Pradeep Mutalik

Puzzle Columnist

Illustration: bucket half-full of amoebas.
insights puzzle

How Many Half-Lives Do You Have?

Gaining an intuition about half-life requires some unintuitive thinking.

insights puzzle

Solution: ‘Hanging Far Out Over the Edge’

A simple and elegant way to stack identical flat objects so that they project over an edge as far as possible.

insights puzzle

How to Hang Far Out Over the Edge

What formula describes the farthest you can stack flat blocks over the edge of a table to form a seemingly gravity-defying half-bridge to nowhere?

Illustration by Lucy Reading-Ikkanda for Quanta Magazine
Abstractions blog

The Devil in the Polling Data

The same problem that caused the 2007 financial crisis also tripped up the polling data ahead of this year’s presidential election.

Abstractions blog

Why (Almost) Everyone Was Wrong

The results of this year’s presidential election made a mockery of analytical election forecast modelers.

insights puzzle

Solution: ‘Which Forecasts Are True?’

Aside from potential clues gleaned from a fluke result, it would take hundreds of U.S. presidential elections to definitely conclude that one election forecasting model is superior to another.

insights puzzle

How Can We Tell Which Forecasts Are True?

Presidential election forecasts are historically successful and appear to be highly precise. Yet they’re often contradictory. What would it take to trust them?

insights puzzle

Solution: ‘Time Through an LCD Display’

Insights about time’s arrow from a liquid crystal universe.

insights puzzle

Seeing Time Through a Liquid Crystal Display

What insights can an LCD display give us about time’s arrow?