Quanta5 min read
Complex Animals Led to More Oxygen, Says Maverick Theory
For decades, researchers have commonly assumed that higher oxygen levels led to the sudden diversification of animal life 540 million years ago. But one iconoclast argues the opposite: that new animal behaviors raised oxygen levels and remade the env
Quanta4 min readScience
Robert Langlands, Mathematical Visionary, Wins the Abel Prize
Generations of researchers have pursued his “Langlands program,” which seeks to create a grand unified theory of mathematics.
Quanta4 min read
Why Stephen Hawking’s Black Hole Puzzle Keeps Puzzling
The renowned British physicist, who died at 76, left behind a riddle that could eventually lead his successors to the theory of quantum gravity.
Quanta4 min readScience
How Einstein Lost His Bearings, and With Them, General Relativity
By 1913, Albert Einstein had nearly completed general relativity. But a simple mistake set him on a tortured, two-year reconsideration of his theory. Today, mathematicians still grapple with the issues he confronted.
Quanta4 min read
Why the Tiny Weight of Empty Space Is Such a Huge Mystery
The amount of energy infusing empty space seems too small to explain without a multiverse. But physicists have at least one alternative left to explore.
Quanta5 min read
New Giant Viruses Further Blur the Definition of Life
A newfound pair of giant viruses have massive genomes and the most complete resources for building proteins ever seen in the viral world. They have refreshed the debate about the origins of these cellular parasites.
Quanta3 min read
The Simple Algorithm That Ants Use to Build Bridges
Even with no one in charge, army ants work collectively to build bridges out of their bodies. New research reveals the simple rules that lead to such complex group behavior.
Quanta5 min readScience
Evolution Saves Species From ‘Kill the Winner’ Disasters
Modelers find evidence that a combination of competition, predation and evolution will push ecosystems toward species diversity anywhere in the universe.
Quanta4 min read
With Strategic Zaps to the Brain, Scientists Boost Memory
Stimulating part of the cortex as needed during learning tasks improves later recall. The finding reveals more about the brain's memory network and points toward possible therapies.
Quanta5 min readScience
Tissue Engineers Hack Life’s Code for 3-D Folded Shapes
Mechanical tension between tethered cells cues developing tissues to fold. Researchers can now program synthetic tissue to make coils, cubes and rippling plates.
Quanta4 min read
What Makes the Hardest Equations in Physics So Difficult?
The Navier-Stokes equations describe simple, everyday phenomena, like water flowing from a garden hose, yet they provide a million-dollar mathematical challenge.
Quanta5 min readScience
With ‘Downsized’ DNA, Flowering Plants Took Over the World
Compact genomes and tiny cells gave flowering plants an edge over competing flora. This discovery hints at a broader evolutionary principle.
Quanta3 min read
Why Is M-Theory the Leading Candidate for Theory of Everything?
The mother of all string theories passes a litmus test that, so far, no other candidate theory of quantum gravity has been able to match.
Quanta5 min read
New Bird Species Arises From Hybrids, as Scientists Watch
The rapid, unorthodox emergence of a new finch in the Galápagos hints that speciation isn’t rare. New hybrid species may quietly appear and disappear without anyone noticing.
Quanta4 min read
Neutrinos Suggest Solution to Mystery of Universe’s Existence
Updated results from a Japanese neutrino experiment continue to reveal an inconsistency in the way that matter and antimatter behave.
Quanta3 min readScience
Mathematicians Crack the Cursed Curve
A famously difficult mathematical problem resisted solution for over 40 years. Mathematicians have finally resolved it by following an intuition that links number theory to physics.
Quanta4 min read
The Overlooked Link Between Two of This Year’s Nobel Prizes
To better understand the molecules described by the latest prize in medicine, we will need the technique recognized by the latest prize in chemistry.
Quanta4 min read
Deathblow Dealt to Dark Matter Disks
New data tracking the movements of millions of Milky Way stars have effectively ruled out the presence of a “dark disk” that could have offered important clues to the mystery of dark matter.
Quanta6 min read
New Model Warns About CRISPR Gene Drives in the Wild
Two new papers urge caution in using powerful genome-editing technology against invasive species: Models show that aggressive gene drives can’t be contained in the wild.
Quanta3 min readTech
Artificial Intelligence Learns to Learn Entirely on Its Own
A new version of AlphaGo needed no human instruction to figure out how to clobber the best Go player in the world — itself.
Quanta4 min read
Visionary Mathematician Vladimir Voevodsky Dies at 51
Voevodsky’s friends remember him as constitutionally unable to compromise on the truth — a quality that led him to produce some of the most important mathematics of the 20th century.
Quanta3 min readScience
Ultra-Powerful Radio Bursts May Be Getting a Cosmic Boost
Repeating radio bursts are among the most mysterious phenomena in the universe. A new theory explores how some of their puzzling properties can be explained by galactic lenses made of plasma.
Quanta2 min readPsychology
One-Way Salesman Finds Fast Path Home
The real-world version of the famous “traveling salesman problem” finally gets a good-enough solution.
Quanta3 min read
Supercool Protein Imaging Gets the Nobel Prize
This year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry goes to researchers who made it possible to see proteins and other biomolecules at an atomic level of detail.
Quanta3 min read
LIGO Architects Win Nobel Prize in Physics
The American physicists Rainer Weiss, Kip Thorne and Barry Barish were honored for dreaming up and realizing the experiment that confirmed the existence of gravitational waves.
Quanta3 min readScience
Nobel Prize Awarded for Biological Clock Discoveries
Three U.S. biologists share the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their research into the molecular mechanism that drives circadian rhythm.
Quanta3 min read
The Math That Promises to Make the World Brighter
The color of LED lights is controlled by a clumsy process. A new mathematical discovery may make it easier for us to get the hues we want.
Quanta4 min read
The Oldest Mini-Brains Have Lifelike Young Cells
"Organoid" brain tissue models grown in a lab for two years can help scientists study a critical period of development just before and after birth.
Quanta3 min readScience
For Astronomers, Neutron Star Merger Could Eclipse Eclipse
Even as the solar eclipse was mesmerizing millions, astronomers were training their space- and land-based telescopes on a far more violent astrophysical event.
Quanta2 min readScience
Why Mathematicians Like to Classify Things
It’s “a definitive study for all time, like writing the final book,” says one researcher who’s mapping out new classes of geometric structures.
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