23 seconds
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To Pay Attention, the Brain Uses Filters, Not a Spotlight

A brain circuit that suppresses distracting sensory information holds important clues about attention and other cognitive processes. The post To Pay Attention, the Brain Uses Filters, Not a Spotlight first appeared on Quanta Magazine
8/27/202019 minutes, 17 seconds
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Fossil DNA Reveals New Twists in Modern Human Origins

Modern humans and more ancient hominins interbred many times throughout Eurasia and Africa, and the genetic flow went both ways. The post Fossil DNA Reveals New Twists in Modern Human Origins first appeared on Quanta Magazine
8/13/202020 minutes, 27 seconds
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For Embryo’s Cells, Size Can Determine Fate

Modeling suggests that many embryonic cells commit to a developmental fate when they become too small to divide unevenly anymore. The post For Embryo’s Cells, Size Can Determine Fate first appeared on Quanta Magazine
7/30/202015 minutes, 34 seconds
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Scientists Debate the Origin of Cell Types in the First Animals

Theories about how animals became multicellular are shifting as researchers find greater complexity in our single-celled ancestors. The post Scientists Debate the Origin of Cell Types in the First Animals first appeared on Quanta Magazine
7/16/202018 minutes, 41 seconds
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Wandering Space Rocks Help Solve Mysteries of Planet Formation

After an interstellar asteroid shot past the sun, scientists realized that there’s probably a lot of itinerant rocks out there. The post Wandering Space Rocks Help Solve Mysteries of Planet Formation first appeared on Quanta Magazine
7/2/202015 minutes, 2 seconds
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Random Surfaces Hide an Intricate Order

Mathematicians have proved that a random process applied to a random surface will yield consistent patterns. The post Random Surfaces Hide an Intricate Order first appeared on Quanta Magazine
6/18/202012 minutes, 27 seconds
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Where We See Shapes, AI Sees Textures

To researchers’ surprise, deep learning vision algorithms often fail at classifying images because they mostly take cues from textures, not shapes. The post Where We See Shapes, AI Sees Textures first appeared on Quanta Magazine
6/4/202015 minutes, 59 seconds
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What’s in a Name? Taxonomy Problems Vex Biologists

Researchers struggle to incorporate ongoing evolutionary discoveries into an animal classification scheme older than Darwin. The post What’s in a Name? Taxonomy Problems Vex Biologists first appeared on Quanta Magazine
5/21/202025 minutes, 3 seconds
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Bacterial Complexity Revises Ideas About ‘Which Came First?’

Contrary to popular belief, bacteria have organelles too. Scientists are now studying them for insights into how complex cells evolved. The post Bacterial Complexity Revises Ideas About ‘Which Came First?’ first appeared on Quanta Magazine
5/7/202020 minutes, 45 seconds
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Ancient DNA Yields Snapshots of Vanished Ecosystems

Surviving fragments of genetic material preserved in sediments allow scientists to see the full diversity of past life — even microbes. The post Ancient DNA Yields Snapshots of Vanished Ecosystems first appeared on Quanta Magazine
4/23/202024 minutes, 17 seconds
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Computer Scientists Expand the Frontier of Verifiable Knowledge

The universe of problems that a computer can check has grown. The researchers’ secret ingredient? Quantum entanglement. The post Computer Scientists Expand the Frontier of Verifiable Knowledge first appeared on Quanta Magazine
4/9/202016 minutes, 59 seconds
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The Hidden Heroines of Chaos

Two women programmers played a pivotal role in the birth of chaos theory. Their previously untold story illustrates the changing status of computation in science.  Read more at quantamagazine.org. Music is “Clover 3” by Vibe Mountain.
3/26/202019 minutes, 28 seconds
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Heat-Loving Microbes, Once Dormant, Thrive Over Decades-Old Fire

In harsh ecosystems around the world, microbiologists are finding evidence that “microbial seed banks” protect biodiversity from changing conditions. The post Heat-Loving Microbes, Once Dormant, Thrive Over Decades-Old Fire first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/12/202028 minutes, 5 seconds
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Scientists Discover Exotic New Patterns of Synchronization

In a world seemingly filled with chaos, physicists have discovered new forms of synchronization and are learning how to predict and control them. The post Scientists Discover Exotic New Patterns of Synchronization first appeared on Quanta Magazine
2/27/202023 minutes, 32 seconds
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Cryptography That Is Provably Secure

Researchers have just released hacker-proof cryptographic code — programs with the same level of invincibility as a mathematical proof. The post Cryptography That Is Provably Secure first appeared on Quanta Magazine
2/6/202011 minutes, 58 seconds
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The Math That Tells Cells What They Are

During development, cells seem to decode their fate through optimal information processing, which could hint at a more general principle of life. The post The Math That Tells Cells What They Are first appeared on Quanta Magazine
1/30/202017 minutes, 21 seconds
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How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Science

The latest AI algorithms are probing the evolution of galaxies, calculating quantum wave functions, discovering new chemical compounds and more. Is there anything that scientists do that can’t be automated? The post How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Science first appeared on Quanta Magazine
1/16/202022 minutes, 22 seconds
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A World Without Clouds

