All New Boardmad

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‘Functional Fingerprint’ May Identify Brains Over a Lifetime

Michaela Cordova, a research associate and lab manager at Oregon Health and Science University, begins by “de-metaling”: removing rings, watches, gadgets and other sources of metal, double-checking her pockets for overlooked objects that could, in her words, “fly in.” Then… Continue Reading →

Evolutionary Math and Just-So Stories

The story of Darwin’s finches — the species of birds that Charles Darwin discovered with marked differences in many surface traits, each adapted to specific islands in the Galápagos — is well known. Based on their fundamental anatomical similarities, Darwin… Continue Reading →

How Insulin Helped Create Ant Societies

Ants, wasps, bees and other social insects live in highly organized “eusocial” colonies where throngs of females forgo reproduction — usually viewed as the cornerstone of evolutionary fitness — to serve the needs of a few egg-laying queens and their… Continue Reading →

Universal Method to Sort Complex Information Found

If you were opening a coffee shop, there’s a question you’d want answered: Where’s the next closest cafe? This information would help you understand your competition. This scenario is an example of a type of problem widely studied in computer… Continue Reading →

Dark Energy May Be Incompatible With String Theory

On June 25, Timm Wrase awoke in Vienna and groggily scrolled through an online repository of newly posted physics papers. One title startled him into full consciousness. The paper, by the prominent string theorist Cumrun Vafa of Harvard University and collaborators,… Continue Reading →

Star-Swallowing Black Holes Reveal Secrets in Exotic Light Shows

Black holes, befitting their name and general vibe, are hard to find and harder to study. You can eavesdrop on small ones from the gravitational waves that echo through space when they collide — but that technique is new, and… Continue Reading →

A Number Theorist Who Bridges Math and Time

At the playground on the leafy campus of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, one afternoon in May, the mathematician Akshay Venkatesh alternated between pushing his 4-year-old daughter on the swing and musing on the genius myth… Continue Reading →

An Innovator Who Brings Order to an Infinitude of Equations

This spring, not long after Caucher Birkar learned that he would be receiving the Fields Medal, the highest honor in mathematics, he shared a memory from his undergraduate years. Even by that time he had come a long way. Born… Continue Reading →

A Traveler Who Finds Stability in the Natural World

In the company of Alessio Figalli, you get a sense that everything is taken care of. The young Italian mathematician is tall, fit and stylish, his R’s rolling off the tongue with an intoxicating Roman richness. He likes to be… Continue Reading →

Major Quantum Computing Advance Made Obsolete by Teenager

A teenager from Texas has taken quantum computing down a notch. In a paper posted online earlier this month, 18-year-old Ewin Tang proved that ordinary computers can solve an important computing problem with performance potentially comparable to that of a… Continue Reading →

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