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Final People’s U. Program Examines Dual Nature of Light, How Lasers Work

WHEELING — The sixth and final class in the Ohio County Public Library’s latest People’s University series “Physical Science, The Joy of Discovery” will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18.

Participants will explore “Light, Lasers and Free Space Optics” in the Week 6 class. The instructor again will be Dr. Stacey Kefalos Vargas, professor at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va.

Some may say, “Look! It’s a particle. It’s a wave.” Actually, it is light behaving as both.

In this lecture, the presenter will discuss the dual nature of light and apply that knowledge to lasers, touching on how a laser works, and what makes laser light unique. Finally, we will discuss experimental applications of laser light in free space optics wireless communication.

Participants who click “like,” make a comment or ask a question will be entered in a drawing at the end of the livestream to win a Great Beards of Science Pint Glass from Uncommon Goods.

Too bad there isn’t a Nobel Prize in facial hair.

The program presenter, Vargas, received her bachelor of science degree in physics from Wheeling College in 1988 and continued her education, earning a masters and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Connecticut. She joined the faculty in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at VMI in 1996.

She was the first women in science and engineering at VMI to receive tenure and promotion to full professor. She is the recipient of a VMI Distinguish Teaching Award and the Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award. In addition to teaching a variety of physics courses, she performs research in laser spectroscopy, free space optics and visible light communication. She has published many articles and received several grants to fund her research. She has collaborated with companies pursuing novel wireless communication technologies.

In 2017, she won the Innovation in Higher Education award from the Shenandoah Valley Technology Council for her novel research using ultra-short-pulse lasers in free space optics communication. She is passionate about her teaching and her research. She resides in Lexington, Va., with her husband and their five children.

The Ohio County Public Library in partnership with the Wheeling Academy of Law & Science (WALS) Foundation offered the 31st entry in its People’s University series in this six-class online, livestream presentation.

“Physical Science, The Joy of Discovery” has taken attendees on a journey through the philosophical and intellectual development of science as a method of accurately weighing evidence, eliminating bias, finding facts, and acquiring knowledge.

All classes meet on Thursday evenings at 6:30 p.m.

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