Researchers Say They've Been Able To 'Cloak' Time

Jul 18, 2011

This news has a little bit of a Harry Potter feel to it. A touch of Back to the Future. Maybe some Doctor Who too.

Researchers at Cornell University, as MIT's Technology Review reports, "have designed and built a cloak that hides events in time."

Now by cloak, they don't mean a piece of magical cloth like Harry's. No, the Cornell scientists (Moti Fridman, Alessandro Farsi, Yoshitomo Okawachi, and Alexander L. Gaeta) write that "to create our temporal cloaking system, we implement a split time-lens (STL) composed of two half time-lenses ... connected at the tips."

Gizmodo explains it this way:

"The time cloak takes two of those lenses and arranges them so that one compresses a beam of light while the other decompresses it. That leaves the beam seemingly unchanged, but the diffraction and dispersion actually 'cloak' small events in the beam's timeline."

How small of an "event" have they been able to cloak so far? "Right now, the cloak can only last for 120 nanoseconds, and the theoretical max for the current design measures just microseconds," Gizmodo says. One microsecond equals one millionth of a second.

It's a start.

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