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Light coaxed from nothingness

One of the weirdest predictions of quantum mechanics is that the vacuum of space isn’t really empty. Because of the uncertainty principle, quantum theory predicts that a constant foam of “virtual particles” is flitting in and out of existence inside the void. Even weirder, these virtual particles can have real effects. This week, in Nature demonstrates just such an effect: if you jiggle a mirror very close to the speed of light, you can turn pairs of virtual light particles into real ones.


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