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A Surprise Source of Life’s Code

Emerging data suggests the seemingly impossible — that mysterious new genes arise from “junk” DNA.

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Solution: ‘The Slippery Eel of Probability’

The solution to this month’s puzzle examines the use of abstract probabilities as an antidote to real-world ignorance.


How Life and Luck Changed Earth’s Minerals

Did the minerals on our planet arise in a predictable fashion, or did they result from chance events? The answers could eventually help scientists identify planets likely to harbor life.


The Connoisseur of Number Sequences

For more than 50 years, the mathematician Neil Sloane has curated the authoritative collection of interesting and important integer sequences.


Theories of Everything, Mapped

Explore the deepest mysteries at the frontier of fundamental physics, and the most promising ideas put forth to solve them.

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The Slippery Eel of Probability

How do you solve probability problems that appear to have more than one correct answer?


At Tiny Scales, a Giant Burst on Tree of Life

A new technique for finding and characterizing microbes has boosted the number of known bacteria by almost 50 percent, revealing a hidden world all around us.

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The Rise of Computer-Aided Explanation

Computers can translate French and prove mathematical theorems. But can they make deep conceptual insights into the way the world works?

insights puzzle

Solution: ‘Information From Randomness?’

The counterintuitive solution to this month’s puzzle raises philosophical questions about randomness and information.