Jennifer Ouellette

Contributing Writer

Art for "A Math Theory for Why People Hallucinate"
neuroscience

A Math Theory for Why People Hallucinate

Psychedelic drugs can trigger characteristic hallucinations, which have long been thought to hold clues about the brain’s circuitry. After nearly a century of study, a possible explanation is crystallizing.

Illustration for "Brains May Teeter Near Their Tipping Point"
neuroscience

Brains May Teeter Near Their Tipping Point

In a renewed attempt at a grand unified theory of brain function, physicists now argue that brains optimize performance by staying near — though not exactly at — the critical point between two phases.

Photo of Stephen Hawking in 1979 in Princeton, New Jersey.
Abstractions blog

Why Stephen Hawking’s Black Hole Puzzle Keeps Puzzling

The renowned British physicist, who died at 76, left behind a riddle that could eventually lead his successors to the theory of quantum gravity.

Andromeda galaxy
Abstractions blog

How Superfluid Dark Matter Mimics an Old Idea About Gravity

Does the force of gravity change at large scales? Perhaps not, but a new theory of dark matter shows why that could appear to be the case.

Dark matter superfluid
dark matter

Dark Matter Recipe Calls for One Part Superfluid

A different kind of dark matter could help to resolve an old celestial conundrum.

Juggler
Abstractions blog

The Mathematics of Juggling

Juggling has advanced enormously in recent decades, thanks in part to the mathematical study of possible patterns.

evolution

Why Did Life Move to Land? For the View

The ancient creatures who first crawled onto land may have been lured by the informational benefit that comes from seeing through air.

Quantum Brain GIF
neuroscience

A New Spin on the Quantum Brain

A new theory explains how fragile quantum states may be able to exist for hours or even days in our warm, wet brain. Experiments should soon test the idea.

complex systems

The New Laws of Explosive Networks

Researchers are uncovering the hidden laws that reveal how the Internet grows, how viruses spread, and how financial bubbles burst.

About the author

Jennifer Ouellette is a freelance writer and an author of popular science books, including “Me, Myself, and Why: Searching for the Science of Self.” Her work has also appeared in Discover, New Scientist, Smithsonian, Nature, Physics Today, Physics World, Slate and Salon, and she maintains a blog, Cocktail Party Physics, at Scientific American.