So if they manage to bend light equally at all frequencies exactly the right amount (Yeah, right) they will then have a teensy weensy problem. Not only will nobody be able to see them, but they, themselves will be in total darkness.
Scientists at the University of California in Berkeley have engineered a material that can bend visible light around objects. This development could soon result in technology that can render tanks, ships and troops invisible to the eye. Results of the US military-funded research are expected to appear in the scientific …
The stealthed troops are easy to not see in the pic but did anyone else notice the Hobbit wearing Sauron's ring, Harry Potter in his cloak, the Predator and the invisible man are also not visible in the pic - not to mention the Klingon Bird of Prey you cannot see hovering over the field.
Once again, El Reg surpasses all othe media outlets with this ground-breaking photo...
IGMC - it's the one hanging on the apparently empty peg...
Just as G.W. is seen hanging around the women's beach volleyball area, a sudden breakthrough in invisibility occurs.
Military's probably had this for 10 years, he is CiC after all, putting tax dollars to a purpose at least half the electorate would approve of is surely a first?
I wonder if there'd be a blur as you moved or if it'd be absolutely transparent?
Also, does it work both close-up and further away (as the convergence / divergence of the images both eyes see changes)
Does it work all the way around the object, or could it be defeated by the tactic known as "stepping to the left and looking for a suspicious vertical line"?
Can it work with really intense light, or will it be defeated by a half decent laser diode?
Does it work with all visible spectrum light, or can it just make you invisible if all the surrounding light is of a certain wavelength?
Just a few questions, but they seem like the sort of things an "invisibility" system would fall down on...
If the light is being bent around you, how the heck are you supposed to see where you're going? I suppose if you had electronic means to view with, like radar, sonar, etc, that were not bent, but then you could still be detected by mundane means, and where is the high tech advancement in that?
As once said in Mystery Men.....
"Shoveler: So, let me get this straight. You do have the ability to become invisible?
Invisible Boy: Yes.
Shoveler: But you can't give us a demonstration?
Invisible Boy: No. I can only become invisible when no-one's watching.
Shoveler: So, you're only invisible to yourself?
Invisible Boy: Oh, no. If I look at myself, I become visible again.
Furious: So...you can only become invisible when absolutely nobody is watching you?
Invisible Boy: Yes."
Would the object doing the cloaking have to be spherical?
Would there be a focal length inside which its distortion would be noticeable, like the eddies behind a rock in a stream which makes the presence of the rock known for a short distance downstream?
Also a moving (and extremely fast) camera would be able to spot them as the light would be slowed up by having to travel a: further and b: through a material so distant objects would blur. Admittedly it would be an almost unbelievably fast (optical processing, not movement) camera, but we are talking about invisibility shields here.
Paris as her knickers are already made of this meta-material.
I'm sure we did.
Now, as then, my comment is that even if you make the tanks, trucks and squaddies invisible, how are you going to make the exhausts, tracks, bent foliage and noise go away? And while squillions are spent on this technology, better weapons and light-weight body armour might be just as effective and much, much cheaper.
Of course, if you apply it to Black Helicopters (TM), you just might have something.
Stand by for the upcoming news flash when this gets developed:
"4 killed in tank accident.
4 British soldiers were lost today as a tank ran them over. The squad, from the amoured 3rd infantry, 'the invisibles', got run over by their support tank during a routine invisible armour training excercise ..."
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I'm all with Adam Foxton. I really wonder if it is possible to coat an object in something which warps light PERFECTLY around it so as to become invisble. Given the difficulties in getting perfection in ordinary optics (even apochromatic lenses are just corrected for three wavelenghts, not all) I very much doubt we could make stuff which perfectly blends you into the background, in all wavelengths, from all angles.
I would bet there would eb some refraction effects which make the wearer similar to some sort of lens which would certainly distort the scene behind it to some extent. You might be well camouflaged, but not invisible.