A state-of-the-art supercomputer simulation indicates that a feedback loop between global warming and cloud loss can push Earth’s climate past a disastrous tipping point in as little as a century. The post A World Without Clouds first appeared on Quanta Magazine
1/2/202026 minutes, 17 seconds
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How the Brain Creates a Timeline of the Past

The brain can’t directly encode the passage of time, but recent work hints at a workaround for putting timestamps on memories of events. The post How the Brain Creates a Timeline of the Past first appeared on Quanta Magazine
12/19/201915 minutes, 56 seconds
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Foundations Built for a General Theory of Neural Networks

Neural networks can be as unpredictable as they are powerful. Now mathematicians are beginning to reveal how a neural network’s form will influence its function. The post Foundations Built for a General Theory of Neural Networks first appeared on Quanta Magazine
12/5/201916 minutes, 43 seconds
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The Brain Maps Out Ideas and Memories Like Spaces

Emerging evidence suggests that the brain encodes abstract knowledge in the same way that it represents positions in space, which hints at a more universal theory of cognition. The post The Brain Maps Out Ideas and Memories Like Spaces first appeared on Quanta Magazine
11/21/201925 minutes, 6 seconds
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Milestone Experiment Proves Quantum Communication Really Is Faster

In a Paris lab, researchers have shown for the first time that quantum methods of transmitting information are superior to classical ones. The post Milestone Experiment Proves Quantum Communication Really Is Faster first appeared on Quanta Magazine
11/7/201910 minutes, 58 seconds
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Mathematical Simplicity May Drive Evolution’s Speed

Some researchers are using a complexity framework thought to be purely theoretical to understand evolutionary dynamics in biological and computational systems. The post Mathematical Simplicity May Drive Evolution’s Speed first appeared on Quanta Magazine
10/31/201918 minutes, 51 seconds
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Should Evolution Treat Our Microbes as Part of Us?

How does evolution select the fittest “individuals” when they are ecosystems made up of hosts and their microbiomes? Biologist debate the need to revise theories. The post Should Evolution Treat Our Microbes as Part of Us? first appeared on Quanta Magazine
9/26/201925 minutes, 19 seconds
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A Universal Law for the ‘Blood of the Earth’

Simple physical principles can be used to describe how rivers grow everywhere from Florida to Mars. The post A Universal Law for the ‘Blood of the Earth’ first appeared on Quanta Magazine
9/26/201914 minutes, 49 seconds
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Amateur Mathematician Finds Smallest Universal Cover

Through exacting geometric calculations, Philip Gibbs has found the smallest known cover for any possible shape. The post Amateur Mathematician Finds Smallest Universal Cover first appeared on Quanta Magazine
9/6/201911 minutes, 46 seconds
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In the Nucleus, Genes’ Activity Might Depend on Their Location

Using a new CRISPR-based technique, researchers are examining how the position of DNA within the nucleus affects gene expression and cell function. The post In the Nucleus, Genes’ Activity Might Depend on Their Location first appeared on Quanta Magazine
8/29/201915 minutes, 12 seconds
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Machine Learning Confronts the Elephant in the Room

A visual prank exposes an Achilles’ heel of computer vision systems: Unlike humans, they can’t do a double take. The post Machine Learning Confronts the Elephant in the Room first appeared on Quanta Magazine
8/15/201912 minutes, 19 seconds
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The New Science of Seeing Around Corners

Computer vision researchers have uncovered a world of visual signals hiding in our midst, including subtle motions that betray what’s being said and faint images of what’s around a corner. The post The New Science of Seeing Around Corners first appeared on Quanta Magazine
8/1/201919 minutes, 47 seconds
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Major Quantum Computing Advance Made Obsolete by Teenager

18-year-old Ewin Tang has proven that classical computers can solve the “recommendation problem” nearly as fast as quantum computers. The result eliminates one of the best examples of quantum speedup. The post Major Quantum Computing Advance Made Obsolete by Teenager first appeared on Quanta Magazine
7/18/201914 minutes, 24 seconds
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A Math Theory for Why People Hallucinate

Psychedelic drugs can trigger characteristic hallucinations, which have long been thought to hold clues about the brain’s circuitry. After nearly a century of study, a possible explanation is crystallizing. The post A Math Theory for Why People Hallucinate first appeared on Quanta Magazine
7/5/201923 minutes, 45 seconds
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Closed Loophole Confirms the Unreality of the Quantum World

A quickly closed loophole has proved that the “great smoky dragon” of quantum mechanics may forever elude capture. The post Closed Loophole Confirms the Unreality of the Quantum World first appeared on Quanta Magazine
6/20/201918 minutes, 20 seconds
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To Remember, the Brain Must Actively Forget

Researchers find evidence that neural systems actively remove memories, suggesting that forgetting may be the default mode of the brain. The post To Remember, the Brain Must Actively Forget first appeared on Quanta Magazine
6/6/201919 minutes, 39 seconds
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The Peculiar Math That Could Underlie the Laws of Nature

New findings are fueling an old suspicion that fundamental particles and forces spring from strange eight-part numbers called “octonions.” The post The Peculiar Math That Could Underlie the Laws of Nature first appeared on Quanta Magazine
5/23/201926 minutes, 27 seconds
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To Make Sense of the Present, Brains May Predict the Future

