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Analysis of multifractals, conducted by the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Kraków, Poland, suggest the existence of an unknown mechanism on the Sun, influenced by changes in the number of sunspots. Graphs on multifractal

Multifractals suggest the existence of an unknown physical mechanism on the Sun

April 29, 2015 12:49 pm | by The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences | News | Comments

The famous sunspots on the surface of the Earth's star result from the dynamics of strong magnetic fields, and their numbers are an important indicator of the state of activity on the Sun. Researchers have been conducting multifractal analysis into the changes in the numbers of sunspots. The resulting graphs were surprisingly asymmetrical in shape, suggesting that sunspots may be involved in hitherto unknown physical processes.

Mathematics reveals how fluid flow affects bacteria

April 28, 2015 12:02 pm | by University of Liverpool | News | Comments

Researchers from the University of Liverpool have used mathematical equations to shed new light...

Quantum particles at play: Game theory elucidates the collective behavior of bosons

April 28, 2015 11:16 am | by LMU Munich | News | Comments

Quantum particles behave in strange ways and are often difficult to study experimentally. Using...

Boiling down viscous flow

April 23, 2015 7:41 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Drizzling honey on toast can produce mesmerizing, meandering patterns, as the syrupy fluid...

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Tracing dust samples using fungal DNA

April 16, 2015 12:33 pm | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, have developed a statistical model that allows them to tell where a dust sample came from within the continental U.S. based on the DNA of fungi found in the sample.

Quantum compute this

March 26, 2015 11:05 am | by Washington State Univ. | News | Comments

Washington State Univ. mathematicians have designed an encryption code capable of fending off the phenomenal hacking power of a quantum computer. Using high-level number theory and cryptography, the researchers reworked an infamous old cipher called the knapsack code to create an online security system better prepared for future demands.

One fractal quantifies another, mathematicians find

March 11, 2015 11:25 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

To humor mathematicians, picture a pile of sand grains in one square of a vast sheet of graph paper. If four or more grains occupy a single square, that square topples by sending one grain to each of its four neighboring squares. Keep zooming out so the squares become very small, and something strange happens: The sand still “remembers” that it used to live on a square lattice, and a distinctive pattern emerges.

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Mathematicians model fluids at the mesoscale

March 6, 2015 8:13 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

When it comes to boiling water, is there anything left for today’s scientists to study? The surprising answer is, yes, quite a bit. How the bubbles form at a surface, how they rise up and join together, what are the surface properties, what happens if the temperature increases slowly versus quickly. While these components might be understood experimentally, the mathematical models for the process of boiling are incomplete.

Scientists identify nature of candy sculpture

February 6, 2015 8:45 am | by James Devitt, New York Univ. | News | Comments

A team of scientists has identified the complex process by which materials are shaped and ultimately dissolved by surrounding water currents. The study, conducted by researchers at New York Univ. (NYU)’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Florida State Univ., appears in the Journal of Fluid Mechanics.

Wrinkle predictions

February 3, 2015 8:20 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

As a grape slowly dries and shrivels, its surface creases, ultimately taking on the wrinkled form of a raisin. Similar patterns can be found on the surfaces of other dried materials, as well as in human fingerprints. While these patterns have long been observed in nature, and more recently in experiments, scientists have not been able to come up with a way to predict how such patterns arise in curved systems, such as microlenses.

Optimizing optimization algorithms

January 21, 2015 9:36 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Optimization algorithms are everywhere in engineering. Among other things, they’re used to evaluate design tradeoffs, to assess control systems and to find patterns in data. One way to solve a difficult optimization problem is to first reduce it to a related but much simpler problem, then gradually add complexity back in, solving each new problem in turn and using its solution as a guide to solving the next one.

New law for superconductors

December 16, 2014 2:47 pm | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have discovered a new mathematical relationship—between material thickness, temperature and electrical resistance—that appears to hold in all superconductors. The result could shed light on the nature of superconductivity and could also lead to better-engineered superconducting circuits for applications like quantum computing and ultra-low-power computing.

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New theory could yield more reliable communication protocols

December 12, 2014 7:54 am | News | Comments

Researchers have begun to describe theoretical limits on the degree of imprecision that communicating computers can tolerate, with very real implications for the design of communication protocols.                                   

Artificial intelligence magic tricks

November 17, 2014 8:46 am | by Queen Mary Univ. of London | Videos | Comments

Researchers from the Queen Mary Univ. of London gave a computer program the outline of how a magic jigsaw puzzle and a mind-reading card trick work, as well the results of experiments into how humans understand magic tricks, and the system created completely new variants on those tricks which can be delivered by a magician.

Motion-induced quicksand

November 17, 2014 7:45 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

From a mechanical perspective, granular materials are stuck between a rock and a fluid place, with behavior resembling neither a solid nor a liquid. Think of sand through an hourglass: As grains funnel through, they appear to flow like water, but once deposited, they form a relatively stable mound, much like a solid.

First look at atom-thin boundaries

November 10, 2014 10:55 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have made the first direct observations of a 1-D boundary separating two different, atom-thin materials, enabling studies of long-theorized phenomena at these interfaces. Theorists have predicted the existence of intriguing properties at 1-D boundaries between two crystalline components, but experimental verification has eluded researchers.

