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Andrew Zimmerman Jones

Does Improved Invisibility Yield Silent Image?

By July 16, 2009

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In 2006, physicists developed an "invisibility cloak," using metamaterials that allowed the bending of microwaves around an object, effectively making it resemble empty space. In a recent paper, another group of physicists have taken this idea further and described the mathematics involved in bending light to resemble things other than empty space. This New Scientist article has an excellent example of how, for example, you could use these materials to make a cup look like a spoon.

Of course, this is a neat trick, but is it actually useful? In fact, Che Te Chan, one of the physicists working on the project, has indicated that the research could potentially mean that devices could be built that, when placed on walls, allow the viewer to look through the opaque material. There are, of course, many engineering challenges before these peeping tom devices (along with invisibility cloaks) will actually be built, but it appears that it may actually be only a matter of time.

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Side note: I will send a free copy of The Void by Frank Close (a short book about the "vacuum" of "empty space") to the first person who can send me an e-mail (physics.guide@about.com) successfully explaining the truly geek-driven nature of the title of this blog post. Please include your snail mail address if you want me to send the book.


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