March 1st, 2005

weird science, Eye: RCA Magic Eye, tech

"Ensign Crusher! Activate the PLASMONIC SHIELD!!"

Engineers Devise Invisibility Shield
Electron effects could stop objects from scattering light.

The key to the concept is to reduce light scattering. We see objects because light bounces off them; if this scattering of light could be prevented (and if the objects didn't absorb any light) they would become invisible. Alù and Engheta's plasmonic screen suppresses scattering by resonating in tune with the illuminating light.

Plasmons are waves of electron density, caused when the electrons on the surface of a metallic material move in rhythm. The researchers say that a shell of plasmonic material will scatter light negligibly if the light's frequency is close to the resonant frequency of the plasmons. The scattering from the shell effectively cancels out the scattering from the object.

For visible-light shielding, says Engheta, nature has already provided suitable plasmonic materials: silver and gold. To reduce the scattering of longer-wavelength radiation such as microwaves, one could make the shield from a 'metamaterial': a large-scale structure with unusual electromagnetic properties, typically constructed from arrays of wire loops and coils.

Alù and Engheta's calculations show that spherical or cylindrical objects coated with such plasmonic shields do indeed produce very little light scattering. It is as though, when lit by light of the right wavelength, the objects become extremely small, so small that they cannot be seen.

My gods! A "plasmonic screen"?? How can you not love a name like that? That is so going in my next SF game.
  • Current Music
    Voltaire (Oh My Goth!) - The USS Make Sh*t Up
danger, Warning: Caustic, caustic


Why do web designers think that re-sizing your browser window without asking is necessary or desirable? Nobody going to a site is going to jump up and down with joy and say, "Hooray! You resized my window so I can't see anything else on my desktop/none of the other pages go to look right!"

At best, the reaction is going to be shrug-who-cares or, for the truly oblivious, "I didn't notice". More often, it's going to range from irritation through "this honks me off so badly I'm gonna make a blog entry" to "no way am I going to buy anything from these annoying fuckwits."

It's almost as bad as a pop-under ad. The usual phrasing of "going to a website" isn't exactly the right metaphor -- you're really inviting the website onto your machine. And just because I invite you into my home doesn't mean you can rearrange the furniture without asking.

If you do insist on the "going to" frame, then think of "going to" a store, and as soon as you walk in the door, someone grabs you from behind and ties a tie around your neck.

Edit: Company websites shouldn't just be ads, either. They should have useful information, vital statistics for products, maybe even PDFs of user manuals.
  • Current Music
    Galactic - Change My Ways (part 2)