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Observations of the dense remnant of an exploded star have provided the first sign of a quantum effect on light passing through empty space.

Light from the stellar remnant, a neutron star located about 400 light-years away, is polarized, meaning that its electromagnetic waves are oriented preferentially in a particular direction like light that reflects off the surface of water. That polarization is evidence of “vacuum birefringence,” a quantum effect first predicted 80 years ago caused by light interacting with the vacuum of space in a strong magnetic field. Scientists report the result in a paper published in the Feb. 11, 2017 issue of Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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“It’s the most natural explanation,” says astrophysicist Jeremy Heyl of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, who was not involved with the new result. But he cautions, other sources of polarization could mimic the effect, and additional observations are necessary.

According to quantum electrodynamics, the theory describing how light interacts with charged particles such as electrons, empty space isn’t really empty. It is filled with a roiling soup of ethereal particles, constantly blipping into and out of existence. As light passes through the void, its wiggling electromagnetic waves interact with those particles. Under strong magnetic fields, light waves that wiggle along the direction of the magnetic field will travel slightly slower than light oscillating perpendicular to the direction of the magnetic field, which rotates the overall polarization of light coming from the star. (1)

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Light interacting with… nothing.

Nothing which is… something.

Ethereal particles, coming in and out of existence.

Mysticism is what drives the world around.

Using non-mystical names for the cosmos may hide the magic, but not kill it…

Do not pay attention to the blips of light, hiding the truth of oneness.

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Stare at the darkness.

It is a complete cosmos out there.

Full of everything. Full of nothing.

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