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More on Lenses with a Negative Index of Refraction

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the burning-ants dept.

Science 300

Roland Piquepaille writes "A University of Toronto researcher has developed a flat lens that doesn't respect the "normal" laws of nature and could significantly enhance the resolution of imaged objects. "The creation of an unusual flat lens may finally resolve a long-running controversy about the existence of materials that have metaphysical qualities -- so-called "metamaterials" -- that transcend the laws of nature. The lens could lead to amplified antennas, smaller cell phones and increased data storage on CD-ROMs. As says George Eleftheriades, the Toronto professor, "This is new physics." Check this column for more details and other references to metamaterials."

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300 comments

asdf (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597556)

|3337 first post

Re:asdf (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597574)

no, the first post was in the previous, nearly identical story.

Re:asdf (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597628)

That was an awesome first post.

smaller cellphones (4, Funny)

heitikender (655816) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597569)

Maybe it's just me, but every other invention and discovery means, along the other things, smaller cellphones.

Re:smaller cellphones (1)

heitikender (655816) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597590)

oh my, forgot: like the archeologists always find ... series of small walls. Always.

Re:smaller cellphones (0)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597664)

Now all we have to do is shrink OURSELVES so that we can use these micro devices (imagine Will Ferrell fashion designer character with micro-phone here).

Re:smaller cellphones (1)

pmz (462998) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597669)

Maybe it's just me, but every other invention and discovery means, along the other things, smaller cellphones.

This reminds me of a Saturday Night Live skit where Will Ferrell pulls out a miniature toy phone (at most two centimeters long) as a parody of this trend.

One thing I've noticed is that cell phones are still thick even though their overall size is small. This makes them less comfortable than PDAs in a pant pocket. Maybe this reverso-refracto stuff will fix this.

Re:smaller cellphones (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597763)

At the same time, however, thinner cellphones would be more prone to breaking. Also, my hands are fairly large. I like the bulk of my cellphone, and would hate to see phones get too small.

Re:smaller cellphones (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 11 years ago | (#5598007)

Funny thing, I thought I'd find my V60 too small (it's small, skinny, super-light, and I like bulk) but Motorola did a good job, and I woudn't trade it for a bigger model.

Having said that, if they make it any smaller, I'm going to need a toothpick to input.

Re:smaller cellphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597733)

Except in this case, I have no fucking clue as to how a better OPTICAL LENS leads to smaller cell phones...

Re:smaller cellphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597780)

You should have taken more physics classes, then.

Re:smaller cellphones (1)

leonardluen (211265) | more than 11 years ago | (#5598008)

you do realize that light and microwaves are all the same...electro magnetic radiation...

find a way to make one better and you can then use the same knowlege on all the rest.

Re:smaller cellphones (1)

horati0 (249977) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597794)

Maybe it's just me, but every other invention and discovery means, along the other things, smaller cellphones.

[Will Ferrell, playing the ultra-hip proprietor of Jeffery's clothing shop on SNL, pulls out an enormous brick-sized cell phone]

Employee: What is that?!
Boss: Don't you know? Big is the new small! Cammy Diaz has a phone twice this big.

Obligitory Simpsons Quote: (3, Funny)

Rosonowski (250492) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597570)

"Lisa, in this house, we follow the laws of thermodynamics!"

Re:Obligitory Simpsons Quote: (1)

Surak (18578) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597621)

"But Cap'n! I cannae change the laws of physics!"

Obligatory Futurama quote: (1)

djward (251728) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597668)

could lead to... smaller cell phones



"What's wrong, Amy? Did you swallow your phone again?"

smaller? (1)

RTPMatt (468649) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597939)

The lens could lead to...smaller cell phones

smaller? i already cant keep track of mine. unless they put some kind of GPS in it so i can locate it with my palm, i dont think smaller is the way to go here

Original article (3, Informative)

Zayin (91850) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597579)

The University of Toronto has an article [utoronto.ca] about this.

You cannot transcend the laws of nature (5, Insightful)

mrnick (108356) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597580)

It is impossible to transcend the laws of nature. You can only determine that your understanding of nature has changed.

