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Physics

Three particles moving closer together then farther apart. The region between them appears in green.
Abstractions blog

What Goes On in a Proton? Quark Math Still Conflicts With Experiments.

May 6, 2020

Two ways of approximating the ultra-complicated math that governs quark particles have recently come into conflict, leaving physicists unsure what their decades-old theory predicts.

Multimedia

Arrows of Time

May 4, 2020

The human mind has long grappled with the elusive nature of time: what it is, how to record it, how it regulates life, and whether it exists as a fundamental building block of the universe.

An image of space with lines emanating from a central point, as if the viewer is traveling at warp speed.
Abstractions blog

What Might Be Speeding Up the Universe’s Expansion?

April 27, 2020

Physicists have proposed extra cosmic ingredients that could explain the faster-than-expected expansion of space.

Video of hot gas falling into a supermassive black hole.
Abstractions blog

Why Are Black Holes So Bright?

April 22, 2020

And why is the black hole at the center of our own galaxy so dim?

Destruction from 1999 Taiwan earthquake.
Abstractions blog

New Earthquake Math Predicts How Destructive They’ll Be

April 21, 2020

The “pinball” model of a slipping fault line borrows from the mathematics of avalanches.

Abstractions blog

Neutrino Asymmetry Passes Critical Threshold

April 15, 2020

The first official evidence of a key imbalance between neutrinos and antineutrinos provides one of the best clues for why the universe contains something rather than nothing.

Photo of Freeman Dyson standing in a meadow in front of a forest
Quantized Columns

Remembering the Unstoppable Freeman Dyson

April 13, 2020

Freeman Dyson — physicist, mathematician, writer and idea factory — died on February 28, but his vitality lives on.

theoretical physics

Does Time Really Flow? New Clues Come From a Century-Old Approach to Math.

April 7, 2020

The laws of physics imply that the passage of time is an illusion. To avoid this conclusion, we might have to rethink the reality of infinitely precise numbers.

Image of LIGO’s mirror.
Abstractions blog

To Make the Perfect Mirror, Physicists Confront the Mystery of Glass

April 2, 2020

Sometimes a mirror that reflects 99.9999% of light isn’t good enough.