Who doesn’t like puzzles — mathematics puzzles, mental challenges, scientific theories, crosswords, logic puzzles, online games, configurational entropy … Here are a few recent examples of how researchers are succeeding in unraveling amazing challenges.
Illuminating the Universe’s Ignition
Researchers simulated reionization of the universe with a focus on how it happened in our own neighborhood — the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies along with a number of smaller ones that comprise the Local Group. Their goal was to learn about reionization across the universe, while predicting its imprints that can be observed today on these nearby celestial objects.
Video Games Improve Brain Connections in MS Patients
Playing “brain-training” video games may help improve some cognitive abilities of people with MS by strengthening neural connections in an important part of their brains. Researchers recently studied the effects of a video game-based cognitive rehab program on the thalamus. They used a collection of video games from Nintendo, called Kawashima’s Brain Training, which train the brain using puzzles, word memory and other mental challenges.
AI Crossword App Could Help Machines Understand Language
Researchers have designed a web-based platform that uses artificial neural networks to answer standard crossword clues better than existing commercial products specifically designed for the task. The system, which is freely available online, could help machines understand language more effectively.
How Many Ways Can You Arrange 128 Tennis Balls?
Impossible Problem Solved
A bewildering physics problem has been solved in a study that provides a mathematical basis for understanding issues ranging from predicting desert formation to making AI more efficient. A team developed a program that can answer a mind-bending puzzle: Imagine you have 128 soft spheres, like tennis balls. You can pack them together in any number of ways. How many different arrangements are possible?
The 22 Million Digit Number … and Amazing Math Behind Primes
It is a quite extraordinary figure. Curtis Cooper has found the largest-known prime number — written (274207281)-1. It is around 22m digits long and, if printed in full, would take you days to read. Its discovery comes thanks to a collaborative project of volunteers who use freely available software called GIMPS (Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search) to search for primes.
Don’t Freak if you Can’t Solve a Math Problem that’s Gone Viral
It’s been quite a year for mathematics problems on the Internet. In the last few months, three questions have been online everywhere, causing consternation and head-scratching and blowing the minds of adults worldwide as examples of what kids are expected to know these days. The inability to solve such a problem quickly is certainly not indicative of a person’s overall math skill…
Embracing Crowdsourcing: Playing with Puzzles
Carnegie Melon and Stanford collaboratively developed, EteRNA, a game where users play with puzzles to design RNA sequences that fold up into a target shapes and contribute to a large-scale library. MIT’s “Eyewire” uses gamification to get players to help map the brain. “NanoDoc” enables game players to design new nanoparticle strategies towards the treatment of cancer…
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