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Archive for the ‘mathematics’ category: Page 7

Mar 20, 2021

An All-Sky X-Ray Survey Finds the Biggest Supernova Remnant Ever Seen

Posted by in categories: cosmology, mathematics

Our sky is missing supernovas. Stars live for millions or billions of years. But given the sheer number of stars in the Milky Way, we should still expect these cataclysmic stellar deaths every 30–50 years. Few of those explosions will be within naked-eye-range of Earth. Nova is from the Latin meaning “new”. Over the last 2000 years, humans have seen about seven “new” stars appear in the sky – some bright enough to be seen during the day – until they faded after the initial explosion. While we haven’t seen a new star appear in the sky for over 400 years, we can see the aftermath with telescopes – supernova remnants (SNRs) – the hot expanding gases of stellar explosions. SNRs are visible up to a 150000 years before fading into the Galaxy. So, doing the math, there should be about 1200 visible SNRs in our sky but we’ve only managed to find about 300. That was until “Hoinga” was recently discovered. Named after the hometown of first author Scientist Werner Becker, whose research team found the SNR using the eROSITA All-Sky X-ray survey, Hoinga is one of the largest SNRs ever seen.

Hoinga is big. Really big. The SNR spans 4 degrees of the sky – eight times wider than the Full Moon. The obvious question – how could astronomers not have already found something THAT enormous? Hoinga is not where we typically are looking for supernova. Most of our SNR searches are focused on the plane of the Galaxy toward the Milky Way’s core where we’d expect to find the densest concentration of older and exploded stars. But Hoinga was found at high latitudes off the plane of the Galaxy.

Furthermore, Hoinga hides in the sky because it’s so large. At this scale, the SNR is difficult to distinguish from other large structures of dust and gas that make up the Galaxy known as the “Galactic Cirrus.” It’s like trying to see an individual cloud in an overcast sky. The Galactic Cirrus also outshines Hoinga in radio light, often used to search for SNRs, forcing Hoinga to hide in the background. Cross referencing with older radio sky surveys, the research team determined Hoinga had been observed before but was never identified as an SNR due to its comparatively faint glow in radio. Here eROSITA has an advantage as it sees X-rays. Hoinga shines brighter in X-ray light than the Galactic Cirrus allowing it to stand out from the Galaxy to be discovered.

Continue reading “An All-Sky X-Ray Survey Finds the Biggest Supernova Remnant Ever Seen” »

Mar 19, 2021

Solving ‘barren plateaus’ is the key to quantum machine learning

Posted by in categories: information science, mathematics, quantum physics, robotics/AI

Many machine learning algorithms on quantum computers suffer from the dreaded “barren plateau” of unsolvability, where they run into dead ends on optimization problems. This challenge had been relatively unstudied—until now. Rigorous theoretical work has established theorems that guarantee whether a given machine learning algorithm will work as it scales up on larger computers.

“The work solves a key problem of useability for . We rigorously proved the conditions under which certain architectures of variational quantum algorithms will or will not have barren plateaus as they are scaled up,” said Marco Cerezo, lead author on the paper published in Nature Communications today by a Los Alamos National Laboratory team. Cerezo is a post doc researching at Los Alamos. “With our theorems, you can guarantee that the architecture will be scalable to quantum computers with a large number of qubits.”

“Usually the approach has been to run an optimization and see if it works, and that was leading to fatigue among researchers in the field,” said Patrick Coles, a coauthor of the study. Establishing mathematical theorems and deriving first principles takes the guesswork out of developing algorithms.

Mar 18, 2021

Is the Schrödinger Equation True?

Posted by in categories: information science, mathematics

Just because a mathematical formula works does not mean it reflects reality.

Mar 17, 2021

Abel Prize celebrates union of mathematics and computer science

Posted by in categories: cybercrime/malcode, internet, mathematics, science

Hungarian mathematician László Lovász and Israeli computer scientist Avi Wigderson will share the prize, worth 7.5 million Norwegian kroner (US$886000), “for their foundational contributions to theoretical computer science and discrete mathematics, and their leading role in shaping them into central fields of modern mathematics”, the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters announced on 17 March.


