Quanta Magazine

Quanta Magazine Read and discuss the latest news and trends in mathematics, physics, computer science and life science research. At Quanta Magazine, scientific accuracy is every bit as important as telling a good story.

Since Quanta is a nonprofit foundation-funded publication, all of its resources go toward producing responsible, freely accessible journalism that is meticulously researched, reported, edited, copy-edited and fact-checked. And our editorial independence ensures the impartiality of our science coverage — our articles do not reflect or represent the views of the Simons Foundation. All editorial decisions, including which research or researchers to cover, are made by Quanta’s staff reporting to the editor in chief; editorial content is not reviewed by anyone outside of the news team prior to publication; Quanta has no involvement in any of the Simons Foundation’s grant-giving or research efforts; and researchers who receive funding from the foundation do not receive preferential treatment. The decision to cover a particular researcher or research result is made solely on editorial grounds in service of our readers.

Since Quanta is a nonprofit foundation-funded publication, all of its resources go toward producing responsible, freely accessible journalism that is meticulously researched, reported, edited, copy-edited and fact-checked. And our editorial independence ensures the impartiality of our science coverage — our articles do not reflect or represent the views of the Simons Foundation. All editorial decisions, including which research or researchers to cover, are made by Quanta’s staff reporting to the editor in chief; editorial content is not reviewed by anyone outside of the news team prior to publication; Quanta has no involvement in any of the Simons Foundation’s grant-giving or research efforts; and researchers who receive funding from the foundation do not receive preferential treatment. The decision to cover a particular researcher or research result is made solely on editorial grounds in service of our readers.

Mission: Quanta Magazine's mission is to enhance public understanding of research developments in mathematics and the physical and life sciences.

The most fundamental aspects of nature stay the same even as they seem to shape-shift in unexpected ways. This symmetry ...
09/18/2020
Einstein, Symmetry and the Future of Physics | Quanta Magazine

The most fundamental aspects of nature stay the same even as they seem to shape-shift in unexpected ways. This symmetry has been vital to decoding how reality works, but will it help us find new physics? https://www.quantamagazine.org/einstein-symmetry-and-the-future-of-physics-20190626/

Lurking behind Einstein’s theory of gravity and our modern understanding of particle physics is the deceptively simple idea of symmetry. But physicists are

“All of a sudden we had this list of numbers,” said astrophysicist Chuck Bennett, about mapping the cosmic microwave bac...
09/18/2020
How Ancient Light Reveals the Universe’s Contents

“All of a sudden we had this list of numbers,” said astrophysicist Chuck Bennett, about mapping the cosmic microwave background (CMB) for the first time and learning the precise contents of the cosmos. The CMB is a snapshot of the young universe that has become the central pillar of modern cosmology: It reveals the cosmos’s age and shape and exactly how much dark matter and dark energy it contains. Here’s how the universe scrawled such a telling message in the cosmic microwave background, and how researchers learned to read it. https://www.quantamagazine.org/how-the-cosmic-microwave-background-reveals-the-universes-contents-20200128/

A photograph of the infant cosmos reveals the precise amounts of dark matter and dark energy in the universe, leaving precious little room for argument.

“Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire” is the Quanta science collection that takes its readers on what Pulitzer Prize-win...
09/18/2020
Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire

“Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire” is the Quanta science collection that takes its readers on what Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Deborah Blum calls “an exploration of the universe with all its mystery and wonder and starlit dazzle, told by some of the best science writers working today.”

It's available in audiobook form here:
https://www.audible.com/pd/Alice-and-Bob-Meet-the-Wall-of-Fire-Audiobook/140017063X

And here:
https://www.amazon.com/Alice-Bob-Meet-Wall-Fire/dp/B07S37M992/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Check out this great listen on Audible.com. Bringing together the best and most interesting science stories appearing in Quanta Magazine over the past five years, Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire reports on some of the greatest scientific minds as they test the limits of human knowledge. It com.....

From 2018: For decades, when atmospheric scientists developed weather and climate models, they mostly left out effects f...
09/18/2020
Forests Emerge as a Major Overlooked Climate Factor | Quanta Magazine

From 2018: For decades, when atmospheric scientists developed weather and climate models, they mostly left out effects from forests and vegetation. That may have been a serious omission: Recent simulations from Abigail Swann at the University of Washington and other researchers suggest that the “flying rivers” of water vapor released by major forests can change patterns of rainfall and drought thousands of miles away. https://www.quantamagazine.org/forests-emerge-as-a-major-overlooked-climate-factor-20181009/

New work at the intersection of atmospheric science and ecology is finding that forests can influence rainfall and climate from across a continent.

