What's up in

physics

Diagram showing blocks of different sizes colliding, along with different vectors
Abstractions blog

How Pi Connects Colliding Blocks to a Quantum Search Algorithm

January 21, 2020

A curious physicist has discovered an unexpected link between theoretical block collisions and a famed quantum search algorithm.

insights puzzle

Solution: ‘Natural Law and Elegant Math’

January 17, 2020

While mathematics gives us elegant explanations for many physical phenomena, real-world situations often require us to scramble through dense numerical thickets.

The Polarstern icebreaker in sea ice.
climate science

The Voyage to the End of Ice

January 16, 2020

Summer sea ice could vanish later this decade, with disastrous consequences. It all depends on the physics of ice.

Steven Strogatz listens to a podcast guest speak about many scientific and mathematical subjects.
Quantized Columns

Why I’m Hosting The Joy of x Podcast

January 15, 2020

The noted mathematician and author Steven Strogatz explains why he wanted to share intimate conversations with leading researchers from diverse fields in his new podcast.

Abstractions blog

For Fluid Equations, a Steady Flow of Progress

January 13, 2020

A startling experimental discovery about how fluids behave started a wave of important mathematical proofs.

Illustration of a pair of lungs being scanned in three dimensions, with a status bar that reads “Scanning lung tissue: 60%.”
artificial intelligence

An Idea From Physics Helps AI See in Higher Dimensions

January 9, 2020

The laws of physics stay the same no matter one’s perspective. Now this idea is allowing computers to detect features in curved and higher-dimensional space.

Spinning globe highlighting LLVSPs.
geophysics

Continents of the Underworld Come Into Focus

January 7, 2020

Giant blobs nestled deep in the Earth may influence everything from the structure of island chains to mass-extinction events.

Art for "Quanta’s Year in Physics (2019)"
2019 in Review

The Year in Physics

December 23, 2019

Physicists saw a black hole for the first time, debated the expansion rate of the universe, pondered the origin of time and modeled the end of clouds.

Six looping videos of different types of snowflakes and snow crystals growing.
crystals

Toward a Grand Unified Theory of Snowflakes

December 19, 2019

Snow crystals come in two main types. The “pope” of snowflake physics has a new theory that explains why.