Physics in Pictures by Topic
Light & Optics
Thin films can create "destructive" magic
A rainbow isn't the only amazing thing that can happen when light bounces around inside water droplets!
The swallow tanager gets its brilliant blue and turquoise hues by harnessing the wavelike properties of light.
Developing and testing the most destructive weapons in history was a process fraught with danger—and discovery.
Dispersion through a glass splits light into its component colors.
There's something amiss about this prismatic rainbow—can you spot it?
How can something be too big to cast a shadow?
The dewy strands of a spiderweb can form a natural diffraction grating
Low-pressure helium gas glows an eerie, soft pink.
Microscopic patterns form with surprising regularity as colloids dry.
The Tyndall Effect is responsible for the strange optical properties of this physics toy.
Why do ice cubes sometimes have points on their surfaces?
Dew on a spiderweb's strands splits sunlight into a prismatic rainbow of colors.
Future quantum cryptography could be foiled by a laser attack
A modern-day take on the classic double-slit experiment
The Perseus Cluster of galaxies forms a spooky, skull-like x-ray image
We handed out tons of physics gear at this year's Comic-Con
The ringed planet and its famous moon
A supermoon sneaks behind the Washington Monument
A water drop magnifies a view of Paris, shedding new light on the city
Fluorescent proteins can help scientists detect cancer behavior in mice.
Nascent stars and gigantic dust pillars collide
Pluto's known family of moons may have just increased
One of the Dark Energy Camera's first images
The Cassini spacecraft captured this beautiful image of Saturn
Special x-rays give detailed images of small biological samples
Curiosity snaps some nighttime pictures from the red planet
Learn about the Earth's farthest point from the sun with a lesson in eccentricity
The physics behind the iconic celebration
In 2010, a lunar eclipse coincided with the winter solstice
Satellites uncovered ancient Mayan ruins with remote sensing
Canyon-like structures form lenses used for a high-intensity light source.
Inside the National Ignition Center — home to extremely energetic lasers
An atomic force microscopy (AFM) scan reveals several hundred tobacco mosaic virus particles.
A 570-megapixel camera attached to a telescope will help scientists uncover the mysteries of dark energy.
Researchers hope to combine high quality optics and mechanical systems integrated into an extremely compact package.
Nitride alloys expand the applications of energy-saving LEDs.
What causes the orange hue in a sunset? Why is the sky blue? Rayleigh scattering can explains these natural wonders, leaving onlookers amazed.
This ball is cannot tell you your future and it doesn’t drop to signal the beginning of a new year. No, this ball illustrates the physics concept of refraction.
This is the highest resolution topographic map of the moon to date taken from information gathered by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).
High frequency trading computers can help make investors millions, but where in the world would be the best place for these computers to be located? Physics could help explain how to make your millions.
Molecules that convert light from one color to another could improve the efficiency of solar cells, provided researchers can find better ways to handle them.
An ion trap allows physicists to capture atoms and hold them in crystal–like configurations in free space.
Physicists have removed the inner electrons from neon with a high energy X-ray laser, leaving behind a hollow atom shell.
While running a series of Monochromatic UV germicidal range finding experiments, Barry Ressler created a series of images that Pink Floyd would be proud of.
Will the groundhog see his shadow and promise 6 more weeks of winter? More importantly, what is a shadow and where in this folklore is the science?
When the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve, 2010, it stood for more than the closing of a decade. It marked the end of Laserfest(www.laserfest.org), celebrating the 50th anniversary of the invention of the laser. In this picture, Laserfest says thank you and goodbye in Times Square
Lasers are used to track satellites. At the Goddard Space Flight Center lasers are used to track the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which is collecting data as it orbits the Moon.
If you happen to step outside into a thunderstorm, I bet the last thing you are concerned about is getting hit by gamma rays. A team of scientists has been using satellite data to find out where gamma ray pulses are coming from with a great deal of accuracy in order to clarify if these pulses are related to lightening.
The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is our high energy eye in orbit keeping a look out for big events in the universe and creating an extensive detailed map in the process. A high energy map of our universe reveals many interesting objects such as pulsars, super-massive black holes and possibly clues to its beginning.
Ghost of discharged capacitor found haunting a glass of water! What could be more scary than that? Try a hot ball of electric plasma.
High power laser pulses create shock-waves and bubbles in plasma.
This spectroscopic image shows what are called microwave-frequency magnetic resonances of an array of parallel, metallic thin film nanowire "stripes". The peak in the center reflects resonances occurring at the stripe edges. The strong horizontal bar of violet, black, and white, is due to resonances in the body of the stripes.
Photons are the particles that make up light. Who knew that they were also soft and cuddly? Welcome to LaserFest 2010!
This train has endured space and time to teach physics to those wandering through the Bolivian desert.
When an all-electron Wigner crystal (top) is squeezed too tightly, the electron wave functions begin to overlap (middle), and then create a quantum liquid (bottom).
A team of researchers has announced a new technique that allows light to be focused to a smaller spot than ever before.
Somewhere between a light bulb and a laser is an unusual and sometimes puzzling type of light source called a random laser.
Researchers have tracked their first exciton. A team of researchers recently reported that they imaged the wave-like motion of the particle, which is essential to the operation of lasers in CD players and grocery scanners.
Enormous structures in the early universe which are invisible to the unaided eye become apparent when observed using a telescope sensitive to mm-wave light.
Some lasers can burn through solids, but others, shined on the right materials, have a chilling effect.
X-rays may be as familiar as your local dentist's office or airport security checkpoint, but it's unlikely that you've ever encountered a powerful T-ray, a beam of terahertz radiation.
Quantum communication schemes using light normally rely on the two types of photon polarization to encode information a bit at a time.
If you want to keep a horse confined, put it in a corral. Now, it appears the same thing can be done with light.
Researchers dream of building crystals from the ground up to achieve tight control of their periodic structure.
Astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute today unveiled the deepest portrait of the visible universe ever achieved by humankind.
Many of the oceans' algae have evolved natural "sunscreens" as protection from the sun's ultraviolet rays.
Biologists dream of a point-and-shoot camera that can reveal details smaller than a wavelength of light in living cells.
Born of the marriage of two cutting edge techniques, a new method can image bundles of DNA strands by sensing vibrations within the molecules.
This year's physics Nobel Prize went to three researchers who were the first to observe and study the Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), a new phase of matter.
A holey fiber may be able to plug the "holes" in the list of laser colors is affordable to most scientists.
Light slows down when it enters a medium such as glass or water, and its new speed depends on the material.
Milky-white cataracts, the world's leading cause of blindness, can occur when proteins in the lens of the eye aggregate, or collect, forming clumps.