In 1963, the mathematician Roy Kerr found a solution to Einstein’s equations that precisely described the space-time outside what we now call a rotating black hole. (The term wouldn’t be coined for a few more years.) In the nearly six decades since his achievement, researchers have tried to show that these so-called Kerr black holes… Continue reading Black Holes Finally Proven Mathematically Stable
Category: Quantum Stuff
This Planetary Scientist Is Always Reaching for Something Big
Lindy Elkins-Tanton, a planetary scientist who studies the evolution of the terrestrial planets and life on Earth, fell in love with science as a girl because considering the vast scales of time and space inherent in studying geology gave her some solace from her personal troubles—it made them seem small and surmountable. A sense of… Continue reading This Planetary Scientist Is Always Reaching for Something Big
How the ‘Diamond of the Plant World’ Helped Land Plants Evolve
Recently, Li and his colleagues used their method to characterize sporopollenin from more than 100 diverse land plant species collected from botanic gardens around the northeastern United States. According to Li, who is preparing to submit the results of the study for publication, the structure of sporopollenin varies across plant types in a curious pattern.… Continue reading How the ‘Diamond of the Plant World’ Helped Land Plants Evolve
Messenger RNA Therapies Are Finally Fulfilling Their Promise
In just 17 years messenger RNA therapies have gone from proof of concept to global salvation. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for COVID-19 have been given to hundreds of millions of people, saving countless lives. In 2005 Katalin Karikó and I created a way to make mRNA molecules that would not cause dangerous inflammation when… Continue reading Messenger RNA Therapies Are Finally Fulfilling Their Promise
The Astrophysicist Who Sculpts Stars Before They Are Born
The prints are also helping us to distinguish different types of substructures. For instance, if you’re looking at a filament in two spatial dimensions, it might actually be a two-dimensional sheet that you’re just looking at on its side. And that’s hard to make out in a flat picture — or even a computer simulation.… Continue reading The Astrophysicist Who Sculpts Stars Before They Are Born
Are You a Naïve Realist?
When Lee Ross, a professor of psychology at Stanford, explained to his students what his term “fundamental attribution error” meant, he loved to quote George Carlin. “Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” The late comedian perfectly captured our tendency… Continue reading Are You a Naïve Realist?
How Can Infinitely Many Primes Be Infinitely Far Apart?
Similarly, 7! + 4 is divisible by 4, 7! + 5 by 5, 7! + 6 by 6, and 7! + 7 by 7, which makes 7! + 2, 7! + 3, 7! + 4, 7! + 5, 7! + 6, 7! + 7 a sequence of six consecutive composite numbers. We have a prime… Continue reading How Can Infinitely Many Primes Be Infinitely Far Apart?
Two Weeks In, the Webb Space Telescope Is Reshaping Astronomy
As soon as President Biden unveiled the first image from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) on July 11, Massimo Pascale and his team sprang into action. Coordinating over Slack, Pascale, an astrophysicist at the University of California, Berkeley, and 14 collaborators divvied up tasks. The image showed thousands of galaxies in a pinprick-size portion… Continue reading Two Weeks In, the Webb Space Telescope Is Reshaping Astronomy
New Number Systems Point Geometry Problem Toward a Real Solution
The Kakeya conjecture sounds like a brain teaser. Place a needle flat on a table. How much area do you need in order to be able to turn it so that it points in all possible directions? The most obvious possible answer is a circle whose diameter is the length of the needle. But this… Continue reading New Number Systems Point Geometry Problem Toward a Real Solution
Embryo Cells Set Patterns for Growth by Pushing and Pulling
One of the longest-standing questions in biology is how a living thing that starts as an embryonic blob of uniform cells morphs over time into an organism with diverse tissues, each with its own unique pattern and characteristics. The answer would explain how a leopard gets its spots, a zebra gets its stripes, trees get… Continue reading Embryo Cells Set Patterns for Growth by Pushing and Pulling