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Abstractions blog

Exoplanet Puzzle Cracked by Jazz Musicians

A system of seven Earth-like exoplanets appeared to be unstable. Now their orbits have been rewritten in the music of the spheres.

information theory

The Quantum Thermodynamics Revolution

As physicists extend the 19th-century laws of thermodynamics to the quantum realm, they’re rewriting the relationships among energy, entropy and information.


A Cosmic-Ray Hunter Takes to the Sky

Angela Olinto’s new balloon experiment takes her one step closer to the unknown source of the most energetic particles in the universe.


A Cosmic Burst Repeats, Deepen­ing a Mystery

After a surprise discovery, astrophysicists are racing to understand superenergetic flashes of radio waves that sometimes beep out from distant galaxies.

Abstractions blog

Physicists Attack Math’s $1,000,000 Question

Physicists are attempting to map the distribution of the prime numbers to the energy levels of a particular quantum system.

Illustration: diver searching for new math
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Quantum Questions Inspire New Math

In order to fully understand the quantum world, we may have to develop a new realm of mathematics.


A New Blast May Have Forged Cosmic Gold

For decades, researchers believed that violent supernovas forged gold and other heavy elements. But many now argue for a different cosmic quarry.

Abstractions blog

19 Women Leading Math and Physics

Top women in mathematics and physics discuss how they got to where they are — and why there aren’t more of them.


‘Digital Alchemist’ Seeks Rules of Emergence

Computational physicist Sharon Glotzer is uncovering the rules by which complex collective phenomena emerge from simple building blocks.