Natalie Wolchover

Senior Writer/Editor

520px illustration of bottle beam
nuclear physics

Neutron Lifetime Puzzle Deepens, but No Dark Matter Seen

February 13, 2018

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
cosmology

How the Universe Got Its Bounce Back

January 31, 2018

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

January 3, 2018

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?

December 18, 2017

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
Multimedia

Plunge Into a (Virtual Reality) Black Hole

December 4, 2017

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.
Q&A

A Physicist’s Physicist Ponders the Nature of Reality

November 28, 2017

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

A projection showing how the positions of some 2 million stars measured by the Gaia satellite are expected to evolve in the future.
Abstractions blog

Deathblow Dealt to Dark Matter Disks

November 17, 2017

New data tracking the movements of millions of Milky Way stars have effectively ruled out the presence of a “dark disk” that could have offered important clues to the mystery of dark matter.

‘Crazy’ Supernova Looks Like a New Kind of Star Death
astrophysics

‘Crazy’ Supernova Looks Like a New Kind of Star Death

November 8, 2017

Astronomers are mystified by a strange star explosion in a distant galaxy that might be a relic from an earlier cosmological era.

Zoomable Universe - rectangular thumbnail
Multimedia

From the Edge of the Universe to the Inside of a Proton

November 6, 2017

The Zoomable Universe, a new book by the astrobiologist Caleb Scharf, the illustrator Ron Miller and 5W Infographics, tours the universe’s 62 orders of magnitude.