The date is March 10, 2026. The place is Tuckerton, New Jersey, where assorted dignitaries have gathered for an historical event. For this is the day an infinitesimal laser will send lightwaves across the Atlantic Ocean to a receiving unit in Widemouth, England. While fiber optic transmission systems have been sending photons across the Atlantic and other oceans for almost 40 years now, this is the first system that will send a beam of light this distance without a boost along the way. This event, timed to be 150 years to the day after Alexander Graham Bell's historic telephone message: “Mr. Watson, come here, I want you,” is in many ways no less an accomplishment than Bell's original discovery. It will mark a milestone in communications, the perfection of a fiber optic transmission system.
Laser technology is beginning to make many surgical procedures less painful for the patient and his pocketbook. But more important are prospects for treating conditions that cannot be dealt with effectively by other means. The principal attraction for surgeons is the laser's exquisite precision. In fact there's a whole range of precisions available: spatial, temporal, power, and wavelength, not to mention precision of delivery through fiber-optic endoscopes.by Howard Rausch