Time marches on

Conard Holton

In his novel "Einstein's Dreams," Alan Lightman imagines Albert Einstein as a young patent clerk, slumped at his desk after a long night drafting his theory of time. He has been dreaming for weeks and has difficulty telling which dream captures the true nature of time, and indeed whether he is awake or asleep. Outside the patent office, the Aare River wends its way through the Swiss city of Berne while the sun rises above the Alps.

Einstein dreams of a city where time is circular and so every moment is endlessly repeated. Then he dreams that time moves at different speeds in different places so that people age at different rates. In another dream cause and effect are erratic and thus current conditions may be the result of some future event. Sometimes time will stop altogether or there is only the present moment without a future.

I thought of Lightman's book when I found myself transfixed in various alternate states of time during OFC 2001. First there were the feverish weeks leading up to the event, with dozens of meetings to arrange and technical presentations to be studied. But that time was only prelude to the event itself—a disorienting whirl of people and products with too little time to do all I intended.

At one point I wondered whether this OFC was the high-water mark of the industry, a one-time experience with 40,000 attendees racing madly around the booths and lecture halls, before the show reverts back to its more modest ambience of four years ago. By the end, I left confident that the industry is heading toward a future of much greater size (a case of erratic cause and effect perhaps).

Time was the overarching theme of OFC, from the perspective that time is money. Many manufacturing companies, some new to fiberoptics but well-established in the electronics or RF industries, were offering services or tools to speed production and reduce cost. The necessity of automating, shrinking, integrating, packaging, testing, and tracking is driving most of the industry in its quest to provide lower cost components to more customers in less time.

In this vein, we start a new column by senior editor John Grady. The subject is bottlenecks, which everyone involved in component manufacture understands, even if it means different things to people in different parts of the production cycle. John's first piece looks at how a collaborative arrangement between Nortel Networks and a local community college helped train the workforce now making tunable lasers. It's a column that should help readers identify methods for shortening "time to market" and "time to volume."

THE TIME HAS COME — FOR WDM SOLUTIONS
For those of you wondering when this magazine would be published separately from Laser Focus World, the answer is this September. To help you get a head start on subscribing, we've posted subscription applications on our website (www.wdm-solutions.com) or you can contact Debbie Bourgault at debbieb@pennwell.com for more information. Our first edition was published in September 1999, and its growth since then has been spectacular. Wait until you see what we have in mind for the future!

W. Conard Holton
Associate Publisher/Editor in Chief
cholton@pennwell.com

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