Thursday, March 21, 2013

Physics in the Eye of the Beholder

Whether through an simple theorem, an elegant experiment, or the aesthetics of the data itself, the beauty in physics is in the eye of the beholder. 

Here at the 2012 March Meeting of the American Physical Society, researchers present some of their best research of year to colleagues from around the world. Often unmentioned when we report on novel discoveries, cool physics, or just plain strange science are the illustrations, photographs, and scatter plots that convey the research from the lab to the scientific and public audience. Below and in our image gallery, you'll find some of the image highlights of this year's March Meeting presentations. 

Physicists are studying photonic crystals that have the ability to manipulate and control light like wires control currents. Now, researchers have found that certain structures, like the scales on the surface of butterfly wings, form labyrinths that can transmit light in new ways.

This glowing orb hints at one possible future of space travel. As part of NASA's research at the Ames Research Center, scientists are trying to develop inflatable spacecraft systems that they say could one day change space exploration. 

Scientists are getting into the thick of things by looking from the inside at what happens when you squeeze a microscopic nanoparticle to extremely high pressures. Using both computer simulations and experiments, the researchers compressed a silicon nanoparticle (blue) in a sea of argonne atoms (green). Their research unveiled that high pressure changes the way silicon nanoparticles emit light. 

Of course, our biased favorite was the sight of a researcher using one of our articles on the Physics Buzz to communicate his own research on the physics of the blues!

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