Life Helps Make Almost Half of All Minerals on Earth
A new origins-based system for classifying minerals reveals the huge geochemical imprint that life has left on Earth. It could help us identify other worlds with life too.
Controversy Continues Over Whether Hot Water Freezes Faster Than Cold
Decades after a Tanzanian teenager initiated study of the “Mpemba effect,” the effort to confirm or refute it is leading physicists toward new theories about how substances relax to equilibrium.
The Spooky Quantum Phenomenon You’ve Never Heard Of
Quantum computers may derive their power from the “magical” way that properties of particles change depending on the context.
Surfaces So Different Even a Fourth Dimension Can’t Make Them the Same
For decades mathematicians have searched for a specific pair of surfaces that can’t be transformed into each other in four-dimensional space. Now they’ve found them.
The Brain Has a ‘Low-Power Mode’ That Blunts Our Senses
Neuroscientists uncovered an energy-saving mode in vision-system neurons that works at the cost of being able to see fine-grained details.
Astronomers Reimagine the Making of the Planets
Observations of faraway planets have forced a near-total rewrite of the story of how our solar system came to be.
Brain-Signal Proteins Evolved Before Animals Did
Some animal neuropeptides have been around longer than nervous systems.
The Secret Math Behind Mind-Reading Magic Tricks
Four puzzle solutions reveal different ways to divine someone’s hidden number with impossibly little information.
Physicists Rewrite the Fundamental Law That Leads to Disorder
The second law of thermodynamics is among the most sacred in all of science, but it has always rested on 19th century arguments about probability. New arguments trace its true source to the flows of quantum information.
Mathematicians Coax Fluid Equations Into Nonphysical Solutions
The famed Navier-Stokes equations can lead to cases where more than one result is possible, but only in an extremely narrow set of situations.