November 28, 2018
Simple physical principles can be used to describe how rivers grow everywhere from Florida to Mars. Read more at Music is “Redwood Trail” by Audionautix.
November 21, 2018
Join writers and editors from Quanta Magazine for a stimulating panel discussion on the biggest ideas in math and science presented in two new books: Alice and Bob Meet the Wall of Fire and The Prime Number Conspiracy. Panelists will discuss whether our universe is “natural,” the nature of time, the origin and evolution of life, the role of mathematics in science and society, and where all these questions are taking us.
November 20, 2018
How does evolution select the fittest “individuals” when they are ecosystems made up of hosts and their microbiomes? Biologists debate the need to revise theories. Read more at Music is “Chee Zee Jungle - Primal Drive” by Kevin MacLeod.
November 15, 2018
Through exacting geometric calculations, Philip Gibbs has found the smallest known cover for any possible shape. Read more at Music is “Valerie Plain” by Rondo Brothers.
November 6, 2018
Using a new CRISPR-based technique, researchers are examining how the position of DNA within the nucleus affects gene expression and cell function. Read more at Music is “Sugar Zone” by Silent Partner.
September 20, 2018
A visual prank exposes an Achilles’ heel of computer vision systems: Unlike humans, they can’t do a double take. Read more at Music is “Quasi Motion” by Kevin MacLeod.
August 30, 2018
Computer vision researchers have uncovered a world of visual signals hiding in our midst, including subtle motions that betray what’s being said and faint images of what’s around a corner. Read more at Music is “Confusing Disco” by Birocratic.
July 31, 2018
Teenager Ewin Tang has proven that classical computers can solve the “recommendation problem” nearly as fast as quantum computers. The result eliminates one of the best examples of quantum speedup. Read more at Music is “Retro” by Wayne Jones.
July 30, 2018
Psychedelic drugs can trigger characteristic hallucinations, which have long been thought to hold clues about the brain’s circuitry. After nearly a century of study, a possible explanation is crystallizing. Read more at Music is “Retro” by Wayne Jones.
July 25, 2018
After researchers found a loophole in a famous experiment designed to prove that quantum objects don’t have intrinsic properties, three experimental groups quickly sewed the loophole shut. The episode closes the door on many “hidden variable” theories.
July 24, 2018
Researchers find evidence that neural systems actively remove memories, which suggests that forgetting may be the default mode of the brain. Read more at Music by The Green Orbs.
July 20, 2018
New findings are fueling an old suspicion that fundamental particles and forces spring from strange eight-part numbers called “octonions.” Read more at Music by Kevin MacLeod.
July 10, 2018
A controversial theory suggests that perception, motor control, memory and other brain functions all depend on comparisons between ongoing actual experiences and the brain’s modeled expectations. Read more at Music by Everet Almond.
June 21, 2018
Computer scientists have been searching for years for a type of problem that a quantum computer can solve but that any possible future classical computer cannot. Now they’ve found one. Read more at Music by Vibe Mountain.
June 7, 2018
Life needs more than water alone. Recent discoveries suggest that plate tectonics has played a critical role in nourishing life on Earth. The findings carry major consequences for the search for life elsewhere in the universe. Music by Audionautix.
June 6, 2018
Researchers find that when working memory gets overburdened, dialogue between three brain regions breaks down. The discovery provides new support for a larger concept about how the brain works.
May 16, 2018
Astronomers argue that there’s an undiscovered giant planet far beyond the orbit of Neptune. A newly discovered rocky body has added evidence to the circumstantial case for it.
May 7, 2018
New modeling studies suggest that birds migrate to strike a favorable balance between their input and output of energy.
April 18, 2018
In new computer experiments, artificial-intelligence algorithms can tell the future of chaotic systems.
April 17, 2018
By making the first progress on the “chromatic number of the plane” problem in over 60 years, an anti-aging pundit has achieved mathematical immortality.
March 13, 2018
Researchers are building a case that long before the nervous system works, the brain sends crucial bioelectric signals to guide the growth of embryonic tissues.
March 8, 2018
Two teams of researchers have made significant progress toward proving the black hole stability conjecture, a critical mathematical test of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.
March 7, 2018
An unlikely team offers a controversial hypothesis about what enabled animal life to get more complex during the Cambrian explosion.
March 6, 2018
A recently proposed experiment would confirm that gravity is a quantum force.
March 1, 2018
The long, variable times that some diseases incubate after infection defies simple explanation. An idealized model of tumor growth offers a statistical solution.
February 21, 2018
The latest artificial intelligence systems start from zero knowledge of a game and grow to world-beating in a matter of hours. But researchers are struggling to apply these systems beyond the arcade.
February 15, 2018
A new study challenges one of the most celebrated and controversial ideas in network science.
February 14, 2018
New algorithms show how swarms of very simple robots can be made to work together as a group.
