Temporal Cloak Hides Events for a Fleeting Moment
October 14, 2011 7:03 AM
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Experiment would need to be on planetary or interplanetary scale to provide macroscopic results
In science fiction, it's not uncommon for an event in history to be changed or removed by some sort of
or time altering technology. That fiction may someday become reality with a new breakthrough made at Cornell University that has been described as a "history editor." Granted the history that the cloaking technique has been able to hide is a tiny fraction of a second.
The researchers include Moti Fridman and colleagues and the experiment was the first to demonstrate a theory described a year ago by Martin McCall and colleagues at the Imperial College in London. The Cornell researchers sent a beam of light traveling down an optical fiber that went through what the team dubbed "time lenses."
In the space between the two lenses, the team was able to create a bubble in the light for a tiny moment that function like a temporal hole. That is a fancy way of saying that the beam of light never existed for a tiny fraction of a second. As the beam passes though the split-time lens it accelerates near the center and slows down near the edges causing a bubble. The second lens in the series is able to create the opposite effect and returns the beam to normal.
In testing, the team shot pulses of laser light between the two lenses and they were recorded at a constant rate of 41 kilohertz when the cloak was turned off. When the cloak was turned on and synchronized with the light pulses all signs that the pulses took place were erased. The area that was cloaked was tiny at only 6mm long and lasted only 20 trillionths of a second. A longer duration for the cloak would have created turbulence and revealed that the event occurred.
The team says that to create a measurable macroscopic effect using the cloak the experiment would need to be on the planetary or perhaps interplanetary scale.
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10/14/2011 11:18:48 AM
They messed up the flow of light, what does this have to do with time? You can slow light down to 1 mph, does that make time slow down too? No. There have also been reports of light being sped up past the value of c using fancy quantum effects, and did that make time go faster? No.
From the description of this experiment, speeding up light in the center of the lens and slowing it at the edges, all they really did was disperse the light, and thus could no longer follow the signal as it was no longer a coherent laser pulse.
If somehow this was more than simply breaking up the laser pulse (which depends on coherence!), then I'd honestly love to hear the explanation of how this is meaningful.
10/14/2011 12:29:43 PM
Doesn't mess with time at all, just the timing of light coming from an object. Imagine you have a safe sitting on a table for 10 minutes and someone watching it. With an extreme version of this system you could make the first 5 minutes of the safe sitting there stretch to fill the full 10 minutes of viewing for the observer. A thief could steal something out of the safe in the 'missing' 5 minutes, but the light from that event would never reach the observer.
10/14/2011 4:18:09 PM
Only problem with that, is if you "stretch" out the light, you'll red shift it. Now, you could capture a burst light and route it in a circle feeding only a small percentage to the viewer over time, thus "stretching" out the instance over time over which you see the object's light, but that should cause dimming: growing with the smaller the fraction of light you give the observer from the available pool.
But, that doesn't sound like what this experiment was.
Either way, the reporting I've seen elsewhere is incredibly misleading about the nature of this work, which always rankles my scientific sensibilities.
10/17/2011 1:28:58 PM
Maybe the theft of a safe isn't what you'd want to cloak. Maybe it's some kind of communication signal? Just thinking out loud.
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