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  • News in Brief

    Pulsar pair ripples spacetime

    GENEVA — A dancing duo of cosmic beacons has provided scientists with the most precise measurement, albeit an indirect one, of ripples in spacetime called gravitational waves.

    The measurement comes from analyzing the only known pair of gravitationally bound pulsars, dense cores of dead stars that emit intense beams of radio waves with the regularity of a nearly perfect clock. Michael...

    12/18/2015 - 17:49 Physics, Astronomy
  • News

    General relativity caught in action around black hole

    GENEVA — An effect of general relativity that is barely measurable on Earth has been spotted in full force around a black hole.

    Physicists detected the signature of a black hole twisting the fabric of spacetime around it. The discovery offers the best evidence yet of this relativity-driven twisting effect, known as frame dragging, around a black hole where it is most powerful. The...

    12/17/2015 - 17:50 Physics, Astronomy
  • News

    Final chapter published in decades-long Gravity Probe B project

    A grueling but ultimately successful effort to test Einstein’s 100-year-old general theory of relativity has come to a close more than half a century after it began. Twenty-one papers published online November 17 in Classical and Quantum Gravity present a detailed summation of Gravity Probe B, a satellite that in 2011 confirmed Einstein’s prediction that Earth dents and whips up the spacetime...

    11/24/2015 - 12:30 Physics
  • Feature

    Special Report: Gravity’s Century

    In 1915, the universe was small and static. Space was smooth. Gravity pulled things to the ground. At least that’s the way it was in the minds of all but one exceptional physicist — Albert Einstein.

    After years of pondering the interplay of space, time, matter and gravity, Einstein produced, in a single month, an utter transformation of science’s conception of the cosmos: the general...

    10/07/2015 - 11:27 Science & Society, Cosmology, Astronomy, Physics
  • Feature

    Entanglement: Gravity's long-distance connection

    View the video

    When Albert Einstein scoffed at a “spooky” long-distance connection between particles, he wasn’t thinking about his general theory of relativity.

    Einstein’s century-old theory describes how gravity emerges when massive objects warp the fabric of space and time. Quantum entanglement, the spooky source of Einstein’s dismay, typically concerns tiny particles that...

    10/07/2015 - 10:42 Quantum Physics, Physics
  • Feature

    Using general relativity to magnify the cosmos

    One of the most powerful known magnifying lenses isn’t found on Earth. The lens is built from stars, gas and dark matter and lies about 4 billion light-years away. As astronomers peer through it, they are finding the seeds of galaxies that were scattered around the universe more than 13 billion years ago.

    The lens is known as Abell 2744, a cosmic pileup where four groups of galaxies are...

    10/06/2015 - 12:38 Astronomy, Cosmology, Physics
  • Reviews & Previews

    Centennial books illuminate Einstein’s greatest triumph

    You don’t need an anniversary as an excuse to write a book about Albert Einstein. But the centennial of his general theory of relativity has nonetheless provided an occasion for several new entries in the Einstein library. And even though general relativity — Einstein’s theory of gravity — has been thoroughly explored many times, some 2015 publications do offer new twists and insights.

    ...

    10/04/2015 - 07:00 History of Science, Science & Society, Physics, Cosmology
  • Feature

    Einstein's genius changed science's perception of gravity

    Albert Einstein opened humankind’s eyes to the universe.

    Before Einstein, space seemed featureless and changeless, as Isaac Newton had defined it two centuries earlier. And time, Newton declared, flowed at its own pace, oblivious to the clocks that measured it. But Einstein looked at space and time and saw a single dynamic stage — spacetime — on which matter and energy strutted,...

    10/04/2015 - 05:30 Astronomy, Physics, History of Science
  • Context

    The amateur who helped Einstein see the light

    Generally speaking, general relativity is not the sort of physics that offers much fodder for amateurs. Its mathematical intricacies were too much even for Einstein at first. He struggled for years to find the equations that showed how general relativity could describe gravity, finally succeeding in 1915.

    But a couple of decades later, an eccentric amateur noticed a consequence of...

    10/01/2015 - 06:00 History of Science
  • Context

    Tensor networks get entangled with quantum gravity

    First of two parts

    One of the first steps toward becoming a scientist is discovering the difference between speed and velocity.

    To nonscientists, it’s usually a meaningless distinction. Fast is fast, slow is slow. But speed, technically, refers only to rate of motion. Velocity encompasses both speed and direction. In science, you usually want to know more than just how fast...

    09/02/2014 - 13:59 Quantum Physics