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Math Sci-Fi Science

Mathematicians Design Invisible Tunnel 171

Posted by kdawson
from the worms-need-light-too dept.
New calculations show how to make an electromagnetic "wormhole" — a tube that is invisible from the sides but allows light to shine down the center. The practical applications are a ways off, as even the design of a spherical invisibility cloak has not advanced beyond working (in theory) for a single wavelength of visible light.
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Mathematicians Design Invisible Tunnel

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  • by seven of five (578993) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @06:08PM (#19013673) Homepage
    anyway, it seems to work on the website.
  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @06:09PM (#19013677)
    Not to be a party pooper, but is there really any application for this tunnel? You can't see it, you can't see out of it, and you need to build it so it can only go to places you can already go.

    In NJ we already have tunnels that seem to do nothing. We call them the Holland Tunnel & Lincoln Tunnel.
    • by someone1234 (830754) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @06:14PM (#19013715)
      Is it hidden from Google Maps?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, 2007 @06:19PM (#19013771)
      In NJ we already have tunnels that seem to do nothing. We call them the Holland Tunnel & Lincoln Tunnel.

      Q : Why are New Yorkers so depressed?
      A : Because the light at the end of the tunnel is New Jersey!
      • by mrbluze (1034940) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @07:55PM (#19014687) Journal
        Scientists develop invisible, weightless clothing that is so thin you can't feel it. One of their first customers has been the King of England, but orders have also been placed by the President and hundreds of middle aged men hoping to impress their wives this Mother's Day.
      • Q : Why are New Yorkers so depressed?
        A : Because the light at the end of the tunnel is New Jersey!
        If NJ is so great, why are all the tolls at the NJ state border to get out of NJ to any of the adjacant states? (And no toll to enter NJ.)
        Also, if NJ is so great why does the Statue of Liberty face the other way?
    • Could make for a very effective nail if they found a way to sound proof things. People can't see in or out of it, they wouldn't even know it was there except they could not enter/exit it. Would be absolutely perfect for prisons and such.
      • Much easier to hide than Guatanamo and we wouldn't have to be paying rent to Cuba, either.

        AFAIK Cuba tried to remove the lease on Gitmo when Castro found out what the USA was using it for but real estate brokers and lawyers enjoy the same type of power over the Cuban government as they do here.
    • by totoanihilation (782326) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @06:24PM (#19013829)
      The one application that struck me is the holographic implications. If you can get light to move to a precise spot in mid-air through an invisible tunnel, you can make objects appear anywhere. No smoke or mirrors required.
      • by suv4x4 (956391) on Monday May 07, 2007 @12:24AM (#19016717)
        The one application that struck me is the holographic implications. If you can get light to move to a precise spot in mid-air through an invisible tunnel, you can make objects appear anywhere. No smoke or mirrors required.

        A laser beam is already invisible since it travels in a given direction. There's no light-saber beam line, like in the movies (as you probably know).

        The problem with holograms is, how do you scatter that beam at any given point (thus the smoke or vapour or whatever), so it becomes a visible light point. And thus, thus technology doesn't help holograms at all.

        Plus to create a workable resolution images (say 800 voxels = 800^3) that's 512 million tunnels, recreated/readjusted from 20 to 60 times a second. Or one really fast moving tunnel covering around 10 billion locations per second.

        Since the solution involves metal rings building the tunnel.. how the heck do you imagine this in a hologram in midair ;)?

    • Not to be a party pooper, but is there really any application for this tunnel? You can't see it, you can't see out of it, and you need to build it so it can only go to places you can already go

      That should be obvious: it will have great implications for the Internet, which - as we all know - is a series of tubes. The tunnel carries light, so it can work like a fibre connection, and we can identify the endpoints.

