I was at a lecture at MIT's Lincoln Lab outside of Boston.
Some of you may be thinking, “Yeah, so what? Isn't that a geeky thing to do?” Well, you're right. It is. So sue me. After all, I've got one of those tee shirts that says “What is it about the quantum theory you don't understand?”, and I wear it quite regularly. I am indeed a geek.
So what was the subject of the lecture I attended that prevented me from getting home last night after 10:30PM? How about this:
Slow and Stopped Light – Theory, Practice, and Practical Applications.
Yup. It was a real humdinger. John Howell from the University of Rochester let us in on the discoveries he and his team have made, as well as bringing us up to speed on the progress made by other teams across the world in the practical applications of slow and stopped light.
Boring, right? No, not really. In fact, being able to slow down or stop light makes all kinds of interesting things possible. For us telecommunications types it could mean fully optical delay lines and better optical switches. For those out there making use of computers and creating gigabytes and terabytes and petabytes of data, it could point us towards a practical means of optical data storage with capacities and speeds orders of magnitude greater than anything in existence today. Data could be stored at unheard of speeds in unheard of amounts. The limits of data storage imposed upon us now could be wiped away. The old hard disk could become a thing of the past. For physicists it could mean better instruments for measuring such things as gravity waves.
The possibilities are mind boggling. And my mind has been boggled. Hence the long delayed post. Hopefully my mind will have recovered from its bogglement by Saturday afternoon so that regular blogging will resume.