Eight must-read stories from the past week include DNA origami that could help build faster computer chips; how a farm boy from Wales gave the world Pi; illuminating the Universe’s ignition; Pi’s hidden patterns; magnetic computer chips that use a million times less power; the most beautiful formula in mathematics; ways to celebrate Pi; and the Abel Prize for cracking Fermat’s Last Theorem.
Sir Andrew J. Wiles receives the Abel Prize for Cracking Fermat’s Last Theorem
The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters has awarded the Abel Prize to Sir Andrew J. Wiles, “for his stunning proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem by way of the modularity conjecture for semistable elliptic curves, opening a new era in number theory.” Wiles is one of very few mathematicians whose proof of a theorem has made international headlines. Fermat’s Last Theorem was the most famous, long-running, unsolved problem.
10 Ways to Celebrate Pi Day 2016
After last year’s ultimate Pi Day when, on 3.14.15 at 9:26:53, the date and time corresponded to the first 10 digits of the mathematical constant pi (π = 3.141592653), I wondered what the annual celebration might look like this year — would it be possible to top an event that happens only once per century?
Pi and Its Part of the Most Beautiful Formula in Mathematics
Pi Day is upon us again, for those who note today’s date in the format 3/14 (March 14). But rather than talk about Pi Day itself, as I did last year, this year I want to talk about Pi and mathematical notions of beauty. How better to do so than to talk about the 18th century European scholar Leonard Euler’s famous formula…
Magnetic Computer Chips Save Big on Energy, Could Use a Million Times Less Power
In a breakthrough for energy-efficient computing, engineers have shown that magnetic chips can actually operate at the lowest fundamental energy dissipation theoretically possible under the laws of thermodynamics. The findings mean that dramatic reductions in power consumption are possible — down to as little as one-millionth the amount of energy per operation used by transistors in modern computers.
Pi Might Look Random, but It’s Full of Hidden Patterns
After thousands of years of trying, mathematicians are still working out the number known as pi. We typically think of pi as approximately 3.14 but the most successful attempt to calculate it more precisely worked out its value to over 13 trillion digits after the decimal point. We have known since the 18th century that we will never be able to calculate all the digits of pi because it is an irrational number.
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.
How a Farm Boy from Wales Gave the World Pi
One of the most important numbers in maths might today be named after the Greek letter π or “pi,” but the convention of representing it this way actually doesn’t come from Greece at all. It comes from the pen of an 18th century farmer’s son and largely self-taught mathematician from the small island of Anglesey in Wales. The Welsh Government has even renamed Pi Day as “Pi Day Cymru.”
DNA Origami Could Help Build Faster, Cheaper Computer Chips
Electronics manufacturers constantly hunt for ways to make faster, cheaper computer chips, often by cutting production costs or by shrinking component sizes. Now, researchers report that DNA, the genetic material of life, might help accomplish this goal when it is formed into specific shapes through a process reminiscent of the ancient art of paper folding.
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