What’s the Universe Made Of? Math, Says Scientist

MIT cosmologist Max Tegmark believes the universe is a mathematical structure. BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Scientists have long used mathematics to describe the physical properties of the universe. But what if the universe itself is math? That’s what cosmologist Max Tegmark believes. In Tegmark’s view, everything in the universe — humans included — is part of a mathematical structure. All matter is made up of particles, which have properties such as charge and spin, but these properties are purely mathematical, he says. And space itself has properties such as dimensions, but is still ultimately a mathematical structure. “If you accept the … Continue reading What’s the Universe Made Of? Math, Says Scientist

What is the Fibonacci Sequence?

The shapes of spiral galaxies, such as Messier 74, and hurricanes, such as Hurricane Irene, follow the Fibonacci sequence. The Fibonacci sequence is a series of numbers where a number is found by adding up the two numbers before it. Starting with 0 and 1, the sequence goes 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, and so forth. Written as a rule, the expression is xn = xn-1 + xn-2. Named after Fibonacci, also known as Leonardo of Pisa or Leonardo Pisano, Fibonacci numbers were first introduced in his Liber abaci in 1202. The son of a … Continue reading What is the Fibonacci Sequence?

Why Do Rockets Explode?

This screen grab from a video by USLaunchReport.com shows the explosion of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Sept. 1, 2016. The world might be watching rather apprehensively as Elon Musk’s SpaceX readies the launch of its Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket since the legendary Saturn V — the heavyweight launcher that propelled humans to the moon. Many still remember the September 2016 launchpad explosion that wiped out not only SpaceX’s workhorse rocket Falcon 9 but also an Israeli telecommunications satellite. This wasn’t the first disaster in SpaceX’s history. A little over a year before that, in June 2015, … Continue reading Why Do Rockets Explode?

New robotic system could lend a hand with warehouse sorting and other picking or clearing tasks

The “pick-and-place” system consists of a standard industrial robotic arm that the researchers outfitted with a custom gripper and suction cup. They developed an “object-agnostic” grasping algorithm that enables the robot to assess a bin of random objects and determine the best way to grip or suction onto an item amid the clutter, without having to know anything about the object before picking it up. Unpacking groceries is a straightforward albeit tedious task: You reach into a bag, feel around for an item, and pull it out. A quick glance will tell you what the item is and where it … Continue reading New robotic system could lend a hand with warehouse sorting and other picking or clearing tasks

‘Exceptional Points’ Could Stop Light Waves in their Tracks

Light moves fast. That’s kind of the whole point of light, at least the way most people think about it. Light shoots through the 93 million miles between Earth and the sun in just 8 minutes, it carries information all around the world nearly instantly, and its top speed of 186,000 miles per second (300,000 kilometers/s) turns out to be the absolute speed limit of the entire universe. But there are some physicists interested in turning that trait of light on its head, and slowing it way down. And in a new paper, published Jan. 3 in the journal Physical … Continue reading ‘Exceptional Points’ Could Stop Light Waves in their Tracks

Scientists Discover Biomarkers That Predict the Risk of Developing Asthma

Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease driven by the interplay of genetics, environmental factors and a diverse cast of immune cells. In their latest study, researchers at La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology (LJI) identified a subset of T cells, whose frequency serves as early childhood immune signature that predicts the risk of developing asthma later on. “We found what I would consider very strong biomarkers for those children who are most likely to develop asthma as they get older,” says senior author Mitchell Kronenberg, Ph.D, president and chief scientific officer of La Jolla Institute. “Children who, at the … Continue reading Scientists Discover Biomarkers That Predict the Risk of Developing Asthma

Engineers design artificial synapse for “brain-on-a-chip” hardware

From left: MIT researchers Scott H. Tan, Jeehwan Kim, and Shinhyun Choi. When it comes to processing power, the human brain just can’t be beat. Packed within the squishy, football-sized organ are somewhere around 100 billion neurons. At any given moment, a single neuron can relay instructions to thousands of other neurons via synapses — the spaces between neurons, across which neurotransmitters are exchanged. There are more than 100 trillion synapses that mediate neuron signaling in the brain, strengthening some connections while pruning others, in a process that enables the brain to recognize patterns, remember facts, and carry out other … Continue reading Engineers design artificial synapse for “brain-on-a-chip” hardware