Natalie Wolchover

Senior Writer/Editor

Eva Silverstein at Stanford University
Thinking Places

Eva Silverstein’s Spirals and Strings

July 17, 2017

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

Marjorie Rice
Abstractions blog

Marjorie Rice’s Secret Pentagons

July 11, 2017

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

15 pentagon tessellations
geometry

Pentagon Tiling Proof Solves Century-Old Math Problem

July 11, 2017

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

June 27, 2017

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

June 23, 2017

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

June 20, 2017

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

June 15, 2017

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
consciousness

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

June 1, 2017

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.

Black hole merger
Abstractions blog

Latest Black Hole Collision Comes With a Twist

June 1, 2017

The Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory’s third detection further compounds the mystery of why black holes collide.