A digital simulacrum of a protein.
abstractions blog

A Digital Locksmith Has Decoded Biology’s Molecular Keys

Neural networks have been taught to quickly read the surfaces of proteins — molecules critical to many biological processes.

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An illustration of a knot that mathematicians might study using tools called invariants.
topology

In a Single Measure, Invariants Capture the Essence of Math Objects

To distinguish between fundamentally different objects, mathematicians turn to invariants that encode the objects’ essential features.

Photo of various colorful maps
Abstractions blog

In Mathematics, It Often Takes a Good Map to Find Answers

Mathematicians try to figure out when problems can be solved using current knowledge — and when they have to chart a new path instead.

A black hole shooting thunderbolts.
quantum gravity

Black Hole Paradoxes Reveal a Fundamental Link Between Energy and Order

By chewing on the problems posed by “extremal” black holes, physicists have exposed a surprising and universal connection between energy and entropy.

Animated illustration of flashing, moving wavelengths and strobing lights surrounding a pair of eyes.
Quantized Columns

Spreading the Word on a Possible Alzheimer’s Treatment

Neuroscientists could use brain waves to spur immune cells into action against the disease — but the process is almost too fantastic to believe.

Lines representing paths of particles fan out from a point and pass through a series of detectors.
Stalks and spore bodies of a slime mold rise above a smooth surface.
Abstractions blog

Out-of-Sync ‘Loners’ May Secretly Protect Orderly Swarms

Studies of collective behavior usually focus on how crowds of organisms coordinate their actions. But what if the individuals that don’t participate have just as much to tell us?

Illustration of a robot translating calculus into branching, tree-like structures
artificial intelligence

Symbolic Mathematics Finally Yields to Neural Networks

After translating some of math’s complicated equations, researchers have created an AI system that they hope will answer even bigger questions.

knot theory

Graduate Student Solves Decades-Old Conway Knot Problem

It took Lisa Piccirillo less than a week to answer a long-standing question about a strange knot discovered over half a century ago by the legendary John Conway.

The Joy of x Podcast


00:00/00:00

The mathematical physicist Robbert Dijkgraaf and host Steven Strogatz discuss the frontiers of string theory and why space and time might not be the most fundamental things in the universe.

insights puzzle

Why Our Perpetual Energy Puzzle Fails

Readers poked holes in our paradoxical April Fools’ Day claims about perpetual energy and whether this puzzle solution would ever be published.

Quanta Podcast


00:00/00:00
taxonomy

What’s in a Name? Taxonomy Problems Vex Biologists

Researchers struggle to incorporate ongoing evolutionary discoveries into an animal classification scheme older than Darwin.

About Quanta Magazine

Illuminating basic science and math research through public service journalism.

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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.

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