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theoretical physics

Art for "Quanta’s Year in Physics (2019)"
2019 in Review

The Year in Physics

December 23, 2019

Physicists saw a black hole for the first time, debated the expansion rate of the universe, pondered the origin of time and modeled the end of clouds.

A domino, a two of clubs, and a clock face.
Abstractions blog

Why the Laws of Physics Are Inevitable

December 9, 2019

By considering simple symmetries, physicists working on the “bootstrap” can rediscover the basic form of the known forces that shape the universe.

Animation of a black hole rotating.
Abstractions blog

Black Hole Singularities Are as Inescapable as Expected

December 2, 2019

For the first time, physicists have calculated exactly what kind of singularity lies at the center of a realistic black hole.

An overhead shot of an engineer working on a metal tank with pipes and cables coming out of it.
Abstractions blog

Top Dark Matter Candidate Loses Ground to Tiniest Competitor

November 27, 2019

Physicists have long searched for hypothesized dark matter particles called WIMPs. Now, focus may be shifting to the axion — an ultra-lightweight particle whose existence would solve two mysteries at once.

Illustration of a circle representing a black hole on a flat black plane with a multicolored bridge rising out of the plane and spanning from the inside to the outside of the circle.
Abstractions blog

Hologram Within a Hologram Hints at Fate of Black Holes

November 19, 2019

Calculations involving a higher dimension are guiding physicists toward a misstep in Stephen Hawking’s legendary black hole analysis.

An interactive illustration of shapes hiding clocks.

Cosmic Triangles Open a Window to the Origin of Time

October 29, 2019

A close look at fundamental symmetries has exposed hidden patterns in the universe. Physicists think that those same symmetries may also reveal time’s original secret.

Nelson, wearing hiking gear, smiles at the camera at the top of a rocky outcrop.
Quantized Columns

Ann Nelson Took On the Biggest Problems in Physics

August 22, 2019

The theoretical particle physicist Ann Nelson, who died on August 4 at age 61, was a font of brilliant ideas and a champion of ending discrimination in the field.

Abstractions blog

How (Relatively) Simple Symmetries Underlie Our Expanding Universe

July 15, 2019

Although Einstein’s theory of space-time seems more complicated than Newtonian physics, it greatly simplified the mathematical description of the universe.

Abstractions blog

The Quantum Theory That Peels Away the Mystery of Measurement

July 3, 2019

A recent test has confirmed the predictions of quantum trajectory theory.