It’s Christmas Eve. The tree is decorated, dinner is over, and milk and cookies are on the table. The fire is down to its last embers, and after everyone has brushed their teeth peace descends upon the house. However, in a second-floor bedroom a child’s heart is beating loudly.
Anyone who grew up believing in Santa Claus probably remembers holding their breath at night to try and hear Santa coming down the chimney. The brave ones might have even snuck out of bed and lurked in the hallway until their feet went cold and their eyes tired – or their parents caught them. On Christmas morning, we all stormed to the tree to find presents and an empty glass of milk, without ever seeing Santa.
After unpacking the gifts, all that remains are questions and plans for next year. We might ask how we could look around corners to see what is going on inside the chimney without revealing ourselves. We might play with the idea of setting up our new camera in the fireplace, but then remember it is still hot in the evening and we do not want to risk damaging our present. Frustrated, we wish there was a telescope that could be pushed into the fireplace, but have no idea that something similar actually exists.
These magical, flexible and long “extendable eyes” are called image guides. They consist of thousands of bundled glass optical fibers that transport images from one end of the bundle to the other without the need for electricity. With an image guide it would be no problem to reveal Santa’s secret because optical fibers can look around corners even in difficult environments. Glass fibers would also remain unaffected by the high temperatures over the embers. With a long image guide, you could even sit on the couch and monitor what happens in the chimney.