quanta-magazine

Meet the Ukrainian Number Theorist Who Won Math's Highest Honor

Meet the Ukrainian Number Theorist Who Won Math’s Highest Honor

In late February, just weeks after Maryna Viazovska learned she had won a Fields Medal—the highest honor for a mathematician—Russian tanks and war planes began their assault on Ukraine, her homeland, and Kyiv, her hometown. Viazovska no longer lived in Ukraine, but her family was still there. Her two sisters, a 9-year-old niece, and an …

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A Father-Son Team Solves a Geometry Problem With Infinite Folds

A Father-Son Team Solves a Geometry Problem With Infinite Folds

After their 2015 success, the researchers set out to use their flattening technique to address all finite polyhedra. This change made the problem far more complex. This is because with non-orthogonal polyhedra, faces might have the shape of triangles or trapezoids—and the same creasing strategy that works for a refrigerator box won’t work for a …

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A Puzzling Quantum Scenario Appears to Violate a Law of Physics

A Puzzling Quantum Scenario Appears to Violate a Law of Physics

Remember we’re dealing with the photon’s wave function here. Since the bounce doesn’t constitute a measurement, the wave function doesn’t collapse. Instead, it splits in two: Most of the wave function remains in the box, but the small, rapidly oscillating piece near where the mirror was inserted leaves the box and heads toward the detector. …

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A Brain Chemical Helps Neurons Know When to Start a Movement

A Brain Chemical Helps Neurons Know When to Start a Movement

By washing through the brain, neuromodulators “allow you to govern the excitability of a large region of the brain more or less in the same way or at the same time,” said Eve Marder, a neuroscientist at Brandeis University widely recognized for her pioneering studies on neuromodulators in the late 1980s. “You’re basically creating either …

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