Latest By

Artificial Intelligence
Data Storage
Input Devices
Living Space
Space Tech
Virtual Person

"No one has ever produced a statement of fact that was technically true. The most accurate statements of science we have today are accurate to only 15 decimal places."
- Bart Kosko

Slow Glass (Scenedow)  
  A window made of Bose-Einstein Condensate that slows light to a snail's pace.  

A man and his wife go looking for a good deal on a woodlands "scenedow" for their apartment.

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.
From Light of Other Days, by Bob Shaw.
Published by Analog in 1968
Additional resources -

A piece of exposed slow glass was called a "scenedow:"

Apart from its stupendous novelty value, the commercial success of slow glass was founded on the fact that having a scenedow was the exact emotional equivalent of owning land. The meanest cave dweller could look out on misty parks—and who was to say they weren't his? A man who really owns tailored gardens and estates doesn't spend his time proving his ownership by crawling on his ground, feeling, smelling, tasting it. All he receives from the land are light patterns, and with scenedows those patterns could be taken into coal mines, submarines, prison cells.
This story anticipates the successful creation of Bose-Einstein condensates in 1995. A dilute vapor consisting of approximately 2000 rubidium-87 atoms was cooled to one twenty-billionth Kelvin (not degrees Kelvin - see minor note comments).

Bose-Einstein condensates are created when atoms are cooled to absolute zero; the atoms collapse into the lowest quantum state, producing a superfluid. Satyendra Nath Bose and Albert Einstein worked out the details in the 1920's. The unusual optical properties of BECs were predicted at that time.

Bose-Einstein condensates have optical densities such that the speed of light passing through the mass is extremely low - walking speed as opposed to its usual 186,000 miles per second.

This idea was used prior to Shaw's story; see the slow glass rod from The Exhalted, a 1940 short story by L. Sprague de Camp.

If you're interested in making light do tricks, check out NYC Heliostats and Star Wars Orbital Mirrors.

See the "Slow Glass-related news items" below for real-world applications.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 7 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Light of Other Days
  More Ideas and Technology by Bob Shaw
  Tech news articles related to Light of Other Days
  Tech news articles related to works by Bob Shaw

Slow Glass (Scenedow)-related news articles:
  - Light Captured In A Crystal
  - Slow Light 'Scenedow' Close At Hand
  - eBayaday Sells A View On eBay

Articles related to Material
New Glass Tough As Steel
Blackest Black? New Disordered Nanostructured Material
Boeing Creates Lightest Metal Ever
Light Molecules (And Maybe Light Sabers, Someday)

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.





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.





More News

ANNABELL AI Can Learn English From Scratch
'...Could understand not only classic programming but also Loglan and English..."

Tesla Suit Gives Haptic Hugs
'Then a pressure on the lips...'

Surgically Implantable Artificial Kidney Starts Testing
'George Walt... proved the workability of wholly mechanical organs...'

Self-Filling Water Bottle Is Beetle-Based
'That moisture trickles down...'

Senate Passes Space Mining Legislation
'The law of filing on newly discovered asteroids was definite...'

Microsoft's Surface Book Is Part Clipboard
'Floyd sometimes wondered if the Newspad, and the fantastic technology behind it, was the last word in man's quest for perfect communications...'

Police Use Predictive Maps ala 'Minority Report' Routinely
'...the data-receptors, and the computing mechanisms that studied and restructured the incoming material.'

Tesla Autopilot Road Trip 2995 Miles, 57 Hours
'The beautiful old car cruised ... under the guidance of its automatic controls...'

The 'Marching Mountains' Of Pluto
Calling Captain Future!

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise | - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.