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Photonics Spectra
Since 1967, Photonics Spectra magazine has defined the science and industry of photonics, providing both technical and practical information for every aspect of the global industry and promoting an international dialogue among the engineers, scientists and end users who develop, commercialize and buy photonics products. Stay current with a FREE subscription to the digital or print edition.

Latest Issue
Jun 2022

Question the narrative. Narrate the questions.

On May 7, a horse named Rich Strike entered Churchill Downs’ starting gate as an 80-1 long shot in the Kentucky Derby. During the hour prior to that moment, media commentators, statisticians, and racing industry experts all shared in exhaustive and breathless detail the pedigree, training regimens, and racing history of all the favored horses to watch that day. For the 60 minutes prior to the derby’s start, Rich Strike was treated as a footnote, an “also ran” next to names such as Epicenter, Messier, Zandon, and Mo Donegal.

And then, two minutes after the starting gate banged open, Rich Strike made history for winning a Kentucky Derby against the second-longest odds ever. Every $2 bet on Rich Strike returned $163.60 in winnings. Possibly the only thing more satisfying than having taken that bet would be the post-race bragging rights for having seen Rich Strike’s potential all along.

It’s a good reminder that narrative and storytelling are much safer for justifying hindsight than foresight. No one ever talks about foresight bias.

Yet, business, governance, investing, and life all demand that we formulate plans. We predicate those plans on our best guesses about an uncertain future, and it is difficult not to view that future as an extension of past narratives — especially if you are in the publishing business, where every industry development and trend is packaged as narrative.

We do have one advantage here at Photonics Media. It’s that we don’t mind admitting, “We don’t know.” We are ill-equipped to provide authoritative answers about the technologies we cover. It’s generally enough for us to know the right questions and who to ask. We can’t predict the black swans. But we can at least pay the dark horses their due.

All of this is top of mind as we begin to prepare our 2023 media kit and editorial calendar, and the program for the 2023 Photonics Spectra Conference to be held online this coming January. It is safe to predict that familiar narratives around laser processing, scientific imaging, and optical fabrication will continue to be part of our coverage next year. But we are starting to ask our industry contacts which questions will become more pressing in emerging and accelerating fields, such as optical metasurfaces, photonic integrated circuits, and quantum sensing, communications, and computing.

Our ability to provide valuable and practical content depends on our knowledge of what questions are burning a hole in readers’ brains. If you are reading this now, consider it your invitation to join that conversation. Let us know what photonics-related technologies, applications, markets, and business trends you wish you knew more about or understood better. If it is in our power to investigate, and if it is of value to our larger readership, you can count on us covering it more in upcoming issues, webinars, and online news stories.

Mike Wheeler
As editor-in-chief, Michael Wheeler oversees Photonics Media's editorial operations — spanning print, web, and podcasts. He also serves as editor of Vision Spectra, chronicling advancements in the rapidly expanding machine vision/inspection sector.
Dan McCarthy
Senior editor Dan McCarthy manages editorial content and production for Photonics Spectra. An award-winning writer and editor, he has communicated the progress and practical value of advanced technologies for over two decades.
Doug Farmer
Senior Editor Douglas Farmer has been a journalist for nearly 20 years, winning awards for health and education reporting. He has a master's degree in journalism from Ball State University. He is editor of EuroPhotonics and BioPhotonics magazines.
Hank Hogan
Contributing Editor Hank Hogan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of Texas at Austin. He worked in the semiconductor industry and now writes about science and technology.
Marie Freebody
Contributing Editor Marie Freebody is a freelance science and technology journalist with a master’s degree in physics and a concentration in nuclear astrophysics from the University of Surrey in England.
Farooq Ahmed
Farooq Ahmed has covered the physical and biological sciences for over a decade. He has a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Brown University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in writing from Columbia University.
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