Pradeep Mutalik

Puzzle Columnist

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

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.

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

How Equality and Inequality Shape the Birds and the Bees

October 17, 2018

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’

September 7, 2018

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

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

Evolutionary Math and Just-So Stories

August 15, 2018

Evolutionary stories like the grandmother hypothesis are easy to construct from mathematical models, but how well do they reflect reality?

Illustation for "The Slippery Math of Causation"
insights puzzle

Solution: ‘The Slippery Math of Causation’

June 29, 2018

The all-too-intuitive picture of a straight arrow going from cause to effect is far too simplistic to describe the real world.

Illustation for "The Slippery Math of Causation"
insights puzzle

The Slippery Math of Causation

May 30, 2018

If a forest is burning and we don’t know what’s responsible, does it have a cause?