I don't have a strong background in physics, but instead I'm educated in biochemistry. A lot of the principles behind the methods we use in structural biology perplex me. To give two examples:
1) FT-ICR MS (Fourier Transform Ion Cyclotron Resonance Mass Spectrometry) involves trapping ions in a Penning trap, and detecting the frequency at which they orbit the trap's longitudinal axis with the induction of current on two 'peripheral' coils. If the ions are not in phase, the signal on both coils will add to zero. To get them in phase, a scan of electromagnetic radiation is shot at them, and they will absorb relevant frequencies to their cycle time. Why is this the case?
2) In NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) we can fire radio frequencies at samples of huge numbers of atomic nuclei to put their nuclear magnetic dipole moments spins in phase.
By this logic, could we (with a brilliant enough light source) change the spin of the earth since it somewhat exhibit properties of 'bar-magnet' subatomic particle? I know this sounds dumb -- I guess what I'm looking for is... what is this property of charged particles that allows you to bring them positionally 'in phase' just by shooting them with light?