Forget invisibility cloaks, scientists at Imperial College London have come up with a way of designing a cloaking device that bends space-time around the item being cloaked so that, from our point of view, it ceases to exist. Nature has details.
Of course, this being a piece of quantum trickery, it is probably only practical on very small scales. Don’t start thinking about stealthing your warships just yet. However, the ability to hide sub-atomic goings on from prying eyes has surprising potential uses. Nature quotes Ortwin Hess, a researcher into metamaterials at the University of Surrey in Guildford:
Physicists are struggling to build quantum computers, because any accidental observation of fragile quantum properties can disrupt calculations before they have been completed. “This cloak could be used to shield quantum systems from being observed, long enough for calculations to be done,” he says.
So to get quantum computers to work we may have to hide their processors outside of space-time. Isn’t physics wonderful!