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  • News

    A Fair Slice: New method makes for equitable eating

    Sometimes, a birthday celebration goes awry when a pair of partygoers squabble over the cake, both preferring the slice with the cherry or with the thickest icing. That sort of spat caught the attention of mathematicians, inspiring a new idea for making divisions fairly.

    The problem hinges on the definition of fair. Steven Brams of New York University and his colleagues propose...

    12/13/2006 - 12:25 Numbers
  • Feature

    In Pixels and in Health

    Moment by moment, a movie captures the action as a group of immune cells scrambles to counter an invasion of tuberculosis bacteria. Rushing to the site of infected lung tissue, the cells build a complex sphere of active immune cells, dead immune cells, lung tissue, and trapped bacteria. Remarkably, no lung tissue or bacterium was harmed in the making of this film.

    Instead...

    01/17/2006 - 12:03 Biomedicine
  • Math Trek

    Möbius and his Band

    A Möbius band (or strip) is an intriguing surface with only one side and one edge. You can make one by joining the two ends of a long strip of paper after giving one end a 180-degree twist.

    An ant can crawl from any point on such a surface to any other point without ever crossing an edge.

    This curious object is named for the astronomer and mathematician August...

    01/28/2003 - 11:04 Numbers
  • Math Trek

    Math Trails in Ottawa

    Housed in a spectacular building redolent of crystals and light, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa was recently the setting for a highly unusual school event–a mathematics field trip!

    For several years, math teacher Ron Lancaster of Hamilton, Ontario, has been creating "math trails" for both students and teachers as a way to demonstrate that...

    11/06/2002 - 09:23 Numbers
  • Math Trek

    Hiding in DNA

    Spies might have to start boning up on molecular biology to pass along and decipher secret messages.

    During World War II, German spies used microdots to hide information in plain view. Consisting of a greatly reduced photograph of a typed page, a microdot could be pasted on top of a printed period at the end of a sentence in an otherwise innocuous missive sent between a spy and...

    09/28/2002 - 12:20 Numbers
  • Math Trek

    Hiding in DNA

    Spies might have to start boning up on molecular biology to pass along and decipher secret messages.

    During World War II, German spies used microdots to hide information in plain view. Consisting of a greatly reduced photograph of a typed page, a microdot could be pasted on top of a printed period at the end of a sentence in an otherwise innocuous missive sent between a spy and...

    09/28/2002 - 12:20 Numbers
  • News

    Searchers capture a champion megaprime

    A participant in the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) has identified the largest prime number yet. When printed out, its digits would fill more than 450 pages of Science News.

    Discovered by 20-year-old Michael Cameron of Owen Sound, Ontario, the new champion prime is 213,466,917 – 1, which runs to 4,053,946 decimal digits.

    A prime is a whole number evenly divisible by...

    12/11/2001 - 11:14 Numbers
  • News

    She-male garter snakes: Some like it hot

    Male garter snakes limping out of hibernation in northern Manitoba can mimic females and drive dozens of other guys to wriggle over them. The force behind this deluded orgy may not be sex, though.

    Until now, scientists presumed that female mimicry gives its perpetrators an edge in mating, explains Rick Shine of the University of Sydney in Australia. But there's no evidence for...

    11/14/2001 - 15:08 Animals
  • Feature

    Close Calls

    10/17/1998 - 00:00