Nick Powers

Re:You cannot transcend the laws of nature (1)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597653)

Either that or the "laws" of nature are not laws, but merely guidelines, or emergent phenomenon.

Re:You cannot transcend the laws of nature (4, Insightful)

Raedwald (567500) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597795)

Either that or the "laws" of nature are not laws, but merely guidelines, or emergent phenomenon.

Saying something is a 'law of nature' is to say that it is a regualrity that has been repeatedly well observed, with no relaible counter instances. And that is all. That's what the words mean. The philosopher Hume demolished [anu.edu.au] the idea of having certain knowledge about natural laws, two centuries ago. The original poster was quite correct.

Re:Pull over, bub (4, Informative)

ianscot (591483) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597656)

Yeah, it's not like the universe pulls you over when you break those light-speed laws.

The emphasis on the "flatness" of the lenses, at least on /., is misguided too. These are special materials, and the lenses are flat because they have to be owing to the properties of the materials, not the other way around.

Heck, there are all different shapes of lens. Nikon's been out front with consumer "aspherical" lenses for a few years now, selling them in camera lenses and relatively low-end consumer binoculars. They let you simplify things like the number of elements in a camera lens, or help with distortions on the edge of the field in binoculars. Those are all curved, still, just not spherical on the edges -- but a new shape of lens isn't really much news. It's the whacky materials that make this story.

I guess it's science reporting, so let's take what we can get.

/shrug

Re:You cannot transcend the laws of nature (1)

MojoRilla (591502) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597673)

They should probably be called the theories of nature. As we learn more, we refine these theories.

Of course, then we will have the same problems that we have with the "Theory of Evolution". People will say it is not true because it is still just a theory. Breaking laws seems worse than disproving theory.

Re:You cannot transcend the laws of nature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597677)

I totally agree. I hate it when journalists make nonsensical comments like that.

Remember the article 'Scientists accelerate photon faster than the speed of light'? A photon is a light particle. How can it travel faster than itself? The article turned out to be about a substance that reverses the light specrum, but the reporter didn't understand the topic, so he thought he'd make a fantastic title.

This also reminds me of a sig I saw here on /.
'The study of non-linear physics is like the study of non-elephant biology.' The same goes for this lens. It may not be part of the special branch of physics for normal lenses, but it surely obeys the laws of nature.

On the other hand, this is a pretty big deal if it does break with most expert opinions. I want independent confirmation.

Re:You cannot transcend the laws of nature (1)

unixpgmr (661684) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597685)

I agree. What bothers me the most is that the physicist is calling it "new physics". He should know better.

Re:You cannot transcend the laws of nature (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597692)


Exactly. The article is an example of the "I am an idiot, so I think you are too" journalism OR trying to give you your opinion and then saying that is the wrong one.

Use your Illusion (1)

Flamesplash (469287) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597846)

As the Matrix (most recently) has taught us, it's all a matter of perception.

more on lenses (pun intended) (1)

stonebeat.org (562495) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597582)

could be used to focus sunlight and zap targets as well.

Fiction...merging...with RL... (1)

Joe the Lesser (533425) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597599)

existence of materials that have metaphysical qualities

Would those be Lenses of Clarity +2?

Re:Fiction...merging...with RL... (1)

smartin (942) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597712)

I read the /. blurb and in my mind i substituted "imaged objects" with "imagined objects" and it made more sense :)

Re:Fiction...merging...with RL... (1)

Ignominious Cow Herd (540061) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597925)

No, they'd be Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses.

Enough is enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597600)

I normally hold my tongue with the incessant quantum blah blah ravings on Slashdot, but this one takes the cake.

> a flat lens that doesn't respect the "normal" laws of nature
> ...
> the existence of materials that have metaphysical qualities

What??? I repeat, what??

Metaphysical? If a material has a property that you can measure, and it consistently shows the same behavior, then the quality is *physical*. If it is exhibiting strange behavior, it is not that it is somehow magical or mystical, but rather our current model of understanding is incorrect and needs to be modified. If reality does not conform to your model, you modify your model. You don't jump to the conclusion that the reality is "metaphysical".

