What's up in


A drawing of a piece of folded paper going back and forth between paper airplane and paper bird shapes.
Abstractions blog

Some Proteins Change Their Folds to Perform Different Jobs

February 3, 2021

Unusual proteins that can quickly fold into different shapes provide cells with a novel regulatory mechanism.

materials science

The Shape-Shifting Squeeze Coolers

August 24, 2020

Push or crush a new class of materials, and they’ll undergo record-breaking temperature changes.


The Universal Law That Aims Time’s Arrow

August 1, 2019

A new look at a ubiquitous phenomenon has uncovered unexpected fractal behavior that could give us clues about the early universe and the arrow of time.

Photo of Escherichia coli under a microscope
Abstractions blog

Swarming Bacteria Create an ‘Impossible’ Superfluid

July 26, 2018

Researchers explore a loophole that extracts useful energy from a fluid’s seemingly random motion. The secret? Sugar and asymmetry.

Illustration for thermodynamics
Abstractions blog

Quantum Correlations Reverse Thermodynamic Arrow of Time

April 2, 2018

A recent experiment shows how quantum mechanics can make heat flow from a cold body to a hot one, an apparent (though not real) violation of the second law of thermodynamics.

origins of life

First Support for a Physics Theory of Life

July 26, 2017

Take chemistry, add energy, get life. The first tests of Jeremy England’s provocative origin-of-life hypothesis are in, and they appear to show how order can arise from nothing.

information theory

The Quantum Thermodynamics Revolution

May 2, 2017

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


A Debate Over the Physics of Time

July 19, 2016

According to our best theories of physics, the universe is a fixed block where time only appears to pass.


The Thermodynamic Theory of Ecology

September 3, 2014

Nature’s large-scale patterns emerge from incomplete surveys that borrow ideas from information theory.