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string theory

Illustration of a particle
Hidden Structure

What Is a Particle?

November 12, 2020

It has been thought of as many things: a pointlike object, an excitation of a field, a speck of pure math that has cut into reality. But never has physicists’ conception of a particle changed more than it is changing now.

Illustration of a black hole
Hidden Structure

The Most Famous Paradox in Physics Nears Its End

October 29, 2020

In a landmark series of calculations, physicists have proved that black holes can shed information.

Stringy filaments wiggling against a black background.
Abstractions blog

Some Physicists See Signs of Cosmic Strings From the Big Bang

September 29, 2020

Subtle aberrations in the clockwork blinking of stars could become “the result of the century.” That’s if the distortions are produced by a network of giant filaments left over from the birth of the universe.

Multimedia

The Map of Mathematics

February 13, 2020

Explore our surprisingly simple, absurdly ambitious and necessarily incomplete guide to the boundless mathematical universe.

Quantized Columns

The Double Life of Black Holes

January 29, 2019

Perfect black holes are versatile mathematical tools. Just don’t mistake them for the real thing.

Art for "Black Hole Firewalls Could Be Too Tepid to Burn"
Abstractions blog

Black Hole Firewalls Could Be Too Tepid to Burn

August 22, 2018

String theorists elide a paradox about black holes by extinguishing the walls of fire feared to surround them.

Art for "Dark Energy May Be Incompatible With String Theory"
theoretical physics

Dark Energy May Be Incompatible With String Theory

August 9, 2018

A controversial new paper argues that universes with dark energy profiles like ours do not exist in the “landscape” of universes allowed by string theory.

Quantized Columns

There Are No Laws of Physics. There’s Only the Landscape.

June 4, 2018

Scientists seek a single description of reality. But modern physics allows for many different descriptions, many equivalent to one another, connected through a vast landscape of mathematical possibility.

Photo of Michela Massimi
Q&A

Questioning Truth, Reality and the Role of Science

May 24, 2018

In an era when untestable ideas such as the multiverse hold sway, Michela Massimi defends science from those who think it hopelessly unmoored from physical reality.