Slow light

A couple of years ago in a Q&A for The Creators Project they asked me:

“What fantasy piece of technology would you like to see invented?”

I said:

“A simple knob that connects to any source of light, so it slows down the speed of the light. Even down to zero, like a lightsaber.”

I always dreamed about the endless possibilities if such a magical thing was ever feasible. And I recently discovered that it is happening! In the last story of this podcast from Radiolab (min. 45),

Danish physicist Lene Hau explains how she has been able to slow down a beam of light, passing it through an ultra-cold cloud of sodium atoms. She has also been able to transform the form of light into matter, recording the shape of the light pulse with a laser. This light copy (or light metadata) can be stored, and the light form re-created in another place and time.

Collection of sunsets

Cold-cloud photo camera

 

An article and a video about Lene’s research.

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