Natalie Wolchover

Senior Writer/Editor

Photo of mathematician Donald Richards sitting in a Pennsylvania State University classroom.

A Revealer of Secrets in the Data of Life and the Universe

The statistician Donald Richards lives to uncover subtle patterns hiding in real-world data.

Illustration of a bowl of dark energy on a weighing scale
Abstractions blog

Why the Tiny Weight of Empty Space Is Such a Huge Mystery

The amount of energy infusing empty space seems too small to explain without a multiverse. But physicists have at least one alternative left to explore.

An illustration of gravity as particles

Physicists Find a Way to See the ‘Grin’ of Quantum Gravity

A recently proposed experiment would confirm that gravity is a quantum force.

520px illustration of bottle beam
nuclear physics

Neutron Lifetime Puzzle Deepens, but No Dark Matter Seen

Two methods of measuring the neutron’s longevity give different answers, creating uncertainty in cosmological models. But no one has a clue what the problem is.

520px illustration for the bounce model theory

How the Universe Got Its Bounce Back

Cosmologists have shown that it’s theoretically possible for a contracting universe to bounce and expand. The new work resuscitates an old idea that directly challenges the Big Bang theory of cosmic origins.

520px illustration of classification of phases
condensed matter physics

Physicists Aim to Classify All Possible Phases of Matter

A complete classification could lead to a wealth of new materials and technologies. But some exotic phases continue to resist understanding.

M theory and its six components
Abstractions blog

Why Is M-Theory the Leading Candidate for Theory of Everything?

The mother of all string theories passes a litmus test that, so far, no other candidate theory of quantum gravity has been able to match.

Plunge Into A (Virtual Reality) Black Hole

Plunge Into a (Virtual Reality) Black Hole

Join a fleet of robotic probes on a one-way virtual-reality trip into the abyss of a massive black hole.

Edward Witten in his office at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

A Physicist’s Physicist Ponders the Nature of Reality

Edward Witten reflects on the meaning of dualities in physics and math, emergent space-time, and the pursuit of a complete description of nature.