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Life’s Big Leaps: Critical Moments in Evolution

Mongrel Microbe Tests Story of Complex Life

A newly discovered class of microbe could help to resolve one of the biggest and most controversial mysteries in evolution — how simple microbes transformed into the complex cells that produced animals, plants and fungi.

Quantized Columns

The Physical Origin of Universal Computing

The physical nature of computers might reveal deep truths about their uniquely powerful abstract abilities.


Searching the Sky for the Wobbles of Gravity

The physicist Gabriela González is on the cusp of finding the first direct evidence of gravitational waves — soundlike wobbles in space-time produced by black holes and their kin.


Theorists Draw Closer to Perfect Coloring

A theorem for coloring a large class of “perfect” mathematical networks could ease the way for a long-sought general coloring proof.


Networks Untangle Malaria’s Deadly Shuffle

By examining regions shared between some of nature’s most variable genes, malaria researchers are piecing together an understanding of a deadly parasite.


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?


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.