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ecology

A Twisted Path to Equation-Free Prediction

Complex natural systems defy analysis using a standard mathematical toolkit, so one ecologist is throwing out the equations.

insights puzzle

How to Create Art With Mathematics

Can you generate aesthetically pleasing, symmetrical curves with two numbers and a simple mathematical function?

Biology

The Mutant Genes Behind the Black Death

Only a few genetic changes were enough to change an ordinary stomach bug into the bacteria responsible for the plague.

number theory

A Magical Answer to an 80-Year-Old Puzzle

Using crowd-sourced and traditional mathematics research, Terence Tao has devised a solution to a long-standing problem posed by the legendary Paul Erdős.

Computer Science

A New Map Traces the Limits of Computation

A major advance in computational complexity reveals deep connections between the classes of problems that computers can — and can’t — possibly do.

insights puzzle

Solution: ‘The Road Less Traveled’

The solution to this month’s puzzle uses both mathematics and psychology to explain trouble with choosing the fastest route.

Physics

Visions of Future Physics

Nima Arkani-Hamed is championing a campaign to build the world’s largest particle collider, even as he pursues a new vision of the laws of nature.

Q&A

An Explorer of Life’s Deepest Partnerships

The biologist Nancy Moran has spent a career investigating the surprising nature of symbiosis, a phenomenon in which two species can appear to merge into one.

Biology

How the Body’s Trillions of Clocks Keep Time

Cellular clocks are almost everywhere. Clues to how they work are coming from the places they’re not.