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Plan For Cloaking Device Unveiled

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the thanks-to-the-romulans dept.

342

Robotron23 writes "The BBC is reporting that a plan for a cloaking device has been unveiled. The design is pioneered by Professor Sir John Pendry's team of scientists from the US and Britain. Proof of the ability of his invention could be ready in just 18 months time using radar testing. The method revolves around certain materials making light "flow" around the given object like water."

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342 comments

FIRST POST (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15406558)

we'll cloak niggers WITH A WHITE GARB TO give the appearance of visibility. YOU CANNOT SEE A NIGGER IN THE DARK, RIGHT?

Re:FIRST POST (-1, Troll)

Corbu Mulak (931063) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406655)

This is offtopic, but this troll reminded me a kid I went to highschool with. He was extremly dark, but had the whitest teeth I had ever seen. We played baseball together, and sometimes when the practices ran real late, the only way you could tell where he was was if he smiled.

Obligatory (5, Funny)

HeXetic (627740) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406561)

I, for one, welcome our new invisible overlords.

Useless for people (4, Interesting)

GFLPraxis (745118) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406725)

If I'm not mistaken, since this bends the light around the object, none of the light actually hits the object, correct?

So no invisible surveilance cameras or human beings- the light would miss the lens of the camera or the eye of the human and they'd be completely blind.

Re:Useless for people (2, Insightful)

Feyr (449684) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406753)

no one said you'd have to be completly invisible,

sure this does preclude some applications, but imagine as a camouflage for an armored vehicle. you just keep the window visible and/or camera lens. you just got yourself a nice nearly invisible tank, which is a thousand time better than what they have right now

Re:Useless for people (2, Insightful)

mcrumiller (597783) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406810)

Not to mention the fact that they can probably design it to only block visible light--perhaps infrared or radio communication would work?

Tenuous at best (2, Insightful)

Rethcir (680121) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406566)

Granted I didn't RTFM, but proof of my ability to turn, say, a brick into 20 pounds of diamonds could also be ready within 18 months.

Re:Tenuous at best (3, Funny)

vodkamattvt (819309) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406573)

I have millions of venture capital for you my friend. Please give me your bank account number and I will deposit my funds which are stuck in Nigeria at the moment.

Re:Tenuous at best (1)

M0b1u5 (569472) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406583)

Given a brick weighs less than 20lbs - how do you propse doing that? o_O

Re:Tenuous at best (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15406593)

You don't have a problem with the bricks into diamonds part, just the 20lb bricks?

Re:Tenuous at best (5, Funny)

schon (31600) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406600)

Given a brick weighs less than 20lbs - how do you propse doing that?

Well, you start by throwing it through a jewellery store window. :o)

Government Uses (0, Troll)

mulhollandj (807571) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406569)

I can think of a lot of things the government would use this for and most of them violate the Constitution.

Re:Government Uses (3, Funny)

Metabolife (961249) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406574)

Forget the government, I know a lot of this I could do with this. And most of them violate the constition, and morality, and decency, and privacy, and...

Slashdot's at it again (5, Funny)

SoVeryTired (967875) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406577)

I long for a month where slashdot doesn't announce a new design for a cloaking device...

Re:Slashdot's at it again (1)

technoextreme (885694) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406667)

I long for a month where slashdot doesn't announce a new design for a cloaking device...
Come on.. We have the transparent aluminum. We just need the cloaking device. I'll be dammed though as to why Science keeps on publishing these design though.

Alternative Technique (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15406591)

WEAR A THICK CLOAK THAT ADMITS NO LIGHT. You will become "INVISIBLE" because according to Wiktionary, you (meaning your body proper) are no longer visible!

Honestly, where do our tax dollars go, eh? Eh? Am I right, folks?

Ooops! (5, Funny)

udoschuermann (158146) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406601)

AP Wire (2019): In the news today, once again the military claims to have "lost" an F-22 somewhere on the grounds of Andrews Airforce Base (AFB). Said Captain J. Andrews (no relation): "I could have sworn I parked the thing right over there. Last night's storm must have blown the locator-ribbon off the nose or something."

