All New Boardmad

my cycling, snowboarding and technology blog!



Why Stephen Hawking’s Black Hole Puzzle Keeps Puzzling

The renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking, who died today at 76, was something of a betting man, regularly entering into friendly wagers with his colleagues over key questions in theoretical physics. “I sensed when Stephen and I first met that… Continue Reading →

How Einstein Lost His Bearings, and With Them, General Relativity

Albert Einstein released his general theory of relativity at the end of 1915. He should have finished it two years earlier. When scholars look at his notebooks from the period, they see the completed equations, minus just a detail or… Continue Reading →

Brainless Embryos Suggest Bioelectricity Guides Growth

The tiny tadpole embryo looked like a bean. One day old, it didn’t even have a heart yet. The researcher in a white coat and gloves who hovered over it made a precise surgical incision where its head would form…. Continue Reading →

Why the Tiny Weight of Empty Space Is Such a Huge Mystery

The controversial idea that our universe is just a random bubble in an endless, frothing multiverse arises logically from nature’s most innocuous-seeming feature: empty space. Specifically, the seed of the multiverse hypothesis is the inexplicably tiny amount of energy infused… Continue Reading →

To Test Einstein’s Equations, Poke a Black Hole

In November 1915, in a lecture before the Prussian Academy of Sciences, Albert Einstein described an idea that upended humanity’s view of the universe. Rather than accepting the geometry of space and time as fixed, Einstein explained that we actually… Continue Reading →

Oxygen and Stem Cells May Have Reshaped Early Complex Animals

When Emma Hammarlund of Lund University in Sweden first reached out to her colleague Sven Påhlman for help with her research, he was skeptical he’d have much insight to offer. He was a tumor biologist, after all, and she was… Continue Reading →

Physicists Find a Way to See the ‘Grin’ of Quantum Gravity

In 1935, when both quantum mechanics and Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity were young, a little-known Soviet physicist named Matvei Bronstein, just 28 himself, made the first detailed study of the problem of reconciling the two in a quantum… Continue Reading →

New Giant Viruses Further Blur the Definition of Life

For decades, descriptions of viruses have straddled life and nonlife, a divide that usually isn’t difficult to navigate. Their hallmark characteristics, namely their small size, tiny genomes and parasitic dependence on cellular hosts for replication, set them apart from all… Continue Reading →

Solution: ‘When Probability Meets Real Life’

When making hard decisions, do you go with your gut or try to calculate the risks? In many cases going with your gut is fine, but the answers to our February puzzle problems show how explicit probabilistic thinking can outperform… Continue Reading →

Why Don’t Patients Get Sick in Sync? Modelers Find Statistical Clues

In late March of 1914, the town of Hanford, California, was rocked by contagion. First, a few people got sick. Then over the next month, nearly a hundred more followed, vomiting and shivering with fever, and blood tests made it… Continue Reading →

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