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Mar 19, 2020. 3 comments

Scientists Who Created Order From Randomness Win Prestigious Mathematics Prize

Scientists Who Created Order From Randomness Win Prestigious Mathematics Prize

Scientists Hillel Furstenberg and Gregory Margulis have won this year’s Abel Prize, which is considered one of the highest honors in mathematics.

The scientists won the prize “for pioneering the use of methods from probability and dynamics in group theory, number theory and combinatorics,” according to the prize citation. They will split an approximately $834,000 sum, awarded by the Norwegian...

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Ryan F. Mandelbaum Ryan F. Mandelbaum Jan 18, 2020. 14 comments

'Remarkable' Mathematical Proof Describes How to Solve Seemingly Impossible Computing Problem

'Remarkable' Mathematical Proof Describes How to Solve Seemingly Impossible Computing Problem

You enter a cave. At the end of a dark corridor, you encounter a pair of sealed chambers. Inside each chamber is an all-knowing wizard. The prophecy says that with these oracles’ help, you can learn the answers to unanswerable problems. But there’s a catch: The oracles don’t always tell the truth. And though they cannot communicate with each other, their seemingly random responses to your...

14 Comments

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Nov 16, 2019. 13 comments

China May Be Concealing Organ Harvesting Through Fake Donation Data, Scientists Report

China May Be Concealing Organ Harvesting Through Fake Donation Data, Scientists Report

China has been using an equation to produce fake organ donation data, according to researchers who used a forensic technique that sniffs out suspicious patterns in statistical datasets.

New research published yesterday in BMC Medical Ethics is raising concerns that China is continuing to harvest organs from executed prisoners, despite the country’s assurances to the contrary. Exploiting...

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Ryan F. Mandelbaum Ryan F. Mandelbaum Sep 19, 2019. 19 comments

Mathematicians No Longer Stumped by the Number 3

Mathematicians No Longer Stumped by the Number 3

Just on the heels of finding three cubed numbers that sum to 42 , scientists have passed another important milestone by finding three enormous cubes that sum to 3.

After finding three-cubes solutions for each integer less than 100, mathematicians set their sites on another milestone: finding another sum-of-three-cubes solution for the number 3. As simple as it sounds, it’s something...

19 Comments

Ryan F. Mandelbaum Ryan F. Mandelbaum Sep 07, 2019. 16 comments

The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, Finally Cracked

The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, Finally Cracked

We all know that 42 is the answer to life, the universe, and everything, thanks to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Now, we also know that it’s the sum of three cubes.

For decades, scientists have wondered whether each of the numbers from 0 to 100 could be represented as the sum of three cubes, where a cube is the same number multiplied together three times (two cubed equals eight)....

16 Comments

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Mar 19, 2019. 8 comments

Soap Bubble Theorist Is the First Woman to Win the ‘Nobel Prize’ of Mathematics

Soap Bubble Theorist Is the First Woman to Win the ‘Nobel Prize’ of Mathematics

Trailblazing mathematician Karen Uhlenbeck from the University of Texas at Austin has been awarded the 2019 Abel Prize—regarded as one of the highest accolades in mathematics. She is now the first woman to receive the illustrious award.

Earlier today, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters awarded the Abel Prize to Karen Uhlenbeck, 76, for “her fundamental work in geometric analysis and...

8 Comments

Esther Inglis-Arkell Esther Inglis-Arkell Nov 09, 2018.

Meet the 2016 Winners of the $700,000 Crafoord Prize

Meet the 2016 Winners of the $700,000 Crafoord Prize

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has awarded its prestigious Crafoord Prize, honoring three scientists who have made outstanding achievements in black hole physics and a special kind of geometry.

Established in 1980 by industrialist Holger Crafoord, the Crafoord Prize recognizes outstanding achievement in the sciences. The prize goes to winners in astronomy and mathematics, geosciences,...

Ryan F. Mandelbaum Ryan F. Mandelbaum Sep 26, 2018. 10 comments

Mathematicians Skeptical of Supposed Million-Dollar Proof

Mathematicians Skeptical of Supposed Million-Dollar Proof

There are six outstanding math problems that, if solved, will net you a $1 million reward. On Monday, a highly regarded mathematician claimed in a lecture that he has proven perhaps the most famous of these problems, called the Riemann hypothesis. But there’s reason to be skeptical.

Plenty of people claim to have solved the biggest problems in physics and mathematics (and they often email...

10 Comments

Andrew Liszewski Andrew Liszewski May 03, 2018. 7 comments

How Can This Spinning Arrow That Always Points Right Actually Exist?

How Can This Spinning Arrow That Always Points Right Actually Exist?
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Mathematician Kokichi Sugihara, of Meiji University in Japan, once again proves he’s the greatest illusion inventor of our time. Instead of just creating mind-melting images, he creates real-life 3D objects that appear to ignore the laws of our universe. How can this arrow, that perpetually points right, no matter how...

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Adam Clark Estes Adam Clark Estes Apr 15, 2018. 9 comments

No, This Viral Image Does Not Explain the History of Arabic Numerals

No, This Viral Image Does Not Explain the History of Arabic Numerals

Your cousin’s Facebook friends are probably going nuts over this image that claims to show how the early history of Arabic geometric design informs how we write numerals today. “Each figure contains its own number of corners and angles,” reads the text. That’s half-true of the drawings in the image. The rest is patently false.

The design we commonly refer to as Arabic numerals today actually...

