What's up in

Physics

Svitlana Mayboroda
mathematical physics

Mathematicians Tame Rogue Waves, Lighting Up Future of LEDs

August 22, 2017

The mathematician Svitlana Mayboroda and collaborators have figured out how to predict the behavior of electrons — a mathematical discovery that could have immediate practical effects.

Jay Pasachoff
Q&A

Eclipse Hunter Reveals the Science That Can Only Be Done in the Dark

August 10, 2017

Even in the age of sun-observing satellites, astronomers like Jay Pasachoff still seek out total solar eclipses for the tales they can tell about our sun.

Illustration: window showing dark matter map
cosmology

Scientists Unveil New Inventory of Universe’s Dark Contents

August 3, 2017

The first major results from the Dark Energy Survey signal the start of a new era of cosmology.

planetary science

What Made the Moon? New Ideas Try to Rescue a Troubled Theory

August 2, 2017

Textbooks say that the moon was formed after a Mars-size mass smashed the young Earth. But new evidence has cast doubt on that story, leaving researchers to dream up new ways to get a giant rock into orbit.

Abstractions blog

Cookie-Cutter Supernovas Might Come in Different Flavors

July 31, 2017

Astronomers thought that all Type Ia supernovas shine with the same brightness, making them incredibly useful cosmic yardsticks. But uncertainty over what causes these explosions has led researchers to reconsider their assumptions.

Andrea Ghez in Hawaii
Q&A

Black-Hole Hunter Takes Aim at Einstein

July 27, 2017

The astrophysicist Andrea Ghez spent two decades proving that a supermassive black hole anchors the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Her new plan? Test what happens when things get too close.

origins of life

First Support for a Physics Theory of Life

July 26, 2017

Take chemistry, add energy, get life. The first tests of Jeremy England’s provocative origin-of-life hypothesis are in, and they appear to show how order can arise from nothing.

Supernova 1987A remnants
astrophysics

Lucky Break Leads to Controversial Supernova Discovery

July 5, 2017

Supernova hunters were able to train their telescopes on a recent eruption just hours after it exploded. What they found only adds to the growing list of questions surrounding these cosmic blasts.

LIGO Hanford and Livingston
gravitational waves

Strange Noise in Gravitational-Wave Data Sparks Debate

June 30, 2017

The team that discovered gravitational waves put their data online. Now an independent group of researchers claims that they’ve found what might be a serious problem.