Good (5, Funny)

owlman17 (871857) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406604)

This is good if the enemy doesn't have a Comsat or a Science Vessel.

Re:Good (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15406904)

If this is the case, then I, for one, would have to welcome some Overlords.

Maybe, maybe not (1)

SlashSquatch (928150) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406617)

I hope they don't plan to use refractive materials, they'd be much better off bending the light, you know, like when water bends around a pencil and stuff.

Radar? (1)

cosmotron (900510) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406619)

"A simple model that will work for radar..."

So... they mean like the Stealth Bomber?

Re:Radar? (3, Interesting)

Amouth (879122) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406687)

I would think a little different.. the Stealth Bomber is "Stealth" against active radar.. but can still be seen via passive radar..

abet harder to set up a passive radar system but not imposable..

when you send out the radar wave and look for what bounces back that is active.. when you have something on the other side of your target looking for that wave - that is passive.

if you setup two towers and the broadcast to each other and you fly between them they can tell even if they can see it actively... if you set up a perimeter of them say 3-4-5 or more and they all talk back and forth .. they could see the stealth bomber fly through and if your field is dense enough they would be able to track it easily

with this type of tech the item would be invisible to active and passive radar.. although I bet it would show some type of ghosting effect for areas near it via passive scan.. it would be very hard to track.

Re:Radar? (1, Insightful)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406881)

The Stealth bomber reflects the signals in all sorts of directions so there is a Mimimum radar return, some of those signals would be reflected to continue on to a reciever on the other end as in your example. However the return (on either end) would be weak sort of like a large bird or a SMALL plane. Sorting out whether that was a bird, small plane, a decoy, jamming, or a real B2 before a HARM missle from the B2 or a UAV blows you to bits is the problem. During the Gulf War the Iraqis were afraid to turn on the radar to try to track anything else they get hammered by a HARM. Shooting semi-blindly into the sky with a missle that has it's own tracking has a good a chance as anything else. The damn things ARE invisible, and when they arent (i.e. bomb bay doors are open) its not for very long. Plus they don't even have to get close to the target these days, a JDAM can hit something 40 miles away when dropped from a B2 at altitude. If the B2 absorbed the radar signal then you would get a "hole" in the sky that could be tracked, of course how the B2 would dump the absorbed radar energy without having a big IR signature is an interesting challenge, maybe some sort of super-cooled liquid as a heat sink.

Re:Radar? (1)

Meetch (756616) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406711)

*sigh*

Craft like the stealth bomber work by scattering radar signals so they return almost any which way but back to the sender, making them appear a lot smaller than they really are. If there were something in the shadow of its profile, you wouldn't see that either. You would get no significant "ping" from your radar signal.

This theory, if it works and proves practical, would change things so you would get no reflection off the bomber, but you would see the object behind it just the same as if the craft wasn't there. There would be a radar blip! The downside for the bomber is if the object behind was a legitimate target, the bomber would be hit by shots aimed at the object behind.

It sounds like any effective cloak created using this any time in the "near" future would only really be effective for static installations.

Re:Radar? (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406807)

or the plane could listen to signals (ones it doesn't bend) just like a sub listens to other subs and natural sounds in water.. and can map the enviornment from that - there by flying via pasive scanning.. subs do it all the time.. but then again they don't have nearly as much to worrie about as planes..

Re:Radar? (1)

cosmotron (900510) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406852)

I know how they work... -_-

I guess I didn't read enough of the article. I thought that they meant that it would be good only against radar.

Proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15406643)

when I don't see it, i'll believe it

Harry Potter Bull$4it (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15406644)

I've read this story on about 4 news sites now and if I hear one more bloody site telling the public that this is 'Harry Potter' inspired I am going to have to cloak my foot up their asses. The mere thought of a scientist being inspired by Harry Potter pisses me off enough, but that they are perpetuating the idea that a childrens book written relatively recently is superceeding 150 years of SCIENCE fiction is what inspires stuff like this.

