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Physics

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A Prodigy Who Cracked Open the Cosmos

January 12, 2021

Frank Wilczek has been at the forefront of theoretical physics for the past 50 years. He talks about winning the Nobel Prize for work he did as a student, his solution to the dark matter problem, and the God of a scientist.

The Milky Way galaxy shown in X-rays.
Abstractions blog

Galaxy-Size Bubbles Discovered Towering Over the Milky Way

January 6, 2021

For decades, astronomers debated whether a particular smudge was close-by and small, or distant and huge. A new X-ray map supports the massive option.

2020 in Review

Our Favorite Comments of the Year

December 23, 2020

Online comment platforms can bring out the best — and the worst — in people. At the end of a tumultuous year, Quanta’s editors highlight some of our favorite things you had to say.

2020 in Review

The Year in Physics

December 23, 2020

Featuring paradoxical black holes, room-temperature superconductors and a new escape from the prison of time.

Abstractions blog

Astronomers Get Their Wish, and a Cosmic Crisis Gets Worse

December 17, 2020

We don’t know why the universe appears to be expanding faster than it should. New ultra-precise distance measurements have only intensified the problem.

A computer simulation of two galaxies colliding.
astrophysics

The New History of the Milky Way

December 15, 2020

Over the past two years, astronomers have rewritten the story of our galaxy.

A stylized atom surrounded by concentric shells of increasingly complex organisms.
quantum physics

A New Theorem Maps Out the Limits of Quantum Physics

December 3, 2020

The result highlights a fundamental tension: Either the rules of quantum mechanics don’t always apply, or at least one basic assumption about reality must be wrong.

Concentric rings of light seen through crosshairs of a Fabry-Pérot interferometer.
Abstractions blog

Physicists Nail Down the ‘Magic Number’ That Shapes the Universe

December 2, 2020

A team in Paris has made the most precise measurement yet of the fine-structure constant, killing hopes for a new force of nature.

Illustration showing orange building blocks outside a doorway that opens onto blue towers made up of similar building blocks.
Quantized Columns

Contemplating the End of Physics

November 24, 2020

Has physics reached the limits of what we can discover — or are the possibilities only just beginning?