What's up in

physics

A black hole shooting thunderbolts.
quantum gravity

Black Hole Paradoxes Reveal a Fundamental Link Between Energy and Order

May 28, 2020

By chewing on the problems posed by “extremal” black holes, physicists have exposed a surprising and universal connection between energy and entropy.

Lines representing paths of particles fan out from a point and pass through a series of detectors.
Abstractions blog

Growing Anomalies at the Large Hadron Collider Raise Hopes

May 26, 2020

Collider physicists report that several measurements of particles called B mesons deviate from predictions. Alone, each oddity looks like a fluke, but their collective drift is more suggestive.

insights puzzle

Why Our Perpetual Energy Puzzle Fails

May 22, 2020

Readers poked holes in our paradoxical April Fools’ Day claims about perpetual energy and whether this puzzle solution would ever be published.

A quantum knot.
Abstractions blog

‘Milestone’ Evidence for Anyons, a Third Kingdom of Particles

May 12, 2020

Anyons don’t fit into either of the two known particle kingdoms. To find them, physicists had to erase the third dimension.

Animation of black hole formation.
mathematical physics

New Math Proves That a Special Kind of Space-Time Is Unstable

May 11, 2020

Einstein’s equations describe three canonical configurations of space-time. Now one of these three — important in the study of quantum gravity — has been shown to be inherently unstable.

Three particles moving closer together then farther apart. The region between them appears in green.
Abstractions blog

What Goes On in a Proton? Quark Math Still Conflicts With Experiments.

May 6, 2020

Two ways of approximating the ultra-complicated math that governs quark particles have recently come into conflict, leaving physicists unsure what their decades-old theory predicts.

Multimedia

Arrows of Time

May 4, 2020

The human mind has long grappled with the elusive nature of time: what it is, how to record it, how it regulates life, and whether it exists as a fundamental building block of the universe.

An image of space with lines emanating from a central point, as if the viewer is traveling at warp speed.
Abstractions blog

What Might Be Speeding Up the Universe’s Expansion?

April 27, 2020

Physicists have proposed extra cosmic ingredients that could explain the faster-than-expected expansion of space.

Video of hot gas falling into a supermassive black hole.
Abstractions blog

Why Are Black Holes So Bright?

April 22, 2020

And why is the black hole at the center of our own galaxy so dim?