What's up in

physics

fluid vortices
fluid dynamics

An Unexpected Twist Lights Up the Secrets of Turbulence

September 3, 2020

Having solved a central mystery about the “twirliness” of tornadoes and other types of vortices, William Irvine has set his sights on turbulence, the white whale of classical physics.

materials science

The Shape-Shifting Squeeze Coolers

August 24, 2020

Push or crush a new class of materials, and they’ll undergo record-breaking temperature changes.

An animation of a particle collision
Abstractions blog

The Mathematical Structure of Particle Collisions Comes Into View

August 20, 2020

Physicists have identified an algebraic structure underlying the messy mathematics of particle collisions. Some hope it will lead to a more elegant theory of the natural world.

Claudia de Rham portrait
Q&A

The Physicist Who Slayed Gravity’s Ghosts

August 18, 2020

Claudia de Rham showed how theories of “massive gravity” could potentially get rid of the need for dark energy.

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.