Thursday, May 11, 2006

Light in Reverse
When I was an undergrad, we did think our university was a bit backwards. The Optics Department announces a breakthrough. Robert Boyd, Professor of Optics at the University of Rochester: Theory predicted that we could send light backwards, but nobody knew if the theory would hold up or even if it could be observed in laboratory conditions. It's weird stuff. We sent a pulse through an optical fiber, and before its peak even entered the fiber, it was exiting the other end. Through experiments we were able to see that the pulse inside the fiber was actually moving backward, linking the input and output pulses.

From the UR press release:

Boyd recently showed how he can slow down a pulse of light to slower than an airplane, or speed it up faster than its breakneck pace, using exotic techniques and materials. But he's now taken what was once just a mathematical oddity—negative speed—and shown it working in the real world.

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