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Numbers

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NASA image from "Hidden Figures"

HIDDEN FIGURES  By the 1940s, NASA Langley began recruiting black women to work as human computers, a role that would continue to be essential to the center’s operations.

cat with abacus

NUMBER SMARTS  Cats show quantity-­related abilities. Without training, cats can pick out differences between groups of a few small objects, such as 2 versus 5, but the felines may be using visual shortcuts.

kilogram standards

TAKING MEASURE  New units based on fundamental properties of the universe will make measurements more precise. A kilogram cylinder replica (left) is safeguarded under bell jars. Ultrasmooth silicon spheres (right) will soon be used to redefine the kilogram using the Planck constant — making the kilogram prototype obsolete.

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