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Physics - Optics & Lasers | The Physics of Invisibility - A Story of Light and Deception

The Physics of Invisibility

A Story of Light and Deception

Beech, Martin

2012, XVII, 206p. 135 illus., 55 illus. in color.

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  • Describes in general terms how light can be manipulated to produce a distortion of images, known as invisibility
  • Introduces the scientifically new technology of "invisibility cloaking," a technology currently heavily funded by the U.S. military
  • Explores the current discussion of the use and ethics of invisibility

Arthur C. Clarke famously wrote that, "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." These words most certainly ring true with respect to invisibility cloaking devices. At work is the magic of science, of course. The technology to make an object simply disappear from view is now a reality.

There is both great fear and great desire in the thought of invisibility. Indeed, for thousands of years, authors have grappled with the idea. Power, devilry, secrecy, ethical dilemma, and moral corruption - invisibility has it all. And yet, our waking world is full of familiar invisible phenomena. Electricity flowing along a metal wire, the gravity that keeps us grounded, the air we breathe, the bacteria and viruses that make us ill, the X-rays that reveal our broken bones - all are invisible to our eyes. They surround and envelop us, and we don't give them a second thought.

Nature long ago learned how to play tricks with light rays, enriching the world with rainbows, mirages, and animal camouflage. The new physics of invisibility simply aims to take these tricks of nature a few steps further. Indeed, by learning what light is and how it interacts with matter, physicists have begun to take control of light - with metamaterials, which, manmade, can be precisely melded, warped, twisted, transformed, and even time-edited.

In this book the ancient and modern story of light and invisibility is revealed, from early Greek speculations to the remarkable works of James Clerk Maxwell. The new and burgeoning field of transformation optics is also explored, and the story behind the development of the first fully functional invisibility cloak is charted. What will they be used for and how will they change things? Find out here.

Content Level » Popular/general

Keywords » Electromagnetic radiation - Invisibility cloaking - Manipulation of light - Properties of invisibility - Properties of light

Related subjects » Optical & Electronic Materials - Optics & Lasers - Popular Science

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