The speed of imagination

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I’ve been going to the same grocery store for years and as often as I can, I queue up in Saleem’s line. Saleem is a cashier. He wears a star sapphire ring, has a tiny gold cross pinned to his red uniform shirt, and — although he has lived in the U.S. for several decades — speaks with a heavy accent.

I like Saleem for a lot of reasons. He has watched my daughter grow up over 15 years, and (despite standing all day doing repetitive work) he’s always cheerful and conversational. But mostly I like him because I learn from him; he is a dispenser of wisdom.

One time, he said: “I see you have a papaya here. Don’t ever put pepper on papaya and serve it to a pregnant woman. It is not good for her. Not at all.” On a freezing April morning, I was buying daffodils and he gently wrapped them in a plastic bag. “Be careful and cover them,” he said. “They are fragile. Just like us.”

Last week, Saleem asked where I was working, and I told him about Photonics Spectra. He lit up right away and said, “Ah, yes. Einstein had a theory that said light travels 186,000 miles per second. But you know, compared to the speed of the human imagination, that is nothing!”

The speed, art, and science of imagination are manifest here throughout — (link), in the fantastic convergence of new and emerging optical materials, written about by Valerie C. Coffey.

Chris Doerr of Acacia Communications looks at how, with silicon photonics, previously unattainable data speeds of 1 Tb/s may soon become a reality. (link)

Diana Poullos of Spectra-Physics discusses, (link), how quantum successes of the future will be supported by photonics technologies. Faiz Rahman, (link), reveals the subtle yet steady momentum of green LEDs, in application.

Spectroscopy continues to make inroads in the portable market (link). And before much longer, ultrafast lasers with tailored pulse rates (link) will be introduced.

The speed of imagination, indeed.

With warm regards,

Published: January 2019

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