Coffee Offers Answers About the Universe
And you thought the answer to life, the universe and everything was “42.” Nope. The real answer is to be found in your morning cup of joe!
ScienceDaily (Apr. 14, 2009) — A Duke University professor and his graduate student have discovered a universal principle that unites the curious interplay of light and shadow on the surface of your morning coffee with the way gravity magnifies and distorts light from distant galaxies.
They think scientists will be able to use violations of this principle to map unseen clumps of dark matter in the universe.
Light rays naturally reflect off a curve like the inside surface of a coffee cup in a curving, ivy leaf pattern that comes to a point in the center and is brightest along its edge.
Mathematicians and physicists call that shape a “cusp curve,” and they call the bright edge a “caustic,” based on an alternative dictionary definition meaning “burning bright,” explains Arlie Petters, a Duke professor of mathematics, physics and business administration. “It happens because a lot of light rays can pile up along curves.”
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