And hey, if I'm reading this wrong, then they need to come up with another word besides "metaphysical". That is a loaded word, and I don't like to see it in association with a scientific endeavour.

By the way, I'm posting AC because I lost my email address. You can yell at me at: nospam@zibbydoo.dyndns.org

Interesting point. (1)

zackbar (649913) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597681)

Also, if magic existed, and could be shown to work, it would be a form of technology, and natural.

Not being sarcastic, btw.

Re:Enough is enough (2, Interesting)

carlos_benj (140796) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597698)

By the way, I'm posting AC because I lost my email address.

Did you lose it in some metaphysical device?

The term 'metaphysical' is only used in the title and first line of the article. The scientists all use the term 'metamaterials' instead. A better definition of what 'metamaterials' are:

Metamaterials are engineered composites that exhibit superior properties not observed in the constituent materials or nature.


From DARPA [darpa.mil]

Re:Enough is enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597732)

My "enough is enough" is in response to the poster's mystification of something that is purely physical. Many Slashdot posters have a tendency to take something that is run of the mill science and try to turn it into some sort of magic.

moron ignoring the consequences... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597603)

of the flames coming out of yOUR greed/fear/misinformation based .asps

you don't need a magnifying glass to estimate which weigh the wind is bullowing, unless you're tolled that's what you need.

"We should all look into the real motives of those who now own the world, beyond the nation states, even beyond oil contacts, market profiteers, and, of course, "democratization" of "rogue" nations notwithstanding. The reality is that a small power elite has become the only "necessary" section of the human species to keep the corporate entity growing and replace biological intelligence. And this itself will hold only for a "transitional" stage. It will hold true only during the tranfer of purely biological evolution to something less dependant on narrow physical and chemical conditions of life and consciousness. It's like the human species is giving birth to something else, a cosmic monster that will supersede it. Once the corporate entity has become able to function and grow without even the outlet of consumer markets, as it has somehow for a large part already, it won't need any longer the alibi of a product to manufacture or a service to render in order to exist. Already, many corporate entities don't even bother. Purely financial/speculative "businesses" thrive around the world, and nobody knows exactly what they are providing as far as human livelihood is concerned. At some point in the near future, even the Bushes and their Carlysle clique may become irrelevant, and that may be our only consolation. Put simply, I think the human species is on the verge of having run its course in the history of evolution."

the new physics! (-1, Offtopic)

snillfisk (111062) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597605)


As says George Eleftheriades, the Toronto professor, "This is new physics."


Well, we all know the "new economy" that was implied in the .com-area..

1. discover something strange
2. ???
3. Profit!

and this could actually work.

Re:the new physics! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597694)

Get in on the ground floor man! They're talking about revolutionizing pronography!!!

Anyone have access to Applied Physics Letters??? (2, Interesting)

tuck_williamson (562845) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597606)

I read the summary and terms like 'predicted analytically and demonstrated through simulation' don't seem to indicate that the material is actually developed. Unfortunately I don't have a subscription so I couldn't delve further. Anyone care to see if this is just speculation or if they actually have a material that seems to have neg refractive-index properties.

Re:Anyone have access to Applied Physics Letters?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597701)

A group at the MIT Media Lab (Ike Chuang's quanta group) claims to have reproduced the negative index of refraction effects observed by ucsd professor D. Smith. they have submitted a paper to Phys. Rev. Check out their website... you can get to it from www.media.mit.edu

Re:Anyone have access to Applied Physics Letters?? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597775)

Looking at the paper, it's a simulation of a realisable structure to achieve this NRI. So no new `real' experimental results, all computer stuff.

The nice thing about these NRIs seem to be the fact that they amplify the evavensent waves. Normally these waves decay exponentially with distance from the lens. Some microscopy techniques make use of them to achieve better-than-diffraction limited resolution.

Additionally, the realisable structure they are talking about in the paper is for microwaves - hence the mobile 'phone aspect.

The BS Detector (5, Insightful)

SharpNose (132636) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597843)

Actually, my BS detector went off in a few places in the linked article.

"Light passing through a flat glass lens will diverge." Not on my planet, bucko.

"'allows focusing almost two orders of magnitude higher than is possible with conventional lenses'..." Exactly what numerical quantity corresponds with "focusing?"

