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Scientists have long suspected that light has momentum, a property measured by the combination of mass and velocity.
But, photons – or particles of light – are said to be massless, and just how their momentum can exert force on matter has largely remained a mystery.
Technique - Conundrum - Sensors - Waves - Laser
A new technique could finally help to solve the 150-year-old conundrum, using acoustic sensors to ‘listen’ to the elastic waves of laser pulses traveling across a mirror.
German astronomer Johannes Kepler first suggested back in 1619 that pressure from sunlight could be responsible for the position of a comet’s tail, which always points away from the sun.
Years - James - Clerk - Maxwell - Radiation
Then, more than 200 years later, James Clerk Maxwell predicted the radiation pressure was the result of momentum in the electromagnetic fields of light.
But, in the time since, scientists have struggled to explain how the phenomenon works.
Momentum - Force - Movement - Kenneth - Chau
‘Until now, we hadn’t determined how this momentum is converted into force or movement,’ said Kenneth Chau, an engineering professor at the University of...
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