Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cloaking Device Progress

A couple years ago I blogged about a preliminary advance toward an invisibility device. That progress was made at the University of Utah and involved a "superlens."

Now UC Berkeley (surprisingly they do more there than attack military recruiters) has something even better. The Los Angeles Times reported today on the details.

Photo credit: Shizuo Kambayashi AP File

Long the stuff of fantasy, practical invisibility shields have been brought a step closer to reality by researchers who say they have engineered materials that can hide an object by bending ordinary light like balloon animals at a circus.

The researchers, led by Xiang Zhang of the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center at the University of California, Berkeley, have created two composite materials that possess negative refraction indexes, meaning they bend light opposite to the way most natural substances do. If water exhibited negative refraction, fish swimming in a pool would appear to be in the air above the water.

"This is an important step toward creating a cloak," Zhang said Monday.

We need something like this. Everybody should have an outfit that lets you see through it to the people behind you. You can hide, but they can't. Perfect.

Of course, that's not the only purpose.

But [Zhang] insisted the work was not aimed at shielding Federation starships from Klingon battle cruisers. A more practical application, he said, would be to create a so-called "super lens" that could image infinitesimally small objects, enabling the manufacture of still tinier computer chips.

This is great. It'll make that Dick Tracy watch better and with fabulous features.

"Dick Tracy calling Joe Jitsu. Come in, Joe." I can't wait.


Malott said...

UC Berkeley?

Think of the obvious military applications for this thing...

I picture a left-wing Berkely scientist banging his fist on his desk and screaming, "They're turning my work into something bad!"


Tsofah said...

Wha..??? Not for battling against cloaked Klingon Bird of Prey?

Nothing for Captains Kirk, Picard, Janeway, or Sisco?

"What is the matter with these people?" I can hear Dr. "Bones" McCoy say with gritted teeth.

"Cap'n, say it isn't so!" Scotty would exclaim in his Scottish brogue.

And then, I can hear Spock stoically say, "Understanding human emotions continues to elude me. The Federation would be better off building a cloak for these emotions than they would for a starship."

And then....Seven of Nine would reply "How impractical. What good would cloaking emotions which the Klingon could not see because they are not on board? Your Vulcan logic is lacking."

To which Data's brother (the good one, not Lar)would respond: "I would rather enjoy having some human emotions. Bring on the cloaking technology for the Enterprise! Seven, would you can to join me in Astrometrics?"

And...all of this would leave Kirk, Picard, Janeway, and Sisco to say the one word we would expect from someone else:


Hey, with our "stealth technology", that cloaking stuff sure would come in handy for the rest of us! No one would ever know what size clothing I wear... :-)