"the amount of information that could be stored on optical media would be vastly increased..." I thought that was limited by the wavelength of light used to record and read the information.

"By reversing the mathematical signs of the three main properties of all optical materials -- permittivity, permeability and refractive index -- Veselago showed that light going one way in normal materials would reverse direction in metamaterials." 1) Sure, if I start flipping signs in long-accepted equations that describe phenomena in the natural world, I can come up with all kinds of breakthroughs - antigravity, to say the least! 2) But if I set up a conventional refractive/reflective (I specifically omit "diffractive") optical system of any sort, can't I also run the light the other way identically?

Now, I think I recall an article in Scientific American some time back about structures made up of nanoantennae whose macroscopic optical properties were counterintuitive, but I don't think what I'm reading here speaks to that.

Re:Anyone have access to Applied Physics Letters?? (1)

the_pooh_experience (596177) | more than 11 years ago | (#5598006)

If you are still interested, the article is reproduced without high-resolution pictures here [arizona.edu]

Philosophy majors, take note! (3, Funny)

YetAnotherName (168064) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597612)

Now you can finally quit your job at 7-11 and start earning a decent income applying all of the metaphysics you studied in college in the new field of metamaterials!

How about time travel and teleportation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597615)

AFAIR, most people deny possibility of time travel and teleportation because it would require infinite energy. Well, read below - in theory it does require infinite energy and yet works.

Negative refraction would violate a fundamental limit -- the speed of light -- countered University of Texas researcher Prashant Valanju in the journal Physical Review Letters. A perfect lens would also require an infinite amount of energy to operate, added Nicolas Garcia and Manuel Nieto-Vesperinas of the Consejo Superior De Investigaciones Cientificas in Madrid.

Re:How about time travel and teleportation? (1)

ibjhb (173533) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597631)

Since this violates the speed of light, would you see the light leave the lens before it entered??

Re:How about time travel and teleportation? (0)

tktk (540564) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597637)

Time travel works! That's why this article is 6 days early.

Re:How about time travel and teleportation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597642)

Yeah, except those theories you quote are out of date. New calculations have shown that lenses like these do not violate any universal constants. We're no closer to infinite energy or time travel than we were yesterday.

Huge (0, Redundant)

ibjhb (173533) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597619)

A metamaterial lens "allows focusing almost two orders of magnitude higher than is possible with conventional lenses,"

If I am reading this correctly, this would have huge implications for the data storage industry. In respect to current technology, this would allow them to make DVDs hold more data then previously imagined. If you increase the ability to focus, you decrease the amount of area needed for each track on the DVD.

Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597620)

New physics huh? Seems kinda flaky to me, I'll
wait for the verification experiments before I
put hope in anything coming out of this.

When I'm bored, I surf porn at http://tgp.iamlazy.com

Metaphysical (0, Redundant)

MrWa (144753) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597624)

existence of materials that have metaphysical qualities -- so-called "metamaterials" -- that transcend the laws of nature.

Just the like the duckbilled platypus - stupid thing just refuses to fall into our predefined categories. Maybe we are just discovering that we don't actually know everything!

the "normal laws of science reporting" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597626)

is what this article does not respect. Either this is an early April Fools post ("left handed materials" from a Mr. ELEFTtheriades?) or just so poorly written as to be completely uninformative. First, I submit that all laws of nature are "normal". Second, there are some goofs in here that I could spot even 25+ years after taking my first and only course in physical optics. Light "normally" diverges through a flat lens? I don't think so...

First practical application (1)

Cyran0 (628243) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597630)

Finally! X-Ray glasses that *really* work!

metaphysics my ass (2, Insightful)

sstory (538486) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597643)

New technology does not equal 'metaphysical' devices. That's a stupid and confusing use of the word. And do you really mean to tell me that anything which isn't completely understood 'violates the known laws of physics'? Take a valium.

Re:metaphysics my ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597844)

'violates the known laws of physics'

If something isn't completely understood, then it isn't known, now is it? So, anything that isn't completely understood would violate the known laws of physics, now wouldn't it?

