A Promising Future For An Invisible Man
The Star Trek definition is "an energy screen generator used to render an object (typically, a starship) invisible to the eye and to most sensor systems. In recent fiction , Harry Potter used invisibility to his advantage to conquer the forces of evil in Hogwarts through the use of a cloaking device that he inherited from his father.
However, nobody has a device that can make things invisible in the real world today. It only exists in the creative mind and it still is only a Hollywood fantasy story line. Still, the day of making objects appear invisible may not be all that far away.
Consider that Liverpool mathematician Dr Sébastien Guenneau, together with Dr Frédéric Zolla and Professors André Nicolet from the University of Marseille, have proven, using a specially designed computer model called GETDP, that objects can be made to appear invisible from close range when light travels in waves rather than beams.
Dr Guenneau, at the University's Department of Mathematical Science, explains: "The shape and structure of airplanes make them ideal objects for cloaking, as they have a fixed structure and movement pattern. Human beings and animals would be more difficult as their movement is very flexible.”
According to recent articles in the world’s two leading scientific journals, Science and Nature, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, whose work is funded by the American military, have engineered materials that can control light’s direction of travel.
In fact, this material can bend visible light around objects. As a result of this breakthrough, light can be bent around an object and as a result, hide it. This breakthrough could lead to a device which would cloak anything from people to large military objects, such as tanks and ships, from the naked eye.
No such material occurs naturally and it is only in the past few years that nano-scale engineering, manipulating matter at the level of atoms and molecules, has advanced sufficiently to give scientists the chance to create them.
If you think making objects invisible is far fetched. Consider the words of Vladimir Shalaev, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and industry expert at Purdue University; “Cloaking is just the tip of the iceberg. With transformation optics you can do many other tricks, perhaps including making things appear to be located where they are not.”
Those science fiction episodes of Star Trek and Harry Potter will not look as far removed from reality to future generations of loyal fans as they have looked in the past to us. The real world is quickly catching up to science fiction. It may be a promising future for an invisible man but for many of us it is a most unsettling thought.
The truth is that soon we may not be able to see an object standing right in front of us but we could well see an object that looks like vivid reality but due to optical illusion is not. Indeed, what was once the effect caused by too much alcohol, will soon be called normal transformational optics on display in a nearby spot.
James William Smith has worked in Senior management positions for some of the largest Financial Services firms in the United States for the last twenty five years. He has also provided business consulting support for insurance organizations and start up businesses. Visit his website at http://www.eworldvu.com or his daily blog at http://www.eworldvublog.blogspot.com