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Cornell scientists perform optical illusion, herald invisibility through bending of light (video)

Zachary Lutz
January 6, 2012
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Taken at face value, you'd almost think that Cornell scientists had successfully bent the fabric of time. With gobs of fiber optics at their disposal, the researchers have devised a method to distort light in a way that makes events in time undetectable to observers. Initial success in this Pentagon-backed invisibility project has cloaked an event for 40 trillionths of a second, leading Cornell scientists to tout, "You kind of create a hole in time where an event takes place. You just don't know that anything ever happened."

The feat is performed by separating light into more fundamental wavelengths, first by slowing the red and speeding the blue. A resultant gap forms in the beam, which leaves a small window for subterfuge. Then, as the light passes through another set of fibers -- which slow the blue and speed the red -- light reaches the observer as if no disturbance had taken place at all. While the brilliant researchers ultimately imagine art thieves being able to pass undetected through museums with this method, the immediate challenge will be in prolonging the light gap. This could prove frustrating, however, due to the scattering and dispersion effects of light. As Cornell scientists dream of their ultimate heist, visual learners will most certainly want to check the video after the break.



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