First up, science journalist Julia Rosen talks with host Sarah Crespi about a growing fleet of radar satellites that will soon be able to detect minute rises and drops of Earth’s surface—from a gently deflating volcano to a water-swollen field—on a daily basis.
Sarah also talks with Hui Cao, a professor of applied physics at Yale University, about a new way to generate enormous streams of random numbers faster than ever before, using a tiny laser that can fit on a computer chip.
The Riemann hypothesis is the most notorious unsolved problem in all of mathematics. Ever since it was first proposed by Bernhard Riemann in 1859, the conjecture has maintained the status of the “Holy Grail” of mathematics. In fact, the person who solves it will win a $1 million prize from the Clay Institute of Mathematics. So, what is the Riemann hypothesis? Why is it so important? What can it tell us about the chaotic universe of prime numbers? And why is its proof so elusive? Alex Kontorovich, professor of mathematics at Rutgers University, breaks it all down in this comprehensive explainer.
In mathematics, the Riemann hypothesis is a conjecture that the Riemann zeta function has its zeros only at the negative even integers and complex numbers with real part. Many consider it to be the most important unsolved problem in pure mathematics.
“Human flourishing refers to a wholeness — of being and doing, of realizing one’s potential and helping others do the same, of acting with honor and treating others with dignity, of living with integrity even in challenging circumstances. It is not the same as happiness, and it is not just a state of mind. The well-lived life is a life of human flourishing.”
An inclusive vision of mathematics—its beauty, its humanity, and its power to build virtues that help us all flourish
For mathematician Francis Su, a society without mathematical affection is like a city without concerts, parks, or museums. To miss out on mathematics is to live without experiencing some of humanity’s most beautiful ideas.
In this profound book, written for a wide audience but especially for those disenchanted by their past experiences, an award‑winning mathematician and educator weaves parables, puzzles, and personal reflections to show how mathematics meets basic human desires—such as for play, beauty, freedom, justice, and love—and cultivates virtues essential for human flourishing. These desires and virtues, and the stories told here, reveal how mathematics is intimately tied to being human. Some lessons emerge from those who have struggled, including philosopher Simone Weil, whose own mathematical contributions were overshadowed by her brother’s, and Christopher Jackson, who discovered mathematics as an inmate in a federal prison. Christopher’s letters to the author appear throughout the book and show how this intellectual pursuit can—and must—be open to all.