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    When Gravity Breaks Down

    Theoretical physicists have known since the 1930s that quantum gravity is necessary to bring order into the laws of nature, but 80 years on, a solution isn’t anywhere in sight.Photograph by Andrea / Flickr Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity is more than a hundred years old, but still it gives physicists headaches. Not only […]

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    The Case Against Geniuses

    Once you’re called a “genius,” what’s left? Super genius? No, getting called a “genius” is the final accolade, the last laudatory label for anyone. At least that’s how several members of Mensa, an organization of those who’ve scored in the 98th percentile on an IQ test, see it. “I don’t look at myself as a […]

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    The Case Against Geniuses

    Once you’re called a “genius,” what’s left? Super genius? No, getting called a “genius” is the final accolade, the last laudatory label for anyone. At least that’s how several members of Mensa, an organization of those who’ve scored in the 98th percentile on an IQ test, see it. “I don’t look at myself as a […]

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    Why Einstein Just Got Ranked as History’s Greatest Hero

      Two predictions of Albert Einstein’s—one scientific, one sentimental—have recently been confirmed. The first came early in 2016: the existence of gravitational waves. The second came late last month: the handsome price of a pair of notes Einstein wrote, in place of a tip, to a bellboy in 1922, while on a lecturing tour in […]

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    A Letter to Einstein from the Future

    Two Princeton physicists catch Albert up.

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    The Tangled History of Big Bang Science

    Diagram outlining the critical stages of evolution of the Universe from the Big Bang to the present.CERN / Flickr For a theory of the universe as successful as the Big Bang, it may come as a surprise to realize how many complications its promoters had to stumble through. Let’s begin with the unfortunate figure of […]

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    Why Rotation Makes No Sense Sometimes

    What is orbital rotation? The basic picture is clear enough: One body is at rest, while the other follows some circular or elliptical path around it. The trouble is just to figure out which body is which. If you’re standing on the surface of the earth, it appears that the sun slowly orbits around you […]

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    If Nature Had a Human Personality, What Would It Be?

    It can be foolish to anthropomorphize the natural world. Perhaps the most frequent version of this failing is when people attribute human thoughts and emotions to animal behavior. Look at that adorable polar bear caressing that sled dog! Clearly that’s an endearing display of affection. It wasn’t, as a Washington Post article titled, “First a […]

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    My Life with the Physics Dream Team

    Freeman Dyson on working with the greatest physicists of the 20th century.

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    When Einstein Tilted at Windmills

    The young physicist’s quest to prove the theories of Ernst Mach.