Technology: Harnessing The Speed of Light

AT&T moves closer to creating superfast optical computers

When Alan Huang revealed his plans to build an optical computer, most of his * fellow scientists dismissed the idea as hopelessly quixotic. It was impractical, if not impossible, they said, to create a general-purpose computer that could use pulses of light rather than electrical signals to process data. During one of Huang's lectures on the subject, a third of the audience walked out. At another talk, some of the scientists in attendance laughed and heckled the researcher, calling him a quack and a dreamer. Recalls the 41-year-old engineer at AT&T Bell Laboratories: "I began to have computer nightmares, but I...

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