When will the universe end?

Robert Frost famously noted that,"Some say the world will end in fire / Some say in ice." Lucky us! We're pretty sure we know the answer: it's ice. But how long do we have until the end of time, and what will it look like? In this week's "Ask a Physicist," we'll find out. » 10/29/13 9:00am 10/29/13 9:00am

What do you really need to know about the universe?

I've spent the last three years writing the "Ask a Physicist" column in which you folks have sent me some great questions about black holes and warp drives and so on, (and please keep 'em coming). But why? How much do you really need to know about the universe? » 9/17/13 10:20am 9/17/13 10:20am

Why can't Einstein and Quantum Mechanics get along?

Despite our successes at describing the inner workings of the universe (Higgs, anyone?), there are still some gaping holes in our knowledge. Where's our Grand Unified Theory or our Theory of Everything? And why is Einstein's General Relativity still at odds with Quantum Mechanics? Why should we want to unify them… » 8/09/13 12:24pm 8/09/13 12:24pm

Can you tell what a black hole has been eating?

Black holes have a justifiably terrifying reputation. If you drop your keys in there, forget them, because they are gone. But are matters really so bad? Can a black hole "remember" what it's eaten? In this week's "Ask a Physicist" we'll find out. » 7/12/13 1:00pm 7/12/13 1:00pm

Where does the Standard Model of physics come from?

The Standard Model of particle physics is a triumph of science. It's a collection of 17 particles, and four forces. Physicists like to call it "elegant" but to the untrained eye, it looks anything but. Where does this all come from? In this week's Ask a Physicist, we'll find out. » 7/04/13 9:00am 7/04/13 9:00am

We Can Make It to the Edge of the Observable Universe in a Few Decades

Do you find our galaxy too confining? Do you long for the vast expanses of extragalactic space? Now, you can make it to the edges of the observable universe in only a few decades! In this week's "Ask a Physicist," we'll offer you a practical guide for the intergalactic traveler. » 6/20/13 11:00am 6/20/13 11:00am

Is the Earth getting heavier?

Except for the occasional earthquake or volcano eruption, the Earth seems like a fairly stable place. But if you believe that YOU COULD NOT BE MORE WRONG. We are under constant bombardment. From space! And how does all of this cosmic debris affect the earth? In this week's "Ask a Physicist" we'll find out. » 6/13/13 11:00am 6/13/13 11:00am

How much does antimatter weigh?

Antimatter is mysterious, dangerous, and rare. In fiction, it's at the core of Isaac Asimov's positronic brains, the engines on the Enterprise, and the bomb in Dan Brown's Angels and Demons. But in the real world, antimatter is fairly mundane stuff. If the entire universe turned into antimatter, we'd barely notice. Or… » 5/08/13 1:00pm 5/08/13 1:00pm

Will the universe end in a "Big Rip"?

There's overwhelming evidence that the universe is accelerating. This means that the future is going to be a relatively lonely place, with galaxies getting ever further from one another, and no hope (if there ever was any) of traveling between them. But could the accelerating universe be even more grim than that? » 4/23/13 11:37am 4/23/13 11:37am

The Planck Satellite Discovers Extra Dark Matter In the Universe

This week, the Planck Satellite team announced major findings from over a year of observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), or the radioactive sludge that lingers in our universe from the beginning of time, right after the Big Bang. And while there's a lot to digest, I wanted to give you some high points… » 3/22/13 7:00am 3/22/13 7:00am

What happened before the Big Bang?

We spend a lot of time thinking about futurism, but the past is pretty interesting, too. In this week's "Ask a Physicist" we get extra speculative and think about what things may have been like before the beginning of time. What was there before the Big Bang? Did anything exist before our current universe? Here's what we … » 2/02/12 12:23pm 2/02/12 12:23pm

Do you have questions about the Higgs Boson discovery? Ask a physicist!

The Large Hadron Collider has just announced results strongly suggesting a potential detection of the Higgs Boson at approximately 135 times the mass of the proton. While this doesn't quite count as discovery yet, many physicists (including our own Dave Goldberg) are getting pretty confident that the Higgs is real, and … » 12/13/11 8:52am 12/13/11 8:52am