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materials science

Abstractions blog

How Swarming Insects Act Like Fluids

July 10, 2019

By studying a swarm of flying midges as though it were a fluid, physicists have learned how collective behaviors might stabilize a group against environmental disruptions.

insights puzzle

When Magic Is Seen in Twisted Graphene, That’s a Moiré

June 20, 2019

What do moiré patterns seen in optics, art, photography and color printing have to do with superconducting layers of graphene?

Art for "A Potent Explanation Emerges for Graphene’s Magic Angle"
Abstractions blog

What’s the Magic Behind Graphene’s ‘Magic’ Angle?

May 28, 2019

A new theoretical model may help explain the shocking onset of superconductivity in stacked, twisted carbon sheets.

Art for "With a Simple Twist, a ‘Magic’ Material Has Quietly Become the Biggest Thing in Physics"
quantum physics

With a Simple Twist, a ‘Magic’ Material Is Now the Big Thing in Physics

April 30, 2019

The stunning emergence of a new type of superconductivity with the mere twist of a carbon sheet has left physicists giddy, and its discoverer nearly overwhelmed.

mathematical physics

A Child’s Puzzle Has Helped Unlock the Secrets of Magnetism

January 24, 2019

People have known about magnets since ancient times, but the physics of ferromagnetism remains a mystery. Now a familiar puzzle is getting physicists closer to the answer.

In Theory

How Complex Wholes Emerge From Simple Parts

December 20, 2018

Throughout nature, throngs of relatively simple elements can self-organize into behaviors that seem unexpectedly complex. Scientists are beginning to understand why and how these phenomena emerge without a central organizing entity.

Photo of Lisa Manning

The Physics of Glass Opens a Window Into Biology

June 11, 2018

The physicist Lisa Manning studies the dynamics of glassy materials to understand embryonic development and disease.


‘Digital Alchemist’ Seeks Rules of Emergence

March 8, 2017

Computational physicist Sharon Glotzer is uncovering the rules by which complex collective phenomena emerge from simple building blocks.

condensed matter physics

Paradoxical Crystal Baffles Physicists

July 2, 2015

At super-low temperatures, a crystal called samarium hexaboride behaves in an unexplained, imagination-stretching way.