9 Comments

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Mar 30, 2018. 18 comments

Simulation May Finally Explain Why Knuckle Cracking Makes That Awful Sound

Simulation May Finally Explain Why Knuckle Cracking Makes That Awful Sound

For decades, scientists have debated the cause of the popping sound when we crack our knuckles. Using computer models, a research team from France may have finally reached the answer.

As the authors state in the new paper published today in Scientific Reports, the sound of knuckles cracking is caused by a “collapsing cavitation bubble in the synovial fluid inside a metacarpophalangeal joint...

18 Comments

Esther Inglis-Arkell Esther Inglis-Arkell Mar 29, 2018. 5 comments

This Mathematical Riddle Explains All We Know of the Father of Algebra

This Mathematical Riddle Explains All We Know of the Father of Algebra

Diophantes was a Hellenistic Greek mathematician who lived around 200 AD. His claim to fame comes from substituting symbols for numbers and operations in equations, thus creating algebra, but everything else we know about his life comes from a single algebraic riddle.

Here it is:

“Here lies Diophantus.

God gave him his boyhood one-sixth of his life;

One twelfth more as youth while whiskers grew...

5 Comments

Mar 24, 2018. 12 comments

Don't Freak Out if You Can't Solve a Math Problem That's Gone Viral

Don't Freak Out if You Can't Solve a Math Problem That's Gone Viral

A number of math problems have recently garnered considerable attention, but the inability to solve these problems quickly is not indicative of a person’s overall math skill, nor should it prompt a crisis of confidence about the state of American math aptitude.

It’s been quite a year for mathematics problems on the internet. In the last few months, three questions have been online everywhere,...

12 Comments

Cheryl Eddy Cheryl Eddy Mar 24, 2018. 13 comments

Use These Tips And Never Lose At Rock Paper Scissors Again

Use These Tips And Never Lose At Rock Paper Scissors Again

Your days of never getting shotgun are over, thanks to this new video from Numberphile that breaks down the best strategies for winning at Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Host Hannah Fry explains below, but the essential tips are: if you lose, the person who just won will almost certainly play the same move in the next game, so adjust your move accordingly (if they chose rock last time and you chose...

13 Comments

Charlie Jane Anders Charlie Jane Anders Mar 17, 2018. 6 comments

How Is A Mathematical Proof Like Frodo's Journey In Lord Of The Rings?

How Is A Mathematical Proof Like Frodo's Journey In<i> Lord Of The Rings</i>?

When people describe a story as being told in a "by the numbers" fashion, that's usually regarded as bad. But in a talk at Oxford University the other day, scientist Marcus du Sautoy argued that a great mathematical proof is a lot like a story. In fact, a really great proof is like Frodo's journey in Lord of the Rings, from the familiar to the new.

Du Sautoy explains:

"A proof is like the...

6 Comments

Ria Misra Ria Misra Feb 26, 2018. 20 comments

Is A Kilobit 1,000 Or 1,024 Bits?: A Mathematical Debate Explained

Is A Kilobit 1,000 Or 1,024 Bits?: A Mathematical Debate Explained

What is a kilobit equal to? The answer is 1,000 bits, but some people say it should really be 1,024.

The debate over how many bits are in a kilobit has popped up many places (including in our comments section today), with some people championing 1,000 and others 1,024. So what's the answer? Well, today, the answer is that a kilobit is 1,000 bits. But that wasn't always the case. It used to be...

20 Comments

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Jan 06, 2018. 24 comments

FedEx Employee Discovers Largest Known Prime Number Containing a Staggering 23 Million Digits

FedEx Employee Discovers Largest Known Prime Number Containing a Staggering 23 Million Digits

Using a computer powered by an off-the-shelf Intel Core i5-6600 processor, a FedEx employee from Tennessee has discovered the largest prime number known to humanity. At 23,249,425 digits long, it’s nearly a million digits longer than the previous record holder.

For those of you who failed or have long forgotten grade 3 math class, a prime number is any number that can only be divided by 1 and...

24 Comments

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Dec 15, 2017. 13 comments

Sorry, the Riemann Hypothesis Has Almost Certainly Not Been Solved

Sorry, the Riemann Hypothesis Has Almost Certainly Not Been Solved

Rumors are swirling that Opeyemi Enoch, a professor from the Federal University of Oye Ekiti in Nigeria, has solved the Riemann Hypothesis, a problem that has vexed mathematicians for over 150 years. Too bad it’s not true.

As reported in the BBC, The Telegraph, Yahoo! News, and many other publications, the Nigerian professor is claiming to have solved the problem, thus making him eligible for...

13 Comments

Ryan F. Mandelbaum Ryan F. Mandelbaum Dec 02, 2017. 19 comments

Dark Matter Is Not Dead

Dark Matter Is Not Dead

It can be easy to take hyped-up science papers as fact, especially when they involve the most esoteric imaginable ideas. But scientists are taking issue with a hyped-up new paper that claims it can eliminate the need for dark matter or dark energy in our Universe.

Observations of our Universe imply that something like 95 percent of it is comprised of mysterious stuff. The math says it could be...

19 Comments

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Nov 24, 2017. 14 comments

Why Some Things Get Better After A Disaster

Why Some Things Get Better After A Disaster

Normally, the things around us become damaged after experiencing an unexpected disruption or shock. But there are aspects to our world that actually get better after a setback. Here's why things that don't kill us can sometimes make us stronger.

Illustration by Tara Jacoby

We often associate disasters – be they environmental, social, political, or economic — as terrible things, worthy of...

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