Ever been in this situation? You’re having a quiet cup of coffee or other liquid refreshment, and the guy sitting next to you is asking questions. To be polite, you respond.
But he’s not answering any of your comments.
You talking to me? Turns out, he wasn’t. He was on his cell phone. Embarrassing. This happened to me, and I just felt invisible. If only.
But, suppose you could actually crawl into a black hole and be unobserved in the background? REALLY blend. That’d be a handy feature whether you’re trying to slink away to avoid a confrontation or to duck a creditor.
Cloaking devices could help. That’s not just the stuff of science fiction such as in “Star Trek” or “Star Wars,” or the invisibility cloak that Harry Potter used to skulk around Hogwarts.
An invisibility cloak might be in use within 10 years.Cornell University scientists have created a “time cloak” that masks an entire event, according to Seth Borenstein of the Associated Press.
Would this give criminals the edge in committing a crime? Would they be able to walk into an art museum like Pierce Brosnan’s character in “The Thomas Crown Affair” and steal a painting in broad daylight? Even if the museum is swarming with police?
That’d be a ways off yet. Right now, the time cloak lasts maybe less than a nanosecond – which is one billionth of a second, according to a study in the journal “Nature.”
Researchers at Duke University and elsewhere also are at work to develop this technology.
It would be an asset for the military and police. They could use this to camouflage their soldiers and police officers, and tanks and planes from the enemy or track those engaged in illicit activities.
“There are practical applications … This is a way of adding a packet of information to high-speed data unseen without interrupting the flow of information,” Borenstein wrote.
The downside for us mere mortals is that same technology also could be used to spread computer viruses.
Personally, I’m just hoping it becomes available for everyday use.
A little smoke and mirrors could come in handy. Just slip the cloak on, like Harry Potter, and become invisible. Say, you’ve left the boss’s office after requesting a raise and you hear maniacal laughter. If you were to return undetected, you might discover just what people are saying when they think you’re not in the room.
Then, again … sometimes, the lack of transparency isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
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Photo Credit: A dragon-shaped cloud of dust seems to fly out from a bright explosion in this infrared light image (top) from the Spitzer Space Telescope, a creature that is entirely cloaked in shadow when viewed in visible part of the spectrum (bottom).
Movie references and science info (ABC News)
Military use and science info (Discovery.com)