Emerging Ideas

Visions of Light

Light is fundamental. Its properties have been explored and used by both art and science (for example, Einstein’s ‘thought experiment’, James Turrell’s artworks, ‘Big Bang’ theory, laser technology, altering perception and changing brain behaviour).

What is YOUR VISION for the future exploration and use of light?

Question: Light is fundamental. Its properties have been explored and used by both art and science (for example, Einstein’s ‘thought experiment’, James Turrell’s artworks, ‘Big Bang’ theory, laser technology, altering perception and changing brain behaviour).

What is YOUR VISION for the future exploration and use of light?

Using Stem Cells to allow humans to see Ultra-Violet Light: Remove stem cells from human bone marrow, and place them in the eye socket of a mammal which can see ultra-violet light (i.e a rat), then allow them to develop into specialised, rat, photoreceptor cells. When there is a significant number of these cells, remove them and put them in an artificial solution with the correct chemicals to allow them to develop and reproduce into a working human eye. This would be beneficial because it would allow people to see further, in more detail and could help to cure people with eyesight problems. Robbie 

Efficiency of photovoltaics: Using light as an energy source is a no brainer. Sustainable? Yes. Reliable? Yes, but efficient? No. The Shokley-Quessier limit states that the maximum efficiency of a solar cell is 33.7%, not impressive. Especially when encouraging more renewable energy use. So, how can solar cells be more efficient? To improve the efficiency we need the solar cells to convert the light at the uv end of the spectrum only. With the use of ‘quantum wells’ this can be achieved. For this method to be perfected, solar cells can reach efficiencies upward of 80%. Higher efficiency = more use = greener future. Ruadhan

Light Matters: “Shedding light on the matter” – a phrase that is becoming defunct. Our exploration into “Matter” (in its literal sense) has come so far as to render the most crucial component of our sight useless. Without light, an occurrence often referred to as night, fear runs wild and the pace of life, generally, slows. Yet we are quickly discarding light as a means of seeing things, despite it being a steadfast companion of ours for millennia, for new “flashy” sub-atomic particles. I don’t oppose the change, but am certainly intrigued and somewhat excited by it. Fynn

A Vital Resource: With light there are thousands of opportunities but artificial photosynthesis is something I believe, could change the world. By using light we could split water into hydrogen ions and oxygen and then use the hydrogen as a reliable and renewable fuel without causing significant harm to the environment. The sun produces enough energy in one hour to power human activity for a whole year so we should be using this vital resource in new ways and artificial photosynthesis should be researched further in order to highlight its potential. Emma

Light Communications: We should direct our explorations of light towards the communications and technological side of studies; previously light has been used for signalling purposes but I believe it could be used more effectively as a communications medium and even bring some sci-fi fantasies into production, prime examples being the holograms in Star Wars and projected appliances like keyboards. Light travels at 299,792,458 m/s so for humans to be able to harness that potential, our connections around the world could be greatly increased especially with light’s flexible dynamics; business, social and political associations could be greatly improved. Jordon

Healthy LightThe use of light has continued to be explored and has developed our life’s duration. For example, Bionic L.E.D. contact lenses allow people to use contacts as a computer screen and solar power L.E.D. to turn signals and break lights on in a car. It would be astonishing if light molecules could be linked with modern technology and used to cure long-term illnesses such as cancer and HIV. I believe this could be possible as we have already developed laser surgery. If this was to be created it would help many live a life without pain and worry. Julie

High Beams: Light…Immediately I see Captain Kirk next to an Alcubierre drive, or vampires hissing at dramatic disapproval of the sun. But once my inner geek subsides, I consider the practicalities of light, whether that be reading my favorite book, or squinting down a microscope getting frustrated that my eye piece graticule won’t line up. But, in the future I see photons confined into high tech beams, so that I can have a laser bread knife that toasts my bread as I cut it. I see artificial rainbows as we manipulate wave lengths. But mostly I just see Bill Nye the science guy in FTL.  J’Az

Hot Light: My vision is that we will be able to develop new technologies in the future that will be able to manipulate light with a series of lenses and other devices in order to concentrate light rays on to a focal point at high temperatures. We would be able to do this so that we could  intensify the light hot enough so that we would be able to use concentrated beams of light in construction and tools and focus light to easily boil water generating electricity in a more efficient way than just a solar panel. Ryan 

Passwords: Different frequencies of light can be used to create passwords. Different lengths of pulses of light create many different combinations that are impossible to replicate. Pulses from the brain when thinking of something specific could be changed into light to unlock. Adam

Building with Light: To be able to build solid objects out of light. This way things can be made and used, but then be easily dismantled when no longer needed, with any waste products. This would be a quick and efficient way to produce and test models of objects and/or components. This could then be manufactured with confidence that it will be fit for purpose. The frequency of the light could change the consistency of the object formed, so it could accurately recreate any object. Aaron

Light SoundsNow, I’m not a scientist, but my vision for the future exploration of light and its use is that I would love for sound waves to become light. If sound waves were intrinsically linked to light and photons it would create a whole new level to the idea and practice of creating and listening to music. I can’t begin to explain how this would work but the principle of waves and the concept of wave/particle duality is something that really fascinates me. Also, I love the music so the visible sound waves would amaze me and, I hope, everyone elseJamie

Light as a transfer of information: Light is used in optic fibres to transfer information. What if light could be used to transfer information from one individual to another? Would it be possible to obtain information in the form of light from someone’s brain and transfer that to someone else? A person who could express knowledge in the form of light would change the way we can learn, and teach us more about how our minds work. Iain

Solar GlassA few days ago I read about invisible solar cells that could be used in the glass of windows. This discovery opens up an endless number of possibilities in the architectural field, being able to create energy-producing buildings. So far, we have known massive solar panels, which go on to roofs, which are expensive and difficult to install. If the windows were manufactured using the new technology, the paradigm of self-sustainable buildings would nearly come true. Integrating solar cells within the glass allows an architect to create without the need to add aesthetically unpleasant panels. Yoel

Space Power: Light can be used as an infinite power supply in space. Massive solar arrays would unfurl in space and, like ships of the past, ‘sail on solar winds’. The solar array would power energy engines with little thrust. It would need to be launched into space using conventional methods then, use a station already in orbit through a ‘railgun’ like method. This velocity can be maintained with the engines on the craft. These can also be used to manoeuvre the craft in flight. Rory

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