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Duke University Creates Perfect, Centimeter-scale Invisibility Cloak

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the abracadabra dept.

Sci-Fi 96

MrSeb writes "Scientists at Duke University have created the first invisibility cloak that perfectly hides centimeter-scale objects. While invisibility cloaks have been created before, they have all reflected some of the incident light, ruining the illusion. In this case, the incident light is perfectly channeled around the object, creating perfect invisibility. There are some caveats, of course. For now, the Duke invisibility cloak only works with microwave radiation — and perhaps more importantly, the cloak is unidirectional (it only provides invisibility from one very specific direction). The big news here, though, is that it is even possible to create an invisibility cloak of any description. It is now just a matter of time before visible-light, omnidirectional invisibility cloaks are created."

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1st (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41956061)

hides you with blasts of intense cancer

Re:1st (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 2 years ago | (#41956107)

hides you from blasts of intense cancer.

Re:1st (1, Funny)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 2 years ago | (#41956109)

Microwave radiation isn't ionizing, so it's not gonna cause any chronic skin damage or cancer. You can take off your tinfoil body suit (unless you're wearing it to burning man, then totally keep it on!).

Re:1st (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41958147)

If the microwave radiation is strong enough, it definitely is going to cause skin damage (and also a bit below the skin), by simply boiling the tissue.
I doubt it will cause any cancer, however.

Re:1st (1)

CTachyon (412849) | about 2 years ago | (#41977121)

If the microwave radiation is strong enough, it definitely is going to cause skin damage (and also a bit below the skin), by simply boiling the tissue.

Believe me, that's a risk I worry about every day. But I recently discovered that there are other frequencies that can cause such damage! I now refuse to allow my family within a mile of any restaurant with so-called "heat lamps" (or as I prefer, "death lamps"), and I'm seriously considering banning from my household anything that emits between 400 and 790 THz. I heard one of my neighbors actually bought an Easy-Bake Oven for their kids. An Easy-Bake Oven! Won't somebody please think of the children?

(Seriously, though, if you pour significantly more than a kilowatt per meter square of EM into living tissue, you're gonna have a bad time. There are a handful of cases, e.g. VHF, where you might be able to bump that figure by an order of magnitude (maaaybe two) because humans are reasonably transparent at those frequencies. But as a rule of thumb, all non-ionizing EM from visible light down cooks you the same way.)

Cloaking first? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41956069)

I always hoped they would work on Warp technology first....

Also, does this mean we are the Romulans....

Re:Cloaking first? (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#41956171)

... well, I keep hearing about 'disruptive' technologies.

Re:Cloaking first? (3, Interesting)

captainpanic (1173915) | about 2 years ago | (#41956175)

Looking at the capabilities of mobile phones today, I would suggest the tricorders arrived before the cloaking.

What I am saying is that it's one thing to develop an invisibility cloak. It's another thing altogether to avoid being tagged while wearing it.

Re:Cloaking first? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#41956203)

There is a Fictional Element to Science Fiction.
We have observed Light being bent we know it is possible.
We have not observed anything going faster than light. We don't even know if we have the means or power to warp space/time, it is purely theory.

Re:Cloaking first? (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | about 2 years ago | (#41956341)

Strictly speaking, I'm warping space as I sit here. A probably time as well, seeing as how I'm wasting it on slasgdot. But yeah, warping space/time to have travel that appears to exceed spacetime? Only hallmark channel movies and algebra classes taught by high school football coaches can approach that level of time fluxuation.

Re:Cloaking first? (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 2 years ago | (#41969495)

If you're using phrases like 'time fluxuation' you're well on the way to making one of those websites [timecube.com] with ground breaking post Einstein theories that are mysteriously ignored by The Cabal of conventional physicists.

Re:Cloaking first? (1)

guttentag (313541) | about 2 years ago | (#41956685)

I always hoped they would work on Warp technology first....

Technically, the warp [wikipedia.org] always comes first when you are working on a cloak. The warp is the layer of threads that you weave the weft [wikipedia.org] through to create the fabric. If you don't have the warp first, the fabric, space and time are simply chaos.

