Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Cloak of Invisibility, Bwa, ha, haaaaaaa!

In just about 10 hours, Agnes will be back from Germany, and tomorrow morning we'll be heading up to Pittsburgh for the annual Thanksgiving Family Reunion ... which means that today is going to be another one of those frantically-flailing days as I try to get everything ready. Fortunately, I'm a fairly competent housekeeper, so I won't have to do too much to get the house back in order (only had to order up one dumpster for the trash, dontcha know), but I still have shopping to do and I need to drive down to Manassas to take Nessa to the vet for boarding for the weekend. She doesn't know it yet, so please don't tell her.

But before all that, let's talk about something really interesting - it seems that Harry Potter may not be the only one with an invisibility cloak.

According to this article from CNN, a "space-time cloak" that could conceal events and actions is a theoretical, if not a currently practical, possibility. I don't profess to understand any of the science and mathematics behind the whole thing (being the guy who crashed on the academic rocks of calculus and advanced chemistry all those years ago), but it's still a pretty neat concept.

It seems that all you need is a metamaterial (briefly, an artificial material engineered to provide properties which may not exist in nature) that manipulates light rays as they enter a material so that some parts speed up and others slow down. The result is that the light (that is, the image of the object or event to be hidden) doesn't reach the observer until well after it has happened. That's the theory, anyhow.

Did you follow that?

Just think of the possibilities ... Congress could use such a cloak to conceal its ineptitude and intellectual and moral cowardice, and banks could toss one over all those piles of cash they aren't lending. I could drape one over the yard and make all those tons of unraked leaves disappear, or use it to conceal my car parked in a prime no-parking zone.

The possibilities are endless.

Of course, there's a catch. According to one of the scientists quoted in the article, because light travels at 100 million meters per second, cloaking it would require a roughly equivalent number of meters of metamaterial ... which is a lot. I doubt that I could run down to the local G Street Fabrics store with Agnes and pick up a hundred million meters of cloaking material to hide the leaves in the front yard. But if you're a politician looking to hide inconvenient truths from gullible voters, you could easily afford it, since the Supreme Court has provided you a convenient invisibility cloak to drape over all your sources of campaign contributions, which could then be diverted to purchasing your real invisibility cloak.

Wow! What a concept. I'm sure there's a Republican PAC working on it right now, with the Democrats close behind.

Just another thing for you to worry about as you contemplate the dim future of competent and ethical government. Sorry about that.

But now, it's time to move on to things that are more fun - like getting ready for the return of my Very Best Beloved, and the joy of seeing all five grandchildren and most of my siblings in one place for the weekend. Life is good.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

Remeber to wave if come by my way!!

Have a safe and semi stress free trip. (Like that will happen on PA roads)

KathyA said...

Make sure the dumpster is gone before Agnes gets back from the airport!

Yes, there were reasons I majored in English and not all of them were because of my literary 'gift'. You lost me at 'cloak'. :)

Have a wonderful time this weekend.

Mike said...

"Nessa to the vet for boarding"

Nessa knows already. She's just not letting on.