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."