Puzzle Columnist

## Evolutionary Math and Just-So Stories

Evolutionary stories like the grandmother hypothesis are easy to construct from mathematical models, but how well do they reflect reality?

## Solution: ‘The Slippery Math of Causation’

The all-too-intuitive picture of a straight arrow going from cause to effect is far too simplistic to describe the real world.

## The Slippery Math of Causation

If a forest is burning and we don’t know what’s responsible, does it have a cause?

## Solution: ‘The DNA Computer Program’

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.

## How the DNA Computer Program Makes You and Me

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

## Solution: ‘When Probability Meets Real Life’

When our brains don’t have a good intuition for reasoning with numbers, explicit probabilistic thinking can lead to improved decision-making.

## When Probability Meets Real Life

When faced with a difficult decision, should you go with your gut or carefully calculate the attendant risks?

## Solution: ‘Triangulation and Motion Sickness’

A method for estimating distances in sailing and astrophysics helps explain why riding on buses and boats can make us nauseous.

## How Triangulation Leads to Knowledge

What does measuring distances in sailing and astrophysics have to with motion sickness?