Why Are You Nearsighted? Here's An Explanation You May Not Have Heard.

Nearsightedness is reaching epidemic levels worldwide, but nowhere is its rise more prevalent than East Asia, where as many as 90% of teenagers and young adults now suffer from blurry distance vision. Why the sudden spike? Book work has long been blamed, but recent findings point to something else. » 3/18/15 3:20pm 3/18/15 3:20pm

Before A Solar Eclipse, The Whole World Goes Wavy

If you've seen a solar eclipse, you know that just before the sun is hidden from view something very strange happens. Shadows start swirling, as if the light from the sun is shining through a heat haze. The phenomenon is called "shadow bands." » 3/16/15 10:21am 3/16/15 10:21am

10 Gemstones Much Rarer Than Diamond 

Many people know that diamond is actually pretty common when it comes to gemstones (you can find millions of them in your typical candle flame), but who among us can actually name any that are rarer? Here, we present to you a collection of ten of the rarest gemstones on Earth. » 3/06/15 12:00pm 3/06/15 12:00pm

This Is The Secret To Clear Observations Through A Chaotic Atmosphere

How Nanoscale Optics Create Nature's Most Dazzling Colors

What do a butterfly's shimmering wings, a fish's opalescent scales, and a peacock's brilliant feathers have in common? Yes, their colors are beautifully iridescent. But they are also produced by the physical interaction of light with sophisticated nanoscale architecture that we are only just beginning to understand. » 2/19/15 2:14pm 2/19/15 2:14pm

Why, Exactly, Does The Sun Turn Green?

Under the right conditions, the upper edge of the setting sun will blaze bright green just before dipping below the horizon. What causes these "green flashes"? The answer is more complicated than you probably realize. » 1/28/15 12:08pm 1/28/15 12:08pm

This Glorious Gallery Highlights A Myriad Optical Delights

The International Year of Light continues with a beautiful gallery celebrating all aspects of light: multispectral astronomical, technological innovations, bioluminescence, eclipses, and even noctilucent clouds. I'll say this for it: this is the most visually interesting and diverse "Year of..." celebration! » 1/28/15 2:32am 1/28/15 2:32am

20 Facts About Light To Brighten Your Curiosity

Eight Types Of Ice Halos Are Crammed Into One Glorious Winter Photo

This incredible display isn't some a futuristic domed city in an alien icy landscape or an artist's concept of magnetic fields, but a very real optical phenomena here on Earth. Here's the science behind these spectacular ice halos photographed this week in New Mexico. » 1/14/15 2:47am 1/14/15 2:47am

Here Are Three Variations On A Classic Puzzle – Can You Solve Them All?

I've always enjoyed water-distribution puzzles. They are simple in structure and usually straightforwardly posed, but their plain presentation belies their challenging nature. Here are three classic variations on the theme to wrap your head around. » 1/11/15 1:00pm 1/11/15 1:00pm

A Plethora Of Physic Phenomena Outside An Airplane Window

Between ice crystals, raindrop lenses, and a setting sun, the physics is just packed into this photograph from an airplane window somewhere over the arctic. » 1/08/15 10:36am 1/08/15 10:36am

A Little-Known Property Of The Atmosphere Makes A Halo Around The Sun

The sun, from where we stand on the ground, is yellow. The sky is blue. So why is the sky around the sun white? Find out about the scattered light you never hear about, and why it means there is a 'halo' around the sun. » 12/22/14 6:30am 12/22/14 6:30am

The Space Station Has 15 Sunsets A Day, And All Are Beautiful

The International Space Station goes through a full day in 92 minutes, each with its own sunrise and sunset. The Earth's atmosphere acts as a prism, bending rays of sunlight to paint the station in a quick succession of rich colours. Astronaut Butch Wilmore photographed how the light changes on a solar array. » 11/18/14 4:23pm 11/18/14 4:23pm

These Images Were Just Beamed Across Vienna Using "Twisted Light"

For the first time ever, information has been transmitted outdoors using the "twist" of a visible light beam. It's a breakthrough that could allow for rapid and secure communication across vast distances. » 11/12/14 12:40pm 11/12/14 12:40pm

In This Image, Two Photons Interact. Here's Why It's Groundbreaking.

Normally, photons want nothing to do with one another. Light waves just pass through each other like ghosts. But now, for the first time ever, scientists at the University of Vienna have coaxed a strong interaction between two single photons. It's an achievement that opens up radical new possibilities for a number of… » 11/04/14 12:30pm 11/04/14 12:30pm

The Quantum Mechanics Of Fingerprints On Your Water Glass

Have you ever gripped a drinking glass, looked down, and saw your fingerprints on the side of the glass? That mundane phenomenon is due to a crazy thing called "quantum tunneling." It explains why your fingerprints are on a glass, and why fingerprint scans work. » 11/03/14 8:00am 11/03/14 8:00am

Could We Use Ground-Based Lasers To Propel Rockets Into Space?

A pair of Russian scientists are proposing a radical new propulsion technique that would accelerate a rocket while in flight, by using a ground-based laser. Should it work, it could push aircraft to go beyond Mach 10. » 10/31/14 11:37am 10/31/14 11:37am

You Can See Your Own White Blood Cells Flowing Through Your Eye!

If you look up into the blue sky long enough, and with enough attention, you should be able to see tiny blue-white dots flashing around the sky.The phenomenon was so well-known that it acquired the nickname "blue-sky sprites," but they're actually white blood cells moving through your eye. » 10/29/14 8:40am 10/29/14 8:40am

Scientists Demonstrate What A Real Laser Bullet Would Look Like

Contrary to what's portrayed in scifi, short bursts of laser pulses travel at speeds far too fast for the human eye to see. But what would it look like if we could film it in slow motion? Thanks to a team of physicists from the Polish Academy of Sciences, we now have the video evidence. » 10/23/14 7:40am 10/23/14 7:40am

The Sky Is Not Blue – So Why Does It Look Blue?

The latest installment of MinutePhysics tackles the enduring question of why the sky appears blue, and the less common (albeit related question) of why the sun appears yellow. » 10/22/14 9:45am 10/22/14 9:45am