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cosmology

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What Is the Geometry of the Universe?

March 16, 2020

In our mind’s eye, the universe seems to go on forever. But using geometry we can explore a variety of three-dimensional shapes that offer alternatives to “ordinary” infinite space.

Cosmic reionization video.
Abstractions blog

How the Cosmic Dark Ages Snuffed Out All Light

March 2, 2020

The recent discovery of some of the first galaxies in the universe illuminates the darkest era in cosmic history.

Antares photograph.
Abstractions blog

New Wrinkle Added to Cosmology’s Hubble Crisis

February 26, 2020

A problem confronts cosmology: Two independent measurements of the universe’s expansion give incompatible answers. Now a third method, advanced by an astronomy pioneer, appears to bridge the divide.

Gif of a spinning sphere that has a dappled blue, green and red pattern.
Abstractions blog

How Ancient Light Reveals the Universe’s Contents

January 28, 2020

A photograph of the infant cosmos reveals the precise amounts of dark matter and dark energy in the universe, leaving precious little room for argument.

Art for "Quanta’s Year in Physics (2019)"
2019 in Review

The Year in Physics

December 23, 2019

Physicists saw a black hole for the first time, debated the expansion rate of the universe, pondered the origin of time and modeled the end of clouds.

Supernova in galaxy NGC 5584.
Abstractions blog

No Dark Energy? No Chance, Cosmologists Contend

December 17, 2019

A study challenged the evidence for the mysterious antigravitational force known as dark energy. Then cosmologists shot back.

An overhead shot of an engineer working on a metal tank with pipes and cables coming out of it.
Abstractions blog

Top Dark Matter Candidate Loses Ground to Tiniest Competitor

November 27, 2019

Physicists have long searched for hypothesized dark matter particles called WIMPs. Now, focus may be shifting to the axion — an ultra-lightweight particle whose existence would solve two mysteries at once.

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.
cosmology

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.