A controversial theory suggests that perception, motor control, memory and other brain functions all depend on comparisons between ongoing actual experiences and the brain’s modeled expectations. The post To Make Sense of the Present, Brains May Predict the Future first appeared on Quanta Magazine
5/9/201929 minutes, 52 seconds
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Finally, a Problem That Only Quantum Computers Will Ever Be Able to Solve

Computer scientists have been searching for years for a type of problem that a quantum computer can solve but that any possible future classical computer cannot. Now they’ve found one. The post Finally, a Problem That Only Quantum Computers Will Ever Be Able to Solve first appeared on Quanta Magazine
4/25/201911 minutes, 50 seconds
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Why Earth’s Cracked Crust May Be Essential for Life

Life needs more than water alone. Recent discoveries suggest that plate tectonics has played a critical role in nourishing life on Earth. The findings carry major consequences for the search for life elsewhere in the universe. The post Why Earth’s Cracked Crust May Be Essential for Life first appeared on Quanta Magazine
4/11/201926 minutes, 47 seconds
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Overtaxed Working Memory Knocks the Brain Out of Sync

Researchers find that when working memory gets overburdened, dialogue between three brain regions breaks down. The discovery provides new support for a larger concept about how the brain works. The post Overtaxed Working Memory Knocks the Brain Out of Sync first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/28/201913 minutes, 52 seconds
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A New World’s Extraordinary Orbit Points to Planet Nine

Astronomers argue that there’s an undiscovered giant planet far beyond the orbit of Neptune. A newly discovered rocky body has added evidence to the circumstantial case for it. The post A New World’s Extraordinary Orbit Points to Planet Nine first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/14/20199 minutes, 11 seconds
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A Thermodynamic Answer to Why Birds Migrate

New modeling studies suggest that birds migrate to strike a favorable balance between their input and output of energy. The post A Thermodynamic Answer to Why Birds Migrate first appeared on Quanta Magazine
2/28/201917 minutes, 19 seconds
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Machine Learning’s ‘Amazing’ Ability to Predict Chaos

In new computer experiments, artificial-intelligence algorithms can tell the future of chaotic systems. The post Machine Learning’s ‘Amazing’ Ability to Predict Chaos first appeared on Quanta Magazine
2/14/201920 minutes, 8 seconds
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Decades-Old Graph Problem Yields to Amateur Mathematician

By making the first progress on the “chromatic number of the plane” problem in over 60 years, an anti-aging pundit has achieved mathematical immortality. The post Decades-Old Graph Problem Yields to Amateur Mathematician first appeared on Quanta Magazine
1/31/20198 minutes, 59 seconds
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Oxygen and Stem Cells May Have Reshaped Early Complex Animals

An unlikely team offers a controversial hypothesis about what enabled animal life to get more complex during the Cambrian explosion. The post Oxygen and Stem Cells May Have Reshaped Early Complex Animals first appeared on Quanta Magazine
1/3/201916 minutes, 30 seconds
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To Test Einstein’s Equations, Poke a Black Hole

Two teams of researchers have made significant progress toward proving the black hole stability conjecture, a critical mathematical test of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The post To Test Einstein’s Equations, Poke a Black Hole first appeared on Quanta Magazine
1/3/201916 minutes, 30 seconds
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Physicists Find a Way to See the ‘Grin’ of Quantum Gravity

A recently proposed experiment would confirm that gravity is a quantum force. The post Physicists Find a Way to See the ‘Grin’ of Quantum Gravity first appeared on Quanta Magazine
12/6/201820 minutes, 57 seconds
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Quanta Writers and Editors Discuss Trends in Science and Math

On November 16, 2018, more than 200 readers joined writers and editors from Quanta Magazine for a wide-ranging panel discussion that examined the newest ideas in fundamental physics, biology and mathematics research. The post Quanta Writers and Editors Discuss Trends in Science and Math first appeared on Quanta Magazine
11/22/20181 hour, 5 minutes, 34 seconds
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Why Don’t Patients Get Sick in Sync? Modelers Find Statistical Clues.

The long, variable times that some diseases incubate after infection defies simple explanation. An idealized model of tumor growth offers a statistical solution. The post Why Don’t Patients Get Sick in Sync? Modelers Find Statistical Clues. first appeared on Quanta Magazine
11/8/201811 minutes, 22 seconds
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Why Artificial Intelligence Like AlphaZero Has Trouble With the Real World

The latest artificial intelligence systems start from zero knowledge of a game and grow to world-beating in a matter of hours. But researchers are struggling to apply these systems beyond the arcade. The post Why Artificial Intelligence Like AlphaZero Has Trouble With the Real World first appeared on Quanta Magazine
10/25/201820 minutes, 37 seconds
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Scant Evidence of Power Laws Found in Real-World Networks

A new study challenges one of the most celebrated and controversial ideas in network science. The post Scant Evidence of Power Laws Found in Real-World Networks first appeared on Quanta Magazine
10/11/201821 minutes, 47 seconds
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Smart Swarms Seek New Ways to Cooperate

New algorithms show how swarms of very simple robots can be made to work together as a group. The post Smart Swarms Seek New Ways to Cooperate first appeared on Quanta Magazine
9/27/201816 minutes, 7 seconds
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How the Universe Got Its Bounce Back

