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Electron micrograph showing a viral factory and new viral particles inside a cell.
evolution

Did Viruses Create the Nucleus? The Answer May Be Near.

November 25, 2020

An unorthodox symbiotic theory about the origin of eukaryotes’ defining characteristic may soon be put to the test.

Illustration showing orange building blocks outside a doorway that opens onto blue towers made up of similar building blocks.
Quantized Columns

Contemplating the End of Physics

November 24, 2020

Has physics reached the limits of what we can discover — or are the possibilities only just beginning?

Infographic showing the ranges of possible masses of WIMPs, axions, ultralight dark matter, sub-GeV dark matter and primordial black holes, which are five different candidates for dark matter.
Abstractions blog

The Search for Dark Matter Is Dramatically Expanding

November 23, 2020

Physicists plan to leave no stone unturned, checking whether dark matter tickles different types of detectors, nudges starlight, warms planetary cores or even lodges in rocks.

insights puzzle

How to Solve Our Three John Conway-Inspired Puzzles

November 20, 2020

A numerical puzzle, a geometric puzzle and a game of random patterns — all with connections to the legendary mathematician — elicited an enthusiastic response from readers.

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Graphical model of a cubic earth.
geophysics

Scientists Uncover the Universal Geometry of Geology

An exercise in pure mathematics has led to a wide-ranging theory of how the world comes together.

Quantized Academy

Some Math Problems Seem Impossible. That Can Be a Good Thing.

November 18, 2020

Struggling with math problems that can’t be solved helps us better understand the ones we can.

Q&A

Searching Symbols for the Rules of Change

November 17, 2020

Bryna Kra searches for the patterns in sequences of numbers that explain how complicated dynamical systems evolve over time.

Colorized micrograph of a cell’s nucleus, showing euchromatin and heterochromatin.
Abstractions blog

Scientists Find Vital Genes Evolving in Genome’s Junkyard

November 16, 2020

Even genes essential for life can be caught in an evolutionary arms race that forces them to change or be replaced.

Illustration of a particle
Hidden Structure

What Is a Particle?

November 12, 2020

It has been thought of as many things: a pointlike object, an excitation of a field, a speck of pure math that has cut into reality. But never has physicists’ conception of a particle changed more than it is changing now.