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string theory

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
Quantized Columns

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.

fidget spinners
Quantized Academy

Symmetry, Algebra and the Monster

To begin to understand what mathematicians and physicists see in the abstract structures of symmetries, let’s start with a familiar shape.

Joe Polchinsky at the Kavli Institute
Thinking Places

Joe Polchinski’s Restless Pursuit of Quantum Gravity

The pot-stirring string theorist and quantum gravity theorist never sits still for long.

Eva Silverstein at Stanford University
Thinking Places

Eva Silverstein’s Spirals and Strings

Daily bike rides, serendipitous interactions and long periods of solo thinking inspire this string cosmologist.

Juan Maldacena
Thinking Places

Juan Maldacena, Pondering Quantum Gravity by the Pond

One of the world’s preeminent theoretical physicists seeks a quiet place to think.

Naked singularities
quantum gravity

Where Gravity Is Weak and Naked Singularities Are Verboten

Recent calculations tie together two conjectures about gravity, potentially revealing new truths about its elusive quantum nature.

Illustration: diver searching for new math
Quantized Columns

Quantum Questions Inspire New Math

In order to fully understand the quantum world, we may have to develop a new realm of mathematics.

string theory

The Strange Second Life of String Theory

String theory has so far failed to live up to its promise as a way to unite gravity and quantum mechanics. At the same time, it has blossomed into one of the most useful sets of tools in science.