This blog’s for you

Oct. 1, 2006
According to a report from CNET News, an online branch of CNET Networks (San Francisco, CA), more than 14 million blogs are in existence and another 80,000 are being created each day.

According to a report from CNET News, an online branch of CNET Networks (San Francisco, CA), more than 14 million blogs are in existence and another 80,000 are being created each day. A blog is the shortened, common name for “Weblog”an online diary or journal with postings in reverse chronological order that documents a specific topic or train of thought.

If you’re not already a frequent visitor to blogs, you would be surprised to learn just how many are available to the photonics enthusiast. With topics ranging from basic science and physics, to more specific topics such as lasers, nanotechnology, optical-fiber communications, and photonic crystals, there’s probably a blog out there with a subject near and dear to your heart (or job). There are even sites as narrowly focused as a daily journal on running a femtosecond KrF excimer laser.

Although the jury may be out on how long the blog craze will continue to crowd the Internet, blogs just may turn out to be one of the most expressive forms of worldwide communication and social networking for which the World Wide Web was created.

To discover the latest goings-on in general science, the Science Blog site has topics ranging from aerospace, bioscience, geoscience, physics, and nanotechnology, to space, security and defense.

Site editor and publisher Ben Sullivanwho created the site in 2002calls “a place to read about science, and a place to mouth off about it.” Sullivan says there are one million visitors to the site each month, and once registered, you get your own blog on the site and the ability to comment on postings.

On the day I visited the PhysOrg blog (with general science, nanotechnology, physics, space and Earth science, electronic devices, and technology as major topical categories), the home page included stories on the recall of a nanoparticle-containing product (with two comments posted), one on the arrest of a hacker searching for UFO evidence (with 85 comments posted), and another on the discovery of a memory molecule in the brain.

PhysOrg says that traffic to its site is as high as 1.5 million visitors per month. Each day, several news stories are posted in all categories. Comment traffic here is quite busy compared to other science-related blogs I’ve explored.

Described as “a Web site for the laser community,” asks you to join in the blog and discuss lasers and share your experience and passion about them. Every registered user (individual or company) has a Weblog and can post research results, new-product announcements, job openings, or other relevant information.

In addition to the blogs, the News Aggregator ( pulls relevant news headlines from major laser and optics information sources automatically so that a person can check laser news at one site. Site administrator Yan Feng updates the site in his spare time, as his full-time work is as a laser physicist at the European Southern Observatory (Garching, Germany).

The creation of Rüdiger Paschotta from RP Photonics Consulting (Zurich, Switzerland), the “Photonics Spotlight” is a new blog on photonics; particularly laser technology and applications. This blog stands out from others in that each posting-with titles such as “Lasers with nonlinear input-output characteristics,” “Single-mode fibers with large mode areas,” and “Beam distortions in laser cavities”-contains a serious number of embedded links that take the reader to educational entries from the better known “Encyclopedia of Laser Physics and Technology” at In this way, each posting is an educational, as well as informative, resource for laser news and research topics.

We’ve all seen the tremendous infiltration of nanotechnology into all scientific disciplines, including photonics. This nanotechnology blog-largely business related-is evidence of the growing importance of this relatively new industry. is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Nanotech Company (San Diego, CA), which formed in 2001 as an investment and advisory firm in nanotech and other small technologies. Managing Director Darrell Brookstein says, “With the help of scientifically and financially sophisticated merchant banking entities like ours I expect to see an avalanche of publicly-traded nano, micro, opto-electro, laser, MEMS, and microfluidics deals between 2007 and 2010.”

Remember the telecom bubble? The individuals who visit this site surely do. Technically not a blog, Fiber Forums is instead a “forum” or discussion board for fiberoptic telecommunications technology, business topics, and future trends. While traffic is not high on the Fiber Forums home page, a couple of affiliated Web sites such as and feature multiple daily news postings relevant to each subject area, although comment postings are few.

Although photonic crystals are just a subset of the many optical materials within the optoelectronics industry, leave it to the Internet to connect photonic-crystal enthusiasts worldwide to share the latest research and application advances in this emerging field. The blog was started by Peter Bermel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; Cambridge, MA) as a means to share the results of his research with interested individuals in a more accessible format than a research paper.

This is one of thousands of blogs created by individuals on a particular topic using the free Blogger Web log publishing tool ( Creating your own blog is as easy as creating your account, naming your blog, and choosing a template that lets you add news and information postings, as well as your personal profile. These sites are free of advertisements, and can easily be found through a topical Google search; for example, I searched “photonic-crystal blogs” to find this site.

The creation of Camilo Ruiz Mendez, a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Complex Systems (Dresden, Germany), this “Blog on Attosecond Science and Strong Laser Fields” has postings on ultrafast phenomena (both theoretical and experimental) and related subjects. Mendez created the blog to document the rapid development of this ultrafast field and collect the opinions of qualified researchers in this area.

Dear Diary: “In the afternoon, the TWIN excimer amplifier suddenly stopped firing after running for a half hour . . .” Are you interested in learning more about the daily trials and tribulations of a laser scientist who is updating a 20-year old KrF excimer laser with new components? If you are, then this blog is for you.

Started by Xiangyang Song at The Laboratory for X-Ray Microimaging and Bioinformatics at the University of Illinois at Chicago (as a means to communicate with retired engineers at Los Alamos National Laboratory who had first-hand knowledge of the laser’s history), this blog provides step-by-step instructional research information that can serve as a valuable tool for researchers interested in learning from Song’s experience, rather than re-inventing the wheel.

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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