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Abstractions blog

Cookie-Cutter Supernovas Might Come in Different Flavors

July 31, 2017

Astronomers thought that all Type Ia supernovas shine with the same brightness, making them incredibly useful cosmic yardsticks. But uncertainty over what causes these explosions has led researchers to reconsider their assumptions.

Eva Silverstein at Stanford University
Thinking Places

Eva Silverstein’s Spirals and Strings

July 17, 2017

Daily bike rides, serendipitous interactions and long periods of solo thinking inspire this string cosmologist.

Dwarf irregular galaxy
Abstractions blog

Researchers Check Space-Time to See if It’s Made of Quantum Bits

June 21, 2017

The newly developed theory of emergent gravity, proposed as an alternative to dark matter, struggles in one of its first trials.

Dark matter superfluid
dark matter

Dark Matter Recipe Calls for One Part Superfluid

June 13, 2017

A different kind of dark matter could help to resolve an old celestial conundrum.

Light from the first galaxies clears the universe.

Discoveries Fuel Fight Over Universe’s First Light

May 19, 2017

A series of observations at the very edge of the universe has reignited a debate over what lifted the primordial cosmic fog.


A Cosmic Burst Repeats, Deepen­ing a Mystery

April 18, 2017

After a surprise discovery, astrophysicists are racing to understand superenergetic flashes of radio waves that sometimes beep out from distant galaxies.

Erik Verlinde by Ilvy Njiokiktjien for Quanta Magazine

The Case Against Dark Matter

November 29, 2016

A proposed theory of gravity does away with dark matter, even as new astrophysical findings challenge the need for galaxies full of the invisible mystery particles.

Abstractions blog

Off-the-Shelf Lens Assists Dark Matter Find

September 28, 2016

A camera lens often used by wildlife and sports photographers has helped astronomers learn about dark matter and galaxy formation.

string theory

The Strange Second Life of String Theory

September 15, 2016

String theory has so far failed to live up to its promise as a way to unite gravity and quantum mechanics. At the same time, it has blossomed into one of the most useful sets of tools in science.