Articles on Light

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Earth, shot from space, as it absorbs and reflects rays of light coming from the Sun - the same white-looking rays that give our sky its colour. NASA

Curious Kids: Why is the sky blue and where does it start?

Some people think the sky is blue because of sunlight reflected off the ocean and back into the sky. But that's not the real reason.
Poul Henningsen’s Artichoke Lamp, viewed from below at London’s Park Plaza Hotel. Doc Searls/Wikimedia Commons

From the mundane to the divine, some of the best-designed products of all time

We asked five design experts – what's your favorite product of all time, and why?
A visualisation of simulation data showing light successfully trapped at a standstill.

Hold it right there: how (and why) to stop light in its tracks

Freezing light in mid-air isn't just the realm of Star Wars, as new research shows. But what do you do with the light once it's trapped? One option is to use it to develop new forms of computers.
A new development could mean vastly increase data transfer over optical fibre cables. Shutterstock

Twisted light could dramatically boost internet speeds

The design of a new chip to detect the twisted nature of light waves could pave the way for next generation of optical communication technologies.
Drawing and reality: designing a metamaterial pattern. On the left is the plan; on the right is the actual object. Bossard/Penn State/Flickr

Beyond invisibility: engineering light with metamaterials

We are beginning to be able to control very precisely how light interacts with matter, creating opportunities for invisibility, soundproofing and even earthquake damage prevention.
The Dreamtime constellation of The Emu rises out of the glow of Sydney, 350km away from the Australian Astronomical Observatory. David Malin

Darkness is disappearing and that’s bad news for astronomy

Darkness is precious to astronomers, but it's also good for everybody. We should ensure we preserve the dark by using the latest technologies responsibly.
Not dark enough. People in bed via www.shutterstock.com.

Are we sleep-deprived or just darkness-deprived?

Is electricity making us sleep less? A new study on sleep in preindustrial societies suggests the answer is no. But it misses a big point: people in preindustrial societies spend more time in darkness than we do.

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