Joshua Sokol

Contributing Correspondent

Magellan Baade telescope and CMB illustration
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?

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.

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.

Andrea Ghez in Hawaii
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.

Jessica Flack
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.

Is a spiderweb part of the animal’s mind?
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.

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.

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 in her lab at Columbia University.
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.