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physics

insights puzzle

Did the Chicken Come First or Is It Turtles All the Way Down?

February 6, 2020

The apparent paradox of the chicken and the egg smells like “turtles all the way down.” This puzzle shows how biology and physics can overcome infinite regress.

A rogue wave and a sailboat.
fluid dynamics

The Grand Unified Theory of Rogue Waves

February 5, 2020

Rogue waves — enigmatic giants of the sea — were thought to be caused by two different mechanisms. But a new idea that borrows from the hinterlands of probability theory has the potential to predict them all.

Photo of black and white swirls of mixing paint
fluid dynamics

Mathematicians Prove Universal Law of Turbulence

February 4, 2020

By exploiting randomness, three mathematicians have proved an elegant law that underlies the chaotic motion of turbulent systems.

Illustration of interstellar objects entering our solar system
Quantized Columns

The Age of Interstellar Visitors

January 29, 2020

As astronomers get better at finding the comets and asteroids of other stars, they’ll learn more about the universe and our place in it.

Gif of a spinning sphere that has a dappled blue, green and red pattern.
Abstractions blog

How Ancient Light Reveals the Universe’s Contents

January 28, 2020

A photograph of the infant cosmos reveals the precise amounts of dark matter and dark energy in the universe, leaving precious little room for argument.

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.