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Prime proof zeros in on crucial numbers
Fermat's last theorem is just one of many examples of innocentlooking problems that can long stymie even the most astute mathematicians. It took about 350 years to prove Fermat's tantalizing conjecture.
Now, Preda Mihailescu of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich has proved a theorem that is likely to lead to a solution of Catalan's conjecture, another venerable problem...

Math Trek
Zeroing In on Catalan's Conjecture
Fermat's last theorem is just one of many examples of innocentlooking problems that can long stymie even the most astute mathematicians. It took about 350 years to prove Fermat's scribbled conjecture, for instance.
Now, Preda Mihailescu of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich has proved a theorem that is likely to lead to a solution of Catalan's conjecture, another...

Math Trek
Möbius at Fermilab
Fermilab's Wilson Hall. Courtesy of Fermilab.
Soaring into the sky like a medieval cathedral, the twin towers of the structure known as Wilson Hall dominate the flat countryside surrounding the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Ill.
Named for physicist and accelerator builder Robert Rathbun Wilson (1914...

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The Power of Partitions
Just a year before his death in 1920 at the age of 32, mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan came upon a remarkable pattern in a special list of whole numbers.
The list represented counts of how many ways a given whole number can be expressed as a sum of positive integers. For example, 4 can be written as 3 + 1, 2 + 2, 2 + 1 + 1, and 1 + 1 + 1 + 1. Including 4 itself but...

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Great Computations
Computers at home or in the office often sit idle for minutes, hours, or days at a time. The Internet now allows researchers to take advantage of this enormous reservoir of unused computer power.
More than 1.6 million people have downloaded software to sift through signals collected by the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico as part of a search for signs of intelligent...

Math Trek
White Narcissus
The elegant, swooping forms carved out of wood by sculptor Robert Longhurst often resemble gracefully curved soap films that span twisted loops of wire dipped into soapy water. Alhough these abstract sculptures bear an uncanny resemblance to mathematical forms known as minimal surfaces, they emerge from Longhurst's imagination rather than from mathematics.
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