Completely off topic I know but had to get that out.. Carry on

Re:Harry Potter Bull$4it (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406704)

. . .they are perpetuating the idea that a childrens book written relatively recently is superceeding 150 years of SCIENCE fiction is what inspires stuff like this.

Welcome to the Age of Unenlightenment.

Have a happy.

KFG

Re:Harry Potter Bull$4it (1)

koreaman (835838) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406780)

I thought you were full of shit, but then I read the CNN article.

I hope CNN chokes.

Re:Harry Potter Bull$4it (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406835)

I've read this story on about 4 news sites now and if I hear one more bloody site telling the public that this is 'Harry Potter' inspired I am going to have to cloak my foot up their asses. The mere thought of a scientist being inspired by Harry Potter pisses me off enough, but that they are perpetuating the idea that a childrens book written relatively recently is superceeding 150 years of SCIENCE fiction is what inspires stuff like this.

I feel your pain... but whether termed SF or not, I haven't read any stories concerning invisibility that aren't basically magic, including the original, HG Wells' Invisible Man in 1898. And of course, here on Slashdot it's Trek that gets the "credit".

Related to this Slashdot article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15406646)

Here [slashdot.org] ; Pendry is quoted in that story's article.

Cloaking for fun and profit (3, Interesting)

patio11 (857072) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406647)

There is a Japanese research group which has a cloaking system (well, technically its more of a very adaptive camoflague -- significant drawbacks, such as the requirement to have a camera focused on the object you want to cloak, make it less than useful for military applications). Its essentially useless currently, but it makes for very fun tech demos.

http://projects.star.t.u-tokyo.ac.jp/projects/MEDI A/xv/oc.html [u-tokyo.ac.jp]

My favorite one is the breakdancing guy in the bottom video.

Well, a bigger problem... (1)

emarkp (67813) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406751)

Is that it's a fraud. There's nothing in those videos that can't be done with traditional "green screen" effects.

Re:Cloaking for fun and profit (1)

UncleJam (786330) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406772)

You realize that there is just a camera behind the guy and a projector in front, right?

Re:Cloaking for fun and profit (1)

patio11 (857072) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406800)

Yep, and a specially designed cloak. Completely useless but fun to watch.

Re:Cloaking for fun and profit (1)

fufubag (935599) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406897)

This is just the simple example. Imagine thousands of nano-cameras ingrained all over your body armour, all linked to nano-screens ingrained on the exact opposite side of the armour. This is one way cloaking may be able to work someday.

Doesn't this vialate our treaty with the Klingons? (2, Funny)

NerdENerd (660369) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406652)

Doesn't this vialate our treaty with the Klingons?

Re:Doesn't this vialate our treaty with the Klingo (2, Funny)

dark404 (714846) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406736)

No, it violates our treaty with the romulans stupid!

Re:Doesn't this vialate our treaty with the Klingo (2, Funny)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406742)

Romulans actually.

And no it doesn't, because we've got a couple of centuries until we actually sign it.

You know this won't work... (0)

technoextreme (885694) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406658)

If you accidently bump into someone. I can imagine the scenarios in the battlefield:
Person bumps into stealthy man.
Person: What the?? What did I just bump into??
Stealth Dude: There is nothing here for you to see. Move Along.
Person: Who said that?
Stealth Dude: Ummmm... Ummm... Im a ghost.
Person: Really?
Stealth Dude runs away.
Person: Hello??? Hello??? Are you still there???

maths? (0, Offtopic)

aluser (771756) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406662)

These research papers present the maths required to verify that the concept could work.

The maths required? Is that correct grammar in the uk?

Re:maths? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15406694)

The maths required? Is that correct grammar in the uk?

Yep.

Re:maths? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15406709)

Maths == short for mathematics

Re:maths? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15406788)

Math == short for mathematics. It doesn't need the extra 's'.

Re:maths? (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406733)

Do you study mathematic?

