In a Ghostly Mirror Rainbow

Europium and terbium are two rare earth elements that share a colorful similarity: they emit bright red and green light, respectively, when exposed to ultraviolet light. In the image above, there are five thin polymer films embedded with different concentrations of europium and terbium. The far-left film contains primarily terbium, hence the bright green light, while the far-right film contains primarily the red light-emitting europium. … Continue reading In a Ghostly Mirror Rainbow

How to Talk to Your Plants: Using LEDs to grow better crops

by Andrew McAllister Plants are terrible listeners. I’ve told the plants on my windowsill, “Grow taller, grow faster! Make more delicious leaves for me to put in my food!”, but they just grow in the same slow way they’ve been doing since I bought them. Farmers and florists share my pain, but on a larger scale. Sometimes, no matter what you do the squash isn’t … Continue reading How to Talk to Your Plants: Using LEDs to grow better crops

Sticky Light: Physicists discover new Photon Interactions

Light is made of little particles called photons that usually don’t interact. Imagine how strange it would be if the light from your window ricocheted off the light from computer screen! Our brains couldn’t make sense of these images and we’d be stuck in a blurry—albeit bright—world. Professors Vladan Vuletic and Mikhail Lukin, at MIT have made this mindbender a reality. By shining a weak laser … Continue reading Sticky Light: Physicists discover new Photon Interactions

It takes two to see (infrared photons anyway)

In a rainbow, the shortest visible wavelength of light is approximately 400nm (blue) and the longest 700nm (red), where all others colors outside this range are invisible to humans.
Except not quite. Artal et. al. demonstrate that the eye’s visual acuity for infrared light (1000nm), is almost the same as for visible green light. The exploited effect in the eye converts two-invisible photons into a single visible one. Importantly, this demonstrated sensitivity to infrared light could enable future ophthalmic devices to help patients with eye conditions, such as cataracts, that make them opaque to visible light. Continue reading It takes two to see (infrared photons anyway)

Solar Geoengineering: Is controlling our climate possible?

by Colleen Golja figures by Brad Wierbowski Articles with dystopian titles like “Is it OK to Tinker With the Environment to Combat Climate Change?” and “To Curb Global Warming Science Fiction May Become Fact” have begun to surface regularly in prominent news sources like The New York Times, The Guardian, NPR, The Economist, and many others. Just this past October, a cinematic portrayal of a climate-modified … Continue reading Solar Geoengineering: Is controlling our climate possible?

Mice, light and exploring ALAN’s potential health hazards

In deciphering the mysteries of human health, mice have been one of our greatest allies. They have demonstrated the antibacterial properties of penicillin and served as a model for exploring obesity. Now they are helping researchers understand the potential negative effects of artificial light at night, or ALAN. Mounting epidemiological data shows an association of ALAN with cancer, obesity, depression and osteoporosis. Previous work has … Continue reading Mice, light and exploring ALAN’s potential health hazards