Light is essential to vision, at least the kind we perform with our naked eyes. This is why we can see through a glass lens but not through a brick wall (though we're working on that). But what about materials that let some light pass while scattering it in seemingly chaotic ways?
Manned Air Force jets and drones could soon send high quality video and audio by using ultra-high bandwidth lasers, transmitting critical battlefield data faster than ever. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research has conducted experiments that transmit data without interference across almost 22 miles, both in the air and on the ground.
In the data storage arena, developing smaller systems has always been the name of the game. But UK researchers have discovered that the tiny eyes of the mantis shrimp have held the secret to optimizing optical data systems all along. By mimicking the natural design of the mantis shrimp eye, researchers think they can enhance the capacity of media like CDs, DVDs and data projectors.
Neuroscientists have already spent the better part of a decade manipulating animal minds by using light signals to trigger genetically encoded switches. But a new study has now directly reprogrammed flies to fear and avoid certain smells, and all without the usual Pavlovian shock treatments.
We live in a world designed by Charles K. Kao, Willard S. Boyle, and George E. Smith. Their work on the physics of light made possible the fiber optic cables carrying this web page to your phone, and the digital camera on the other side. And on December 10th, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden will award them the Nobel Prize in physics for their work.
It's the year 2023 and you're lost in a gigametropolis full of flying cars and robots who have achieved singularity. A guide literally appears before your eyes, giving you enough info about your surroundings to guide you on your way. The computerized contact lenses that Babak Parviz is developing could make this fantasy a reality.
For decades, electronic devices have been shrinking, in accordance with Moore's Law. Now, as circuits reach the size of single atoms, progress begins to bump up against the physical limitations of matter. Enter the spaser. This new kind of laser produces a beam so small that it could someday form the foundation of circuits made of light, not electrical impulses.
Tinkerers have been turning flatbed scanners into cameras for a while, but this version by a Japanese modder is one of the finest I've seen--both in technical execution and the incredible quality of the massive 130-megapixel images it creates.
Ouch, Harry Potter. Your new movie doesn't premiere for two months, yet real scientists are already one-upping you
Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Cornell University both said last week they've designed invisibility cloaks that work in the visible-light spectrum. OK, so they're not big enough to cover a budding young wizard sneaking around at night, but hey, it's a step.
Humans have been looking to the heavens for as long as we have had stories to tell about them. But the way we look up has come quite far in the past 400 years, since Galileo Galilei first pointed a spyglass to the sky.
In honor of the 400th anniversary of the telescope, Popular Science looks back on the top 10 observatories on Earth and beyond.