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theoretical physics

Q&A

A Prodigy Who Cracked Open the Cosmos

January 12, 2021

Frank Wilczek has been at the forefront of theoretical physics for the past 50 years. He talks about winning the Nobel Prize for work he did as a student, his solution to the dark matter problem, and the God of a scientist.

A stylized atom surrounded by concentric shells of increasingly complex organisms.
quantum physics

A New Theorem Maps Out the Limits of Quantum Physics

December 3, 2020

The result highlights a fundamental tension: Either the rules of quantum mechanics don’t always apply, or at least one basic assumption about reality must be wrong.

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.

Cora Dvorkin in front of a starry backdrop.
Hidden Structure

The Cosmologist Who Dreams in the Universe’s Dark Threads

November 5, 2020

Cora Dvorkin discovered new possibilities for what dark matter could be. Now she’s devising unorthodox ways to identify it.

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.

Hidden Structure

A New Map of All the Particles and Forces

October 22, 2020

We’ve created a new way to explore the fundamental constituents of the universe.

Hidden Structure

The Hidden Structure of the Universe

October 22, 2020

Our new series of articles explores the search for fundamental structure at the edge of science.

Illustration of gold unicorn
optical physics

Alchemy Arrives in a Burst of Light

September 30, 2020

Researchers have shown how to effectively transform one material into another using a finely shaped laser pulse.

Black holes of various sizes
black holes

Physicists Argue That Black Holes From the Big Bang Could Be the Dark Matter

September 23, 2020

It was an old idea of Stephen Hawking’s: Unseen “primordial” black holes might be the hidden dark matter. A new series of studies has shown how the theory can work.