Cornell University scientists demonstrate how they have have created, a new invisibility technique that masks an entire event by briefly bending the speed of light around an event. This 2011 illustration above shows art thief can walking into a museum and stealing a painting without setting of laser beam alarms or even showing up on surveillance cameras--not only is the thief is invisible - his whole event is. Think of it as a hole in the fabric of time.
The Cornell team alters not where the light flows but how fast it moves, changing in the dimension of time, not space. They morphed the speed of beams of light in a way that would make it appear to surveillance cameras or laser security beams that an event isn't happening --in effect editing or erasing a split second of history.
The scientists created a lens of not just light, but time by spliting light and speeding up one part of light and slowing down another, creating a gap. This gap or hole in time where an event is masked.
"You kind of create a hole in time where an event takes place," said study co-author Alexander Gaeta, director of Cornell's School of Applied and Engineering Physics. "You just don't know that anything ever happened."
It is the first time that scientists have been able to mask an event in time, a concept only first theorized by Martin McCall, a professor of theoretical optics at Imperial College in London. Gaeta, Fridman and others at Cornell, who had already been working on time lenses, decided to see if they could do what McCall envisioned.
"It is significant because it opens up a whole new realm to ideas involving invisibility," McCall said.
Image credit: AP Photo/Heather Deal, Cornell University