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Puzzles

Selfish Genes
insights puzzle

Are Genes Selfish or Cooperative?

Can you discover a simple mathematical result of Mendelian genetics that describes how genes interact with each other?

Snake
insights puzzle

Solution: ‘The Prime Rib Problem’

Pradeep Mutalik and Quanta readers explore an open question about prime numbers: What is the lowest valued, longest consecutive sequence of integers that are divisible by a set of prime numbers?

snake
insights puzzle

The Prime Rib Problem

Prime numbers are endlessly fascinating to number theorists and math enthusiasts. This month’s puzzle explores primes by cooking up a whimsical dish of grilled snake ribs.

Chameleons
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Solution: ‘Why Are There Two Sexes?’

The mathematical concept of parity and the fatal flaw of serial multiplication can help explain why having two sexes usually works better than having one or three.

Chameleons
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Why Are There Two Sexes?

Asexual reproduction can produce twice as many offspring as sexual reproduction without the hassle of finding and courting a mate. So why do most complex animals have two sexes? Why not three?

Bongard puzzle stars
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Solution: ‘Bongard Problems and Scientific Discovery’

Like scientific puzzles, Bongard problems can lead you through a frustrating blind search until you find that simple, elegant rule that fits a seemingly random pattern.

Bongard stars
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Bongard Problems and Scientific Discovery

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’

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

insights puzzle

Can Darwinian Evolution Explain Lamarckism?

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