Pradeep Mutalik

Puzzle Columnist

An illustration of a sunset beach scene turned into a puzzle.
insights puzzle

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.

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

March 22, 2019

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

February 14, 2019

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

December 21, 2018

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’

November 9, 2018

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

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.