Are the boffins doing this research actually saying that these meta materials can in theory be used on large scale objects like tanks and people? Or are they hinting that, and just riding the wave of cash flowing from the military top brass, who seem more and more to be influenced by childhood sci-fi? I'm not a physicist, but my gut instinct is that someone is being economical with the truth. The analogy with light and a flowing fluid is flawed. I'd guess at the very best this system would when working results in some kind of adaptive camouflage. I don't think its going to allow me stand unnoticed in Paris' bathroom.
What they're not telling us is that this stuff has existed for many years and so have flying cars. They paint flying cars with this stuff which is why we never see them!
I remember 20 years ago people making similar predictions about superconductors. Before Y2K we were going to have superconductor power lines so that the power lines would be lossless (ummm except for the huge amount of energy needed to keep them cold).
So the whitecoats manage to make a small item disappear in a well controlled environment and we have "soon there will be invisible soldiers and battleships".
Even very viable technologies take a long time to get to fruition so I can't see (pun if you wish) invisibility happening any time soon.
The US seem to be quite happy to attack their allies vehicles even if they are properly marked!
But can you imagine the carnage when they try and fire at the enemy through their own invisible troops.
And another thing - how would you find them after you got out for a slash?
"Every washing machine ever made already has this feature. Put two socks in, run a cycle - short or long, doesn't matter - look inside tub and only one sock is visible."
Doesn't work that way here. I put in one pair of socks, I get out 2 socks - each from completely different pairs. I blame the extra-dimensional portal in the back of my washer, but take solace in knowing that a version of myself in another dimension is having the same trouble...
PS Invisibility is easy. Every time my boss comes towards me carrying a piece of paper, I disappear from sight immediately...
I'll take all the other stuff a superlens can do, and his group is working on those as well. I find it odd they announced in this manner, unless I misunderstand the discovery, this is a material with a negative refraction index in the visible wavelengths. This same technology is what they are planning on using to boost optical media sizes through the roof, and drop lithography die sizes down to the silicon limit. It trumps the diffraction limit or so I've read.
@Charles Manning: yes it took them 20 yrs but Canada and NY both now have superconducting power lines yes?
It may well be a fledgling technology and not be much use (at least for the next decade) on anything large and/or moving... but if applied to something that is hard to detect already, (snipers anyone?), we could be not-looking at something very useful.
Mine's the one that looks like a ghillie suit
So you have a big lumpy object like a tank. the light hits it at a particular point and angle and this material is so clever that the light zooms around the outside of the tank and emerges from the diametrically oposite point heading in exactly the same direction? And it can do that for all the light hitting the tank from all directions? Without any confusion or loss whatsoever?
Pull the other one.
Any civilisation that can create an invisibility cloak can always find other ways to detect the stealthed object. If they block the visible spectrum then they will be seen with IR if the also block IR they will cook themselves in their own waste heat. Invisibility cloaking has always been a red herring, as soon as you can create one you can also create a way of by passing it much cheaper.
Superconductors do not necessarily HAVE to only work at really low temperatures, they were meaning room temperature ones. Admittedly it's taken 20 years to get them anywhere near close to working as superconductors at room temperature but thats actually what they said it would take...
Come on. I don't think that they have said that it is invisible in all directions. If you could make it so light from *behind* gets bent around to the front but light from in front gets absorbed totally (i.e. no reflections) and you should be able to see in front, and not be seen from the front. Of course this would not be full invisibillity (a la thermoptic camoflage to all of us GITS fans).
Anyway, if you bent 75% of the light, and prevented the reflection of the other 25% (by absorbing it, which could be in your eyes), you probably would be able to see well enough, and would be fairly well hidden (there would still be a 'dull' spot). The problem would be liniarity, making sure that the diverted light rays followed the same path they would if they were not diverted. And even then, there would probably be a detectable phase shift of the light due to the longer path!
Full invisibillity is still Sci-Fi, and will be for some time.
