Welcome to Mars -- Pathfinder photo of the Martian surface
As a science and technology writer, I cover many areas, with a particular concentration on fiber optics and lasers. I also offer short courses in fiber optics, and do some consulting on fiber optics, lasers and optical technology. In my copious spare time, I write science fiction. My major activities are:
Oxford University Press recently published my latest book, Beam: The Race to Make the Laser, which tells how the idea of the laser was translated into reality. The starting gun was a fateful conversation between Charles Townes and Gordon Gould shortly after the Soviet Sputnik launch in October 1957. Their conversation defined the basic goal, which Gould called "light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation" -- or LASER, a term borrowed from the microwave version, or MASER, which Townes had invented earlier. Townes and Gould each figured out how a laser should work, launching ambitious programs at Bell Labs, TRG Inc., and Columbia University. But the winner of the race was Theodore Maiman, who in 1960 built the first laser around a little cylinder of ruby. His design was so simple and elegant that TRG built their own version within weeks after seeing a press-release photograph.
The fifth edition of my tutorial introduction to fiber-optic technology Understanding Fiber Optics is now available from Prentice Hall. It's widely used for technician training and self-study, and is the place I suggest starting if you want to learn about fiber optics. (Sure, I'm biased, but I've worked hard to make it accessible to anyone who wants to understand fiber optics. That means intuitive verbal explanations, diagrams that show how things work, and simple worked-out examples.) Laser Focus World published a series of excerpts from the third edition in 1999 and 2000, and continues to publish my articles on the latest fiber-optic technology.
Read Table of Contents.
Order Understanding Fiber Optics from Barnes & Noble.com.
My book on the history of fiber optics titled City of Light was published in Spring 1999 by Oxford University Press. It tells how the technology developed from early demonstrations of light guiding in flowing jets of water , through instruments that allow physicians to look inside the stomach without surgery, to the communication fibers that provide the backbone of today's global telecommunication network. There are tales of bright ideas, hard work, disappointment, and triumph. The cast ranges from the college undergraduate who made a key breakthrough to eminent professors of physics and independent-minded entrepreneurs. I had a lot of fun writing it, and I hope you'll share that feeling when you read it. The new trade paperback edition includes an epilogue on the Boom, the Bubble, and the Bust, that unpleasant reminder that you can have too much of a good thing.
No e-mail adderess is 100% reliable, but the best way to contact me is to send e-mail to me at [insert my first name]@jeffhecht.com. (Just trying to confuse the spammers' e-mail harvesting robots.) My postal address is: 525 Auburn St., Auburndale, MA 02466 in the Boston area; 'snail mail' is not as fast, but the Postal Service has fewer inexplicable black holes than the Internet.
You did. Why is a longer story than it should. Somebody who has my e-mail in their address book appears to be infected by a virus, and has been long enough to forge my address on innumerable spams. That appears to have landed me on the blacklist of at least one anti-spam vigilante, as a result of which I have found at least one important institution which bounces all e-mail which contains the web address www.jeffhecht.com, so I can't use that in my signature. To deal with that problem, I bought jhecht.net and set it up to forward you here.
You're thinking of http://www.sff.net/people/jeff.hecht/ . They're not exactly the same, but they're both me.
This site is supposed to be plain and simple. It's been designed with minimal graphics and no fancy stuff so it loads fast on any Internet connection and should work on most browsers, so you don't need broadband or the latest and greatest hardware and software. I reserve the right to add more pictures, but I have no plans to do fancy things that make it slow to load. If something looks strange, that probably means something is wrong -- please e-mail me at [insert my first name]@jeffhecht.com and tell me what you're seeing and what you're using. If that e-mail bounces, try jhecht at the domain nasw.org. I try to comply with Internet accessibility guidelines and to make these pages readable with all browsers, but I can't check everything. Feedback is welcome.
I make my living writing, so I will not clutter my pages up with ads. The Barnes & Noble links are here to make it easier to find my books. I picked them because their site is straightforward, and they have most of my books in stock. Much as I might like them to be in the best-seller racks at your neighborhood bookstore, they aren't, and I don't like to hear horror stories about the books you couldn't find.