KFG

Re:maths? (2, Informative)

patio11 (857072) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406820)

Yes, in UK and Australia (and probably other Commonwealth nations, although I don't have personal experience outside of those two -- Canada I think follows American usage) "mathematics" always shortens to "maths" when describing a field of study ("My worst subject at uni was maths"), the process of computation ("Help me, I can't get the maths to work out here"), etc etc.

In theory, this post will be modded down... (5, Interesting)

AlexanderDitto (972695) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406666)

I'd like to point out that this is brilliantly advanced... in theory. It's completely possible and will likely be buildable... in theory.

I RTFA, and frankly, it sounds like confirmation of the idea that mathamatics in general is WAY ahead of the other sciences. Things that are perfectly possible in theory are out of our grasp in the real world... right now, at least.

Even as a mathmatician, the fact that there's so much theory and so little actual DOING has me worried. There's a tiny flaw in the use of 'metamaterials' to make objects invisible... we don't HAVE metamaterials.

Though, it beats sticking my head in the sand by a long shot.

The split ends are horrible.

Re:In theory, this post will be modded down... (1)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406734)

Well, I think that idea is that instead of just blindling pursuing random, poke-in-the-dark type science (Radioactivity & Marie Curie, anyone?), we theorize a possibility first, and then pursue long term, expensive projects to try and acheive it.

Even if the project merely proves that implementation is practically impossible, the spinoffs can be valuable.

Given that mankind is not (at this moment) capable of vast scientific leaps into the future, evolutionary improvements via theorizing seems like a valid way to "tread water".

We'll work on metamaterials while we wait for someone to intuit a Grand Unified Field Theorem that will make the metamaterials unnecessary.

Re:In theory, this post will be modded down... (0, Flamebait)

3) profit!!! (773340) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406756)

Mathematics isn't a science.

Re:In theory, this post will be modded down... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15406773)

Mathematics isn't a science.
No, mathematics is not a science, but it enables science.

Nonsense -- water does not look like light. (4, Insightful)

cinnamoninja (958754) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406671)

They claim that certain "metamolecules" have the power to make light behave like water, and flow rather than scatter. I quote:

"A little way downstream, you'd never know that you'd put a pencil in the water - it's flowing smoothly again.

"Light doesn't do that of course, it hits the pencil and scatters. So you want to put a coating around the pencil that allows light to flow around it like water, in a nice, curved way."


The truth is, water scatters when hitting something, too. It just doesn't *matter*, because all particles of water look the same to us. So, if the water particle that would have been in the middle without the disruption ends up on the far right, it doesn't matter!

However, we are very, very good at telling different pieces of light apart. At best, this will provide very good camo, where pieces of color from the environment behind you show up on you instead. At worst, the disruption from light working in unexpected ways will make this "invisibility" be a very noticeable beacon. You know how your eyes always flick to something that moves (animated ads, anyone?) This would be like that.

Re:Nonsense -- water does not look like light. (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406703)

So it will look about like the cloaking device in Predator. That's sufficiently cool. They can name it the Kevin Peter Hall Effect.

Re:Nonsense -- water does not look like light. (4, Informative)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406731)

A little further down, they say:

"What you're trying to do is guide light around an object, but the art is to bend it such that it leaves the object in precisely the same way that it initially hits it. You have the illusion that there is nothing there"

Unfortunately (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15406680)

Unfortuantely, curent technology requires a de-cloak before firing. However, a prototype is in the works that would allow firing while cloaked.

From TFA (1)

Jonboy X (319895) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406690)

From TFA: These metamaterials can be designed to induce a desired change in the direction of electromagnetic waves, such as light.

Kinda like, say, glass changes the direction of light?

Useless for GW (1)

Jaza (178039) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406692)

But a Stealth Bomber cunnot fyre when she's cloaked, Mister Pres'dent!
(adapted from a quote by Scotty, Star Trek VI).

This is in clear violation.... (1, Redundant)

skam240 (789197) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406693)

How can we do this! This is clearly in violation of the Treaty of Algeron we signed with the Romulans.

