Researchers at the University of Rochester inspired perhaps by Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, developed several ways—some simple and some involving new technologies—to hide objects from view.
The latest effort, developed at the University of Rochester, not only overcomes some of the limitations of previous devices, but it uses inexpensive, readily available materials in a novel configuration.
John Howell, a professor of physics at the University of Rochester, said:
“There’ve been many high tech approaches to cloaking and the basic idea behind these is to take light and have it pass around something as if it isn’t there, often using high-tech or exotic materials.”
Forgoing the specialized components, Howell and graduate student Joseph Choi developed a combination of four standard lenses that keeps the object hidden as the viewer moves up to several degrees away from the optimal viewing position.
“This is the first device that we know of that can do three-dimensional, continuously multidirectional cloaking, which works for transmitting rays in the visible spectrum,” said Choi, a PhD student at Rochester’s Institute of Optics.
“We use random on-off patterns to gain a small amount of position information while only minimally affecting the momentum of the photons”, explains Howell. “In much the same way as weak measurements, the random on-off patterns gain very little information about the position of the photons, but putting all the patterns together, we can learn about the images carried by the light.”
Have you ever wondered if the universe is actually just a holographic projection? While it sounds crazy, Dr. Ian O’Neill and Trace explain why scientists are experimenting to find out if the universe is a hologram!
How different are space and time at very small scales?
To explore the unfamiliar domain of the miniscule Planck scale — where normally unnoticeable quantum effects might become dominant — a newly developed instrument called the Fermilab Holometer has begun operating at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) near Chicago, Illinois, USA.
The instrument seeks to determine if slight but simultaneous jiggles of a mirror in two directions expose a fundamental type of holographic noise that always exceeds a minimum amount.
Pictured above is one of the end mirrors of a Holometer prototype. Although the discovery of holographic noise would surely be groundbreaking, the dependence of such noise on a specific laboratory length scale would surprise some spacetime enthusiasts. One reason for this is the Lorentz Invariance postulate of Einstein’s special relativity, which states that all length scales should appear contracted to a relatively moving observer — even the diminutive Planck length.
Still, the experiment is unique and many are curious what the results will show.
Image Credit: C. Hogan, Fermilab
The classical physics that we encounter in our everyday, macroscopic world is very different from the quantum physics that governs systems on a much smaller scale (like atoms). One great example of quantum physics’ weirdness can be shown in the Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment. Josh Samani walks us through this experiment in quantum entanglement.
Lesson by Josh Samani, animation by Dan Pinto.
Science is about discovering the wonders of how our world works.
From physics to biology to neuroscience, here are seven talks to make you love science.
1. Suicidal crickets, zombie roaches and other parasite tales
We humans set a premium on our own free will and independence … and yet there’s a shadowy influence we might not be considering. As science writer Ed Yong explains in this fascinating, hilarious and disturbing talk, parasites have perfected the art of manipulation to an incredible degree. So are they influencing us? It’s more than likely.
2. What is so special about the human brain?
The human brain is puzzling — it is curiously large given the size of our bodies, uses a tremendous amount of energy for its weight and has a bizarrely dense cerebral cortex. But: why? Neuroscientist Suzana Herculano-Houzel puts on her detective’s cap and leads us through this mystery. By making “brain soup,” she arrives at a startling conclusion.
3. The weird, wonderful world of bioluminescence
In the deep, dark ocean, many sea creatures make their own light for hunting, mating and self-defense. Bioluminescence expert Edith Widder was one of the first to film this glimmering world. At TED2011, she brings some of her glowing friends onstage, and shows more astonishing footage of glowing undersea life.
4. Psychedelic science
Swiss artist and photographer Fabian Oefner is on a mission to make eye-catching art from everyday science. In this charming talk, he shows off some recent psychedelic images, including photographs of crystals as they interact with soundwaves. And, in a live demo, he shows what really happens when you mix paint with magnetic liquid—or when you set fire to whiskey.
5. The birds and the bees are just the beginning
Think you know a thing or two about sex? Think again. In this fascinating talk, biologist Carin Bondar lays out the surprising science behind how animals get it on. (This talk describes explicit and aggressive sexual content.)
6. Is our universe the only universe?
Is there more than one universe? In this visually rich, action-packed talk, Brian Greene shows how the unanswered questions of physics (starting with a big one: What caused the Big Bang?) have led to the theory that our own universe is just one of many in the “multiverse.”
7. Swim with the giant sunfish
Marine biologist Tierney Thys asks us to step into the water to visit the world of the Mola mola, or giant ocean sunfish. Basking, eating jellyfish and getting massages, this behemoth offers clues to life in the open sea.
SciShow explains the genetics – and physics – behind why blue eyes are blue, and what the future may be for the trait.
Spoiler alert: Blue eyes aren’t really blue!