What makes a proof stronger than a guess? What does evidence look like in the realm of mathematical abstraction? Hear the mathematician Melanie Matchett Wood explain how probability helps to guide number theorists toward certainty.
Quanta Magazine | Science and Math News
Carlos Arrojo for Quanta Magazine
Evolving Bacteria Can Evade Barriers to ‘Peak’ Fitness
Paradoxically, natural selection can sometimes seem to block organisms from evolving useful adaptations. But a new study of “fitness landscapes” and antibiotic resistance in bacteria shows that life still finds a way.
Meet Strange Metals: Where Electricity May Flow Without Electrons
For 50 years, physicists have understood current as a flow of charged particles. But a new experiment has found that in at least one strange material, this understanding falls apart.
Pierre de Fermat’s Link to a High School Student’s Prime Math Proof
How Fermat’s less famous “little theorem” got mathematicians young and old to play with prime-like Carmichael numbers.
In the Gut’s ‘Second Brain,’ Key Agents of Health Emerge
Sitting alongside the neurons in your enteric nervous system are underappreciated glial cells, which play key roles in digestion and disease that scientists are only just starting to understand.
Researchers Refute a Widespread Belief About Online Algorithms
Three computer scientists have disproved a long-standing conjecture about a fundamental problem involving imperfect information.
AI System Beats Chess Puzzles With ‘Artificial Brainstorming’
By bringing together disparate approaches, machines can reach a new level of creative problem-solving.
During Pregnancy, a Fake ‘Infection’ Protects the Fetus
Cells in the placenta have an unusual trick for activating gentle immune defenses and keeping them turned on when no infection is present. It involves crafting and deploying a fake virus.
Modular forms are one of the most beautiful and mysterious objects in mathematics. What are they?
The Joy of Why
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Quanta Magazine is committed to in-depth, accurate journalism that serves the public interest. Each article braids the complexities of science with the malleable art of storytelling and is meticulously reported, edited and fact-checked. Launched and funded by the Simons Foundation, Quanta is editorially independent — our articles do not reflect or represent the views of the foundation.