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New method could hide buildings from earthquakes or tsunamis

Cloaking objects is a big area of research for many scientists. Much of the research is focusing more on cloaking objects from certain types of waves like sound and vibration more than it is focusing on making things invisible to the naked eye.

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.

Milton said, "We have shown that it is numerically possible to cloak objects of any shape that lie outside the cloaking devices, not just from single-frequency waves, but from actual pulses generated by a multi-frequency source."

He continued, "It's a brand new method of cloaking. It is two-dimensional, but we believe it can be extended easily to three dimensions, meaning real objects could be cloaked. It's called active cloaking, which means it uses devices that actively generate electromagnetic fields rather than being composed of 'metamaterials' [exotic metallic substances] that passively shield objects from passing electromagnetic waves."

Milton's new breakthrough will allow for the cloaking of objects much larger than a few particles. Milton says that radar microwaves move on a wavelength of about four inches so using his cloaking method an object of about 40-inches could be hidden. The scientists have been able to cloak a copper cylinder about an inch wide in experiments so far.

The cloaking method may be used to cloak objects from incoming waves like sound waves, sea waves, and seismic waves. This may one day lead to the ability to cloak buildings from earthquakes, oil rigs form tsunamis, and submarines from sonar. The researchers do acknowledge that practical optical cloaking for invisibility is years away.

The first cloaking technologies used metamaterials to cloak objects. Milton's new cloaking method sea waves to cancel out other waves. He said, "The problem with metamaterials is that their behavior depends strongly on the frequency you are trying to cloak from. So it is difficult to obtain broadband cloaking. Maybe you'd be invisible to red light, but people would see you in blue light."

Milton's cloaking devices uses "destructive interference" and is very similar in principal to the noise cancellation headphones many people use on long air flights.



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The jungle..
By spartan014 on 8/17/2009 10:30:52 AM , Rating: 5
it came alive and took him...!!

Couldn't resist.. :)

On serious note, the idea of using some kind of cloaking to save buildings from earth quakes and such does seem practical in future. But that implies the effects of nuclear weapons also can be negated in a similar fasion. Worth some thought...




RE: The jungle..
By MrBlastman on 8/17/2009 10:36:12 AM , Rating: 5
Nuclear weapons have built in cloaking devices already - didn't you know that?

One second you're there, the next second the nuke makes you dissapear. ;) It is quite effective and to this day the results haven't been disputed. 1940's technology is alive and well!


RE: The jungle..
By Lord 666 on 8/17/2009 10:51:49 AM , Rating: 3
You've done too many drugs.


RE: The jungle..
By MrBlastman on 8/17/2009 11:10:53 AM , Rating: 3
I was this demented before them, that's the scary part. :)


RE: The jungle..
By Chernobyl68 on 8/17/2009 6:51:56 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Milton's cloaking devices uses "destructive interference" and is very similar in principal to the noise cancellation headphones many people use on long air flights.


So, to cancel out an earthquake, we need an earthquake?


RE: The jungle..
By Spookster on 8/17/2009 7:22:16 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
by Chernobyl68 on August 17, 2009 at 6:51 PM

quote:
Milton's cloaking devices uses "destructive interference" and is very similar in principal to the noise cancellation headphones many people use on long air flights.

So, to cancel out an earthquake, we need an earthquake?


No. You just need really big headphones.


RE: The jungle..
By Sooticus on 8/17/2009 11:46:34 PM , Rating: 2
The only problem I see with using destrictive interference is dealing with other wave effects.
say with the earthquake idea, you would need an equvalent amount of energy to that which would normally be applied to the building. That is lots.

Also, couldnt you use a device to target specific buildings with earthquake like forces rather than protect them?


RE: The jungle..
By MrPoletski on 8/18/2009 6:00:47 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
So, to cancel out an earthquake, we need an earthquake?


no, just a big bowl of chilli...


RE: The jungle..
By Omega215D on 8/19/2009 1:42:16 AM , Rating: 2
I was thinking more along the lines of giving everyone in the affected town some taco bell....


RE: The jungle..
By Mitch101 on 8/17/2009 10:51:50 AM , Rating: 3
My friend Burt was could become invisible with a snap of his fingers.


