German scientists froze light for an entire minute, time travel here we come

freeze light

Scientists and science, combine them all and what do you get? Oh, nothing much, just light freezing for an entire minute that’s all. This breakthrough in science and technology was made possible by German researchers who believe it could change the way we process information in the future… a future that is still far off at this point.

You might be wondering, how did these German scientists freeze light for an entire minute; is it sorcery of some kind? No, you see, University of Darmstadt and scientist George Heinze fired a laser at an opaque crystal, which in turn “sent atoms into a quantum superposition of two states”. We’ve tried to understand what exactly that means, but we’re not even half way there so we’ll let you decipher that yourself.

In addition, Heinze and his team stopped the second laser beam sent into the crystal by turning off the first laser, which consecutively caused a transparency. In layman terms, it means scientists found a way to freeze light, but only for a minute, which is not enough for any practical use.

According to physicist Hugues de Riedmatten, “the result outperforms earlier demonstrations in atomic gases by about six orders of magnitude and offers exciting possibilities of long-storage-time quantum memories that are spatially multiplexed, i.e., can store different quantum bits as different pixels.”

If researchers are able to improve on how long they can keep light frozen, there’s a huge possibility for them to build light-based quantum memory. It might never happen in our lifetime, but for those of the future, things might just turn out splendid. Personally, though, I’m hoping for time travel.

[via American Physical Society]

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3 comments

  1. Darcy

    I remember a theory about Time Travel that involves sub-microscopic wormholes in the quantum foam, strange matter and near lightspeed travel. Whoever thought of that theory must get their cigarettes from the same place these techs do. ;)

    [Warning] For those who are interested only!
    One of the more speculative (it aspires to be theoretical) ideas in physics is that there are untold sub-microscopic wormholes forming a quantum foam throughout the universe. This theory states that you can use Strange Matter (itself a highly debated theory) to enlarge one of those wormholes. In the report I saw (on Nova) it would need Strange Matter roughly equal to Jupiter in size to enlarge the wormhole big enough for a human to pass through, don’t ask me how they determined that. Then you place one end of the wormhole on a ship traveling at near lightspeed and send it to another star. Since relativity says time slows down at that speed, the theory is that you would be able to step into one end of the wormhole and out the other in the future (or past).

    Strange as the idea seems, ideas considered equally odd in the past yielded results so who knows. I don’t think their’s much chance of seeing this in our grandchildren’s lifetimes though.

  2. Coyote

    Hrm, not really time travel at least no more than what we experience every second as we move forward. Now if they could bend the light around and have it come out a minute before the switch was flipped then I’d be impressed. But this type usually requires building around a black hole…