Storing Light In A Solid Material: Another First

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by halucigenia, Jan 15, 2002.

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  1. Is this possible does it have any implications to relativity, the speed of light being involved etc see


    My initial reaction to this was an outburst about the impossibility of light being stored at zero speed because it would break the theory of relativity - It wouldn't, as usual I was talking out my arse. After thinking about it, it only matters that every observer agrees on the speed of light whatever value it takes, even 0. The speed of light is not a constant, it only must appear to be the same for all observers! Though I don't know what this would mean for other physics values that the use the speed of light e.g. what happens to E=MC2 , mass and energy disappear? Can you Imagine what this would mean to observers travelling at a speed close to the conventional speed of light relative to the observer in the same frame of reference as the storage device where light speed is 0 (I can't, my head has just exploded)

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    I think it all has to do with measuring the speed of light in a vacuum, not in the storage device.

    I have studied relativity but still get stuck when trying to think about these things on a day to day level.

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    Thanks to Stan for the Link
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  3. Weitzel Simon Fraser University Registered Senior Member

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  5. Crisp Gone 4ever Registered Senior Member

    Hi halucigenia,

    The postulate in Special Relativity you are referring to states that the speed of light in vacuum, c, is a constant for all observers. As you correctly noticed, the speed in a medium (that takes the refractive index into account) is not necessarily the same for all observers.


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  7. thanks Weitzel

    I checked this thread but did not see much ref to relativity, looks like a particle physics discussion to me.

    better link to the story though

    thanks Crisp

    that's what I wanted to confirm. I will have to look into why

  8. John Devers (AVATAR) Registered Senior Member

    AFAIK, the photon is never sped up or slowed down.

    Photons may interact with electrons to zig zag and slow the speed of the propagation wave front it may even smear into an atom and form a polariton with a hole (which is what they call stopping light) but light really never travels at other than c when you add all it's properties together.

    The same goes for faster than light.

    The propagation wave front of light(in cesium) can travel at at least 310 times the speed of light but this is not FTL as the whole wavefunction of a pulse is not completed until much later.
  9. SeekerOfTruth Unemployed, but Looking Registered Senior Member

    Exactly John.

    My understanding of the process is the second laser is inhibiting the atoms ability to emit the photon from the first laser. The photons emited by the atoms are still traveling at the speed of light, it's just that the atoms involved in the BOC have been inhibited by the second laser from emiting the photons obsorbed from the first laser.

    What I find interesting is that the atoms some how maintain a memory of the obsorbed photon.
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