Natalie Wolchover

Senior Writer/Editor

origins of life

First Support for a Physics Theory of Life

Take chemistry, add energy, get life. The first tests of Jeremy England’s provocative origin-of-life hypothesis are in, and they appear to show how order can arise from nothing.

Eva Silverstein at Stanford University
Thinking Places

Eva Silverstein’s Spirals and Strings

Daily bike rides, serendipitous interactions and long periods of solo thinking inspire this string cosmologist.

Marjorie Rice
Abstractions blog

Marjorie Rice’s Secret Pentagons

A California housewife who in the 1970s discovered four new types of tessellating pentagons is dead at 94.

15 pentagon tessellations

Pentagon Tiling Proof Solves Century-Old Math Problem

A French mathematician has completed the classification of all convex pentagons, and therefore all convex polygons, that tile the plane.

Kuiper belt objects, planet nine
Abstractions blog

Planet Nine Is Put on Trial in Absentia

Breathless media coverage notwithstanding, the cases for and against a hypothetical Planet Nine in the outskirts of the solar system remain inconclusive.

Juan Maldacena
Thinking Places

Juan Maldacena, Pondering Quantum Gravity by the Pond

One of the world’s preeminent theoretical physicists seeks a quiet place to think.

Naked singularities
quantum gravity

Where Gravity Is Weak and Naked Singularities Are Verboten

Recent calculations tie together two conjectures about gravity, potentially revealing new truths about its elusive quantum nature.

Rainer Weiss
Thinking Places

Rainer Weiss, Remembering the Little Room in the Plywood Palace

The physicist who designed the LIGO experiment that detected gravitational waves still holes up in a small basement lab surrounded by electronics and optical instruments.

Man emerging from particals climbing monolith

A Theory of Reality as More Than the Sum of Its Parts

New math shows how, contrary to conventional scientific wisdom, conscious beings and other macroscopic entities might have greater influence over the future than do the sum of their microscopic components.