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Forget Predator or Star Trek, cloaking devices are becoming a reality

By Salehuddin Bin Husin - on 4 May 2015, 3:48pm

Forget Predator or Star Trek, cloaking devices are becoming a reality

We have no idea if the new cloaking device will function in water, though the Predator's certainly doesn't.

There have been a ton of different cloaking devices in the whole history of sci-fi. One of the earliest examples of cloaking technology in sci-fi television was the Romulan Bird of Prey, from the original Star Trek TV series. Of course, since then, the cloaking device has been used in a lot of other places, with the Predators' stealth suits being one of the most iconic examples. Everybody knows the familiar shimmering effect produced  by the stealth suit.

While we have no idea how a cloaked object will look like in reality (will there be a shimmering effect?), it won't be long before we know for sure. Scientists at the Karlsruhe Institiute of Technology (KIT) have discovered how to cloak a small object. If KIT sounds mighty familiar, that might be because the researchers there have also been recently responsible for finding a solution to reducing screen glare even more, as we previously reported. Making the news twice in two months for noteworthy breakthroughs is pretty impressive.

The scientists have been able to cloak small objects from human sight, rendering the object effectively invisible, without the use of any specialized equipment. We have no idea how the thing works, just that it makes use of light scattering materials to manipulate the light and its speed. The object to be cloaked is placed in a special cylinder coated with the light scattering materials. As light is slowed down around the object, the cylinder will speed light around it, to make it appear as if light is travelling at a constant speed, which makes the cloaked area invisible to the naked eye.

While there aren't any practical uses for the technology at the moment, it's not hard to image a future where stealth bombers are truly hidden from both radar and visual detection. Luckily, that's a long way off, as the tech only works in controlled environments and only with a small object.

The creators didn't make the device because they love the Predator movies though, they just made it to get more students interested in physics. To show the world that their work is real, the creators will give a live demo of the cloaking in action in front of a live audience on May 13th at the San Jose Convention Center.

At the rate technology is catching up to sci-fi tech, it won't take long before we'll get a working USS Enterprise! With cloaking and tractor beams already a reality, discovery of faster than light travel might not be so ludicrous after all. Then again, if it's ideal Star Trek tech we want to be made real, we'd take the Holodeck over everything else!

Source: EurekaAlert!

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