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Light

Scientists have discovered that objects coated with a forest of carbon nanotubes can be ma...

Although Klingon-style disappearing spaceships may not be in our neighborhood any time soon, the technology that could allow a spaceship to vanish from sight may be here now. Scientists from the University of Michigan have successfully made a three-dimensional etched silicon image of a tank appear as a featureless black void, that completely blended in with the backdrop surrounding it. The secret: good ol’ carbon nanotubes.  Read More

Scientists from the OPERA project are reporting that new experiments confirm their earlier...

On September 23rd, researchers from the European OPERA project made the now-famous announcement that they had observed neutrinos traveling faster than the speed of light. Given that Einstein's special theory of relativity states that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, their proclamation was naturally met with some skepticism – various physicists stated that there was likely a flaw in the design, implementation or calculations involved the experiment. To their credit, the OPERA collaborative made a point of inviting other scientists to try to replicate their results. In the meantime, however, they’ve replicated those results themselves, and announced today that neutrinos still appear to be the speediest particles in the universe.  Read More

The Valkee is a device that its makers claim can treat seasonal affective disorder, by shi...

Many readers in the Northern Hemisphere are likely already starting to experience seasonal affective disorder, appropriately enough known as SAD. For those people fortunate enough not to be familiar with it, SAD is a mood disorder that is brought on by the shorter day-length experienced in winter – less sunlight results in gloomier people. One of the most common treatments involves regular exposure to bright artificial lights, that appear to psychologically serve the same purpose as sunlight. Now, one might assume that such light therapy would require that people see the light. According to the Finnish designers of the Valkee device, however, light also does the trick if you shine it up your ears.  Read More

The new super-black coating made from hollow carbon nanotubes prevents reflection because ...

When it comes to gathering measurements of objects so distant in the universe that they can no longer be seen in visible light, the smallest amount of stray light can play havoc with the sensitive detectors and other instrument components used by astronomers. Currently, instrument developers use black paint on baffles and other components to help prevent stray light ricocheting off surfaces, but the paint absorbs only 90 percent of the light that strikes it. NASA engineers have now developed a nanotech-based coating that absorbs on average more than 99 percent of the ultraviolet, visible, infrared, and far-infrared light that hits it, making it promising for a variety of space- and Earth-bound applications.  Read More

Lytro's consumer light field camera, which allows users to adjust a photograph's focus aft...

So, you’re looking at that one photo you took, and wishing that the flower in the foreground was in focus instead of the person behind it? Well it’s no big deal, just go in and shift the focus. Oh yeah, that’s right, you can’t ... but you will be able to soon. California-based Lytro, Inc. announced today that its consumer light field camera is now available for preorder, and should be shipping early next year. It is the first camera of its kind made for the general public.  Read More

Cornell researchers have demonstrated a working temporal cloak that creates a gap in the f...

Last year researchers at Imperial College London proposed that along with being used to cloak physical objects metamaterials could also be used to cloak a singular event in time. A year later, researchers from Cornell University have demonstrated a working "temporal cloak" that is able to conceal a burst of light as if it had never occurred.  Read More

The idea of matter traveling faster than light may no longer be limited to the realm of sc...

According to Einstein’s restricted theory of relativity, nothing can travel faster than light in a vacuum. Up until today, that had pretty much seemed to be the case, too. Early this morning, however, researchers from the Geneva-based OPERA project announced that the results from one of their recent experiments indicate that neutrinos can in fact outrun light particles.  Read More

Scientists have developed heart tissue that contracts when exposed to light, which could p...

There's no denying that pacemakers are life-saving devices, but they do have their limitations. These include the facts that their metal leads can break, they need to be surgically accessed if their batteries run out, and they can be disrupted by strong magnetic fields. Some or all of these problems may one day become things of the past, however, due to research currently being conducted at New York's Stony Brook University - scientists there are working towards the development of pacemakers that control the heart through pulses of light.  Read More

The Beep-It optical theremin produces eerie tones when exposed to various light sources

If you’ve ever heard the eerie electronic music at the beginning of a 1950s science fiction movie (The Day the Earth Stood Still, for example), then you’ve heard a theremin. Invented in Russia in the 1920s, the instrument is unique, in that the person playing it doesn’t touch it at all. Instead, they move their hands around its two antennas, causing it to emit different sounds by altering radio frequencies that the machine emits. Although still used by some modern musicians, theremins can be a little pricey, and somewhat difficult to master. That’s where the $35 Beep-It optical theremin comes in.  Read More

An experimental energy-saving streetlight system automatically dims the lights when no peo...

Of all the energy-saving tips out there, probably the one we hear most often is to not leave lights on when we leave a room. It’s good advice, yet cities around the world are not following it in one key way – their streetlights stay on all night long, even when no one is on the street. The Netherlands’ Delft University of Technology is experimenting with a new streetlight system on its campus, however, in which motion sensor-equipped streetlights dim to 20 percent power when no people or moving vehicles are near them. The system is said to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 80 percent, plus it lowers maintenance costs and reduces light pollution.  Read More

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