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What is Planck-scale physics and why does it matter?

The Planck-scale physics story begins long ago. In 1901 German physicist Max Planck publishes an explanation for strange properties of radiant heat. He says its energy is quantized. In other words, it radiates in distinct little bits. He sees this as a mathematical convenience and doesn’t really believe it. His math requires a constant he […]

Twin mysteries: A ghostly fundamental particle and a physicist who disappeared after saying its antiparticle may not exist

Twin mysteries arose around 1937 when Italian theoretical physicist Ettore Majorana suggested neutrinos are their own antiparticles. Soon afterward he took the night ferry from Palermo to Napoli and vanished, leaving us to ask: What happened to him; and was he right? The Standard Model has a place for every known elementary particle. It says […]