Nautilus

Can Analogies Reveal the Laws of Physics?

Reprinted with permission from Quanta Magazine’s Abstractions blog.

So-called “analogue experiments” are becoming increasingly common in physics, but do they teach or mislead?Image by National Institute of Standards and Technology / Wikicommons

oping to gain insight into domains of nature that lie beyond experimental reach—the interiors of black holes, the subtleties of the quantum realm, the Big Bang—physicists are experimenting on “analogue” systems made of fluids and

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Nautilus

Nautilus6 min read
Why I Traveled the World Hunting for Mutant Bugs: A researcher who works through painting tells her story.
When Chernobyl happened, I knew it was time for me to act. Nineteen years earlier, I had first drawn malformed and mutated flies while working in the zoological department at the University of Zurich as a scientific illustrator. Zoologists had fed po
Nautilus5 min read
Why Working-Class New Yorkers Drop Their “R’s”
In George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, professor Henry Higgins says: “You can spot an Irishman or a Yorkshireman by his brogue. I can place any man within six miles. I can place him within two miles in London. Sometimes within two streets.” British
Nautilus9 min read
Let’s Play War: Could war games replace the real thing?
In the spring of 1964, as fighting escalated in Vietnam, several dozen Americans gathered to play a game. They were some of the most powerful men in Washington: the director of Central Intelligence, the Army chief of staff, the national security advi