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Showing posts from May, 2013

The miracle of photonics is taken for granted

You know that signature file you may have – “Sent from my [fabulous device name here]”? Our CEO here at SPIE, Eugene Arthurs, has one that gives credit where credit is due, to photonics: “Multiple laser processes were used to make this iPad. Many photons worked to bring you this message.”
This blog makes the case that photonics can make the world a better place, and who can argue with the convenience and ease that is enabled by these great smartphones and tablets? Yes indeed, there are photons aplenty at work. But the latest column from Mark Morford, creatively infuriating (to some) writer for SFGate, points out that those who get worked up over what’s the latest and greatest, and the absolute best, are just wasting their energy, because tomorrow it will be something else.
It’s reminiscent of the legend of the conquering Roman generals, who were accompanied in their victory parades by a slave to whisper a reminder in their ear: “All glory is fleeting.” Because, as Morford says, “The…

Pythons, beetles, and jellyfish: bioinspiration for photonics applications

Ever wondered why a snake doesn’t slide sideways when headed uphill or across a slippery surface? It isn’t just a matter of muscle and motivation.

The underbelly scales of pythons have hooks that find traction to propel them in the direction they want to go -- a concept that has been applicable in developing mechanical propulsion systems.
The heat-sensitive cells in the python’s nose help him find food; humans can use information about the creature’s nervous system to develop more effective and adaptable thermal sensors with applications from digital medical thermometers to car radiators and much more.
A 35-year-old python named Monty was the latest “animal ambassador” from the San Diego Zoo’s Centre for Bioinspiration to demonstrate to photonics researchers at a recent meeting how they and others can learn from nature to solve the world’s problems.
In addition to Monty’s visit this year, staff from the Centre for Bioinspiration at the San Diego Zoo brought a great horned owl and a …

Tomatoes, juicy, delicious and even more nutritious -- thanks to LED lighting

In the Netherlands, they have been growing food in greenhouses for a long time. Lighting systems have improved production and extended growing seasons -- now they're pumping up the nutrition too.

Research by Wageningen University (Netherlands) Greenhouse Horticulture in collaboration with Philips has shown that tomatoes can be even more nutritious when grown with LED lighting. The partnership will be continued in a joint facility for research into the application of LED lamps in horticulture (IDC LED), which was to be opened in Bleiswijk (NL) this week.

In the tomato variety that showed the strongest reaction, the tomatoes receiving extra light from the LEDs contained up to twice as much vitamin C as the tomatoes not exposed to the LEDs. The doubling of the vitamin C level was achieved with an extra dose of light similar to a quarter of the natural light intensity on a sunny day.

Wageningen University and Research Greenhouse Horticulture performed its research within the …