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The Double Life of Black Holes

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

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

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theoretical physics

Dark Energy May Be Incompatible With String Theory

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.

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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.

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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.

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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"

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.