Meet the zeptosecond, the shortest unit of time ever measured

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ABOVE – A particle of light, called a photon (yellow arrow), produces electron waves out of an electron cloud (grey) of a hydrogen molecule (red: nucleus). The result of those interactions is what’s called an interference pattern (violet-white). The interference pattern is slightly skewed to the right, allowing researchers to calculate the time for the photon to get from one atom to the next.

Scientists have measured the shortest unit of time ever: the time it takes a light particle to cross a hydrogen molecule.

That time, for the record, is 247 zeptoseconds. A zeptosecond is a trillionth of a billionth of a second, or a decimal point followed by 20 zeroes and a 1. Previously, researchers had dipped into the realm of zeptoseconds; in 2016, researchers reporting in the journal Nature Physics used lasers to measure time in increments down to 850 zeptoseconds. This accuracy is a huge leap from the 1999 Nobel Prize-winning work that first measured time in femtoseconds, which are millionths of a billionths of seconds.

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Light completely stopped for 1 minute inside a crystal

This breakthrough could lead to the creation of long-range quantum networks.

University of Darmstadt scientists in Germany have stopped light for one minute. Light is usually the fastest thing in the known universe and travels at 300 million meters per second, but was stopped dead still inside a crystal for one full minute. This effectively creates light memory, where the image being carried by the light is stored in crystals. Beyond being utterly cool, this breakthrough could lead to the creation of long-range quantum networks — and perhaps, tantalizingly, this research might also give us some clues on accelerating light beyond the universal speed limit.

 

 

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Scientists prove time travel is impossible

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Scientists say time travel is impossible by showing a single photon cannot travel faster than the speed of light.

Physicists in Hong Kong say they have proved that a single photon obeys Einstein’s theory that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light — demonstrating that outside science fiction, time travel is impossible.

 

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New Solar Cells Can Produce Electricity From Light and Heat Simultaneously

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A small PETE device made with cesium-coated gallium nitride glows while being tested inside an ultra-high vacuum chamber.

Though the sun offers us a couple options for exploiting its energy — light and heat — we’ve always had to choose to use one at a time, because solar-energy technology hasn’t been able to capture both typs of radiation simultaneously. Stanford researchers say that’s about to change, however. Their new breakthrough could put solar power on par with oil, price-wise. (Video)

 

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Super Efficient Next-Generation Solar Cells From Nanotubes

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The carbon nanotube at center is connected to several electrodes and acts as a superefficient photovoltaic cell.

Today’s solar cells lose much of the energy in light to heat. Now researchers at Cornell University have made a photovoltaic cell out of a single carbon nanotube that can take advantage of more of the energy in light than conventional photovoltaics. The tiny carbon tubes might eventually be used to make more-efficient next-generation solar cells.

 

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Hooked On Light – Could Reveal The Biochemistry Of Addiction

Hooked On Light - Could Reveal The Biochemistry Of Addiction

mouse responding to light 

A newly created set of light-sensitive proteins grants scientists unprecedented control over the brain’s biochemistry, potentially shedding light on addiction and other complex neural processes. To demonstrate the potential of this novel molecular toolbox, researchers from Stanford University engineered mice to carry light-sensitive proteins in the brain’s reward center, which responds to drugs of abuse. Using pulses of light delivered directly to the brain, researchers were able to induce a druglike state, ultimately conditioning the mice to behave like drug-addicted animals.

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