Discover

## The evolution of mathematics, from agriculture to quantum mechanics

Why is math the universal language? NASA's Michelle Thaller solves that one.

07 March, 2019

- Mathematics has snowballed from counting to 10 on our fingers, to calculus, to abstract concepts like imaginary numbers that move in 11 dimensions and predict particles physics.
- The math that led us down the rabbit hole of quantum mechanics is bizarre and while we can crunch the numbers, we can't really understand what they mean.
- If the math confirms that particles can move in 11 dimensions, is that a fundamental truth of the universe?

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Image source: WAYHOMEstudio / Shutterstock)

- Anti-conformists have an odd way of ending up looking like each other.
- A Brandeis mathematician looks at how this synchronicity occurs.
- Understanding the mechanism behind non-conformist conformity has applications in other areas, like the stock market.

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Culture & Religion
## Anti-vaccine movement is powered by ‘hysteresis,' study reveals

"History matters, and we now know that hysteresis is part of the answer," wrote the author of a recent study.

10 January, 2019

Demonstrators carry signs against the use of mercury in vaccines in front of the Department of Health and Human Services building in Washington 20 July 2005. (Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

- A new study explores society's relatively poor vaccination coverage through the lens of hysteresis, a phenomenon that describes how systems are dependent on their history.
- The results show how 'imperfect vaccines' and episodes of public confusion can result in sharp drops in population-wide immunization rates, and how it can take years for those rates to recover.
- By promoting an individual's choice to get vaccinated as an altruistic behavior, societies might be able to reach vaccination goals sooner, the researchers suggested.

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## The math problem that could change the world: Does P = NP?

Depending on the answer, one of the famous unsolved Millennium problems could have major implications in our lives.

02 January, 2019

*Photo by Markus Spiske on*

*Unsplash*

- The Millennium Prize Problems are a set of seven unsolved mathematical problems laid out by the Clay Mathematical Institute, each with a $1 million prize for those who solve them.
- One of these problems asks whether
*P*=*NP*. Put simply, this asks whether computationally hard problems actually contain hidden, computationally easy solutions. This, however, is a major simplification. - Proving that
*P*does not equal*NP*would be a major milestone, and it's the result that most computer scientists expect. However, if the opposite is true, then our world would become drastically different than it is now.

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## Physicists puzzled by strange numbers that could explain reality

Eight-dimensional octonions may hold the clues to solve fundamental mysteries.

30 December, 2018

- Physicists discover complex numbers called octonions that work in 8 dimensions.
- The numbers have been found linked to fundamental forces of reality.
- Understanding octonions can lead to a new model of physics.

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