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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.

Art for "The Physics Still Hiding in the Higgs Boson"
Abstractions blog

The Physics Still Hiding in the Higgs Boson

March 4, 2019

No new particles have been found at the Large Hadron Collider since the Higgs boson in 2012, but physicists say there’s much we can still learn from the Higgs itself.

Valeria Pettorino in the woods near CosmoStat

An Italian Cosmologist Who Wanders in Dante’s Dark Wood

November 13, 2018

A scientist and programmer with a literary bent, Valeria Pettorino thinks multiple angles and diverse points of view are needed to unriddle the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

Art for "A Short History of the Missing Universe"
Abstractions blog

A Short History of the Missing Universe

September 19, 2018

Astronomers have known where the universe’s missing matter has been hiding for the past 20 years. So why did it take so long to find it?