Leave it to the young to solve problems for their elders. Stuck with one red laser unsuitable for teaching the science of holography—and short on cash to purchase the expensive equipment—physics chair Steve Herbert turned to senior Jeremy Swearingen for help. So Swearingen did the nerdy thing: He joined a holography forum online, where members talk about the science of holography and its equipment. Through the forum, he was able to track down two lasers—a $20,000 green laser for about $2,000 and a $30,000 blue laser for $6,500.
Funded by a Cottrell Foundation grant, Swearingen and two fellow physics students set up a new holography lab within the department. Herbert hasn’t figured out the most practical application for them yet—although Swearingen did: He created several full-color, three-dimensional pictures, including a Valentine for his girlfriend. Ain’t love grand?