How about other uses outside of the visible light? (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597648)

Right now if you get the bad news that you have cancer, they may deside the best option is to treat it with a radiation treatment. This involves using a high energy beam to bore a hole completley through you that should contain the offending cells. What needs to be researched is a way of using holography to just radiate the bad cells. Maybe this tech may allow that conecpt to be considered.

Re:How about other uses outside of the visible lig (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597718)

The problem isn't getting to the cells. It is identifing the bad verses the good and balancing risk vs benefit. Cancer is like having Iraqi Fedyeen at a cellular level.

Oh Good Grief! (4, Insightful)

orac2 (88688) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597651)

'Metamaterials" are not "metaphysical", in the same way that metainformation is not inherently metaphysical. Meta is--say it with me people--just a prefix meaning (from the jargon file) "one level up" or if you prefer (from websters) "between, with, after, behind, over, about, reversely".

Metamaterials are carefully constructed arrangements of regular materials, whose properties combine to produce behaviours that no "pure" material can duplicate, including negative indexes of refraction.

This should not be a surprising concept to anyone who is aware that, for example, atoms can combine form metatoms (so-called "molecules") that have all kinds of properties not found when dealing with pure elements -- and yet the laws of nature survive!

There is no transcending the laws of nature going on here.

Right On (1)

Omkar (618823) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597799)

Just like MetaCrawler can find results no other search engine can. Seriously though, this is just a case of bad naming and good engineering. Think about an animal - a metaorganism that moves on its own! No transcendence of nature's laws, just complexity theory at work.

Re:Oh Good Grief! (1)

Hal-9001 (43188) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597805)


Metamaterials are carefully constructed arrangements of regular materials, whose properties combine to produce behaviours that no "pure" material can duplicate, including negative indexes of refraction.
Just out of curiousity, does anyone know if photonic bandgap materials are considered to be a subset of metamaterials? My intuition says yes, but my intuition is often wrong...

Re:Oh Good Grief! (1)

No. 24601 (657888) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597854)

There is no transcending the laws of nature going on here.

Oh really, my great one??? and for a second I thought that this wasn't a pretty acceptable use of exaggeration and he had some how found a way to break the fundamental laws of nature.

Re:Oh Good Grief! (3, Funny)

cygnus (17101) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597873)

a little etymology:

the term 'metaphysics' comes from aristotle, who placed all his books on a shelf in a particular order. those that were about what we call 'metaphysics' were next to his books on physics. hence, 'metaphysics' originally meant 'next to physics.'

Re:Oh Good Grief! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597902)

Metaphysics is from Plato. It was the subject taught after Physics hence "Meta" (after) Physics.

smaller glasses? (1)

Pflipp (130638) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597658)

What about smaller glasses?

Nobody in science ever thinks of the common man anymore. The common man whose nose can't carry the weight of his own binoculars, let alone find his smaller cell phone without the use of additional heavyweight contact lenses!

What is wrong with you people?!

8-P

Re:smaller glasses? (1)

Brento (26177) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597709)

What about smaller glasses? Nobody in science ever thinks of the common man anymore.

To paraphrase David Spade: it's called Lasik. Look into it.

Glasses won't be needed (1)

Animus Howard (643891) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597934)

> What about smaller glasses

Wow, you clearly don't understand the direction that technology is headed.

The article says that this new technology could lead to smaller cell phones, and that's all that is important.

In the near future cell phones will be smaller than the smallest object that normal humans can understand, the size of a human hair. People already drive, eat, walk their dogs, and sit on the toilet while talking to other people on the other side of the planet. Eventually cell phones will be so small and so powerful that everybody will be connected to everybody else, full time. You won't need to leave your bed, much less the house, so glasses will become irrelevant. Except of course for those drones, er people, who leave their hive -- sorry, I mean house -- to service the queen.

Sorry, I have probably said too much. Bu it doesn't matter, really. Resistance is futile.

New Scientist makes fact sound like fiction (3, Informative)

isdnip (49656) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597659)

The original UToronto release talks about evanescent waves, apparently a fairly critical part of the equation, and leads to the conclusion that the laws of physics are not actually being broken. Rather, the whole idea is that it is possible to create a lens with a negative index of refraction without anything exceeding the speed of light. Fancy footwork, yes, and perhaps still only a theoretical possibility rather than product nearly ready for sale. But not quite as dramatic as it sounds.

