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(Some Guy)   NASA Scientists discover how to 'pause' light   ( science.nasa.gov) divider line
    More: Cool  
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12850 clicks; posted to Main » on 10 Apr 2002 at 11:52 AM (16 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2002-04-10 11:54:57 AM  
I did this last week.
2002-04-10 11:59:12 AM  
2002-04-10 11:59:44 AM  
very cool indeed. Like, nearly absolute zero...
2002-04-10 12:00:25 PM  
No! This is evil! We're going to destroy the world somehow with this kind of thing, terror terror!
2002-04-10 12:01:41 PM  
This is the coolest thing I have heard of since Summit Pale Ale.

I am in awe.
2002-04-10 12:02:14 PM  
[image from science.nasa.gov too old to be available]

Somebody unpause this guy.
2002-04-10 12:02:37 PM  
Go toward the light.....


O.K. keep going.........
2002-04-10 12:04:26 PM  
Thegrue: LOL!

Way cool. Very freaky, and difficult for me (as a non-scientific type) to understand, but pretty damned nifty.
2002-04-10 12:06:03 PM  
That is nothing, I knew a girl so ugly she could stop time.
2002-04-10 12:08:57 PM  
That's nice boys,
but where the hell is my flying car!
2002-04-10 12:09:03 PM  
This was released on March 27th and I THINK has even been on here a few times.
2002-04-10 12:09:19 PM  
Frolixo, are you saying that light begins at conception?
2002-04-10 12:09:52 PM  
Wow! When I was a kid you had to take acid to do something like this. Now science has brought this joy to the square populous as well.
2002-04-10 12:11:13 PM  
I did that on acid at the first Lolapalooza
2002-04-10 12:11:44 PM  
Will this power be used for good or for awesome?
2002-04-10 12:12:01 PM  
Next thing to stop: time. That way we can all finish our assignments at work on schedule.
2002-04-10 12:13:03 PM  
Better than this chick(?), the one that managed to slow light down:
[image from physics.harvard.edu too old to be available]
2002-04-10 12:13:57 PM  
Still waiting for a cure for the common cold...
*atchoo!* 'Scuse me.
2002-04-10 12:14:04 PM  
So scientist finally found the Light Remote Control between the couch cushions , and hit the "Pause " button.

Big deal.
2002-04-10 12:15:19 PM  
As I understand it, as velocity approaches the speed of light, mass increases towards an infinite quantity. Conventional wisdom has it that, since photons travel at the speed of light, they are massless.

Does this mean that nonmoving photons have negative mass? Are they still in some kind of vibrational motion? What?

This is utterly mind-boggling. It's kinda like the Internet and Slinky: it may not serve any useful purpose, but it sure is cool. Wow.
2002-04-10 12:17:14 PM  
Does this mean I am closer to a working light saber?
2002-04-10 12:19:30 PM  
we did cure the cold, but the FDA wont let the cure out because the virus could mutate into something more dangerous that could kill us.. and what the hell is the point of pausing light, use my tax dollars to figure out a way to transport matter over light or build me a time machine or something NASA. jesus.
2002-04-10 12:20:58 PM  

[image from interlog.com too old to be available]

Press Here

2002-04-10 12:22:32 PM  
Deathtoll, the article said it could be used for message encryption, among other things.
2002-04-10 12:25:19 PM  
hey nasa, make me a sandwich
2002-04-10 12:27:05 PM  
Why is this story repeated at least once a month? Has anybody else noticed this?
2002-04-10 12:27:46 PM  
Allanhowls: From reading the article I believe that the photons remain massless. It is only their interaction with the relatively mass-full atoms in the cloud that causes them to slow down.
2002-04-10 12:29:22 PM  

Seriously, very, very cool. I tell ya, I've heard that for every $1 we put into NASA we will ultimately get back $5. I don't know if it's true exactly, but I wouldn't doubt it, these are some very smart people. Wow, these guys are good.
2002-04-10 12:30:22 PM  
Shaggie - look no further for a cure for the common cold. I've been religiously using Dave's Insanity Sauce Limited Edition (1998 Reserve) every day for four years now, and I haven't been sick once. Sure, ocassionally my allergies act up, but I haven't cough any colds, coughs, or the flu. I believe in the integrity of the red savina habanero pepper's (second hottest in the world, the first being the blue capsicum variety) abilities to kill everything in it's path.

-he who stacks pork
2002-04-10 12:34:06 PM  
Actually an old story -- this work was published in Nature and in Physical Review Letters in early 2001. I wonder why NASA decided to do a story on it now.

Allanhowls: The stopped photons are absorbed -- they cease to exist as light particles until they're released again, so there's nothing funky going on with the mass (or lack thereof) of the photon.
2002-04-10 12:36:49 PM  
help me Rhonda... How do you slow something with no mass down? I thought photons had mass, and that is how solar wind and solar sails work. Does solar wind arise from some emission from the Sun other than photons, and if so what? I thought everything had mass - am I wrong here? How are photons exempt from the Higg's field? Don't photons have to have mass in order for gravity to effect them, which it seems to do?

My head hurts. Is there a quantum physicist in the house who can explain this to me?
2002-04-10 12:37:50 PM  
Why am I suddenly thinking of Kevin Spacey in K-PAX now?


