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Math

Strings Link the Ultra-Cold With the Super-Hot 236

gabrlknght writes "Superstring theory claims the power to explain the universe, but critics say it can't be tested by experiment. Lately, though, string math has helped explain a couple of surprising experiments creating 'perfect liquids' at cosmic extremes of hot and cold. 'Both systems can be described as something like a shadow world sitting in a higher dimension. Strongly coupled particles are linked by ripples traveling through the extra dimension, says Steinberg, of Brookhaven. String math describing such ripples stems from an idea called the holographic principle, used by string theorists to describe certain kinds of black holes. A black hole's entropy depends on its surface area — as though all the information in its three-dimensional interior is stored on its two-dimensional surface. (The 'holographic' label is an allusion to ordinary holograms, where 3-D images are coated on a 2-D surface, like an emblem on a credit card.) The holographic principle has value because in some cases the math for a complex 3-D system (neglecting time) can be too hard to solve, but the equivalent 4-D math provides simpler equations to describe the same phenomena.'"
Math

Major Advances In Knot Theory 230

An anonymous reader sends us to Science News, which is running a survey of recent strides in finding an answer to the age-old question: How many ways are there to tie your shoelaces? "Mathematicians have been puzzling over that question for a century or two, and the main thing they've discovered is that the question is really, really hard. In the last decade, though, they've developed some powerful new tools inspired by physics that have pried a few answers from the universe's clutches. Even more exciting is that the new tools seem to be the tip of a much larger theory that mathematicians are just beginning to uncover. That larger mathematical theory, if it exists, may help crack some of the hardest mathematical questions there are, questions about the mathematical structure of the three- and four-dimensional space where we live. ... Revealing the full ... superstructure may be the work of a generation."

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