For something like 5,000 years, astronomy was the analysis of starlight. In the mid 20th century, cosmic rays were added to the mix, and then neutrinos. Two years ago came gravitational waves. Science advances, not just by seeing better, but by inventing whole new categories of seeing.
The Case for Making Cities Out of Wood
Earlier this year, Dan Doctoroff, the C.E.O. of Sidewalk Labs, Google’s sibling company under Alphabet, answered a question about what his company “actually does” during a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session, replying, “The short answer is: We want to build the first truly 21st-century city.” Quayside, a Toronto neighborhood the company is developing in partnership […]
A Short History of the Missing Universe
Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine‘s Abstractions blog. The cosmos plays hide-and-seek. Sometimes, though, even when astronomers have a hunch for where their prey might hide, it can take them decades of searching to confirm it. The case of the universe’s missing matter—a case that appears to now be closed, as I reported earlier this month—is one such instance. […]
How Doctors Use Poetry
A Harvard medical student describes how he is learning to both treat and heal.
The Fourth Copernican Revolution
Is our universe one island in an archipelago?
Why Did the Ancients Bury Their Dogs like Family Members?
Man’s best friend was also man’s first buried pet.Photograph by Pavlina Trauskeova / Shutterstock As a kid, when my pet turtle died we had a funeral—of course—and buried him in the backyard. When the family dog passed, his remains were cremated and placed in an urn on the mantle. In today’s society, mortuary rites for […]
The Heart of Musical Experience Is Expectation
In “Half-Wit,” an episode of House, Gregory House, a brilliant Sherlock Holmes-like doctor (and a decent musician) wheels a piano into a patient’s room. It’s a delightful moment: The patient is a musical savant named Patrick, played by the musician Dave Matthews—a painful muscle contraction in his hand, suffered during a performance, brought him in. […]
Fine Tuning Is Just Fine
Why it’s not such a problem that the Large Hadron Collider hasn’t found new physics.
Is It Time to Get Rid of Time?
The crisis inside the physics of time.
The Case for Dancing Astrophysics
Cosmology is the story of the fundamental particles, forces, and energies that shape and govern our universe. And that story is one of rhythm and motion.Screengrab via Paul M. Sutter / YouTube For millennia, cosmological and religious systems of thought were intertwined—and usually indistinguishable. European artwork of, say, the arrangements of planets and stars often […]