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"QUANTUM SHOT" #14 (revised)
Link - by Avi Abrams

Emerging ways of playing with light, in art and technology

Light is fascinating, sacred, mysterious; its nature still debated by scientists, its properties compel artists to play with effects of light refraction and reflection in endless creative ways (see for example, Painting with Light effect in photography). It is an endless subject to cover, so here are some highlights (pun intended):

We'll start with one of the shiniest and light-infused objects: a good old CD. It owns its existence to the laser light, but its fortunes as a media carrier are fading, so -

What to do with a pile of used CDs?

Play your old CDs on the "Gakken Emile Berliner Gramophone" (below left), made by AudioCubes, more info:

(right image via)

As the glass CD, DVDs and BluRays are replaced by new media, old CDs are transformed into art sculptures, making use of refraction of light and various lighting schemes. Here is a CD Sculpture displayed at the Burning Man Festival:

(images credit: Gabe Kirchheimer, George Post, Brad Templeton)

George Radebaugh also makes recycled CD art sculptures:

(images credit: George Radebaugh)

Broken CD pieces can be brought together as a sinister Ghost in the Machine mask (sculpture by Ver Curtiss):

(image credit: Ver Curtiss)

This frightening "techno idol" pulses light bursts in sync with music.

OK, so what other uses you can find for your old CDs? You can keep the cats away - by hanging up a bunch of them around your office: cats don't like the flashing as they turn. Or you can make an exercise equipment for hamsters (left)... or you can make cool-looking lamps out of CD stacks (right):

(images via 1, 2)

Long Live the "CD Everlasting"!

So you think the CD Age is over? Well, back in 2007 one Japanese recording engineer has developed the world's first Glass CD, which has a superior sound quality and will practically last forever (more info). Recent updates suggest that it indeed sounds better, but comes with $2000 price tag! -

So why do we need a new CD medium, considering there are DVDs, BluRays and many digital options available? Because glass CDs are completely transparent, information on them can be read perfectly, improving sound quality. They are not affected by heat or humidity and remain in perfect condition forever (very good for archiving purposes).

We all know that the sound quality on CDs is not up to exacting standards set by audiophiles. What to do, then, if you have a library of CDs? Consider treating them with a CD Sound Improver! made by Audio Desk Systeme 'Glass' CD trimmer (more info):

(images via)

A Cloak of Partial Invisibility

Scientists have created a cloaking device that can reroute certain wavelengths of light, forcing them around objects like water flowing around boulders in a stream. (see picture below). To creatures or machines that see only in microwave light, the cloaked object would appear nearly invisible.

"A microwave cloaking device created using artificial materials, called metamaterials, that manipulate light in bizarre and startling ways." (more info). They have a negative refractive index, for example. So far, it only works in two dimensions and only for microwaves moving in a plane. A three-dimensional invisibility cloak would hide an object completely.

Photonics and Optical Technologies are the future of communication: there are advances in nano antennas, quantum communication systems, etc. After all, light is the ultimate data carrier. But there is also an interaction between biological items and photons. The Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) in Catalonia, Spain, focuses on this new area of science called Biophotonics, which is all the rage in personalized medical research in Europe today.

(images via 1, 2, 3)

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Blogger a said...

The microwave invisibility thing is really quite interesting. I watched a program about it last week, and it seems like a very promising proof of concept design.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"We all know that the sound quality on CDs is not up to exacting standards set by audiophiles."

We all know that audiophiles are not up to the exacting standards set by normal human beings.

Blogger Guy said...

I love the non-sequitur of "Because glass CDs are completely transparent, information on them can be read perfectly, improving sound quality."

Somehow the essential digitalness of digital media seems to escape these people. I'm assuming you quoted it tongue-in-cheek!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Recent updates suggests that it indeed sounds better.." And from the article, author says that they won't do double blind testing.... I Call psychological effect. ie. total bs, that it sounds better. Also, I haven't seen indestructable glass so far. I had an idea of burning CD's with industrial laser to the stainless steel blanks, though...

Blogger Sigivald said...

Exactly. If they're not doing a blind A/B or A/B/X test, they're only testing preconceptions.

When the linked guy says "the bitstreams were identical after decoding" but then says it sounded different anyway, it's clear that he doesn't understand the thing he's writing about.

Because glass CDs are completely transparent, information on them can be read perfectly, improving sound quality.

See, that doesn't work like that...

Now, glass does make it slightly easier for the laser to read the data off the disc... but unless the disc is significantly scratched, you can read the data off a poly disc perfectly well.

Sound quality is not controlled by how "easy" it is to read the data off the disc, as long as the disc is not so damaged that a bit can't be read correctly at all.

Same data, same sound, guaranteed. (Assuming identical post-digital hardware, of course. Different DACs and amplifiers can affect the sound...)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

They used to say that CDs sounded better when you colored the edge of the CD with a green Sharpie. Honest.

Anonymous PENFOLD said...

28,000+ as art!



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