- Sorry I haven’t been posting. I’ve been busy of late and just haven’t felt the urge. But, that’ll change – it always does. And I mean, it’s not like there’s nothing of interest going on out there, right?
- Here’s one of the more interesting things I’ve read in a science publication lately.
- It provoked an interesting side conversation with a friend of mine in which he pointed out that he thought that this new concept would prove ephemeral and frustrating in the same way that Cold Fusion and the search to find the physical laws that underpin Emergence have. I added Memes to that list and wondered if perhaps the reasons we cannot integrate these ideas into the edifice of science as per E. O. Wilson’s notion of Consilience is because we’ve parsed them out of reality the wrong way and are therefore asking non-sense questions.
Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are there in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask—half our great theological and metaphysical questions—are like that. – C. S. Lewis
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Metamaterials may offer windows into other world
Move over Harry Potter, and take your invisibility cloak with you. Alice’s looking glass may be the latest bit of literary magic worthy of physics laboratories.
Rather than using substances known as metamaterials to hide objects in plain sight, some scientists instead want to use the strange materials to build windows into worlds with fundamentally different physics. Peering in may reveal how other universes operate and how this universe — the one that avid J.K. Rowling and Lewis Carroll readers reside in — could have begun.
Metamaterials can be engineered to have features very different from those of everyday matter. By altering electric and magnetic properties, scientists can make metamaterials that bend, twist or otherwise manipulate light. The power to turn light in unusual ways brought about a cloaking craze and introduced the possibility of superlenses with unprecedented focusing power.
Last year, a group of physicists at the University of California, Berkeley proposed a type of metamaterial that, if built, could trap light the way a black hole does (SN: 10/10/09, p. 10). The math describing processes in that material resembles the equations governing black holes.
Now Igor Smolyaninov of the University of Maryland in College Park has developed additional “strange schemes,” as he calls them. Metamaterials, it turns out, can serve as broader cosmic dioramas, manipulating light to replicate the shape of spacetime.
“In metamaterials, we have a situation in which we have optical spacetime,” Smolyaninov says. “And we can engineer the properties of spacetime.”