To begin to understand what mathematicians and physicists see in the abstract structures of symmetries, let’s start with a familiar shape.

Scott Martin for Quanta Magazine

Quantized Columns

Symmetry, Algebra and the Monster

To begin to understand what mathematicians and physicists see in the abstract structures of symmetries, let’s start with a familiar shape.

If DNA repair makes useful mutations more likely, it could accelerate cells’ adaptations to harsh environments.
genetics

Beating the Odds for Lucky Mutations

If DNA repair makes useful mutations more likely, it could accelerate cells’ adaptations to harsh environments.

Two “rare jewels” have illuminated a mysterious multidimensional object that connects a huge variety of mathematical work.
geometry

New Shapes Solve Infinite Pool-Table Problem

Two “rare jewels” have illuminated a mysterious multidimensional object that connects a huge variety of mathematical work.

The first major results from the Dark Energy Survey signal the start of a new era of cosmology.
cosmology

Scientists Unveil a New Inventory of the Universe’s Dark Contents

The first major results from the Dark Energy Survey signal the start of a new era of cosmology.

Textbooks say that the moon was formed after a Mars-size mass smashed the young Earth. But new evidence has cast doubt on that story, leaving researchers to dream up new ways to get a giant rock into orbit.
planetary science

What Made the Moon? New Ideas Try to Rescue a Troubled Theory

Textbooks say that the moon was formed after a Mars-size mass smashed the young Earth. But new evidence has cast doubt on that story, leaving researchers to dream up new ways to get a giant rock into orbit.

Latest Puzzle


Prime numbers are endlessly fascinating to number theorists and math enthusiasts. This month’s puzzle explores primes by cooking up a whimsical dish of grilled snake ribs.
insights puzzle

The Prime Rib Problem

Prime numbers are endlessly fascinating to number theorists and math enthusiasts. This month’s puzzle explores primes by cooking up a whimsical dish of grilled snake ribs.

Latest Interactive


The pot-stirring string theorist and quantum gravity theorist never sits still for long.
Thinking Places

Joe Polchinski’s Restless Pursuit of Quantum Gravity

The pot-stirring string theorist and quantum gravity theorist never sits still for long.

Latest Podcast


00:00/00:00
combinatorics

A Puzzle of Clever Connections Nears a Happy End

The three young friends who devised the “happy ending” problem would become some of the most influential mathematicians of the 20th century, but were never able to solve their own puzzle. Now it receives its first big breakthrough.

About Quanta Magazine

Illuminating basic science and math research through public service journalism.

More about us

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.

More about us