Energy-space photo of light confined on a nanowire, simultaneously shows both spatial interference and energy quantization. (Fabrizio Carbone/EPFL) Physics 

First Photo of Light as Wave and Particle

In 1905, Albert Einstein proposed that light has properties of both a wave and a stream of particles. Now, researchers in Switzerland have taken  the first ever photo of light behaving both as a wave and as a stream of particles at the same time. The ability to observe light in this way could bring us a step closer to building super fast quantum computers, the researchers say. When UV light hits a metal surface it causes an emission of electrons. This is known as the photoelectric effect. A research…

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Latte foam: Photo by Piyato via Engineering Physics 

Science of Sloshing: Why Foam is Important

By Kate Stone Most of us know that carrying a full cup of hot coffee can be precarious and just one wrong move could send a wave of java sloshing over the rim. But have you ever noticed that adding a bit of foam to the top of the coffee makes moving with it easier? Scientists have found out why just a few layers of bubbles can significantly dampen the sloshing motion of liquid. However, investigating the effects of foam on fluid dynamics is about more than avoiding coffee spillage.…

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Spider webs and leaves serve as models for bendable electronics (Boston College) Physics Technology 

Electronics Inspired by Spider Webs and Leaves

By Kate Stone Have you ever wished your smartphone was shatter-proof, bendable, or even stretchy? If so, you might not have to wait too long for the phone of your dreams because two physicists at Boston College are working on building the next generation of flexible, durable electronics. They have modeled the next generation of electronics on strong, pliable structures found in nature. In particular, spider webs and leaves. Researchers believe this approach promises portable electronics that are not only hardier, but also low-cost and simple to manufacture. The researchers…

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Brass mask used to create spiral laser beam (Stuart Hay, ANU) Physics Technology 

Physicists Make a Quantum Whirlpool

Imagine changing matter into light and light into matter, and then using that technology to build computers that are faster and more powerful than anything most of us can dream of. That dream is closer to reality thanks to a new discovery that could link electronics with photonics. Physicists have successfully engineered a spiral laser beam that can create a vortex, or quantum whirlpool, of particles called polaritons, hybrid particles with the properties of both matter and light. Polaritons form in semiconductors when laser light interacts with electrons and holes…

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A group of backpackers hike on an Outward Bound course in the La Sal Mountains, UT (M. O'Shea/KSU) Health Physics 

Hikers: Your Best Backpack Weight

Hikers are often advised that their best backpack weight is a percentage of their body weight, so smaller individuals must carry lighter loads, right? Wrong. Smaller hikers actually carry heavier loads, and there is a much more accurate way to figure out your best backpack weight. While leading students on extended (more than seven days) backpacking trips for Outward Bound, Kansas State University physics professor Michael O’Shea noticed that some of the smaller students could comfortably carry a greater pack weight than the larger ones of similar fitness levels. “Overall strength…

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