Scientists stop the clock, making an event unseen

Jan 6, 2012
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Scientists stop the clock, making an event unseen

We've all seen the crazy antics in movies that would be nigh impossible to pull off in any other situation than a movie set. Tom Cruise's character in the latest Mission Impossible, Ethan Hunt, strolled into the Moskow Kremlin, set up a faux-transparency screen in a guarded hallway that concealed him and his partner. Now, imagine that sans the special screen used by Cruise's character; an entire event going unseen. Scientists at Cornell University have, albeit on a much smaller scale, allowed for just that.

Their unseen event lasts an incredibly tiny of a second. The event was hidden for a mere 40 picoseconds (trillionths of a second), according to a study the journal Nature. We see events by the light that hits them returning to our eyes. This usually happens in a continuous flow of light. However, the scientists were able to disrupt the flow, even if it was just for a short period of time.

Whereas previous scientists disrupted where the light was distributed, which allowed for invisibility, the group at Cornell changed how fast the light moves. With this change in speed, to surveillance cameras, Ethan Hunt's event, for example, never took place. However, until the science is able to allow for longer than split seconds of time, Etan Hunt will have to stick to his faux-transparency screen.

[via Physorg]


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