One hundred years ago today, on May 29, 1919, measurements of a solar eclipse offered verification for Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Even before that, Einstein had developed the theory of special relativity, which revolutionized the way we understand light. To this day, it provides guidance on understanding how particles move through space — a key area of research to keep spacecraft and astronauts safe from radiation.
The Universe is an extremely big place. As astronomers looked farther into space over the centuries, and deeper into the past, they came to understand just how small and insignificant our planet and our species seem by comparison. At the same time, ongoing investigations into electromagnetism and distant stars led scientists to deduce what the the speed of light is – and that it is the fastest speed obtainable.
Fibre optics allow for the communication of data at the speed of light. But the amount of data that can be sent along any optic fibre is limited by how much information you can encode into the light wave travelling through it. Currently, optic fibre technology uses several different properties of light to encode information, including brightness, colour, polarisation and direction of propagation.