Cosmologists have shown that it’s theoretically possible for a contracting universe to bounce and expand. The new work resuscitates an old idea that directly challenges the Big Bang theory of cosmic origins. The post How the Universe Got Its Bounce Back first appeared on Quanta Magazine
8/30/201822 minutes, 17 seconds
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A Domesticated Dingo? No, but Some Are Getting Less Wild

Near an Australian desert mining camp, wild dingoes are losing their fear of humans. Their genetic and behavioral changes may echo those from the domestication of dogs. The post A Domesticated Dingo? No, but Some Are Getting Less Wild first appeared on Quanta Magazine
8/9/201817 minutes, 2 seconds
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Fossil Discoveries Challenge Ideas About Earth’s Start

A series of fossil finds suggests that life on Earth started earlier than anyone thought, calling into question a widely held theory of the solar system’s beginnings. The post Fossil Discoveries Challenge Ideas About Earth’s Start first appeared on Quanta Magazine
7/5/201819 minutes, 39 seconds
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Mathematicians Find Wrinkle in Famed Fluid Equations

Two mathematicians prove that under certain extreme conditions, the Navier-Stokes equations output nonsense. The post Mathematicians Find Wrinkle in Famed Fluid Equations first appeared on Quanta Magazine
6/21/201816 minutes, 30 seconds
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Light-Triggered Genes Reveal the Hidden Workings of Memory

Nobel laureate Susumu Tonegawa’s lab is overturning old assumptions about how memories form, how recall works and whether lost memories might be restored from "silent engrams." The post Light-Triggered Genes Reveal the Hidden Workings of Memory first appeared on Quanta Magazine
6/7/201815 minutes, 57 seconds
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Secret Link Uncovered Between Pure Math and Physics

An eminent mathematician reveals that his advances in the study of millennia-old mathematical questions owe to concepts derived from physics. The post Secret Link Uncovered Between Pure Math and Physics first appeared on Quanta Magazine
5/31/201819 minutes, 32 seconds
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How Bacteria Help Regulate Blood Pressure

Kidneys sniff out signals from gut bacteria for cues to lower blood pressure after meals. Our understanding of how the symbiotic microbes affect health is becoming much more molecular. The post How Bacteria Help Regulate Blood Pressure first appeared on Quanta Magazine
5/10/20188 minutes, 50 seconds
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Choosy Eggs May Pick Sperm for Their Genes, Defying Mendel’s Law

The oldest law of genetics says that gametes combine randomly, but experiments hint that sometimes eggs select sperm actively for their genetic assets. The post Choosy Eggs May Pick Sperm for Their Genes, Defying Mendel’s Law first appeared on Quanta Magazine
4/26/201815 minutes, 25 seconds
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A Zombie Gene Protects Elephants From Cancer

Elephants did not evolve to become huge animals until after they turned a bit of genetic junk into a unique defense against inevitable tumors. The post A Zombie Gene Protects Elephants From Cancer first appeared on Quanta Magazine
4/12/201810 minutes, 25 seconds
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Best-Ever Algorithm Found for Huge Streams of Data

To efficiently analyze a firehose of data, scientists first have to break big numbers into bits. The post Best-Ever Algorithm Found for Huge Streams of Data first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/29/201815 minutes, 30 seconds
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Newfound Wormhole Allows Information to Escape Black Holes

Physicists theorize that a new “traversable” kind of wormhole could resolve a baffling paradox and rescue information that falls into black holes. The post Newfound Wormhole Allows Information to Escape Black Holes first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/15/201816 minutes, 12 seconds
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Brainless Embryos Suggest Bioelectricity Guides Growth

Researchers are building a case that long before the nervous system works, the brain sends crucial bioelectric signals to guide the growth of embryonic tissues. The post Brainless Embryos Suggest Bioelectricity Guides Growth first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/13/201820 minutes, 46 seconds
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New Theory Cracks Open the Black Box of Deep Learning

A new idea is helping to explain the puzzling success of today’s artificial-intelligence algorithms — and might also explain how human brains learn. The post New Theory Cracks Open the Black Box of Deep Learning first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/1/201815 minutes, 57 seconds
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Clever Machines Learn How to Be Curious

Computer scientists are finding ways to code curiosity into intelligent machines. The post Clever Machines Learn How to Be Curious first appeared on Quanta Magazine
2/16/201819 minutes, 24 seconds
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Mathematicians Tame Rogue Waves, Lighting Up Future of LEDs

The mathematician Svitlana Mayboroda and collaborators have figured out how to predict the behavior of electrons — a mathematical discovery that could have immediate practical effects. The post Mathematicians Tame Rogue Waves, Lighting Up Future of LEDs first appeared on Quanta Magazine
2/1/201814 minutes, 6 seconds
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Interspecies Hybrids Play a Vital Role in Evolution

Hybrids, once treated as biological misfits, play a vital role in the evolution of many animal species. Now conservationists are trying to reconcile that truth with policies. The post Interspecies Hybrids Play a Vital Role in Evolution first appeared on Quanta Magazine
1/18/201817 minutes, 52 seconds
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What Made the Moon? New Ideas Try to Rescue a Troubled Theory

Textbooks say that the moon was formed after a Mars-size mass smashed the young Earth. But new evidence has cast doubt on that story, leaving researchers to dream up new ways to get a giant rock into orbit. The post What Made the Moon? New Ideas Try to Rescue a Troubled Theory first appeared on Quanta Magazine
11/17/201721 minutes, 21 seconds
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In Game Theory, No Clear Path to Equilibrium

John Nash’s notion of equilibrium is ubiquitous in economic theory, but a new study shows that it is often impossible to reach efficiently. The post In Game Theory, No Clear Path to Equilibrium first appeared on Quanta Magazine
10/12/201715 minutes, 32 seconds
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Pentagon Tiling Proof Solves Century-Old Math Problem

A French mathematician has completed the classification of all convex pentagons, and therefore all convex polygons, that tile the plane. The post Pentagon Tiling Proof Solves Century-Old Math Problem first appeared on Quanta Magazine
9/21/201710 minutes, 44 seconds
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Can Microbes Encourage Altruism?

