Slowing Light Down to Photograhable Speeds?

  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

I was talking to my brother the other day, and he asked me a question that completely threw me off guard. He asked "Do you think it's possible to see beams of light, and actually be able to track their movements, and translate it to a macroscopic scale?". At first, I said that it was impossible due to the actual speed of light. But, I thought on it, and I remembered something back when I visited a physics convention. I remembered that the speed of light slows down once it exits a vaccum, and furthers when it passes through certain objects (Like glass, perhaps?). So, I was wondering, is it THEORETICALLY possible to slow light down enough to track it's movements using one of our most powerful high speed cameras by lining up enough objects that slow light, and shooting a beam of light (for all intents and purposes, let's say it's a green laser) through them? I'm not very experienced with Optical or Particle Physics (I'm more of a Quantum Mechanics, and Astrophysics guy), so I would appreciate some insight with this problem that seems to be an enigma at the moment.
 

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  • #2
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you can slow down light so that you walk faster than it if you pass it through a boss einstein condensate
 
  • #3
Office_Shredder
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How would you "see" the light? We usually see things by bouncing light off of it and recording what comes back (either actual light or some other EM wave). You can't really do that with light itself
 
  • #4
Evo
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Yes, light can be slowed down, it was on part of the Universe series on the History Channel, if you want to see it, you an also find videos of Dr Hau explaining her work.

http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/15-11/st_alphageek

About a decade ago, Hau started playing with BECs — for a physicist, that means shooting lasers at them. She blew up a few. Eventually, she found that lasers of the right wavelengths could tune the optical properties of a BEC, giving Hau an almost supernatural command over any other light shined into it. Her first trick was slowing a pulse of light to a crawl — 15 mph as it traveled through the BEC. Since then, Hau has completely frozen a pulse and then released it. And recently she shot a pulse into one BEC and stopped it — turning the BEC into a hologram, a sort of matter version of the pulse. Then she transferred that matter waveform into an entirely different BEC nearby — which emitted the original light pulse. That's just freaky.
Read More http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/magazine/15-11/st_alphageek#ixzz0uo7xsGqb

Here is more detail.

http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2001/01.24/01-stoplight.html [Broken]
 
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  • #5
Thanks for the replies. But, I have another question. Is it possible to shoot a beam of light into a BEC, hold it there for a pre-determined amount of time, then release it? And if it is, could the same be done with sensory light (I.E Developing a special mirror to "trap" an image, then release that image to someone in the distant future)?
 
  • #6
ZapperZ
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Thanks for the replies. But, I have another question. Is it possible to shoot a beam of light into a BEC, hold it there for a pre-determined amount of time, then release it? And if it is, could the same be done with sensory light (I.E Developing a special mirror to "trap" an image, then release that image to someone in the distant future)?
http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2001/01.24/01-stoplight.html[/URL]

[url]http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v409/n6819/abs/409490a0.html[/url]

Zz.
 
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