Pradeep Mutalik

Puzzle Columnist

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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?

An illustration of a sunset beach scene turned into a puzzle.
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The Puzzling Search for Perfect Randomness

August 20, 2019

Does objective, perfect randomness exist, or is randomness merely a product of our ignorance?

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Solution: Magic Moiré in Twisted Graphene

July 26, 2019

Answering these simple questions can give you an intuitive feel for the geometric properties behind the emergence of superconductivity in rotated graphene sheets.

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

June 20, 2019

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’

May 16, 2019

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"
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The Bulldogs That Bulldogs Fight

April 17, 2019

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

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.