Charlie Wood

Contributing Writer

Abstractions blog

Physicists Peer Inside a Fireball of Quantum Matter

July 30, 2019

Experimenters in Germany have glimpsed the kind of strange, non-atomic matter thought to fill the cores of merging neutron stars.

Abstractions blog

Do Brains Operate at a Tipping Point? New Clues and Complications

June 10, 2019

New experimental results simultaneously advance and challenge the theory that the brain’s network of neurons balances on the knife-edge between two phases.

Art for "Dark Matter Gets a Reprieve in New Analysis"
Abstractions blog

Dark Matter Gets a Reprieve in New Analysis

April 29, 2019

A strange glow coming from the Milky Way’s center was thought to be due to ordinary pulsars. But a new look at a years-old study shows that dark matter might still be responsible.

Photo of Trichoplax adhaerens
genomics

World’s Simplest Animal Reveals Hidden Diversity

September 12, 2018

The first animal genus defined purely by genetic characters represents a new era for the sorting and naming of animals.

Belt trick illustration
Abstractions blog

The Strange Numbers That Birthed Modern Algebra

September 6, 2018

The 19th-century discovery of numbers called “quaternions” gave mathematicians a way to describe rotations in space, forever changing physics and math.

Art for "Black Hole Firewalls Could Be Too Tepid to Burn"
Abstractions blog

Black Hole Firewalls Could Be Too Tepid to Burn

August 22, 2018

String theorists elide a paradox about black holes by extinguishing the walls of fire feared to surround them.

Photo of Escherichia coli under a microscope
Abstractions blog

Swarming Bacteria Create an ‘Impossible’ Superfluid

July 26, 2018

Researchers explore a loophole that extracts useful energy from a fluid’s seemingly random motion. The secret? Sugar and asymmetry.

Abstractions blog

How Artificial Intelligence Can Supercharge the Search for New Particles

July 23, 2018

In the hunt for new fundamental particles, physicists have always had to make assumptions about how the particles will behave. New machine learning algorithms don’t.

Illustration for "Why Can’t We Find Planet Nine?"
Abstractions blog

Why Can’t We Find Planet Nine?

July 3, 2018

Astronomers suspect that there’s a large planet hiding out in the distant fringes of the solar system. At a recent workshop, they brainstormed ways to coax it into view.