Saturday, August 20, 2005

Tweaking the speed of light

This looks interesting, as it flies in the face of an expression we have heard all of our lives - traveling at the speed of light. Constant, right, something to count on.

Well now researchers have shown, for the first time, that it is possible to control the speed of light – both slowing it down and speeding it up.

Researchers were successful in controlling the speed of light in a simple optical fiber. They were able to make light go faster than the speed of light.

The press statement says that "this is not the first time that scientists have tweaked the speed of a light signal. Even light passing through a window or water is slowed down a fraction as it travels through the medium. In fact, in the right conditions, scientists have been able to slow light down to the speed of a bicycle, or even stop it altogether."

Okay, I'm listening...

"In 2003, a group from the University of Rochester made an important advance by slowing down a light signal in a room-temperature solid. But all these methods depend on special media such as cold gases or crystalline solids, and they only work at certain well-defined wavelengths." With the publication of their new method, the scientists have used a technique to slow light with "off-the-shelf optical fibers, without requiring costly experimental set-ups or special media."

Find more about tweaking the speed of light by scientists at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Applied Physics Letters.

1 comment:

David Collin said...

Oh, I knew that. At 6 AM my wife's speed of light is really slow. She's barely moving while my speed of light is perking right along. But about 4 PM my speed of light starts to really drag and hers is coming on strong.