Archivo: Quanta

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.

A year after tackling how close together prime number pairs can stay, mathematicians have now made the first major advance in 76 years in understanding how far apart primes can be.

There may be a universal logic to how physicists, computers and brains tease out important features from among other irrelevant bits of data.

If all the animals on Earth could offer a single lesson for long-term survival, it might be this: Sex works. Out of the estimated 8 million animal species, all but a smattering are known to reproduce sexually, and those that don’t are babes in evolutionary terms, newly evolved animals that recently lost the ability to mate.

Early in cosmic history, our universe may have bumped into another — a primordial clash that could have left traces in the Big Bang’s afterglow.

Testing the multiverse hypothesis requires measuring whether our universe is statistically typical among the infinite variety of universes. But infinity does a number on statistics.

A potent theory has emerged explaining a mysterious statistical law that arises throughout physics and mathematics.