Content about research

An Old Abstract Field of Math Is Unlocking the Deep Complexity of Spacecraft Orbits (

In 2021, Koh came across a paper that discussed how to grapple with chaotic orbits from the perspective of symplectic geometry, an abstract field of math that is generally far removed from messy real-world details. She started to suspect that symplectic geometry might have the tools she needed to better understand orbits, and she got in touch with Agustin Moreno, the author of the paper. Moreno, then a postdoctoral fellow at Uppsala University in Sweden, was surprised and pleased to hear that someone at NASA was interested in his work. “It was unexpected, but it was also quite interesting and sort of motivating at the same time,” he said.

This is the beauty of pure academic research – someone makes an unforeseen connection and our collective knowledge grows. You never know how people will apply your work later. Pretty neat and compelling example of the value of basic research.

tags: research math science space

posted by matt in Sunday, May 5, 2024

Slashdot (

"It was lucky [that we survived], but we know from evolutionary biology that the emergence of a new species can happen in small, isolated populations...."

This is fascinating, perhaps morbidly so. Are we smart enough to avoid repeating history? We may be on the verge of finding out, measured on a scale of thousands (or maybe tens or hundreds of thousands) of years.

Here's the original research published in Science.

tags: science research

posted by matt in Saturday, September 2, 2023

High-precision measurement of the W boson mass with the CDF II detector - PubMed (

"A sample of approximately 4 million W boson candidates is used to obtain [a mass W bosun], the precision of which exceeds that of all previous measurements combined....This measurement is in significant tension with the standard model expectation."

Down goes Frazier?

I love science, both the knowledge and the process of science. This paper, published with nearly 400 authors and in Science, likely the world's most respected peer-reviewed scientific journal, presents surprising results on the mass of W bosuns that lie way outside the value predicted by the standard model of physics. As such, it puts that model—which has guided physics research and understanding for decades—on the ropes.

But, the process of science won't let anyone jump to conclusions, not even four hundred authors writing in this journal. Nope, in a way, this paper really just kicks the process into the next gear. Testing and the oh-so-important work to verify the results come next. And, with this sort of work, that will take years.

So, is Frazier down?

Maybe, but in science and boxing, that doesn't mean the fight is over. This paper probably represents an early knockdown of the standard model (it's not the first). It took six for Foreman to be declared the winner over Frazier. So, now we wait. In the meantime, enjoy knowing that a revolution in our understanding of physics may be underway.

That doesn't mean the parlor games can't start now, though. And surely they have. Has Frazier fallen? We'll know someday,

tags: science research physics

posted by matt in Sunday, April 24, 2022

On Oreology, the fracture and flow of “milk's favorite cookie®” (

I love everything about this, including the fact that the research was supported by the federal government. I'm sure, sooner or later, some anti-science, clueless politician will cite it as an example of wasteful spending on basic research.

tags: science research

posted by matt in Thursday, April 21, 2022

‘Impossible’ Particle Discovery Adds Key Piece to the Strong Force Puzzle | Quanta Magazine (

"Polyakov’s analysis suggested that the four quarks banded together for a glorious 12 sextillionths of a second before an energy fluctuation conjured up two extra quarks and the group disintegrated into three mesons."

The contrast between the precision of "12 sextillitionths of a second" and the vagueness of "an energy fluctuation" that "conjures up two extra quarks" is somewhat hilarious. This is fascinating otherwise.

tags: science physics research

posted by matt in Sunday, October 17, 2021

Suppression of RNA Recognition by Toll-like Receptors: The Impact of Nucleoside Modification and the Evolutionary Origin of RNA (

This is the paper that lead directly to the mRNA technology underlying both the Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines. Talk of a Nobel Prize has started.

"This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grants...."

This paper is, quite possibly, the best argument of all time for supporting federal spending on basic scientific research. The entire world is aware of the benefit the research produced.

Whatever we're spending on basic research isn't enough. Figure out how to pay for it...and triple it.

tags: science research vaccine pfizer moderna

posted by matt in Wednesday, March 3, 2021

How a 1960s discovery in Yellowstone made millions of COVID-19 PCR tests possible (

This is a wonderful story on the basic research and the scientist behind the key enzyme that enables PCR. We need more stories like this in the popular media. People need to understand and appreciate the importance of basic research.

tags: science research

posted by matt in Thursday, February 25, 2021