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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
May 2021

Trust science to ask the right questions

DANIEL MCCARTHY, SENIOR EDITORAs has been noted recently on this page, evidence-based thinking and science could stand a little more advocacy these days. Hopefully, for most readers of this publication, the question is not why but how this advocacy should be exercised.

One simple step would be to join Nobel laureates, global educators, scientists, engineers, and many others by adding your name to the Trust Science pledge at Unlike many online petitions that request an email or other personal information, the pledge only requires your name and affiliation.

This alone makes it easy to sign. It only sweetens the deal further that the pledge was launched in conjunction with the International Day of Light, scheduled by UNESCO to be observed on May 16. The day aims to raise global awareness of the importance of the science and technology of light in areas such as communications, sustainable development, climate action, and health care.

If you are a regular reader of this publication, then the International Day of Light was created to highlight the work you and your colleagues do every day. There is no reason why you shouldn’t pledge your trust in the science on which it is based.

In an era of convenient answers and selective facts, science instead insists on using a methodology to determine the right questions. One might argue, for example, that science has failed to achieve a mass-produced autonomous vehicle despite decades of development. But the question that this argument presumes to answer is “How soon?” It’s the wrong question. We might have autonomous vehicles today, if people would be satisfied with them causing roughly 40,000 deaths each year, which is the current estimate assigned to human motorists.

The reason we can trust science is precisely because rather than asking “How soon?” it asks, “How safe?” As Greg Smolka of Insight LiDAR writes here, emerging advancements in lidar technology may soon help to achieve a degree of safety that would make autonomous vehicles a more common conveyance on our streets and highways.

Smolka’s article is only one of several that make our May issue a worthy emblem for the International Day of Light. This month, our editors and contributors take the pulse of ultrafast laser technology, survey a new crop of compact Raman instruments for food inspection, and explore the point at which extreme operating temperatures become a consideration in the design of an optical coating.

But before you dive in, take a moment to visit and add your name to show some pride in the Industry of Light. Represent, people.

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.
Sarah Weiler
As Webinar & Social Media Coordinator, Sarah Weiler organizes and produces all Photonics Media webinars and manages social media content. With a background in writing and editing, she also contributes to the print publications.
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.
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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