Joshua Sokol

Contributing Correspondent

geophysics

A Universal Law for the ‘Blood of the Earth’

November 28, 2018

Simple physical principles can be used to describe how rivers grow everywhere from Florida to Mars.

astrophysics

Astronomers Creep Up to the Edge of the Milky Way’s Black Hole

October 30, 2018

Hot spots have been discovered orbiting just outside the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s center. Their motions have given us the closest look at that violent environment.

Art for "Star-Swallowing Black Holes Burp Out Their Secrets"
astrophysics

Star-Swallowing Black Holes Reveal Secrets in Exotic Light Shows

August 8, 2018

Black holes occasionally reveal themselves when passing stars get ripped apart by their gravity. These tidal disruption events have created a new way for astronomers to map the hidden cosmos.

Photo of Jupiter for "Mathematicians Tame Turbulence in Flattened Fluids"
fluid dynamics

Mathematicians Tame Turbulence in Flattened Fluids

June 27, 2018

By squeezing fluids into flat sheets, researchers can get a handle on the strange ways that turbulence feeds energy into a system instead of eating it away.

Composite of numerous protoplanetary disc images taken by SPHERE
astronomy

Stellar Disks Reveal How Planets Get Made

May 21, 2018

Detailed images of disks swirling around young stars show the details of how solar systems come to be.

Photo of the cosmos by the multi-lensed Dragonfly telescope
Abstractions blog

A Victory for Dark Matter in a Galaxy Without Any

March 28, 2018

Paradoxically, a small galaxy that seems to contain none of the invisible stuff known as “dark matter” may help prove that it exists.

Lede art for "Why Self-Taught Artificial Intelligence Has Trouble With the Real World"
artificial intelligence

Why Artificial Intelligence Like AlphaZero Has Trouble With the Real World

February 21, 2018

The latest artificial intelligence systems start from zero knowledge of a game and grow to world-beating in a matter of hours. But researchers are struggling to apply these systems beyond the arcade.

Photo of Corina Tarnita 520px
Q&A

A Mathematician Who Decodes the Patterns Stamped Out by Life

December 20, 2017

Corina Tarnita deciphers bizarre patterns in the soil created by competing life-forms.

Magellan Baade telescope and CMB illustration
astrophysics

Earliest Black Hole Gives Rare Glimpse of Ancient Universe

December 6, 2017

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?