Posts Tagged ‘metamaterials

22
May
13

Metamaterials and an invisibility cloak

Sounds like a Klingon cloaking device if you’re a Star Trek buff. What used to be the staple of science fiction is now almost reality thanks to ‘metamaterials’ and their ability to guide  electromagnetic waves around an object and emerge on the other side as if they had passed through nothing but air. the result: They eliminate all reflection and shadows, thus rendering an object invisible. Early this year, Duke University made one that measures 20 inches by four inches and is less than an inch thick. Its 10,000 pieces are made of the same fiberglass material used in circuit boards. It uses algorithms to determine the shape and placement of each piece in the cloak.

I’ve been researching metamaterials for a book I’m writing. I like including weird science in my plots. I’d show you a picture of something shrouded in an invisibility cloak, but, well, if you’re a James Bond fan, remember his invisible car? Like that.

Here’s an amazing article from the BBC, gives you a sense of what it would be. This British art student painted her car to match the surroundings, invisiblesimulating invisibility. Kinda. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s amazing.

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06
Sep
11

Some Scientist Stole My Storyline

My day job is teaching tech at a K-8 school. My night job is writing–everything. I write, blogs, book reviews, Amazon Vine Voice reviews, columns for ezines…

And books. My first book was on the paleo-life of Homo habilis. It shared my educated guess on what life was like for man when Nature ruled and we just hung on for dear life. I called it Evolution: A Biography. I started the sequel (Born in a Treacherous Time) about the paleo-life of Homo habilis‘ successor, Homo erectus. By this time in man’s history, we’d acquired tools, rudimentary problem-solving and a small amount of control over our lives. I read a library of books to learn what I needed to know to create these worlds, many of them reviewed for you here.

I still love paleo-history, but a publisher I was trying to convince to publish my paleo-histories, suggested I bring my stories into modern time to widen their appeal. OK. I didn’t mind trying that. I decided to create stories where the sizzle of science and the brilliance of our big brains created the plot’s drama, crises, climaxes and resolutions. I wrote my first thriller about a brilliant scientist, a former Navy SEAL, a quirky almost-human AI named Otto (you see the palindrome?) and how they saved the world. It involved some intriguing science about magnetic signatures and artificial intelligence. I called it To Hunt a Sub. Continue reading ‘Some Scientist Stole My Storyline’

15
Apr
11

Metamaterials and an invisibility cloak

Sounds like a Klingon cloaking device if you’re a Star Trek buff. What used to be the staple of science fiction is now almost reality thanks to ‘metamaterials’ and their ability to guide  electromagnetic waves around an object and emerge on the other side as if they had passed through nothing but air. the result: They eliminate all reflection and shadows, thus rendering an object invisible. Early this year, Duke University made one that measures 20 inches by four inches and is less than an inch thick. Its 10,000 pieces are made of the same fiberglass material used in circuit boards. It uses algorithms to determine the shape and placement of each piece in the cloak.

I’ve been researching metamaterials for a book I’m writing. I like including weird science in my plots. I’d show you a picture of something shrouded in an invisibility cloak, but, well, if you’re a James Bond fan, remember his invisible car? Like that.

Here’s an amazing article from the BBC, gives you a sense of what it would be. This British art student painted her car to match the surroundings, invisiblesimulating invisibility. Kinda. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s amazing.

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26
Apr
10

Who Would Guess ‘Metamaterials’ Would Be My Most-Viewed Post

As a grad student, I research a lot of stuff. Most of it is related to my work on AI’s, but along the yellow brick road that leads to my personal Oz, I peek into anything that catches my interest. Plus, I’m around like-minded individuals who love pulling threads.
As a result, I’ve posted on everything from mind reading to DNA computers to science humor.
But the post that has by far the most hits to date is on metamaterials. Since I first stumbled onto these man-made pieces of matter, I’ve chatted seven times about them and their uses (like an invisibility cloak). Shockingly, lots of people out there in the world share my passion. Take a look at my quarter numbers: Continue reading ‘Who Would Guess ‘Metamaterials’ Would Be My Most-Viewed Post’
07
Sep
09

10 Uses for Metamaterials. Beyond Star Trek. Way Beyond Harry Potter.

What the heck are ‘metamaterials’? ‘Meta’ means “above,” “after,” “beyond,” or “superior”, so they sound to be some sort of exotic composite materials. In scientific circles, they are artificial structures that display properties beyond those available naturally. They were first discovered in 1968 by a Russian theorist, Victor Veselago, who predicted that metamaterials would interact with their environment in a manner precisely the opposite of the way natural materials react. It took until 1999 for another scientist, Dr. Pendry, to show how it could be done.

Since then, there have been astounding advances in the field, which as garnered an amazing amount of press in the scientific world, most of it invisible to the average person. But it shouldn’t be because metamaterials will revolutionize our world and what we think it is.

