Putting Out the Vibe Random observations from my day-to-day life

December 17, 2009

Christmas List #1: Invisibility Cloak

Filed under: Creepiness,Nerdiness,Products — Tags: , , — Matthew @ 4:28 pm

For those of you who don’t know, while working on my master’s degree I’ve worked in the RFID Lab on campus.  Last week at one of our workgroup meetings, another Engineering Graduate student (the electrical kind) was presenting his recent research entitled, “RFID and Metamaterials: Now things get interesting.”  The title was misleading.  The incredibly theoretical presentation, along with a painfully practical audience made for what one would consider a “tough gig.”  However, a few minutes into the presentation, something was said that led me to believe that in the midst of my spacing out, J.K. Rowling had slipped up to the front of the room and taken over the presentation without me realizing it.

The negative indices of refraction present in many metamaterials has been demonstrated to provide a “cloaking” effect at microwave frequencies.

With metamaterials, awakward moments like this one may one day be avoidable

A cloaking effect!  Instantly, I stopped contemplating whether or not I would actually find a date to that weekend’s drumline formal (a high school homecoming-esque event that involves dressing up, dinner, and a lot more alcohol than dances in the Eisenhower cafeteria) and was completely engaged in the presentation.  The moment I had been waiting for since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone had finally arrived: I could finally add an invisibility cloak to my Christmas list!  However, to my shock, the nerdy audience didn’t even acknowledge the incredible breakthrough mentioned by the presenter and the subject was quickly changed when the next slide read, “Metamaterials can be created in broad ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum as well as acoustics.”  Shit.

As disappointing as the remaining 20 minutes of the presentation were, science is acknowledging that metamaterials may one day make an invisibility cloak a possibility (due to 2008 research at UC Berkley, 2006 research at Duke, and research in Scotland).  Just imagine the possibilities:

  • I could have totally dominated the recent 3,000 person snowball fight on Bascom Hill.
  • Sneaking drinks into Summerfest would become a joke.
  • A few years ago I could have stolen Rob’s textbooks and he would have had no other choice but to go out with us instead of studying.
  • I wouldn’t miss a Packer Game at Lambeau for the rest of my life
  • Mess up Andrew’s immaculate bedroom

What would you do?

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