      :-)

      • by tinkertim (918832) *

        That should be obvious: it will have great implications for the Internet, which - as we all know - is a series of tubes. The tunnel carries light, so it can work like a fibre connection, and we can identify the endpoints. :-)

        Oh, great. So every time you surf porn someone gets impailed by your 10G tube growing making the end point connection?
    • by Strilanc (1077197) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @06:59PM (#19014151)
      It's essentially an invisible wire. Just think of the possibilities! Invisible tripwire, an INVISIBLE clutter of wires behind your desk, and freaky rope bondage! ... maybe we should reconsider building this.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Torvaun (1040898)
        "Damn, kicked the network cable out again. Aw, shit, they've already got that invisible crap here? Now I'm doomed."
    • How about a recon vehicle?
      Put the tube standing on end around the vehicle. Use fiber optics, small cameras, or other sensors in a periscope so they can see outside the tube. There would also be the possibility of stacking smaller and smaller tubes to form a dome over an object.
    • I have no idea what an invisibility cloak could be good for.
    • When Charles Babbage invented his mechanical calculating machine, no one could foresee the invention of the computer. It's a matter of both refining the device and the integration of other technologies.
  • spelling? (Score:5, Funny)

    by skeldoy (831110) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @06:15PM (#19013723) Homepage
    "advenced"? "are a ways of"? That futuristic language must be from the other side of the wormhole!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 06, 2007 @06:22PM (#19013801)
    If anyone is interested, I found a photo:
  • military (Score:4, Interesting)

    by crAckZ (1098479) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @06:23PM (#19013809)
    this is a good application for the army. a series of tunnels and your moving trucks and cargo without the enemy seeing them. all they would know is that you have the tunnels but would'nt know exactly what your moving.
    • by Tribbin (565963)
      Yeah, or make a giant dough-roller out of it and roll it over the country!
    • Re:military (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ByteSlicer (735276) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @06:49PM (#19014055)
      Or they could build their tunnels out of metal-shielded concrete, and nobody would see what they are moving either (for a fraction of the price, probably).
      • But those could be targeted. If your enemy only knows where your units are appearing, they can't target the supply line, only the origin and destination.

      • by soft_guy (534437) *

        Or they could build their tunnels out of metal-shielded concrete, and nobody would see what they are moving either (for a fraction of the price, probably).
        Yes, but your solution is impractical for the US military because it does not waste the maximum amount of money possible.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cathector (972646)
      why is this modded 4/interesting ?
      you don't even have to read the article. right there in the summary it says "a tube that is invisible from the sides but allows light to shine down the center." (not that the article actually says much more than the summary)

      so while i'm sure the military will have an application for this, as they seem to have applications for anything which my money can be spent on, the only things which can be moved thru the tunnel are photons.
      • by Zakabog (603757)
        You don't get it, light can go through the center, as in you can see what's in the tunnel if you are in it already, or at one of the ends. When you observe it from the side, the tunnel will look completely invisible like there's nothing there. So it's a big round cylinder that's invisible from the sides.
        • by cathector (972646)
          hm, i'm missing the article actually saying the tunnel can contain objects, but i think you're right.
  • Designed?!? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sakusha (441986) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @06:23PM (#19013821)
    I don't quite see how anyone can claim they designed such a thing. It is sort of like saying Klein designed a bottle that holds everything on the outside on the inside. Of course a Klein Bottle is impossible to construct, sure it's an interesting mathematical idea but it's not anything you can make in reality, so it's senseless to say it's been designed. Let's just say it's been imagined.
    • by maxume (22995)
      Actually, it is more that reality isn't offended by topology:

      http://www.kleinbottle.com/ [kleinbottle.com] look real enough to me.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sakusha (441986)
        Did you people all flunk math? Those are MODELS of a Klein Bottle, not a REAL Klein bottle. The Klein Bottle is a construct that cannot exist in normal 3D space.
        Now I suppose you're going to tell me that a drawing of a cube on a piece of paper is a real 3D cube?
        • by maxume (22995)
          I just didn't take any higher math. I also have a tendency not to be uselessly rigid.
        • by fractoid (1076465)
          Nope, we'll call it a drawing of a cube when defining it... but if someone asks "what is it?" we're liable to just say "it's a 3D cube". That's a common way to use the English language, and for most of us is not hard to understand. The ability to understand flexibly used language is one of the things that differentiates us humans from machines.