Under most circumstances, we can see the world around us because things reflect or refract the rich spectrum of light rays. If we don’t want another person to see something, say a submarine or a ship, we would camouflage it. That can be done by distracting the viewer, hiding the signals that would be visible to electronic or human eye.

Metamaterials can hide stuff in that manner, but much much more effectively. Dr. Leonhardt explained it, “Cloaking is an illusion like a mirage. Taking advantage of curved space, you can put light in a holding pattern. Light can go around in a circle. That changes the game.” In simpler language, metamaterials have the power to “grab” electromagnetic radiation and deflect it smoothly. No such material occurs naturally and it is only in the past few years that nano-scale engineering, manipulating matter at the level of atoms and molecules, has advanced sufficiently to give scientists the chance to create them.

Because if the eye can’t see the refracted light, it can’t see the object. Get it? No longer can we believe what our eyes tell us. Here are some uses being considered for these amazing bits of science:

Figure out the Big Bang

Using metamaterials, scientists can create a “toy big bang” using precisely designed metamaterials that are mathematically analogous to certain conditions of the real-world big bang

Stronger, smaller antennas

The challenge of the antenna field is that there are fundamental limitations on antenna quality factor and its electrical size. By exciting metamaterial resonances, smaller antennas can be created. Rayspan Corp. of San Diego is using metamaterials to make stronger, smaller antennas. Although they measure just a few millimeters long and are as flat as paper, the new multiband antennas could double the range, reliability and battery life of cellular phones, Wi-Fi routers and wireless modems.

antenna

WMD Detectors

Army and Air Force researchers are using meta­materials to detect the presence of biological agents, chemical explosives, and contamination. This same science could be used for passenger or cargo screening.

Invisible Subs

Sound has a larger wavelength than light, so it’s easier to build meta-materi­als to manipulate it. An Office of Naval Research program is funding a prototype that bends sound around a submarine to make it invisible to enemy sonar. Civilian spinoffs could produce total soundproofing and rooms with perfect acoustics.

invisibility cloak for sound bends pressure waves around the object

Invisibility cloak from metamaterials bends pressure waves around the sub

Hidden Portals to ??

New research into metamaterials have discovered a gateway that can block electromagnetic waves, but all the passage of other entities, like a ‘hidden portal’.

This is a spin-off of the technology used to make subs invisible.  Not only could metamaterials soundproof a room, that would lead to perfect acoustics–not sound escaped, no extraneous noises got in

Revolutionary Electronics

Future circuits may use light rather than electricity, so Army engineers are building a meta­material switching device, fundamental for building small, fast photonic equipment. The device combines a metamaterial with a semiconductor, so the ability to trap light can be turned on and off. Such photonic computer chips could be 10 times faster than current chips.

Hide Buildings from Earthquakes and Tsunamis

A researcher for the University of Utah named Graeme Milton has developed a new cloaking method that may someday allow buildings and other large objects to be shielded from things like sonar, radar, earthquakes, and even tsunamis. “We proved mathematically that this method works when the wavelength of incoming electromagnetic radiation is large compared with the objects being cloaked, meaning it can cloak very small objects,” Milton says. “It also can cloak larger objects,”  says Graeme Milton, a distinguished professor of mathematics at the University of Utah.

Don’t discount the proof because it’s ‘mathematical’. Consider physicists. Some are practical, believing only what their eyes can see, while others are theoretical physicists, believing if they can prove it in the lab or with numbers, it could occur. Einstein was the latter.

These images are from animated computer simulations of a new method -- developed by University of Utah mathematicians -- for cloaking objects from waves of all sorts.

These images are from animated computer simulations of a new method — developed by University of Utah mathematicians — for cloaking objects from waves of all sorts.

Create the oft-discussed, Invisible Man

invisible_jacket

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22
Aug
09

Researchers Come Close to ‘Harry Potter-like’ Portals

Invisibility cloaks and metamaterials are all over the scientific news lately. ‘Invisibility cloaks’ do exactly what they sound like–hide stuff from view, even though they’re still there. ‘Metamaterials’ are fascinating new kinds of engineered materials that enable us to extend our control over matter in seemingly magical ways.

This article relates it to the magic in this summer’s Harry Potter blockbuster: How’d he hide on that train so he could eavesdrop?

