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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
Nov 2018

Profoundly, LIGO

In 2016, a few months after LIGO had proven the existence of gravitational waves, Kelly Holley-Bockelmann, an astrophysicist at Vanderbilt University, gave a TEDx talk to the general public and shared her deep enthusiasm for gravitational waves, for black holes, and for LIGO. Her dress was designed and imprinted with a graph of the first wave detection, GW150914, and she had the audience stand up, form their arms in the shape of an interferometric L, and perform along with her a “LIGO wave” dance, which included a mimic of the now well-known “chirp.”

Her 18-minute talk was spirited and profound; not only did Holley-Bockelmann succeed in teaching the audience how an interferometer works, and how long and complex the process to build the LIGO observatories was, but in about six slides, she was able to communicate the complex fabric of space-time and demonstrate LIGO’s exquisite sensitivity — detecting an event that occurred somewhere in the neighborhood of a billion years ago.

LIGO, she said, was game-changing technology, and gravitational waves were the paradigm-shifting discovery of our generation, able to alter forever our fundamental thinking about the universe. (LIGO co-founders Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish, and Kip Thorne would later be awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 2017.)

Holley-Bockelmann’s final comment was this: That all mass, no matter how large or small — from colliding black holes to human beings — creates gravitational waves. And gravitational waves created by human actions, such as holding our children for the first time or dancing with a beloved, are written in space-time, imprinted on the universe, lasting long after we are gone. “Yes,” she said, “it turns out your actions do matter.”

If you haven’t developed your own profound regard for LIGO, turn to Valerie Coffey’s article (read article). Then, check out Coherent’s piece on the NPRO (nonplanar ring oscillator) — a critical component of LIGO’s systems —(read article). And linger over GariLynn Billingsley’s exceptional August 2017 work with LIGO’s test masses (or mirrors) — some of the smoothest known (read article).

When you’re done pondering the wonders of LIGO, check out Sean Garner’s article on the capabilities of flexible glass (read article), Hank Hogan’s piece on how optical coatings are responding to harsh-environment demands (read article), and Ken Dzurko’s feature on fiber lasers in industrial application (read article).

Also, look for a new column in this issue — “Industry Insight” (read article) — which offers a look into high-level problems and solutions impacting the optics and photonics industries.

With warm regards,
Mike Wheeler
An accomplished journalist and editor, Michael Wheeler oversees Photonic Media's editorial operations, spanning print, online, and video. He also serves as editor of Vision Spectra, chronicling advances in the rapidly expanding machine vision/inspection sector.
Chris Bergonzi
Managing Editor Chris Bergonzi has more than 35 years of experience editing, managing, and writing for consumer publications and peer-reviewed journals covering business, management, technology, and science.
Susan Petrie
Susan Petrie is Senior Editor of Photonics Spectra and has two decades of experience with print and digital publications. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree in writing from Bennington College.
Justine Murphy
Senior Editor Justine Murphy is an award-winning journalist with 20 years of experience in newspaper and magazine publishing, marketing, and public relations. She is editor of EuroPhotonics and BioPhotonics and produces industry-focused podcasts.
Autum Pylant
News Editor Autum C. Pylant is an Air Force Veteran with 10+ years of award-winning broadcast journalism experience. She is responsible for the steady flow of news and new product announcements to web and print and is the producer of the Light Matters video.
Robin Riley
Multimedia/Web Editor Robin Riley has 30+ years of experience in communications and marketing for a range of technical industries. She is a regular contributor to web content and social media, and organizes and produces custom and editorial webinars.
Valerie Coffey
Science writer Valerie C. Coffey holds a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s in astronomy. She has covered optics, photonics, physics, and astronomy for a variety of industry and academic publications since 2000.
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.
Faroow Ahmed Freebody
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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