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Invisibility Cloak Created In 3-D 113

An anonymous reader writes "Scientists have created the first device to render an object invisible in three dimensions. The 'cloak,' described in the journal Science (abstract; full text requires login), hid an object from detection using light of wavelengths close to those that are visible to humans. Previous devices have been able to hide objects from light travelling in only one direction; viewed from any other angle, the object would remain visible. This is a very early but significant step towards a true invisibility cloak." The "object" hidden in this work was a bump one micrometer high. The light used was just longer than the wavelengths our eyes detect. To get a visible-light cloak, the features of the cloaking metamaterial would need to be reduced in size from 300 nm to 10 nm.
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Invisibility Cloak Created In 3-D

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  • Um... (Score:4, Funny)

    by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Friday March 19, 2010 @11:24AM (#31538392)

    I don't mean to complain, but it would be nice to have a picture.

    Even if the object is invisible...

  • by EvanED ( 569694 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [denave]> on Friday March 19, 2010 @11:26AM (#31538430)

    Oh man, wait 'till the Romulans hear about this.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by nomorecwrd ( 1193329 )

      Yeah... and I'm sure we will end up signing a stupid treaty that does not allow us to use the cloak device, but let them use it at will.
      it's time to put some clear boundaries between us and them... better yet a Neutral Zone.

      Just my two pesos-
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by leuk_he ( 194174 )

      Being invisible sounds ok, until you realize that with perfect invisibility you will be effective blind. That will end non military uses you had in mind.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hanabal ( 717731 )

        just leave a pinhole in the cloak and put a camera there. then wear a hud that displays the image.

        If someone looks straight at you in the right direction, they might see a tiny floating black dot. Even if they do notice it, they will most likely believe its dust or something

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Or you can use a FLIR camera (Thermal). Off course, it's not good to look at naked ladies, but good enough to move around.

          • Obviously to solve that problem you'd only use it for travel. You can slip into someone's room unseen and build a small support structure out of this stuff, located where the person is least likely to look. You can then wait until the person returns, slip in (if not there already) and locate yourself in the support structure, which is out of direct eyesight. There you are free to remove the cloak from your eyeballs only, or any recording devices you have, until seen by the person's peripheral vision. A

          • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

            Wait, so you're suggesting that he goes invisible and uses thermal vision?

            Where have I seen invisible things with thermal vision that go bump in the night, and how has that gone horribly, horribly wrong...?

            • I also suggest you start smoking more pot, and listening to Bob Marley (the dreadlocks will develop naturally) :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Shrike82 ( 1471633 )

        Being invisible sounds ok, until you realize that with perfect invisibility you will be effective blind. That will end non military uses you had in mind.

        Blind in the visible light spectrum, which would still leave you with sonar, radar, possibly IR and UV if the material very selectively blocks the visible light portion of the EM spectrum. Not to mention the possibility of maintaining links to remote cameras and other visual/information sources using data transmitted ion wavelengths way, way outisde the visible light spectrum.

        So yes, as a Harry Potter invisibility cloak this would suck, but as a Start Trek cloak this would be awesome.

      • by VisiX ( 765225 )
        Not everything you want to hide has people inside that need to see out. North Korea could cloak their nukes and have inspectors walk right past them.
  • Oblig ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by krou ( 1027572 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @11:30AM (#31538534)
    Nothing to see here, move along ...
  • "Ugh, what was THAT noise?"
  • Factor 30 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rob Kaper ( 5960 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @11:31AM (#31538548) Homepage

    A factor 30 in wavelength difference is not "just longer" than visible light nor "close to" it. Still, impressive work. And surely, they'll get closer and closer. But cloaking a micrometer high bump is still a few pathways away from Klingon tech.

    • Yeah, but you can still get a tan with factor 30.
    • by TSchut ( 1314115 )
      According to TFA, they can currently make the structures as small as 200 nm, meaning that there is "only" a factor 20 difference. To make things worse, creating this "cloak" to hide a 1 micrometer object took 3 hours, so creating a cloak for Mr. Potter will probably take years, if not decades.
    • by mesri ( 993588 )
      From the abstract at Science: "Cloaking operation with large bandwidth of unpolarized light from 1.4- to 2.7-m wavelength is demonstrated" -- that's only a factor of 2 to 4 longer than visible red light. The factor of 30 is the reduction required in the size of the crystal features in the metamaterial. But I agree that we're still a long way from being able to NOT see a Klingon Bird of Prey...
    • by 517714 ( 762276 )
      This will never lead to the Klingon style cloaking device since the negative index of refraction reverse shifts the doppler affect - that will make it suitable only for stationary applications.
    • Actually, the way I remember it, it never was Klingon tech as such. The Klingons managed to buy the technology from the Romulans, in exchange for a heck of a lot of D-7 battlecruisers.

      (Or in RL terms when they first needed a Romulan Bird Of Prey, the model wasn't ready on time, so they used a Klingon Battlecruiser and slapped on a makeshift explanation of why the Romulans are flying Klingon vessels.)

  • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @11:34AM (#31538608) Journal

    "Ha! Invisibility Cloak? I'll believe it when I see it!"

    For some reason Locke comes to mind...

  • Yes, invisibility is "cool", and I wouldn't mind an invisibility cloak for myself. But I can't immediately think of who would benefit the general public by having invisibility. Especially among the military, the police, criminals or terrorists (all of them sometimes interchangeable).

    What practical use does invisibility have, other than as a weapon?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 19, 2010 @11:44AM (#31538834)

      Sex in public places.

