Mathematics

“With this new tablet, we can actually see for the first time why they were interested in geometry: to lay down precise land boundaries,” says researcher Daniel Mansfield.

Babylonians Used Applied Geometry 1,000 Years Before Pythagoras

Calculations inscribed on a clay tablet helped ancient people document property boundaries, new research suggests

A Covid-19 restrictions sign hangs outside a supermarket in Austin, Texas. Lauren Ancel Meyers at the University of Texas at Austin has shared her team’s modeling results with city officials who make decisions about Covid-19 measures.

Covid-19

What Data Scientists Learned by Modeling the Spread of Covid-19

Models of the disease have become more complex, but are still only as good as the assumptions at their core and the data that feed them

An origami-inspired tent had to be flexible enough to inflate, but sturdy enough to withstand the elements.

Innovation for Good

Inflatable Origami Structures Could Someday Offer Emergency Shelter

An applied mathematics team created origami-inspired tents that can collapse to the size of a twin mattress with ease

This month's book picks include Icebound, A Shot in the Moonlight and The Eagles of Heart Mountain.

Books of the Month

A Doomed Arctic Expedition, Number-Free Math and Other New Books to Read

These five January releases may have been lost in the news cycle

This 3D version of Schröder's staircase was crowned the best illusion of 2020.

Art Meets Science

See the Most Mind-Bending Optical Illusions of 2020

You can create your own version of the winning design with a free, printable kit

Newton held unconventional religious beliefs and dabbled in alchemy and the occult.

Isaac Newton Thought the Great Pyramid Held the Key to the Apocalypse

Papers sold by Sotheby's document the British scientist's research into the ancient Egyptians and the Bible

Each year, Purdue University’s INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering turns into a toy testing laboratory.

The Ten Best STEM Toys to Give as Gifts in 2020

Tested and reviewed by engineers, these top picks make coding, robotics and engineering more accessible than ever

According to the World Health Organization, some 42 "candidate vaccines" against the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 are undergoing clinical trials.

Covid-19

What Is the Best Strategy to Deploy a Covid-19 Vaccine?

Mathematicians are modeling different scenarios for a vaccine rollout to see what may work best

In the television adaptation, Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke play point-of-view characters Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen.

Art Meets Science

Data Science, Psychology Reveal Why the 'Game of Thrones' Books Are So Riveting

A network model demonstrates how George R.R. Martin's sprawling series remains comprehensible but surprising

This month's picks include Mantel Pieces, The Dead Are Arising and A Series of Fortunate Events.

Books of the Month

How the Alphabet Got Its Order, Malcolm X and Other New Books to Read

These five October releases may have been lost in the news cycle

A student tries to solve a math problem.

What Is Math?

A teenager asked that age-old question on TikTok, creating a viral backlash, and then, a thoughtful scientific debate

Jewish doctors give medical examinations in the Warsaw Ghetto

Covid-19

How a Public Health Campaign in the Warsaw Ghetto Stemmed the Spread of Typhus

A new study shows how life-saving efforts by Jewish doctors helped curb an epidemic during World War II

An aerial view of one of the circular enclosures at Göbekli Tepe in Turkey

Did Geometry Guide the Construction of the World's Oldest Temple?

New research suggests the center points of three stone megalith circles at Göbekli Tepe form a near-perfect triangle

The Conway Knot

Graduate Student Untangles Decades-Old Math Problem in Less Than a Week

Lisa Piccirillo recently published her proof of Conway’s knot problem, a well-known quandry that stumped mathematicians for more than 50 years

Fibonacci spiral

The Fibonacci Sequence Is Everywhere—Even the Troubled Stock Market

The curious set of numbers shows up in nature and also in human activities.

The "knapsack problem" is a widespread computing challenge—and no, it doesn't have to do just with literal backpacks.

How the Mathematical Conundrum Called the 'Knapsack Problem' Is All Around Us

A litany of issues in business, finance, container ship loading and aircraft loading derive from this one simple dilemma

Posed in Hampton, Virginia, Katherine Johnson stands before a backdrop of gathering clouds, "symbolic of the obstacles ... that she had to face in her career," says curator William Pretzer.

Women Who Shaped History

Smithsonian Curators Remember Katherine Johnson, NASA Mathematician Highlighted in 'Hidden Figures,' Who Died at 101

An African American woman who battled workplace discrimination, Johnson performed crucial calculations to send astronauts into space

Left, the British Army camped at Balaklava in the Crimea. Right, an angelic Nightingale animates a stained glass window crafted around 1930.

The Defiance of Florence Nightingale

Scholars are finding there’s much more to the “lady with the lamp” than her famous exploits as a nurse in the Crimean War

MIT researchers develop a mathematical model to predict a knot’s stability with the help of color-changing fibers.

New Research

The Mathematics of a Well-Tied Knot

Fibers that change color under pressure helped researchers predict knot performance

Purdue University’s INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering works with pre-school, school-age, college undergrads, engineers and parents to test and rate science- and tech-themed products.

The Ten Best STEM Toys to Give as Gifts in 2019

Stretch young learners’ minds with everything from card games to robotic spheres