Tripping ‘the Light Fantastic’ in Inaugural Lecture

Published 13 June 2011

opticfibreBroadband, gigabytes, megabits, SMART houses, fibre and the National Broadband Network (NBN) are terms cluttering our TVs and computers – but why is light important to them all?

In his Inaugural Lecture, entitled ‘The Light Fantastic’, to be held next Wednesday, June 15th, Professor of Physics and Precision Agriculture at the University of New England, David Lamb, will seek to enlighten members of the University and the community on the physics of light.

Professor Lamb will be using the occasion to bring together two of his research passions: the development and application of new tools in agriculture, and optical fibre technologies.

‘The Light Fantastic’ will be a one-hour presentation, filled with practical demonstrations, that will take the audience through the fundamentals of light, the development of optical technologies and their convergence in the creation of communications systems like the National Broadband Network.

Starting with a basic discussion of what light actually is and the rudimentary use of fires and candles for ‘signalling’, the lecture will examine methods of modulating and guiding light signals and what they can be used for. It will begin with Alexander Graham Bell’s ‘Photophone’, first demonstrated in 1880, and end with recent technology such as lasers and optical fibres.

At each step of the way the lecture will explain, at a level suitable for a general audience, the underlying physical principles and the terminology that is finding increasing use on our TVs, personal computers and communication devices.

Given the means to communicate large amounts of data and information (there is a difference!), the lecture will conclude with a discussion on the application of these technologies in the NBN, and how it can benefit regional communities as well as major cities – including SMART (Sustainable, Manageable and Accessible Rural Technologies) Houses, SMART Communities and SMART Farms.

Everyone is welcome to attend this free lecture by Professor David Lamb, which will be held in the
Armidale Town Hall at 6.30 pm on Wednesday, 15 June. As the second lecture in the UNE 2011 Inaugural Lecture series, ‘The Light Fantastic’ will be a major ‘town and gown’ event with all the traditional pomp and ceremony of an Academic Procession. It will be followed by drinks and canapés in the Town Hall foyer.