What's up in

theoretical physics

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.


The Simple Idea Behind Einstein’s Greatest Discoveries

June 26, 2019

Lurking behind Einstein’s theory of gravity and our modern understanding of particle physics is the deceptively simple idea of symmetry. But physicists are beginning to question whether focusing on symmetry is still as productive as it once was.

Abstractions blog

Philosophers Debate New ‘Sonic Black Hole’ Discovery

June 25, 2019

Opinions differ about what recent measurements of a sound-trapping fluid reveal about light-trapping black holes.


Physicists Debate Hawking’s Idea That the Universe Had No Beginning

June 6, 2019

A recent challenge to Stephen Hawking’s biggest idea — about how the universe might have come from nothing — has cosmologists choosing sides.