Monday 20th July, 2009

Living at the speed of light

Dr Jesse Shore, Prismatic Sciences

Photonic waveguide inside glass. Image courtesy of Dr Martin Ams, CUDOS, Macquarie University
Photonic waveguide inside glass. Image courtesy of Dr Martin Ams, CUDOS, Macquarie University

Whether you know it or not you are living at the speed of light. From mobile phones to microwave ovens, the internet, and soon your home computer, all depend on signals and energy of light travelling at the fastest speed in the universe. Yet modern communications are both enabled and limited by the speed of light. Light travels so fast that our senses feel it moves from place to place instantaneously. But light takes time to travel whether it is moving through the vast distances of the cosmos or optic fibres running down your street. And light doesn’t always travel at the same speed. In fact light can be ‘frozen’ within atoms! Come to this talk to find out which speed of light you want to live by.

The talk will introduce photonics, the science of making, detecting, controlling and using light, and explore why it is one of the important new research areas. A key part of photonics is about changing the speed of light to make better use of it. A range of photonic technologies will use optic fibres to communicate far more information at higher rates while using far less energy than electronic circuits. This will lead to new applications and huge improvements to existing processes which include specialised medical diagnosis and treatment made available to remote areas, increased DVD memory capacity, more powerful computers, speedier access to vast amounts of information of libraries, superior imaging of biological material and the cosmos, improved lasers, chemical processing and things we haven’t dreamed of yet.

Jesse will explain some of the science concepts underlying photonic communication using a number of everyday experiences and then explore some of the more recent understanding of newer less familiar processes. New discoveries about how to interact with light are leading to applications such as invisibility cloaks which previously appeared only in science fiction or fantasy stories. The last part of the presentation will explore some of these future developments and how they might affect society.

  • Time: 6:30pm to 7:30pm (Doors open at 6pm)
  • Venue: Ithaca Auditorium, Brisbane City Hall
  • Refreshments: There will be complimentary drinks and nibblies following the talk, and Jesse will be available to answer any questions.
  • Questions? Contact Lynelle (l.ross@smp.uq.edu.au)

Jesse Shore juggles science concepts to capture people's interests. This pose was used for an article about the Powerhouse Museum's 'Sport: More than heroes and legends' exhibition, 2003-2006. Image: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Photo: Marinco Kojdanovski
Jesse Shore juggles science concepts to capture people's interests. This pose was used for an article about the Powerhouse Museum's 'Sport: More than heroes and legends' exhibition, 2003-2006. Image: Powerhouse Museum, Sydney. Photo: Marinco Kojdanovski

Jesse Shore has over 25 years of experience as a science communicator creating exhibitions, public events, a science festival and working with other communications media. He enjoys making science meaningful to a variety of audiences and likes to have a bit of fun in how he presents his content. He was an exhibition project leader during the building of the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney and their senior curator of sciences for 20 years. He left the museum and started his business, Prismatic Sciences, to develop science based content for television and the web.

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