Pradeep Mutalik

Puzzle Columnist

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Why Our Perpetual Energy Puzzle Fails

May 22, 2020

Readers poked holes in our paradoxical April Fools’ Day claims about perpetual energy and whether this puzzle solution would ever be published.

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How to Design a Perpetual Energy Machine

April 1, 2020

This April, find the fatal flaws in two paradoxical claims — one about a perpetual source of energy and the other about whether you will ever see the solution to these puzzles.

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Solution: ‘Is It Turtles All the Way Down?’

March 27, 2020

While the age-old chicken-and-egg paradox is easily answered, the question of infinite regress in physics is far from resolved.

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Did the Chicken Come First or Is It Turtles All the Way Down?

February 6, 2020

The apparent paradox of the chicken and the egg smells like “turtles all the way down.” This puzzle shows how biology and physics can overcome infinite regress.

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Solution: ‘Natural Law and Elegant Math’

January 17, 2020

While mathematics gives us elegant explanations for many physical phenomena, real-world situations often require us to scramble through dense numerical thickets.

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Does Natural Law Need Elegant Mathematics?

December 5, 2019

Many of us are drawn to beauty in mathematics. But is that the way nature really works?

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Solution: ‘Randomness From Determinism’

November 22, 2019

Readers’ modifications of a bean machine showed how deterministic laws are capable of producing random-seeming behavior.

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How Randomness Can Arise From Determinism

October 14, 2019

Playing with a simple bean machine illustrates how deterministic laws can produce probabilistic, random-seeming behavior.

An illustration of a sunset beach scene turned into a puzzle.
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Solution: ‘Perfect Randomness’

September 27, 2019

Is nature inherently random or is perfect randomness just an illusion based on our ignorance?

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.