An Electromagnetic Sex Change, Metamaterial Voyeurism, and the Cup that is a Spoon

June 22, 2009 at 6:55 pm | | crazy figure contest, literature

I haven’t had this much fun with a paper in a while.  Hot off the RSS press from PRL is the absolute gem:  Illusion Optics: The Optical Transformation of an Object into Another Object.  A number of things caught my attention in this one.  Their first application of their metamaterial image transformation is a feat of gender illusion.


Anyone who has spent one night in Bangkok (Choose your own adventure!  The semi NSFW Youtube here, or some boring lyrics here) knows this can be accomplished with far lesser means than metamaterials, but kudos.  Personally, I’ll stick with beer goggles.  Their next trick involves what I can imagine will be the next great party prank, turning a spoon (in this case what appears to be a 1um spoon) into the illusion of a cup.

Next is rendering a “virtual” hole in a wall.  You simply slap their mystical illusion device on the wall (you’ll love this Sam, all the details of what exactly such a device entails, aka the entire basis of the paper, are piled in the supporting materials), and you can look through the virtual hole like it was an actual hole.  I call the device of my own invention that can accomplish this a window(TM), but let’s not argue over semantics of fenestration.  Porky’s would be proud.

Even more ridiculous, they argue that one can even see into a closed container by simply turning on their device and projecting the illusion of free space where the container should be.  Which would totally work, except for this little thing called absorption.  So if you decide to hide 8-balls of Coke in a Mylar balloon, you’re totally screwed.  And an idiot.


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  1. You made me google an 8-ball of coke. thought it was a new coca-cola product I had not heard about.

    Comment by mitch — June 22, 2009 #

  2. kendall knows his slang.

    Comment by sam — June 22, 2009 #

  3. Seriously?

    Comment by Bobby — June 23, 2009 #

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