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Abstractions blog

A Close Look at Newborn Planets Reveals Hints of Infant Moons

June 11, 2019

Astronomers have discovered a complex planetary system still swirling into existence.

Abstractions blog

Do Brains Operate at a Tipping Point? New Clues and Complications

June 10, 2019

New experimental results simultaneously advance and challenge the theory that the brain’s network of neurons balances on the knife-edge between two phases.


Physicists Debate Hawking’s Idea That the Universe Had No Beginning

June 6, 2019

A recent challenge to Stephen Hawking’s biggest idea — about how the universe might have come from nothing — has cosmologists choosing sides.

Art for "Quantum Leaps, Long Assumed to Be Instantaneous, Take Time"
quantum physics

Quantum Leaps, Long Assumed to Be Instantaneous, Take Time

June 5, 2019

An experiment caught a quantum system in the middle of a jump — something the originators of quantum mechanics assumed was impossible.

Art for "A Potent Explanation Emerges for Graphene’s Magic Angle"
Abstractions blog

What’s the Magic Behind Graphene’s ‘Magic’ Angle?

May 28, 2019

A new theoretical model may help explain the shocking onset of superconductivity in stacked, twisted carbon sheets.

Animated line drawing of Margaret Hamilton, Ellen Fetter, and a Lorenz attractor
chaos theory

The Hidden Heroines of Chaos

May 20, 2019

The story of the birth of chaos theory has left out two programming pioneers.

Art for "As Planet Discoveries Pile Up, a Gap Appears in the Pattern"
Abstractions blog

As Planet Discoveries Pile Up, a Gap Appears in the Pattern

May 16, 2019

Astronomers are puzzling over a paucity of planets in the galaxy measuring between 1.5 and two times Earth’s size.

Art for "What Are Feynman Diagrams?"
In Theory

How Feynman Diagrams Revolutionized Physics

May 14, 2019

In the late 1940s, Richard Feynman invented a visual tool for simplifying particle calculations that forever changed theoretical physics.

Art for "Black, Hot Ice, Newly Seen in the Lab, May Be Nature's Commonest Form of Water"

Black, Hot Ice May Be Nature’s Most Common Form of Water

May 8, 2019

A new experiment confirms the existence of “superionic ice,” a bizarre form of water that might comprise the bulk of giant icy planets throughout the universe.