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ASTRONOMY | ALL TOPICS

 

The Webb Space Telescope Is Already Reshaping Astronomy

By JONATHAN O'CALLAGHAN

In the days after the mega-telescope started delivering data, astronomers reported exciting new discoveries about galaxies, stars, exoplanets and even Jupiter.

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GEOMETRY

 

New Number Systems Point Geometry Problem Toward a Real Solution

By KEVIN HARTNETT

The Kakeya conjecture predicts how much room you need to point a line in every direction. In one number system after another — with one important exception — mathematicians have been proving it true.

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THE JOY OF WHY

 

Why Do We Get Old, and Can Aging Be Reversed?

Podcast hosted by STEVEN STROGATZ

Everybody gets older, but not everyone ages in the same way. In this episode, Steven Strogatz speaks with Judith Campisi and Dena Dubal, two biomedical researchers who study the aging process.

Listen to the podcast

Read the transcript

MATHEMATICAL BIOLOGY

 

Hidden Chaos Found to Lurk in Ecosystems

By JOANNA THOMPSON

New modeling research finds that chaos plays a bigger role in population dynamics than decades of ecological data once seemed to suggest.

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Related: 
Biodiversity May Thrive
Through Games of Rock-Paper-Scissors

by Carrie Arnold (2020)

QUANTIZED COLUMNS

 

Neuronal Scaffolding Plays a Role in Pain

By R. DOUGLAS FIELDS

Perineuronal nets hold neurons in place, but they also affect a surprising amount of brain activity, including some associated with chronic pain.

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Related: 
Glial Brain Cells, Long in Neurons’
Shadow, Reveal Hidden Powers

by Elena Renken (2020)

INSIGHTS PUZZLE

 

Seeking Mathematical Truth in Counterfeit Coin Puzzles

By PRADEEP MUTALIK

Readers balanced logical reasoning and mathematical insights to find phony coins with a double-pan balance scale.

Read the puzzle solution

Around the Web

A Massive Observation
According to new observations, the heaviest neutron star is 20,000 light-years away from Earth and weighs 2.35 times as much as our sun. The record-holder owes its success to gas falling from a nearby orbiting star, reports Ken Croswell for Science News. What goes on in the hidden interiors of these dense and massive stars remains a mystery. Physicists have wondered if their cores consist of squishy and exotic “quark” matter, but new data released last year casts doubt on that model, as Jonathan O’Callaghan reported for Quanta.


Look Who’s Talking
In the largest study of its kind, researchers proved that “baby talk” is much the same everywhere. Spanning 18 languages and six continents, the new research confirmed that adults adopt a sing-songy voice called “parentese” when singing or speaking to babies, reports Oliver Whang for The New York Times. Parentese is thought to make it easier for babies to learn language. When babies imitate the sounds they hear, they’re using vocal learning — an ability possessed by only a few species, notably humans and songbirds. In 2018, researcher Erich Jarvis chatted with Jordana Cepelewicz for Quanta about his work on vocal learning in songbirds and why it could help reveal how the human capacity for language evolved.
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