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

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

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.

Art for "Three Decades Later, Mystery Numbers Explained"
Abstractions blog

Three Decades Later, Mystery Numbers Explained

Zeta values seem to connect distant geometric worlds. In a new proof, mathematicians finally explain why.

Illustration for "Mathematicians Explore Mirror Link Between Two Geometric Worlds"
geometry

Mathematicians Explore Mirror Link Between Two Geometric Worlds

Decades after physicists happened upon a stunning mathematical coincidence, researchers are getting close to understanding the link between two seemingly unrelated geometric universes.

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Physicists Mourn Joe Polchinski, Developer of Deep Ideas and Paradoxes

The theoretical physicist Joe Polchinski, who died Feb. 2, left a tremendous professional and personal legacy, says a friend and collaborator.

M theory and its six components
Abstractions blog

Why Is M-Theory the Leading Candidate for Theory of Everything?

The mother of all string theories passes a litmus test that, so far, no other candidate theory of quantum gravity has been able to match.

Edward Witten in his office at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.
Q&A

A Physicist’s Physicist Ponders the Nature of Reality

Edward Witten reflects on the meaning of dualities in physics and math, emergent space-time, and the pursuit of a complete description of nature.

Pariah moonshine
number theory

Mathematicians Find Moonshine Link for Pariah Symmetries

A type of symmetry so unusual that it was called a “pariah” turns out to have deep connections to number theory.

Emergent reductionism flower
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To Solve the Biggest Mystery in Physics, Join Two Kinds of Law

Reductionism breaks the world into elementary building blocks. Emergence finds the simple laws that arise out of complexity. These two complementary ways of viewing the universe come together in modern theories of quantum gravity.