George Musser
George Musser
George Musser is a contributing editor at Scientific American and Nautilus magazines and the author of two books, Spooky Action at a Distance and The Complete Idiot's Guide to String Theory. He is the recipient of the 2011 American Institute of Physics Science Writing Award and the 2010 American Astronomical Society’s Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award. He was a Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT from 2014 to 2015.

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An Interview with Emily Adlam [Video]

Spooky influences might leap not just across space, but across time, too.

The mysteries of quantum mechanics are usually portrayed as mysteries of space: how strange that the fates of particles on opposite sides of the universe could be joined. But they are also mysteries of time. A particle you create today could be connected in some unaccountable way to one that does not exist yet. Einstein […]

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An Interview with Richard Healey [Video]

Entanglement is not the only type of nonlocality in quantum theory.

It stands to reason that electromagnetism is a theory of electric and magnetic fields. But since when is anything in physics so straightforward? Although Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism in their usual formulation do contain electric and magnetic fields, those equations can be rewritten in terms of a mathematical function called the potential. So what is […]

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An Interview with Daniele Oriti [Video]

The atoms of space may be tiny, but could have huge effects.

If spacetime is made of atoms, as many theoretical physicists these days speculate, could we ever know? You might doubt it. Conventional wisdom says those atoms would be too small, too energetic, or just plain too weird. But Daniele Oriti thinks we have a shot. Oriti, an Italian theorist working at the Max Planck Institute […]

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Why is Quantum Physics So Freakin’ Hard to Write About? [Video]

Short answer: It’s largely a self-reinforcing expectation.

Every area of journalism presents its challenges, but quantum physics is in a molecular orbital of its own. It demands more time per word than anything else I’ve written about. Why is that? Earlier this month I offered some thoughts to fellow science journalists attending a philosophy-of-physics workshop at the University of Leeds. Although my […]

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If You Think Quantum Physics Is Weird, Try These Theories

As strange as quantum entanglement is, the world would have been even stranger without it.

It’s quite a trick to picture a theory even weirder than quantum mechanics. Yet many physicists think the best way to make sense of quantum mechanics is to imagine what might have been. Within a vast radiation of conceivable theories, they look for principles that single out the quantum. In so doing, they aim to […]

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An Interview with Daniel Sudarsky [Video]

To test the interpretation of quantum mechanics, look to cosmology.

Quantum physicists do love their beer. By day they build instruments, measure numbers, solve equations. By night they retire to the bar or pub and muse about the philosophical puzzles of quantum theory. By “philosophical” they mean “fun but impractical.” Maybe quantum theory betrays the existence of parallel universes, maybe it exposes causal influences coming […]

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An Interview with Karen Crowther [Video]

When physicists get stuck, call in the philosophers.

The nice thing about philosophers of physics is that they have no dog in the fight among string theory, loop quantum gravity, and other competing approaches to a fundamental theory of nature. They can stand back and offer some third-party perspective. One who specializes in this is Karen Crowther, a postdoc in the University of […]

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Demonstrate Quantum Encryption With a Flashlight and Pair of Sunglasses

Thumb your noise at government surveillance with a highly simplified form of quantum cryptography.

“Are you telling me that this could be of practical use?” exclaimed the Irish physicist John Bell. He had shown in the 1960s that quantum entanglement burrowed deep into the foundations of physics, but even he hadn’t thought it could have real-world applications. That was the brainstorm of Artur Ekert, then a graduate student at […]

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How to Demonstrate “Twisted Light” Using a Laser Pointer

A supersimple experiment endows light beams with orbital angular momentum.

In November 2003 I published a short news story in Scientific American about the orbital angular momentum of light and how you can glimpse it with a laser pointer and an overhead transparency. The article is no longer available at scientificamerican.com, so, as a service to fellow makers and citizen scientists, here are the instructions: […]

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