Quanta Magazine

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How Many Genes Do Cells Need? Maybe Almost All of Them

An ambitious study in yeast shows that the health of cells depends on the highly intertwined effects of many genes, few of which can be deleted …

Genetics

Machine Learning’s ‘Amazing’ Ability to Predict Chaos

In new computer experiments, artificial-intelligence algorithms can tell the future of chaotic systems.<p>Half a century ago, the pioneers of chaos …

Machine Learning

Ultra-Accurate Clocks Lead Search for New Laws of Physics

Atomic clocks are letting physicists tighten the lasso around elusive phenomena such as dark matter.<p>The fine-structure constant has been a mystery …

Physics

Trouble Detected in Infamous Dark Matter Signal

New results from a decades-old experiment were initially touted as further evidence for dark matter. But independent scientists have cast serious …

Dark Matter

A Revealer of Secrets in the Data of Life and the Universe

The statistician Donald Richards lives to uncover subtle patterns hiding in real-world data.

Universe

Mathematicians Explore Mirror Link Between Two Geometric Worlds

Decades after physicists happened upon a stunning mathematical coincidence, researchers are getting close to understanding the link between two …

Mathematics

How the DNA Computer Program Makes You and Me

Can a set of simple instructions produce complex, three-dimensional living structures?<p>One of the miracles of nature is embryogenesis: the …

Genetics

New Brain Maps With Unmatched Detail May Change Neuroscience

A technique based on genetic bar codes can easily map the connections of individual brain cells in unprecedented numbers. Unexpected complexity in …

Neuroscience

Quantum Correlations Reverse Thermodynamic Arrow of Time

A recent experiment shows how quantum mechanics can make heat flow from a cold body to a hot one, an apparent (though not real) violation of the …

Quantum Mechanics

Why Winning in Rock-Paper-Scissors (and in Life) Isn’t Everything

What does John Nash’s game theory equilibrium concept look like in Rock-Paper-Scissors?<p>Rock-Paper-Scissors works great for deciding who has to take …

Mathematics

A Victory for Dark Matter in a Galaxy Without Any

Paradoxically, a small galaxy that seems to contain none of the invisible stuff known as “dark matter” may help prove that it exists.<p>Astronomers …

Dark Matter

Abstractions blog | Quanta Magazine

Using a brain-computer interface, scientists are beginning to learn why learning is hard.<p>A simple, step-by-step breakdown of two “perfect” math …

Albert Einstein

Brains Cling to Old Habits When Learning New Tricks

Using a brain-computer interface, scientists are beginning to learn why learning is hard.<p>The hallmark of intelligence is the ability to learn. As …

Machine Learning

The Infinite Primes and Museum Guard Proofs, Explained

A simple, step-by-step breakdown of two “perfect” math proofs.<p>In January, I spoke with Günter Ziegler, one of the authors of <i>Proofs From THE BOOK</i>, a …

Mathematics

Black Hole Echoes Would Reveal Break With Einstein’s Theory

Gravitational waves have opened up new ways to test the properties of black holes — and Einstein’s theory of gravity along with them.<p>We all dream the …

Physics

Complex Animals Led to More Oxygen, Says Maverick Theory

For decades, researchers have commonly assumed that higher oxygen levels led to the sudden diversification of animal life 540 million years ago. But …

Biology

Robert Langlands, Mathematical Visionary, Wins the Abel Prize

Generations of researchers have pursued his “Langlands program,” which seeks to create a grand unified theory of mathematics.<p>Robert Langlands, who …

Mathematics

In Search of God’s Perfect Proofs

The mathematicians Günter Ziegler and Martin Aigner have spent the past 20 years collecting some of the most beautiful proofs in mathematics.

Mathematics

To Test Einstein’s Equations, Poke a Black Hole

Two teams of researchers have made significant progress toward proving the black hole stability conjecture, a critical mathematical test of …

Why the Tiny Weight of Empty Space Is Such a Huge Mystery

The amount of energy infusing empty space is too small to explain without a multiverse. But physicists have at least one avenue left to explore.<p>The …

Brainless Embryos Suggest Bioelectricity Guides Growth

Researchers are building a case that long before the nervous system works, the brain sends crucial bioelectric signals to guide the growth of …

Biology

How Einstein Lost His Bearings, and With Them, General Relativity

By 1913, Albert Einstein had nearly completed general relativity. But a simple mistake set him on a tortured, two-year reconsideration of his theory. …

Why Stephen Hawking’s Black Hole Puzzle Keeps Puzzling

The renowned British physicist, who died at 76, left behind a riddle that could eventually lead his successors to the theory of quantum gravity.

Oxygen and Stem Cells May Have Reshaped Early Complex Animals

An unlikely team offers a controversial hypothesis about what enabled animal life to get more complex and diverse during the Cambrian explosion.

Physicists Find a Way to See the ‘Grin’ of Quantum Gravity

A recently proposed experiment would confirm that gravity is a quantum force.<p>In 1935, when both quantum mechanics and Albert Einstein’s general …

New Giant Viruses Further Blur the Definition of Life

A newfound pair of giant viruses have massive genomes and the most complete resources for building proteins ever seen in the viral world. They have …

Why Don’t Patients Get Sick in Sync? Modelers Find Statistical Clues

The long, variable times that some diseases incubate after infection defies simple explanation. An idealized model of tumor growth offers a …

Elusive Higgs-Like State Created in Exotic Materials

Two teams of physicists have created the "Higgs mode" – a link between particle physics and the physics of matter. The work could help researchers …

A Statistical Search for Genomic Truths

The computer scientist Barbara Engelhardt develops machine-learning models and methods to scour human genomes for the elusive causes and mechanisms …

The Simple Algorithm That Ants Use to Build Bridges

Even with no one in charge, army ants work collectively to build bridges out of their bodies. New research reveals the simple rules that lead to such …