Sensationalistic (4, Insightful)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597662)

I hate it when science discoveries are reported in that uber-hyped style. It so obscures what the real finding actually is. It looks like they have something here, but in between the whole 'transcend the laws of nature' garbage and the 'this is so fantastic and revolutionary it will change absolutely everything' garbage, it's hard to see what they actually have.

Metamaterial (1)

janap (451953) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597663)

This comment is metamaterial.
It will absorb your information.
It will not be subject to moderation.
It will be metamoderated directly.

U o T Press Release (3, Informative)

pcb (125862) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597665)

The U o T press release with a bit more info can be found here [utoronto.ca] .

-PCB

Left IS better than Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597672)

Left-handers at last are vindicated! Meta-material lenses (which behave according to a "left hand rule" as opposed to the "right hand rule" naturally occuring materials exhibit) finally PROVE that we Left-handers are superior to you more numerous Right-handers! Our lenses can resolve detail up to TWO ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE better than your lenses. Ha!

Interesting application (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597679)

Taco should make pants out of this material, so he can at least compete with the asians in penis size. As technology progresses, he might event compete with the blacks!

bad science, or just wierd science? (3, Informative)

xeeno (313431) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597687)

Anyone that has had a high school physics class or a few semesters of introductory physics in college remembers snell's law and that infernal little quantity called 'n' that describes the characteristics of the material with respect to light. What they don't tell you in those classes is that you aren't even getting half of the picture.
Initially, you see n defined as c/v, where v is the speed of light in the material. Since v is less than c (always) this number is always greater than 1 except for vacuum. This is where the 'wierd science' part comes is, and the fact that you're only getting a fraction of the picture. In reality, n has both real and imaginary parts - the imaginary part decribes the 'folding' or how much the wave magnitude decays in the medium over distance and time. For example, if you took something that measured the intensity of light outside in the sunlight and compared it to the intensity of light behind a window in a house, the intensity *inside* would be less because the glass absorbs a certain amount of energy of the light as it passes through. As you can see, this 'n' thing is a little more complicated than what you learned initially in high school and college - end result, well, they sorta lied to you. In fact, the above is just scraping the barrel because you're still trying to give physical credence to a mathematical model.
The 'bad science' comes from putting too much faith in what the math really means. Guys, math is just a tool to *model* reality. If you put too much credence in it you start to think that stuff like virtual particles and feynman diagrams are real. They aren't. They're a tool used by physicists to get an answer that agrees with experiment. For more info on negative index of refraction stuff look at what these guys [ucsd.edu] did, and also look here [aip.org] for a little more info.
Not that it isn't cool to hope that things go faster than light and that we're just getting part of the picture...

Re:bad science, or just wierd science? (1)

harrkev (623093) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597876)

Not that it isn't cool to hope that things go faster than light and that we're just getting part of the picture...
In the article they stated a possible violation of the speed of light. The problem is...

How can light violate the speed of light?

The speed of light is defined by the speed of light! The actual physical law involves the "SPEED OF LIGHT," not C. C is defined as the speed of light IN A VACUUM! They are two different things.

Metaphysics (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597702)

How can you tell when you are talking about this "metaphysics" and the other, more commonly used "metaphysics" that are related to occultism, mysticism and things like that?

Clarke proves again that he was right when said "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"

Metaphysical Lenses... (1)

MarkusH (198450) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597703)

I thought those could only be made on Arisia? Guess we have reached the third stage of stabilization, and civilization will cover the entire galaxy.

Brrrrr.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597707)

Sounds like cold fusion to me.

Not new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597725)

These properties come from materials with complex (as in real and imaginary) values for the dielectric constant (epsilon). The index of refraction (n), which controls how light is bent at materials interfaces, is the square root of epsilon. Depending on the complex value of epsilon, this could lead to a negative index, which would cause light to bend the "wrong" way. The understanding of light's interaction with metals, the ionosphere and plasmas all rely on these properties. Much of this work was done in the early part of this century.


