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Newton's Dusty Mirror: Old experiment inspires ultrafast imaging

Occasionally, science museums can stimulate new science. Inspired by an exhibit on an optical experiment performed by Isaac Newton, physicists have taken the first X-ray snapshot of a microscopic explosion.

Physicists Henry Chapman and Saa Bajt took their daughter to the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, Calif., in 2005. There, they saw a replica of an experiment in which Newton had sent a beam of light through a hole in a screen. The beam reflected off a mirror and back onto the screen—where Newton was surprised to see concentric rings of light.

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