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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Three Short Takes (New Form Of Light, New Method Of Getting Random Numbers, Astronomy To Date Sappho's Poetry Accurately)

#1 - Physicists Discover a New Form of Light

Thomas Deane | May 17, 2016

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Physicists from Trinity College Dublin's School of Physics and the CRANN Institute, Trinity College, have discovered a new form of light, which will impact our understanding of the fundamental nature of light.
One of the measurable characteristics of a beam of light is known as angular momentum. Until now, it was thought that in all forms of light the angular momentum would be a multiple of Planck's constant (the physical constant that sets the scale of quantum effects).

Illustration of twisted light with half-integer angular momentum
"Half-twists: light with half-integer angular momentum." Source:

#2 - New Method of Producing Random Numbers Could Improve Cybersecurity

University of Texas at Austin via PhysOrg | May 16, 2016

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With an advance that one cryptography expert called a "masterpiece," University of Texas at Austin computer scientists have developed a new method for producing truly random numbers, a breakthrough that could be used to encrypt data, make electronic voting more secure, conduct statistically significant polls and more accurately simulate complex systems such as Earth's climate.

"Random Number Generation Takes Step Forward" Source:

#3 - Starry Night Software Dates 2,500-Year-Old Lyric Poem

Lori Henshey | May 16, 2016

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Physicists and astronomers from the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) have used advanced astronomical software to accurately date lyric poet Sappho's Midnight Poem," which describes the night sky over Greece more than 2,500 years ago.
The scientists described their research in the article Seasonal dating of Sappho's 'Midnight Poem' revisited," published today in the Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage

Δέδυκε μεν ἀ σελάννα
καὶ Πληΐαδεσ, μέσαι δὲ
νύκτεσ πάρα δ᾽ ἔρχετ᾽ ὤρα,
ἔγω δὲ μόνα κατεύδω. [transcription]

The moon has set, and the Pleiades; it is midnight, the time is going by and I recline alone.

The sinking moon has left the sky,
The Pleiades have also gone.
Midnight comes--and goes, the hours fly
And solitary still, I lie.

The Moon has left the sky,
Lost is the Pleiads' light;
It is midnight,
And time slips by,
But on my couch alone I lie.
J. A. Symonds, 1883.

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