RE: The jungle..
By MrBlastman on 8/17/2009 10:58:11 AM , Rating: 2
I hope he wasn't evil B(e)rt...

http://www.bertisevil.tv/index2.htm


RE: The jungle..
By Mitch101 on 8/17/2009 11:09:46 AM , Rating: 2
I love that. Its actually from a TV series called SOAP but I'm really dating myself with this one. Awesome show way ahead of its time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soap_%28TV_series%29

Richard Mulligan - Burt Campbell and X-23 (Alien Burt) - Burt is the second husband of Mary Campbell. Burt is a contractor who later becomes sheriff. In Season one Burt suffers from mental illness and believes he can make himself invisible. He is also at one point abducted by aliens and replaced with a Burt lookalike. X-23 is the alien duplicate of Burt sent to Earth when Burt is abducted.


RE: The jungle..
By MrBlastman on 8/17/2009 11:30:30 AM , Rating: 2
What is even worse is I remember watching that show when it first came out. We're all getting old. :-| I totally forgot about it. :) Thanks for the reference.


RE: The jungle..
By drycrust on 8/17/2009 1:17:37 PM , Rating: 2
And then Mary was found to be pregnant just after the real Bert returned. So when the baby was born, Bert's first question, right in front of an African - American nurse, is, "What colour is it?", and if I remember rightly, the nurse asked, "What colour were you expecting? Green?" to which Bert replied, "Yes".


RE: The jungle..
By Mitch101 on 8/17/2009 11:12:27 AM , Rating: 2
If it Bleeds we can kill it.


RE: The jungle..
By mattclary on 8/17/2009 11:55:27 AM , Rating: 3
I can think of something that bleeds for one week a month and doesn't die. You really have to respect that.


RE: The jungle..
By MrBlastman on 8/17/2009 11:58:50 AM , Rating: 3
In Hawaii they sequestered those beings to a "menstruation hut" once a week, for a solid week during this life-phase.

Not such a bad idea when you think about it...


RE: The jungle..
By EasyC on 8/17/2009 12:52:23 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps a cloaking device could be made specifically for husbands. Altho I'd hate to have to carry around a battery pack big enough to math the power level of a woman on a PMS trip.


RE: The jungle..
By MrBlastman on 8/17/2009 1:09:22 PM , Rating: 2
PMS is like an episode of Dragonball Z (from the husband's perspective)--it never ends. ;)


RE: The jungle..
By Fritzr on 8/17/2009 12:56:44 PM , Rating: 3
Cloaking the effect of a nuke would probably not be practical. This is an adaptation of active noise cancellation. You hit a tsunami wavefront with an identical tsunami that is 180 degrees out of phase and voila both disappear.

Earthquake cancelation would require a foundation mounting capable of generating earthquake strength movement. This is similar to carrying a bowl of soup...you are constantly countering the movements that would slosh the soup out of the bowl.

Sonar cloaking would cancel the echo of active sonar by blasting out the same signal out of phase...instead of an incoming signal that is reflected, the noise of the sonar ping is silenced. Who knows this might even lead to active noise cancelation of ambient sound, making passive sonar (listening for the noise the target produces) much more difficult.


RE: The jungle..
By phazers on 8/17/2009 2:11:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Who knows this might even lead to active noise cancelation of ambient sound, making passive sonar (listening for the noise the target produces) much more difficult.


Actually, the famous Arthur C. Clarke had an ambient noise-cancelling device in one of his short stories. Unfortunately, the inventor took it to a movie theater to test, causing the audience to start shouting and screaming that they were not able to hear the soundtrack. Of course this caused the device to overload and then explode, killing the inventor...


RE: The jungle..
By MrPoletski on 8/18/2009 6:05:23 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Cloaking the effect of a nuke would probably not be practical. This is an adaptation of active noise cancellation. You hit a tsunami wavefront with an identical tsunami that is 180 degrees out of phase and voila both disappear.


lol, that just isn't going to happen. If we have the power to do that then we have the power to just block the wave with a sea wall.


RE: The jungle..
By BansheeX on 8/17/2009 10:57:22 PM , Rating: 2
That's not what she said. What she said doesn't make any sense.


Power?
By guacamojo on 8/17/2009 10:54:42 AM , Rating: 3
If this method requires destructive interference, wouldn't the power required for cloaking be equal to the power contained in the incoming wave?

That might work for sonar or radar, but earthquakes? Or, as a previous post asked, nuclear weapons?

Or am I missing something here?




RE: Power?
By GentJack on 8/17/2009 11:05:18 AM , Rating: 4
I think you got it right. And the amplitude of the earthquake would be doubled somewhere outside the quiet zone.