January 31, 2018
Cosmologists have shown that it’s theoretically possible for a contracting universe to bounce and expand. The new work resuscitates an old idea that directly challenges the Big Bang theory of cosmic origins.
January 23, 2018
Near an Australian desert mining camp, wild dingoes are losing their fear of humans. Their genetic and behavioral changes may echo those from the domestication of dogs.
January 22, 2018
A series of fossil finds suggests that life on Earth started earlier than anyone thought, calling into question a widely held theory of the solar system’s beginnings.
December 21, 2017
Two mathematicians prove that under certain extreme conditions, the Navier-Stokes equations output nonsense.
December 14, 2017
Nobel laureate Susumu Tonegawa’s lab is overturning old assumptions about how memories form, how recall works and whether lost memories might be restored from "silent engrams."
December 1, 2017
An eminent mathematician reveals that his advances in the study of millennia-old mathematical questions owe to concepts derived from physics.
November 30, 2017
Kidneys sniff out signals from gut bacteria for cues to lower blood pressure after meals. Our understanding of how the symbiotic microbes affect health is becoming much more molecular.
November 15, 2017
The oldest law of genetics says that gametes combine randomly, but experiments hint that sometimes eggs select sperm actively for their genetic assets.
November 7, 2017
Elephants did not evolve to become huge animals until after they turned a bit of genetic junk into a unique defense against inevitable tumors.
October 24, 2017
To efficiently analyze a firehose of data, scientists first have to break big numbers into bits.
October 23, 2017
Physicists theorize that a new “traversable” kind of wormhole could resolve a baffling paradox and rescue information that falls into black holes.
September 21, 2017
A new idea is helping to explain the puzzling success of today’s artificial-intelligence algorithms — and might also explain how human brains learn.
September 19, 2017
Computer scientists are finding ways to code curiosity into intelligent machines.
August 24, 2017
Hybrids, once treated as biological misfits, play a vital role in the evolution of many animal species. Now conservationists are trying to reconcile that truth with policies.
August 22, 2017
The mathematician Svitlana Mayboroda and collaborators have figured out how to predict the behavior of electrons — a mathematical discovery that could have immediate practical effects.
August 2, 2017
Textbooks say that the moon was formed after a Mars-size mass smashed the young Earth. But new evidence has cast doubt on that story, leaving researchers to dream up new ways to get a giant rock into orbit.
July 18, 2017
John Nash’s notion of equilibrium is ubiquitous in economic theory, but a new study shows that it is often impossible to reach efficiently.
July 11, 2017
A French mathematician has completed the classification of all convex pentagons, and therefore all convex polygons, that tile the plane.
June 29, 2017
If gut bacteria can sway their hosts to be selfless, it could answer a riddle that goes back to Darwin.
June 13, 2017
A different kind of dark matter could help to resolve an old celestial conundrum.
May 30, 2017
The three young friends who devised the “happy ending” problem would become some of the most influential mathematicians of the 20th century, but were never able to solve their own puzzle. Now it receives its first big breakthrough.
May 23, 2017
Spiders appear to offload cognitive tasks to their webs, making them one of a number of species with a mind that isn’t fully confined within the head.
April 4, 2017
Powerful new quantitative tools are now available to combat partisan bias in the drawing of voting districts.
March 28, 2017
When a German retiree proved a famous long-standing mathematical conjecture, the response was underwhelming.
March 23, 2017
For decades, researchers believed that violent supernovas forged gold and other heavy elements. But many now argue for a different cosmic quarry.
March 7, 2017
The ancient creatures who first crawled onto land may have been lured by the informational benefit that comes from seeing through air.
March 2, 2017
For centuries, mathematicians tried to solve problems by adding new values to the usual numbers. Now they’re investigating the unintended consequences of that tinkering.
February 14, 2017
Powerful new experiments have uncovered some of the molecular underpinnings of sleep.
February 7, 2017
Physicists are closing the door on an intriguing loophole around the quantum phenomenon Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.”
February 2, 2017
The ancient Greeks argued that the best life was filled with beauty, truth, justice, play and love. The mathematician Francis Su knows just where to find them.
January 19, 2017
Researchers have discovered that simple “chemically active” droplets grow to the size of cells and spontaneously divide, suggesting they might have evolved into the first living cells.
January 10, 2017
Is the brain a blank slate, or is it wired from birth to understand the world?
January 3, 2017
By folding fractals into 3-D objects, a mathematical duo hopes to gain new insight into simple equations.
December 15, 2016
Physicists have failed to find disintegrating protons, throwing into limbo the beloved theory that the forces of nature were unified at the beginning of time.
November 29, 2016
A proposed theory of gravity does away with dark matter, even as new astrophysical findings challenge the need for galaxies full of the invisible mystery particles.
