Archivo: Quanta

An infection sweeping through Australia’s koala population is revealing how retroviruses insert themselves into the genome

Inside the cell’s nucleus, the double helix folds up in myriad loops and twists. The quest to unravel this structure is revealing the subtle genetic orchestration of all life on Earth.

Researchers are demonstrating that, in certain contexts, string theory is the only consistent theory of quantum gravity. Might this make it true?

A recent solution to the prisoner’s dilemma, a classic game theory scenario, has created new puzzles in evolutionary biology.

Interest in a powerful DNA editing tool called CRISPR has revealed that bacteria are far more sophisticated than anyone imagined.

Enormous databases of medical records have begun to reveal the hidden biological missteps that make us sick.

A quantum computing pioneer explains why analog simulators may beat out general-purpose digital quantum machines — for now.

The question is deceptively simple: Given a geometric space — a sphere, perhaps, or a doughnut-like torus — is it possible to divide it into smaller pieces? In the case of the two-dimensional surface of a sphere, the answer is clearly yes. Anyone can tile a mosaic of triangles over any two-dimensional surface. Likewise, any three-dimensional space can be cut up into an arbitrary number of pyramids.

But what about spaces in higher dimensions?

Try gift-wrapping a soccer ball, and you will quickly encounter the geometric abyss between paper’s inherent flatness and a sphere’s natural curves.

Every cell in your body reads the same genome, the DNA-encoded instruction set that builds proteins. But your cells couldn’t be more different. Neurons send electrical messages, liver cells break down chemicals, muscle cells move the body. How do cells employ the same basic set of genetic instructions to carry out their own specialized tasks? The answer lies in a complex, multilayered system that controls how proteins are made.