Scientists Solve Century-Old Optics Mystery
Posted by keelynet on January 16, 2009
Looks like they might have to also rethink radiometers and how they work;
“The radiometer is made from a glass bulb from which much of the air has been removed to form a partial vacuum. Inside the bulb, on a low friction spindle, is a rotor with several (usually four) vertical lightweight metal vanes spaced equally around the axis.
The vanes are polished or white on one side, black on the other. When exposed to sunlight, artificial light, or infrared radiation (even the heat of a hand nearby can be enough), the vanes turn with no apparent motive power, the dark sides retreating from the radiation source and the light sides advancing.
Cooling the radiometer causes rotation in the opposite direction.”
“From the article: Since the early 20th century physicists have known that light carries momentum, but the way this momentum changes as light passes through different media is much less clear. Two rival theories of the time predicted precisely the opposite effect for light incident on a dielectric: one suggesting it pushes the surface in the direction light is traveling; the other suggesting it drags the surface backwards towards the source of light. After 100 years of conflicting experimental results, a team of experimentalists from China believe they have finally found a resolution. / Weilong She and his colleagues from Sun Yat-Sen University have studied the effect of light at the interface of air and a silica filament and they find that light exerts a push force on the surface… She and colleagues have now finally overcome these difficulties by replacing the water surface with a nanometre silica filament. “We report direct observation of a push force on the end face of the silica filament exerted by the outgoing light” said She. Given this result, Abraham has been declared the new winner and light momenta is directly proportional to the material it is travelling through. “The experiment represents a modern form of a beautifully simple idea” said Leonhardt. One application that may spring from this knowledge is a more precise technique for laser-induced inertially-confined fusion: a method of producing fusion energy by compressing a fuel capsule made to high density. A series of incoherent laser beams incident on a transparent dielectric ball in a vacuum would cause it to shrink under pressure to achieve nuclear fusion.” – Source
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