A Photonicly perfect Christmas tree

If this makes anything clearer then there might be something wrong with you

This week is our last week of work before breaking for the Christmas/New year holiday. As it’s the last week, the office has taken on a decidedly festive air (someone had a christmas card on their desk) and I was thinking how we could make our work more seasonally appropriate. So after some group brain storming we decided that we can help everyone out this Christmas by calculating the best possible arrangement of christmas tree lights I have written up the math in this post as a python script for anyone wanting to double check it. Through extensive research, I Continue reading

Gas sensing review article

Janes paper wordle

The review article I (Jane) put together with Ralph Tatam on optical gas sensing has just been published online by the journal Measurement Science and Technology. You may remember this review from my previous blog post on the problems with journal copyright. Optical gas detection is a wide reaching field that impacts on industry, environmental study and safety.  Given this importance the field moves rapidly with a large number of groups working with a diverse range of techniques. Our paper seeks to highlight the changes in this field over the last 10 years and provide a detailed analysis of their Continue reading

History lesson: The birth of fibre optics

No fictional lab partners were harmed in the making of this cartoon

The actual start/discovery of fibre optics is like most things in history, a little hazy. It is better to first look at the first use/discovery of total internal reflectance, the property on which fibre optics were first based the history of which is also a little hazy. You just can’t win with poorly documented historical facts. Total internal reflection is where the angle of the light reflected within a medium is such that all of the light is reflected back into the medium. Only light of a particular angle will be reflected back, any other light will be refracted out Continue reading

Lab books exposed


In academia and industry there is still a reluctance amongst many scientist to share the details of their work with the wider community. Science has a long history of publishing results in  peer-reviewed academic journals. However, a growing number of researchers think that there is scope for wider openness and access to more detail of their published work. I will leave the reasons why I support this open-access model to another time as it is really part of a bigger discussion about improving the dissemination of science to related fields and to the public. Shifting from the old model to one based around Continue reading