November 8, 2016
Can a fluid analogue of a black hole point physicists toward the theory of quantum gravity, or is it a red herring?
October 25, 2016
In a monumental set of experiments, spread out over nearly two decades, biologists removed genes two at a time to uncover the secret workings of the cell.
October 11, 2016
The impasse in math and science instruction runs deeper than test scores or the latest educational theory. What can we learn from the best teachers on the front lines?
October 6, 2016
Computer scientists have come up with a bounded algorithm that can fairly divide a cake among any number of people.
September 27, 2016
The surprising discovery of a massive, Milky Way–size galaxy that is made of 99.99 percent dark matter has astronomers dreaming up new ideas about how galaxies form.
September 20, 2016
Computer scientists can prove certain programs to be error-free with the same certainty that mathematicians prove theorems.
September 6, 2016
Just months after their discovery, gravitational waves coming from the mergers of black holes are shaking up astrophysics.
August 23, 2016
Irrationality may be a consequence of the brain’s ravenous energy needs.
August 9, 2016
Physicists are confronting their “nightmare scenario.” What does the absence of new particles suggest about how nature works?
July 28, 2016
A hint that neutrinos behave differently than antineutrinos suggests an answer to one the biggest questions in physics.
July 26, 2016
The bulk of biological research is centered on a handful of species. Are we missing a huge chunk of interesting biology?
July 19, 2016
According to our best theories of physics, the universe is a fixed block where time only appears to pass.
July 12, 2016
Scientists are exploring a mysterious pattern, found in birds’ eyes, boxes of marbles and other surprising places, that is neither regular nor random.
July 5, 2016
Richard Feynman's famous diagrams weren’t just a way to do calculations. They represented a deep shift in thinking about how the universe is put together.
June 28, 2016
At 28, Peter Scholze is uncovering deep connections between number theory and geometry.
June 21, 2016
Scientists have figured out how microbes can suck energy from rocks. Such lifeforms might be more widespread than anyone anticipated.
June 2, 2016
Recent tests show that quantum computers made by D-Wave systems should solve some problems faster than ordinary computers. Researchers have begun to map out exactly which queries might benefit from these quantum machines.
May 31, 2016
A new series of papers has settled a long-standing question related to the popular game in which players seek patterned sets of three cards.
May 26, 2016
Neanderthals and Denisovans may have endowed modern humans with genetic variants that helped them thrive in new environments.
May 16, 2016
An experiment claims to have invalidated a decades-old criticism against pilot-wave theory, an alternative formulation of quantum mechanics that eliminates the most baffling features of the subatomic universe.
May 10, 2016
A specific set of neurons deep in the brain may motivate us to seek company, holding social species together.
May 3, 2016
The search for exotic new physical phenomena is being led by huge experiments like the Large Hadron Collider. But at the other end of the spectrum lie tabletop experiments — small-scale probes of hidden dimensions, dark matter and dark energy.
April 26, 2016
A new study reveals that individual genes can create many different versions of the molecular machinery that powers the cell.
April 19, 2016
The story of the universe’s birth — and evidence for string theory — could be found in triangles and myriad other shapes in the sky.
April 12, 2016
In the new, free-for-all era of dark matter research, the controversial idea that dark matter is concentrated in thin disks is being rescued from scientific oblivion.
April 6, 2016
A project to decipher the brain’s learning rules could revolutionize machine learning.
March 30, 2016
The Ukrainian mathematician Maryna Viazovska has solved the centuries-old sphere-packing problem in dimensions eight and 24.
March 22, 2016
New insights from neuroscience — aided by a small zoo’s worth of dancing animals — are revealing the biological origins of rhythm.
March 14, 2016
A previously unnoticed property of prime numbers seems to violate a long-standing assumption about how they behave.
March 2, 2016
A satellite spotted a burst of light just as gravitational waves rolled in from the collision of two black holes. Was the flash a cosmic coincidence, or do astrophysicists need to rethink what black holes can do?
February 22, 2016
In a virtuoso experiment, physicists have revealed details of a “quantum critical point” that underlies high-temperature superconductivity.
February 16, 2016
Perhaps chemistry played a more instrumental role in the origin of life than scientists thought.
February 11, 2016
Ripples in space-time have been detected a century after Einstein predicted them, launching a new era in astronomy.
February 2, 2016
Searching for signs of life on faraway planets, astrobiologists must decide which telltale biosignature gases to target.
January 26, 2016
The same brain cells that track location in space appear to also count beats in time. The research suggests that our thoughts may take place on a mental space-time canvas.
January 19, 2016
Bizarre quantum bonds connect distinct moments in time, suggesting that quantum links — not space-time — constitute the fundamental structure of the universe.
January 12, 2016
Two leading candidates for a “theory of everything,” long thought to be incompatible, may be two sides of the same coin.
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