Quantum mechanics is usually associated with weird and counterintuitve phenomena we can't observe in real life. But it turns out that quantum processes can occur in living organisms, too, and with very concrete consequences. Some species of birds use quantum mechanics to navigate. And as Plus found out at a recent conference, studying these little creatures' quantum compass may help us achieve the holy grail of computer science: building a quantum computer.
A group of school students-turned-researchers has delivered new data that will help scientists stem the spread of infectious diseases.
A study designed by the students reveals social contact patterns among primary schools students. This type of information is crucial in mathematical models of how diseases spread, which can be used to test the effects of interventions like vaccination and school closures. The study was based on specially designed questionnaires which were handed out to primary schools and achieved an unprecedented response rate of nearly 90%.
Mathematical language can heighten the imagery of a poem, and mathematical structure can deepen its effect. This lovely blog by JoAnne Growney lets you feast on an international menu of poems made rich by maths.
Suppose you're trying to decide which university to go to. You find out that last year the university you're interested in admitted 30% of male applicants but only 21.3% of female applicants. Looks like a clear case of gender bias, so you're tempted to go somewhere else. But then you look at the figures again, this time broken up by department, you see a bias in favour of women. What's going on?
Ever wondered how your cat can be dead and alive at the same time, or whether there could be a version of you with tentacles editing a magazine in a parallel universe? (Rest assured, Plus is currently tentacle-less and in this universe.)
Science Brainwaves, a student-led organisation from the University of Sheffield, with the aim of bringing all things science to the masses, present this year’s Christmas Lecture. Dr Paul Stevenson will discuss weird physics — the brain contorting conundrums that give us lasers, phone apps, MRI scanners and light switches.
You're unlikely to ever run into a black hole, but here's what it "looks" and "sounds" like when two black holes run into each other. The movie shows a simulation of the gravitational waves generated when two black holes collide and form a third, and the sound file shows what these waves would sound like if you cold hear them.