Dr Katherine (Katie) Mack is a theoretical astrophysicist who studies a range of questions in cosmology, the study of the universe from beginning to end.
She currently holds the position of Assistant Professor of Physics at North Carolina State University, where she is also a member of the Leadership in Public Science Cluster. Throughout her career she has studied dark matter, the early universe, galaxy formation, black holes, cosmic strings, and the ultimate fate of the cosmos.
Alongside her academic research, she is an active science communicator and has been published in a number of popular publications such as Scientific American, Slate, Sky & Telescope, and Time.com. You can find her on Twitter as @AstroKatie and her website is www.astrokatie.com
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How quickly is the Universe expanding?
It’s a question that’s causing a crisis in astrophysics.
Before answering the question around the Universe expanding, some background. It’s often said that science is self-co...
Superflares don’t go away entirely
They still pose a risk, so it would be wise to make some contingency plans.
Living with a star is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, our Sun provides us with light, warmth, and the e...
We are stardust. And Big Bang dust.
Neutron star collisions are essential to our origin story.
When, in 2017, the LIGO experiment detected gravitational waves from two neutron stars colliding, it sent electromagn...
Hawking’s chaotic contribution
Link between physics of black holes and of quantum particles.
Stephen Hawking thought a lot about black holes. But his biggest insight, the work that connected gravity to quantum ...
Sorry, but dark energy Heat Death of the universe is actually the nice option
Dark energy will determine the end of the cosmos, and it won’t be pleasant.
Dark energy is without a doubt the weirdest thing in the universe. Despite being present in every corner of the cosmo...
Fourth type of neutrino creates more confusion
Hint at possibility of a fourth kind of neutrino.
It was a balmy summer in 1998 when I first became aware of the confounding weirdness of neutrinos. I have vivid memor...
The galactic tide coming our way
The same force responsible for moving oceans will also rip our galaxy apart.
Southern Hemisphere stargazers have it good. From anywhere on Earth, on a very dark night, the band of the Milky Way ...
Colliding neutron stars prove equality before the law of gravity
The neutron star explosion confirmed the equivalence principle.
The scene: Pisa, Italy, late 16th century. Galileo Galilei enters the famous Leaning Tower. He climbs the steps, trai...
Why planetary protection meant Cassini had to die
It’s not easy stop microscopic creatures hitching a ride into space.
You’d think it was the name of a superhero, but the Planetary Protection Officer doesn’t wear a cape or work in a sec...
Supernova déjà vu, all over again
Watching a star explode twice.
In late 2015, the Hubble Space Telescopett turned toward a distant galaxy to watch the explosive demise of a doomed s...
Fast radio bursts: enigmatic and infuriating
The high-speed, short-lived phenomena are perplexing to say the least.
The best science stories are mystery stories. Something unexplained occurs, the detectives gather their clues, theori...
‘Goldilocks’ planets might not be so nice
What does ‘habitable’ really mean?
The recent discovery of a planet around Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our own sun, created immense excitement...
Love and loss in the time of colliders
Alas, even the most promising data can let us down.
Isaac Asimov once said, “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘e...
The bright side of black holes
They’re key to the evolution of galaxies.
Over a billion years ago, two black holes in a distant galaxy spiralled together, rippling the very fabric of space. ...
Catching gravitational waves
Prepare for the unveiling of the invisible universe.
You may think you are sitting still, peacefully reading this column. In fact you are awash in waves of spacetime that...
Building a model of the Universe
The rightness or wrongness of a theory is an impractical concept.
One hundred years ago Albert Einstein wrote a new theory of gravity. General relativity is an elegant but mathematica...
Finding the pattern in all matter
Symmetries lead to a deeper understanding of nature.
To a physicist, the highest form of praise for a theory is to say it is “beautiful”. Such a theory is not only logic...
The inventor of abstract algebra
Mathematician Emmy Noether was a genius.
Noether’s Theorem is to theoretical physics what natural selection is to biology. If you wrote an equation encapsulat...
Vacuum decay: the ultimate catastrophe
If the Universe dies, this is the most efficient way.
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Recreating the beginning of time
The Large Hadron Collider is a giant time machine for physicists.
The Big Bang theory, despite being a popular television show, is misunderstood. It is not a hand-wavy concept of a gr...
Star dust and gravitational waves
Scientists who claimed to have detected gravitational waves may have been fooled by swirling gala...
You are a rock star. You step on stage to face flashing lights, smoke from the fog machine and tens of thousands of s...
The problem with dark matter
The evidence that dark matter is real is all but irrefutable.
Let me begin by telling you that dark matter is real. The evidence is overwhelming. Without dark matter stars would e...
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