09/18/2020

Space weather scientist Liz MacDonald studies unique atmospheric phenomena such as the aurora called STEVE.
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📖 Want to know more? Read "The Scientist Leading the World’s Aurora Hunters” at QuantaMagazine.org
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📹@rosemmorton & Jennifer Hsu for Quanta Magazine
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#physics #aurora #aurorasaurus #auroraborealis #auroras #astrophoto #astrophotography #nightskyphotography #physicsstudents #physicsteachers #ilovephysics #physicsisfun #physicsclass #quanta #science #sciencenews #research #scientific #STEM #scienceisawesome #scienceiscool #womeninSTEM #thisiswhatascientistlookslike #womeninscience #lizmacdonald #visualfodder #scientificfacts #interesting

Physicists are struggling to develop a quantum theory of gravity. Current efforts make use of both reductionism and emer...
09/17/2020
To Solve the Biggest Mystery in Physics, Join Two Kinds of Law | Quanta Magazine

Physicists are struggling to develop a quantum theory of gravity. Current efforts make use of both reductionism and emergence — two overarching principles of modern science. https://www.quantamagazine.org/to-solve-the-biggest-mystery-in-physics-join-two-kinds-of-law-20170907/

Reductionism breaks the world into elementary building blocks. Emergence finds the simple laws that arise out of complexity. These two complementary ways of

Feynman diagrams have helped physicists model particle collisions for decades, but improved experimental precision is pu...
09/17/2020
New Particle Collision Math May Offer Quantum Clues | Quanta Magazine

Feynman diagrams have helped physicists model particle collisions for decades, but improved experimental precision is pushing the tool to its breaking point. New math may help physicists streamline the monstrous math within Feynman “loops.” https://www.quantamagazine.org/new-particle-collision-math-may-offer-quantum-clues-20200820/

Physicists have identified an algebraic structure underlying the messy mathematics of particle collisions. Some hope it will lead to a more elegant theory of

Systole, the moment when our heart contracts and pumps out blood, seems to impact our experience of fear. “Systole is th...
09/16/2020
How Your Heart Influences What You Perceive and Fear

Systole, the moment when our heart contracts and pumps out blood, seems to impact our experience of fear. “Systole is the point when you’re least sensitive to the world… when the inner world rules,” said neuroscientist Sarah Garfinkel. https://www.quantamagazine.org/how-your-heart-influences-what-you-perceive-and-fear-20200706/

The heartbeat and other bodily processes play a surprising role in shaping perception and cognition.

The sunflower conjecture predicts that certain kinds of randomness will inevitably yield a flower-like pattern. After mo...
09/16/2020
Mathematicians Begin to Tame Wild ‘Sunflower’ Problem | Quanta Magazine

The sunflower conjecture predicts that certain kinds of randomness will inevitably yield a flower-like pattern. After more than a half-century of failure, mathematicians have made major progress in proving the idea true, thanks to insights from the world of theoretical computer science. https://www.quantamagazine.org/mathematicians-begin-to-tame-wild-sunflower-problem-20191021/

A major advance toward solving the 60-year-old sunflower conjecture is shedding light on how order begins to appear as random systems grow in size.

The cells of the immune system were often given bloodthirsty names, like “natural killer cells” and “macrophages,” to re...
09/15/2020
Immune Cell Assassins Reveal Their Nurturing Side

The cells of the immune system were often given bloodthirsty names, like “natural killer cells” and “macrophages,” to reflect how avidly they destroy bacteria and other pathogens in the body. But researchers are finding that some of these cells have a more nurturing side, too: healing tissues, stabilizing heartbeats, trimming networks of blood vessels, pruning unwanted synapses and preserving pregnancies. “Instead of being killers, they are really builders,” one researcher said. https://www.quantamagazine.org/immune-cell-assassins-reveal-their-nurturing-side-20200211

Don’t be misled by the bloodthirsty names of immune cells. Mounting research shows that the cells also fine-tune tissues and help the body heal.

Thousands of healthcare workers around the world are volunteering to receive the BCG tuberculosis vaccine in clinical te...
09/15/2020
‘Trained Immunity’ Offers Hope in Fight Against Coronavirus

Thousands of healthcare workers around the world are volunteering to receive the BCG tuberculosis vaccine in clinical tests of whether it might slow the spread of COVID-19. https://www.quantamagazine.org/trained-immunity-offers-hope-in-fight-against-coronavirus-20200914

A novel form of immunological memory that was mostly ignored for a century extends the benefits of vaccines. It could be of help in ending the COVID-19 pandemic.