If gut bacteria can sway their hosts to be selfless, it could answer a riddle that goes back to Darwin. The post Can Microbes Encourage Altruism? first appeared on Quanta Magazine
8/31/201715 minutes, 43 seconds
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Dark Matter Recipe Calls for One Part Superfluid

A different kind of dark matter could help to resolve an old celestial conundrum. The post Dark Matter Recipe Calls for One Part Superfluid first appeared on Quanta Magazine
8/25/201714 minutes, 38 seconds
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A Puzzle of Clever Connections Nears a Happy End

The three young friends who devised the “happy ending” problem would become some of the most influential mathematicians of the 20th century, but were never able to solve their own puzzle. Now it receives its first big breakthrough. The post A Puzzle of Clever Connections Nears a Happy End first appeared on Quanta Magazine
7/20/201711 minutes, 33 seconds
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The Thoughts of a Spiderweb

Spiders appear to offload cognitive tasks to their webs, making them one of a number of species with a mind that isn’t fully confined within the head. The post The Thoughts of a Spiderweb first appeared on Quanta Magazine
7/13/201712 minutes, 41 seconds
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How to Quantify (and Fight) Gerrymandering

Powerful new quantitative tools are now available to combat partisan bias in the drawing of voting districts. The post How to Quantify (and Fight) Gerrymandering first appeared on Quanta Magazine
6/29/201716 minutes, 54 seconds
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A Long-Sought Proof, Found and Almost Lost

When a German retiree proved a famous long-standing mathematical conjecture, the response was underwhelming. The post A Long-Sought Proof, Found and Almost Lost first appeared on Quanta Magazine
6/1/201714 minutes, 36 seconds
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A New Blast May Have Forged Cosmic Gold

For decades, researchers believed that violent supernovas forged gold and other heavy elements. But many now argue for a different cosmic quarry. The post A New Blast May Have Forged Cosmic Gold first appeared on Quanta Magazine
5/18/201712 minutes, 7 seconds
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Why Did Life Move to Land? For the View

The ancient creatures who first crawled onto land may have been lured by the informational benefit that comes from seeing through air. The post Why Did Life Move to Land? For the View first appeared on Quanta Magazine
4/6/20179 minutes, 44 seconds
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New Number Systems Seek Their Lost Primes

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. The post New Number Systems Seek Their Lost Primes first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/30/20177 minutes, 23 seconds
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Researchers Tap a Sleep Switch in the Brain

Powerful new experiments have uncovered some of the molecular underpinnings of sleep. The post Researchers Tap a Sleep Switch in the Brain first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/16/20178 minutes, 7 seconds
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Experiment Reaffirms Quantum Weirdness

Physicists are closing the door on an intriguing loophole around the quantum phenomenon Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.” The post Experiment Reaffirms Quantum Weirdness first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/9/20179 minutes, 42 seconds
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To Live Your Best Life, Do Mathematics

The ancient Greeks argued that the best life was filled with beauty, truth, justice, play and love. The mathematician Francis Su knows just where to find them. The post To Live Your Best Life, Do Mathematics first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/2/20175 minutes, 39 seconds
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Dividing Droplets Could Explain Life’s Origin

Researchers have discovered that simple “chemically active” droplets grow to the size of cells and spontaneously divide, suggesting they might have evolved into the first living cells. The post Dividing Droplets Could Explain Life’s Origin first appeared on Quanta Magazine
2/23/201711 minutes, 37 seconds
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Infant Brains Reveal How the Mind Gets Built

Is the brain a blank slate, or is it wired from birth to understand the world? The post Infant Brains Reveal How the Mind Gets Built first appeared on Quanta Magazine
2/16/201711 minutes, 18 seconds
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3-D Fractals Offer Clues to Complex Systems

By folding fractals into 3-D objects, a mathematical duo hopes to gain new insight into simple equations. The post 3-D Fractals Offer Clues to Complex Systems first appeared on Quanta Magazine
2/9/201712 minutes, 27 seconds
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Grand Unification Dream Kept at Bay

Physicists have failed to find disintegrating protons, throwing into limbo the beloved theory that the forces of nature were unified at the beginning of time. The post Grand Unification Dream Kept at Bay first appeared on Quanta Magazine
2/2/201712 minutes, 44 seconds
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The Art of Teaching Math and Science

The impasse in math and science instruction runs deeper than test scores or the latest educational theory. What can we learn from the best teachers on the front lines? The post The Art of Teaching Math and Science first appeared on Quanta Magazine
1/26/201723 minutes, 38 seconds
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The Case Against Dark Matter

