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"The SF approach: an awareness that things could have been different, that this is one of many possible worlds, that if you came to this world from some other planet, this would be a science fiction world."
- Neal Stephenson

Slow Glass Rod  
  A transparent glass rod that makes light travel so slowly that it can trap light within its depths.  

You've heard of burning bugs with sunlight concentrated with a magnifying glass? That's for sissies who can't figure out a different way to concentrate sunlight - by slowing it down.

He held a contraption made of a glass rod and assorted wires. Methuen sighted along his glass rod and pressed a button. A pop... and a flash!

"By applying the right e.m.f. to pure crown glass, its possible to raise its index of refraction to a remarkable degree. The result is that the light striking the glass is so slowed up that it takes weeks to pass through it in the ordinary manner. The light that is thus trapped can be released by making a small spark near the glass.

"I can shoot an hour's accumulated light energy out the front end of the rod in a very small fraction of a second.

From The Exhalted, by L. Sprague de Camp.
Published by Astounding Science-Fiction in 1940
Additional resources -

Science fans will recognize one of the main properties of Bose-Einstein condensates, which can actually trap light waves, or slow them down to an inch a minute. Read a bit more about Bose-Einstein condensates; also, read about a modern experiment in which light is captured in a crystal.

Science fiction fans may recall the scenedows from Bob Shaw's 1968 story Light of Other Days.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Exhalted
  More Ideas and Technology by L. Sprague de Camp
  Tech news articles related to The Exhalted
  Tech news articles related to works by L. Sprague de Camp

Slow Glass Rod-related news articles:
  - Slow Light Will Speed Communications
  - Light-Trapping Nanodoughnut Like Slow Glass

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