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Illustration of three flat sheets, connoting a flat universe, and three balls, connoting a closed universe.
Abstractions blog

What Shape Is the Universe? A New Study Suggests We’ve Got It All Wrong

November 4, 2019

Most every cosmologist believes the universe is flat. A new analysis argues that it’s closed.

An interactive illustration of shapes hiding clocks.

Cosmic Triangles Open a Window to the Origin of Time

October 29, 2019

A close look at fundamental symmetries has exposed hidden patterns in the universe. Physicists think that those same symmetries may also reveal time’s original secret.

Abstractions blog

How the Neutrino’s Tiny Mass Could Help Solve Big Mysteries

October 15, 2019

The KATRIN experiment is closing in on the mass of the neutrino, which could point to new laws of particle physics and shape theories of cosmology.

An illustration of a planet in front of a star.
Abstractions blog

Physics Nobel Honors Early Universe and Exoplanet Discoveries

October 8, 2019

The astronomers Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz won half of the prize for their 1995 discovery of a Jupiter-like planet orbiting a nearby star. The cosmologist James Peebles won the other half for work exploring the structure of the universe.

Nelson, wearing hiking gear, smiles at the camera at the top of a rocky outcrop.
Quantized Columns

Ann Nelson Took On the Biggest Problems in Physics

August 22, 2019

The theoretical particle physicist Ann Nelson, who died on August 4 at age 61, was a font of brilliant ideas and a champion of ending discrimination in the field.

An illustration of the cosmologists Wendy Freedman and Adam Riess debating the expansion rate of the universe at a recent meeting at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, California.

Cosmologists Debate How Fast the Universe Is Expanding

August 8, 2019

New measurements could upend the standard theory of the cosmos that has reigned since the discovery of dark energy 21 years ago.


How to Understand the Universe When You’re Stuck Inside of It

June 27, 2019

Lee Smolin’s radical idea to reimagine how we view the universe.


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.


The Astronomer Who’d Rather Build Space Cameras

April 18, 2019

Jim Gunn shaped the theory of the evolution of the cosmos before building cameras and spectrographs for major observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope.