What's up in

physics

Earth from space.
Abstractions blog

Global Wave Discovery Ends 220-Year Search

August 13, 2020

An 18th-century physicist first predicted the existence of a chorus of atmospheric waves that swoop around Earth. Scientists have finally found them.

Photo of a sign reading “To Telescope” near Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.
Quantized Columns

Social Distancing From the Stars

August 11, 2020

Professional astronomers may not point their telescopes by hand anymore, but COVID-19 has still closed observatories and impeded research.

The cyclic universe.
Abstractions blog

Big Bounce Simulations Challenge the Big Bang

August 4, 2020

Detailed computer simulations have found that a cosmic contraction can generate features of the universe that we observe today.

Abstractions blog

How Physics Found a Geometric Structure for Math to Play With

July 29, 2020

Symplectic geometry is a relatively new field with implications for much of modern mathematics. Here’s what it’s all about.

Center of the Milky Way
Abstractions blog

An Alternative to Dark Matter Passes Critical Test

July 28, 2020

Modified gravity theories have never been able to describe the universe’s first light. A new formulation does.

An apple being jostled by gravitons
gravitational waves

How the Bits of Quantum Gravity Can Buzz

July 23, 2020

New calculations show how hypothetical particles called gravitons would give rise to a special kind of noise.

An ice sheet stretching into the distance.
Abstractions blog

How Earth’s Climate Changes Naturally (and Why Things Are Different Now)

July 21, 2020

Earth’s climate has fluctuated through deep time, pushed by these 10 different causes. Here’s how each compares with modern climate change.

Side-by-side images of a rabbit, bees in a hive, and a tornado.
information theory

What Is an Individual? Biology Seeks Clues in Information Theory.

July 16, 2020

To recognize strange extraterrestrial life and solve biological mysteries on this planet, scientists are searching for an objective definition for life’s basic units.

Animated illustration of a hand emerging from a black hole, while drawing the black hole by connecting dots flashing 0 and 1.
Quantized Columns

Spotting Quantum Black Holes in the Lab

July 15, 2020

Can we test speculations about how quantum physics affects black holes and the Big Bang?