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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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Video: Steering With Light
5 December 2010 1:00 pm
Solar sails, like that unfurled by the IKAROS spacecraft this summer, catch photons from the sun the same way a boat sail catches the wind. But because these sails are large, rigid, metal structures, they are difficult to steer. Now physicists have found a way to better control them. The team shined a 130 milliwatt beam of light on a 10 micrometer-long, wing-shaped piece of glass floating in water. Because glass bends light, a property known as refraction, the wing moved perpendicular to the light rays at a rate of a few micrometers per second, as seen in this video. Adding wings made of glass or other refractive materials in flight would allow astronomers to better steer future space missions, the team reports online today in Nature Photonics. So a craft won't be stuck if it needs to make a U turn.
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