RE: Power?
By GeorgeH on 8/17/2009 1:43:57 PM , Rating: 2
I thought so too, but in the model they developed the cloaking transmitters only produce waves with significant amplitude inside a small circle. Outside of that circle the amplitude goes to 0, meaning no doubling.

How you would actually manufacture such transmitters is left as an exercise for the experimentalists.


RE: Power?
By Jaybus on 8/17/2009 11:14:01 AM , Rating: 3
Exactly what I got out of it, too. Of course destructive interference would work, but it would require an energy level equal to the wave being interfered with. Radar and sonar, sure, but no earthquake or tsunami protection until we have portable Mr. Fusions ala "Back to the Future".


RE: Power?
By SPOOFE on 8/17/2009 12:35:02 PM , Rating: 3
It would require an equivalent energy level for a given volume, sure. An earthquake is a lot of power, but it's spread out over a large area in all directions. If you were to apply this cloak - IF it works as they describe - on, say, just the support struts of a building, you would need to apply only as much energy as is being applied to the structure. It certainly won't perform magic, but one more layer of protection would certainly be welcome. You also wouldn't need the energy applied until the moment of impact, so until actually required, it would be much like a passive implementation.


RE: Power?
By guacamojo on 8/17/2009 3:30:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
...you would need to apply only as much energy as is being applied to the structure.


That's my point. The power input to large buildings (those which would most benefit from said cloak) could be quite large. The total energy in the earthquake is irrelevant, which is good, because the required power would be ridiculous in that case. (Magnitude 8.0 earthquake = 6.3E+16 Joules energy, divided over ~10 seconds = 6.3 Billion MW.)

I didn't see an easy way to calculate the power absorbed by a single building in an earthquake, but maybe someone else out there has it?

quote:
...until actually required, it would be much like a passive implementation.


That's true, but the system would have to be sized for the amount of power it must transmit. It might be a very large piece of equipment indeed.

I'd also assume that you'd need substantial local energy storage, as the electric grid probably wouldn't be able to deliver that much instantaneous power.


RE: Power?
By SPOOFE on 8/17/2009 4:15:19 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The power input to large buildings (those which would most benefit from said cloak) could be quite large.

Sure, and I'm certain you can't scale any gains indefinitely, and I also have an inkling that it won't scale linearly. The goal shouldn't be to make a building completely invincible in the face of an earthquake, but enhancing its ability to resist damage. Against a mammoth 9.5 or whatever, this technology may be quite useless. But against a more mundane quake it can complement the engineering.

quote:
I'd also assume that you'd need substantial local energy storage, as the electric grid probably wouldn't be able to deliver that much instantaneous power.

Yup. There's a lot of research being done on large-scale bulk battery power; pools of fairly inert chemicals in the basement of large buildings that can be charged and discharged a large number of times (the focus of those projects is to harness wind/solar energy when not in use, but it can be applied in various ways).


RE: Power?
By lightfoot on 8/17/2009 5:07:38 PM , Rating: 2
The solution I would propose would be a form of dynamic power generation. If you used massive weights on a spring loaded base you could extract large amounts of energy as the weight vibrated (or the ground under it vibrated.) This energy could then be relayed to the structure that is to be protected and use it in a controlled active cancellation of the very vibrations that generated the power. The problem is the mass generating the power would have to be roughly equivalent to the structure being protected.


Earthquakes
By jvillaro on 8/17/2009 10:26:50 AM , Rating: 2
Ok so you could make so the building isn't afected by the quake, but what about the ground it's built on? If it cracks open, I think sometimes it would be almost the same result.
Well I think it's progress anyway. It would be very exciting to be able to see things like that working in a future, and if it helps saving some lifes then even better.




RE: Earthquakes
By MBlueD on 8/17/2009 11:17:31 AM , Rating: 2
If it can 'destroy' an earthquake wave, it means it can generate a wave of equal power. In other words, it can be used as a weapon. I fear that is what it will progress towards first.


RE: Earthquakes
By SPOOFE on 8/17/2009 12:39:00 PM , Rating: 2
That's not an accurate conclusion at all. Only a tiny fraction of an Earthquake's energy will affect any given structure in its zone; thus the device need only negate a tiny fraction of that energy. It's not magic, and I'm sure it'll be a long time before it's effective against truly monumental quakes, but it's not at all a logical conclusion to say it would be useful as a weapon.


