Matrix Multiplication Inches Closer to Mythic Goal

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ALGORITHMS | ALL TOPICS

 

Matrix Multiplication Inches Closer to Mythic Goal

By KEVIN HARTNETT

A recent paper set the fastest record for multiplying two matrices. But it also marks the end of the line for a method researchers have relied on for decades to make improvements.

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GEOLOGY

 

Ancient Rocks Reveal When Earth's Plate Tectonics Began

By HOWARD LEE

New data indicating that Earth's surface broke up about 3.2 billion years ago helps clarify how plate tectonics drove the evolution of complex life.

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Related: 
Why Earth's Cracked Crust May Be
Essential for Life

by Rebecca Boyle (2018)

COVID-19

 

Chasing the Elusive Numbers That Define Epidemics

By JORDANA CEPELEWICZ

Most modeling efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic have addressed immediate medical concerns. But some aimed to bolster the theoretical underpinnings of that work.

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Related: 
The Hard Lessons of Modeling the
Coronavirus Pandemic

by Jordana Cepelewicz

EXPLAINERS

 

The Near-Magical Mystery of Quasiparticles

By THOMAS LEWTON

The zoo of spontaneously emerging particlelike entities known as quasiparticles has grown quickly and become more and more exotic. Here are a few of the most curious and potentially useful examples.

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Related: 
What Is a Particle?
by Natalie Wolchover (2020)

THE JOY OF X

 

Sharon Glotzer's Deep Curiosity About Order From Chaos

Podcast hosted by STEVEN STROGATZ; Produced by DANA BIALEK

The computational physicist Sharon Glotzer finds unifying principles that structure the chaotic dance of the particles in matter.

Listen to the podcast

Read the episode transcript

 



INSIGHTS PUZZLE

 

Finding Zen in the Art of Puzzle Solving

By PRADEEP MUTALIK

Readers used their Zen-like puzzle solving skills to discover hidden insights.

Read the puzzle solution

Around the Web

Wake and Break
Ducks, kayaks and ships leave behind wakes of various sizes, but all share the same general V-shaped form decorated with complex ripples. In a recent video, MinutePhysics explains how this pattern results from one simple feature of waves: their speed. The fast overtaking the slow is one of two ways that waves can fuse to form ship-toppling "rogue waves," but as Charlie Wood reported for Quanta last year, mathematicians have developed a single theory that can handle both of them.

New Black Hole Picture
This week the Event Horizon Telescope followed up its 2019 blockbuster black hole image with a sequel showing the orientation of light — and therefore the magnetic field — around the supermassive object. As astronomers grow skilled at inferring the cosmos's invisible magnetic curls, they're finding fingerprints of the force everywhere they look, Natalie Wolchover reported for Quanta last year.

'Cautious Excitement' at CERN
When short-lived B mesons break down, nature may unexpectedly favor making electrons over muons — a result that could indicate quantum physics needs an update, Ian Sample reports for The Guardian. Physicists have been detecting faint signs of odd behavior from B mesons for some time, Charlie Wood reported for Quanta last year. A handful of international collaborations seek to strengthen or weaken the reports of anomalies with more data.

Surprising Respiration
Researchers have discovered an odd microbe deep in a Swiss lake. Millions of years ago, it swallowed bacteria that survived and now furnish it with chemical energy, Doug Johnson reports for Ars Technica. Studies of similar examples of "endosymbiosis," such as microbe pairings recently discovered in insects, could explain how our cells acquired their energy-producing organelles billions of years ago, Viviane Callier reported for Quanta in 2019.
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