Why Computers Are Having Such a Hard Time With This Deceptively Simple Chess Puzzle

A popular chess problem known as the Queen’s Puzzle has captivated mathematicians and computer scientists for years, yet no one has been able to write a computer program that can solve the conundrum quickly and efficiently. Researchers from the UK now claim that computers will never be up to the task—and they’re…

Scientists Reignite Thirty-Year-Old Debate About Glass With New Calculation

Mathematics is far more fraught with debate and disagreement than you might imagine. Arguments about things some of the smartest physicists have trouble understanding rage for years. Recently, a pair of mathematicians ignited some old flames—or rather, shattered some glass—with a new set of results that, if correct,…

How Many Chicken McNuggets Are in the Big Chicken?

By now, you’ve definitely seen or at least heard of The Big Chicken. He is large. He contains multitudes. And he is most certainly real.

Reminder: Mike Pence Voted Against Recognizing Pi Day

Every year on March 14th, the nerd community gathers ‘round to celebrate the beloved mathematical constant pi. We know that pi is so much more than the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter—it’s critical to understanding the best things in life, which are all circular. Pizza, for example, is an excellent…

These Black Female Mathematicians Should Be Stars in the Blockbusters of Tomorrow

The hallways of math and science history are overflowing with the achievements of white men, from Sir Isaac Newton to Steve Jobs; their faces are printed into elementary school textbooks everywhere, and their achievements have been indelibly drilled into our minds, with countless awards and institutions named after…

10 Tips to Improve Your Mental Math Ability

Calculators are awesome, but they’re not always handy. More to the point, no one wants to be seen reaching for the calculator on their mobile phone when it’s time to figure out a 15 percent gratuity. Here are ten tips to help you crunch numbers in your head.

A Quick Animated History of Why We Use the Numbers We Use

I find the history of numbers so much more fascinating than the application of numbers. Who cares about learning calculus, when you can geek out on the brief history of numerical systems?

If Einstein Is Right Santa Is Even Fatter Than We Thought

There’s a controversial little interpretation of Einstein’s theory of special relativity that could affect what happens to masses moving at a really high speeds: they appear to get heavier.

This Paper Calculator Adds Via a Series of Tubes

Human beings have always created tools for calculating numbers, from the ancient abacus to today’s electronic calculators. But here’s an ingenious calculator drawn on paper—the creation of comic book artist Jason Shiga. And he and the folks at Numberphile have created an explanatory video of how it works.

How Futurama Made Math and Science Funny

Futurama may not make me laugh as hard as other comedies, but its vision of the future and all the shenanigans that come with it have always been enjoyable to watch (throughout all its various cancellations and comebacks). Kaptain Kristian makes the case that Futurama is special because it was the “master of hiding…

These Mysterious Ultra-Rare Crystals Probably Formed in Outer Space

Quasicrystals are unusual materials in which the atoms are arranged in regular patterns that nonetheless never repeat themselves. Most are man-made in the lab; only one case of naturally occurring quasicrystals has been found thus far. And now physicists believe they’ve figured out how that happened.

Sneaky Trick Uses Math Magic to Guess Your Cards

Math is basically magic. So it’s no surprise that a clever use of the Fibonacci numbers—a series of numbers (1, 2, 3, 5, 8, etc.) where each number is the sum of the two preceding numbers—and a super-slick shuffling method can combine for a card trick that makes it impossibly easy to guess the number and suit of the…

Digital Music Couldn't Exist Without the Fourier Transform

This is the Fourier Transform. You can thank it for providing the music you stream every day, squeezing down the images you see on the Internet into tiny little JPG files, and even powering your noise-canceling headphones. Here’s how it works.

The World's Biggest Ever Math Proof Is a Whopping 200TB

If you think you had a hard time filling out pages of algebra at school, spare a thought for the three mathematicians who have just published the world’s largest ever proof. It takes up 200TB of storage space.

A Harry Potter Theory That Both Explains Harry's Tiny Class and Will Ruin Your Day

Ever wonder how there could only be about 18 Gryffindors in Harry’s Hogwarts class and that J.K. Rowling has said there were 1,000 students at the school? Well, a fan theory has an answer... a depressing, depressing answer.

Earth's Core Is Younger Than We Thought

Without a Tardis, a journey to the center of the Earth might be your best option for traveling to the past. Because of the way gravity warps spacetime, physicists have now calculated that the Earth’s core is 2.5 years younger than its surface.

The Mathematical Explanation for Why You Can't Catch a Falling Dollar Bill with Your Fingers

Here’s a really interesting mathematical explanation on how the “catch a dollar” trick works. You know the trick: a person holds a bill vertically and says you can keep the bill if you can catch the dollar with your fingers when it drops. You never catch it. It’s really hard! Why?

Truly Interesting Animation Breaks Down the Story Behind Zero and Why It's So Important

The story of how zero came to be and the history of math is actually quite fascinating! They should have taught us that instead of actual math in high school, if you ask me. Thankfully, Hannah Fry tells us in the animation story below all we need to know. There’s fascinating bits about how the number system (and zero)…

Now We Know How Many Ways We Can Arrange 128 Tennis Balls

Here’s a question worthy of the ball boy at Wimbledon: if you have 128 tennis balls packed into a container, how many different ways can you arrange them? Answer: 10250 — more than the entire number of subatomic particles in the universe.