The work of winners László Lovász and Avi Wigderson underpins applications from Internet security to the study of networks.

Mar 17, 2021

Low Earth Orbit Slotting for Space Traffic Management Using Flower Constellation Theory

Posted by in categories: mathematics, policy, satellites

5 january 2020.


This paper proposes the use of Flower Constellation (FC) theory to facilitate the design of a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) slotting system to avoid collisions between compliant satellites and optimize the available space. Specifically, it proposes the use of concentric orbital shells of admissible “slots” with stacked intersecting orbits that preserve a minimum separation distance between satellites at all times. The problem is formulated in mathematical terms and three approaches are explored: random constellations, single 2D Lattice Flower Constellations (2D-LFCs), and unions of 2D-LFCs. Each approach is evaluated in terms of several metrics including capacity, Earth coverage, orbits per shell, and symmetries. In particular, capacity is evaluated for various inclinations and other parameters. Next, a rough estimate for the capacity of LEO is generated subject to certain minimum separation and station-keeping assumptions and several trade-offs are identified to guide policy-makers interested in the adoption of a LEO slotting scheme for space traffic management.

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Mar 16, 2021

How does the brain interpret computer languages?

Posted by in categories: computing, mathematics, neuroscience

The debate holds a special interest for neuroscientists; since computer programming has only been around for a few decades, the brain has not evolved any special region to handle it. It must be repurposing a region of the brain normally used for something else.

So late last year, neuroscientists in MIT tried to see what parts of the brain people use when dealing with computer programming. “The ability to interpret computer code is a remarkable cognitive skill that bears parallels to diverse cognitive domains, including general executive functions, math, logic, and language,” they wrote.

Since coding can be learned as an adult, they figured it must rely on some pre-existing cognitive system in our brains. Two brain systems seemed like likely candidates: either the brain’s language system, or the system that tackles complex cognitive tasks such as solving math problems or a crossword. The latter is known as the “multiple demand network.”

Mar 11, 2021

After cracking the ‘sum of cubes’ puzzle for 42, researchers discover a new solution for 3

Posted by in categories: alien life, information science, mathematics

What do you do after solving the answer to life, the universe, and everything? If you’re mathematicians Drew Sutherland and Andy Booker, you go for the harder problem.

In 2019, Booker, at the University of Bristol, and Sutherland, principal research scientist at MIT, were the first to find the answer to 42. The number has pop culture significance as the fictional answer to “the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything,” as Douglas Adams famously penned in his novel “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” The question that begets 42, at least in the novel, is frustratingly, hilariously unknown.

In mathematics, entirely by coincidence, there exists a polynomial equation for which the answer, 42, had similarly eluded mathematicians for decades. The equation x3+y3+z3=k is known as the sum of cubes problem. While seemingly straightforward, the equation becomes exponentially difficult to solve when framed as a “Diophantine equation”—a problem that stipulates that, for any value of k, the values for x, y, and z must each be .

Mar 8, 2021

New Algorithm Breaks Speed Limit for Solving Linear Equations

Posted by in categories: computing, information science, mathematics

By harnessing randomness, a new algorithm achieves a fundamentally novel — and faster — way of performing one of the most basic computations in math and computer science.

Mar 7, 2021

Isadore Singer Transcended Mathematical Boundaries

Posted by in categories: mathematics, physics

A former graduate student reflects on how Isadore Singer, who died on February 11, brought together mathematicians, physicists and anyone else interested in the deeper connections between diverse fields.

Mar 4, 2021

Insights into plant consciousness from neuroscience, physics and mathematics: A role for quasicrystals?

Posted by in categories: computing, mathematics, neuroscience, quantum physics

There is considerable debate over whether plants are conscious and this, indeed, is an important question. Here I look at developments in neuroscience, physics and mathematics that may impact on this question. Two major concomitants of consciousness in animals are microtubule function and electrical gamma wave synchrony. Both these factors may also play a role in plant consciousness. I show that plants possess aperiodic quasicrystal structures composed of ribosomes that may enable quantum computing, which has been suggested to lie at the core of animal consciousness. Finally I look at whether a microtubule fractal suggests that electric current plays a part in conventional neurocomputing processes in plants.

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