Mint of Poland Week: Code of the Future arrives at the Speed of Light

After architecture, ancient mythology and the arts, it’s time to take a look at the Mint of Poland’s celebration of pure science with the second coin in its Code of the Future series. Launching last year with a coin featuring Artificial Intelligence, this second coin showcases the speed of light using a design style that is rapidly becoming a signature of this range.

The coin format doesn’t stray too far away from the other coins we’ve covered this week, despite the widely varying subjects. Struck in two ounces of fine silver, 50 mm in diameter, high-relief and antique-finished, it’s a format very familiar to collectors of, not only this mints output, but of many modern numismatics. The distinction here is the use of a fluorescent ink in the colour application for that trendy glow-in-the-dark look, popularised in recent years by the Royal Canadian Mint and the Art Mint, although by no means a recent discovery.

Taking the speed of light for its inspiration, the coin has an ultra-modern design, perhaps a depiction of photons through one of the worlds gigantic colliders. Conveying speed quite effectively using colour, it’s a cool, dynamic design. There are no inscriptions as such, the only text being clearly incorporated into the design itself. The obverse maintains this mints habit of modifying a standard Niue Island effigy-adorned look by including Ian Rank Broadley’s usual portrait of the Queen into a patterned effect similar to a starship in a TV series entering faster than light travel. The coin series title is also made part of the design rather than just being added as a standard inscription.

Selling for around the €200 / $230 range, this nicely packaged coin is limited to just 500 pieces and is due to ship sometime in March. Sponsors PowerCoin and First Coin Co. have it up for preorder, and both also have the first coin, Artificial Intelligence (pictured lower down) for sale. A very intriguing subject matter, well realised, this is a welcome series in a modern market awash with quality, but sometimes a little starved for variety. With the Berlin World Money Fair coming up in a couple of weeks, we’ll be interested to see what the Mennica Polska has lined up, especially if its ground-breaking dimensional coin series is to be expanded again.

2016 CODE OF THE FUTURE 02: SPEED OF LIGHT

THE SPEED OF LIGHT

The speed of light in vacuum, commonly denoted c, is a universal physical constant important in many areas of physics. Its exact value is 299,792,458 metres per second (approximately 3.00×108 m/s, approximately 186,282 mi/s); it is exact because the length of the metre is defined from this constant and the international standard for time.

According to special relativity, c is the maximum speed at which all matter and hence information in the universe can travel. It is the speed at which all massless particles and changes of the associated fields (including light, a type of electromagnetic radiation, and gravitational waves) travel in vacuum. Such particles and waves travel at c regardless of the motion of the source or the inertial reference frame of the observer. In the theory of relativity, c interrelates space and time, and also appears in the famous equation of mass–energy equivalence E = mc2.

The speed at which light propagates through transparent materials, such as glass or air, is less than c; similarly, the speed of radio waves in wire cables is slower than c. The ratio between c and the speed v at which light travels in a material is called the refractive index n of the material (n = c / v). For example, for visible light the refractive index of glass is typically around 1.5, meaning that light in glass travels at c / 1.5 ≈ 200,000 kilometres (120,000 mi) /s; the refractive index of air for visible light is about 1.0003, so the speed of light in air is about 299,700 kilometres (186,200 mi) /s (about 90 kilometres (56 mi) /s slower than c).

For many practical purposes, light and other electromagnetic waves will appear to propagate instantaneously, but for long distances and very sensitive measurements, their finite speed has noticeable effects. In communicating with distant space probes, it can take minutes to hours for a message to get from Earth to the spacecraft, or vice versa. The light seen from stars left them many years ago, allowing the study of the history of the universe by looking at distant objects. The finite speed of light also limits the theoretical maximum speed of computers, since information must be sent within the computer from chip to chip. The speed of light can be used with time of flight measurements to measure large distances to high precision. (Source: Wikipedia)

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2016 CODE OF THE FUTURE 01: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence exhibited by machines. In computer science, an ideal “intelligent” machine is a flexible rational agent that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximise its chance of success at some goal. Colloquially, the term “artificial intelligence” is applied when a machine mimics “cognitive” functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as “learning” and “problem solving”.

As machines become increasingly capable, mental facilities once thought to require intelligence are removed from the definition. For example, optical character recognition is no longer perceived as an exemplar of “artificial intelligence”, having become a routine technology. Capabilities currently classified as AI include successfully understanding human speech, competing at a high level in strategic game systems (such as Chess and Go), self-driving cars, and interpreting complex data.

Some people also consider AI a danger to humanity if it progresses unabated. AI research is divided into sub-fields that focus on specific problems or on specific approaches or on the use of a particular tool or towards satisfying particular applications. (Source: Wikipedia)

SPECIFICATION

NAME 2016 CODE OF THE FUTURE
DENOMINATION $2 New Zealand
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 62.2 grams
DIAMETER 50.0 mm
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS Fluorescent colour
MINTAGE 500
BOX / COA Yes / Yes

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