A proposed theory of gravity does away with dark matter, even as new astrophysical findings challenge the need for galaxies full of the invisible mystery particles. The post The Case Against Dark Matter first appeared on Quanta Magazine
12/8/201617 minutes, 43 seconds
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What Sonic Black Holes Say About Real Ones

Can a fluid analogue of a black hole point physicists toward the theory of quantum gravity, or is it a red herring? The post What Sonic Black Holes Say About Real Ones first appeared on Quanta Magazine
11/24/201612 minutes, 30 seconds
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Giant Genetic Map Shows Life’s Hidden Links

In a monumental set of experiments, spread out over nearly two decades, biologists removed genes two at a time to uncover the secret workings of the cell. The post Giant Genetic Map Shows Life’s Hidden Links first appeared on Quanta Magazine
11/17/20169 minutes, 12 seconds
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How to Cut Cake Fairly and Finally Eat It Too

Computer scientists have come up with a bounded algorithm that can fairly divide a cake among any number of people. The post How to Cut Cake Fairly and Finally Eat It Too first appeared on Quanta Magazine
11/10/20169 minutes, 40 seconds
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Strange Dark Galaxy Puzzles Astrophysicists

The surprising discovery of a massive, Milky Way–size galaxy that is made of 99.99 percent dark matter has astronomers dreaming up new ideas about how galaxies form. The post Strange Dark Galaxy Puzzles Astrophysicists first appeared on Quanta Magazine
10/27/201616 minutes, 22 seconds
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Hacker-Proof Code Confirmed

Computer scientists can prove certain programs to be error-free with the same certainty that mathematicians prove theorems. The post Hacker-Proof Code Confirmed first appeared on Quanta Magazine
10/20/201615 minutes, 50 seconds
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Colliding Black Holes Tell New Story of Stars

Just months after their discovery, gravitational waves coming from the mergers of black holes are shaking up astrophysics. The post Colliding Black Holes Tell New Story of Stars first appeared on Quanta Magazine
10/13/201613 minutes, 25 seconds
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The Neuroscience Behind Bad Decisions

Irrationality may be a consequence of the brain’s ravenous energy needs. The post The Neuroscience Behind Bad Decisions first appeared on Quanta Magazine
9/22/201613 minutes, 34 seconds
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What No New Particles Means for Physics

Physicists are confronting their “nightmare scenario.” What does the absence of new particles suggest about how nature works? The post What No New Particles Means for Physics first appeared on Quanta Magazine
9/15/201613 minutes, 4 seconds
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A Debate Over the Physics of Time

According to our best theories of physics, the universe is a fixed block where time only appears to pass. The post A Debate Over the Physics of Time first appeared on Quanta Magazine
9/8/201620 minutes, 59 seconds
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Biologists Search for New Model Organisms

The bulk of biological research is centered on a handful of species. Are we missing a huge chunk of interesting biology? The post Biologists Search for New Model Organisms first appeared on Quanta Magazine
8/18/201615 minutes, 47 seconds
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Neutrinos Hint of Matter-Antimatter Rift

A hint that neutrinos behave differently than antineutrinos suggests an answer to one the biggest questions in physics. The post Neutrinos Hint of Matter-Antimatter Rift first appeared on Quanta Magazine
8/11/201611 minutes, 33 seconds
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A Bird’s-Eye View of Nature’s Hidden Order

Scientists are exploring a mysterious pattern, found in birds’ eyes, boxes of marbles and other surprising places, that is neither regular nor random. The post A Bird’s-Eye View of Nature’s Hidden Order first appeared on Quanta Magazine
8/5/201614 minutes, 8 seconds
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How Feynman Diagrams Almost Saved Space

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. The post How Feynman Diagrams Almost Saved Space first appeared on Quanta Magazine
7/28/201612 minutes, 52 seconds
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The Oracle of Arithmetic

At 28, Peter Scholze is uncovering deep connections between number theory and geometry. The post The Oracle of Arithmetic first appeared on Quanta Magazine
7/21/201613 minutes, 37 seconds
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New Life Found That Lives Off Electricity

Scientists have figured out how microbes can suck energy from rocks. Such lifeforms might be more widespread than anyone anticipated. The post New Life Found That Lives Off Electricity first appeared on Quanta Magazine
7/7/201610 minutes, 17 seconds
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Simple Set Game Proof Stuns Mathematicians

A new series of papers has settled a long-standing question related to the popular game in which players seek patterned sets of three cards. The post Simple Set Game Proof Stuns Mathematicians first appeared on Quanta Magazine
6/17/201615 minutes, 58 seconds
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How Neanderthal DNA Helps Humanity

Neanderthals and Denisovans may have endowed modern humans with genetic variants that helped them thrive in new environments. The post How Neanderthal DNA Helps Humanity first appeared on Quanta Magazine
6/9/201610 minutes, 14 seconds
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New Support for Alternative Quantum View

An experiment claims to have invalidated a decades-old criticism against pilot-wave theory, an alternative formulation of quantum mechanics that eliminates the most baffling features of the subatomic universe. The post New Support for Alternative Quantum View first appeared on Quanta Magazine
6/2/201613 minutes, 1 second
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New Evidence for the Necessity of Loneliness

