Category Archives: Physics

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 »

How could the Big Bang arise from nothing?

The evolution of the cosmos after the Big Bang. NASA By Alastair Wilson, University of Birmingham READER QUESTION: My understanding is that nothing comes from nothing. For something to exist, there must be material or a component available, and for them to be available, there must be something else available. Now my question: Where did… Read More »

Physicists prove anyons exist, a third kingdom of quasiparticles that only arise in two dimensions

Discover reports: After decades of exploration in nature’s smallest domains, physicists have finally found evidence that anyons exist. First predicted by theorists in the early 1980s, these particle-like objects only arise in realms confined to two dimensions, and then only under certain circumstances — like at temperatures near absolute zero and in the presence of… Read More »

What impossible meant to Richard Feynman

Paul J. Steinhardt writes: Impossible! The word resonated throughout the large lecture hall. I had just finished describing a revolutionary concept for a new type of matter that my graduate student, Dov Levine, and I had invented. The Caltech lecture room was packed with scientists from every discipline across campus. The discussion had gone remarkably… Read More »

What if the universe had no beginning?

Paul Sutter writes: In the beginning, there was … well, maybe there was no beginning. Perhaps our universe has always existed — and a new theory of quantum gravity reveals how that could work. “Reality has so many things that most people would associate with sci-fi or even fantasy,” said Bruno Bento, a physicist who… Read More »

‘Impossible’ particle discovery adds key piece to the strong force puzzle

Charlie Wood writes: This spring, at a meeting of Syracuse University’s quark physics group, Ivan Polyakov announced that he had uncovered the fingerprints of a semi-mythical particle. “We said, ‘This is impossible. What mistake are you making?’” recalled Sheldon Stone, the group’s leader. Polyakov went away and double-checked his analysis of data from the Large… Read More »

Eternal change for no energy: A time crystal finally made real

Natalie Wolchover writes: In a preprint posted online Thursday night, researchers at Google in collaboration with physicists at Stanford, Princeton and other universities say that they have used Google’s quantum computer to demonstrate a genuine “time crystal.” In addition, a separate research group claimed earlier this month to have created a time crystal in a… Read More »

Can consciousness be explained by quantum physics?

Some scientists believe consciousness is generated by quantum processes, but the theory is yet to be empirically tested. vitstudio/Shutterstock By Cristiane de Morais Smith, Utrecht University One of the most important open questions in science is how our consciousness is established. In the 1990s, long before winning the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics for his… Read More »

Is the universe open-ended?

Caleb Scharf writes: One of my favorite albeit heavily paraphrased quotes from Albert Einstein is his assertion that the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. (What he actually said, in his 1936 work “Physics and Reality,” is more longwinded, and includes a digression into Immanuel Kant and the meaning of… Read More »

Is a grand theory of everything finally within reach?

James Wells writes: When trying to explain what motivates me as a physicist, the film A Passage to India (1984) comes to mind. Based on the play by Santha Rama Rau, adapted from the novel by E M Forster, it describes the fallout from a rape case in the fictional city of Chandrapore, during the… Read More »