Musings on optics, physics, astronomy, technology and life

Archive for December, 2013

Minerals to watch

I thought I knew about perovskite. After all, it’s a mineral, and I spent my spring and summer writing about rocks and minerals for a Smithsonian project, didn’t I?

Well, this is a different twist. Science magazine reports that synthetic perovskites, which have properties that could lead to cheap solar cells, also can generate coherent light. As in laser light.

Idealized perovskite crystal. Public-domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

Idealized perovskite crystal. Public-domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

Apparently the researchers who figured that out have demonstrated it in an optically pumped laser. They’ll have to devise an electrically pumped laser to get anything commercially viable. But if that works out, who knows what new applications these inexpensive lasers will lead to?


Oh the Sad Irony; Thoughts on a Report to President Truman in 1945

Words that ring true almost 70 years later. I’m reposting them here just so I can come back to them at a future date (i.e., when I’m not on deadline for a couple of other articles).

Just Science

I stumbled across a report from Director of the Office of Scientific Research and DevelopmentVannevar Bush to President Harry Truman in July 1945 in response to Roosevelt’s Letter a year earlier which stated:

“New frontiers of the mind are before us, and if they are pioneered with the same vision, boldness, and drive with which we have waged this war we can create a fuller and more fruitful employment and a fuller and more fruitful life.”–

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT November 17, 1944.

Almost 70 years later, I feel Bush’s words and recommendations within the Report ring just as relevant. In a time when developed countries have increased funding for research and development in FY2012, TWO countries stood out like sore thumbs for decreasing federal research dollars; the United States and Canada. I wish this report could be redistributed to all members of Congress. In this post, I want to…

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