Re:Cloaking first? (1)

EdZ (755139) | about 2 years ago | (#41971433)

If you don't have the warp first, the fabric, space and time are simply chaos.

Unless, of course, the Universe is crocheted.

Re:Cloaking first? (2)

osu-neko (2604) | about 2 years ago | (#41957855)

We tend to be Romulans during war, and Ferengi the rest of the time...

Re:Cloaking first? (1)

ericartman (955413) | about 2 years ago | (#41958055)

Now that is funny! oh and of course we are! lol

Hmmm (5, Funny)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 2 years ago | (#41956081)

I'll believe it when I see it.

Re:Hmmm (2, Funny)

BriggsBU (1138021) | about 2 years ago | (#41956101)

I'll believe it when I /don't/ see it.

Re:Hmmm (0)

localman57 (1340533) | about 2 years ago | (#41956151)

No, the first one was better.

Re:Hmmm (1)

sco08y (615665) | about 2 years ago | (#41956755)

You're killing me, Smalls, you're killing me.

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41956883)

Do you see it now ?

Re:Hmmm (2)

Joshua Fan (1733100) | about 2 years ago | (#41956165)

Unidirectional microwave-only cloak -> omnidirectional visible light cloak?

It's gonna take a little more than "a few years".

Re:Hmmm (5, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41956265)

Unidirectional microwave-only cloak -> omnidirectional visible light cloak?
It's gonna take a little more than "a few years".

The biggest problem I see from having done lots of RF engineering in the lower microwave range (mostly FCC part 97, but some telco work, aside from the wifi stuff that "everyone" does) is specs always improve, but the basic layouts / schematics / ideas don't change very much.

Higher freqs? Sure. A heck of a lot of orders of magnitude? Um, maybe, over the course of a lifetime and billions of bucks. Unidirectional to omni? Um no.

You can make a "better" horn antenna. You can do crazy stuff to eat the sidelobes. You can make it lighter, or wider bandwidth, or better behavior when it multimodes. You can make it lower loss. But fundamentally, its still a microwave horn antenna. This fundamental issue is analogy to trying to make a unidirectional cloak.

This doesn't mean its useless. You know what would be funny? A anti-anything missile that is radar invisible from the pointy end. Who cares if you can see it from the back or side, its too late by then. To the best of my limited knowledge from playing Harpoon, etc, all American anti-anti-ship missiles are radar guided as are the ancient Phalanx miniguns.

One interesting RF observation is its a serious challenge to "really" do microwave RF work over a factor of 2 in freq. Can be done, but doesn't mean its easy or its more than cheating (multiple colocated systems... making a big pile simply isn't technologically interesting). The relevance is an X-band invisible car would probably not be invisible at K band. Or something invisible to red is probably going to be blue visible, unless you run multiple systems. Or something invisible to blue is probably not going to be invisible to IR targeting lasers.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41956555)

Higher freqs? Sure. A heck of a lot of orders of magnitude? Um, maybe, over the course of a lifetime and billions of bucks.

Optical frequency metamaterals have already been demonstrated. They can be made via various lithography techniques, so in some sense it is not that hard to make things smaller, to the limit of what current lithography research is. There is still a lot of work to be done in improving the quality, and figuring out how to best apply multitude of lithography techniques and materials to get the desired structures (or designing structures that work better with those methods), so it is probably decades away. I don't think it will take a lifetime and billions of dollars though... although that is to get to a demonstration of principle. I don't know if this would have much practical use yet depending on what geometries researchers can come up with and ultimately what it will cost to build it for something larger than a centimeter.

Re:Hmmm (1)

DustMagnet (453493) | about 2 years ago | (#41958717)

Higher freqs?

The problem isn't just higher frequencies, which as you say getting to optical frequencies will be really hard, but not impossible. The rest of the problem is bandwidth. I can't find the source article for this, but I'd bet the bandwidth is tiny. Visible light covers and entire octave of bandwidth. I've seen zero sign that metamaterials will ever have close to that much bandwidth. Increasing the frequency just means making things smaller. Most of the metamaterials have elements that resonate at specific frequencies.

