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Physics

Video simulation of gas around a black hole.
astrophysics

Astronomers Find Black Holes Stirring Up the Biggest Galaxies

December 12, 2019

After a space telescope disintegrated, astrophysicists had little hope of understanding how supermassive black holes agitate giant galaxies. Then they invented a hack.

A domino, a two of clubs, and a clock face.
Abstractions blog

Why the Laws of Physics Are Inevitable

December 9, 2019

By considering simple symmetries, physicists working on the “bootstrap” have rederived the four known forces. “There’s just no freedom in the laws of physics,” said one.

Animation of a black hole rotating.
Abstractions blog

Black Hole Singularities Are as Inescapable as Expected

December 2, 2019

For the first time, physicists have calculated exactly what kind of singularity lies at the center of a realistic black hole.

An overhead shot of an engineer working on a metal tank with pipes and cables coming out of it.
Abstractions blog

Top Dark Matter Candidate Loses Ground to Tiniest Competitor

November 27, 2019

Physicists have long searched for hypothesized dark matter particles called WIMPs. Now, focus may be shifting to the axion — an ultra-lightweight particle whose existence would solve two mysteries at once.

insights puzzle

Solution: ‘Randomness From Determinism’

Readers’ modifications of a bean machine showed how deterministic laws are capable of producing random-seeming behavior.

Saturn’s rings colored by particle size.
planetary science

Are Saturn’s Rings Really as Young as the Dinosaurs?

November 21, 2019

A surprisingly youthful estimate of the age of the rings has stirred a backlash.

Illustration of a circle representing a black hole on a flat black plane with a multicolored bridge rising out of the plane and spanning from the inside to the outside of the circle.
Abstractions blog

Hologram Within a Hologram Hints at Fate of Black Holes

November 19, 2019

Calculations involving a higher dimension are guiding physicists toward a misstep in Stephen Hawking’s legendary black hole analysis.

Neutrinos and matrices
mathematical physics

Neutrinos Lead to Unexpected Discovery in Basic Math

November 13, 2019

Three physicists stumbled across an unexpected relationship between some of the most ubiquitous objects in math.

Virginia Trimble at UC Irvine.
Q&A

Virginia Trimble Has Seen the Stars

November 11, 2019

How a young celebrity became one of the first female astronomers at Caltech, befriended Richard Feynman, and ended up the world’s foremost chronicler of the science of the night sky.