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Articles on Light

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TRAPPIST-1e is a rocky exoplanet in the habitable zone of a star 40 light-years from Earth and may have water and clouds, as depicted in this artist’s impression. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Wikimedia Commons

To search for alien life, astronomers will look for clues in the atmospheres of distant planets – and the James Webb Space Telescope just proved it’s possible to do so

Life on Earth has dramatically changed the chemistry of the planet. Astronomers will measure light that bounces off distant planets to look for similar clues that they host life.
Many places have banned sunscreens with certain chemicals in an attempt to help protect coral reefs. Westend61 via Getty Images

Corals and sea anemones turn sunscreen into toxins – understanding how could help save coral reefs

Researchers have long suspected that an ingredient in sunscreen called oxybenzone was harming corals, but no one knew how. A new study shows how corals turn oxybenzone into a sunlight-activated toxin.
It only takes light about eight minutes to go from the Sun to Earth. loops7/E+ via Getty Images

Have we made an object that could travel 1% the speed of light?

The fastest things ever made by humans are spacecraft, and the fastest spacecraft reached 330,000 mph – only 0.05% the speed of light. But there are ways to go faster.
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Curious Kids: is light a wave or a particle?

Einstein was awarded a Nobel prize for his explanation for how light can be described as being made up of individual particles of energy under certain conditions.
Female elephant seals take seven-month feeding trips during which they balance danger, starvation and exhaustion. Dan Costa

Risk versus reward on the high seas – skinny elephant seals trade safety for sustenance

By measuring how and when elephant seals sleep, researchers were able to figure out how elephant seals change their risk-taking behavior as they gain weight.
The greenhouse effect and plate tectonics are essential for maintaining water on the Earth’s surface. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Reto Stöckli

Why is the Earth blue?

The presence of water on the Earth’s surface is the result of a subtle balance between different mechanisms in the atmosphere and below the surface.
Lasers create colorful light shows at concerts, are used by doctors in surgeries – and are used in scientific laboratories. EyeWolf/Getty Images

What is the slowest thing on Earth?

Physicists can use bright, hot lasers to slow atoms down so much that they measure -459 degrees Fahrenheit.

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