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Big Data’s Mathematical Mysteries

December 3, 2015

Machine learning works spectacularly well, but mathematicians aren’t quite sure why.

Biology

The Incredible Shrinking Sex Chromosome

December 1, 2015

Nature offers species a panoply of ways to determine an organism’s sex. That flexibility suggests we need not be concerned about losing sex chromosomes, but it raises the question of why such a fundamental property is so variable.

insights puzzle

Solution: ‘Be Still My Pulsating Sequence’

November 25, 2015

The solution to this month’s puzzle explains how to find a rule behind a given sequence of numbers and challenges readers to take on a ‘lovely’ unsolved problem.

Mathematics

‘Outsiders’ Crack 50-Year-Old Math Problem

November 24, 2015

Three computer scientists have solved a problem central to a dozen far-flung mathematical fields.

Q&A

The Information Theory of Life

November 19, 2015

The polymath Christoph Adami is investigating life’s origins by reimagining life as self-perpetuating information strings.

complex systems

Nature’s Critical Warning System

November 18, 2015

Scientists are homing in on a warning signal that arises in complex systems like ecological food webs, the brain and the Earth’s climate. Could it help prevent future catastrophes?

insights puzzle

Be Still My Pulsating Sequence

November 12, 2015

Can you infer the simple rule behind a number sequence that spikes up and down like the beating of a heart?

Life’s Big Leaps: Critical Moments in Evolution

How Humans Evolved Supersize Brains

November 10, 2015

Scientists have begun to identify the symphony of biological triggers that powered the extraordinary expansion of the human brain.

Life’s Big Leaps: Critical Moments in Evolution

The Woman Who Stared at Wasps

November 5, 2015

The biologist Joan Strassmann discusses cooperation in social insects, how amoebas can teach us about competition, and why the definition of “organism” needs an overhaul.