BTW, I don't have the link, but /. posted a story a few years ago about a material (made at San Diego, I think) that bent microwaves the wrong way. This demostration simply made use of the material's properties at a particular frequency (due to a resonance in the material) to "break" the "law" of angle of incidence = angle of reflection.

Isn't that the wonderful part of science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597728)

Scientists get to dream up theories to try to explain things, only realize how wrong or stupid they were later on. Problems rise when stupid scientists refuse to correct their beliefs when new evidence proves significantly that old theories are totally wrong. As dune puts it, "fear is the mind killer." Or slightly modified "fear of looking stupid kills science."

More info (5, Informative)

Steve525 (236741) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597735)

For those scratching their heads at this one, maybe I can help. (I'm not an expert in this field, but I do related work).

First off, the article mentions three properties: permittivity, permeability and refractive index. To keep the discussion simple, lets only consider refractive index, which is negative here.

So what does that mean? It in some sense it means that light is traveling backward in such a material. Not in the reflected sense of backward, but in the time reversal sense. For example, lets say you have light from a light bulb incident on such a material. In air, the light is divergerging (spreading out) from the light bulb. When the light enters this material, it no longer is diverging, but it is instead now converging.

It's certainly not hard to think of a different way of making light converge: use a lens. Indeed, at first glance a material with a negative index of refraction would seem to act very much like a lens. However there are some important differences.

In particular, lets say you wanted to make a very small spot of light (useful for reading CD's, or making IC's). A lens can at best focus light down to a spot roughly equal to the size of the wavelength of light. (This is why blue lasers are wanted for advanced CD/DVD's: shorter wavelength gives a smaller spot which gives greater density). A material with a negative index can get around this limitation.

How? There is one conventional way of making a spot of light smaller than the wavelength. That's by simply using a pinhole (or a capillary, which is esentially a pinhole with a funnel to push more light through pinhole). The problem with a pinhole, is the small spot of light only exists in the plane of the pinole. The light diverges very quickly so it's hard to do anything useful with it. (There is some interest in doing near field microscopy this way). However, if you had some of this magic material, you could recreate the small spot in a different plane. (You can't do this with a lense because it is impossible to capture the entire wavefront exiting the pinhole. This material has no such limitation - you can put this material right up against the pinhole).

This explains why this material might be interesting for CD technology. I have no idea about the other applications they mention.

woohoo, Moore's law here we come (1)

gwappo (612511) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597828)

From your description it sounds like the big application here is chipwafer lithography!

One of the funniest... (0, Troll)

callipygian-showsyst (631222) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597751)

...April Fool's articles I've seen in a long time. And it was a great idea to release it a week or so early to catch people off guard!

Re:One of the funniest... (1)

junklight (183583) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597872)

and indeed managing to spread it widely to give it more credability. Everyone is looking for the one source joke - this is a whole new dimension.

Re:One of the funniest... (1)

dunedan (529179) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597988)

I remember when my wife was taking a 400 level course in this stuff and the talked a lot about this sort of thing. I don't think my university would put that much time into a joke.

At the very least the negitave refractive index of some electrical antenas is well documented. I don't think this is a joke. Maybe a fraud, but not a joke.

What the hell!? (2, Interesting)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597765)

I'm sure this lenses is real, but the submitter is hopelessly confused about the laws of nature and metaphysics. For one thing, metaphysics doesn't really have much to do with real physics at all, but rather refers to thinking about the nature of reality. Questions like "does god exist", "What makes something 'true'", "how can paradoxes exit" etc. Something that violates the laws of nature is supernatural.

And secondly, nothing can violate the laws of physics anyway. If something can't be explained by physics, then it means our theories are wrong, not the thing is 'supernatural' or whatever. Geez.

And to think, my great post about using enzymes to create electricity rather then expensive fuel cells got deleted.

Military laser weapons (1)

fjpereira (657762) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597767)

This can also be used to improove the power of
military laser weapons.

Regarding civilian aplications, this can also
improove the eficiency of cutting laser machines.

Give us a break (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597768)


Hey dudes: depending on your time zone, April first is still at least four days away. Please give us a break save your metaphysical metamaterials till the day officially set asside for them.

