Natalie Wolchover

Senior Writer

Physics

Solid or Liquid? Physicists Redefine States of Matter

Glass and other strange materials have long confounded textbook definitions of what it means to be solid. Now, two groups of physicists propose a new solution to the riddle.

networks

Treading Softly in a Connected World

In an increasingly interconnected world, scientists are seeking safeguards against catastrophic cascades of failure like stock market crashes and widespread blackouts.

cosmology

Peering Into the Early Universe

Three “extremely large telescopes” poised to begin observations within a decade could help answer some of the universe’s oldest and best-kept secrets.

algorithms

In Computers We Trust?

As the role of computers in pure mathematics grows, researchers debate their reliability.

universality

In Mysterious Pattern, Math and Nature Converge

All complex correlated systems, from Arctic melt ponds to the Internet, appear to be governed by the same math as a random matrix.

Game Theory

Hunger Game: Is Honesty Between Animals Always the Best Policy?

Game theorists have developed a new model of communication among animals. It suggests evolution will produce a situation in which members of a species are honest most of the time, but not always.

quantum computing

Classical Computing Embraces Quantum Ideas

Computer scientists are finding that “thinking quantumly” can lead to new insights into long-standing problems in classical computer science, mathematics and cryptography, regardless of whether quantum computers ever materialize.

astrophysics

A Primordial Nucleus Behind the Elements of Life

Using supercomputers and new mathematical techniques, physicists are working to reveal how the Hoyle state atomic nucleus gives rise to the light elements that enable life, and how it drives the evolution of stars.

LHC tunnel
supersymmetry

As Supersymmetry Fails Tests, Physicists Seek New Ideas

As the elegant theory of supersymmetry continues to fail experimental tests, physicists debate whether to change course and what the future holds for particle physics.