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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
Jan 2020

The art of the possible

As Photonics Spectra readers know, the January issue traditionally reports on trends. This issue is no exception and includes insightful trends in free-space communications, lidar, holography, and lasers. There is also a surprise: a real-time update from Rochester, N.Y., and the South Pole on the recently deployed BICEP Array experiment. And there’s a look into the future via SCHOTT’s developments with consumer-grade smart glasses.

As I look ahead, I’ll be working to trend 2020 toward optimism. How? By being more attuned to the possibilities in global solutions. The marvelous writer Ray Bradbury described science fiction as the place something is imagined before it becomes real, or “the art of the possible.” He also said: “The history of science fiction started in the caves 20,000 years ago. The ideas on the walls of the cave were problems to be solved. It’s problem-solving. Primitive scientific knowledge, primitive dreams, primitive blueprinting: to solve problems.

Of course, the desire to find solutions — large and small — powers science. But global thinking, such as circular economies, international collaborations, and new ways to knock the status quo, energizes me. Striving to participate in solutions is, I think, one way to combat our natural human tendencies to fret the details and slip into pessimism.

In the spirit of possibility, I’ve gathered examples of solutions-style thinking that found their way to me and that I would like to share with you. I hope they are useful and inspirational.

Pint of Science — thousands of researchers across 400 cities and 24 countries who, each May, share and discuss their findings with people in their local pub, bar, or café; Microsoft AI for Earth — supports organizations that apply AI to environmental challenges; ACTPHAST — a unique one-stop-shop, open-access, full supply chain that supports photonics innovation; Hello Tomorrow — unlocks the power of deep tech to solve our toughest global challenges; NineSigma — with a solution provider network, works with clients to identify and formalize technology and science needs; Fast Forward — invests in entrepreneurs who use technology to accelerate social impact.

Additionally, National Geographic announced the middle school-age winners of its annual GeoChallenge; 3M announced the winners of its Young Scientist Challenge; Edmund Optics announced its Norman Edmund Inspiration Award winner; Luminate selected finalists for its third cohort; Ocean Insight announced the winner of its Spectroscopy Star competition; and the ISEF (International Science and Engineering Fair) drew the participation of more than 1800 teen researchers.

In 2019, people made drones that plant trees and IR cameras that help marine vessels detect whales and reduce collisions. Someone made compostable bioplastic from fish skin and scales. Someone else made sustainable optical fiber from cellulose.

I’m looking forward to a year of renewed possibility and working toward solutions.


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.
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.
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.
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.
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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