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41959911)

come on dude, everyone knows you just have to continually modulate the phase variance
, after you realign the deflector array. Simple!

(seriously, I understood 10% of that lol! ;)

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41970761)

Who cares if you can see it from the back or side, its too late by then.
We are in comunication era. If visible from ether point you can olways get the "memo" taht is coming from other sources.I wonder how to make the war disapear all togheter from all 7 directions.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | about 2 years ago | (#41956275)

Too small for my figures (25 mm).

Meh.

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41956525)

Too small for my figures (25 mm).

Meh.

That's what your girlfriend said.

Optimism. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41956087)

"It is now just a matter of time before visible-light, omnidirectional invisibility cloaks are created."

Wow. Just Wow. Just because we sent men to the moon, it does not mean that we'll be traveling to other galaxies soon.

Unless of course by "just a matter of time", they mean like a hundred thousand years.

Re:Optimism. (1)

slim (1652) | about 2 years ago | (#41956357)

It depends on will.

It was just 61 years from the Wright Brothers demonstrating heavier-than-air flight, to the Apollo 11 moon landing.

So space exploration has slowed down a bit in the last 40 years. Who knows what'll happen in the next 60?

Re:Optimism. (3, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 2 years ago | (#41956899)

I always like to refence this Hitchhiker's Guide quote

Space is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space.

There's a big different between going to the moon and even something like going to Mars. It only took Apollo 11 astronauts 3 days to get to the moon. Even the shortest trips to Mars have taken close to 300 days. And Voyageur 1 has been travelling for 25 years and is only now reaching the edge of the solar system.

While warp speed and worm holes could allow matter to travel vast distances over short periods of time, I don't know if actual things could travel though a worm hole or at warp seed without being torn apart.

Re:Optimism. (3, Interesting)

slim (1652) | about 2 years ago | (#41957049)

Buzz Aldrin's proposed Mars Cycler would take about 5 months to shuttle "stuff" to and from Mars' orbit.

Re:Optimism. (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 2 years ago | (#41960235)

Yes, but from what I'm reading, you have to wait over a year between trips so the planets line up correctly so that you can make the trip in such a short period of time. Doesn't really help out that much. And better hope you don't miss your launch window, or you might have to wait until the next time the planets align. Also, even at 5 months, that still an extremely long time to be traveling through space.

Re:Optimism. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41960659)

Last week, I was able to jump 50cm. After rigorous training, I am now able to jump 60cm. It is now just a matter of time before I can jump to the Moon.

Re:Optimism. (1)

jamesh (87723) | about 2 years ago | (#41962849)

That was my thought too. I am able to jump and stay in the air for a short amount of time, therefore it is only a matter of time before I can stay in the air indefinitely.

My Precious ... (1)

DavidClarkeHR (2769805) | about 2 years ago | (#41956091)

So, the cloak only does a very small area. Hobbitses?

And the cloak only does it from one direction? ... so ... multiple cloaks?

And the cloak only does a certain type of radiation? ... better directed EMP bombs?

I guess it's all pretty neat. My big problem with the article? It's not a CLOAK if it's only 1cm by 1cm. It's more of a patch. Or a stamp.

Re:My Precious ... (2)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 2 years ago | (#41956299)

One direction like one exact angle of incidence. Multiple cloaks won't help because you need an infinite number of them, or at least you need them per angle based on the bandwidth of microwave and the radius of the cloak--meaning a lot. Too much. It's a huge leap from "We've gotten elevators to work by using a rope and pully and waterwheel" to "soon we'll be able to lift things into space by anti-gravity".

Re:My Precious ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41956913)

The article says it's a shed you fucking buffoon.

Re:My Precious ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41963687)

The article says it's a shed you fucking buffoon.

Actually, it looks like it calls it a cloak. You know, in the title. Everything below the title? Semantics.

Re:My Precious ... (1)

jamesh (87723) | about 2 years ago | (#41962859)

And the cloak only does it from one direction? ... so ... multiple cloaks?

