How long would it take to fall through Earth? For years, physics students have been told the answer is 42 minutes. But a new calculation, published in the latest issue of The American Journal of Physics, gives a more accurate travel time of 38 minutes. Over at Science, Adrian Cho unpacks the new equation. » 3/27/15 8:00pm Friday 8:00pm

Lose Yourself In The Captivating Kinetic Sculptures of Jennifer Townley 

Can You Solve One Of Archimedes' Most Challenging Puzzles?

Archimedes was the greatest mathematician of antiquity. He was also a lover of puzzles, which he would devise and pose to his contemporaries. This week, we present you with two versions of what is arguably Archimedes' most challenging puzzle ever. » 3/01/15 12:05pm 3/01/15 12:05pm

How To: Win Impressively At Gameshows Using Simple Maths

Here's a fun clip from BBC Two's collegiate quiz show University Challenge. Host Jeremy Paxman asks the contestants what day of the week it will be 100 days after Monday. A player named Binnie responds quickly: "Wednesday." Paxman's face contorts. "How did you know that?" he asks, astonished. » 2/11/15 2:40pm 2/11/15 2:40pm

The Wrinkles On Raisins Can Teach Us A Lot About Fingerprints

The humble raisin doesn't usually inspire much thought (beyond pondering the ethics of their occasional chocolate chip impersonation), but scientists at MIT have spent a lot of time modeling just how raisins wrinkle. And their findings may change how we understand the way fingerprints form. » 2/03/15 10:20am 2/03/15 10:20am

You'll Have To Think Like A Pirate To Solve This Week's Puzzle

Pirates, of course, are notoriously greedy – but they're also incredibly shrewd. And don't forget, they'll kill you, if given the chance. » 2/01/15 2:30pm 2/01/15 2:30pm

Chicks Might Map Numbers From Left To Right – Just Like Us!

When you think of the numbers 1–10, you probably envision them running along a line, with 1 on the left and 10 on the right. Scientists have long debated whether this tendency is hardwired or culturally instilled. This week, the hardwired camp scored a major point. Young chickens, it seems, also map numbers from… » 1/30/15 10:40am 1/30/15 10:40am

What Ants Can Teach Us About Avoiding Traffic Jams

A physicist at the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology has developed a model that could explain how ants handle traffic congestion better than humans. » 1/24/15 11:00am 1/24/15 11:00am

How To Prove A Geometric Formula With A Clementine And A Piece of Paper

Here's a fun demonstration from Cornell maths professor Steven Strogatz. Take a clementine (or any spherical, peelable fruit) and trace around its widest part four times. Then peel it. Flatten out the peelings as best you can and divvy them up evenly among the circles. Voilà! Tangible proof that the the surface area… » 1/14/15 4:50pm 1/14/15 4:50pm

The Correct Way(s) To Load A Dishwasher

The dishwasher! The perennial optimization problem. Even the chronically untidy have been known to harbor strong opinions on efficient loading technique. But did you know dishwasher manuals actually include photos and illustrations of ideal rack layouts? (Be honest – did you even realize your dishwasher had a manual?) » 1/07/15 11:30am 1/07/15 11:30am

Math Suggests Most Cancers Are Caused By "Bad Luck"

Two-thirds of all cancers are caused by random mutations and not genetics or lifestyle factors, say scientists from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. » 1/02/15 7:20am 1/02/15 7:20am

This Math Equation Is Also A Limerick

This week's Sunday Puzzle looks like a mathematical equation. Well, it is a mathematical equation. But hidden in that equation is a poem. Can you recite it back to us? » 12/28/14 1:45pm 12/28/14 1:45pm

MIT Students Build Handmade Wooden Roller Coaster For Incoming Freshmen

The coaster was designed by three mechanical engineering juniors and built in the span of a week by the incoming freshmen who would ride its wooden rails. In early designs, the coaster even had an internal loop. Unfortunately, MIT's Environment Health and Safety department said "no upside-down people. Period." » 12/27/14 7:48am 12/27/14 7:48am

The Most Commonly Used Words In Billboard Pop Song Titles, By Decade

Over at Prooffreader, data nerd extraordinaire David Taylor has charted the most-used words from pop song titles by decade, from 1890 (which, who even knew Billboard rankings have existed since the 19th Century?) to present. The most common words from the 2010s? "Hell," "Yeah," "We," "Fuck," and "Die." Sounds about… » 12/17/14 3:20pm 12/17/14 3:20pm

Can You Guess The Next Number In This Sequence?

Everything you need to solve this riddle can be found in the numbers you see here. Be apprised: The mathematically inclined tend to struggle with this puzzle. » 11/16/14 11:00am 11/16/14 11:00am

Interested In The Math Of Pixar's Animation? This Video Is Must-Watch

Computer animation is one of those delightful intersections of science and art, but when we're cooing over concept art and character designs, it's easy to forget all the math that goes into bringing these movies to life. This video explains the calculations behind the characters. » 11/15/14 2:00pm 11/15/14 2:00pm