Raising cryptography’s standards

October 31, 2014 8:07 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Most modern cryptographic schemes rely on computational complexity for their security. In principle, they can be cracked, but that would take a prohibitively long time, even with enormous computational resources. There is, however, another notion of security—information-theoretic security—which means that even an adversary with unbounded computational power could extract no useful information from an encrypted message.

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Researchers prove mathematical models can predict cellular processes

October 29, 2014 9:33 am | News | Comments

A team led by Virginia Tech researchers studied cells found in breast and other types of connective tissue and discovered new information about cell transitions that take place during wound healing and cancer. They developed mathematical models to predict the dynamics of cell transitions, and by comparison gained new understanding of how a substance known as transforming growth factor triggers cell transformations.

Plant scientist discovers basis of evolution in violins

October 9, 2014 11:34 am | News | Comments

What could the natural diversity and beauty of plant leaves have in common with the violin? Much more than you might imagine. Dan Chitwood of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis is applying “morphometrics”, which statistically tests hypotheses about factors that affect shape, to changes in the shape of violins over time. His work revealed a strong degree of design transmission and imitation.

Getting metabolism right

October 8, 2014 7:59 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Metabolic networks are mathematical models of every possible sequence of chemical reactions available to an organ or organism, and they’re used to design microbes for manufacturing processes or to study disease. Based on both genetic analysis and empirical study, they can take years to assemble. Unfortunately, a new analytic tool suggests that many of those models may be wrong.

Atmospheric chemistry hinges on better physics model

October 6, 2014 11:44 am | News | Comments

An improved theoretical model of photoabsorption of nitrous oxide, developed by scientists in Malaysia, could shed light on the atmospheric chemistry of ozone depletion. The new theoretical work unveils, through improvements in established calculation approaches, the actual dynamic of stratospheric catalytic ozone destruction.

Adding natural uncertainty improves mathematical models

September 30, 2014 1:11 pm | News | Comments

Mathematicians from Brown Univ. have introduced a new element of uncertainty into an equation used to describe the behavior of fluid flows. Ironically, allowing uncertainty into a mathematical equation that models fluid flows makes the equation much more capable of correctly reflecting the natural world, including the formation, strength, and position of air masses and fronts in the atmosphere.

At the interface of math and science

September 30, 2014 8:09 am | by Julie Cohen, UC Santa Barbara | News | Comments

Univ. of California, Santa Barbara’s Paul Atzberger, a professor in the Department of Mathematics and in mechanical engineering, often works in areas where mathematics plays an ever more important role in the discovery and development of new ideas. Most recently he has developed new mathematical approaches to gain insights into how proteins move around within lipid bilayer membranes.

Math model designed to replace invasive kidney biopsy for lupus patients

September 19, 2014 8:34 am | by Emily Caldwell, Ohio State Univ. | News | Comments

Mathematics might be able to reduce the need for invasive biopsies in patients suffering kidney damage related to the autoimmune disease lupus. In a new study, researchers developed a math model that can predict the progression from nephritis, or kidney inflammation, to interstitial fibrosis, scarring in the kidney that current treatments cannot reverse. A kidney biopsy is the only existing way to reach a definitive diagnosis.

Study: Number-crunching could lead to unethical choices

September 15, 2014 5:02 pm | News | Comments

Calculating the pros and cons of a potential decision is a way of decision-making. But repeated engagement with numbers-focused calculations, especially those involving money, can have unintended negative consequences, including social and moral transgressions, says new study. Several experiments supported these findings and pointed to a “calculative mindset” that can take precedence in reaching conclusions.

Fluid mechanics suggests alternative to quantum orthodoxy

September 12, 2014 1:48 pm | by Larry Hardesty, MIT | News | Comments

The central mystery of quantum mechanics is that small chunks of matter sometimes seem to behave like particles, sometimes like waves. The traditional view holds that a single particle really is a wave that collapses only when observed. But John Bush, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, believes that another explanation, the pilot-wave theory, deserves a second look.

Scientist explores birth of a planet

September 8, 2014 1:53 pm | News | Comments

Dr. John Carr, a scientist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, is part of an international team that has found what they believe is evidence of a planet forming around a star about 335 light years from Earth. They made the chance discovery while studying the protoplanetary disk of gas around a distant forming star using a technique called spectro-astrometry, which allows astronomers to detect small changes in the position of moving gas.

A new foundation for mathematics

September 3, 2014 12:57 pm | by Florian Meyer, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

Proofs are the key method of mathematics. Until now, it has mainly been humans who have verified whether proofs are correct. This could change, says Russian mathematician Vladimir Voevodsky, who points to evidence that, in the near future, computers rather than humans could reliably verify whether a mathematical proof is correct.

Duality principle is “safe and sound”

August 28, 2014 10:23 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Rochester have cleared up an apparent violation of quantum mechanics’ wave-particle duality that was announced in 2012 by a team of scientists in Germany. They replicated the experiment, which simultaneously determined a photon’s path and observed high contrast interference fringes created by the interaction of waves. But they also found an undiscovered source of bias sampling that explained the strange results.

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