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Explaining the Pepper’s Ghost Illusion with Ray Optics

Brianne Costa | January 11, 2016

In 2012, guests at a California music festival called Coachella were shocked to see rap artist Tupac Shakur perform onstage. Why? Because the famed musician had been dead for nearly two decades. Viral reactions called the digitized performance a “hologram”, which is actually a misnomer. This stunt is an example of the Pepper’s Ghost optical illusion, which can be explained with ray optics.

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Brianne Costa | October 22, 2015

Clinton Davisson is an American physicist best known for his discovery of electron diffraction through the Davisson-Germer experiment. His findings brought about important developments in the field of quantum mechanics. On this day, which would have been his birthday, we celebrate Davisson’s storied history and many contributions to science.

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Brianne Costa | August 20, 2015

We sometimes hear of tourists getting into trouble for carving their initials into the walls of the Coliseum in Rome and other famous structures. However, the more serious damage to this architecture is caused by something else entirely — salt. Transported by wind and water droplets, and even found in some building materials, salt is a powerful mineral that can cause a building’s façade to crumble and break. Researchers studied this effect to better predict salt’s behavior and prevent damage.

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Fanny Littmarck | August 12, 2015

Erwin Schrödinger is the man behind the famous Schrödinger wave equation that is used to predict the future behavior of a dynamic system in quantum mechanics. Today would have been Schrödinger’s birthday, had he still been alive. Let’s celebrate his birthday with a look at some of his accomplishments.

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Brianne Costa | July 16, 2015

The ancient Japanese art of origami enables you to create many intricate designs out of folded paper. Recently, researchers drew inspiration from this craft to develop a fully functional battery consisting mostly of paper and water. They found that the simple device generates enough energy to power a biosensor.

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Caty Fairclough | June 1, 2015

Happy birthday to the Paris-born “father of thermodynamics”, Nicolas Léonard Sadi Carnot. A talented physicist and engineer, Carnot channeled his interest in steam engines into the creation of a theoretical thermodynamic cycle called the Carnot cycle. Through this theory, Carnot laid the groundwork for the second law of thermodynamics, which relates to entropy and heat loss and is still relevant in physics and engineering today.

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Bridget Cunningham | March 16, 2015

A recent study from researchers at the University of Portsmouth has deemed limpet teeth as the strongest biological material known today. We shed light on the unique properties of this material and how it compares to its predecessor: spider silk.

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Brianne Costa | March 12, 2015

Gustav Robert Kirchhoff was a German physicist famous for his vast contributions to the study of spectroscopy, electrical circuits, thermochemistry, and more. Kirchhoff developed laws and theories fundamental to electrical engineering, heat capacity in chemical reactions, and the composition of light emission from incandescent objects. He even helped discover two new elements! In honor of what would have been his birthday, here is a look at Kirchhoff’s legacy.

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Bridget Cunningham | March 10, 2015

Conserving and restoring art requires a balance between maintaining the quality of the work and respecting the artist’s initial creation. Advancing technologies now offer less invasive ways of analyzing artwork and bringing pieces back to their original condition. Since 2015 is the Year of Light, let’s explore how light can be used to conserve and restore paintings.

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Bridget Cunningham | March 3, 2015

In the diagnostics industry, developing devices that enable autonomous testing is an area of focus. One such device that has been available commercially for many years is the lateral flow test. With its easy-to-use format and short turn-around time for results, this device has become a valuable resource in medical diagnostics. See how researchers at the University of Rhode Island have built upon this technology to facilitate the diagnosis of more complex conditions.

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Bridget Cunningham | February 11, 2015

The impact of light in various technologies has been evident in the past several years. Recognizing its significance in shaping the future, the UN General Assembly designated the year 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies. We introduce you to a few interesting technologies in which light plays a crucial role.

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