Category Archives: Physics

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 »

A tiny particle’s wobble could upend the known laws of physics

Dennis Overbye writes: Evidence is mounting that a tiny subatomic particle seems to be disobeying the known laws of physics, scientists announced on Wednesday, a finding that would open a vast and tantalizing hole in our understanding of the universe. The result, physicists say, suggests that there are forms of matter and energy vital to… Read More »

Physicists nail down the ‘magic number’ that shapes the universe

Natalie Wolchover writes: As fundamental constants go, the speed of light, c, enjoys all the fame, yet c’s numerical value says nothing about nature; it differs depending on whether it’s measured in meters per second or miles per hour. The fine-structure constant, by contrast, has no dimensions or units. It’s a pure number that shapes… Read More »

Physics and information theory give a glimpse of life’s origins

Natalie Elliot writes: How did life originate? Scientists have been studying the question for decades, and they’ve developed ingenious methods to try to find out. They’ve even enlisted biology’s most powerful theory, Darwinian evolution, in the search. But they still don’t have a complete answer. What they have hit is the world’s most theoretically fertile… Read More »

The hidden magnetic universe begins to come into view

Natalie Wolchover writes: Anytime astronomers figure out a new way of looking for magnetic fields in ever more remote regions of the cosmos, inexplicably, they find them. These force fields — the same entities that emanate from fridge magnets — surround Earth, the sun and all galaxies. Twenty years ago, astronomers started to detect magnetism… Read More »