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Quanta Magazine

Quanta Magazine Read and discuss the latest news and trends in mathematics, physics, computer science and life science research. At Quanta Magazine, scientific accuracy is every bit as important as telling a good story.

Since Quanta is a nonprofit foundation-funded publication, all of its resources go toward producing responsible, freely accessible journalism that is meticulously researched, reported, edited, copy-edited and fact-checked. And our editorial independence ensures the impartiality of our science coverage — our articles do not reflect or represent the views of the Simons Foundation. All editorial deci

Since Quanta is a nonprofit foundation-funded publication, all of its resources go toward producing responsible, freely accessible journalism that is meticulously researched, reported, edited, copy-edited and fact-checked. And our editorial independence ensures the impartiality of our science coverage — our articles do not reflect or represent the views of the Simons Foundation. All editorial deci

Operating as usual

The latest "machine scientist" algorithms can take in data on dark matter, dividing cells, turbulence, and other situati...
05/10/2022
‘Machine Scientists’ Distill the Laws of Physics From Raw Data

The latest "machine scientist" algorithms can take in data on dark matter, dividing cells, turbulence, and other situations too complicated for humans to understand and provide an equation capturing the essence of what’s going on.
https://www.quantamagazine.org/machine-scientists-distill-the-laws-of-physics-from-raw-data-20220510

Researchers say we’re on the cusp of “GoPro physics,” where a camera can point at an event and an algorithm can identify the underlying physics equation.

05/09/2022
Fermion or Boson?

Every particle in the Standard Model is either a fermion or a boson. Quantum rules govern how these particles occupy space. Fermions, which cannot occupy the same space, are matter particles, while bosons, which can overlap, are force particles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Unl1jXFnzgo

Thank you, @PulitzerPrizes committee. We feel deeply honored and thrilled, particularly for this recognition of our wond...
05/09/2022

Thank you, @PulitzerPrizes committee. We feel deeply honored and thrilled, particularly for this recognition of our wonderfully talented and hard-working colleague Natalie Wolchover, who has been a big part of Quanta since the beginning.

Read about Quanta Magazine and Natalie Wolchover’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the James Webb Space Telescope at the link in our bio. Once you’re there, you’ll also find a link to the original story, “The Webb Space Telescope Will Rewrite Cosmic History. If It Works.”

Meta is inviting researchers to study its massive language model. The company hopes that this transparency will help pre...
05/09/2022
Researchers Glimpse How AI Gets So Good at Language Processing | Quanta Magazine

Meta is inviting researchers to study its massive language model. The company hopes that this transparency will help prevent the AI from spewing misinformation and toxic language, reports Will Douglas Heaven for MIT Technology Review.
https://www.technologyreview.com/2022/05/03/1051691/meta-ai-large-language-model-gpt3-ethics-huggingface-transparency/

Part of the difficulty in controlling these language models stems from our poor understanding of how they process language. In April Mordechai Rorvig reported for Quanta on new insights into their inner workings using a simplified AI.
https://www.quantamagazine.org/researchers-glimpse-how-ai-gets-so-good-at-language-processing-20220414/

Language processing programs are notoriously hard to interpret, but smaller versions can provide important insights into how they work.

Bringing back perfect recreations of extinct species isn’t possible. But genetic and advanced breeding technologies coul...
05/09/2022
Why ‘De-Extinction’ Is Impossible (But Could Work Anyway) | Quanta Magazine

Bringing back perfect recreations of extinct species isn’t possible. But genetic and advanced breeding technologies could produce “de-extinct” proxies of extinct species — and that may be enough for conservation and research.
https://www.quantamagazine.org/why-de-extinction-is-impossible-but-could-work-anyway-20220509

Several projects are aiming to bring back mammoths and other species that have vanished from the planet. Whether that’s technically possible is beside the point.

