Wavelength Division Multiplexing

  Quantum Theory

A wandering junkie discovers something crazy at the heart of Wavelength Division Multiplexing...

I finally got a job that lasted more than three weeks. I was a basic hack (janitor, really) in the PMI clean room. I sometimes stayed late to get in on some pizza and maybe score something better. I was fascinated with the optics guys in the lab – These geeks were SMART! They looked for any opportunity to push the after-hours envelope. Actually, they were pretty hip geeks. They played a lot of Led Zeppelin while working with what they called, next generation "Wavelength Division Multiplexing" technology.

Side note – This is what I learned:
Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) is a technology where the optical transmission spectrum in fiber optic telecommunications systems is carved up into a number of non-overlapping wavelengths. Each wavelength (frequency) supports a single communication channel. Light spectrums can be divided again and again (theoretically on an infinite basis), thus allowing multiple WDM channels to coexist on a single optical fiber.

If you need more channels for an ever-expanding telecommunications and Internet world, you just divide the existing channels again and again, without adding any more fiber to the worldwide infrastructure. That way, telecom companies are only adding laser transmitters, receivers, and electronics to the existing fiber optic network.
Makes fantastic business sense, huhhh?!

Wavelength Division Multiplexing – Quantum Noise

Of course, the theoretical notion of unlimited Wavelength Division Multiplexing is limited to the practical realities of commercializing these quantum architectures and algorithms. This is where PMI comes in... This place was very successful in commercializing and automating the tiny optical gizmos that made next-generation WDM laser systems feasible. That was, until the bottom dropped out on the whole market!

As the dust settled from the tech blow-up, analysts determined that we had plenty of "dark fiber" throughout the world. It seems that demand won't require these types of cutting-edge systems for a number of years. Thus, many of these cool technologies were shelved based on the business realities of the next couple of decades.

Our boys worked in the realm of the unseen... An area where highways of information can only be seen through mathematical representations on a computer monitor... It was their job to develop the tiny optical assemblies that would harness this unseen world and make it commercially practicable to work with.

One of these gizmos is a tiny optical sandwich (1mm cylindrical housing) containing specialized garnets, crystals, glasses and magnets -- it's called an isolator... This gizmo allows light pulses from a transmitting laser to travel one direction through the sandwich into the fiber, but blocks all other optical noise from entering the laser from the other direction... These guys were working with mathematical depictions of tighter and tighter frequencies within a WDM world and trying to "isolate" these "new" frequencies for commercial use...

Wavelength Division Multiplexing – Quantum Communication

OK, back to that crazy evening in November 1998. I was still in my "dark period" and getting a bit too high way too often. However, I can't chock-up what I saw to any type of induced delusion – This was very cool!

That night, with pizza and Mountain Dew, my geek buddies were driving deeper and deeper into multiplexed frequency ranges, way beyond any commercial applications. It was just for fun… And they egged each other on… And then they "saw" it -- The monitors lit up with a bunch of crazy jibberish – off-the-charts "noise" in a totally unused spectrum. They were really pumped! I didn't know what it meant, but they invited me into their world and tried to explain…

Although it looked like a bunch of jiggly lines on a few computers, they explained that the corresponding numbers showed that the spectral noise had an ordered specificity to it – It was some kind of digital language in a frequency realm that nobody would even care to visit, or have the commercialized technology to be there. Only a handful of photonics geeks in the world would even know how to "see" this quantum space, and on a very small, and limited basis.

Seriously, what did this mean? In a nutshell, they told me that a whole bunch of data transmitters and receivers were using an unknown (and "unavailable") frequency to somehow communicate on a mass basis.

By the next morning, four guys at PMI were buzzing… They had tapped into an unknown world of "quantum noise" – Better described as "quantum communication." One guy, Les, was a bit freaked out… Although the guys joked that they tapped into some sort of "black ops" frequency, Les thought of something even more profound…
The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous. (Proverbs 15:29)

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord's people. (Ephesians 6:18)
Just think… Les truly thought that four guys in the PMI lab had stumbled upon the quantum realm of prayer – a bi-directional, quantum frequency filled with millions of telepathic conversations at any given time. Is that crazy, or what?! Deep in the untapped realm of Wavelength Division Multiplexing, Les really thought they had discovered the quantum physics underlying prayer!

Stay tuned… Les actually created a program to decipher the numeric-based complexity in the quantum language… He said it wasn't too difficult -- His computer crunched the numbers and started producing graphical representations that looked something like ancient Hebrew!


Image Credit: Paul Hocksenar; "Supernova"; Creative Commons