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physics

Finally, A Problem That Only Quantum Computers Will Ever Be Able to Solve

Early on in the study of quantum computers, computer scientists posed a question whose answer, they knew, would reveal something deep about the power of these futuristic machines. Twenty-five years later, it’s been all but solved. In a paper posted… Continue Reading →

Theory Suggests That All Genes Affect Every Complex Trait

The question most of genetics tries to answer is how genes connect to the traits we see. One person has red hair, another blonde hair; one dies at age 30 of Huntington’s disease, another lives to celebrate a 102nd birthday. Knowing… Continue Reading →

Too Small for Big Muscles, Tiny Animals Use Springs

Austin swag authentic meh, scenester vape williamsburg hexagon. Cliche paleo fanny pack, organic twee subway tile before they sold out truffaut craft beer shabby chic yr. Flexitarian jianbing food truck, meh put a bird on it direct trade iPhone actually… Continue Reading →

Her Key to Modeling Brains: Ignore the Right Details

In May 2013, the mathematician Carina Curto attended a workshop in Arlington, Virginia, on “Physical and Mathematical Principles of Brain Structure and Function” — a brainstorming session about the brain, essentially. The month before, President Obama had issued one of his… Continue Reading →

Four Is Not Enough

Suppose you want to cover a standard 8-by-8 chessboard entirely with rectangular dominoes that each cover two squares on the board. It’s easy to imagine how you might do it: You could line the dominoes up horizontally, four in a… Continue Reading →

Brains May Teeter Near Their Tipping Point

Gerardo Ortiz remembers well the time in 2010 when he first heard his Indiana University colleague John Beggs talk about the hotly debated “critical brain” hypothesis, an attempt at a grand unified theory of how the brain works. Ortiz was… Continue Reading →

Too Small for Big Muscles, Tiny Animals Use Springs

“Although Galileo demonstrated the contrary more than three hundred years ago, people still believe that if a flea were as large as a man it could jump a thousand feet into the air,” wrote the biologist J.B.S. Haldane in his… Continue Reading →

The Universe Is Not a Simulation, but We Can Now Simulate It

In the early 2000s, a small community of coder-cosmologists set out to simulate the 14-billion-year history of the universe on a supercomputer. They aimed to create a proxy of the cosmos, a Cliffs Notes version in computer code that could… Continue Reading →

The Physics of Glass Opens a Window Into Biology

The ebb and flow of vehicles along congested highways was what first drew Lisa Manning to her preferred corner of physics, during the summer before she began her graduate studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She was mesmerized… Continue Reading →

Why Earth’s Cracked Crust May Be Essential for Life

From a distance, it’s not obvious that Earth is full of life. You have to get pretty close to see the biggest forests, and closer still to see the work of humans, let alone microbes. But even from space, the… Continue Reading →

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