A Twisted Path to Equation-Free Prediction
Complex natural systems defy standard mathematical analysis, so one ecologist is throwing out the equations.
The Mutant Genes Behind the Black Death
Only a few genetic changes were enough to turn an ordinary stomach bug into the bacteria responsible for the plague.
A New Map Traces the Limits of Computation
A major advance reveals deep connections between the classes of problems that computers can — and can’t — possibly do.
Visions of Future Physics
Nima Arkani-Hamed is championing a campaign to build the world’s largest particle collider, even as he pursues a new vision of the laws of nature.
Einstein’s Parable of Quantum Insanity
Einstein refused to believe in the inherent unpredictability of the world. Is the subatomic world insane, or just subtle?
A Life in Games
John Horton Conway claims to have never worked a day in his life. This adaptation from the biography Genius at Play shows how serious advances such as the surreal numbers can spring out of fun and games.
The Connoisseur of Number Sequences
Neil Sloane is considered by some to be one of the most influential mathematicians of our time.
That’s not because of any particular theorem the 75-year-old Welsh native has proved, though over the course of a more than 40-year research career at Bell Labs (later AT&T Labs) he won numerous awards for papers in the fields of combinatorics, coding theory, optics and statistics. Rather, it’s because of the creation for which he’s most famous: the Online Encyclopedia of Integer Sequences (OEIS), often simply called “Sloane” by its users.
A Surprise Source of Life’s Code
Emerging data suggests the seemingly impossible — that mysterious new genes arise from “junk” DNA.
How Life and Luck Changed Earth’s Minerals
Is geology predictable, or is the mineral composition of Earth due to chance events? The answers could eventually help scientists identify planets likely to harbor life.