A Blazing Hot Coal Seam Shows How Microbes Can Spring to Life

A decades-long fire in Pennsylvania revealed some unexpected twists in how microbes survive in harsh environments.

Jim Gunn, the Astronomer Who’d Rather Build Space Cameras

Jim Gunn shaped the theory of the evolution of the cosmos before building cameras and spectrographs for major observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope.

Viruses Have a Secret, Altruistic Social Life

Researchers are beginning to understand the ways in which viruses strategically manipulate and cooperate with one another.

Mathematicians Discover the Perfect Way to Multiply

By chopping up large numbers into smaller ones, researchers have rewritten a fundamental mathematical speed limit.

What the Sight of a Black Hole Means to a Black Hole Physicist

The astrophysicist Janna Levin reflects on the newly unveiled, first-ever photograph of a black hole.

Rethinking the Ancestry of the Eukaryotes

New studies revise ideas about the symbiosis that gave mitochondria to cells and about whether the last common ancestor of all eukaryotes was one cell or many.

Sarah Hörst Creates Exoplanet Atmospheres In Her Lab

Astronomers will soon take their first glance at the atmosphere of a distant exoplanet. Sarah Hörst is writing the guidebook for these exoplanetary explorers, one that will reveal what a distinctive atmosphere says about the world underneath.

Physicists Discover Exotic Patterns of Synchronization

In a world seemingly filled with chaos, physicists have discovered new forms of synchronization and are learning how to predict and control them.

Infinite Powers: Usain Bolt and the Art of Calculus

Just how fast can the fastest human run? This adapted book excerpt from Infinite Powers reveals how calculus helps us investigate the nature of motion and change.

In Quantum Games, There’s No Way to Play the Odds

These games combine quantum entanglement, infinity and impossible-to-calculate winning probabilities. But if researchers can crack them, they’ll reveal deep mathematical secrets.

How the EverCrypt Library Creates Hacker-Proof Cryptography

Researchers have just released hacker-proof cryptographic code — programs with the same level of invincibility as a mathematical proof.

Goals and Rewards Redraw the Brain’s Map of the World

Two new studies show that the brain’s navigation system changes how it represents physical space to reflect personal experience.

Math Proof Finds All Change is Mix of Order and Randomness

All descriptions of change are a unique blend of chance and determinism, according to the sweeping mathematical proof of the “weak Pinsker conjecture.”

Puzzle Solution: Simple Math in Complex Numbers

Puzzle solvers used “imaginary” numbers to solve a real world problem: finding long-lost treasure.

Sum-of-Three-Cubes Problem Solved for ‘Stubborn’ Number 33

A number theorist with programming prowess has found a solution to 33 = x³ + y³ + z³, a much-studied equation that went unsolved for 64 years.