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Quanta Writers and Editors Discuss Trends in Science and Math

On November 16, 2018, more than 200 readers joined writers and editors from Quanta Magazine for a wide-ranging panel discussion that examined the newest ideas in fundamental physics, biology and mathematics research.


Why Earth’s Cracked Crust May Be Essential for Life

Life needs more than water alone. Recent discoveries suggest that plate tectonics has played a critical role in nourishing life on Earth. The findings carry major consequences for the search for life elsewhere in the universe.


Overtaxed Working Memory Knocks the Brain Out of Sync

Researchers find that when working memory gets overburdened, dialogue between three brain regions breaks down. The discovery provides new support for a larger concept about how the brain works.

planetary science

A New World’s Extraordinary Orbit Points to Planet Nine

Astronomers argue that there’s an undiscovered giant planet far beyond the orbit of Neptune. A newly discovered rocky body has added evidence to the circumstantial case for it.


A Thermodynamic Answer to Why Birds Migrate

New modeling studies suggest that birds migrate to strike a favorable balance between their input and output of energy.

chaos theory

Machine Learning’s ‘Amazing’ Ability to Predict Chaos

In new computer experiments, artificial-intelligence algorithms can tell the future of chaotic systems.

graph theory

Decades-Old Graph Problem Yields to Amateur Mathematician

By making the first progress on the “chromatic number of the plane” problem in over 60 years, an anti-aging pundit has achieved mathematical immortality.

developmental biology

Brainless Embryos Suggest Bioelectricity Guides Growth

Researchers are building a case that long before the nervous system works, the brain sends crucial bioelectric signals to guide the growth of embryonic tissues.

mathematical physics

To Test Einstein’s Equations, Poke a Black Hole

Two teams of researchers have made significant progress toward proving the black hole stability conjecture, a critical mathematical test of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.