Several years ago, I owned what is sometimes euphemistically referred to as a "high technology" firm. We engaged in research related to network security, data clouds, data oceans, data mining, prediction algorithms, making supercomputers out of lashed up pc's (Beowulf), and fun things like that.
Well, somebody had to go out and get the prayer flag money, and getting paid to study interdependence seemed like a natural fit.
Our most interesting project had to do with light to matter communications and networking. We were examining a concept we called the "temperature of knowledge," turning color into a data storage device. I wrote up a few research papers on the subject, and spent many hours playing with data over lasers, until one fine day, some people who shall here go nameless walked into my office with an offer I couldn't refuse.
Those of you who are observant will notice the
Cabletron in the upper right hand corner of
the right rack: Grrrrr! Can you "Spel" interrogation?
After that, it was a fun time. I got to spend all day, every single day, with my youngest daughter for the first three years of her life, and then I got to go be infamous.
Anyway -- please try to imagine how I felt when I saw this item today:
"Lene Hau has already shaken scientists' beliefs about the nature of things... in 1998, Hau, for the first time in history, slowed light to 38 miles an hour, about the speed of rush-hour traffic... Two years later, she brought light to a complete halt in a cloud of ultracold atoms... In the experiment, a light pulse was slowed to bicycle speed by beaming it into a cold cloud of atoms. The light made a "fingerprint" of itself in the atoms before the experimenters turned it off. Then Hau and her assistants guided that fingerprint into a second clump of cold atoms. And get this - the clumps were not touching and no light passed between them. "The two atom clouds were separated and had never seen each other before," Hau notes. They were eight-thousandths of an inch apart, a relatively huge distance on the scale of atoms. The experimenters then nudged the second cloud of atoms with a laser beam, and the atomic imprint was revived as a light pulse. The revived light had all the characteristics present when it entered the first cloud of atomic matter, the same shape and wavelength. The restored light exited the cloud slowly then quickly sped up to its normal 186,000 miles a second...She is coolly confident that light-to-matter communication networks, codes, clocks, and guidance systems can be made part of daily life. If you doubt her, remember she is the person who stopped light, converted it to matter, carried it around, and transformed it back to light."
So it seems they were able to prove our theory, about three years down the road, and here some fifteen years down the road they are finally getting around to understanding light-to-matter networks. They also did some things at Stanford that we would have liked, using nine lasers to create matter -- such as it was.
Never heard of this Lene Hau until today -- she was after my time. But, I sure do like her work.
Remember that scene in Star Wars, where somebody plays chess with holograms? It is like that, but on a much grander scale. Color, although finite, can be made close to infinite, and the means for "calling" color, while finite, is still very, very large as well. Each element of color can hold an element of information. These iconic color/information elements can then be projected and selected. Because of the nature of color, they can also be organized in various ways.
The eye is an ocean.
The kicker was always the issue of signal acquisition, i.e. slowing things down long enough to handle them. We knew it was theoretically possible, but the physics hadn't caught up with us yet. I mean to say, if you read Time, Space, and Knowledge, there is no longer any "impossible," but just try to tell that to scientists. Anyway, looks like this Dr. Hau has brought the physics up (or down) to speed. In 2001, they gave her one of those MacArther "genius" grants.
I celebrate this.