Innovation without Bounds

Exactly one hundred years after Albert Einstein first predicted the existence of gravitational waves, the multinational research and collaboration of more than 1,000 scientists culminated this year in the stunning observation of the phenomenon. Such an inspiring breakthrough did not happen overnight; rather, it was reached through a century of observations, questions, ideas and trials, generated by the thousands of people who dedicated their professional lives to advancing the science along the way.

On September 14, 2015, the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington, USA both measures ripples in the fabric of spacetime – gravitational waves – arriving at the Earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. Credit: https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/.

On September 14, 2015, the twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington, USA both measures ripples in the fabric of spacetime – gravitational waves – arriving at the Earth from a cataclysmic event in the distant universe. Credit: https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/.

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Passing on the Light

“Having light we pass it on to others” is the motto of my undergraduate alma mater, Wittenberg University. But it could easily be a theme for the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015 (IYL 2015). As the celebratory year closes, those of us who have light (who understand its unique position in and promise for our world) have a duty to continue passing on to others our love & appreciation of light.

H. Philip Stahl with Physics PhD students at SPIE Photonics West. Credit: SPIE.

H. Philip Stahl with Physics PhD students at SPIE Photonics West. Credit: SPIE.

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Light as we know it….

When was the last time you typed “Light” in the Google search bar? Can’t recall? Perhaps that’s because you did not. Light, being a topic that we have been studying ever since we were kids, doesn’t really entice one to especially look it up on the internet. That is until the topic of light surfaces as the theme of a special edition in a youth newspaper. That was exactly our aim, making the subject of light conspicuous and encourage the students to know the rather unknown about light in The Global Times (1), a registered student newspaper.

The first and foremost initiative undertaken as a part of the special edition was to decode why we are celebrating the International Year of Light. Not many children in India know that it is Ibn al-Haytham, dubbed as the ‘Father of Modern optics’ who brought light into our lives. Thereafter, students did a series of research work on the life of Ibn al-Haytham which were then converted into the top story of the edition. The story Ibn al-Haytham presented in very simple words was homage to this man who made outstanding contribution to the understanding of vision, optics and light.

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Optics in Ancient America

The early contributions of ancient America in optics predate those of european and arabian documentation, but are little known to our present culture and left no written description. If by written we understand words or a technical scheme. Nevertheless, their presence in the cultural remainings is unquestionable and its artifacts are well preserved and displaying wonderful images at museums in Mexico and Peru. Its heritance traversed centuries and cultures, and by some reason was not registered when Spain conquered the continent. Plane, concave and convex mirrors where part of the life of the governing elite and could had being the subject of admiration for the people. At the Central part of the continent the remainings are dated as from 2,800 years ago, and at the South could be as old as 3,500 years.

A hand being reflected at a Cupisnique plane mirror in Larco Museum-Peru. Credit: José Joaquín Lunazzi.

A hand being reflected at a Cupisnique plane mirror in Larco Museum-Peru. Credit: José Joaquín Lunazzi.

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What can be achieved with holography?

“Holography by itself is a somewhat narrow field, but combine it with others and it makes an area big enough to spend a lifetime in,” stated Emmett Leith (1927-2005), the “reinventor” of the holographic process and co-inventor of the 3-D hologram.  Proof of this is the fact that holography has provided and continues to provide innumerable applications in a multitude of scientific and technical fields. Moreover, it is one of the “rare” scientific fields that has provided a medium for art. It is difficult, if not impossible, to enumerate all the developments and applications based on holography so the following is a review of just some of them.

Holographic optical elements (HOE). Credit: A. Beléndez.

Holographic optical elements (HOE). Credit: A. Beléndez.

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