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Scientists calculate the diffraction of light with quantum physics

New study brings physics closer to uniting Einstein's general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.

By: Lise Brix
A team of physicists have succeeded in calculating the diffraction of light -- caused by gravitational pull -- using methods from quantum mechanics. This has brought them closer to uniting gravitational pull and the theory of relativity with quantum mechanics.

“We have found a framework within which we can use quantum physics to predict the diffraction of light," says Emil Bjerrum-Bohr, an associate professor at the University of Copenhagen and one of the scientists behind the new study. He is also the great-grandson of the founder of quantum mechanics, Niels Bohr.

In the new study, their quantum mechanical calculations fit with Einstein's general theory of relativity. The two fields, the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, have otherwise been almost impossible to connect and physicists have been searching for several decades for a new theory to unite the two.

"Until now it hasn't been possible to formulate a quantum theory for gravitational force. Most of the ideas that have been tried run into paradoxes and problems," says Bjerrum-Bohr.



Mice sing just like birds, but we can’t hear them

It's true: Mice actually sing, especially when they're looking for a mate. That's not anything new. But unlike birdsong, mouse-song is much too high-pitched for humans to hear. So no, it's not exactly Cinderella-esque, as you can hear for yourself in the above video. But it is shockingly intricate.

In a new study published Wednesday in Frontiers of Behavioral Neuroscience, researchers at Duke University took a new approach to analyzing mouse songs: They analyzed them the way scientists analyze bird songs. They looked for changes in the way mice string together syllables, hoping to analyze whether they used and responded to different songs in different situations.

Sure enough, male mice on the lookout for an unseen female (an illusion the researchers created by exposing them to female urine) gave loud, complex song performances. But once they were in a female's presence, they simmered down. Females seemed to be more receptive to those first, more complex songs.


Tom The Dancing Bug TOON:Lo, In The Land Of Indiana

Wednesday Toon Roundup 4: The rest








Immigrant Workers

Wednesday Toon Roundup 3: April Fool's Party

Wednesday Toon Roundup 2: Pence the Dense

Wednesday Toon Roundup 1: The Backlash Cometh

‘Stormlapse’ Photographer Ryan McGinnis Shares His Most Epic Shots of 2014

Ryan McGinnis is a photographer and storm chaser whom we interviewed and featured back in 2011. After years of pointing his camera at newsworthy storms, McGinnis switched things up a bit in 2014 by introducing time-lapses into his repertoire. Although he was still learning, he did manage to capture quite a few amazing sequences showing powerful weather events.

The 4.5-minute video above, titled “2014 Stormlapses,” is a highlight reel McGinnis put together to share his
best time-lapse sequences.

Photo of a Syrian Girl Surrendering to the Camera Breaks the Internet’s Heart

One of the most widely shared photos on the Internet in the past week has been the picture above by Turkish photojournalist Osman Sağırlı. It’s a portrait of a young Syrian girl he encountered back in 2014, who mistook his telephoto lens for a weapon and instinctively threw up her hands in surrender.

“That’s heartbreaking,” says one Reddit commenter. Another writes: “To think a child so young is conditioned to do this just kills me.”

Others questioned whether the photo actually shows what Shaban had originally claimed (that the girl was spontaneously surrendering to the camera). The BBC did some investigation and published an article about the story today.

Sağırlı tells the BBC that the photo shows a girl named Hudea who was four years old when he met her in a refugee camp in Syria in December 2014.



Sitting Down for a Conversation with White House Photographer Pete Souza

Photographer Robert Caplin of The Photo Brigade recently visited the White House and sat down with Pete Souza, President Obama’s official White House photographer. The 50-minute interview, which can be viewed above, is a fascinating look into the life, work, and mind of the man who serves as the public’s eye into the White House.

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