February 7, 2018 By Joseph P. Farrell

I knew that Onion-like headline would grab your attention. Now that I have it, suffice it to say that there are plenty of caveats here. Nonetheless, when I saw the following headline from our friends at phys.org shared by Mr. B., I really did think that this might be yet the newest "modification" to come along that might lead to a reworking of the famous theory:

Speed of light drops to zero at 'exceptional points'

The title says it all: light doesn't move at certain exceptional points. The question is, what are those exceptional points? Well, this one is an epistemological noodle-baker for sure:

The researchers, Tamar Goldzak and Nimrod Moiseyev at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, along with Alexei A. Mailybaev at the Instituto de Matemática Pura e Aplicada (IMPA) in Rio de Janeiro, have published a paper on stopping light at exceptional points in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters.

As the researchers explain, exceptional points can be created in waveguides in a straightforward way, by varying the gain/loss parameters so that two light modes coalesce (combine into one mode). Although light stops at these exceptional points, in most systems much of the light is lost at these points. The researchers showed that this problem can be fixed by using waveguides with parity-time (PT) symmetry, since this symmetry ensures that the gain and loss are always balanced. As a result, the remains constant when the light approaches the exceptional point, eliminating losses.

To release the stopped light and accelerate it back up to normal speed, the scientists showed that the gain/loss parameters can simply be reversed. The most important feature of the new method, however, is that the exceptional points can be adjusted to work with any frequency of light, again simply by tuning the gain/loss parameters.

Now, I seem to remember something about Einstein talking about frames of reference and observers and so on, the gist of which was to maintain that the velocity of light was constant to every observer and any frame of reference. So the first thought I had when I read this was that the velocity of light drops to zero relative to what? In the article we're told that that this is achieved by certain times of wave guides that adjust gain and loss parameters with "parity--time symmetry." Whatever that means, and I'll take their word for it. But zero in reference to the waveguide? Presumably so. But the waveguide itself is still stuck on the laboratory tabletop, which is stuck to the ground of planet Earth, which is (the last time I checked) still moving around the Sun, which is still moving around the center of the galaxy... you get the idea.

It's that idea of being "trapped within the waveguide",  in other words, that really grabbed my attention, because if one looks at it a certain way - and again taking these guys at their word - it is really suggesting yet another strange twist: within certain systems under certain conditions, the velocity of light is zero, whether or not the system is moving. Phrased that way, it's the sort of paradox that the great Albert might have liked, and phrased that way, it sounds like a way to mimic black holes, without the gravitational effects thereof (or, conversely, by "stopping" light in this fashion, is a gravitational effect induced  After all, one of the consequences of relativity was that as the velocity of a mass approached light speed, its mass approached infinity. Does the opposite occur if light is "stopped"? The article doesn't say, but it would seem to me to be a question worth following.)
But I have to admit, that what really grabbed me here was that these scientists appeared to be playing with the same idea that I was playing with long ago in The Giza Death Star, the idea of "trapping" light under certain special conditions in a special lattice work of crystals, which would function as a waveguide for that purpose. To say all this is, of course, to say that a way may have been found to tap into the electromagnetic energy that is all around us. If those scientists are correct, then speculating a bit more here, adjusting those "gain and loss" parameters to control the way that "trapped" or "stopped" light is released might be profoundly destructive, or profoundly beneficial.
See you on the flip side...