Joshua Sokol

Contributing Writer

It weighs as much as 780 million suns and helped to cast off the cosmic Dark Ages. But now that astronomers have found the earliest known black hole, they wonder: How could this giant have grown so big, so fast?
astrophysics

Earliest Black Hole Gives Rare Glimpse of Ancient Universe

It weighs as much as 780 million suns and helped to cast off the cosmic Dark Ages. But now that astronomers have found the earliest known black hole, they wonder: How could this giant have grown so big, so fast?

The core of a neutron star is such an extreme environment that physicists can’t agree on what happens inside. But a new space-based experiment — and a few more colliding neutron stars — should reveal whether neutrons themselves break down.
astrophysics

Squishy or Solid? A Neutron Star’s Insides Open to Debate

The core of a neutron star is such an extreme environment that physicists can’t agree on what happens inside. But a new space-based experiment — and a few more colliding neutron stars — should reveal whether neutrons themselves break down.

Even as the solar eclipse was mesmerizing millions, astronomers were training their space- and land-based telescopes on a far more violent astrophysical event.
Abstractions blog

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.

The astrophysicist Andrea Ghez spent two decades proving that a supermassive black hole anchors the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Her new plan? Test what happens when things get too close.
Q&A

Black-Hole Hunter Takes Aim at Einstein

The astrophysicist Andrea Ghez spent two decades proving that a supermassive black hole anchors the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Her new plan? Test what happens when things get too close.

The evolutionary biologist Jessica Flack seeks the computational rules that groups of organisms use to solve problems.
Q&A

How Nature Solves Problems Through Computation

The evolutionary biologist Jessica Flack seeks the computational rules that groups of organisms use to solve problems.

Spiders appear to offload cognitive tasks to their webs, making them one of a number of species with a mind that isn’t fully confined within the head.
cognitive science

The Thoughts of a Spiderweb

Spiders appear to offload cognitive tasks to their webs, making them one of a number of species with a mind that isn’t fully confined within the head.

A system of seven Earth-like exoplanets appeared to be unstable. Now their orbits have been rewritten in the music of the spheres.
Abstractions blog

Exoplanet Puzzle Cracked by Jazz Musicians

A system of seven Earth-like exoplanets appeared to be unstable. Now their orbits have been rewritten in the music of the spheres.

For decades, researchers believed that violent supernovas forged gold and other heavy elements. But many now argue for a different cosmic quarry.
astrophysics

A New Blast May Have Forged Cosmic Gold

For decades, researchers believed that violent supernovas forged gold and other heavy elements. But many now argue for a different cosmic quarry.

Elena Aprile now leads the world’s most sensitive dark-matter search. But before she could build her first detector, she had to make herself out of titanium.
Q&A

In the Deep, a Drive to Find Dark Matter

Elena Aprile now leads the world’s most sensitive dark-matter search. But before she could build her first detector, she had to make herself out of titanium.

About the author

Joshua Sokol is a freelance science journalist in Boston. His work has appeared in New Scientist, The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere. He has a bachelor’s degree in astronomy and in English literature from Swarthmore College, and a master’s degree in science writing from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In between, he worked as a data analyst for the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys.