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.
Las Vegas Humans Ready To Strike Over Robots
'A worker replaced by a nubot... had to be compensated.'
You'll Regrow That Limb, One Day
'... forcing the energy transfer which allowed him to regrow his lost fingers.'
Elon Musk Seeks To Create 1941 Heinlein Speedster
'The car surged and lifted, clearing its top by a negligible margin.'
Somnox Sleep Robot - Your Sleepytime Cuddlebot
Science fiction authors are serious about sleep, too.
Real-Life Macau or Ghost In The Shell
Art imitates life imitates art.
Has Climate Change Already Been Solved By Aliens?
'I had explained," said Nessus, "that our civilisation was dying in its own waste heat.'
First 3D Printed Human Corneas From Stem Cells
Just what we need! Lots of spare parts.
VirtualHome: Teaching Robots To Do Chores Around The House
'Just what did I want Flexible Frank to do? - any work a human being does around a house.'
Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) Workshop
SF writers have thought about this since the 19th century.
Nanorobots Roam Your Bloodstream, Cleaning It
Too bad they won't have lasers, though...
Galini 3D Printed Sleeping Pod Tiny Houses
'The houses are prefabricated units...'
MIT Boffins Create Psychopath AI On Purpose
There's a lesson in this for neural net AI engineers everywhere.
Skin Electronics 3D Printed
'June's body is a tracery of lambent lines, like some arcane capillary circuitry...'
Artificial Sensory Neurons For Prosthetics, Robots
Great for humans and robots!
China Uses Artificial Intelligence To Grade Student Papers
Looks like the City Fathers are starting to take over China's education system.
Electronic Tongues Will Rule The Kitchen
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories