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History of Fibre OpticsWhen Alexander Graham Bell spoke over a beam of light in the 1880s he never dreamed ofthe possibilities that modern scientists are dreaming up for light He used sunlight whichwas focused by means of a reflector and a lens to a device which could be made to vibrate inharmony with speech from a human voice The light beam was made to vary the focus in andout so that the strength on a selenium detector could be made to activate a telephonereceiver and recreate the original voice The distance between the transmitter and receiverwere very short but it was the beginning of communication via light The method ofchanging the intensity of the light beam is still what we base our communications on butnow more often digital communication consisting of on and off patterns is used Thesimplest use of optical fibres is that of light pipes A light source that gives off heatand light transmits the light only through the pipes to give cold light This is howdoctors see inside the body What is so great about optical fibre It is a piece of glass that allows light to travelthrough Actually it is a very fine strand of very special glass which might be only 125microns in diameter It is a glass strand that is about the same thickness as a human hair Fibre optic technology can simultaneously transmit voice video and data over the same wireseveral thousand times better than current coaxial cable Since the mid 1980s thousandsof kilometres of optical fibre have been laid in the United States and Japan to carry longdistance telephone communications Fibre optics are also used in various medicalinstruments designed to examine the interior of the body since the images transmitted bythese devices can be magnified and rotated for close observation of hollow organs Opticalfibres are also used in many laser-based computer printers to produce photo quality copies Glass or plastic filaments are spun to diameters between 5
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