By Chris Capps
Imagine the potential benefits of a building that is entirely invisible to the human eye. It seems researchers are quickly heading down that path with a series of devices designed to not only perfectly influence the ability for people to be perceived, but also vehicles and (eventually) even buildings. But what limitations and benefits will these buildings be influenced by? And how soon can we come to expect them?
The potential for these objects is limited only by the imagination of those using it. Armored vehicles could have 100% visibility in the spectrum all around them. Windows in bunkers and other fortified locations could be 3' thick steell and yet still allow light to pass through to allow visibility on the outside. Even fortified concrete structures could render themselves invisible to allow for the production of crops within. And furthermore, windows could be placed anywhere, even bending light to make an underground location appear to the occupants to be aboveground despite being hundreds of feet beneath the surface. And then there are the applications offered up by companies like Boeing, who suggest the airways may be more interesting if flight the entire fuselage of the vessel were rendered invisible. And let's not forget the potential to making individuals simply vanish into thin air.
So how far are we from making this incredible potential a reality? One of the major limitations of invisibility technology was the difficulty of the constant of light speed. If the device is wrapping light around an object, the details and surface area of the object could have visible distortions if the speed of light wrapped around it at different speeds. Thanks to a paper published August 9th, this daunting limitation of the invisibility cloak was overcome. As a result, various light limitations such as color can be overcome and an object attempting to look invisible will not look like a monochromatic grey blob as it would have otherwise.
How close is this technology in the future? And how far has it come in recent years? Considering only one year ago scientists were celebrating the cloaking of an object to radiation at all, the technology is rapidly moving forward. And if production goes into full swing of a material that can cloak whatever object enshrouds it, then we may very well be looking at a whole new sci-fi element to our future made reality.
Invisibility comes with its problems as well, though. Not only would the military and other organizations be able to cloak themselves from prying eyes, but criminals could potentially use it as well. While the cost limitation may make this object beyond the reach of ordinary burglars, it would eventually reach a level where organized crime syndicates and rogue governments would be able to acquire it – as well as potential spies. But as we said in a previous article on the subject, there is still no technology that would make an invisibility cloak invulnerable to things such as mist, dust, fog, and small water droplets which would get on the surface of the suit. In environments where these factors saturated most areas, these cloaks would only assist the user in hiding, but would not actually make them universally unseen.