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  • Science & the Public

    Forget Pi Day. We should be celebrating Tau Day

    As a physics reporter and lover of mathematics, I won’t be celebrating Pi Day this year. That’s because pi is wrong.

    I don’t mean that the value is incorrect. Pi, known by the symbol π, is the number you get when you divide a circle’s circumference by its diameter: 3.14159… and so on without end. But, as some mathematicians have argued, the mathematical constant was poorly chosen, and...

    03/14/2018 - 11:30 Numbers
  • News

    Two-way communication is possible with a single quantum particle

    Communication is a two-way street. Thanks to quantum mechanics, that adage applies even if you’ve got only one particle to transmit messages with.

    Using a single photon, or particle of light, two people can simultaneously send information to one another, scientists report in a new pair of papers. The feat relies on a quirk of quantum mechanics — superposition, the phenomenon through...

    02/23/2018 - 10:00 Quantum Physics
  • Context

    2018’s Top 10 science anniversaries

    With each new year, science offers a fresh list of historical occasions ideally suited for a Top 10 list.

    Science’s rich history guarantees a never-ending supply of noteworthy anniversaries. Centennials of births, deaths or discoveries by prominent scientists (or popular centennial fractions or multiples) offer reminders of past achievements and context for appreciating science of the...

    01/05/2018 - 09:00 History of Science
  • Feature

    Bat brain signals illuminate navigation in the dark

    Ninad Kothari’s workplace looks like something out of a sci-fi film. The graduate student at Johns Hopkins University works in a darkened, red-lit room, where he trains bats to fly through obstacle courses. Shielding within the walls keeps radio and other human-made signals from interfering with transmissions from the tiny electrical signals he’s recording from the bats’ brains as the animals...

    09/20/2017 - 12:30 Animals, Neuroscience
  • Context

    Modern-day Alice trades looking glass for wormhole to explore quantum wonderland

    If Lewis Carroll were alive today, he wouldn’t bother with a looking glass. His book would be called Alice Through the Wormhole.

    Being the mathematician that he was, Carroll (aka Charles Dodgson) would have kept current with the latest developments in quantum physics. He would no doubt be intrigued by a new paper describing an idea for the creation (or at least the simulation) of a...

    08/02/2017 - 07:00 Quantum Physics
  • News

    Tardigrades aren’t champion gene swappers after all

    A peek at tardigrades' genetic diaries may dispel a rumor about an amazing feat the tiny creatures were supposed to perform: borrowing large numbers of genes from other organisms.

    Tardigrades — also known as water bears and moss piglets — hardly ever borrow DNA from other creatures, researchers report July 27 in PLOS Biology.

    New analyses of DNA from two species of water bear,...

    07/27/2017 - 14:06 Genetics, Animals, Evolution