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  • Context

    ‘Gravity waves’ is an OK way to refer to gravitational radiation

    It’s OK to call them “gravity waves.”

    Purists insist that the spacetime ripples just discovered by the Advanced LIGO observatories should be called “gravitational” waves. Which in itself is just a shorthand way of saying radiation of gravitational energy via oscillations in the fabric of spacetime. Further shortening that to “gravity wave” is considered by some to be scientifically...

    02/11/2016 - 15:54 Physics, Astronomy
  • Essay

    The long road to detecting gravity waves

    The January e-mail from Syracuse University physicist Peter Saulson caught me off guard. It probably shouldn’t have, since I had been anticipating the news for 16 years, ever since I wrote Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony. The book chronicled the astrophysical community’s most cutting-edge start-up: gravity wave astronomy.

    Saulson’s message...

    02/11/2016 - 10:40 Physics, Astronomy
  • Feature

    Gravitational waves explained

    A century after Albert Einstein rewrote our understanding of space and time, physicists have confirmed one of the most elusive predictions of his general theory of relativity. In another galaxy, a billion or so light-years away, two black holes collided, shaking the fabric of...

    02/11/2016 - 10:30 Physics, Astronomy
  • News

    Gravity waves from black holes verify Einstein’s prediction

    WASHINGTON — Tremors in the cosmic fabric of space and time have finally been detected, opening a new avenue for exploring the universe.

    The historic discovery of those tremors, known as gravitational waves, comes almost exactly a century after Albert Einstein first posited their existence. Researchers with the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory...

    02/11/2016 - 10:30 Physics, Astronomy
  • News in Brief

    Physicists find signs of four-neutron nucleus

    The suspected discovery of an atomic nucleus with four neutrons but no protons has physicists scratching their heads. If confirmed by further experiments, this “tetraneutron” would be the first example of an uncharged nucleus, something that many theorists say should not exist. “It would be something of a sensation,” says Peter Schuck, a nuclear theorist at the National Center for Scientific...

    02/08/2016 - 17:08 Particle Physics, Physics
  • Feature

    Nuclear fusion gets boost from private-sector startups

    The lab where a company called General Fusion is trying to spark an energy revolution looks like a cross between a hardware store and a mad scientist’s lair. Bins full of electrical gadgets are piled high against the walls. Capacitors recycled from a bygone experiment are stacked up like bottles in wine racks. Ten-foot-high contraptions bristle with...

    01/27/2016 - 12:30 Physics
  • Context

    Entanglement is spooky, but not action at a distance

    First of two (entangled) parts. Read part two. 

    A couple of weeks before last Halloween, physicists in the Netherlands treated the physics world with experimental proof of what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.”

    It’s not the first time experiments have...

    01/27/2016 - 07:05 Particle Physics, Quantum Physics, History of Science
  • Context

    Quantum spookiness survives its toughest tests

    Second of two (entangled) parts. Read part one. 

    Until his death in 1955, Albert Einstein hoped that someday science would do away with what he called spooky action at a distance.

    His concern was quantum entanglement. Two entangled particles, even after traveling very far from...

    01/27/2016 - 07:00 Particle Physics, Quantum Physics, History of Science
  • Science Visualized

    Frozen oil droplets morph and shine

    View the video

    In carefully chilled conditions, microscopic beads of oil freeze to form a panoply of shapes. 

    The triangles, hexagons and other structures above are oil droplets tens of micrometers across that are mixed with water and a detergent-like substance, and then slowly frozen to form hydrogen-carbon crystals. Polarized light passing through the...

    01/26/2016 - 12:00 Chemistry, Materials, Physics
  • News

    Quantum histories get all tangled up

    Choose Your Own Adventure books are fun, but they let readers choose only one version of events at a time. Quantum mechanics, a new experiment suggests, requires that multiple adventures occur simultaneously to create a consistent account of history.

    Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek at MIT and colleague Jordan Cotler, now at Stanford University, provide evidence for what they call...

    01/25/2016 - 13:00 Quantum Physics