## The Biggest Numbers In The Universe, Visualized

What's the largest comprehensible number?

NUMBER MUNCHERS

What's the largest comprehensible number?

FOLLOW THE BOUNCING BALL

Here's a Rube Goldberg Machine puzzle that will leave you scratching your head.

AVOIDANT ATTACHMENT

Digital messaging was supposed to make our work lives easier and more efficient, but the math suggests that meetings might be better.

BLEAK FORECAST

Some academics are calling the controversial practice a "scientific veneer for racism."

WHAT WE HAVE HERE IS A FAILURE TO CALCULATE

This Casio fx-85GT PLUS seems to have a recurring glitch when making these calculations.

AWE SUM

Jerry and Marge Selbee discovered the secret to hacking the lottery by using math. Here's how they did it.

GOING OFF A TANGENT

Futon salesman Jason Padgett cared little about anything beyond partying and chasing girls, then one fateful night changed him forever.

NO ROOM FOR ERROR

It's not easy to figure out when a disease will stop spreading through a population.

I SAW WHAT YOU DID THERE

An extremely determined YouTuber measured the weights of different pieces of wood every month as they dry to see how long it took.

'REPRESENTATION THEORY IS USELESS'

Representation theory was initially dismissed. Today, it's central to much of mathematics.

KNOT IT ALL

It took Lisa Piccirillo less than a week to answer a long-standing question about a strange knot discovered over half a century ago by the legendary John Conway.

PUT A BID ON IT

Preston McAfee, the chief economist at Microsoft, explains how auctions serve as price discovery mechanisms.

IMPOSSIBLY CLEVER

Can you reach row 4 in Conway's Soldiers? Vsauce2 demonstrates the challenge of playing this mathematical game.

GOING PRO

Two ways of approximating the ultra-complicated math that governs quark particles have recently come into conflict, leaving physicists unsure what their decades-old theory predicts.

SUM YOU WIN, SUM YOU LOSE

Presh from Mind Your Decisions has a brain-teaser that seems, at first glance, unfeasible to answer.

PILLOW TALK

Brady Haran takes on one of Lewis Carroll's famous "pillow problems."

CH-CH-CH-CH-CHAIN MESS

Companies like Walmart use computer programs to help them decide how much product to keep in stock. Those programs rely on historical data. The global disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic makes those programs less reliable.

'LIFE IS MESSY. NUMBERS ARE NEAT'

Math used to be a comfort zone for me in times of confusion. Not anymore.

TILED OUT

To solve the puzzle you have to slide the tiles around into a particular order. However, according to mathematicians, there is a particular order of the puzzle that is impossible to attain.

SAFETY FIRST

One practical exit strategy from lockdown would be identifying green zones, and progressively joining them together once it is safe to do so.

THE MATH DOESN'T ADD UP

Just because the SAT was designed to test the mathematical proficiency of students doesn't mean it's flawless.

THE KEY TO THE ISSUE

What happens when you combine music, Joe Rogan, and probability?

IT ALL ADDS UP

It's a lot more fun than the one you know.

COMPARE NOTES

Here's why this piece of music composed by Italian mathematician Giovanni Battista Benedetti is technically impossible.

MISSION IMPROBABLE

The fascinating reason why "probability of 0" does not mean "impossible."

CASE CLOSED? NOT YET

This guy says he finally solved the most controversial open math problem, which could completely change number theory. But other mathematicians are skeptical.

BRAINBOW CONNECTION

Mathematicians have figured out how to expand the reach of a mysterious bridge connecting two distant continents in the mathematical world.

LOVE (A) TRIANGLE

When faced with the question, "if a stick breaks randomly in three pieces, what is the probability that a triangle can be formed from those pieces," here's a math theorem that will solve this question easily.

TAKING THE LONG WAY

Mathematicians from the California Institute of Technology have solved an old problem related to a mathematical process called a random walk.

YOU DO THE MATH

When 50 mathematicians spend a week in the woods, there's no telling what will happen. And that's the point.

THE MATH OF EPIDEMICS

"If we have good enough data, we can capture these behaviors."

NEED A DEGREE TO STUDY THIS

When it is pointed out that the Babylonians counted to base-60, rather than base-10 as we do, people often ask if there is a connection. The short answer is no. The longer answer involves Babylonian astronomy.

