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mathematical physics

Photograph of Albert Einstein in his office at the University of Berlin, published in the USA in 1920.
Abstractions blog

How Einstein Lost His Bearings, and With Them, General Relativity

March 14, 2018

By 1913, Albert Einstein had nearly completed general relativity. But a simple mistake set him on a tortured, two-year reconsideration of his theory. Today, mathematicians still grapple with the issues he confronted.

Animated illustration of a black hole in a cube of jelly
mathematical physics

To Test Einstein’s Equations, Poke a Black Hole

March 8, 2018

Two teams of researchers have made significant progress toward proving the black hole stability conjecture, a critical mathematical test of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Photo of smoke
Abstractions blog

What Makes the Hardest Equations in Physics So Difficult?

January 16, 2018

The Navier-Stokes equations describe simple, everyday phenomena, like water flowing from a garden hose, yet they provide a million-dollar mathematical challenge.

Simulation of Kelvin-Helmholz Instability
fluid dynamics

Mathematicians Find Wrinkle in Famed Fluid Equations

December 21, 2017

Two mathematicians prove that under certain extreme conditions, the Navier-Stokes equations output nonsense.

Lucy Reading-Ikkanda/Quanta Magazine
Abstractions blog

The Math That Promises to Make the World Brighter

September 6, 2017

The color of LED lights is controlled by a clumsy process. A new mathematical discovery may make it easier for us to get the hues we want.

Svitlana Mayboroda
mathematical physics

Mathematicians Tame Rogue Waves, Lighting Up Future of LEDs

August 22, 2017

The mathematician Svitlana Mayboroda and collaborators have figured out how to predict the behavior of electrons — a mathematical discovery that could have immediate practical effects.

mathematical physics

Strange Numbers Found in Particle Collisions

November 15, 2016

An unexpected connection has emerged between the results of physics experiments and an important, seemingly unrelated set of numbers in pure mathematics.

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.

Physics

Visions of Future Physics

September 22, 2015

Nima Arkani-Hamed is championing a campaign to build the world’s largest particle collider, even as he pursues a new vision of the laws of nature.