-- MarkusQ

after I use these miracle materials (1)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597833)

Will I lose weight, feel more confident, and make the "big sale?"

Because if not, I'm not buying it!

Nothing transcends the laws of nature (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597867)

We may not completly understand the laws of nature and there are obviously things that transcend our understanding of the laws of nature, but the laws of nature by definition can not be transcended.

Lenses (1)

EdMcMan (70171) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597890)

I always thought lenses were only used for optical things.. they can be used for waves too?

The lens could lead to amplified antennas, smaller cell phones and increased data storage on CD-ROMs.

Re:Lenses (1)

clarkcox3 (194009) | more than 11 years ago | (#5598043)

I always thought lenses were only used for optical things.. they can be used for waves too?

The only difference between radio, microwaves, x-rays, gamma rays and visible light is the wave length. They are all electromagnetic radiation, humans just tend to think that light is somehow special or different because we can see it.

The meaning of the index of refraction (1)

luzrek (570886) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597908)

The index of refraction is the ratio of the speed of light in a substance relative to the speed of light in vacuum. Special relativity is violated if the index of refraction has an absolute value less than one. While it is new for a material to have a negative index of refraction, this doesn't violate any fundamental laws of physics. It just means that light bends the wrong way when it passes from one medium to another.

In Soviet Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5597937)


the lenses refract you!

headlights for French tanks (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597971)

Since an N.I.R. means negative light velocity or light going backwards. This could make the perfect headlights for French military vehicles that only "retreat" anyways.


(troll)

Mother Nature is not a mathematician... (2, Insightful)

InadequateCamel (515839) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597981)

...and Physicists are terrible at English. Seriously guys, put down the calculator and look up some of the words you are using; you are starting to sound like Dubya (He misunderestimated my mathematical abilities!). Once they start reporting that "the discovery filled me with shock and awe and sent me into a regime of extreme delight" I'm gonna start waving a gun around. :-)

Seriously though, just because Joe Physics "proved" something with a number of complex mathematical conjectures and theories 20 years ago, that doesn't mean that all future results that contradict this are "violations of the fundamental properties of Nature". Please get down off your high horse. The universe was not created according to a first-year calculus textbook, and if you disagree with this you have your own regime...sorry...agenda to push, such as having a commonly-accepted theory with your name on it.

Reminds me of a graph published by a fairly respected researcher that one of my profs showed me that modeled the spectroscopic properties of a number of compounds to a tee. A whole lot of work went into this equation, and it was even more impressive when you consider the limited processing power of computers at the time. There was just one catch: the modeling equation had FIVE variables...oh sorry..."correction factors". My friend asked him if they tried fitting the properties of a cup of coffee to the graph as well, because it would probably fit with the proper "correction factors". He thought it was worth a try...but he IS a coffee nut.

A Perfect Lens (1)

red_gnom (545555) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597989)



From the article: "Light wavelengths normally limit lens resolution, but Pendry's perfect lens suffered no such limitations. ...a perfect lens would also require an infinite amount of energy to operate."


So I guess, this fact alone makes it very practical to use...

Uh oh... (1)

praetorian_x (610780) | more than 11 years ago | (#5597999)

When I see the prefix "meta" I reach for my gun...

Cheers,
prat

"Transcend the laws of nature"? I don't think so. (1)

Slartibartfast (3395) | more than 11 years ago | (#5598004)

-NOTHING- "transcends the laws of nature." Period. It may be -- and is demonstrably true -- that we do not yet understand all the laws of nature (else we'd already have a Grand Unified Theory), but the laws of nature -are-. It is merely our understanding of them that is lacking.

Does this make STEMs Obsolete? (1)

OrbNobz (2505) | more than 11 years ago | (#5598011)

"These findings provide an opportunity to resolve details in an object smaller than a wavelength."

Would this mean that with a metamicroscope, I could see molecules or even atoms optically vs. electronically?
Wow! Color me impressed!

- OrbNobz
You left what at home?
The guidey...chippy...thingy. - Zim and Gir

OMG!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#5598012)

OMG, jorje bush just dropped the thermel global nucular bomb on iraq!!!
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