Most of us think nothing of rainfall or where it goes, unless it leads to flooding or landslides. But soil scientists have been studying how water moves across or through soil for decades. Daniel Hirmas, a professor at University of Kansas, and his team may be taking the study of soil hydrology to some exciting new territory. Territory that may help soil scientists manage water resources better.

Why is Hirmas trying to predict water movement in soil?

"There are a number of reasons why more accurate predictions of water flow is important. Better management of water resources is one," Hirmas says.

Researchers have managed to 'pluck' a single photon, one particle of light, out of a pulse of light. 

Since their first use in the 1960s, there has been a tremendous expansion of laser technology into an impressively wide range of uses, from fundamental science, health care and security to entertainment. Since Theodore Maiman’s first working laser at the Hughes Research Laboratory in 1960 more than 55,000 patents on laser technology have been filed in the United States alone.

In several years - in perhaps decades, or maybe never - our computers, nanoantennas and other kinds of equipment could operate on the base of photons, rather than electrons. Even now we are practically prepared to accomplish this switch. If it happens, the spheres studied by an international group of Russian, French and Spanish scientists will definitely be able to become one of the elementary components of new photonic devices.

The Institute of Laser Engineering (ILE), Osaka University, has succeeded to reinforce the Petawatt [3] laser "LFEX" to deliver up to 2,000 trillion watts in the duration of one trillionth of one second (this corresponds to 1000 times the integrated electric power consumed in the world). By using this high-power laser, it is now possible to generate all of the high-energy quantum beams (electrons, ions, gamma ray, neutron, positron).

By Rebecca Boyle, Inside Science -- When light bulbs colonize our homes, humans get much less sleep.

It's an intuitive idea, but a new study measures this effect in a real-life situation for the first time by examining hunter-gatherers in Argentina.

Communities with access to electric lighting have shifted their bedtimes to later in the evening, curtailing a normal night of shuteye.

"When you have access to electricity, you can decide when you turn the lights off, and that resets your biological clock," said Horacio de la Iglesia, a biologist at the University of Washington, in Seattle, who led the study.

Scientists have developed the first liquid nanoscale laser and it's tunable in real time, meaning you can quickly and simply produce different colors, a unique and useful feature. The laser technology could lead to practical applications, such as a new form of a "lab on a chip" for medical diagnostics.The laser's color can be changed in real time when the liquid dye in the microfluidic channel above the laser's cavity is changed.

In a recent study, scientists have presented a new technique that significantly reduces the halo effect that is generated when using multi-focal. contact and intra-ocular, lenses and looking at bright point sources in dark conditions.

Presbyopia is a result of natural aging and stems from a gradual thickening and decrease in elasticity of the lens inside the eye. Corrective lenses used to address presbyopia often lead to a halo effect. This is basically a glow or color light pattern observed when looking at a bright source of light in front of a dark background.

It is mostly experienced at night when people see halos around street lamps and car headlights, and it can make driving at night unsafe or even impossible in extreme cases.
Light is a useful tool for quantum communication, but it has one major disadvantage - it travels at the speed of light and sometimes things need to be kept in place, or at least slowed down.

Like with trains all sharing a track, you can't have one express line with no brakes for very long. 

A team researchers has demonstrated they can put the brakes on light, and not in some arcane quantum system but rather in glass fiber networks we are already using today. By coupling atoms to glass fibers light was slowed down to train speed - 90 miles per hour - and they even managed to bring the light to a complete stop and to retrieve it again later.
 Most people don't realize that light can take different shapes. In the fundamental mode, light energy is most intense at the center and gradually fades towards the edge of the beam.

Light also has higher order modes. For example, the energy pattern can look like a donut, with most of the energy contained in a ring, and none in the hole or middle. Scientists create higher order modes by shining light through crystals and in recent years passing light along optical microfibers or nanofibers to manipulate particles has gained popularity in research labs because it could some day have applications in physics and biology.