Slower Than the Speed of Light - The Physics of Slow Glass

University of Lake Berryessa Physicists Develop Slow Glass Farm on Big Island.

Although wind farming exists at many places around the world, Lake Berryessa will soon have the first slow glass farm. After years of development from a science fiction concept first popularized in the late 1960s, ULB scientists have finally succeeded in turning the concept into a commercial reality.

From high school physics classes, most people know that the speed of light in a vacuum is constant – the basic tenet of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. But light slows down in a medium like glass based on its wavelength (color). This results in the diffraction of light into rainbow colors as it passes through the familiar glass prism.

ULB scientists created slow glass by infusing high-quality optical glass with a Bose-Einstein Condensate (a mix of sub-atomic particles) that slows light to a snail's pace. A new piece of slow glass is always jet black because nothing has yet come through. But the glass panes can be arranged in rows on Big Island, or any other part of the world, until the scenery emerges (from both sides) a year or more later. The pane of slow glass can then installed on the wall of a city apartment or a restaurant and, for several years, the beauty of the real Lake Berryessa would shine through.

These installations would be called “scenedows” instead of “windows.” Apart from its stupendous novelty value, the commercial success of slow glass will partly be founded on the fact that having a scenedow is the exact emotional equivalent of owning land. The meanest cave dweller could look out on misty parks—and who was to say they weren't his? A man who really owns tailored gardens and estates doesn't spend his time proving his ownership by crawling on his ground, feeling, smelling, tasting it. All he receives from the land are light patterns, and with scenedows those patterns could be taken into coal mines, submarines, prison cells.

At the end of this time, the year old local light will begin penetrating so the piece must be replaced and recharged. This is somewhat akin to Napa’s wine-making aging process although slow glass can be recharged indefinitely.

A possible problem arises when a pane of slow glass is removed from its location on the wall of private apartment or restaurant to be recharged with new scenery. Everything that took place in that location will now be coming out of the other side of the pane of slow glass for all to see. That’s why privacy considerations dictate the slow glass recharging stations like the ones slated for Big Island be under strict regulation.

The University of Lake Berryessa has secured patents for its invention and is now seeking investors and to license other scenic locations to install slow glass farms. The social implications (slow glass windows in coal mines, submarines, prison cells) of this invention are staggering.

Slow glass uncharged
Slow glass Blue Ridge                       © Peter Kilkus 2020