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Dear Readers,

As we close out 2019, not to mention the decade, it seems natural to take stock of our personal and professional journeys through space-time. Here at Quanta, I’m thrilled to report that our award-winning journalism is reaching more readers than ever. About 9 million readers visited QuantaMagazine.org this year, and millions more read our articles in partner publications and in several other languages around the world.

To get a sense of some of the most significant intellectual developments of the past year, last week’s newsletter featured our review of the top trends and accomplishments in physics, biology and math and computer science. This week, we’re sharing the 10 stories that were most read by you, our valued readers. (Scroll down to read, in order, our most popular stories of 2019.)

Not on the list but worthy of mention: Kevin Hartnett’s article about the effort to explain a surprising link between two seemingly unconnected areas of geometry was published in the 2019 edition of the Best Writing on Mathematics anthology. Patrick Honner elucidated cutting edge mathematics for high school students and teachers. Pradeep Mutalik asked whether true randomness exists and whether the universe needs elegant mathematics in his brain-bending puzzle columns. Susan Valot took the Quanta Science Podcast to new heights. The second season of our In Theory video series concluded with a historical explainer about how Feynman diagrams forever changed physics. And, just in time for the holidays, we opened a Quanta gift store where you can find our books, T-shirts, athletic wear, hoodies, tote bags and baby bodysuits.

Thinking ahead to 2020, we’ll be launching an exciting new podcast (stay tuned!) along with many ambitious new pieces of science and math journalism. I hope you’ll continue to enjoy the magazine in the new year and to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

Thomas Lin
Editor in Chief

Quanta’s 10 Most Popular Stories of 2019

COMBINATORICS
 

Decades-Old Computer Science Conjecture Solved in Two Pages

By ERICA KLARREICH

The “sensitivity” conjecture stumped many top computer scientists, yet the new proof is so simple that one researcher summed it up in a single tweet.

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MATHEMATICAL PHYSICS
 

Neutrinos Lead to Unexpected Discovery in Basic Math

By NATALIE WOLCHOVER

Three physicists wanted to calculate how neutrinos change. They ended up discovering an unexpected relationship between some of the most ubiquitous objects in math.

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ABSTRACTIONS BLOG
 

Possible Detection of a Black Hole So Big It ‘Should Not Exist’

By NATALIE WOLCHOVER

At stake are fundamental ideas about how black holes form — and a six-way bet.

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COSMOLOGY
 

Physicists Debate Hawking’s Idea That the Universe Had No Beginning

By NATALIE WOLCHOVER

A recent challenge to Stephen Hawking’s biggest idea — about how the universe might have come from nothing — has cosmologists choosing sides.

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NUMBER THEORY
 

Mathematicians Discover the Perfect Way to Multiply

By KEVIN HARTNETT

By chopping up large numbers into smaller ones, researchers have rewritten a fundamental mathematical speed limit.

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ABSTRACTIONS BLOG
 

Physicists Finally Nail the Proton’s Size, and Hope Dies

By NATALIE WOLCHOVER

A new measurement appears to have eliminated an anomaly that had captivated physicists for nearly a decade.

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CLIMATE SCIENCE
 

A World Without Clouds

By NATALIE WOLCHOVER

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.

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QUANTUM PHYSICS
 

Quantum Darwinism, an Idea to Explain Objective Reality, Passes First Tests

By PHILIP BALL

Three experiments have vetted quantum Darwinism, a theory that explains how quantum possibilities can give rise to objective, classical reality.

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SPACE-TIME
 

How Space and Time Could Be a Quantum Error-Correcting Code

By NATALIE WOLCHOVER

The same codes needed to thwart errors in quantum computers may also give the fabric of space-time its intrinsic robustness.

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ABSTRACTIONS BLOG
 

Your Brain Chooses What to Let You See

By JORDANA CEPELEWICZ

Beneath our awareness, the brain lets certain kinds of stimuli automatically capture our attention by lowering the priority of the rest.

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