Friday, February 9, 2007

Say goodbye to the speed of light

[from Neatorama]

Light travels fast, libraries full of scifi books have been written about the promise of time travel when we humans will be able to travel faster than light. Traveling leisurely and constant at 300000km a second all physicists agreed: light can't be slowed down.

But Harvard professor Hau has done it! And not only that, she stopped it all together, transformed it into matter, transported it and then send it on its way again, completely unchanged, or if you want: changed! With added or encrypted data. This is simply unbelievable. Watch the short video and read the accompanying explanation. It will bring a completely new way of looking at travel, communication and data storage.

[quote from article]

"Light carries information, so think of information being manipulated in ways that have never before been possible. That information can be stored - put on a shelf, so to speak - retrieved at will, and converted back to light. The retrieved light would contain the same information as the original light, without so much as a period being lost.

Or the information could be changed. "The light waves can be sculpted," is the way Hau puts it. "Then it can be passed on. We have already observed such re-sculpted light in our lab."

A weird thing happens to the light as it enters the cold atomic cloud, called a Bose-Einstein condensate. It becomes squeezed into a space 50 million times smaller. Imagine a light beam 3,200 feet (one kilometer) long, loaded with information, that now is only a hair width in length but still encodes as much information."

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