Illustration of a connection between a bat and a human, with a backdrop of coronaviruses.

James O’Brien for Quanta Magazine

Quantized Columns

The Animal Origins of Coronavirus and Flu

Zoonotic diseases like influenza and many coronaviruses start out in animals, but their biological machinery often enables them to jump to humans.

Painting of a planet and a star.

New Exoplanet Search Strategy Claims First Discovery

By watching for a special kind of flare, astronomers have identified the fingerprints of an Earth-size planet orbiting a distant star.


The Map of Mathematics

Explore our surprisingly simple, absurdly ambitious and necessarily incomplete guide to the boundless mathematical universe.

Illustration of an immune cell that wields weapons on one side of its body and construction tools on the other.

Immune Cell Assassins Reveal Their Nurturing Side

Don’t be misled by the bloodthirsty names of immune cells. Mounting research shows that the cells also fine-tune tissues and help the body heal.

A rogue wave and a sailboat.
fluid dynamics

The Grand Unified Theory of Rogue Waves

Rogue waves — enigmatic giants of the sea — were thought to be caused by two different mechanisms. But a new idea that borrows from the hinterlands of probability theory has the potential to predict them all.

Photo of black and white swirls of mixing paint
fluid dynamics

Mathematicians Prove Universal Law of Turbulence

By exploiting randomness, three mathematicians have proved an elegant law that underlies the chaotic motion of turbulent systems.

Photo of James P. Allison sitting at his desk at the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The Contrarian Who Cures Cancers

James P. Allison believed that unleashing the immune system was a way to beat cancer when almost no one else did. A Nobel Prize and a growing list of cancer survivors vindicate him.

An AI genie turning a home into a jungle.
artificial intelligence

Artificial Intelligence Will Do What We Ask. That’s a Problem.

By teaching machines to understand our true desires, one scientist hopes to avoid the potentially disastrous consequences of having them do what we command.

The Joy of x Podcast

John Urschel: From NFL Player to Mathematician


John Urschel, who retired from playing professional football with the Baltimore Ravens to become a mathematician, talks to host Steven Strogatz about the fascinations of graph theory that lured him away from the NFL.

insights puzzle

Did the Chicken Come First or Is It Turtles All the Way Down?

The apparent paradox of the chicken and the egg smells like “turtles all the way down.” This puzzle shows how biology and physics can overcome infinite regress.

Quanta Podcast

computer security

Cryptography That Is Provably Secure

Researchers have just released hacker-proof cryptographic code — programs with the same level of invincibility as a mathematical proof.

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