Pradeep Mutalik

Puzzle Columnist

insights puzzle

When Magic Is Seen in Twisted Graphene, That’s a Moiré

What do moiré patterns seen in optics, art, photography and color printing have to do with superconducting layers of graphene?

Art for "Math Puzzle: The Joy of Recursion"
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Solution: ‘The Bulldogs That Bulldogs Fight’

To minimize brain strain when thinking recursively, start simply, look for a pattern and let the pattern do the work.

Art for "Math Puzzle: The Joy of Recursion"
insights puzzle

The Bulldogs That Bulldogs Fight

Solve a linguistic whodunit about a college mascot by thinking like a self-referencing computer subroutine.

Art for "How to Find Simple Treasures in Complex Numbers"
insights puzzle

Solution: ‘How to Find Simple Treasures in Complex Numbers’

Puzzle solvers used “imaginary” numbers to solve a real world problem: finding long-lost treasure.

Art for "How to Find Simple Treasures in Complex Numbers"
insights puzzle

How to Find Simple Treasures in Complex Numbers

In spite of their name, “imaginary” numbers are as real as any other numbers, especially when it comes to hunting for lost treasure.

Crossword puzzle - abstract illustration
2018 in Review

Quanta’s Science and Math Crossword Puzzle

Celebrate a year’s worth of scientific and mathematical insights by solving this brain-teasing cryptic crossword from our puzzle columnist.

Art for "How Equality and Inequality Shape the Birds and the Bees"
insights puzzle

Solution: ‘How Equality and Inequality Shape Birds and Bees’

Puzzle solvers explored how evolution may have used negative and positive control mechanisms to shape the conflicting parental functions of reproduction and child rearing.

Art for "How Equality and Inequality Shape the Birds and the Bees"
insights puzzle

How Equality and Inequality Shape the Birds and the Bees

Two dynamic, seemingly opposing forces likely played an important role in the evolution of reproduction and child rearing in social animals like bees and humans.

Art for "Evolutionary Math and Just-So Stories"
insights puzzle

Solution: ‘Evolutionary Math and Just-So Stories’

How much stock should we put in mathematical models of evolution that have not been validated by rigorous empirical data?

About the author

Pradeep Mutalik is a medical research scientist at the Yale Center for Medical Informatics and a lifelong puzzle enthusiast. He has published work in neurophysiology, animal behavior, artificial intelligence, radiology and consciousness. He wrote puzzle columns for The New York Times from 2009 to 2012 and curated the Enigma Cafe at the National Museum of Mathematics from 2012 to 2013.