Even in mathematics, who you know may matter more than your talent

The Field Medal was created to elevate promising mathematicians from underrepresented demographics. But has it followed through on that goal?

Credit: Fung et al.
  • In a recent study, researchers collected data on the backgrounds and academic genealogy of thousands of mathematicians.
  • The results revealed that mathematicians of certain backgrounds—namely, from Western countries—are significantly more likely to join elite circles in mathematics.
  • The researchers issued recommendations for how elite institutions could help the Fields Medal accomplish its original goal.
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Did Einstein believe in God?

Here's what Einstein meant when he spoke of cosmic dice and the "secrets of the Ancient One".

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  • To celebrate Einstein's birthday this past Sunday, we examine his take on religion and spirituality.
  • Einstein's disapproval of quantum physics revealed his discontent with a world without causal harmony at its deepest levels: The famous "God does not play dice."
  • He embraced a "Spinozan God," a deity that was one with nature, within all that is, from cosmic dust to humans. Science, to Einstein, was a conduit to reveal at least part of this mysterious connection, whose deeper secrets were to remain elusive.
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Fragments of energy – not waves or particles – may be the fundamental building blocks of the universe

New mathematics have shown that lines of energy can be used to describe the universe.

Photo by Usukhbayar Gankhuyag on Unsplash

Matter is what makes up the universe, but what makes up matter?

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'Magic square' math puzzle has gone unsolved since 1996

Think you can solve it? One mathematician has already offered about $1,000 and a bottle of champagne to whoever cracks it first.

  • The puzzle involves a particularly complicated type of magic square.
  • Magic squares are square arrays containing distinct numbers, and the sums of the numbers in the columns, rows and diagonals must be equal.
  • In 1996, the recreational mathematics writer Martin Gardner offered $100 to whoever could solve a 3x3 magic square — but using squared numbers.
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Can you solve what an MIT professor once called 'the hardest logic puzzle ever'?

Logic puzzles can teach reasoning in a fun way that doesn't feel like work.

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  • Logician Raymond Smullyan devised tons of logic puzzles, but one was declared by another philosopher to be the hardest of all time.
  • The problem, also known as the Three Gods Problem, is solvable, even if it doesn't seem to be.
  • It depends on using complex questions to assure that any answer given is useful.
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