BEHIND THE CURVE

The SIR Model is being used to predict the spread of the coronavirus — here's how it works.

INVEST IN GOLD(EN RATIO)

A the U.S. stock market closed out its worst week since 2008. Amid such economic turbulence, some market researchers look to a familiar, powerful set of numbers to predict the future.

NOT THE ANGLE WE'D EXPECT

This is the (virtual) reality we live in now.

I KEEP ON FALLING

If you hung a picture by a string that's attached at two points on the back of the frame in a certain way, you can make it drop if you remove just one nail.

THE RAINBOW CONNECTION

"Rainbow colorings" recently led to a new proof. It's not the first time they've come in handy.

IS LESS MORE

Which is better, a product with fewer reviews and a 96% rating or a product with more reviews and a 93% rating?

IRRATIONAL, BUT TRY IT

Take the Pi Day challenge: How many decimal places can you nail with this method?

I ONLY HAVE PIES FOR YOU

Rutgers University math professor Alex Kontorovich and a few of his friends gave a shrewd demonstration of pi using a pizza pie crust.

LET'S GET THIS SORTED

A litany of problems in business, finance, container ship loading and aircraft loading derive from this one simple question.

WHAT'S MY NUMBER?

You might think it's mind reading, but really, it's just about math.

IT ALL ADDS UP

It's no secret that Americans aren't exactly leading the pack in mathematics.

COUNT 'EM AND WEEP

A computer can make a decision faster. That doesn't make it fair.

FOLLOW THE NUMBERS

An interactive map of mathematics as it stands today, mathematics as it is practiced by mathematicians. From simple starting points — Numbers, Shapes, Change — the map branches out into interwoven tendrils of thought.

GALAXY BRAINS

New research has exploded the space of problems that quantum computers can efficiently verify, simultaneously knocking down milestone problems in quantum physics and math.

WE'RE ALL MATHEMATICIANS NOW

Looking for the answers to ax² + bx + c = 0? A mathematician has rediscovered a technique that the ancient Babylonians used.

WHOA

Johnny Ball explains the brilliance of the Russian method of multiplication.

BUCKLE UP...

By exploiting randomness, three mathematicians have proved an elegant law that underlies the chaotic motion of turbulent systems.

PATTERNS ARE HARD TO DETECT

Tracking the spread of disease requires precision and math. But super-spreaders, who transmit germs faster and further than other patients, can confound the model.

HUMAN ERROR

Doing so was inadvertent, but it taught me an important lesson.

CONSTANT WONDER

From dripping faucets to the population growth of rabbits, the bifurcation diagram exists and can be applied in so many places.

THREE SIDES TO THE STORY

I reached out to several geometry experts to see if we could arrive at a consensus answer. Turns out virtually all of the mathematicians I contacted found the same solution — but not all of them figured it out in the same way.

BEE SQUARED

As Scarlett Howard taught honeybees to do arithmetic, they showed her how fundamental numbers might be to all brains.

IF THERE WAS A PROBLEM, YO I'LL SOLVE IT

Computer scientists are buzzing about a new mathematical proof that proposes a quantum-entangled system sort of like the one described above. It seems to disprove a 44-year-old conjecture and details a theoretical machine capable of solving the famous halting problem, which says a computer cannot determine whether it will ever be able to solve a problem it's currently trying to solve.

GOTTA DO YOUR HOMEWORK

To escape from the room, you must enter into the keypad the correct answer to the question 230 x 10 + 2. As can be seen from this video, filmed from the perspective of the creator, it's not as easy a question as it seems.

HANGS IN THE BALANCE

In "The History of the University of Cambridge," author Edmund Carter praises the bridge as "one of the most curious pieces of carpentry of this kind in England."

TURING THE TIDE

Just four percent of the Turing Award's winners have been women. That lack of recognition has consequences.

ELECTRIC AVENUE

Jason Fenske does the math on the Porsche Taycan, the company's first full-electric sports car — and finds it likely is faster than the Tesla Model S.

GOOD + BOI = TREAT

A new study suggests dogs can quickly estimate numerical values in a similar manner to humans and other primates.

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