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SUSAN PETRIE, SENIOR EDITOR, [email protected]

SUSAN PETRIE, SENIOR EDITOROn a recent “stay-at-home” afternoon, my daughter and I stood in the kitchen eating lunch. We were laughing when suddenly she stopped and said, “You know, the minute I start feeling good, something happens and I realize all the people dying on ventilators, and then I feel guilty that my life is OK.” We live in upstate New York and — politics aside — tune in daily for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 press conferences. We’ve watched with concern the growing number of fatalities, which is one reality. The conferences also offer a sort of structured problem-solving: data points, hospital needs, personal stresses and victories, laid out with clarity, rational encouragement, and compassion. That is another reality. The magnolia on the front lawn has started to bloom. A neighbor has tested positive. More realities.

Over the past few months, as vastly different local and international realities converge, it’s sometimes been hard to know how to act. Also difficult to know when to shift between feeling and doing, to determine whom to believe and whom to trust, to know how to orchestrate the amount of time we linger in news or entertainment, and to find a clear line between the two. While we’re getting better at navigating simultaneous realities, early on, the public discourse reminded me of the ancient story of the seven blind men who encounter an elephant. Feeling different parts of its body, each man insists his limited perception is accurate. As I write this, COVID-19 is still the elephant. Some of us are touching grief. Some are directly working with the disease. Others are offering assistance or working in support roles. Some are trying to save their businesses or regional economies, impatient to create bridges to new opportunities. Luckily, the public narrative seems to have matured to a point where no one is insisting on a single limited perception.

Acknowledging our abundance of realities, I’m going to step for a moment into the world of optics and photonics, where May is a month for celebrating. The laser turns 60 (on May 16), the International Day of Light (#idl2020) is recognized, as is World Metrology Day (May 22). While myriad edutainment venues have shifted online, I see a huge opportunity. In response to a President Trump tweet that there would be a big infrastructure bill coming, Mark Cuban tweeted in agreement but said now is the time to rebuild with smart technologies. If ever there was a time to swarm leadership Twitter accounts with #idl2020 and #photonics, this may be it. If ever there was a time for new paradigms regarding the role of science in government, this may be it.

I hope you enjoy Hank Hogan’s article on high-intensity laser initiatives. It marks truly magnificent progress over six decades. Additionally, SABIC’s discussion on the importance of materials libraries for lidar systems designers, Spectrolight’s succinct illustration of filters, Valerie C. Coffey’s article on automotive sensors, and 3D AG’s look into holography and security are timely and relevant. I’ve also checked in on the Coordinate Metrology Society. Be sure to have a look at what they’re doing. Last, there is a special sectionon COVID-19 coverage to show how the industry has been responding.

Be well, and thanks for letting me impose my New York reality on you for a few moments.

Ever upward,

Published: May 2020
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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