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  • Context

    Before his early death, Riemann freed geometry from Euclidean prejudices

    Bernhard Riemann was a man with a hypothesis.

    He was confident that it was true, probably. But he didn’t prove it. And attempts over the last century and a half by others to prove it have failed.

    A new claim by the esteemed mathematician Michael Atiyah that Riemann’s hypothesis has now been proved may also be exaggerated. But sadly Riemann’s early death was not. He died at age 39....

    09/28/2018 - 07:00 History of Science, Numbers
  • Feature

    Anshumali Shrivastava uses AI to wrangle torrents of data

    Anshumali Shrivastava, 33Computer ScienceRice University

    The world is awash in data, and Anshumali Shrivastava may save us from drowning in it.

    Every day, over 1 billion photos are posted online. In a single second, the Large Hadron Collider can churn out a million gigabytes of observations. Big data is ballooning faster than current computer programs can analyze it.

    “We have...

    09/26/2018 - 08:28 Artificial Intelligence, Numbers, Technology
  • News

    Here’s why we care about attempts to prove the Riemann hypothesis

    A famed mathematical enigma is once again in the spotlight.

    The Riemann hypothesis, posited in 1859 by German mathematician Bernhard Riemann, is one of the biggest unsolved puzzles in mathematics. The hypothesis, which could unlock the mysteries of prime numbers, has never been proved. But mathematicians are buzzing about a new attempt.

    Esteemed mathematician Michael Atiyah took a...

    09/25/2018 - 11:46 Numbers
  • Reviews & Previews

    The study of human heredity got its start in insane asylums

    Genetics in the MadhouseTheodore M. PorterPrinceton Univ., $35

    England’s King George III descended into mental chaos, or what at the time was called madness, in 1789. Physicians could not say whether he would recover or if a replacement should assume the throne. That political crisis jump-started the study of human heredity.

    Using archival records, science historian Theodore M...

    07/01/2018 - 08:00 Genetics, History of Science, Mental Health, Numbers
  • Soapbox

    Real numbers don’t cut it in the real world, this physicist argues

    You would be forgiven for thinking that real numbers are, in fact, real — the word is right there in the name. But physicist Nicolas Gisin doesn’t think so.

    He’s not questioning the mathematical concept of a real number. The term refers to a number that isn’t imaginary: It has no factor of i, the square root of negative one. Instead, Gisin, of the University of Geneva, debates the...

    05/08/2018 - 10:00 Numbers, Physics