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The XENON1T detector’s time projection chamber.
Abstractions blog

Dark Matter Experiment Finds Unexplained Signal

June 17, 2020

Researchers say there are three possible explanations for the anomalous data. One is mundane. Two would revolutionize physics.

Illustration showing an austere number line on one side and various interesting objects on the the other, including a dodecahedron, an armillary sphere, flowers and plants.
Quantized Columns

The Two Forms of Mathematical Beauty

June 16, 2020

Mathematicians typically appreciate either generic or exceptional beauty in their work, but one type is more useful in describing the universe.

A falling apple.
Abstractions blog

Why Gravity Is Not Like the Other Forces

June 15, 2020

We asked four physicists why gravity stands out among the forces of nature. We got four different answers.

A magnetar.

A Surprise Discovery Points to the Source of Fast Radio Bursts

June 11, 2020

After a burst lit up their telescope “like a Christmas tree,” astronomers were able to finally track down the source of these cosmic oddities.

A black hole shooting thunderbolts.
quantum gravity

Black Hole Paradoxes Reveal a Fundamental Link Between Energy and Order

May 28, 2020

By chewing on the problems posed by “extremal” black holes, physicists have exposed a surprising and universal connection between energy and entropy.

Lines representing paths of particles fan out from a point and pass through a series of detectors.
Abstractions blog

Growing Anomalies at the Large Hadron Collider Raise Hopes

May 26, 2020

Collider physicists report that several measurements of particles called B mesons deviate from predictions. Alone, each oddity looks like a fluke, but their collective drift is more suggestive.

insights puzzle

Why Our Perpetual Energy Puzzle Fails

May 22, 2020

Readers poked holes in our paradoxical April Fools’ Day claims about perpetual energy and whether this puzzle solution would ever be published.

A quantum knot.
Abstractions blog

‘Milestone’ Evidence for Anyons, a Third Kingdom of Particles

May 12, 2020

Anyons don’t fit into either of the two known particle kingdoms. To find them, physicists had to erase the third dimension.

Animation of black hole formation.
mathematical physics

New Math Proves That a Special Kind of Space-Time Is Unstable

May 11, 2020

Einstein’s equations describe three canonical configurations of space-time. Now one of these three — important in the study of quantum gravity — has been shown to be inherently unstable.