Flatiron Institute Hosts National Science Foundation Workshop on the Plasma Physics of Neutron Star Mergers

Simons Foundation, October 2018

On August 17, 2017, scientists witnessed one of the most dramatic collisions in the universe. Two dense neutron stars had combined in a galaxy 130 million light-years away, generating ripples through space-time and emitting bursts of light. The observations of the event sparked scientific breakthroughs across many areas of cosmology, but many questions linger.

Gaia Data Releases Spark Open-Access Success

Simons Foundation, September 2018

The dome of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City burst into a confetti-like field of colorful puffs of light. Below, an audience of scientists and non-scientists alike oohed and aahed at the multicolored light show. “It looks like cotton candy falling down,” observed astrophysicist Jackie Faherty, a senior scientist and education manager at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. “It’s pretty, right? But it’s also science.”

Particles Surf Their Own Waves, Reveal How Microbes and Cells Move Through Human Body

Simons Foundation, September 2018

Surf’s up for microbes swimming beside red blood cells. New calculations and experiments model for the first time how spherical particles submerged in gooey liquid travel along a flexible rubber sheet; comparable conditions are common in the human body, such as blood cells flowing through a capillary or the journeys of self-propelled microbes. (Although blood isn’t particularly viscous, at microscopic scales its effective viscosity is high.) All these particles, it turns out, catch a wave.

AI Accurately Predicts Effects of Genetic Mutations in Biological Dark Matter

Simons Foundation, July 2018

A new machine learning framework, dubbed ExPecto, can predict the effects of genetic mutations in the so-called “dark matter” regions of the human genome. ExPecto pinpoints how specific mutations can disrupt the way genes turn on and off throughout your body. Such disruptions in gene expression can sometimes have fatal consequences.

Scientific Leadership Profiles

Simons Foundation, June 2018

The Simons Foundation’s research and grant-making divisions are spearheaded by accomplished scientists. These individuals bring expertise, experience and creative thinking to overcoming the uncertainty involved in advancing research in mathematics and the basic sciences.

A collection of 12 short profiles on the Simons Foundation's scientific leadership. Part of the foundation's 2017 annual report.

Math For America: Summer Think

Simons Foundation, June 2018

Engaging students with chemistry sometimes means swapping beakers for spatulas. Math for America (MƒA) Master Teachers Hayeon Rachel Jun and Laryssa Kramarchuk blend science and the culinary arts in their classrooms. Lessons have students hand-churning ice cream, growing rock candy and quantifying the hotness of peppers, all while studying the underlying scientific properties of these materials.

Article for the Simons Foundation 2017 annual report.

Simons Collaboration On The Origins Of Life

Simons Foundation, June 2018

Roughly 4 billion years ago, the early Earth was an unfamiliar world. Large-impact craters pitted the planet’s surface, the sun glowed dimly, and the atmosphere was almost entirely devoid of oxygen. Yet from this extreme environment, the oldest known evidence of life appeared: Mound-like structures built by microbial communities, crystals containing isotopic traces of biological activity, and microfossils embedded in ancient rocks all hint at when the first earthlings emerged. But how Earth went from lifeless to lush remains uncertain.

Article for the Simons Foundation 2017 annual report.

Center For Computational Biology: HumanBase

Simons Foundation, June 2018

The human genome contains an estimated 19,000 genes. Those genes encode proteins that allow cells to carry out tasks such as ferrying oxygen molecules, fighting off diseases and communicating with fellow cells. But the function of most genes remains elusive, and scientists are still struggling to crack the human body’s full genetic code.

Article for the Simons Foundation 2017 annual report.

Center For Computational Astrophysics Neutron Star Mergers

Simons Foundation, June 2018

About 130 million light-years from Earth, the relics of two exploded stars neared the end of a spiraling, dyadic dance around each other. The dance partners were incredibly dense neutron stars: Just a teaspoonful of their neutron-rich star stuff has a mass of about 1 billion metric tons.

Article for the Simons Foundation 2017 annual report.