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physics

Destruction from 1999 Taiwan earthquake.
Abstractions blog

New Earthquake Math Predicts How Destructive They’ll Be

April 21, 2020

The “pinball” model of a slipping fault line borrows from the mathematics of avalanches.

Abstractions blog

Neutrino Asymmetry Passes Critical Threshold

April 15, 2020

The first official evidence of a key imbalance between neutrinos and antineutrinos provides one of the best clues for why the universe contains something rather than nothing.

Photo of Freeman Dyson standing in a meadow in front of a forest
Quantized Columns

Remembering the Unstoppable Freeman Dyson

April 13, 2020

Freeman Dyson — physicist, mathematician, writer and idea factory — died on February 28, but his vitality lives on.

theoretical physics

Does Time Really Flow? New Clues Come From a Century-Old Approach to Math.

April 7, 2020

The laws of physics imply that the passage of time is an illusion. To avoid this conclusion, we might have to rethink the reality of infinitely precise numbers.

Image of LIGO’s mirror.
Abstractions blog

To Make the Perfect Mirror, Physicists Confront the Mystery of Glass

April 2, 2020

Sometimes a mirror that reflects 99.9999% of light isn’t good enough.

insights puzzle

How to Design a Perpetual Energy Machine

April 1, 2020

This April, find the fatal flaws in two paradoxical claims — one about a perpetual source of energy and the other about whether you will ever see the solution to these puzzles.

Abstractions blog

Why Do Matter Particles Come in Threes? A Physics Titan Weighs In.

March 30, 2020

Three progressively heavier copies of each type of matter particle exist, and no one knows why. A new paper by Steven Weinberg takes a stab at explaining the pattern.

insights puzzle

Solution: ‘Is It Turtles All the Way Down?’

March 27, 2020

While the age-old chicken-and-egg paradox is easily answered, the question of infinite regress in physics is far from resolved.

A man standing in the Arctic tundra holds up a large photo of a swamp.
geology

Sudden Ancient Global Warming Event Traced to Magma Flood

March 19, 2020

A study has cemented the link between an intense global warming episode 56 million years ago and volcanism in the North Atlantic, with implications for modern climate change.