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phase transitions

A glass object being shaped by a blowtorch.]
Abstractions blog

Why Is Glass Rigid? Signs of Its Secret Structure Emerge.

July 7, 2020

At the molecular level, glass looks like a liquid. But an artificial neural network has picked up on hidden structure in its molecules that may explain why glass is rigid like a solid.

Gif of a grid of arrows whose directions flip up and down.
Abstractions blog

The Cartoon Picture of Magnets That Has Transformed Science

June 24, 2020

One hundred years after it was proposed, the Ising model is used to understand everything from magnets to brains.

A view of nanoparticles in a crystalline pattern.
Abstractions blog

Strange Metal-like Bonds Discovered in Customized Crystals

September 3, 2019

While studying materials made from DNA-coated nanoparticles, researchers found a new form of this matter: lattices in which smaller particles roam like electrons in metallic bonds.

520px illustration for higgs fakes
condensed matter physics

Elusive Higgs-Like State Created in Exotic Materials

February 28, 2018

Two teams of physicists have created the “Higgs mode” – a link between particle physics and the physics of matter. The work could help researchers understand the strange behavior of deeply quantum systems.

520px illustration of classification of phases
condensed matter physics

Physicists Aim to Classify All Possible Phases of Matter

January 3, 2018

A complete classification could lead to a wealth of new materials and technologies. But some exotic phases continue to resist understanding.

Michael Assis folding a large, beige sheet or Miura-ori
statistical physics

The Atomic Theory of Origami

October 31, 2017

By reimagining the kinks and folds of origami as atoms in a lattice, researchers are uncovering strange behavior hiding in simple structures.

School of Fish

Swirling Bacteria Linked to the Physics of Phase Transitions

May 4, 2017

The new experiments suggest that simple models can explain the behavior of thousands of interacting organisms.


Jammed Cells Expose the Physics of Cancer

August 16, 2016

The subtle mechanics of densely packed cells may help explain why some cancerous tumors stay put while others break off and spread through the body.

statistical physics

At the Far Ends of a New Universal Law

October 15, 2014

A potent theory has emerged explaining a mysterious statistical law that arises throughout physics and mathematics.