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Math and Science News from Quanta Magazine
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COMPUTER SECURITY | ALL TOPICS

 

Computer Scientists Achieve ‘Crown Jewel’ of Cryptography

By ERICA KLARREICH

A cryptographic master tool called indistinguishability obfuscation has for years seemed too good to be true. Three researchers have figured out that it can work.

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SERIES: HIDDEN STRUCTURE

 

What Is a Particle?   .............................

By NATALIE WOLCHOVER

Our conception of an elementary particle has changed many times over the past century. The most radical changes may be happening today. .................................

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Related: 
A New Map of All the Particles and Forces
by Natalie Wolchover, Samuel Velasco
and Lucy Reading-Ikkanda

ABSTRACTIONS BLOG

 

Nuclear Reaction From Moments After the Big Bang Is Recreated
By THOMAS LEWTON

The newly-measured rate of a key nuclear fusion process from the Big Bang matches the universe seen 380,000 years later.

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Related: 
Big Bounce Simulations Challenge the Big Bang
by Charlie Wood

ABSTRACTIONS BLOG

 

Inside the Secret Math Society Known Simply as Nicolas Bourbaki

By KEVIN HARTNETT

For almost a century, the anonymous members of Nicolas Bourbaki have written books intended as pure expressions of mathematical thought. .......................................
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Related: 
Building the Mathematical Library of the Future
by Kevin Hartnett

QUANTA YOUTUBE CHANNEL

 

The Cosmologist Who Dreams of Matter.


Video by PHILIP KEITH & EMILY BUDER

Cora Dvorkin studies the invisible universe. Dark matter is thought to comprise roughly 85% of all matter in the universe. And yet so far, no researcher has been able to directly detect it. .........................

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Related: 
Emily Riehl Is Rewriting Higher Category Theory
by Kirby Griffin & Jennifer Hsu

Around the Web

Pfizer Vaccine May Be on the Way
Early data from the drugmaker Pfizer suggest that its candidate COVID-19 vaccine may be 90% effective. By the end of the year, the company hopes to produce enough to immunize at least 15 million people, The New York Times reports. An effective vaccine is key to safely achieving herd immunity, protecting both the vaccinated and the unvaccinated and ending the pandemic, Kevin Hartnett explained for Quanta in June.

New Gene-Editing Tools
A new grasp of how bacteria fight viruses with “retrons” has researchers optimistic that these molecular complexes can help edit genes, Elizabeth Pennisi reports for Science Magazine. The researchers hope to repeat history by developing genetic manipulation tools akin to CRISPR, which also sprang from the study of bacterial defenses, as Carl Zimmer described for Quanta in 2015.

Is the Universe Infinite?

Astronomers can’t quite tell whether the universe goes on forever or curves back in on itself, although it isn’t for lack of their trying, as Eric Betz explains for Discover Magazine. Whether the universe is infinite or finite ultimately depends on its geometry — flat, spherical or hyperbolic. Erica Klarreich and Lucy Reading-Ikkanda depicted all three shapes for Quanta in a multimedia explainer in March. 

COVID-19 Moves to Minks
COVID-19 has jumped from humans to minks in the Netherlands, and back. The detour does not seem to have produced additional mutations that could worsen the dangers of the disease, John Timmer reports for Ars Technica. Many viral diseases start in animals, and can move back and forth between human and animal populations. Epidemiology researcher Tara C. Smith explained how viruses jump between species for Quanta in February.
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