What's up in

physics

Stephanie Wehner in a red suit standing in a glass-paneled corridor at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. Her reflection appears in the glass to the right and left.
Q&A

To Invent a Quantum Internet

September 25, 2019

Fifty years after the current internet was born, the physicist and computer scientist Stephanie Wehner is planning and designing the next internet — a quantum one.

A sandy beach at low tide dotted with ancient tree stumps.
geophysics

Artificial Intelligence Takes On Earthquake Prediction

September 19, 2019

After successfully predicting laboratory earthquakes, a team of geophysicists has applied a machine learning algorithm to quakes in the Pacific Northwest.

Thumbnail: stylized illustration of a supernova
astrophysics

Long-Lived Stellar Blast Kindles Hope of a Supernova We’ve Never Seen Before

September 12, 2019

A giant star’s death throes may offer the first evidence of a pair-instability supernova, and a glimpse of the first stars in the universe.

An illustration of a chaotic scene of spheres representing quarks and gluons.
Abstractions blog

Physicists Finally Nail the Proton’s Size, and Hope Dies

September 11, 2019

A new measurement appears to have eliminated an anomaly that had captivated physicists for nearly a decade.

An illustration of a pink hand reaching for quantum dice.
Quantized Columns

Where Quantum Probability Comes From

September 9, 2019

There are many different ways to think about probability. Quantum mechanics embodies them all.

Craig Callender holding a paddleboard at the beach.
Q&A

Are We All Wrong About Black Holes?

September 5, 2019

Since the 1970s, physicists have described black holes using borrowed versions of the laws of thermodynamics. But are black holes really thermodynamic systems? Craig Callender worries that the analogy has been stretched too far.

A view of nanoparticles in a crystalline pattern.
Abstractions blog

Strange Metal-like Bonds Discovered in Customized Crystals

September 3, 2019

While studying materials made from DNA-coated nanoparticles, researchers found a new form of this matter: lattices in which smaller particles roam like electrons in metallic bonds.

An illustration of an extra-large black hole.
Abstractions blog

Possible Detection of a Black Hole So Big It ‘Should Not Exist’

August 28, 2019

At stake are fundamental ideas about how black holes form — and a six-way bet.

Nelson, wearing hiking gear, smiles at the camera at the top of a rocky outcrop.
Quantized Columns

Ann Nelson Took On the Biggest Problems in Physics

August 22, 2019

The theoretical particle physicist Ann Nelson, who died on August 4 at age 61, was a font of brilliant ideas and a champion of ending discrimination in the field.