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Physics

520px illustration of classification of phases
condensed matter physics

Physicists Aim to Classify All Possible Phases of Matter

A complete classification could lead to a wealth of new materials and technologies. But some exotic phases continue to resist understanding.

M theory and its six components
Abstractions blog

Why Is M-Theory the Leading Candidate for Theory of Everything?

The mother of all string theories passes a litmus test that, so far, no other candidate theory of quantum gravity has been able to match.

Electron-neutrino candidate in Super Kamiokande
Abstractions blog

Neutrinos Suggest Solution to Mystery of Universe’s Existence

Updated results from a Japanese neutrino experiment continue to reveal an inconsistency in the way that matter and antimatter behave.

Magellan Baade telescope and CMB illustration
astrophysics

Earliest Black Hole Gives Rare Glimpse of Ancient Universe

It weighs as much as 780 million suns and helped to cast off the cosmic Dark Ages. But now that astronomers have found the earliest known black hole, they wonder: How could this giant have grown so big, so fast?

Edward Witten in his office at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.
Q&A

A Physicist’s Physicist Ponders the Nature of Reality

Edward Witten reflects on the meaning of dualities in physics and math, emergent space-time, and the pursuit of a complete description of nature.

An artist’s conception of the Vela Supercluster peeking out from behind the Milky Way’s Zone of Avoidance.
astrophysics

Hidden Supercluster Could Solve Milky Way Mystery

Astronomers generally stay away from the “Zone of Avoidance.” When one astronomer didn’t, she found a giant cosmic structure that could help explain why our galaxy moves so fast.

A projection showing how the positions of some 2 million stars measured by the Gaia satellite are expected to evolve in the future.
Abstractions blog

Deathblow Dealt to Dark Matter Disks

New data tracking the movements of millions of Milky Way stars have effectively ruled out the presence of a “dark disk” that could have offered important clues to the mystery of dark matter.

An artist’s view of a pulsar near the center of the Messier 82 galaxy.
astrophysics

Galactic Glow, Thought to Be Dark Matter, Now Hints at Hidden Pulsars

A number of high-energy anomalies raised hopes that astrophysicists had seen their first direct glimpses of dark matter. New studies suggest a different source may be responsible.

‘Crazy’ Supernova Looks Like a New Kind of Star Death
astrophysics

‘Crazy’ Supernova Looks Like a New Kind of Star Death

Astronomers are mystified by a strange star explosion in a distant galaxy that might be a relic from an earlier cosmological era.