Part I – polarized vortex converters: jargon v. understanding

Sometimes a witty title is just too good to resist.

Coming Soon: Superman’s Memory Crystals” is a case in point. If you are lucky, such a title is not an isolated piece of insight and you will advance some corner of knowledge after reading the article.  If you are unlucky, which is more often the case, the article has a large “entertainment” component and you struggle to the end.  Your “click” now simply adds you to the ranks of eyes for advertising.

Where does Superman’s memory fit?  The short answer is the core scientific development is quite interesting and deserves respect.  Unfortunately, it is masked by an overabundance of jargon and at least one premature extrapolation.  The long answer is that a lot could be accomplished with the information in the subject article and the cited references.  Sadly, any insights are not realized.

As illustrated schematically below there are three cited references, with the “root” being an article in Applied Physics Letters (APL).


It immediately strikes the reader that there is too much jargon in the article and references.  This jargon includes “whirlpools of polarized light”, “voxel”, “vortex drives”.  In the Southampton press release one finds the phrases “whirlpools of light that can be read much the came way as data in optical fibers” and “five-dimensional memory”.  Unfortunately we are not told what is occurring behind the jargon, including what the five dimensions are or how they apply to memory.  It certainly is not obvious.

The use of jargon such as “voxel” in the original APL paper is quite fine as the audience would likely have a background in the area and will understand the terminology.  However this can not be said for the other articles that are directed to a more general audience.  There should be another way of looking at this development.

So what does it all mean? Can we gain any understanding from these articles, ignoring the jargon and extrapolations? The answer is yes.  Moving forward we will consider only the information in the articles and see what can be extracted.

More to come.

Part II – superman’s quagmire: remaining questions
Part III – piecing something together