A specific set of neurons deep in the brain may motivate us to seek company, holding social species together. The post New Evidence for the Necessity of Loneliness first appeared on Quanta Magazine
5/26/201613 minutes, 5 seconds
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Tiny Tests Seek the Universe’s Big Mysteries

The search for exotic new physical phenomena is being led by huge experiments like the Large Hadron Collider. But at the other end of the spectrum lie tabletop experiments — small-scale probes of hidden dimensions, dark matter and dark energy. The post Tiny Tests Seek the Universe’s Big Mysteries first appeared on Quanta Magazine
5/12/201610 minutes, 49 seconds
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A Secret Flexibility Found in Life’s Blueprints

A new study reveals that individual genes can create many different versions of the molecular machinery that powers the cell. The post A Secret Flexibility Found in Life’s Blueprints first appeared on Quanta Magazine
5/5/201611 minutes, 38 seconds
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Physicists Hunt for the Big Bang’s Triangles

The story of the universe’s birth — and evidence for string theory — could be found in triangles and myriad other shapes in the sky. The post Physicists Hunt for the Big Bang’s Triangles first appeared on Quanta Magazine
4/28/201625 minutes, 41 seconds
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Debate Intensifies Over Dark Disk Theory

In the new, free-for-all era of dark matter research, the controversial idea that dark matter is concentrated in thin disks is being rescued from scientific oblivion. The post Debate Intensifies Over Dark Disk Theory first appeared on Quanta Magazine
4/21/201613 minutes, 57 seconds
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Mapping the Brain to Build Better Machines

A project to decipher the brain’s learning rules could revolutionize machine learning. The post Mapping the Brain to Build Better Machines first appeared on Quanta Magazine
4/14/201625 minutes, 19 seconds
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Sphere Packing Solved in Higher Dimensions

The Ukrainian mathematician Maryna Viazovska has solved the centuries-old sphere-packing problem in dimensions eight and 24. The post Sphere Packing Solved in Higher Dimensions first appeared on Quanta Magazine
4/7/201622 minutes, 28 seconds
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The Beasts That Keep the Beat

New insights from neuroscience — aided by a small zoo’s worth of dancing animals — are revealing the biological origins of rhythm. The post The Beasts That Keep the Beat first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/31/201621 minutes, 54 seconds
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A Life in Games

The mathematician John Horton Conway’s myriad accomplishments — including the Game of Life, sprouts and the surreal numbers — are the product of a mind at play. The post A Life in Games first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/24/201633 minutes, 33 seconds
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Mathematicians Discover Prime Conspiracy

A previously unnoticed property of prime numbers seems to violate a long-standing assumption about how they behave. The post Mathematicians Discover Prime Conspiracy first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/24/201626 minutes, 3 seconds
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After Black Holes Collide, a Puzzling Flash

A satellite spotted a burst of light just as gravitational waves rolled in from the collision of two black holes. Was the flash a cosmic coincidence, or do astrophysicists need to rethink what black holes can do? The post After Black Holes Collide, a Puzzling Flash first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/10/201622 minutes, 29 seconds
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The Quantum Secret to Superconductivity

In a virtuoso experiment, physicists have revealed details of a “quantum critical point” that underlies high-temperature superconductivity. The post The Quantum Secret to Superconductivity first appeared on Quanta Magazine
3/3/201624 minutes, 22 seconds
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How to Build Life in a Pre-Darwinian World

Perhaps chemistry played a more instrumental role in the origin of life than scientists thought. The post How to Build Life in a Pre-Darwinian World first appeared on Quanta Magazine
2/25/201628 minutes, 35 seconds
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Gravitational Waves Discovered at Long Last

Ripples in space-time have been detected a century after Einstein predicted them, launching a new era in astronomy. The post Gravitational Waves Discovered at Long Last first appeared on Quanta Magazine
2/18/201634 minutes, 47 seconds
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Scientists Debate Signatures of Alien Life

Searching for signs of life on faraway planets, astrobiologists must decide which telltale biosignature gases to target. The post Scientists Debate Signatures of Alien Life first appeared on Quanta Magazine
2/11/201625 minutes, 25 seconds
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New Clues to How the Brain Maps Time

The same brain cells that track location in space appear to also count beats in time. The research suggests that our thoughts may take place on a mental space-time canvas. The post New Clues to How the Brain Maps Time first appeared on Quanta Magazine
2/4/201626 minutes, 2 seconds
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Quantum Weirdness Now a Matter of Time

Bizarre quantum bonds connect distinct moments in time, suggesting that quantum links — not space-time — constitute the fundamental structure of the universe. The post Quantum Weirdness Now a Matter of Time first appeared on Quanta Magazine
1/28/201633 minutes, 47 seconds
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String Theory Meets Loop Quantum Gravity

Two leading candidates for a “theory of everything,” long thought to be incompatible, may be two sides of the same coin. The post String Theory Meets Loop Quantum Gravity first appeared on Quanta Magazine
1/21/20160
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Landmark Algorithm Breaks 30-Year Impasse

Computer scientists are abuzz over a fast new algorithm for solving one of the central problems in the field. The post Landmark Algorithm Breaks 30-Year Impasse first appeared on Quanta Magazine
1/14/201630 minutes, 13 seconds
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Math Quartet Joins Forces on Unified Theory

