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Tsunami invisibility cloak, dark energy v. the void, sorting nanotubes with light, and more

hey point out that it's possible that we simply live in a very special place in the universe - specifically, we're in a huge void where the density of matter is particularly low. The suggestion flies in the face of the Copernican Principle, which is one of the most useful and widely held tenants in physics.

Copernicus was among the first scientists to argue that we're not in a special place in the universe, and that any theory that suggests that we're special is most likely wrong. The principle led directly to the replacement of the Earth-centered concept of the solar system with the more elegant sun-centered model.

Dark energy may seem like a stretch, but it's consistent with the venerable Copernican Principle. The proposal that we live in a special place in the universe, on the other hand, is likely to shock many scientists. The maverick physicists at Oxford conclude their paper by pointing out that forthcoming tests of the Copernican principle should help us sort out the mystery in the next few years. -JR

Meta-Screens: Squeezing Light into Sub-Wavelength Spots
Loic Markley, Alex M.H. Wong, Yan Wong, and George V. Eleftheriades
Physical Review Letters

In a new study, physicists at the University of Toronto have invented a simple structure called a meta-screen, designed to focus light into tiny spots smaller than the wavelength of the photons in use. These sub-wavelength spots overcome the diffraction limit, thus allowing even the smallest details of an object to be visualized.

Researchers developed a meta-screen composed of slots cut into a metallic screen, each narrowly spaced (less than half a wavelength apart) and of a precise length. They found that screen was able to effectively increase the range of sub-wavelength spots, enabling greater image resolution.

Contact: James Riordon
American Physical Society

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