          Lots of 2D representations of 3D things are referred to as '3D' - take, for example, any game with '3D rendered graphics', ie. almost all of them these days. Commo
    • by DeadChobi (740395)
      The article is clearly nonsense. It doesn't explain anything, merely speculates idly about how the tunnel that doesn't exist should work, throws in a few buzzwords, and some general information, and calls it a day. Nothing to see here, just more pageviews for Scientific American.
  • Finally we can build an invisible network of fiber optic cables!
  • by Tribbin (565963) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @06:31PM (#19013903) Homepage
    So now you can *KLANG* Chuck Norris on the head with a tube, and he won't see it coming?

    I don't think one would have much time to enjoy the moment though, 'cause he will round-house-kick the tube into your navel.
  • Fake! (Score:4, Funny)

    by markild (862998) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @06:34PM (#19013933)
    Bah.. I just checked out ThinkGeek, and [b]still[/b] no 1:12 working model of a Stargate..

    I mean, what's the use of this technology if they're not putting it to good use :P
  • by zymano (581466)
    Why don't we prove that instead?

  • by kirils (1050022) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @06:40PM (#19013995) Homepage
    hell, yeah. now we'll be able to download pr0n without others seeing.
  • by Joebert (946227) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @06:49PM (#19014067) Homepage
    Joebert ! you're late !
    No I'm not sir, I got an early start cleaning up inside the tube.
  • The rapists in Second Life are working on an Invisible ePenis to counter this development.
  • Just think: we can now play hide and seek in public. Lets make tunnels to make it more exciting! Sounds like Harry Potter with all the invisibility, no? Lets face it: there are no practical applications for this invisibility tunnel, at the moment. When a valid need for something like this can be proven, then resume the project.
    • Actually there are several applications I can think of dealing with fiber optics. Currently if you can get access to the fiber, you can monitor signals going through it without having to actually splice the line, so noone knows the line has been tampered with. This would prevent such an attack on a fiber optic network, great for improving security on a network.

      Also if it cannot be seen from any side, it means it loses no light during transmission, like current fiber does, removeing the need for repeaters
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'll believe it when I don't see it.
  • by ErikZ (55491) * on Sunday May 06, 2007 @07:26PM (#19014419)
    Math guy: "Look! We've shown how to make wormholes, with math!"

    Me: "You forgot to carry the 1."

    Math guy: "Damn!"
  • I heard about this project when it was first introduced a few years back. I actually know one of the fellas working on the project. I remember the biggest problem with the project was getting the tunnel actually invisible. Since they were working under a government grant they had a specific mandate to make the tunnel energy efficiant and environmentally friendly. So they brought in a team of chemists who insisted the tunnel would work better if it was painted black and filled with solar energy collectors. T
  • ...asleep.

    Then waking up and inventing what they saw in friction.

    Oh wait, isn't this how the cell phone came about? (re: star trek communicators)

    Ok, now everyone start watching movies like fifth element and star wars and such.... before bed..

    Maybe we can finally get our flying cars...

  • Obl. (Score:5, Funny)

    by PineGreen (446635) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @07:41PM (#19014561) Homepage
    That's the dumbest fucking idea I've heard since I've been at Microsoft.
  • My eyes, the goggles, zey do nothing...
  • by HungWeiLo (250320) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @07:45PM (#19014611)
    A biologist, a physicist, and a mathematician are sitting in an outdoor cafe. They watch two people go into a building across the street. Shortly thereafter, three people come out.

    "Hmm," says the biologist. "It looks like they reproduced."

    "Nah," says the physicist. "There was obviously error in our initial measurement."

    The mathematician looks up from his coffee. "Who cares? If another person goes in, it'll be empty."
  • ...