No, the cloak only prevents you being seen by a currently popular boy band.

Carpet? (2)

buzzsawddog (1980902) | about 2 years ago | (#41956099)

I think someone invented that long ago... Have you ever dropped an smt component on carpet? I have it just disappears.

Re:Carpet? (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 2 years ago | (#41956121)

That's camouflage, not a cloak. Like when hunters where camo in the woods so they re less visible to animals.

Well, then... (1)

epp_b (944299) | about 2 years ago | (#41956123)

I'm getting my body armour, dread wigs and spiky face masks now before they all sell out!

Haven't they learned from Star Trek? (5, Insightful)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#41956173)

Surely it's gotta have a tailpipe...

Re:Haven't they learned from Star Trek? (1)

Anonymatt (1272506) | about 2 years ago | (#41958871)

Gosh, where are those tetrion particles coming from??

Re:Haven't they learned from Star Trek? (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#41970419)

nothing even that complicated... they set the warhead to home in on ionised gas.

perfect (3, Funny)

HPHatecraft (2748003) | about 2 years ago | (#41956185)

now all we need to do is drag Stuart Little out of rehab (child stars... what more needs to be said?), and get him trained up over in Langley. With this invisible cloak, we can take rodint (rodent intelligence) to the next level.

Can someone look up cat populations in Iran at CIA's World Fact Book?

Forget invisibility ... Shielding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41956217)

Would this be an effective way of shielding objects & people from EM radiation?

perfect* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41956219)

* By "perfect" the Duke University means a cloak which:
- invisibility cloak only works with microwave radiation
- the cloak only provides invisibility from one very specific direction

So much for "perfect", huh?

Re:perfect* (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41956249)

P.S. I understand that "perefect" is the pitch from the article, not from the university. No desire to throw mud at the possibly important research.

Journalism Fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41956235)

I RTFA and there's a parenthetical "Delete as Applicable." What's wrong with journalism these days?

And with this... (3, Funny)

samazon (2601193) | about 2 years ago | (#41956237)

My Harry Potter cosplay will be complete! Win!

Re:And with this... (3, Funny)

somersault (912633) | about 2 years ago | (#41956593)

"What do you mean I wasn't at your Halloween party? I was Invisibility Cloak Harry!"

Re:And with this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41958805)

Actually, now that you've got the cloak, you really don't need the rest, now do you.

De facto legalization of murder. (1)

concealment (2447304) | about 2 years ago | (#41956241)

If someone ever does produce an actual cloak of invisibility, we're going to have a huge problem as the foundations of our law enforcement will go out the window.

It will in effect legalize murder, since anyone with an invisibility cloak can sneak up on a victim and blow his/her head off. Even better, with printable weapons, the murder weapon won't be traceable either.

Perhaps the decision we made long ago to rely on external control (e.g. law enforcement) instead of internal moral compass, will come back to haunt us. Our citizens now don't commit murder from fear of being caught. With that gone, what?

Re:De facto legalization of murder. (4, Interesting)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 2 years ago | (#41956301)

It has always been an internal moral compass that guides us. Few people do not commit murder or any other crime because of the fear of law enforcement.
The question becomes, does that moral compass derive from superstitious psuedo-belief in some omniscient power, government instilled fears, or a true sense of what is the path of the least harm to the fewest numbers of others?
If I really want to kill someone, or rob them, or rape them, I will find a way to do it, law and others be dammed. It simply becomes a matter of proper planning and (ahem) execution.
The invention of the knife did not 'legalize' murder, neither did the invention of the gun, or the fist for that matter. What legalizes it is our own mind and definition of moral. Regardless of the tools used.
Law enforcement, like much religion, is simply a fear mongering device used to direct the thoughtless masses.

Re:De facto legalization of murder. (2)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#41956375)

If someone ever does produce an actual cloak of invisibility, we're going to have a huge problem as

In the good olde days on /. this would have rapidly devolved into "how are 5000 nerds wearing invisibility cloaks all going to simultaneously fit in the 12 person college cheerleaders girls shower room and what happens when their crappy homemade wiring and/or ARDWEEEEEEEEENO microcontroller shorts out because of the shower water?" but no, we have to have whacky hollywood movie plots about murder.

