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Math

  1. Science

    This Guy Probably Just Won A Million Dollars For Doing Math; Suddenly Wish I Was Better At Math

    Okay, so it's not the most foolproof of "get-rich-quick" schemes, but one man from Kazakhstan may have just become a millionaire - through math. Spending the last thirty years working on a math proof that has stumped mathematicians for decades, Mukhtarbay Otelbayev thinks he's solved it - and he wants the prize.

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  2. Tech

    According To This Mathematical Model, Facebook Will Lose 80% Of Its Followers In The Next Few Years

    Facebook's reckoning is any day now, we expect. Oh, sure, they claim to have reached over 1.1 billion people since May of last year, but we're all getting tired of it, right? Two engineers from Princeton University think the site has peaked and will probably see a rapid decrease in users, and they've got the math to back up their claim.

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  3. Science

    Danica McKellar’s New Nerdist Channel Show, “Math Bites,” Is Kind of Adorable (Though It Needs A Better Name)

    While we can't quite figure out whether it's geared towards kids or not, we definitely love that Danica McKellar is doing a show for the Nerdist that's all about her love of math. This first episode is all about Pi and features a cover of the first hundred or so digits set to "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies." That's all you can ask for, really.

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  4. Science

    Mathematicians Wrote a Paper on How the Zombie Apocalypse Won’t Kill Us All, Made Us Grateful for Math

    Building on the work of another paper about how a zombie apocalypse would go down, because that's a thing mathematicians apparently work on, Caitlyn Witkowski of Bryant University and Brian Blais of Brown University have written a paper on their mathematical findings that a zombie apocalypse wouldn't wipe us all out, so that's comforting.

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  5. Science

    Study Suggests Plants Can Do Math, Vegetarians Left in Moral Quandary

    Plants might be smarter than we thought, especially because we thought they were just dumb plants. New research shows that plants use arithmetic division to calculate the rate at which to use up starch at night. They time their consumption to prevent starving when there's no sunlight, and they run out of starch right before the dawn. They don't even use a calculator.

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  6. Science

    Does Math Exist? Well, It’s Complicated [Video]

    I was never a "math kid" in school, so I appreciate this deeply philosophical look at the invention of mathematics as explained to us by the always-amazing PBS Idea Channel. Math as a concrete unquestionable thing fills my flighty English major heart with dread, but math as a flexible language and/or belief structure? I can get behind that. Hopefully Mike Rugnetta and crew will use this video as a jumping off point for other commonly asked stoner questions such as "What if the color blue that  I see and the color blue that you see are different colors?" and "Do you guys see my hand right now? My hand is weird, right?"

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  7. Science

    Numberphile Breaks Down the Twin Prime Theory in (Mostly) Plain English [Video]

    Earlier this month, we brought you the news that University of New Hampshire mathematician Yitang Zhang proved a weak version of the twin prime conjecture, showing that there is an endless supply of prime pairs which are separated by no more than 70,000,000. That seems like it's a long way from proving the proper twin prime conjecture -- showing an infinite number of primes separated by just two digits -- but it might not be. In their latest video, the math whizzes at Numberphile offer a great layman's explanation of what the twin prime conjecture is and what Zhang's work means for it. 

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  8. Science

    Want to Be Better at Math? A Jolt of Electricity to the Brain Might Do the Trick

    If you're not great at doing math in your head, you're in pretty good company around these parts. In general, too -- an estimated 20% of otherwise healthy adults regularly struggle to do basic arithmetic without showing their work. Don't give up hope, though! A new treatment being studied at Oxford University could make you better at doing math in your head for up to six months at a time -- and all you have to do is put on what looks like a steampunk gimp mask and let someone deliver electrical shocks to your brain!

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  9. Weird

    The Odds of Filling Out a Perfect NCAA Bracket Are Amazingly Bad [Updated]

    It's that time of year again, when chances are that some of you have been finagled into filling out a bracket for the NCAA March Madness Tournament. While this probably made sense to our readers who enjoy college hoops, for many of you, it was probably just an exercise in being cornered by a co-worker who talked very quickly, handed you a sheet of paper and took five of your dollars, an experience much like being mugged but with less bruising. If you're intimidated, don't be. In the interest of taking the pressure off, it helps to recall that it is statistically impossible to fill out a perfect bracket, so you're just as well off having fun with it. Isn't that a load off?

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  10. Science

    There Is A Mathematically Correct Way To Decorate Your Christmas Tree, And This Is It

    Many of you are probably setting up the Christmas tree this weekend, and if you're anything like us, it's a daunting task. The pines and spruces of our youth, were always decorated with love, care, and not a little shouting. They also usually left one with the impression that we had jammed all the ornaments, tinsel, and lights at our disposal into a cannon, fired it in the general direction of the tree, and moved on with our lives. The University of Sheffield's Maths Society -- presumably sick of watching people like me decorate like an animal -- has offered up a Christmas miracle -- a series of calculations that, if followed, will get your tree looking picture perfect, from an exacting tinsel-to-tree ratio to a star or angel that's just the right height.

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  11. Science

    Researchers Reveal Science Behind Penguin Snuggling

    Sharing isn't always caring, it would seem. In penguins, for example, sharing seems to be the result of being kind of a jerk. Researchers investigating the physics of how penguins share warmth by huddling together on particularly cold Antarctic days found that each penguin is trying only to maximize the heat it retains while snuggling with its colleagues, but that the result is an egalitarian cuddle pile in which every penguin has more or less the same access to warmth. In other more important news, there are researchers working hard on revealing the science behind penguin snuggling, because hooray for science.

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  12. Science

    Internet Declares NYT Pollster Nate Silver Most Likely A Witch, Further Tests To Come

    NYT poll-meister and knower of dark secrets Nate Silver took some flack last week for making bets on the outcome of the presidential election with Fox News personality Joe Scarborough. Silver was vindicated last night as his predictions for the election, on a state by state basis, turned out to be eerily accurate...almost too accurate, some might say. So as the nation looks to put a contentious presidential election behind us and move forward as a country, we can all turn to the most important question of the morning after the big night: Is Nate Silver a witch?

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  13. Science

    We Knew It! Doing Math Can Literally Hurt Your Brain

    Warning: do not look at the image above if you have math anxiety. A new study by researchers at the University of Chicago has found that for people who get anxious at the idea of doing mathematics, just preparing to do a math problem can trigger activity in a part of your brain that registers physical pain.

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  14. Weird

    Fuzzy Math: How Much Halloween Candy are We Going to Give Out Tonight?

    Halloween is the best night of the year, end of story. Costumes are applied, tricks are played, horror movies are snuggled up in front of, but most importantly, children will go door to door adorably threatening to start doing property damage unless their demands for a sugary ransom are met swiftly and surely. Whatever else happens tonight, from ice storms to hurricanes to the raising of the dead, kids are going to get a lot of candy from people just like you. How much, exactly, though? Well, we don't know precisely how much candy we'll give kids tonight, but we've run some numbers on this matter, and you can find our conclusions after the jump.

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  15. Science

    If You Ask Kids What Number is Halfway Between 1 and 9, a Surprising Amount Might Say 3

    As it turns out, the number that sits halfway between 1 and 9 might actually be a somewhat contested fact. If you ask the general public the question, folks might answer 5. If you ask kids or someone from a more traditional society, however, the answer is likely to be 3 a surprising amount of the time. They're not even wrong, exactly. It's all a matter of perception and how the brain processes numbers.

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