Your disappearing socks are down to a different physical phenomenon. It's not widely known but all washing machines are fitted with a small, portable wormhole that can accommodate a single sock (or a hamster). Socks that fall into the wormhole are mysteriously teleported across the known universe to the back of wardrobes where they metamorphose into the most stable form of all matter - a coathanger.
There's a Nobel Prize in it for the person who can find out why red socks NEVER go through the wormhole but instead remain hidden, right up until the moment you put a white shirt in the machine. Spookily this happens - even if you don't own any red socks.
The meta material bends light around it through a certain spectrum, in this case instead of microwaves visible light. To see it you wouldn't need anything that special, just goggles that allow you to see light in a higher spectrum such as UV. Same would be said for those cloaked with said material.
To continue the Python-esque theme of soldiers hiding behind trees, if the researchers ask I will tell them we've already got one. I think mine might be a paint that confers this property to my keys/wallet/USB memory stick/whatever else I'm looking for. The effects are not permanent but do seem to be directly related to how much I want to see the object in question.
I have already developed a invisible army and have just taken over the world!
what you don't believe me?
damn another unforeseen problem with this new technology.....
Wouldn't it be a bit of a problem for soldiers if no one could see them, I mean in order to have a battle you actually have to see the other person otherwise it would be a bit well icky.
I wouldn't like to meet the person who can shoot at someone without knowing if they are attacking them or running away in terror.
Still anything that makes it easier to imposing your will on others has got to be a good thing for democracy.
"There's so many things wrong with this, I give up."
Don't think "invisible" as in "Hollywood invisible", think "a lot harder to spot that usual", i.e. very good camouflage.
There is some lovely footage on YouTube of al alternate take of this: a guy in a highly reflective suit stands in front of a video projector linked to a camera held behind him. He's not "invisible" but he is a lot harder to see! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFGo6kCmf38
As mentioned sound could be used to pin point invisible objects. Now once the sound of any object can be muted as well as that object being rendered invisible, there is a real potential to this technology which more than justifies any outlay in R&D costs.
It could be applied to girl/boy bands and celebrities.
Okay. I read the description of the whichness of the why this works (not the structure of the material it's made up of, the combination of the structure it is made up of???) and still don't see the difference between Invisibillium and Bakelite.
I am working now on the assumption that Douglas Adams wrote the system spec and the research team didn't get the joke.
Took a while , but i have found a photograph showing a cloaked tank. Ok so it's not absolutely invisible but you will have to agree the have done a very good job. The tank is in the very centre of the photo. You can just see the outline.
Friendly Fire ... I knew you could.
Seriously the friendly troops will be a lot harder to spot ... "why didn't my bullet nail the enemy, and why is there blood spurting out of thin air halfway between me and enemy mine?!"
yah, yah I know never heard a solder wax poetic .. that's the other secret tech! Its just about as useful too!
PH cuz it'd be better to have her parading around distracting the troops in a two piece.
"Even very viable technologies take a long time to get to fruition so I can't see (pun if you wish) invisibility happening any time soon."
Not if you have a rabid and well funded military industrial complex willing to chuck resources at them like there's no tomorrow (as indeed, from their POV there may not be).
q.v RADAR, computers, fission weapons, &c from WWII and resultant mess.
Black chopper (fnar), for the obvious reasons :)
Instead of going through all this trouble to make tanks invisible, why don't we simply block the sight of the enemy?
I suggest issuing to all enemy troops, a version of Douglas Adams' Peril Sensitive Sunglasses. That way, when you want to attack them, they'll go black and have the same effect as "invisibility".
Of course you need a cooperative enemy. Any Western force, like the US or Britain, will be happy to unilaterally give up sight advantage and tactical superiority in order to be "good neighbors". this way p*ssant countries can then show how "teh awesum" they are by sneaking up to castrated and practically toothless Western forces. See Chinese-ordered propaganda to shut down active sonar, and Middle Eastern-ordered propaganda to eliminate robotic combat systems...programs that give Western militaries a distinct advantage over ancient tactics of treating your armies as swarms of expendable kamikazes.