Insider trading is a much more fun example. What did the corporate board really talk about? And how much can you blackmail them?

For better or worse, circumstantial evidence seems enough to convict. Also invisibility seems to have nothing to do with DNA samples, motives, etc. I'm not anticipating a serious murder problem.

More realistically, I predict that if invisibility cloaks are perfected, about 30 seconds later every college cheerleader girls locker room is going to have a grid of what looks like spiders webs hanging from the ceiling. Those icky 70s bead curtains may make a comeback. Outside of the ladies gym showers, in "secured" areas, I predict the "spiders" will involve conductive, energized thread that's only deactivated when my NFC RFID is marked as approved. Also you'd be surprised what someone could do with semi-toxic gasses if you really wanted. I would not want to try to rob a bank vault after some fairly obvious countermeasures are deployed.

Re:De facto legalization of murder. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41956379)

Murder? Come on, most criminals will have better things to do, like rob jewelry stores and banks.

It wouldn't change a thing. (2)

pavon (30274) | about 2 years ago | (#41957321)

The vast majority of murders today don't have any eye witnesses, and yet many of those cases still get solved and the perpetrator caught. Furthermore, it really isn't hard to sneak out behind someone and shoot someone today, without even being seen by the victim. So an invisibility cloak will only make it slightly easier to kill someone, and won't make it any harder to catch them. Not much of a game changer.

Re:De facto legalization of murder. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41958501)

I don't think so. If you kill someone, and no one is around to see you.... you can still be tracked down. Murders are regularly solved where there is no witness.

As a matter of fact, I suspect that a wary person not wearing an invisibility cloak has a better chance of getting away with murder than an unwary person wearing an invisibility cloak.

WHY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41956245)

Don't these articles ever have a decent picture?

Invisibility, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41956287)

Does anybody know anyone who can see into the microwave frequency? Anybody? Bueller? Anybody?

Perfect? (3, Insightful)

guttentag (313541) | about 2 years ago | (#41956531)

From the Oxford English Dictionary:

Perfect
adj. /'perfikt/
Having all the parts and qualities that are needed or wanted, an no flaws or weaknesses.

If there are caveats, it's not perfect. Don't slap false labels on things to make them sound more impressive. Call it what it is.

Re:Perfect? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41958143)

Webster: Definition of PERFECT
a : being entirely without fault or defect : flawless
b : satisfying all requirements : accurate
c : corresponding to an ideal standard or abstract concept

In this case, definition c applies.

Re:Perfect? (2)

radtea (464814) | about 2 years ago | (#41958387)

If there are caveats, it's not perfect

Yeah, the number of times "perfect" was used in the first part of the summary was a clear flag that "except" was going to loom large in the second part.

"Perfect" is such an abstract concept that almost all of its uses are misleading: the primary purpose of abstraction is to lie and mislead, and the more abstract the concept the few non-misleading uses it has. As such, "perfect" is a word that should be used very rarely in an engineering context.

Re:Perfect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41958817)

Having all the parts and qualities that are needed or wanted, an no flaws or weaknesses.

Hilarious. I'm assuming you didn't copy and paste from the Oxford English Dictionary.

Re:Perfect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41958889)

There are different levels of "perfect"

Otherwise, nothing can ever be considered "perfect" because there's something that someone WISHES that it could do. "Yeah, you made a program that can, with 100% accuracy, identify all the colors in a picture... buuuut... it doesn't give me a blowjob while it does it."

The word "Perfect" becomes nonsensical and loses all practical use, in that case. You're operating on a terrible interpretation of a shady definition.

I don't think so... (4, Insightful)

some1001 (2489796) | about 2 years ago | (#41956567)

The idea that we're "soon" to have invisibility cloaks that are both omni-directional *and* handle visible light is an unfounded one. True, maybe the underlying foundations are set well and the science is understood. But here's the issue: metamaterials ("invisibility cloaks" as a rule, fall into this category since they're properties are determined by the structure of the materials - not the material itself) have specific patterns in the structure. Microwave radiation has a wavelength between 1 mm and 1 m. Visible light has a wavelength of 390 to 750 nm. We are talking about four orders of magnitude.

