The Quantum Angler
He never gets Bohred of fishing.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Gotta keep the higher order modes down in the hole

Today saw the finale of the latest season of acclaimed HBO drama The Wire. Set in the the Blackett lab in London, season 6 introduces us to the seedy underworld of solid-state laser research. The plot centres on the Chard optomechanics and chiller cartel, which uses its hold over the lab to extort massive profits in return for using the best chillers and those really good little lateral translation stage thingies. An investigation team headed by Chard's supervisor sets out to smash the equipment ring, armed with the latest telephone surveilance technology. The investigation discovers that the paper trail leads far deeper, with chiller money being filtered off into political contributions to the Photonics Department head of group. However, we soon learn that the investigation has its own problems. Beauracracy and pressure from people in high places on level 10 threaten to derail the investigation, leading to a climactic finish as tensions come to a head.

Critics have praised the show's undiluted sense of realism, with laser scientists frequently conversing in terms such as "cavity stability" and "single longitudinal mode". However many question why the producers chose to include extensive scenes showing members of the lab sitting around writing blogs instead of doing their bloody work.