2019 Dirac Medal and lecture

   Lene Hau
   “Nothing goes faster than light - usually!”

   Professor Lene Vestergaard Hau
   Harvard University

Date and time: Tuesday 23 July 2019, 6–8pm
Venue: Tyree Room, John Niland Scientia Building, UNSW Sydney
Cost: free
Reservations: here

This year’s lecture will explore how Lene and her team have slowed, stopped and restarted light. The observations represent the ultimate control over the inter-conversion of light and matter, and point to novel paradigms for quantum information processing.

In our laboratory, we have used ultra-cold atom clouds to slow light pulses to the speed of a bicycle, which is 50 million times lower than the light speed in a vacuum.  In the process, a light pulse spatially compresses by the same large factor, from 1 km to only 0.02 mm, and the pulse can then be completely stopped and later restarted.

From here, we have taken matters further: stopped and extinguished a light pulse in one part of space and revived it in a completely different location.  In the process, the light pulse is converted to a perfect matter copy that can be stored – put on the shelf – sculpted, and then turned back to light.  The storage time can be many seconds, and during this time light could – under normal circumstances – travel back and forth to the Moon several times over.”

The Dirac Medal for the Advancement of Theoretical Physics is awarded by UNSW in association with the Australian Institute of Physics NSW branch and The Royal Society of NSW.  The Lecture and the Medal commemorate the visit to UNSW in 1975 of the British Nobel laureate, Professor Paul Dirac.  Professor Dirac gave five lectures which were published as a book Directions of Physics.  He donated the royalties to UNSW for the establishment of the Dirac Lecture and Prize, which consists of a silver medal and honorarium. It was first awarded in 1979.

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