Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from April, 2012

Pho-what-nics?

Lasers cut the fabric for our clothing, and etch communication pathways on the chips in our computers and mobile devices. We make phone calls and send data over the internet via wireless broadband and fiber optic networks. LEDs light our streets and rooms, remote sensing systems assess ocean health and monitor water tables, disasters, and weather systems, and light diagnoses and treats diseases.
The fruits of photonics are everywhere. The products of optics are omnipresent. And yet, if you have ever been introduced as an optics and photonics researcher or developer, you know that blank looks are also common.
The terms simply are not household words, certainly not in the way that, say, “biology,” “chemistry,” and “physics” are.
Beyond the slight awkwardness inherent in explaining what “photonics” means (and the irony, when explaining “photonics” to someone who has just been accessing the internet on his mobile tablet …) the real problem is that a lack of understanding on the part of taxp…