Open Thread Science

The White Whale


Artist – Tom Stiglich

And now for something completely different. Here are a couple non-political stories that caught my eye this week that you may have missed.

First, physicists at Harvard may have accidentally discovered how to create light sabers.

A team of physicists were fooling around with photons when they managed to get the particles to clump together to form a molecule, one that’s unlike any other matter. And it behaves, they say, just like a lightsaber.

Meanwhile, the Mars Curiosity rover has discovered that Martian soil contains 2 percent water.

“If you think about a cubic foot of this dirt and you just heat it a little bit – a few hundred degrees – you’ll actually get off about two pints of water – like two water bottles you’d take to the gym,” Dr Leshin explained.

Science is awesome. Too bad half of Congress doesn’t believe in Science.

  • Schneibster

    Actually the Martian water is pretty important, but there is a more important science story today: they made an electron accelerator that is the size of a sliver of glass, that can use laser light to accelerate electrons as effectively as a quarter-mile or so of SLAC. (Well maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit but not much.) It is nothing but a bunch of grooves of just the right size trapped in between layers of glass. Shine the right frequency laser on it, and provide high-speed electrons, and it accelerates them, in a tiny sliver of glass, as much as a quarter mile long array of superconducting supercooled magnets that cost millions of dollars per second to operate. And there’s no expense; it’s like a lens. It doesn’t need all that expensive supercooling and stuff.

    • muselet

      Very cool.


  • Bob Rutledge

    “The Wrath of Con”