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Fundamental physics is in a funk. Its guiding programme, to explain things by inventing ever more particles, has stalled, leaving 95.4 per cent of the stuff in the universe – the provinces of dark matter and dark energy – unexplained. What is more, the underlying theory of microscopic reality that physics serves up, quantum theory, presents reality in a form no one can get their heads round. Oh, and quantum theory doesn’t play ball with the other big theory of modern physics, Einstein’s general relativity.

Ah yes, Einstein: one way or another, you can’t dodge the web he created. In seeking new answers to the age-old question of what space and time are (see “What is space-time? The true origins of the fabric of reality“), theoretical physicist Sean Carroll has to confront Einstein’s legacy of an interwoven, highly malleable space-time that underlies general relativity. With delicious irony, Carroll’s new ideas invoke a brainchild of Einstein, but one he invented to be disowned: quantum entanglement, derided by Einstein as “spooky action at a distance”.

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Category: Science