Category Archives: Mathematics

Mesa Verde Builders Possibly Used Geometry in Sun Temple

A plan view of Mesa Verde national Park's Sun Temple with geometric figures overlaid.
Photo courtesy of Sherry Towers.

A sacred site built in southwest Colorado around 800 years ago hints that the ancestral Pueblo people might have used geometry.

The analysis of the Sun Temple at Mesa Verde National Park offers the first hard evidence that a prehistoric North American society possibly employed such figures in construction.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
Geometry Possibly Used In Mesa Verde Sun Temple Construction

Jeopardy-Winning Computer Crunches Numbers to Fight ALS

Watson on Jeopardy stage set at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. Photo by Atomic Taco.

Barrow Neurological Institute is working with IBM’s Jeopardy-winning supercomputer, Watson, to identify treatment targets for Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

ALS is a poorly understood neuromuscular disease with only limited treatment options. Its capacity to strike anyone, at any time, seemingly without pattern, has puzzled researchers.

Read/listen to my full story at KJZZ’s Arizona Science Desk:
BM’s Watson Computer Helps Barrow Identify New ALS Genes

Eureka! I Have Lost It!

The original keyboard cats.

Left to our own devices and allowed to live without constant fear of death by hunger or violence, we devise some pretty startling stuff.

Sure, some of our better efforts don’t outlast our calamities, or go obsolete before their time or simply never get their chance to shine because no one yet recognizes the need for them. But you can’t keep a good idea down forever, as I explore in this list of …

10 Times Humanity Found the Answer (and Then Forgot)

After 85 Years, Physicists Confirm Weyl Particle

Photo portrait of Hermann Weyl.
Hermann Weyl. Photo courtesy ETH-Bibliothek Zurich.

In 1928, the equations of British physicist Paul Dirac helped to describe the workings of the subatomic particles known as fermions. Within a year, other theorists – including a contemporary and schoolmate of Einstein’s named Hermann Weyl – had come up with solutions to Dirac’s equations that meant two other, quite odd types of fermions might also exist.

Proving them right would take some time, and Weyl’s quasiparticle assumed a kind of legendary status until 2015, when three separate teams confirmed its existence (my article says two, but a third popped up after I wrote it). Read on to find out more about this “ghost particle” and how it could transform electronics.

Meet Weyl, the Massless Particle That Could Upend Electronics

Top 5 Large Hadron Collider Findings

Photo of man examining accelerator
Photo courtesy CERN

When physicists at CERN cranked up the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider on Sept. 10, 2008, they had high (if contradictory) hopes. Like a child at Christmas, they wanted to get exactly what was on their wish list – the Higgs boson, some proof of supersymmetry – but also yearned for some wonderful surprise; because, if everything they predicted was right on the money, then particle physicists might well weep, for they would have no new worlds to conquer.

Years later, the LHC still hasn’t destroyed the planet or crushed physicists’ hopes. In fact, it’s made some amazing and somewhat perplexing discoveries. In this article, I take a (relatively) nontechnical look back at five the five most major findings so far.

5 Discoveries Made By the Large Hadron Collider (So Far)