    MEEP MEEP
  • Math Geeks can take square root of negative number before breakfast.
  • One application I can think of: Video privacy. Everyone's most likely seen the advertisements for the "Sonic Ear" or similar doodad. "Watch TV without disturbing your partner's sleep!" The ads usually claim. However, whenever I heard this line, I usually replied mentally: "What about the flashing/flickering light from the television?" Well, it seems to me that this would answer that question. Then again, I've had a long day at work and my brain is a tad on the soft side right now...
  • You can try to slit my neck with a knife
    I'd be watching porn in the afterlife
    You can make it so my disks all won't play
    I'll be making trouble like you always say
    You can try to push a content cartel
    As if you still had things you could honestly sell
    You can turn our culture music and art
    To little squares on cryptographic charts

    There has to be an invisible tube
    It can't be seen by just any dude
    There has to be an invisible tube
    For sending mail to senatorial boobs

    It blinks all day or it blinks all night
    Eigenstates
  • a tube that is invisble from the side but allows light to shine down the center.

    wouldn't a tube-shaped region of empty space fit the same description ?

    also it seems weird that the article makes no reference at all to the size of the proposed tube. are we talking like a millimeter ? ten feet ? the wavelength of red light ?
  • Problem (Score:3, Funny)

    by PPH (736903) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @10:40PM (#19016017)
    If its invisible from the sides, how do we keep backhoe operators from digging it up?
  • Link to paper (Score:5, Informative)

    by Plutonite (999141) on Sunday May 06, 2007 @10:55PM (#19016097)
    Because I love you all:

    http://arxiv.org/abs/math-ph/0703059 [arxiv.org]

    • Sorry to be a buzzkill, but... TFA says (and I quote)

      In work submitted to a major physics journal, he and colleagues report that...

      and provides a ling to lanl.gov (e-print archives). The E-print archives are not a peer-reviewed "Major Physics Journal". Anyone can submit to them. They may have sent it for publication/peer-review, but then they need to say "Sent to so-and-so" in their e-print submission. As of now, the article is not peer-reviewed. Of course, if the work is deemed notable and correct then that should change, but let's not crystal-ball here.

  • Invisible technology!

    After this article, I'm starting to get the hang of it. Like just now, I have invented an invisible miniature nuclear reactor. It also takes up no space. I plan on using my new invisible reactor to power my next invention, the invisible flashlight! It shoots an invisible beam of light over 50 miles through any kind of weather.

    I guess I can use that to find Wonder Woman's invisible airplane when it gets lost. Man, I'm telling ya, this invisible stuff is going to be the wave of the future
  • does bush get *anything* right ever?
  • Are we going to start calling it "Tunnel-ware" instead of "Vapor-ware?"
  • now I'll never beat Tunnel [addictinggames.com]
  • One future application of this technology is covered in the book The Light of Other Days [amazon.com] by Stephen Baxter and Arthur C. Clarke. In it, a company develops a way to spy on anyone, anywhere using light wormholes. It completely changes society because suddenly privacy is non-existent. The book is a very interesting read, and it's available on Amazon for a penny.
  • The CG illustration shows a portal in the middle of a road. Stupid because cars would crash into the tunnel.

    Also arxiv is I thought where anyone can submit. So TFA saying a major journal is disingenuous because it is popoular but not peer reviewed, unless I missed something.

    The tunnel is not nonexistent, cloaking only works at a certain frequency range. Probably it could be found through lower frequency vibration (seismic/sonic) or higher energy perhaps (i.e. X-ray). Right?

    So I take it the idea is basically
  • Perhaps this could be a good replacement for fiber.
  • Um, you know when there's a temperature inversion between you and the nearest big city? And you start picking up radio and TV stations from that city that you normally never receive? Nature made you a temporary tunnel for radio waves. p Your typical fiber optic fiber does something much like this. The fiber has a gentle gradient of index of refraction from the center out. So light ends up traveling by the quickest path-- very close to down the exact center. Older fibers depended on light bouncing off
  • military communications security. It might not be useful for troops in the field, but it might work well between bases and ships at sea. Might even be tenable for laser communications in aircraft.

    Of course... this all assumes that you only need the metal ring(s) at the end points as portrayed in the article picture. That much wasn't clear to me from the summary.

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