Mine's the one with the Berkeley and Obama patches all over it, reeking of patchouli. The PSS's make it easy to see things from their point of view.
Spy Drones can remain silent, still, and drop their heat radiation to background levels. If they were to glide or scuttle in at night (very slowly), refuelling on local power lines or perhaps focusing sunlight, they could sit for months sending back bursts of data alongside other comms traffic to drones circling in random patterns overhead.
Humans couldn't see them with thermal acousitc or visible wavelengths.Eventually, by using GPS correction and working amongst themselves they can provide targets to airborne drones to take out along with corrections and success rates. Afterwhich they are collected and dropped far enough away from the next target to crawl towards it.
Part of the article on USS Eldridge mentions the Varo annotations to a book (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philadelphia_Experiment#The_Office_of_Naval_Research_and_the_Varo_annotation) by Morris Jessup.
Looking at the PDF of this annotated book, the notes within remind me of a well known frequenter of el reg - anyone else bored enough to follow through and see if they notice something similar?
Invisibility is the perfect research topic. When the government comes along and asks what happened to all that grant money they've been giving you, you tell them you've perfectected an nvisibility cloak. "What, you can't see it? There's the proof!"
After that, you "sell" invisible tanks to the Emperor (uh, I mean Army) who then parade them in public...
I'm already wearing a coat. No really,...
Scenario: The US army bomb* the shite out of the whole world (including themselves) just to be sure there are no invisible men (aka enemy 'combatants') in their area.
Else, how can you really be sure there's no threat to homeland/off-land security?
* As others have already said, perhaps it'd be a better idea (for humanity's and other life's survival etc) to just throw huge buckets of white paint (perhaps from space) all over place to detect invisible miscreants instead?
AC cos I'm not visible and therefore not really *here*.
The good ol' uncle sam army have just learnt the first lesson of not being seen. However they have not learnt the second lesson as they have chosen a rather obvious place to hide ....
@ Michael H.F. Wilkinson : so you're saying that these invisibility devices will work like lenses ? Could be hazardous advancing through that tinder dry forest at high noon on a blazing hot day !
Actually, it's quite apt that invisibility is being discussed on an IT news site. As anyone in this or any form of system support profession knows, if you're doing your job properly and things are running perfectly smoothly as a result, you are invisible to management and have no value whatsoever. This is where the repressed BOFH in us all comes from !
@GWB : are you so bloody stupid that you think you're invisible while you oggle the womens volleyball team ? Those defence contractors have had billions from you for the 'technology', just like the ray guns business did with Ronald Reagan ! Perhaps the invisibility suit is made of wool, to be pulled over the eyes in times of need ? Anyone with any sense in your position would have turned the Hubble telescope back to earth for this job. Then you really would have been looking at a close up picture of a dead heat between the Hindenburg and the R101 !
Here in the UK we pay something called taxes. Our government must have invested heavily in this invisibility technology because it seems there is little to be shown for the billions poured in. I think I'm going to the patent office tomorrorow to patent this technology, and then sue the buggers for patent infringement. Since they won't be able to produce any assets for the billions squandered, they *MUST* have used the patented technology. Should be on a winner - I'm sure it will all hold up in court, etc.
Can we have a brown, I mean turd icon please ?
Paris because sooner or later all those invisible knickers will show like cobwebs from the ceiling ! And the fact that there isn't a brown (turd) icon.
Sounds like the main military application for this (assuming even that it does provide 100% invisibility in the visible spectrum) is as an upgrade to standard camo - something that makes you hard to see, provided the enemy isn't actively searching for you. Besides looking, there are (as pointed out already) far too many ways of detecting an invisible soldier: body heat, noise, radar/sonar, covering the ground with sand and looking for footprints, chucking paint/flour everywhere, using dogs/smellbots to pick up scent etc etc etc.
Even so, it still beats green and black facepaint.