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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"
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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"
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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"
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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?

Illustration for "How the DNA Computer Program Makes You and Me"
insights puzzle

Solution: ‘The DNA Computer Program’

April 27, 2018

Computer code serves as a useful analogy for what our genes do, but the complexity and messiness of life go well beyond simple analogies and mathematical models.

Illustration for "How the DNA Computer Program Makes You and Me"
insights puzzle

How the DNA Computer Program Makes You and Me

April 5, 2018

Can a set of simple instructions produce complex, three-dimensional living structures?