2002-04-10 12:37:56 PM  
Next thing to stop: time. That way we can all finish our assignments at work on schedule.

uhmm..if i can stop time, i'm not going back to work. there will be no more assighnment of any kind. i think i would just read and take breaks to have sex, eat and perhaps go swiming.

that is all.
2002-04-10 12:38:20 PM  
Boy... ya gotta wonder how misleading a headline can be. By the same criterion, a photograph is stopped light.

You notice they say the light 'data' gets imprinted on some atoms in the gas, and then can be released again. This doesn't mean that they're changing the value of C, which is a universal constant, and which the headline implies.

It's a novel way to store light data, and will probably lead to more advances in the future, but this is just another example of scientists coming up with a !!wow!! headline, because now Generation X has entered the scientific fray, and feels that they, as scientists, should get as much press as rock stars and actors. :P
2002-04-10 12:38:55 PM  
Thanks to PCP-Dolphin and Ptermit. This kind of thread is just like hanging out at alt.fan.cecil-adams

Usenet...when you just aren't geeky enough
2002-04-10 12:40:23 PM  
OK, WTF?!?!?! have we not only filtered out dirty words, but also H4 tags with inline styles? Geez...whatta buncha nazis. My Usenet comment is much pithier when formatted properly.
2002-04-10 12:41:33 PM  
Deathtoll - NASA only opens the doors, Quantum Technology will very likely become a hot issue down the road. Michael Crichton's book Timeline is based on the premis that quantum computing could provide the powercrunching needed to fuel time travel. Yeah, thats just the Sci-Fi part, but Crichton has a pretty good track record of keeping his work just over the edge of present technology.
2002-04-10 12:42:28 PM  
I don't believe anything until I see it Mr. Wizard first.
2002-04-10 12:43:48 PM  
Sure, we can pause light, but try getting your waitress to come to the table when you need her...
2002-04-10 12:44:10 PM  
Bone_Daddy: Light doesn't have mass, but it does have momentum. (Think of momentum as something like "pushing power.") For objects with mass, momentum is the product of velocity and mass; for photons, it's related to the photon's frequency. It's this momentum that gives photons their ability to push things about. (And no, not everything need have mass; for a long time, physicists thought that neutrinos didn't, but that idea was proved wrong in 1998.)

Higgs physics ain't my forte, but I don't see how it's a problem to be exempt from the Higgs field. Uncharged objects are "exempt" from the electromagnetic field, and neutrinos are "exempt" from the strong field as well. They simply don't interact very much with gluons and photons, and only seem to feel the pull of W and Z bosons. (Radiative corrections excluded.)Photons just don't interact with Higgs bosons.
2002-04-10 12:44:47 PM  
Bone_Daddy: I think the idea is that they force particles with very little to no mass (photons) to strongly interact with the atoms. If they interact strongly enough, then the photon is affected by the atoms weight and thus slowed.

Solar wind is stripped hydrogen atoms being flung off the sun as I remember. I could be completely wrong though. I used to know how light sails work. Stupid work rotting my brain.
2002-04-10 12:45:58 PM  
im still waiting for my sandwich, and isnt Mr. Wizard dead?
2002-04-10 12:46:10 PM  
Brain...so...tired... Must...get...brain...back...in...shape. Having...trouble...understanding...quantum...physics...
2002-04-10 12:46:12 PM  
Cool. Can I emit an excited gas with a light show too?
2002-04-10 12:52:21 PM  
[image from imagecache.allposters.com too old to be available]
2002-04-10 12:58:45 PM  
Happygirl: "i would just read and take breaks to have sex, eat and perhaps go swiming."

Sounds good to me.
2002-04-10 01:04:33 PM  
Bone_Daddy Oops -- forgot to answer your last question: how can light be affected by gravity if it doesn't have mass?

Einstein's general theory of relativity shows that the effect of gravity is equivalent to a distortion in the fabric of spacetime. You've probably heard the rubber-sheet analogy -- think of the sun as a bowling ball sitting on a big sheet of rubber. It makes a dimple. Place a marble in that dimple and it will roll towards the bowling ball, just as a stationary body will zoom towards the sun. If you give that marble a little kick, you can have it roll around the dimple, just as the Earth orbits the sun.

Light, even though it has no mass of its own, feels the curvature of spacetime. It tries to take the shortest path from point A to point B, and in curved space, this isn't necessarily a straight line. This might seem like a wild idea, but it was proven in 1919 when Sir Arthur Eddington saw that certain stars seemed to change positions when their light passed close to the sun.

And no, before you ask, I don't have any personal experience with rubber sheets. :P
2002-04-10 01:04:45 PM  
Alrighty... this is another example of the physics community *accidentally* overstating their case in layman's terms. It's kind of a regular game for them. The situation is more like this... They have found a way to record a photon's state and then to use that recording as a stencil for another photon.

Technically, the argument of "how do you stop something that has no mass" is valid... Light traveling at less than the speed of light is no longer light. As the particle's velocity changes the wavelength changes and the particle behaves differently. A "particle of light" can only be described as such because it behaves that way. It's not as though light is made up of one substance and microwaves are made up of another... we measure energy, essentially, by it's frequency (although "frequency is a shiatty-ass word for it). As far as this whole thing goes, physicists are no different than you, me, or anyone... they like their shiat to sound important.
2002-04-10 01:08:56 PM  
this is old news.

Slashdot had this link a few weeks ago....
2002-04-10 01:12:55 PM  
And this is useful how....?
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