In test tubes containing a single type of RNA “species” and cellular machinery for translating genes, scientists grew a ...
05/08/2022
In Test Tubes, RNA Molecules Evolve Into a Tiny Ecosystem | Quanta Magazine

In test tubes containing a single type of RNA “species” and cellular machinery for translating genes, scientists grew a more complex, cooperative community of molecules replete with parasites and hosts. https://www.quantamagazine.org/in-test-tubes-rna-molecules-evolve-into-a-tiny-ecosystem-20220505/

When researchers gave a genetic molecule the ability to replicate, it evolved over time into a complex network of “hosts” and “parasites” that both competed and cooperated to survive.

In 1948, Claude Shannon showed that the information content of a message could be quantified with what he called the inf...
05/08/2022
How Maxwell’s Demon Continues to Startle Scientists

In 1948, Claude Shannon showed that the information content of a message could be quantified with what he called the information entropy. This work proved fundamental to solving a thought experiment that stumped physicists for over a century. https://www.quantamagazine.org/how-maxwells-demon-continues-to-startle-scientists-20210422/

The thorny thought experiment has been turned into a real experiment — one that physicists use to probe the physics of information.

This week at Quanta: One of the most famous open questions in math may be a stone’s throw closer to being answered. • It...
05/08/2022

This week at Quanta: One of the most famous open questions in math may be a stone’s throw closer to being answered. • It may sound counterintuitive, but the inherent uncertainty of the quantum world can actually help scientists make more precise measurements. • This month’s Insights puzzle explores math that feels like magic. • In a stirring new study, researchers saw a complex molecular ecosystem evolve from a single type of RNA molecule.

Eukaryotes from kelp to koalas all use sex to reproduce. Researchers have discovered that the molecular tools for sex ma...
05/08/2022
A Billion Years Before Sex, Ancient Cells Were Equipped for It | Quanta Magazine

Eukaryotes from kelp to koalas all use sex to reproduce. Researchers have discovered that the molecular tools for sex may have evolved before eukaryotes did. https://www.quantamagazine.org/ancient-cells-had-sex-fusion-proteins-long-before-sex-evolved-20220216/

Molecular detective work is zeroing in on the origins of sexual reproduction. The protein tools for cell mergers seem to have long predated sex — so what were they doing?

Mathematicians, computer scientists and other researchers are increasingly focusing on ways to generalize graph theory —...
05/06/2022
How Big Data Carried Graph Theory Into New Dimensions | Quanta Magazine

Mathematicians, computer scientists and other researchers are increasingly focusing on ways to generalize graph theory — in its many guises — to explore the higher-order phenomena exhibited in the modern abundance of data. https://www.quantamagazine.org/how-big-data-carried-graph-theory-into-new-dimensions-20210819/

Researchers are turning to the mathematics of higher-order interactions to better model the complex connections within their data.

The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) just completed the deepest-ever radio-wave mapping of the cos...
05/06/2022
Four Years On, New Experiment Sees No Sign of ‘Cosmic Dawn’ | Quanta Magazine

The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME) just completed the deepest-ever radio-wave mapping of the cosmic web, reports Ben Brubaker for Scientific American. The experiment maps radiation from a particular hydrogen transition known as the 21- centimeter line.
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/canadian-telescope-delivers-deepest-ever-radio-view-of-cosmic-web/

This 21-cm transition has been used in the past to identify the era when the first stars were created, dubbed the cosmic dawn. But in February Ben Brubaker reported for Quanta on a recent experiment that found no sign of this cosmic dawn.
https://www.quantamagazine.org/in-new-experiment-astronomers-see-no-sign-of-cosmic-dawn-20220228/

When astronomers tried to confirm a signal from the birth of the first stars after the Big Bang, they saw nothing.