The structure of the metamaterial needed to handle visible light is going to be out of our reach for quite some time until we can design a better way of handling structural details on the nanoscale and beyond (right now, the best methods are self assembled, and those methods usually aren't good for the massive complexity you'd desire).

Re:I don't think so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41958049)

Visible light wavelength metamaterials have been around for several years now, at least back to 2007 [opticsinfobase.org] . They are much harder to work with than something you assemble with your hands, but are quite within the reach of possibility. I haven't seen much mention of self-assembly stuff, mostly it is using lithography and ion beam techniques to form the metamaterials. How practical it would be to make a large scale cloak out such methods is another story though...

Re:I don't think so... (1)

tinkerton (199273) | about 2 years ago | (#41958971)

The claim of 'Centimeter-scale Invisibility Cloak' should have been 'x wavelengths wide invisibility cloak' . Since anything that's say a tenth of a wavelength is always invisible, I can make an object of 10m wide that's completely invisible, provided the source is a 10MHz radio emitter.

Re:I don't think so... (2)

Khashishi (775369) | about 2 years ago | (#41959679)

Small things still scatter light even if they are too small to resolve. It's why the sky is blue.

Re:I don't think so... (1)

tinkerton (199273) | about 2 years ago | (#41965069)

Ok, and if you place many small things together you get a large thing so one small thing would have to do 'something' at least. I overstated that. But the point remains: the impact on the incoming wave depends on relative size of the object to the wavelength.

Re:I don't think so... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41959715)

If you can't detect the scatter off of something a tenth of a wavelength in size, you aren't looking very hard. Something smaller than a wavelength is not efficient at coupling, but that doesn't mean it is invisible.

Such a letdown! (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | about 2 years ago | (#41956599)

The end result is an invisibility cloak that can perfectly hide a 3×0.4-inch (7.5x1cm) cylinder from microwave radiation.

Isn't this basically where they've been with this research for ages? The only new thing I can see here is that the material was cut into a diamond shape to minimize reflections.

Re:Such a letdown! (2)

Shrike82 (1471633) | about 2 years ago | (#41956869)

Yes, the reflections being the thing that prevented previous version from being considered "perfect" cloaking devices. But don't let my logic stop you from denouncing this as a let-down...

Well, that's easy. (3, Insightful)

Minwee (522556) | about 2 years ago | (#41956627)

I already perfected a centimeter scale invisibility cloak which works in visible light, but is unidirectional.

It involves using a digital camera, a printer, one square centimeter of paper and a bit of tape. Naturally, there are some limitations to where it can be used, but those are just details for the engineers to deal with.

Magicians (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | about 2 years ago | (#41956633)

Magicians have been doing that for a long time.OK, the mirrors divert light under the table or whatever, so it's not a free-standing object, but is it in this case?

eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41956641)

This doesn't seem like some big leap forward... the microwaves are slightly less distorted than the last cloaking attempt, but they're still distorted. "Perfect invisibility" should mean the inability to detect distortion.

A question (1)

sesshomaru (173381) | about 2 years ago | (#41956669)

Man size invisibility cloaks or Guymelef size invisibility cloaks?

Weak (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 2 years ago | (#41956775)

If you click on the photo to get a bigger view, it's a direct link to a bigger JPEG. Not lightbox, no website template, no nothing.

A Matter Of Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41956797)

Maybe my flying car will have a visible-light, omnidirectional invisibility cloak.

Wow! (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about 2 years ago | (#41956917)

So the trick is not to move your head. Squint a bit. And only use microwave-vision. Those are a lot of constraints.

I have a solution that's quite a bit simpler: Look entirely the other way. Total invisibility!


Nevertheless their achievement is actually very cool.

