Category Archives: Physics

The origins of the universe may be hidden in the voids of space

Paul M. Sutter writes: Beginning in the 1970s cosmologists started to uncover the structure of the universe writ large. They already knew that galaxies occasionally clump together into clusters, but over even larger distances, spanning 100 million light-years and more, they found superclusters. And in between those superclusters they saw something even more unexpected: vast… Read More »

The spooky quantum phenomenon you’ve never heard of

Katie McCormick writes: Perhaps the most famously weird feature of quantum mechanics is nonlocality: Measure one particle in an entangled pair whose partner is miles away, and the measurement seems to rip through the intervening space to instantaneously affect its partner. This “spooky action at a distance” (as Albert Einstein called it) has been the… Read More »

Physicists rewrite the fundamental law that leads to disorder

Philip Ball writes: In all of physical law, there’s arguably no principle more sacrosanct than the second law of thermodynamics — the notion that entropy, a measure of disorder, will always stay the same or increase. “If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations… Read More »

What is time?

Annaka Harris writes: “I think the flow of time is not part of the fundamental structure of reality,” theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli tells me. He is currently working on a theory of quantum gravity in which the variable of time plays no part. And throughout our conversation, I’m trying to get my mind around the… Read More »

The interdependence of all things

Nicholas Cannariato writes: The nature of time. Black holes. Ancient philosophers. The struggle for democracy. Climate change. Buddhist philosophy. In his new collection of essays and articles, Carlo Rovelli, one of the world’s most renowned physicists, broadens his writing to include questions of politics, justice and how we live now. “I look at myself as… Read More »

Long-awaited accelerator ready to explore origins of elements

Nature reports: One of nuclear physicists’ top wishes is about to come true. After a decades-long wait, a US$942 million accelerator in Michigan is officially inaugurating on 2 May. Its experiments will chart unexplored regions of the landscape of exotic atomic nuclei and shed light on how stars and supernova explosions create most of the… Read More »

Looking directly towards the edge of time

Dr Katie Mack writes: “From a tropical rainforest to the edge of time itself, James Webb begins a voyage back to the birth of the Universe” – so went the launch narration when astronomy’s latest superpowered space explorer, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), lifted off from French Guiana on Christmas Day. Like most launch… Read More »

Particle’s surprise mass threatens to upend the Standard Model

Nature reports: From its resting place outside Chicago, Illinois, a long-defunct experiment is threatening to throw the field of elementary particles off balance. Physicists have toiled for ten years to squeeze a crucial new measurement out of the experiment’s old data, and the results are now in. The team has found that the W boson… Read More »

Massive black holes shown to act like quantum particles

Charlie Wood writes: When two black holes collide, the titanic crash ripples out through the very fabric of the cosmos. Physicists have used Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity to predict the rough contours of these gravitational waves as they pass through Earth, and wave after wave has been confirmed by the LIGO and Virgo gravitational-wave… Read More »

How the physics of resonance shapes reality

Ben Brubaker writes: Almost anytime physicists announce that they’ve discovered a new particle, whether it’s the Higgs boson or the recently bagged double-charm tetraquark, what they’ve actually spotted is a small bump rising from an otherwise smooth curve on a plot. Such a bump is the unmistakable signature of “resonance,” one of the most ubiquitous… Read More »

Applying machine learning to cosmology

Charlie Wood writes: A group of scientists may have stumbled upon a radical new way to do cosmology. Cosmologists usually determine the composition of the universe by observing as much of it as possible. But these researchers have found that a machine learning algorithm can scrutinize a single simulated galaxy and predict the overall makeup… Read More »

A century of quantum mechanics questions the fundamental nature of reality

Tom Siegfried writes: Scientists are like prospectors, excavating the natural world seeking gems of knowledge about physical reality. And in the century just past, scientists have dug deep enough to discover that reality’s foundations do not mirror the world of everyday appearances. At its roots, reality is described by the mysterious set of mathematical rules… Read More »