RE: Earthquakes
By foolsgambit11 on 8/18/2009 2:44:13 AM , Rating: 2
If it has the energy to keep a building from being affected by an earthquake, it has the power to affect that same building by the same amount of energy it prevented. So, assuming we're talking about protecting a single building with this device in the basement, if it went haywire it would make the building shake like it was in an earthquake. Sabotaging this device could be an effective attack strategy, especially for the unscrupulous, like terrorists.


Replace Wiperblades?
By GTVic on 8/17/2009 11:50:26 AM , Rating: 2
If it can shield from water waves then how about a rain shield for a car window.




RE: Replace Wiperblades?
By HVAC on 8/17/2009 11:58:53 AM , Rating: 5
RainX - www.rainx.com

Requires much less power consumption than vibrating the drops away. Plus it is really cool to watch the beads of water roll past you at highway speeds.


Hmmmm...
By tviceman on 8/17/2009 1:34:13 PM , Rating: 2
Does this remind anyone of the mythical Philadelphia Experiment? Not exactly the same thing, but using electro-magnetic fields to makes things "disappear" fits in with the PE myth.

On a side note, my grandfather was in the military during the fifties, and he believes that there was an actual, top secret, classified experiment that took place.




RE: Hmmmm...
By gamerk2 on 8/17/2009 2:27:13 PM , Rating: 3
Oh, PE happened. What the experiment was is the only real debate left...


I didn't read the article...
By CannedTurkey on 8/17/2009 10:15:53 AM , Rating: 4
but I'll go ahead and predict that nothing shall surpass good old fashioned wool in cloaking technology.




Inertial dampers? Phase-cloaking?
By therealnickdanger on 8/17/2009 10:20:16 AM , Rating: 2
This application certainly doesn't sound like anything related to "cloaking" as I understand it. I'm still stuck on Romulan Warbirds and Predator. The "active cloaking" he's talking about sounds more like the effects of inertial dampers, at least how sci-fi describes it. Either way, my e-boner is at full mast.




By PrinceGaz on 8/17/2009 7:19:29 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, it's nothing like cloaking as understood in ST. In fact, far from being cloaked, any object using this will stand out quite clearly as it will be transmitting an energy field designed to only exactly cancel out the received field at source, but which will result in a very obvious energy signature to an external observer (like noise-cancelling headphones with no soundproofing, so the noise-cancellation effect is clearly audible to others as a re-transmission of the original sound with a slight delay).


Disappearing military bases ?
By tygrus on 8/17/2009 9:39:42 PM , Rating: 2
Another way to deny the existance of Area-51.

Radar guidance and warning system of plains may cause them to crash into buildings they couldn't tell were there.




RE: Disappearing military bases ?
By Omega215D on 8/19/2009 1:53:34 AM , Rating: 2
You would think warning a plane of plains would be a good thing since there's nothing to crash into on a plain...

=D


No sense on large scale
By chartguy on 8/17/2009 11:04:50 AM , Rating: 3
Using active interference means generating the same amount of energy, out of phase with the incoming waves.

With tsunamis or earthquakes, you probably would not be able to draw that much energy, that quickly, from the entire US electric grid.




FIRST!!!!!!!!
By ggordonliddy on 8/17/2009 8:47:26 PM , Rating: 1
Don't deny it, playa haytaz!!!!!




RE: FIRST!!!!!!!!
By ggordonliddy on 8/18/2009 10:48:39 AM , Rating: 2
Who DARES to rate me down? Name thyself sucka!


By Motoman on 8/17/2009 11:20:46 AM , Rating: 2
...I put a small towel over my head and ran around yelling "you can't see me!" while smiting evil invaders with my sword. When they couldn't see me.




"destructive interference"
By geekman1024 on 8/18/2009 4:19:19 AM , Rating: 2
so, for this method to be super effective, we'll have to destroy everything? There are a lot of things that will interfere with the cloaking device, no?




Regarding earthquakes...
By Digital Anomaly on 8/20/2009 5:57:15 AM , Rating: 2
As someone said earlier, only a fraction of an earthquake's intensity would affect a structure. To add to that, the earthquake cloaking mechanism does not necessarily have to completely nullify the effects of the earthquake. All it needs to do is tone it down, enough for a building's structural integrity to take it. Buildings nowadays can be built to passively withstand quakes, combining this with the cloaking mechanism would improve things greatly.




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