Slow Light 'Scenedow' Close At Hand
John C. Howell and his team at the University of Rochester have succeeded in slowing waves of light and then using these pulses to store an image.
Howell and his colleagues created a four-inch-long chamber filled with cesium gas heated to about 212 degrees Fahrenheit. When they sent pulses of laser light through that gas, the cesium atoms put the brakes on the leading edge of that wave, creating a photonic traffic jam.
"Essentially, the light just piles up," Howell said.
Once the slowed light exits, it naturally resumes it normal velocity -- 300 million meters per second, or fast enough to circle the Earth seven times in one second.
Most important, the peaks and troughs of Howell's light waves remained in phase as they stacked up, meaning they did not get out of step and cancel one another out. That is key, because phase is one aspect of light that carries information.
To prove that their slowed light did not get scrambled, the team sent their beam through a tiny stencil, less than one-fourth inch on each side, with the block letters "UR" -- the university's initials. Like a shadow-puppet image, that "UR"-shaped beam passed through the chamber, slowed and then emerged with its block letter message intact, as detected by a camera at the end.
(From Putting the brakes on light speed)
It looks like Howell and his team have succeeded in creating a prototype version of what science fiction fans call a "scenedow." In his excellent 1968 short story Light of Other Days, author Bob Shaw wondered what it would be like to have a thick sheet of "slow glass" exposed to a natural scene:
The most important effect, in the eyes of the average individual, was that light took a long time to pass through a sheet of slow glass. A new piece was always jet black because nothing had yet come through, but one could stand the glass beside, say, a woodland lake until the scene emerged, perhaps a year later. If the glass was then removed and installed in a dismal city flat, the flat would—for that year—appear to overlook the woodland lake.
(Read more about slow glass scenedows)
Read more about how Slow Light Will Speed Communications and an experiment in which Light was captured in a crystal. Putting the brakes on light speed via
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/20/2007)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Self-Healing Circuits From Carnegie Mellon
'It even had an inter-skin layer of gum that could seal the punctures...'- Raymond Z. Gallun, 1951.
Dune Fans! Metal-Organic Frameworks Make Science Fiction Real
'Dew collectors,' he muttered, enchanted by the simple beauty of such a scheme. - Frank Herbert, 1965.
Fungi-Infused Concrete Repairs Itself
'I noticed that curious mottled knots were forming, indicating where the room had been strained and healed faultily.'- J.G. Ballard, 1962.
3D Printed Graphene Aerogel - So Light!
'... light as cork and stronger than steel...' - Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1929.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
LA Subway Scanner, As Seen In 'Total Recall'
'I'm afraid to tell you this Mr. Quaid, but you have suffered a schizoed embolism...'
Sion Electric Car Covered With Solar Panels
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'
PAL-V Liberty Flying Helicopter Car
'...lifted themselves to skimming flight upon whirling helicopters."
Space Drones - UK's Effective Space To Launch Rocket Tugs
'Twenty rocket tugs towed it from its Earth hangar out into space.'
DIY Autonomous Robot Detects Trash
'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.'
Ancient Russian Walking Excavator Would Be Perfect RV
I don't need it to go fast, it just needs to amble along.
ELROI Satellite 'License Plate'
Robert Heinlein was thinking about this in 1941.
When Robots Beg For Their Lives
"Just what do you think you're doing... Dave.'
Do You Still Want A Folding Screen Phone?
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled...'
'Snapchat Dysmorphia' Now A Thing, Say Plastic Surgeons
'The program raced up the screen one scan line at a time, subtly smoothing, deleting and coloring.'
Quiet Electric Cars Law Finalized By US Transportation Department
'... a sound tape to supply the noise'
Drone Assassin Fails To Kill Venezuelan President
'The spotter descends, and we think it searches the vicinity, looking for the victim's face...'
Stick-On Tape Speakers, As Predicted By Bruce Sterling
Flexible tape speakers, someday.
Bezos Invites You To New Life In Off-World Colonies
'A new life awaits you!'
Amazon's Rekognition System Sees Criminals In Congress
'... the imprint of her image on the telephoto cell.'
Build Your Own Space Suit For Cheap
'I'm going to pump the air from this room... so that the interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories