Upminster prof designs Star Trek-style invisibility cloak
IT might sound like something from Star Trek, but a professor from Upminster is leading a team of scientists who claim they can create an invisibility cloak.
Prof Martin McCall, who works in Imperial College London, has come up with a way of making objects move without being seen – in theory at least.
Known as an ‘electromagnetic spacetime cloak’, the mind-boggling device speeds up and slows down light rays in such a way that objects are lost from sight momentarily in a gap between particles.
Prof McCall, from Sunnyside Gardens, told the Recorder: “Imagine a safebreaker who appears in front of a time-delay CCTV camera. He comes into the room, opens the safe, steals the cash and leaves again, without actually appearing on CCTV.
“In the same way, according to this theory, objects should be able to disappear and reappear once the light is stitched back together again.”
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Such a cloak would make it appear as though someone had been beamed from one place to another, like the transporter in the sci-fi series Star Trek.
However, unlike the fictional device where matter is broken down, beamed and rematerialised, the spacetime cloak would simply obscure the object’s movements.
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Prof McCall added: “At the moment this is conceptual, in reality we would only be able to create a cloak for a few nanoseconds.”
The new theory could be best applied to improving the speed and strength of future computers, he said.
Prof McCall has been working with two other researchers on the project for three years.
The 48-year-old devout Catholic said he had a ‘eureka moment’ while at mass in St Joseph’s Church, in Champion Road, Upminster, about a year ago.
“It suddenly all seemed possible and clicked into place,” he said. “Maybe it was divine inspiration - although my mind should have really been on higher things,” he joked.
The theory is already making waves in the scientific community with one peer describing it as “extremely original” and predicating it would generate “considerable interest”.
Prof McCall, a scientist for 21 years, said: “I’m very excited. It will change the direction in which other people are working.”
An indivisibility cloak which renders an object invisible when worn – as described in children’s book Harry Potter - has already been conceptualised by Prof McCall’s colleagues in Imperial.