Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

Slow Light Will Speed Communications

Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are working on a way to slow light to a crawl - the speed of a jet aircraft. A paper published in Physical Review Letters this month presents calculations to prove the existence of a new class of soliton - a solitary light wave that can propagate over long distances while moving slowly. The speed reduction allows proper routing, conversion to other forms and proper synchronization.

Their paper demonstrates that a stable pulsed laser can create a soliton that travels slowly through a supercold gas of rubidium atoms for more than 5 centimeters without noticeable distortion. A "soliton" is a stable wave that appears throughout the natural world - they were first discovered in a canal near Edinburgh in 1834 by scientist John Scott Russell. See the picture below for a naturally occurring soliton - a stationary wave off the coast of Hawaii.


(Pictures of the smaller light solitons
were hard to come by...)

Light wave solitons are being considered as a means of packing more information into communication systems. Other methods of slowing light down have been tried; however, attenuations and distortions occur quickly, distorting data before the light has traveled even 1 millimeter.

Bob Shaw wrote a very nice short story in the 1960's called Light of Other Days. In the story, he refers to "slow glass" - a material in which light travels so slowly it is literally "trapped" in the material. Light trapped this way comes slowly out the other side years later. See Super slow light may help speed optical communications for the original story.

Update 25-Mar-2012: SF great L. sprague de Camp presented a similar idea in his whimsical 1940 story The Exhalted; see the reference to slow glass rod. End update.

If you enjoy light in unusual states, you might be interested in Super-Photons Used For Good, Not Evil; multiple photons act as one under certain conditions.

Special thanks to an alert reader who mentioned slow glass - your contribution is greatly appreciated!

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/29/2004)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Communication ")

NYC/Dublin Portal Fails To Meet 'Guardian Of Forever' Standards
I am the Guardian of Forever.

Holobox? Who Doesn't Want A Home Hologram?
'...there appeared standing upon the disk, the image of a man...' - Edmond Hamilton, 1928.

EBS-260 Handjet Free Hand Dot Matrix Printer
'McKie held a chalf-memory stick over the dusted surface.' - Frank Herbert, 1964.

CD, DVD Bit Rot And PKD's Civic Notification Distorter
'...copy two of the original document no longer can be superimposed on copy one.' - Philip K. Dick, 1965.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

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.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

SliceIt! Why Not Teach Robots To Use Knives?
'One building now gushed forth smoke and another stench that was unmistakable.'

NYC/Dublin Portal Fails To Meet 'Guardian Of Forever' Standards
I am the Guardian of Forever.

FLOAT Levitating Train On The Moon ala Clarke
'The low-slung monorail car, straddling its single track, bored through the shadows on a slowly rising course.'

Singapore Writers Push Back On LLM Training
'...we've promised him a generous pension from the royalties.'

SpaceX Intros Extravehicular Activity Suit
'Provision had been made to meet the terrific cold which we knew would be encountered the moment we had passed beyond the atmosphere.'

Athena Smart Security Guard Robot With Face Recognition
'You are who we say you are, Dr. Dakin,' Turner said.'

The FLUTE Project - A Huge Liquid Mirror In Space
'It's area, and its consequent light-gathering capacity, was many times greater than any rigid mirror...'

Robot Preachers Found To Undermine Religious Commitment
'Tell me your torments,' the Padre said, in an elderly voice marked with compassion.

CyberCab - Tesla Renames The Robotaxi
'A cybercab dogged their heels...'

SpaceHopper Microgravity Robot Lands On Its Feet
'...a slender-legged tripod surmounted by a spherical body no larger than a football.'

Brin's 1990 Novel Earth Still Full Of Predictions
'... making the point that their likenesses, every move they made, were being transmitted.'

'Whisper Mode' ala Blue Thunder Researched At Bristol
'Forest Lawn.'

Gaia - Why Stop With Just The Earth?
'But the stars are only atoms in larger space, and in that larger space the star-atoms could combine to form living matter, thinking matter, couldn't they?'

Microsoft VASA-1 Creates Personal Video From A Photo
'...to build up a video picture would require, say, ten million decisions every second. Mike, you're so fast I can't even think about it. But you aren't that fast.'

Splendid View Of Eclipse From Orbit Visualized And Repurposed By Arthur C. Clarke
'The area affected was five hundred kilometres across, and perfectly circular.'

Bespoke Environment Music From AIs
'Call 'em Winter Mute," said the other, making it two words.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

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

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.