All Articles

insights puzzle

The Road Less Traveled

September 3, 2015

When there are two paths to your destination, why does it always seem like you’re on the road with more traffic?

Computer Science

A New Design for Cryptography’s Black Box

September 2, 2015

A recent cryptographic breakthrough has proven difficult to put into practice. But new advances show how near-perfect computer security might be surprisingly close at hand.

profile

A Life in Games

August 28, 2015

The mathematician John Horton Conway’s myriad accomplishments — including the Game of Life, sprouts and the surreal numbers — are the product of a mind at play.

Biology

How Mutant Viral Swarms Spread Disease

August 25, 2015

A new understanding of viral swarms is helping researchers predict how viruses will evolve and where disease is likely to spread.

Q&A

The Case for Complex Dark Matter

August 20, 2015

The physicist James Bullock explains how a complicated “dark sector” of interacting particles may illuminate some puzzling observations of the centers of galaxies.

Biology

A Surprise Source of Life’s Code

August 18, 2015

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

insights puzzle

Solution: ‘The Slippery Eel of Probability’

August 14, 2015

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

geophysics

How Life and Luck Changed Earth’s Minerals

August 11, 2015

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.

Q&A

The Connoisseur of Number Sequences

August 6, 2015

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