So a while back, long before this happened I started running a competition for free IEEE photonics gear in exchange for Facebook likes. It was semi-sucessful in as much as I did get a few Facebook likes out of it (which is kind of crazy important to little websites like mine) although weirdly of the people who read the article, only around 10% liked my Facebook page for freebies. I am blaming this on not providing good enough freebies – next time I’ll get everything gold plated.

The competition is now closed and I will be contacting people via Facebook for address etc of where to send stuff. As part of the competition you may remember that I also asked people to submit interesting photonics facts : below is a short summary of some of the entrants.

Light travels very, very, very fast. Apparently

This entry should win some kind of award for the least amount of effort.

192 lasers can create nearly as much energy (1.1 megajoules) as the sun (1.8 mega-joules)

This is a very true (with caveats) and quite cool. The “Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility” has just such a setup and last year used it to test out the possibility of laser ignition fusion. The lasers they use aren’t exactly little laser pointers – each one on its own is a pretty heavy duty beast and the engineering around their setup and focussing on to a single point is truly amazing.

The science of photonics[1] includes the generation, emission, transmission, modulation, signal processing, switching, amplification, and detection/sensing of light

Not sure how to rank this as it is a perfect copy and paste from the wikipedia page for photonics. Initially, I thought that I couldn’t possibly allow this kind of cheating but then again they were so lazy that they didn’t even remove the reference tag and that kind of brash laziness takes skills so I’m prepared to let this stand 🙂

rgsmpIf you shine two differently coloured lasers through a prism, the two beams will spread apart, but will each stay within their own beam. Looks pretty cool..

Who doesn’t love nice visual prism tricks, I’d happily spend the day in the lab taking photos of stuff like this. Looking at the image on the right all I can think is ‘MOAR LASERS’, because that makes every experiment look better.

Lasers are cool (in the sense of being ‘good’ rather than their temperature – as an electromagnetic wave they’re not strictly speaking hot or cold)

This little comment led to me spending about 2 days reading about energy quanta in photons and some pretty interesting heat transfer physics – none of which I am in the least bit qualified to understand. After much research, I have concluded that lasers are indeed ‘cool’ but the hot and cold bit I’m still on the fence about (please write in if you can explain it to me).

I used lasers to levitate drops of water

This was a throw away comment from a friend of mine at Cranfield, who then protested that it wasn’t all that interesting – but after much cajoling he did post me a little more detail and it is really cool. Essentially he spent his Masters project trying to construct a trap for water droplets where they would be levitated for 10-30mins at the focused point of a laser beam. After a little digging through an old computer, my friend even managed to find some footage of this process.

I assume this will be quickly adapted to a laser based jet-pack systems 🙂

After considering all the entrants I think the levitating water using lasers is hands-down the most interesting photonics fact provided and I will be sending extra-special goodies to the winner!

Thanks everyone for liking my facebook page, again it is amazing what a difference it makes to the reach of my site and I really appreciate you all taking the time to help me out. As I had less entrants than I have goodies I will be sending out extra stuff to everyone as a special thank-you!

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Categories: ErrantWritings


Jonathan · 10 July 2013 at 13:39

Interesting Photonics Fact
Workers on railways wear red high visibility clothing rather than the yellow worn by others as yellow at a distance can be mistaken for a green signal.

    Matthew (@MCeeP) · 10 July 2013 at 14:33


    That is interesting, but I did a little google searching (I’m totally not procrastinating right now) and the railway standard specifies orange not red. Which is, without a doubt, the most pedantic I have ever been 🙂

      Jonathan · 10 July 2013 at 15:57

      My apologies but it looked red to me. I only know at all as I was told my high vis wasn’t suitable for a site visit as it was yellow.

Free IEEE Photonics stuff · 17 July 2013 at 14:08

[…] UPDATE: It’s over! […]

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