Does not work (1)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406719)

Surely, if this cloaking technology were working properly, the inventors would have cloaked themselves and the blueprints to their devious device.

At least I would have,
Dr. Evil

Obligatory Star Trek referance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15406743)

But won't this violate the Romulan treaty we are in.....

But what I want... (1)

phxhawke (35260) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406744)

...is Thermoptic Camo, Ghost in the Shell Style :) If only it had been available back in high school...

Well, its gotta have a tail-pipe! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15406758)

Here's a good idea to use as a minor plot line in a movie:

So, let's imagine that an aircraft carrier uses this system and sails along cloaked, ignoring the obvious ripples in the water for a moment ;)

Anyway, another ship comes alone, an enemy ship, which suspects that there is a cloaked vessel nearby. The communications officer on this enemy ship comes up with an utterly brilliant and unique idea, an idea never before used for some reason: "well, its gotta have a tail-pipe!" and, in no time, a torpedo is modified to find and sink the cloaked vessel.

Wait, nah, that's just really bad nevermind.

An alternative usage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15406797)

If even moderately functional, such an apparatus could also be used to defend against light weapons; e.g, orbiting laser cannon vs. cloaked nuclear weapon re-entry vehicles.

How do you cloak the cloaking device? (1)

martonlorand (938109) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406834)

It is an interesting question, and I am probably not smart enough to figure this out, and probably it has more "traditional" logic/physics than I know.But...

I did RTFM and the one thing that came down to me: how will you cloak the cloaking device?

There is a drawing - the cloaking device like a cherry and the object to be cloaked like the pit of a chetty. The light travels around the pit, but what hapens to the outer device? Is it made of glass or transparent material?

If I go by what I see it is basically like a big periscope - which was discovered a couple years ago... Ohh wait - you can see the periscope...

One minor problem (1)

Omega Blue (220968) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406841)

Well, if light doesn't reflect like it should off this, um, clocked object, and instead "flows" around it...

What you will get is in fact a black blob sitting there, not an invisible object, except in the direction where all this light is "flowing." Think about it. A black object absorbs all light on the visible spectrum, reflecting none. These two behave in exactly the same way, except in one specific direction.

Nonsense. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15406842)

Light doesn't flow and liquid doesn't refract.

The possibility of making light flow around an object is as likely as making water refract as it passes through your metaprism-thing. I suppose if we can do one, then we can do the other.

Think of the possibilities of making water change direction. Oh wait, tubes are metaprism-things. Maybe the key to making light 'flow around' is really simple too, like rainbow dust or something. Yes.

Those researchers should wait for a rainy day and go retrieve some rainbow dust from the end of a rainbow.

Research abstracts (2, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 7 years ago | (#15406846)

The BBC article mentions a couple of articles in the current issue of Science. Here's the text from their research abstracts:

Controlling Electromagnetic Fields [sciencemag.org]
J. B. Pendry, D. Schurig, D. R. Smith

Using the freedom of design that metamaterials provide, we show how electromagnetic fields can be redirected at will and propose a design strategy. The conserved fields--electric displacement field D, magnetic induction field B, and Poynting vector S--are all displaced in a consistent manner. A simple illustration is given of the cloaking of a proscribed volume of space to exclude completely all electromagnetic fields. Our work has relevance to exotic lens design and to the cloaking of objects from electromagnetic fields.

Optical Conformal Mapping [sciencemag.org]
Ulf Leonhardt

An invisibility device should guide light around an object as if nothing were there, regardless of where the light comes from. Ideal invisibility devices are impossible due to the wave nature of light. This paper develops a general recipe for the design of media that create perfect invisibility within the accuracy of geometrical optics. The imperfections of invisibility can be made arbitrarily small to hide objects that are much larger than the wavelength. Using modern metamaterials, practical demonstrations of such devices may be possible. The method developed here can be also applied to escape detection by other electromagnetic waves or sound.


Unfortunately, I don't seem to have access to the full papers.
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