What we are dreaming of is real now: Invisibility! (…and phantasmagoria)

 Close your eyes, just close your eyes. And you cannot be seen any longer. Thats what children believe: “I cant see you, you cant see me.” Some really encouraging mantra for the disco dancefloor, too. Anyways, the xeric reason all the kiddie-winks joyfully happen to be über-convinced of being *nana nana naaanaaa* invisible is that they are lacking some specific cognitive ability called object permanence. Touché!

 So there must be other ways of becoming invisible during ones lifetime, which is to say hiding your eyes behind the palms of your hands is no more a solution than getting stuck between you-dont-know-where whilst your body moulders away six feet under.

 Speaking of other dimensions physically isnt quite clear yet what it means. So I wont follow that path. Way easier is grabbing some 3D hologram-machines, that are quite interesting, but are facing one problem: you can see the machine. Just convince yourself here:

Quite not a 3D hologram-hyper-machine, just some moindre machinerie.

 So, what else do we have left? Just to dismiss the idea of, i. e., invisibility cloaks as physicists did many years, in claiming that the idea if invisibility violates the laws of optics as well as the known properties of matter wont allow invisibility? The answer is: No! There is a road. This roads runs via the strangest of strangeness: metamaterials. This stuff is soooo exciting. Even optic textbooks have to be revised and rewritten because of them. But… not too fast. Lets follow Michiu Kakus footsteps in his Physics of the Impossibles 2nd chapter “Invisibility” (pp. 16-33).


Understanding light.

 Lets start with the coryphaesus Newton. His main course of action was to translate, i. e., the quiet or uproarious movement of ocean waves into the language of differential equations.

 The second hero worthy to be mentioned is Faraday in discovering that electric fields transform into magnetic fields and vice versa.

 Last but not least Master Maxwell comes into play. Taking on Newtons line of action he put Faradays force fields into precise differential equations. Then he asked himself what would happen if those electric and magnetic fields would constantly transform into one another. Thus he found electromagnetic fields… propagate similar to ocean waves.



 Having reached such heights it now was easy for him to calculate the speed with which the electromagnetic field propagates. And what a surprise: it conforms to the speed of light! Which is to say: “light itself … is an electromagnetic disturbance” (p. 19).

 Finally, we are able to say, that the whole electromagnetic spectrum (radar, TV, infrared light, visible light, infrared light, X-rays, microwaves, gamma rays) “is nothing but Maxwell waves, which in turn are vibrating Faraday force fields” (p. 19). Well, apart from our eyes, what else do we need to see? Correct, light. So here lies the key to invisibility.


Atomic theory.

 Now lets add another building block. Stuff consists of atoms being arranged in a specific structure. So theres plenty of space, i. e. for light to slip through. As it is with us human beings light also is a victim of finitude. When driving its wavering course it looses speed. Not enough it even gets lost on its straight path and takes another route. It gets bended. The ability of stuff to do this to light is called “index of refraction”. In order to get to know some numerical knowledge of the index you have to divide the speed of light by its speed inside a medium. Airs index, i. e., is 1.0003, diamonds: 2,4.


Metamaterial. O, thou art crazy stuff!

 Metamaterials “are created by embedding tiny implants [i. e., tiny electrical circuits] within a substance [i. e., copper] that force electromagnetic waves to bend in unorthodox ways”, so says Kaku (p. 21). Further there he states: “Metamaterials are so bizarre and preposterous that they were once thought to be impossible to construct.”

 Now lets pick up again the already mentioned “index of refraction”. Stuffs ability to thwart light and change its course. We have seen that the index in stuff is always greater than 1,0, which now isnt the case with metamaterials. Their index is negative, which means its 0,x. What now happens is, that light will pass around these objects like a torrent around a rock. That is the whole idea of invisibility: light floating around objects. Experiments with microwaves were successful as well as experiments in nanotechnology (1 nanometre is equal to one billionth of a metre). So here, in this dimension, scientists have proven: invisibility. We got it! 🙂 But, unfortunately scientists are far from transferring experiments from these micro universes to our large scale world of naked-eye-visbility.

 For further information, explantion and application have a look at this BBCs 3’00 short documentation.

 Did you hear: there is some beneficial use of it 🙂 apart from military interests or magnum evility


Invisibility?! Ha!, there is more: Phantasmagoria.

 Oh you Chinese people winkling more bizarre phenomena out from metamaterials! The goal of a Chinese research team is the following… and now listen carefully: to invent a coat” that makes you both invisible as well as creating a phantom of you – in one and the same moment. What they managed is to create a twin-phantom of a plate.


 Convince yourself here.

5 responses to “What we are dreaming of is real now: Invisibility! (…and phantasmagoria)

  1. ahaha, the things you think of and bother about – so interesting… 🙂 i used to be a sci-fi buff myself, ahaha. not so much anymore since am no good at math. hey, J.A.. thanks so much for the visit, the effort and the mischievous,kind thoughts. cheers! 🙂

  2. _any_ electric or magnetic disturbance propagates at the speed of light, not just electromagnetic radiation. If you take a magnet and move it , the change in its magnetic field spreads out at the speed of light. This is the nature of Maxwell’s field equations. On the other hand, electromagnetic radiation can be slowed down by passing through substances, especially gases. In an atmosphere, electromagnetic radiation is affected by the gas molecules–namely, it can be deflected and reflected, which slows down the overall speed of light. Non-electromagnetic disturbances, like the spread of a non-oscillating change in a field (moving a magent like the previous example) are NOT influenced by the gas molecules, and so the speed of a light beam will actually be slower than the speed of this disturbance. For that matter, even electromagnetic radiation may be influenced by gas to different extents. Radio waves, for example, are not influenced by gas as much as visible light, and so the speed of radio waves will be higher than the speed of visible light. In short, the speed of all electromagnetic disturbances are the same in a vacuum, but they are slowed down to different extents in a non-vacuum.

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