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D. Changing the Rules of Physics

Narrator: This is Science Today. There are two important components to light - an electric field and a magnetic field. When light is propagating, these fields are ninety degrees away from the direction the light is moving. Dave Smith, a physicist at the University of California, San Diego has recently helped come up with a material that reverses the normal direction of this flow.

Smith: There's a rule that says if you take your hand and move your fingers from one of the fields to the other field, you point in the direction that the wave is moving.

Narrator:This physics rule is known as "right-handed" - but Smith and his colleagues recently developed a novel material that displayed "left-handed" properties.

Smith: As an example, if you drop a stone in water, you'll see ripples moving away from where you dropped it in the water. That's what would happen in normal, right-handed medium. If it's left-handed medium, you drop the stone in the water and you see ripples appearing to come backward, even though energy really is propagating outward. It's just something of an illusion.

Narrator: And it could someday open up a new wave, so to speak, in wireless communications. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.