Space-Time Event Cloak Produced at Cornell [Science!]


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Event cloaks are the sort of thing movies and far-future, ten-tome science fiction tales are made of. That is unless you’re Moti Fridman or part of his group of sharp-minded companions at Cornell, in which case  you have designed and built a cloak that hides events in time.

The concept of event cloaking works like this:

[B]asically, you need two time-lenses–lenses that can compress and decompress light in time. This is actually possible to do using an electro-optic modulator (what, you don’t have one?). Basically, using two of these modulators you would slow down or compress the light traveling through the first lens, and then set up a second lens downrange from the first that would decompress, or accelerate, the incoming photons from the first lens.

I’m right beside anyone who can’t stand animated gifs, but this one is important so I included it here. Imagine space-time as a constant flow of traffic. Imagine events as chickens who need to cross the road but normally can’t because, you know, constant flow of traffic. But if you take some of those cars (time) and slow them down, you get a gap (hole) that can be crossed by a well-timed chicken (event). To an observer located downstream of the chicken (event) who crossed the road (space-time), no chicken ever existed.

Though Fridman and team are deservedly stoked about their design, they are reluctant at this point to discuss applications for it. As of right now, the gap in traffic only lasts 110 nanoseconds. The team claims their limit with this design will be 120 microseconds. That said, this is the first ever functioning cloak, so those numbers could change in the time it takes an event to cross space-time.

For a detailed and considerably more technical explanation of the Cornell team’s research, check out the article at Technology Review.

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5 Responses to Space-Time Event Cloak Produced at Cornell [Science!]

  1. Why would I imagine that this would mess with universal cogs that are better left alone?
    If you can create a bubble of space that essentially operates outside the normal flow of time, even it exists for a very short period… well, I'm no physicist, but everything I've read seems to say that time doesn't like being messed with by anything other than an object's velocity.
    Best I can figure, this cloak achieves it's goal by slowing down time on one side, then speeding it back up to normal on the other (thus creating the gap which something can pass through, without "touching" time – just like a paddle in the water: push on it, and you create a trough, which an object could momentarily pass through, being "below" the surface of the water, without being in the water), and that just sounds like you're jimmying the gears too much.
    Granted, we don't know what may happen (or if anything) if we mess with the cogs too much, but until we know we can put it back together if we break it (or if there is a replacement, just floating around), I would vote we leave time alone.
    Also, the idea that someone might be able to put themselves "out" of the universe, without actually being "out" of the universe – while cool at first thought – is kinda scary… anyways, chalk another one up for Sci-Fi; credit this time going to Stargate SG-1 and their "Out-of-Phase" technology

  2. Ok, as someone who is dangerous by virtue of having just a little information, wouldn't that just "cloak" it in one direction? What about photons travelling perpendicular to the lenses?

  3. "Though Fridman and team are deservedly stoked about their design, they are reluctant at this point to discuss applications for it."