2,000 years after Euclid created a formula for finding perfect numbers, Leonhard Euler proved that the Euclidean method is the only way to get even perfect numbers. The question of whether odd perfect numbers exist and what they might be like remains open.
Why Extraterrestrial Life May Not Seem Entirely Alien
By DAN FALK
Science hasn't yet found any aliens to study, but Arik Kershenbaum, a zoologist at the University of Cambridge, says that there are still certain things we can say with reasonable certainty about them.
Mesmerizing Murmurations The Danish photographer Søren Solkær captures the dramatic patterns formed by hundreds of thousands of starlings in flight and under attack, Lauryn Hill writes for WIRED. Giant flocks of birds and swarms of midges can move almost like smoothly flowing substances. Physicists have imagined such hordes as thick fluids, Jordana Cepelewicz reported for Quanta in 2019.
Measured Solar Magnetism With a rocket-mounted instrument and a minutes-long peek at the sun, heliophysicists have measured one elusive strip of the sun's magnetic field for the first time, Chris Wright reports for WIRED. Because the sun's mysterious magnetic field is the key to many of our star's enigmas, researchers are also trying to mimic the ball of plasma in the lab, Erika Carlson reported for Quanta in 2019.
Life from Lightning New scrutiny of fossil remnants left by lightning strikes eons ago suggests that the bolts could have littered the surface of the young Earth with phosphorus, an element essential for life, Riley Black reports for Smithsonian Magazine. Meteorological and geological processes on our planet seem to have supported life in a variety of ways. The jostling of continental plates may have mixed around essential elements, helped keep the temperature steady, and even contributed to today's high oxygen levels, Rebecca Boyle reported for Quanta in 2018.