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Math and Science News from Quanta Magazine
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Scientists Uncover the Universal Geometry of Geology

By JOSHUA SOKOL

An exercise in pure mathematics has led to a wide-ranging theory of how the world comes together.

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ABSTRACTIONS BLOG

 

Scientists Find Vital Genes Evolving in Genome’s Junkyard

By VIVIANE CALLIER

Even genes essential for life can be caught in an evolutionary arms race that forces them to change or be replaced.

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Related: 
Where Do New Genes Come From?
by Viviane Callier

Q&A

 

Searching Symbols for the Rules of Change
By RACHEL CROWELL

Bryna Kra searches for the patterns in sequences of numbers that explain how complicated dynamical systems evolve over time.

Read the interview | Watch the video

Related: 
A Mathematician Whose
Only Constant Is Change

by Kevin Hartnett (2019)

QUANTIZED ACADEMY

 

Some Math Problems Seem Impossible. That Can Be a Good Thing.

By PATRICK HONNER

Struggling with math problems that can’t be solved helps us better understand the ones we can..

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Related: 
When Math Gets Impossibly Hard
by David S. Richeson

QUANTA SCIENCE PODCAST

 

Graduate Student Solves Decades-Old Conway Knot Problem.
Podcast produced by SUSAN VALOT; Story by ERICA KLARREICH

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.

Listen to the podcast

Around the Web

Good News About COVID Immunity
In welcome news, the immune system may keep its “memory” of how to produce antibodies that can fight SARS-CoV-2 for many months, and possibly even years, Apoorva Mandavilli reports for The New York Times. Antibodies can in principle target not just the unique proteins of a virus like SARS-CoV-2 but also the sugary “fuzz” that coats it, Jordana Cepelewicz reported for Quanta in May.

Revisiting Gödel's Famous Proof
When just 25 years old, Kurt Gödel shattered the dreams of mathematicians by proving that some truths are, shockingly, unprovable. Stepan Parunashvili explains this groundbreaking proof from a programmer’s perspective in a new essay. Interested in taking a second swing at understanding Gödel’s metamathematics masterpiece? Natalie Wolchover stepped through the trippy proof for Quanta in July.


What Lies Beneath
The deep Earth is in some ways even more remote from us than far-off stars. Kate Golembiewski explains how earthquakes reveal the hidden depths of our planet for Discover Magazine. Vibrations whisper all kinds of secrets from the underworld to seismologists. Two giant underground blobs, for instance, may hold some of Earth’s oldest materials, as Joshua Sokol reported for Quanta in January.

Teaching Robots to Tune Out
One path toward smarter robots might be to program them to prioritize information quality over information quantity, much as our brains do, Karen Hao reports for MIT Technology Review. Neuroscientists measured how the brains of mice walk this information tightrope, encoding lots of details about the world but not so many as to bog down perception, Jordana Cepelewicz reported for Quanta in 2019.
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