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An actual cloaking device

May 21st, 2009 No comments

Last in my five part Star Trek inspired series has more to do with theory than practical application, at least right now anyway.
It’s a cloaking device (no, this is not an automated butler that helps you on with your coat).
It’s an actual invisibility generator that has been constructed by engineers at Duke University.

Light reflecting normally off a bump on a surface:
cloaking 1
Bent light removing scattered beams to make bump “disappear”:
cloaking 2

So far it only works on items places on a mirrored surface, but even that is pretty darn impressive.
As expected this has to do with the ability to bend light around an object. To do this the engineers used mathematical algorithms to engineer artificially structured “metamaterials” (materials that have properties not found in natural materials).
Said metamaterial is what actually does the bending of the light.
According to the Duke University professor it’s similar to the mirages created on the road in the summer. The mirage is “cloaking” the road below it.
Practical applications include protective shields and improved wireless communication (by making signal-blocking obstacles “disappear”).

I wonder if this will put magicians out of business. Pretty soon Chris Angel might have to start looking for a new job.

via Popular Science