Jeff Hecht

Writing about Lasers, Dinosaurs, and other Science and Technology

Important news About Understanding Fiber Optics

The current fifth edition of Understanding Fiber Optics is now available from Laser Light Press in two forms. A PDF file is available electronically from for $9.95. New paperback print-on-demand copies are available from Amazon , Createspace and other sources at the special price of $39.00 plus shipping. The technical contents are the same as the 2006 publication, with a revised preface and a short list of errata.

Technical difficulties with file translation make it impractical to convert this edition to e-reader format, but I plan a sixth edition. I would welcome your comments and feedback on this edition and suggestions for the new one.

For more details, see my Understanding Fiber Optics page. -- Jeff Hecht, August 5, 2015

I have just republished my 1984 book Beam Weapons with a 2015 epilogue. Click here for more information.

A Few Words of Introduction

If you ask what I do, the fun answer is that I write about lasers and dinosaurs. More seriously, I write about optics, photonics, paleontology, earth and planetary science, the environment, electronic and optical technology, and many other areas of the physical sciences. I have written several books about lasers, fiber optics, and their history, and have taught short courses and given webcasts in those fields. In my copious spare time, I write short science fiction stories.

I am in the process of updating this web site, and won't go into the long story other than to blame software problems.

What I Do

I am a regular contributor to two magazines

New Scientist, a global weekly covering science and technology. You can see my latest contributions here.

Laser Focus World, a laser industry trade magazine. You can see what I write here.

I write nonfiction books about science, technology, and their history. The most recent are

Understanding Lasers: 3rd edition, a tutorial on lasers.

Understanding Fiber Optics: 5th edition, a tutorial on fiber optic communications

Beam: The Race to Make the Laser. a history of the birth of the laser

City of Light: The Story of Fiber Optics, a history of fiber-optic communications, part of the Sloan Technology Series.

I teach tutorial short courses, present webcasts, and consult on lasers and fiber optics.


Understanding Fiber Optics

The fifth edition of my tutorial introduction to fiber-optic technology Understanding Fiber Optics is now available as a PDF file from for $9.95. Paper copies are available for $39.00 from Amazon or Createspace. Please contact me if you have any questions.

It's widely used for technician training and self-study, and is the place I suggest starting if you want to learn about fiber optics. (Sure, I'm biased, but I've worked hard to make it accessible to anyone who wants to understand fiber optics. That means intuitive verbal explanations, diagrams that show how things work, and simple worked-out examples.) I am now working on a sixth edition, which I expect will take a different form. Your comments are welcome.

Read Table of Contents.

History of Fiber Optics

My book on the history of fiber optics titled City of Light was published in Spring 1999 by Oxford University Press. It tells how the technology developed from early demonstrations of light guiding in flowing jets of water , through instruments that allow physicians to look inside the stomach without surgery, to the communication fibers that provide the backbone of today's global telecommunication network. There are tales of bright ideas, hard work, disappointment, and triumph. The cast ranges from the college undergraduate who made a key breakthrough to eminent professors of physics and independent-minded entrepreneurs. I had a lot of fun writing it, and I hope you'll share that feeling when you read it. The 2004 revised and updated trade paperback edition includes an epilogue on the Boom, the Bubble, and the Bust, that unpleasant reminder that you can have too much of a good thing.

Other Links


Contact Me

Postal Address: 525 Auburn St., Auburndale, MA 02466 USA

Email: [insert my first name] or [my_last_name.my_first_name] Please note the reverse order in my gmail address. (Just trying to confuse the spammers' e-mail harvesting robots.)

Assorted Questions, Answers, Policies and Sundry Other Information

This looks like something on

You're thinking of . That's a copy of this site, and now refers here.

Privacy Policy

My privacy policy is simple -- I don't collect any personal information on visitors, and I don't know who you are unless you send me e-mail. My site sets no cookies, and contains no legalese.

Why does this site look strange?

This site is supposed to be plain and simple, but it's built with software that is getting on in years. Changes are in progress, but they may be slow. I try to comply with Internet accessibility guidelines and to make these pages readable with all browsers, but I can't check everything. Feedback is welcome.

Advertising Links

I make my living writing, so I will not clutter my pages up with ads, but I do have some links to places where you can buy my books. These may be changing.


Last updated September 6, 2015