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For decades, physicists have struggled to create a quantum theory of gravity. Now an approach that dates to the 1970s is attracting newfound attention.
A complete classification could lead to a wealth of new materials and technologies. But some exotic phases continue to resist understanding.
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 reflects on the meaning of dualities in physics and math, emergent space-time, and the pursuit of a complete description of nature.
Physicists theorize that a new “traversable” kind of wormhole could resolve a baffling paradox and rescue information that falls into black holes.
The universe has not cooperated with physicists’ hopes. In desperation, many are looking for new ways to search for surprises at the Large Hadron Collider.
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.
Physicists are trying to rewrite the axioms of quantum theory from scratch in an effort to understand what it all means. The problem? They’ve been almost too successful.
The pot-stirring string theorist and quantum gravity theorist never sits still for long.