Pradeep Mutalik

Puzzle Columnist

Bongard stars
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Bongard Problems and Scientific Discovery

June 8, 2017

For your frustration, joy and entertainment, our puzzle challenges you to find general patterns or rules based on seemingly random, specific examples.

Hungry giraffe
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Solution: ‘Darwinian Evolution Explains Lamarckism’

June 2, 2017

How Darwinian natural selection can produce and sustain a Lamarckian “inheritance of acquired characteristics.”

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Can Darwinian Evolution Explain Lamarckism?

May 11, 2017

Answering three questions can help reveal how the “inheritance of acquired characteristics” fits into modern evolutionary theory.

Illustration: black, numbered cats crossing a calendar. An extra "13" lurks in the background.
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Solution: ‘Friday the 13th’

April 26, 2017

There’s more than one good way to bring order to our unruly, seemingly arbitrary calendar.

Illustration: black, numbered cats crossing a calendar. An extra "13" lurks in the background.
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Is It Friday the 13th Again?

April 6, 2017

How our society defines years, months and weeks can seem frustratingly arbitrary. Can you bring order to our unruly calendar?

Still illustration: changing genes
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Solution: ‘A Ticking Evolutionary Clock’

April 3, 2017

How to calculate when a gene’s rate of evolution will slow to a crawl.

GIF illustration: changing genes
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A Ticking Evolutionary Clock

March 16, 2017

How quickly will a gene’s rate of evolution slow to a crawl?

Illustration: balloon modelling as a metaphor for entanglement
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Solution: ‘Taming Quantum Weirdness’

March 10, 2017

A simple analogue could offer insights into one of the most astonishing results of quantum mechanics.

Illustration: balloon modelling as a metaphor for entanglement
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How to Tame Quantum Weirdness

February 16, 2017

Can balloon animals help blunt uneasy feelings about “spooky action at a distance”?