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Welcome to Science TV

Photonics Spectra
Sep 2007
Michael A. Greenwood

Is photonics going Hollywood? The science of light and optics is being packaged, produced and projected onto television screens across the US.

Producers hope that the segments, currently aired on more than 60 subscribing television stations around the country, will improve public awareness of the important scientific advances that are under way and will help people better appreciate the role this technology plays in everyday life.

The Optical Society of America and the American Institute of Physics teamed up to develop television news segments highlighting the latest breakthroughs in optics and photonics. The producers said that 41 percent of the general population relies on television as its primary source for science and technology information.

Known as “Discoveries and Breakthroughs Inside Science,” the series started early this year and is broadcast in English and Spanish. The segments are distributed via satellite and feature a variety of stories about potentially groundbreaking research.

One recent segment covered a light-sensitive material that is being developed to capture fingerprints in multiple colors. The technology utilizes photonic crystals and eventually could replace traditional ink-based fingerprinting.

Europe, meanwhile, is not far behind. Seven writers were selected recently to further develop new TV drama series and feature-length TV films. All the projects have two things in common: Each will have a technology theme, and women will play prominent roles as scientists and engineers.

The EuroWistdom (European Women in Science TV Drama on Message) project seeks to raise awareness of science among viewers in general and to inspire young women, in particular, to pursue careers in technology.

One of the winning proposals has a young woman named Amilie as its protagonist. Amilie is a talented piano player who also has a fascination with science and technology. The drama focuses on the choices the teenager must make as her father encourages her to pursue music, while her mother and others in her life encourage her to pursue a technical career.

Electromagnetic radiation detectable by the eye, ranging in wavelength from about 400 to 750 nm. In photonic applications light can be considered to cover the nonvisible portion of the spectrum which includes the ultraviolet and the infrared.
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