Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Scotty, could you actually beam me up?

In the 1960’s when Star Trek came out, the majority of the technology that was used in the show was yet to be developed and what many considered to be science fiction. Since the show aired many of the faithful viewers have seen those technologies arise before their very eyes. A classic line from the original Star Trek television series was “beam me up Scotty.” The idea of beaming aboard has been a topic of particular interests to all sorts of groups from N.A.S.A to the military and even to bored physics professors at prestigious schools. Well, those bored professors have reached a mathematical break through that may make “beam me up Scotty” as realistic as “Houston, we have a problem.”

In an article I found on CNN entitled, 'Space-Time Cloak' Could Conceal Events, a professor from Imperial College in London named Martin McCall has worked on the project that developed a mathematical equation that is pretty remarkable. I certainly had to re-read the article to fully understand what he was talking about. The idea is actually quite simple. The idea is that the technology can make an event in time and space invisible. The applied theory for explanation is what still seems like science fiction. For a lack of a better way to explain it, this is McCall’s applied theory:

“[It is] possible to manipulate light rays as they enter a material so that some parts speed up and others slow down. This could create "blind spots" in time, masking an event. While the accelerated light arrives at a space before an event has happened, the rest of the light doesn't reach it until after the event” (Hooper).

“Alberto Favaro, who worked on the project, compared the process to moving a pedestrian across a highway full of traffic by speeding up those cars already at or beyond the crossing point while slowing down the approaching vehicles.“(Hooper).

Although this is a great breakthrough in the technology, it still needs more work. Ulf Leonhardt, a physicist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, explains that it is achievable but not for decades. The necessary resources they would need to do this on a large enough scale just aren’t accessible yet. This news is quite recent, but for more information visit the CNN link above or the article that CBS News released.

This article absolutely blew my mind when I first saw it. The subject makes connections to making the impossible possible, science fiction, magic, and our future world. The idea of bending time and space for transportation was something that was seen as impossible at one time, surely for me because I am a huge skeptic. It really mixes into science fiction because although he hasn’t been fully developed it has physics behind it that proves its potential existence, but yet it still doesn’t exist today. The magic comes into play when you take into account of what human perception of this space-time manipulation. It makes the object effect appear invisible which makes the magic of ‘invisibility’ that is in movies such as Harry Potter seem to be a little more like science fiction. Granted it is for space-time, it could be hypothesized that it similar science could be discovered allowing something like invisibility cloaks real. Lastly, it connects to our future world because although, we can’t achieve it yet, it certainly will be down the road according the article.

Work Cited

Hooper, Simon. "'Space-time Cloak' Could Conceal Events - CNN.com." CNN.com - Breaking News, U.S., World, Weather, Entertainment & Video News. N.p., 16 Nov. 2010. Web. 16 Nov. 2010. .

Moseman, Andrew. "Time-Space Cloak Seen Within Grasp - CBS News." Breaking News Headlines: Business, Entertainment & World News - CBS News. Discover Magazine, 16 Nov. 2010. Web. 16 Nov. 2010. .