All Articles

520px photo of a robot holding a wooden puzzle block
artificial intelligence

Why Self-Taught Artificial Intelligence Has Trouble With the Real World

The latest artificial intelligence systems start from zero knowledge of a game and grow to world-beating in a matter of hours. But researchers are struggling to apply these systems beyond the arcade.

520px photo of Joe Polchinski
Quantized Columns

Physicists Mourn Joe Polchinski, Developer of Deep Ideas and Paradoxes

The theoretical physicist Joe Polchinski, who died Feb. 2, left a tremendous professional and personal legacy, says a friend and collaborator.

520px illustration for scale=free networks
network science

Scant Evidence of Power Laws Found in Real-World Networks

A new study challenges one of the most celebrated and controversial ideas in network science.

520px photo of smarticles
Computer Science

Smart Swarms Seek New Ways to Cooperate

New algorithms show how swarms of very simple robots can be made to work together as a group.

520px illustration of bottle beam
nuclear physics

Neutron Lifetime Puzzle Deepens, but No Dark Matter Seen

Two methods of measuring the neutron’s longevity give different answers, creating uncertainty in cosmological models. But no one has a clue what the problem is.

520px photo of phytoplankton
Abstractions blog

Evolution Saves Species From ‘Kill the Winner’ Disasters

Modelers find evidence that a combination of competition, predation and evolution will push ecosystems toward species diversity anywhere in the universe.

520px illustration of a man falling and missing a hay stack to land on.
insights puzzle

When Probability Meets Real Life

When faced with a difficult decision, should you go with your gut or carefully calculate the attendant risks?

520px photo of Gil Kalai
The Future of Quantum Computing

The Argument Against Quantum Computers

The mathematician Gil Kalai believes that quantum computers can’t possibly work, even in principle.

520px photo of lit neurons
Abstractions blog

With Strategic Zaps to the Brain, Scientists Boost Memory

Stimulating part of the cortex as needed during learning tasks improves later recall. The finding reveals more about the brain’s memory network and points toward possible therapies.