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fluid vortices
fluid dynamics

An Unexpected Twist Lights Up the Secrets of Turbulence

September 3, 2020

Having solved a central mystery about the “twirliness” of tornadoes and other types of vortices, William Irvine has set his sights on turbulence, the white whale of classical physics.

Animation of black hole formation.
mathematical physics

New Math Proves That a Special Kind of Space-Time Is Unstable

May 11, 2020

Einstein’s equations describe three canonical configurations of space-time. Now one of these three — important in the study of quantum gravity — has been shown to be inherently unstable.


The Map of Mathematics

February 13, 2020

Explore our surprisingly simple, absurdly ambitious and necessarily incomplete guide to the boundless mathematical universe.

Photo of black and white swirls of mixing paint
fluid dynamics

Mathematicians Prove Universal Law of Turbulence

February 4, 2020

By exploiting randomness, three mathematicians have proved an elegant law that underlies the chaotic motion of turbulent systems.

Video simulation of gas around a black hole.

Astronomers Find Black Holes Stirring Up the Biggest Galaxies

December 12, 2019

After a space telescope disintegrated, astrophysicists had little hope of understanding how supermassive black holes agitate giant galaxies. Then they invented a hack.

Art for "The Trouble With Turbulence"
In Theory

The Trouble With Turbulence

January 28, 2019

Turbulence is everywhere, yet it is one of the most difficult concepts for physicists to understand.

Photo of Jupiter for "Mathematicians Tame Turbulence in Flattened Fluids"
fluid dynamics

Mathematicians Tame Turbulence in Flattened Fluids

June 27, 2018

By squeezing fluids into flat sheets, researchers can get a handle on the strange ways that turbulence feeds energy into a system instead of eating it away.

Photo of smoke
Abstractions blog

What Makes the Hardest Equations in Physics So Difficult?

January 16, 2018

The Navier-Stokes equations describe simple, everyday phenomena, like water flowing from a garden hose, yet they provide a million-dollar mathematical challenge.