Researchers come closer to creating hidden ‘Harry Potter-like’ portals

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09
Aug
09

The Long Tail of Star Trek in Education

Because of my research into artificial intelligence and my geek habits (see About Me here and My Story here), I’m often accused of living in a sci-fi world. My answer: More of us should. Don’t take my word for it. Here are some facts:

  • A 1993 study from Purdue University found that children learn more about science from STAR TREK than from any other source.
  • The Star Trek appeal–to explore new worlds–motivates many otherwise non-science folk to get involved and learn. Look at SETI (the organized search for extra-terrestrials)–with over three million users, it’s the largest joint computing effort in existence
  • Why is Star Trek so popular? Because people like to imagine the unknown. Curiosity is one of our signature human characteristics. It’s never going away until we become extinct. Star Trek’s presentation of transporters, event horizons, invisibility cloaks, inspire youngsters to grow up and invent them. Invisibility (thanks to metamaterials) is just around the corner of our imagination, coming to a reality near you (read this)
  • The transporter effect can be accomplished by a motivated student for his high school science fair. Here’s what you do:
    • Fill a canister with water.
    • Add glitter and shine a light through it.
    • Stir briskly and tape.
    • Film the scene, first with the actor, then without. (Or vice versa)
    • Transfer the scene to tape, and use video technology to matte the glitter over the actor. 4) Use a video wipe to ‘streak down’ the glitter.

One more amazing scientific anomaly that kids can understand.

  • The NASA motto is “To boldly go..” as in Star Trek.

My mind is open like a parachute. Try it. It’s not as scary as it sounds.

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Discover the sizzle in science. It's not that stuff that's always for the smart kids. It's the need to know. The passion for understanding. The absolute belief that for every problem, there is a solution. The creative mind seeking truth in a world of mystery. The quest for the Holy Grail.

That's science.

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Assembling California
Born On A Blue Day: Inside the Extraordinary Mind of an Autistic Savant
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My Life with the Chimpanzees
Naked Earth: The New Geophysics
Our Inner Ape: A Leading Primatologist Explains Why We Are Who We Are
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Sand Rivers
The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body
The Tree Where Man Was Born
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RSS Fact and Fiction about Early Man

  • The Old Way: A Story of the First People October 4, 2017
    author: Elizabeth Marshall Thomas name: Jacqui average rating: 4.19 book published: 2006 rating: 5 read at: 2017/10/04 date added: 2017/10/04 shelves: history, early-man review: […]
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  • Ki'ti's Story, 75,000 BC December 11, 2016
    author: Bonnye Matthews name: Jacqui average rating: 4.24 book published: 2012 rating: 5 read at: 2016/12/11 date added: 2016/12/11 shelves: early-man review: […]
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  • Meeting Prehistoric Man October 4, 2014
    author: GHR von Koenigswald name: Jacqui average rating: 4.00 book published: 1492 rating: 5 read at: 2014/10/04 date added: 2014/10/04 shelves: early-man review: Meeting Prehistoric Man by GHR Von Koenigswald is a journey throughout the world in discovery of early man as paleoanthropologists understood him during VonKoenigswald's time, circa 1950' […]
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  • Letters from the Field, 1925-1975 September 13, 2014
    author: Margaret Mead name: Jacqui average rating: 4.20 book published: 1977 rating: 5 read at: 2014/09/13 date added: 2014/09/13 shelves: early-man review: If you didn't read my last week's post, you may wonder why I am so excited about Margaret Mead's eye-opening book, Letters From the Field. Even if you read me last week, you may wonder--I […]
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  • The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention January 12, 2014
    author: Guy Deutscher name: Jacqui average rating: 4.16 book published: 2005 rating: 3 read at: date added: 2014/01/12 shelves: early-man, research review: Dr. Deutscher has done a scholarly, thorough discussion on the roots of language, but I believe he started too late in time. I'm of the persuasion that language involves more than the spoken word. I […]
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  • She Who remembers November 3, 2013
    author: Linda Lay Shuler name: Jacqui average rating: 4.07 book published: 1988 rating: 4 read at: date added: 2013/11/03 shelves: early-man review: […]
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  • The Runaway Brain: The Evolution Of Human Uniqueness July 25, 2011
    author: Christopher Wills name: Jacqui average rating: 4.14 book published: 1993 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: science, early-man review: In my lifelong effort to understand what makes us human, I long ago arrived at the lynchpin to that discussion: our brain. Even though bipedalism preceded big brains, and we couldn't be who we are […]
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  • The Origin Of Humankind July 25, 2011
    author: Richard E. Leakey name: Jacqui average rating: 3.97 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, history review: If you're interested in man's roots, there are several authors you must read: Birute Galdikas Dian Fosse Donald Johanson GHR Von Koenigsman Glen Isaacs Jared Diamond Ian Tattersell Lev Vygots […]
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  • Lucy: the beginnings of humankind July 24, 2011
    author: Donald C. Johanson name: Jacqui average rating: 4.11 book published: 1981 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I read this book when I was writing a paleo-historic drama of the life of earliest man. My characters were Homo habilines, but they cohabited Africa with Australopithecines, so to understand the co-st […]
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  • Through a Window: My Thirty Years with the Chimpanzees of Gombe July 24, 2011
    author: Jane Goodall name: Jacqui average rating: 4.25 book published: 1990 rating: 5 read at: date added: 2011/07/24 shelves: early-man, science review: I have read every book that Jane Goodall wrote. She has an easy-going writing style that shares scientific principals easily with the layman. Probably because when she started, she was little more than a no […]
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