David Lindley

Photo of David Lindley

David Lindley is a freelance science writer in Alexandria, Virginia, and author of Uncertainty: Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, and the Struggle for the Soul of Science (Doubleday, 2007).

Semiconductor Physics

Focus: Vibrations and Electrons Team Up in New Quantum Entity

Theorists propose an experiment to observe a “phoniton,” a novel hybrid of an electron and a quantum of vibration in a crystal lattice. Read More »


Focus: A New Way to Channel Light

Light passing through a pair of adjacent glass strips generates a slight bending in the material, causing the light to concentrate into narrow tracks. The technique works for all wavelengths of light. Read More »

Quantum Physics

Focus: Landmarks—Lamb Shift Verifies New Quantum Concept

The 1947 discovery of a small discrepancy in hydrogen’s atomic spectrum came at just the right time to push quantum theory forward. Read More »


Focus: Landmarks—Atomic Force Microscope Makes Angstrom-Scale Images

The atomic force microscope, introduced in 1986, provided atomic-scale pictures of surfaces, with few limitations on the type of sample. Read More »

Nuclear Physics

Focus: Storing an X-ray Photon

A theoretical proposal offers a technique for storing an x-ray photon and releasing it with its quantum properties fully intact. Read More »


Focus: Proposed Device Would Shape Magnetic Fields

A proposed design for a cylindrical shell with unusual magnetic properties offers a way to concentrate magnetic field energy. Read More »

Nonlinear Dynamics

Focus: Landmarks—Computer Simulations Led to Discovery of Solitons

The 1965 discovery of the isolated waves known as solitons—which appear in many physical systems—was a direct result of the new computer technology available for numerical simulations. Read More »


Focus: Pushing a Fullerene through a Nanotube

Placing a water molecule inside a 60-carbon-atom cage creates a structure that can be guided by an electric field. Read More »

Complex Systems

Focus: Animal Communication Could Support Efficient Foraging

A model mixing Brownian motion with purposeful movement guided by vocal signals suggests that Mongolian gazelle herds may have developed an efficient foraging strategy. Read More »


Focus: Gravity Makes the Universe Classical

Weak gravitational waves that fill the Universe are enough to disturb quantum superpositions and ensure that large objects behave according to classical physics. Read More »


Focus: Landmarks—The Birth of Photonic Crystals

Periodic structures that control photons, much as semiconductors control electrons, came into being in the late 1980s, through a complex interchange between experiment and theory. Read More »

Atomic and Molecular Physics

Focus: Superconductor as Nanolattice of Atom Traps

A proposed experiment would trap atoms in a nanoscale magnetic field pattern produced by a superconductor—an arrangement that could perform some kinds of quantum computing. Read More »

Particles and Fields

Focus: Landmarks—Matter and Antimatter are Not So Symmetric

A 1964 experiment on an unusual particle showed a violation of symmetry and led to the conclusion that matter and antimatter are not quite equivalent. Read More »


Focus: Landmarks—The Curved Space around a Spinning Black Hole

A novel solution to Einstein’s gravitational equations, discovered in 1963, turned out to describe the curvature of space around every astrophysical black hole. Read More »

Particles and Fields

Focus: Theorists Weigh in on BICEP2

Several theorists discuss the next steps for testing inflation theory following the BICEP2 observations of polarization in the cosmic microwave background. Read More »

Particles and Fields

Focus: Landmarks—Discovery of Particles inside the Proton

High-energy collisions between electrons and protons produced the first indications, published in 1969, that smaller constituent particles lurked inside protons. Read More »

Fluid Dynamics

Focus: New Type of Turbulence on North Carolina’s Coast

Analysis of sea surface height measurements during a storm in North Carolina’s Outer Banks has led to the first observation of an unusual form of turbulence. Read More »

Quantum Information

Focus: Saving Space with Quantum Information

A technique that packs the full content of three bits of quantum information into two may be a space saver for quantum computers. Read More »


Focus: Landmarks—Ruby Red Laser Light Becomes Ultraviolet

In 1961, researchers showed that laser light could be converted from one color to another, the first nonlinear optical effect, which led to uses ranging from quantum optics to eye surgery. Read More »

Interdisciplinary Physics

Focus: Measuring the Spread of Ideas through the Physical Review

An automated analysis of the words in 117 years worth of the Physical Review selects scientific memes—significant ideas that emerge and spread through the literature. Read More »


Focus: Nanopyramids’ Color Depends on Viewing Direction

An array of nanometer-sized aluminum pyramids acts as a directional antenna for light, and the direction depends on wavelength. Read More »

Physical Chemistry

Focus: Breaking Up Is Hard to Understand

A new experimental technique probes the dissociation of a single molecule in water and reveals more complexities than expected. Read More »

Particles and Fields

Focus: A Detector to Track Antineutrinos

A proposed detector for low-energy antineutrinos would reveal the particles’ trajectories, potentially allowing more detailed studies of Earth’s radioactivity and of nuclear reactors. Read More »

Semiconductor Physics

Focus: Landmarks—Accidental Discovery Leads to Calibration Standard

The quantum Hall effect, discovered unexpectedly 35 years ago, is now the basis for defining the unit of electrical resistance. Read More »

Atomic and Molecular Physics

Focus: Metamirror Generates Interference at a Distance

A proposed metasurface made of tiny gold antennas could act as either a flat mirror or a concave, focusing mirror, depending on the radiation pattern of the source, which could lead to new ways to control quantum systems. Read More »

Particles and Fields

Focus: Landmarks—Discovery of a 2nd Kind of Neutrino

A gargantuan experiment in 1962 showed that neutrinos come in two varieties, electron and muon. Read More »


Focus: Radio Signals May Reveal Cosmological Structure

Analysis of radio pulses from very distant objects may offer a new way to map the Universe. Read More »


Focus: Landmarks—Superconductor Quantizes Magnetic Field

In 1961, confirmation that a magnetic field inside a superconducting ring is limited to discrete values demonstrated that superconducting electrons pair up. Read More »

Particles and Fields

Focus: Landmarks—The Charming Debut of a New Quark

An unexpected particle discovery in 1974 was the first evidence for a fourth type of quark. Read More »

Fluid Dynamics

Focus: Superfluid Increases Force of Laser Light

Shining a laser onto a microscopic object coated with a superfluid film induces flows that can generate a controlled force. Read More »

Quantum Physics

Focus: Landmarks—Correcting Quantum Computer Errors

In the mid-1990s, researchers proposed methods to preserve the integrity of quantum bits—techniques that may become the key to practical quantum computing on a large scale. Read More »


Focus: Electric Power from the Earth’s Magnetic Field

A loophole in a result from classical electromagnetism could allow a simple device on the Earth’s surface to generate a tiny electric current from the planet’s magnetic field. Read More »

Interdisciplinary Physics

Focus: Keeping a Secret for a Whole Day

Researchers have securely contained a single bit for a record 24 hours, during which it was inaccessible to both sender and recipient, a technology that could be useful for voting or bidding. Read More »


Focus: Why Some Gels Shrink under Stress

The gel material that helps blood clot in a wound has anomalous material properties because of the interaction between the gel's fluid and its microscopic fiber network, according to experiments. Read More »