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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What if your smartphone had a laser?

Smartphone technology is getting better and cheaper with each passing day. People have developed interesting apps and technologies smartly using the hardware. The smartphone app industry is projected to be at least $77 billion industry by the end of 2017 (1). This burgeoning market has greatly influenced and instigated a sense of competition among other industries as well. The development of Smart TV’s can serve as a good example to how versatile and useful modern day smartphones have become (2).

Smartphones have indeed become an integral part of our lives!. Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/smartphone-photo-phone-mobile-623722/

Smartphones have indeed become an integral part of our lives!. Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/smartphone-photo-phone-mobile-623722/

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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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