Natalie Wolchover

Senior Writer/Editor

Photo of raindrops on a window by Philip Kraaijenbrink
Abstractions blog

Droplets That ‘Come to Life’

Life might have originated in droplets that behave surprisingly like living cells.

Illustration: Dividing Droplets
biophysics

Dividing Droplets Could Explain Life’s Origin

Researchers have discovered that simple “chemically active” droplets grow to the size of cells and spontaneously divide, suggesting they might have evolved into the first living cells.

Earth scientists hope that their growing knowledge of the planet’s early history will shed light on poorly understood features seen today, from continents to geysers.
geophysics

Explorers Find Passage to Earth’s Dark Age

Geochemical signals from deep inside Earth are beginning to shed light on the planet’s first 50 million years, a formative period long viewed as inaccessible to science.

particle physics

Grand Unification Dream Kept at Bay

Physicists have failed to find disintegrating protons, throwing into limbo the beloved theory that the forces of nature were unified at the beginning of time.

Warped time. Olena Shmahalo/Quanta Magazine
Abstractions blog

Quantum Gravity’s Time Problem

The effort to unify quantum mechanics and general relativity means reconciling totally different notions of time.

Erik Verlinde by Ilvy Njiokiktjien for Quanta Magazine
gravity

The Case Against Dark Matter

A proposed theory of gravity does away with dark matter, even as new astrophysical findings challenge the need for galaxies full of the invisible mystery particles.

Neutron-scattering image of a “spin ice” material created in 2009 that contains particles analogous to magnetic monopoles.
Abstractions blog

Can Analogies Reveal the Laws of Physics?

So-called “analogue experiments” are becoming increasingly common in physics, but do they teach or mislead?

quantum gravity

What Sonic Black Holes Say About Real Ones

Can a fluid analogue of a black hole point physicists toward the theory of quantum gravity, or is it a red herring?

Pencils Down: Experiments in Education

The Art of Teaching Math and Science

The impasse in math and science instruction runs deeper than test scores or the latest educational theory. What can we learn from the best teachers on the front lines?