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Physics

Art for "A Short History of the Missing Universe"
Abstractions blog

A Short History of the Missing Universe

Astronomers have known where the universe’s missing matter has been hiding for the past 20 years. So why did it take so long to find it?

Abstractions blog

A New Test for the Leading Big Bang Theory

Cosmologists have predicted the existence of an oscillating signal that could distinguish between cosmic inflation and alternative theories of the universe’s birth.

astrophysics

The Last of the Universe’s Ordinary Matter Has Been Found

For decades, astronomers weren’t able to find all of the atomic matter in the universe. A series of recent papers has revealed where it’s been hiding.

Belt trick illustration
Abstractions blog

The Strange Numbers That Birthed Modern Algebra

The 19th-century discovery of numbers called “quaternions” gave mathematicians a way to describe rotations in space, forever changing physics and math.

Q&A

To Understand Volcanoes on Other Worlds, Stand On Our Own

Rosaly Lopes has visited dozens of active volcanoes on Earth and discovered even more elsewhere in the solar system. Her work is helping to establish whether volcanoes on distant moons could create conditions friendly to life.

Art for "How Network Math Can Help You Make Friends"
Quantized Columns

The End of Theoretical Physics As We Know It

Computer simulations and custom-built quantum analogues are changing what it means to search for the laws of nature.

Art for "Black Hole Firewalls Could Be Too Tepid to Burn"
Abstractions blog

Black Hole Firewalls Could Be Too Tepid to Burn

String theorists elide a paradox about black holes by extinguishing the walls of fire feared to surround them.

Art for "Dark Energy May Be Incompatible With String Theory"
theoretical physics

Dark Energy May Be Incompatible With String Theory

A controversial new paper argues that universes with dark energy profiles like ours do not exist in the “landscape” of universes allowed by string theory.

Art for "Star-Swallowing Black Holes Burp Out Their Secrets"
astrophysics

Star-Swallowing Black Holes Reveal Secrets in Exotic Light Shows

Black holes occasionally reveal themselves when passing stars get ripped apart by their gravity. These tidal disruption events have created a new way for astronomers to map the hidden cosmos.