A new breakthrough that bridges number theory and geometry is just the latest triumph for a close-knit group of mathematicians. The post Math Quartet Joins Forces on Unified Theory first appeared on Quanta Magazine
12/17/201530 minutes, 32 seconds
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The Incredible Shrinking Sex Chromosome

Nature offers species a panoply of ways to determine an organism’s sex. That flexibility suggests we need not be concerned about losing sex chromosomes, but it raises the question of why such a fundamental property is so variable. The post The Incredible Shrinking Sex Chromosome first appeared on Quanta Magazine
12/10/201530 minutes, 8 seconds
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Nature’s Critical Warning System

Scientists are homing in on a warning signal that arises in complex systems like ecological food webs, the brain and the Earth’s climate. Could it help prevent future catastrophes? The post Nature’s Critical Warning System first appeared on Quanta Magazine
11/26/201533 minutes, 33 seconds
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How Humans Evolved Supersize Brains

Scientists have begun to identify the symphony of biological triggers that powered the extraordinary expansion of the human brain. The post How Humans Evolved Supersize Brains first appeared on Quanta Magazine
11/19/201536 minutes, 54 seconds
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Mongrel Microbe Tests Story of Complex Life

A newly discovered class of microbe could help to resolve one of the biggest and most controversial mysteries in evolution — how simple microbes transformed into the complex cells that produced animals, plants and fungi. The post Mongrel Microbe Tests Story of Complex Life first appeared on Quanta Magazine
11/12/201530 minutes, 27 seconds
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Theorists Draw Closer to Perfect Coloring

A theorem for coloring a large class of “perfect” mathematical networks could ease the way for a long-sought general coloring proof. The post Theorists Draw Closer to Perfect Coloring first appeared on Quanta Magazine
11/5/201519 minutes, 37 seconds
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A Twisted Path to Equation-Free Prediction

Complex natural systems defy analysis using a standard mathematical toolkit, so one ecologist is throwing out the equations. The post A Twisted Path to Equation-Free Prediction first appeared on Quanta Magazine
10/22/201531 minutes, 32 seconds
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The Mutant Genes Behind the Black Death

Only a few genetic changes were enough to change an ordinary stomach bug into the bacteria responsible for the plague. The post The Mutant Genes Behind the Black Death first appeared on Quanta Magazine
10/15/201526 minutes, 39 seconds
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A New Map Traces the Limits of Computation

A major advance in computational complexity reveals deep connections between the classes of problems that computers can — and can’t — possibly do. The post A New Map Traces the Limits of Computation first appeared on Quanta Magazine
10/8/201527 minutes, 16 seconds
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Visions of Future Physics

Nima Arkani-Hamed is championing a campaign to build the world’s largest particle collider, even as he pursues a new vision of the laws of nature. The post Visions of Future Physics first appeared on Quanta Magazine
10/1/201533 minutes, 17 seconds
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How the Body’s Trillions of Clocks Keep Time

Cellular clocks are almost everywhere. Clues to how they work are coming from the places they’re not. The post How the Body’s Trillions of Clocks Keep Time first appeared on Quanta Magazine
9/25/201530 minutes, 34 seconds
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Einstein’s Parable of Quantum Insanity

Einstein refused to believe in the inherent unpredictability of the world. Is the subatomic world insane, or just subtle? The post Einstein’s Parable of Quantum Insanity first appeared on Quanta Magazine
9/16/201523 minutes, 44 seconds
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A New Design for Cryptography’s Black Box

A recent cryptographic breakthrough has proven difficult to put into practice. But new advances show how near-perfect computer security might be surprisingly close at hand. The post A New Design for Cryptography’s Black Box first appeared on Quanta Magazine
9/10/201524 minutes, 46 seconds
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How Mutant Viral Swarms Spread Disease

A new understanding of viral swarms is helping researchers predict how viruses will evolve and where disease is likely to spread. The post How Mutant Viral Swarms Spread Disease first appeared on Quanta Magazine
9/3/201528 minutes, 14 seconds
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A Surprise Source of Life’s Code

Emerging data suggests the seemingly impossible — that mysterious new genes arise from “junk” DNA. The post A Surprise Source of Life’s Code first appeared on Quanta Magazine
8/27/201534 minutes, 12 seconds
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How Life and Luck Changed Earth’s Minerals

Did the minerals on our planet arise in a predictable fashion, or did they result from chance events? The answers could eventually help scientists identify planets likely to harbor life. The post How Life and Luck Changed Earth’s Minerals first appeared on Quanta Magazine
8/20/201534 minutes, 12 seconds
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At Tiny Scales, a Giant Burst on Tree of Life

A new technique for finding and characterizing microbes has boosted the number of known bacteria by almost 50 percent, revealing a hidden world all around us. The post At Tiny Scales, a Giant Burst on Tree of Life first appeared on Quanta Magazine
8/6/201519 minutes, 39 seconds
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The New Laws of Explosive Networks

Researchers are uncovering the hidden laws that reveal how the Internet grows, how viruses spread, and how financial bubbles burst. The post The New Laws of Explosive Networks first appeared on Quanta Magazine
7/30/201521 minutes, 44 seconds
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New Letters Added to the Genetic Alphabet

Scientists hope that new genetic letters, created in the lab, will endow DNA with new powers. The post New Letters Added to the Genetic Alphabet first appeared on Quanta Magazine
7/30/201523 minutes, 56 seconds