It creates invisibility! Psych! (1)

ourlovecanlastforeve (795111) | about 2 years ago | (#41956963)

Wow, this is sensationalist titling on par with Digg or Reddit. Title: New Earth 2.0 found 2 miles outside Earth's atmosphere! Body: No not really. What we meant to say is that a planet approximately the size of the earth with no possibility of hosting human life was found far beyond the Sloan Great Wall. Same thing, different story.

Frankly... (1)

trum4n (982031) | about 2 years ago | (#41957655)

...I didn't see it coming.

Non-evil uses? (1)

Phasma Felis (582975) | about 2 years ago | (#41958103)

Now, I'll admit that I totally want one, but are there any non-evil (or non-military, if you prefer) uses for a working invisibility cloak? All I can think of is "spying on people" and "making it easier for soldiers to kill people." Are there civilian applications?

Re:Non-evil uses? (1)

Khashishi (775369) | about 2 years ago | (#41959689)

observing wildlife?

Re:Non-evil uses? (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 2 years ago | (#41970709)

Protecting freedom and democracy when they under attack [youtube.com] ?

Incidentally if you know anyone from Sweden, play them this song. It makes them very angry for some reason.

It doesn't follow.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41958481)

"It is now just a matter of time before visible-light, omnidirectional invisibility cloaks are created."

Why would you say that? Sounds like a matter of faith to me...

Oh, great... (1)

seven of five (578993) | about 2 years ago | (#41958903)

Now I can walk around with my zipper open and no one'll notice.

"Only a matter of time" (1)

rbrander (73222) | about 2 years ago | (#41959101)

I remember the same thing said about nuclear rocket ships, now that we have conquered the atom....in 1950...

Only from one viewpoint! (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | about 2 years ago | (#41960455)

"the cloak is unidirectional (it only provides invisibility from one very specific direction)."

This is reminiscent of the 1930s Hollywood special effect called the "glass shot," which looks perfect from the point of view of the camera, but not from anywhere else.

"It is now just a matter of time before visible-light, omnidirectional invisibility cloaks are created." That's about like saying that if David Copperfield can make the Statue of Liberty vanish... as a magic trick... seen under special conditions from an audience confined to a special viewpoint... it is only a matter of time before he can do it for real.

Old hatt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41963599)

Seriously this is so 1953 Technology
I am such a SAP
Opps Special Access Program leak again... darn...

This is not for visible light (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 2 years ago | (#41965223)

It's for sonar. It's easy to imagine the implications of this sort of technology for submarines.

I read in the Cold War the US introduced spread spectrum sonar. Spread spectrum means you can operate below the noise floor - only receivers that know the code can even tell that a signal is there. So the day the US switched to spread spectrum the Russians suddenly stopped hearing any US sonar until they cracked the code.

These invisibility cloaks make no sense at all for visible light because the wavelengths are too short. For sonar however they make excellent sense. Also the demos all seen to cloak a circular object, i.e. they'd fit perfectly around a submarine's hull.

So the purpose is for US SSBN's to be even harder to detect than they currently are. Which is probably pretty damn hard.

Why is this important? Well if you have submarines that are invisible to sonar it means they can lurk fairly close to an enemies coast and deliver a decapitation attack which has little or no chance of being intercepted by missile defence.

The sort of countries the US is actually worried about fighting - the Russians and Chinese - both have brittle and overly centralised leadership structures and tend to be a couple of decades behind the US in technology. Which means they don't have missile defence systems and most likely do not have stealthy SSBNs either. Still it is important for the US to discover these sorts of abilities first in order to develop counter measures.

If the US has stuff like this it makes those countries less likely to challenge the US over Georgia, the Ukraine and Taiwan which is kind of handy for the people of those countries.

First thought.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41965275)

"I solemnly swear that I am up to no good."

DOPE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41969893)

Ironically, the scientists lost and could not find the object once the invisibility cloak was placed over it...

Saw this on Nova years ago (1)

TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) | about 2 years ago | (#41981301)

Another example of a great theory, but nothing practical. So you can hide from microwaves on a single plane of existence, meh. This is almost as bad as putting on a tinfoil hat.

I think that Top Gear's attempt at invisibility is more practical:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TVMpS7Z-5U [youtube.com]

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