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physics

Titans of Mathematics Clash Over Epic Proof of ABC Conjecture

In a report posted online today, Peter Scholze of the University of Bonn and Jakob Stix of Goethe University Frankfurt describe what Stix calls a “serious, unfixable gap” within a mammoth series of papers by Shinichi Mochizuki, a mathematician at Kyoto… Continue Reading →

Machine Learning Confronts the Elephant in the Room

Score one for the human brain. In a new study, computer scientists found that artificial intelligence systems fail a vision test a child could accomplish with ease. “It’s a clever and important study that reminds us that ‘deep learning’ isn’t… Continue Reading →

A Short History of the Missing Universe

The cosmos plays hide-and-seek. Sometimes, though, even when astronomers have a hunch for where their prey might hide, it can take them decades of searching to confirm it. The case of the universe’s missing matter — a case that appears… Continue Reading →

New AI Strategy Mimics How Brains Learn to Smell

Today’s artificial intelligence systems, including the artificial neural networks broadly inspired by the neurons and connections of the nervous system, perform wonderfully at tasks with known constraints. They also tend to require a lot of computational power and vast quantities… Continue Reading →

Why Mathematicians Can’t Find the Hay in a Haystack

The first time I heard a mathematician use the phrase, I was sure he’d misspoken. We were on the phone, talking about the search for shapes with certain properties, and he said, “It’s like looking for hay in a haystack.”… Continue Reading →

On Waste Plastics at Sea, She Finds Unique Microbial Multitudes

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, several hundred miles from Hawaii, is a swirling cauldron of waste plastic that’s been growing steadily since the mid-1980s. Dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it’s an ugly testament to the scale of disposable… Continue Reading →

World’s Simplest Animal Reveals Hidden Diversity

The world’s simplest known animal is so poorly understood that it doesn’t even have a common name. Formally called Trichoplax adhaerens for the way it adheres to glassware, the amorphous blob isn’t much to look at. At just a few… Continue Reading →

A New Test for the Leading Big Bang Theory

The leading hypothesis about the universe’s birth — that a quantum speck of space became energized and inflated in a split second, creating a baby cosmos — solves many puzzles and fits all observations to date. Yet this “cosmic inflation”… Continue Reading →

The Last of the Universe’s Ordinary Matter Has Been Found

Astronomers have finally found the last of the missing universe. It’s been hiding since the mid-1990s, when researchers decided to inventory all the “ordinary” matter in the cosmos — stars and planets and gas, anything made out of atomic parts…. Continue Reading →

Solution: ‘Evolutionary Math and Just-So Stories’

In our August Insights puzzle, we explored the ability of certain population structures to accelerate or slow down evolution. Ever since Darwin’s spectacular evolutionary discoveries in the Galápagos Islands, it has become increasingly clear that the process of evolution is… Continue Reading →

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