PARIS — Jewelry robbers, magicians, exam cheats and practical jokers everywhere will have an interest in an offbeat idea launched by physicists on Tuesday: to make the passage of time invisible.
The scientists have conceived of a “spacetime cloak” which manipulates light and, in essence, conceals whole events from a viewer.
The theory is based on censoring the flow of events, which we perceive as a stream of light particles, also called photons, that strike the retina.
By exploiting a characteristic of fiber optics, the flow of photons can be slowed, events edited out and stitched back together, say the team from Imperial College London and Salford University, northwestern England.
“A safecracker would be able, for a brief time, to enter a scene, open the safe, remove its contents, close the door and exit the scene, whilst the record of a surveillance camera apparently showed that the safe door was closed all the time,” according to their paper.
The theory is expounded in a daunting series of equations and diagrams in the Journal of Optics, published by the Institute of Physics.
It would work thanks to different light intensities that affect the refractory index in optical fiber, the cable widely used in telecoms today.
The refractory index is a determinant of the speed with which the light is transported in the cable.
In the example of the safe cracker, the “leading” segment (the image of the unmolested safe) would be slowed down.
The middle segment, of the robber opening the safe and making off with the contents would be edited out, disappearing into a “spatio-temporal void”.
The final segment — of the safe room apparently untouched — would be accelerated so that it catches up with the leading segment and dovetails seamlessly with it.
“By manipulating the way the light illuminating an event reaches the viewer, it is possible to hide the passage of time,” said Martin McCall, an Imperial College professor who headed the work.
“Not only can specific events be obscured, but it is possible for me to be watching you, and for you to suddenly disappear and reappear in a different location.”
The paper appears in the Journal of Optics, published by Britain’s Institute of Physics.
The theory has yet to be tested or confirmed in a lab, but the authors are confident that this will not be too far ahead.
The physicists are keen to point out that their notion of “invisible events” differs from the fast advancing realm of “invisible materials”.
These are so-called metamaterials, whose nano-metric surface interferes with light at specific wavelengths. As a result, light deviates around an object, making it invisible — or, more accurately, invisible in specific colors of the light spectrum.
“It is unlike ordinary cloaking devices because it does not attempt to divert light around an object,” said co-author Alberto Favaro.
“Instead, it pulls apart the light rays in time, as if opening a theater curtain — creating a temporary corridor through which energy, information and matter can be manipulated or transported undetected.”
Beyond its sci-fi potential, the “spacetime cloak” could have benefits for quantum computing, which depends on the manipulation of light to transport huge amounts of data.
Watch Rachel Maddow broadcast ‘exclusive story’ that undermines Mike Pence’s claims
MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow on Monday presented an "exclusive story" -- that undermines public claims by the Trump administration.
Vice President Mike Pence has been among the biggest defenders of the detention camps the administration is running near the southern border.
Pence has described the treatment of detainees as "compassionate" and "excellent."
But that was not what Maddow reported on Monday.
"You haven’t seen this anywhere else," she introduced. "This is the first time this has been broadcast."
The story was an exclusive interview NBC News correspondent Julia Ainsley conducted with a child refugee from Guatemala who was held in one of the camps for eleven days.
WATCH: 10 videos show massive flooding hitting Brooklyn and New Jersey after torrential downpour
A massive flood is once again striking parts of New York City and New Jersey Monday as the heatwave gave way to a torrential downpour.
The storm moved through after 6 p.m. EST, dropping several inches of rain in a short period and causing immense flash flooding during rush hour. Commuters reported unusually large crowds on subway platforms, water flowing down subway stairs and huge leaks in the ceilings.
Airports were also dealing with the storm blowing through with time delays at LaGuardia, JFK and the Newark Airports.
Some folks took the flood in stride, bringing out pool toys to ride the waves:
Protesters take to the streets outside judge’s home after he approves controversial jail sentence for black judge
On Monday, angry crowds of people came to the neighborhood of Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Patrick Dinkelacker after he ordered former judge Tracie Hunter to serve a six-month prison sentence for mishandling a confidential document.
The scenes from the courtroom were dramatic, with Hunter's supporters screaming as she collapsed upon Dinkelacker upholding the sentence, and officers dragging her limp figure from the courtroom: