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physics

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cosmology

How the Universe Got Its Bounce Back

Cosmologists have shown that it’s theoretically possible for a contracting universe to bounce and expand. The new work resuscitates an old idea that directly challenges the Big Bang theory of cosmic origins.

Illustration: man using rulers stacked on a compass as a telescope
insights puzzle

Solution: ‘Triangulation and Motion Sickness’

A method for estimating distances in sailing and astrophysics helps explain why riding on buses and boats can make us nauseous.

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The Future of Quantum Computing

Job One for Quantum Computers: Boost Artificial Intelligence

The fusion of quantum computing and machine learning has become a booming research area. Can it possibly live up to its high expectations?

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The Future of Quantum Computing

The Era of Quantum Computing Is Here. Outlook: Cloudy

Quantum computers should soon be able to beat classical computers at certain basic tasks. But before they’re truly powerful, researchers have to overcome a number of fundamental roadblocks.

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geophysics

Fossil Discoveries Challenge Ideas About Earth’s Start

A series of fossil finds suggests that life on Earth started earlier than anyone thought, calling into question a widely held theory of the solar system’s beginnings.

Photo of smoke
Abstractions blog

What Makes the Hardest Equations in Physics So Difficult?

The Navier-Stokes equations describe simple, everyday phenomena, like water flowing from a garden hose, yet they provide a million-dollar mathematical challenge.

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astrophysics

Astronomers Trace Radio Burst to Extreme Cosmic Neighborhood

A mysterious object that repeatedly bursts with ultra-powerful radio waves must live in an extreme environment — something like the one around a supermassive black hole.

520 Illustration for Quantum Gravity
Quantized Columns

Why an Old Theory of Everything Is Gaining New Life

For decades, physicists have struggled to create a quantum theory of gravity. Now an approach that dates to the 1970s is attracting newfound attention.

Illustration: man using rulers stacked on a compass as a telescope
insights puzzle

How Triangulation Leads to Knowledge

What does measuring distances in sailing and astrophysics have to with motion sickness?