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thermodynamics

Craig Callender holding a paddleboard at the beach.
Q&A

Are We All Wrong About Black Holes?

September 5, 2019

Since the 1970s, physicists have described black holes using borrowed versions of the laws of thermodynamics. But are black holes really thermodynamic systems? Craig Callender worries that the analogy has been stretched too far.

universality

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.

cosmology

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.

ecology

The Thermodynamic Theory of Ecology

September 3, 2014

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

The arrow of time.
time

Time’s Arrow Traced to Quantum Source

April 16, 2014

A new theory explains the seemingly irreversible arrow of time while yielding insights into entropy, quantum computers, black holes, and the past-future divide.