What's up in

experimental physics

A sphere swirling with many small orbs around it.
particle physics

‘Last Hope’ Experiment Finds Evidence for Unknown Particles

April 7, 2021

Today’s long-anticipated announcement by Fermilab’s Muon g-2 team appears to solidify a tantalizing conflict between nature and theory. But a separate calculation, published at the same time, has clouded the picture.

Orange hills (polaritons) against a black background. Below each hill, an arrow points to an angular position on a circle.
explainers

The Near-Magical Mystery of Quasiparticles

March 24, 2021

The zoo of spontaneously emerging particlelike entities known as quasiparticles has grown quickly and become more and more exotic. Here are a few of the most curious and potentially useful examples.

Graphic of swirling vortex-like patterns called skyrmions.
condensed matter physics

A New Twist Reveals Superconductivity’s Secrets

March 16, 2021

An unexpected superconductor was beginning to look like a fluke, but a new theory and a second discovery have revealed that emergent quasiparticles may be behind the effect.

A video in which a proton seems to be composed of three particles, but on zooming in, it turns out to be a swirling miasma.
quantum physics

Decades-Long Quest Reveals Details of the Proton’s Inner Antimatter

February 24, 2021

Twenty years ago, physicists set out to investigate a mysterious asymmetry in the proton’s interior. Their results, published today, show how antimatter helps stabilize every atom’s core.

Concentric rings of light seen through crosshairs of a Fabry-Pérot interferometer.
Abstractions blog

Physicists Nail Down the ‘Magic Number’ That Shapes the Universe

December 2, 2020

A team in Paris has made the most precise measurement yet of the fine-structure constant, killing hopes for a new force of nature.

Particle going through a barrier
quantum physics

Quantum Tunnels Show How Particles Can Break the Speed of Light

October 20, 2020

Recent experiments show that particles should be able to go faster than light when they quantum mechanically “tunnel” through walls.

fluid vortices
fluid dynamics

An Unexpected Twist Lights Up the Secrets of Turbulence

September 3, 2020

Having solved a central mystery about the “twirliness” of tornadoes and other types of vortices, William Irvine has set his sights on turbulence, the white whale of classical physics.

materials science

The Shape-Shifting Squeeze Coolers

August 24, 2020

Push or crush a new class of materials, and they’ll undergo record-breaking temperature changes.

The XENON1T detector’s time projection chamber.
Abstractions blog

Dark Matter Experiment Finds Unexplained Signal

June 17, 2020

Researchers say there are three possible explanations for the anomalous data. One is mundane. Two would revolutionize physics.