(Image: Hans Neleman/Getty Images)

Chargeless, massless, yet undeniably there, light is one of the most fascinating and mysterious substances in the cosmos. Without it we could see nothing, but what do we see in it?

Philosophers and scientists have debated light’s nature for centuries. With the advent in the past century of quantum theory, we now know enough to start exploiting it. In ever more spheres – from communications to computing and cryptography – we are turning light’s astonishing and unusual properties to our advantage. Physicist Sidney Perkowitz introduces nine shining examples

COMMUNICATIONS

OPTOMECHANICS

BOSE-EINSTEIN CONDENSATE

SLOWED LIGHT

SPEED OF INFORMATION

METAMATERIALS

CRYPTOGRAPHY

QUANTUM COMPUTING

CASIMIR EFFECT

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