Light is a pretty basic thing, right? We've all learned about it in our physics classes and it's pretty much essential for all life.
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Except there is light that we haven't even discovered yet, according to Engadget:
When light hits our eyeballs, the spinning protons inside twist it. The force of that spin is known as angular momentum, and it has always been thought to be a direct multiple of a quantum physics number called Planck's constant.
However, that might not always be the truth, according to scientists from Trinity College Dublin. They discovered a form of light with an angular momentum that is exactly half of that amount. Though it might not sound like a big deal to some people, the discovered may have a "real impact on the study of light waves in areas such as secure optical communications," says Professor John Donegan.
The team experimented on the number of dimensions that light can operate in. First, they passed the light beam through a crystal, turning the beam into a hollow cylinder with a "screw" structure attached. Then they built a device that measured angular momentum when the light passes through the crystal and when it bypasses it. When it does bypass it, the spin was the exact integer multiple of Planck's constant, as we have all learned.
When it passed through the crystal, the angular momentum shifted by one-half.
As one of the researchers, Kyle Ballantine, explains: "A beam of light is characterised by its colour or wavelength and a less familiar quantity known as angular momentum. Angular momentum measures how much something is rotating. For a beam of light, although travelling in a straight line, it can also be rotating around its own axis. So when light from the mirror hits your eye in the morning, every photon twists your eye a little, one way or another."
Now, scientists did think that this might happen, however, it is the first time that it was actually proven, kind of like when scientists proved that theoretical gravitational waves were a thing.
The discovery is a real breakthrough if it stands up to more testing.
"What I think is so exciting about this result is that even this fundamental property of light, that physicists have always thought was fixed, can be changed," says lead researcher Paul Eastham.
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