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theoretical physics

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.

Quantum reconstruction
quantum mechanics

Quantum Theory Rebuilt From Simple Physical Principles

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.

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.

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.

Helen Quinn and Roberto Peccei at Stanford University
Thinking Places

Roberto Peccei and Helen Quinn, Driving Around Stanford in a Clunky Jeep

The two physicists who introduced Peccei-Quinn symmetry came up with their idea on and around Stanford University’s campus 40 years ago.

information theory

The Quantum Thermodynamics Revolution

As physicists extend the 19th-century laws of thermodynamics to the quantum realm, they’re rewriting the relationships among energy, entropy and information.

Abstractions blog

Physicists Attack Math’s $1,000,000 Question

Physicists are attempting to map the distribution of the prime numbers to the energy levels of a particular quantum system.

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.