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About Quanta Magazine

Quanta Magazine’s goal is to enhance public understanding of science. Our reporters focus on developments in mathematics, theoretical physics, theoretical computer science and the basic life sciences. At Quanta, scientific accuracy is every bit as important as telling a good story. And having editorial independence ensures the impartiality of our science coverage, so while our publication was launched by the Simons Foundation, our articles do not necessarily reflect or represent the foundation’s views. https://www.quantamagazine.org/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/QuantaNews Twitter: https://twitter.com/QuantaMagazine Sign up for our weekly newsletter: http://eepurl.com/6FnWj

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Comments

The latest "machine scientist" algorithms can take in data on dark matter, dividing cells, turbulence, and other situations too complicated for humans to understand and provide an equation capturing the essence of what’s going on. https://www.quantamagazine.org/machine-scientists-distill-the-laws-of-physics-from-raw-data-20220510
This equation is often described as the most beautiful in all of mathematics. Each of its numbers, 0, 1, π, 𝑖 and 𝑒 symbolize an entire branch of math, and in that way the equation can be seen as a glorious confluence, a testament to the unity of math. https://www.quantamagazine.org/how-infinite-series-reveal-the-unity-of-mathematics-20220124/
Every particle in the Standard Model is either a fermion or a boson. Quantum rules govern how these particles occupy space. Fermions, which cannot occupy the same space, are matter particles, while bosons, which can overlap, are force particles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Unl1jXFnzgo
Elastocaloric materials like nickel-manganese-titanium experience drastic changes in temperature when pushed upon by an outside force. Read how changes in entropy make these materials behave so curiously: https://www.quantamagazine.org/how-caloric-materials-cool-and-protect-the-environment-20200824/
Thank you, @PulitzerPrizes committee. We feel deeply honored and thrilled, particularly for this recognition of our wonderfully talented and hard-working colleague Natalie Wolchover, who has been a big part of Quanta since the beginning. Read about Quanta Magazine and Natalie Wolchover’s Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the James Webb Space Telescope at the link in our bio. Once you’re there, you’ll also find a link to the original story, “The Webb Space Telescope Will Rewrite Cosmic History. If It Works.”
Meta is inviting researchers to study its massive language model. The company hopes that this transparency will help prevent the AI from spewing misinformation and toxic language, reports Will Douglas Heaven for MIT Technology Review. https://www.technologyreview.com/2022/05/03/1051691/meta-ai-large-language-model-gpt3-ethics-huggingface-transparency/ Part of the difficulty in controlling these language models stems from our poor understanding of how they process language. In April Mordechai Rorvig reported for Quanta on new insights into their inner workings using a simplified AI. https://www.quantamagazine.org/researchers-glimpse-how-ai-gets-so-good-at-language-processing-20220414/
Thank you, Pulitzer Prizes committee. We feel deeply honored and thrilled, particularly for this recognition of our wonderfully talented and hard-working colleague Natalie Wolchover, who has been a big part of Quanta since the beginning. https://www.pulitzer.org/prize-winners-by-year/2022 Here is the feature by Natalie that the Pulitzer Prizes have honored. https://www.quantamagazine.org/why-nasas-james-webb-space-telescope-matters-so-much-20211203/
Bringing back perfect recreations of extinct species isn’t possible. But genetic and advanced breeding technologies could produce “de-extinct” proxies of extinct species — and that may be enough for conservation and research. https://www.quantamagazine.org/why-de-extinction-is-impossible-but-could-work-anyway-20220509
Five mathematicians at the University of Birmingham have proved a nearly 50-year-old graph theory conjecture using a new technique in combinatorics called absorption. https://www.quantamagazine.org/mathematicians-settle-erdos-coloring-conjecture-20210405/
Craters on the moon have been taken as evidence for the Late Heavy Bombardment, but reassessments of Apollo moon rocks have cast doubt on whether the asteroid bombardments during the Hadean era were as severe as was thought. (From 2018) https://www.quantamagazine.org/fossil-discoveries-challenge-ideas-about-earths-start-20180122/
Scientists have built deep neural networks that can map between infinite dimensional spaces. https://www.quantamagazine.org/latest-neural-nets-solve-worlds-hardest-equations-faster-than-ever-before-20210419