Only three geometries fit the cosmological criteria for the shape of the universe: flat, spherical, and hyperbolic. In t...
09/15/2020
What Is the Geometry of the Universe? | Quanta Magazine

Only three geometries fit the cosmological criteria for the shape of the universe: flat, spherical, and hyperbolic. In this explainer, we visualize what life would look like inside each geometry and explore the most likely possibilities for our universe.
https://www.quantamagazine.org/what-is-the-geometry-of-the-universe-20200316/

In our mind’s eye, the universe seems to go on forever. But using geometry we can explore a variety of three-dimensional shapes that offer alternatives to

From 2017: In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled extreme partisan gerrymandering — or drawing voting districts to give o...
09/14/2020
The Mathematics Behind Gerrymandering | Quanta Magazine

From 2017: In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled extreme partisan gerrymandering — or drawing voting districts to give one political party an unfair advantage — unconstitutional. But how do you test how much is too much? New approaches based on math and quantitative social science may help.
https://www.quantamagazine.org/the-mathematics-behind-gerrymandering-20170404/

Powerful new quantitative tools are now available to combat partisan bias in the drawing of voting districts.

New from the Quanta Science Podcast: Today, a seafloor layered with the carbonate corpses of plankton helps stabilize th...
09/13/2020
How Jurassic Plankton Stole Control of the Ocean’s Chemistry | Quanta Magazine

New from the Quanta Science Podcast: Today, a seafloor layered with the carbonate corpses of plankton helps stabilize the ocean’s chemistry. Before the rise of these calcifying creatures changes in the seas’ acidity were the major factor in determining the survival of marine life.

To hear the podcast episode, click the icon for your preferred listening app in the player.

https://www.quantamagazine.org/how-jurassic-plankton-stole-control-of-the-oceans-chemistry-20191001/

Only 170 million years ago, new plankton evolved. Their demand for carbon and calcium permanently transformed the seas as homes for life.

If they exist at all, odd perfect numbers would need to satisfy a “complex web of conditions which hem it on all sides.”...
09/13/2020
Mathematicians Open a New Front on an Ancient Number Problem

If they exist at all, odd perfect numbers would need to satisfy a “complex web of conditions which hem it on all sides.” “Spoof” numbers, generalizations of odd perfect numbers which relax some of these restrictions, are helping mathematicians look for the real thing. https://www.quantamagazine.org/mathematicians-open-a-new-front-on-an-ancient-number-problem-20200910/

For millennia, mathematicians have wondered whether odd perfect numbers exist, establishing an extraordinary list of restrictions for the hypothetical objects

How do two or more different species sometimes merge into a single symbiotic unit? Researchers have looked for clues in ...
09/13/2020

How do two or more different species sometimes merge into a single symbiotic unit? Researchers have looked for clues in sets of interdependent simple organisms. But new research reveals how a profoundly deep symbiosis evolved between carpenter ants and the bacteria that help them digest wood. To ensure that they pass from one generation of ants to the next, the bacteria have taken control of the insects’ early embryonic development. https://www.quantamagazine.org/symbiotic-bacteria-tell-ant-embryos-how-to-develop-20200909/

An unexpected measurement has presented cosmologists with a new tension to grapple with. “If we were having conferences,...
09/12/2020
A New Cosmic Tension: The Universe Might Be Too Thin

An unexpected measurement has presented cosmologists with a new tension to grapple with. “If we were having conferences, all the coffee chatter would be about these results.” said Michael Hudson, a cosmologist at the University of Waterloo in Canada. https://www.quantamagazine.org/a-new-cosmic-tension-the-universe-might-be-too-thin-20200908/

Cosmologists have concluded that the universe doesn’t appear to clump as much as it should. Could both of cosmology’s big puzzles share a single fix?

From the Quanta Science Podcast: How do we tune out what doesn’t matter to keep our attention where it needs to be? The ...
09/12/2020
To Pay Attention, the Brain Uses Filters, Not a Spotlight | Quanta Magazine

From the Quanta Science Podcast: How do we tune out what doesn’t matter to keep our attention where it needs to be? The quest to understand this process has revealed surprising connections between consciousness and deep, ancient parts of the brain. To hear the podcast episode, click the icon for your preferred listening app in the player. https://www.quantamagazine.org/to-pay-attention-the-brain-uses-filters-not-a-spotlight-20190924/

A brain circuit that suppresses distracting sensory information holds important clues about attention and other cognitive processes.

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About Quanta Magazine

Quanta Magazine’s goal is to enhance public understanding of science. Our reporters focus on developments in mathematics, theoretical physics, theoretical computer science and the basic life sciences. At Quanta, scientific accuracy is every bit as important as telling a good story. And having editorial independence ensures the impartiality of our science coverage, so while our publication was launched by the Simons Foundation, our articles do not necessarily reflect or represent the foundation’s views. https://www.quantamagazine.org/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/QuantaNews Twitter: https://twitter.com/QuantaMagazine Sign up for our weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/6FnWj

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