Optics

In a comment on You, Andromeda, And The Largest Structure In The Universe, Mike Crow posted a picture of Andromeda, made from 40 hours of his exposure, 5 minutes at time, in his driveway.

What was the backbone of early tetrapods, the earliest four-legged animals, like?

High-energy X-rays and a new data extraction protocol have allowed researchers to reconstruct the backbones of the 360 million year old fossils in exceptional detail. The results shed new light on how the first vertebrates moved from water onto land. 

Tetrapods are four-limbed vertebrates,today represented by amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. Around 400 million years ago, early tetrapods were the first vertebrates to make short excursions into shallower waters where they used their four limbs for moving around. How this happened and how they then transferred to land is the science debate.

Synchrotron-based imaging techniques of a 50 million-year-old lizard skin have identified the presence of teeth which are invisible to visible light, demonstrating for the first time that this fossil animal was more than just a skin moult. 

Researchers used Synchrotron Rapid Screening X-ray Fluorescence at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource in California to map the chemical make up of a rare fossil lizard skin - powerful x-rays enabled the team to map the presence of phosphorus from teeth in this ancient reptile.

In modern times, we have been spoiled by the ability of the private sector to make technology shrink in both cost and size - but Moore's Law can't do that forever using regular electrical signals.

Maybe it is time for Moore's Light to take over? 

The best way to get precise information regarding the inner structure of atoms and molecules is to excite them by means of resonant laser light but this laser light can lead to measurable modifications within the atom's electron shell, above a certain intensity. The act of getting the information changes the study.

Scientists of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) say they have now shown experimentally how to prevent such "light shifts" and that this confirms the advantages of "hyper" Ramsey excitation that had already been predicted theoretically.

A device capable of amplifying the information in a single particle of light without adding noise has been created.  The researchers were able to amplify the noisy quantum state of a single photon subjected to loss, without adding noise in the process - their amplification actually reduced the noise in the quantum state. 

It is expected the results will stimulate further interest in the fundamental laws that govern how well amplifiers can work and in developing uses of noiseless amplification techniques for other quantum information technology applications.

Researchers have observed the quantum regime in the interaction between nano-sized spheres of gold, thanks to the change of color of the gap between these particles when they are at distances of less than one nanometer.

They have literally 'seen' a quantum kiss between nanoparticles.
New single laser devices that are the size of a virus particle can also operate at room temperature. These plasmonic nanolasers could be readily integrated into silicon-based photonic devices, all-optical circuits and nanoscale biosensors. 

We're going to need ultra-fast data processing and ultra-dense information storage by the time Halo 8 comes to a holodeck near you, so reducing the size of photonic and electronic elements is critical.
If one beam travels a fixed length and another travels an extra distance or in some other slightly different way, the two light beams overlap and interfere when they meet up, creating an interference pattern that scientists inspect to obtain highly precise measurements.

A recent placebo-controlled study showed evidence of trans-cranial bright light's effect to brain functions when administered through the ear. Bright light stimulation was found to increase activity in brain areas related to processing of visual sensory information and tactile stimuli. The findings are the first ever published scientific article about functional modulation of the brain with bright light delivered to the brain through the ears.