      • by andy19 ( 1250844 )

        Sex in public places.

        Do you really think the type of people who want an invisibility cloak actually have sex at all, let alone in public places?

      • Until you get run over by a car.

        • by thijsh ( 910751 )
          Just make the car invisible too and you're golden... And if it fails to cancel each other out you can still get away undetected with hit and run.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by shadowrat ( 1069614 )
        are you really having sex in public if nobody can see you?
        • Slow down, I'm still meditating on the one hand clapping thing and I have to get to the tree falling in a forest without a witness - maybe zen I can answer you.

      • this is /. we need a device that would increase our chances of sex in private places.
      • Pff, you obviously never had sex in public places. It’s only thrilling when you can be seen. (But aren’t. It’s the risk that makes it fun. With a cloak there is no risk, so there is no fun.
        And by the way: For your purposes a tent will do. ^^
        Just be sure to keep quiet.

      • We have porn about sex in public places now.

        With the invisibility cloak on, what would that porn look like? !

        Like this, I guess:

    • It would be a good defensive item. If someone breaks into your house, hiding in an invisibility cloak would be the next best thing to getting out of the house.

      It would be a hilarious prank item. Cover a sheet of plywood in an invisibility cloak and put it in front of an open doorway.

      It might be useful for people who want to observe wildlife. Various sorts of camouflage work, but this may be more effective (I'm not sure if there are any animals that are very good at detecting people even in camouflage).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hanabal ( 717731 )

      the ability to watch the military or police without fear of them beating you half to death just for watching

    • Yes, invisibility is "cool", and I wouldn't mind an invisibility cloak for myself. But I can't immediately think of who would benefit the general public by having invisibility. Especially among the military, the police, criminals or terrorists (all of them sometimes interchangeable).

      What practical use does invisibility have, other than as a weapon?

      It could be useful to hide some things that are generally considered an eyesore... You probably wouldn't want to render the thing completely invisible from every angle, but you could greatly reduce the visual impact of the bathrooms at some scenic park for example. Or those green electrical boxes they've got scattered around town. It could make for some interesting furniture and decorating options. You could make materials transparent or translucent without actually using glass/plastic/whatever.

    • Why does science need a reason? Once we have this stuff people will dream up creative aplications you or I could never have dreamed of.

      • Exactly. You could make your middle finger go invisible so you can flip people off without offending them.

        Or you could use it to scare people, like all those Gag television shows...

        And the Peeping Tom applications are ENDLESS!

      • by ksandom ( 718283 )
        This would be great for when the parents come over. Just put all the mess in one big pile in the middle of the room, drop a cloak over the top and tell then that some ancient voodoo person died in this house right there, and you mustn't stand there because it's cursed!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Belial6 ( 794905 )
      If it only works in a limited spectrum, cell phone towers. The Neo-Luddites that make up stupid excuses to try to fight the existance of cell phones often use the "Eye Sore" excuss to try to stop antennas from being put up. This would put an end to that. Of course, it would probably lead to a whole new argument of "Invisibility gives you cancer".
    • by selven ( 1556643 )

      Privacy is a big one, making it much more difficult for someone to build up a full picture of your life. Also as a purely defensive device to get around, avoiding the fanatics trying to kill you because of something legal but controversial you said [].

      Mostly privacy, really.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Hunting. No more constructing complex deer blinds. Have the cloak flash visible light in a spectrum the deer can't see so that you don't get shot by another hunter.

      Spy tech. A lot easier to hide a bug if the bug is invisible.

      Visual nuisances. Don't like that telephone pole in your back yard wrecking your view of the valley? Cloak the bastard.

      Military. A cloaked sniper nest's advantages are obvious. Cloak secret military installations. Cloak factories making military hardware (we've already done this, the lo

  • good (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    something that will be able to hide goatse.

  • ... so far not even a 3d cloak could hide her!
  • by RapmasterT ( 787426 ) on Friday March 19, 2010 @12:05PM (#31539244)
    all it really took to accomplish "Invisibility Cloak Created In 3D", was to redefine the terms "invisibility", "cloak" and "created" in new, creative ways that fit what they actually did.
  • I'm wearing an invisibility cloak right now and im right beside you.
    • Either you're inside a wall, trapped under a fat guy, or your cloak is not working. Might I suggest a diet plan?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'll believe it when I see it.

  • 300 nm to 10 nm, while claiming "close" in the summary. Flamebait. Simple.
  • Yes, but will the Federation reverse it's stance on the use of cloaking technology?
  • This seems to be a fantasy riding on the broomstick of a certain young English wizard (to name a few). In the age of modern technology, one needs to not only make something "invisible" in the realm of visible wavelengths -- one also has to hide its radar signature, its infrared signature (good luck doing that if you've got any significant computing capabilities on board), its magnetic signature and presumably its mass (gravimetric) signature.

    If you can't do all of those things you are only "undetectable" t

    • by ksandom ( 718283 )
      Not to mention if you fart while you're in the womens' changing room!
    • I guess that explains why soldiers never wear camoflage. After all, they can see you with infrared, so why not wear blaze orange?

  • Motoko: "Is that a fact?"
    *KRAKRAKRAK* *beautifully drawn head asplosion*
    Aide: "Out the window! Shoot!"
    (Embassy mooks fail hit roll)
    Aide: "Thermoptic camouflage..."
    (Cue intro)
  • Ok, they are claiming that they made an object invisible by trying to look at it with light whose wavelength is too long to resolve the object in the first place? I must be missing something here.

Air is water with holes in it.