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back to article Chinese boffins crack cloaking tech for camouflage

Chinese boffins have invented new cloaking technology which distorts light in a way that could be used to disguise soldiers, or even aircraft, during combat. Transformation optics scientists have made great leaps in recent years towards bending light in such a way as to make objects invisible, however, thus far they’ve been …

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Black Helicopters

Let me be the first to welcome our pink invisible Chinese overlords.

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If they are invisible how can they be pink?

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@LarsG

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn

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TRT
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Re: @LarsG

I've seen it.

Stare at the image behind this link for 20 seconds, then look away at a white area of screen.

Then google Kanizsa illusions and read up on it. The brain can construct all manner of realities that have no physical correlate. Invisible Pink Unicorn is an exercise in semantics that falls at the first fence, so to speak, when used as an anti-theological argument. FSM is far more effective as a tool for debating religious fervour.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @TRT.

If the posted example of a trick in the operation of the retina is a physical thing, how can it be an imagined reality? It's defiantly a failure in description, the trick with the visual system is the visual system we are referring to, not the "unicorn". But the workings of the visual system are defiantly real. So is the logo of a pink unicorn. Which suggests the name "invisible" is the failure of those naming it, not the reality.

To draw attention to the unicorn fails to note that it's the people who need correcting, not the object they worship. Call it the "Anti Cognitive Dissonance group" or something. Stop getting people worried about invisibilities, and get them to think about themselves. :)

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TRT
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Re: @TRT.

"how can it be an imagined reality?" In the case of an after image, then, yes, there is something physical going on. But what about the Kanisza illusions?

This becomes an exercise in semantics. It's not "real" because there is no pink unicorn there, or even a picture of a pink unicorn (c'eci n'est pa une pipe), but it IS real, because it is a physiological difference in firing patterns across certain retinal ganglion cells and other neurones in the visual pathway up to, including and beyond the visual cortex. "Teach it phenomenology, Dave".

It's invisible because no-one else can see what you can see, at least those who haven't seen the green unicorn first in the same way you did. As my ex-boss and professor of neuroscience who spent a 50+ year career studying the visual system always said "If you perceive it, then there's something to be explained."

So "real" has as vague a definition as "God". I agree with your point about people thinking about themselves.

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Headmaster

Re: @TRT.

There's a lot of defiance in your post, where I was actually expecting a definite article instead... ;)

I'm assuming that "invisible pink unicorn" is intentionally oxymoronic, however for most definitions of invisible it relates to a physical object that is currently not visible; it is entirely possible to take a pink unicorn, apply the invisibility to it, and thus produce an invisible unicorn which would otherwise be pink. This would be to differentiate it from, for instance, a blue unicorn which has been made invisible (everyone knows that the blue ones are male, and the pink female). Since there are therefore obvious physiological differences between invisible blue, and invisible pink, unicorns, I would argue that the oxymoronic full appelation is in fact warranted in a variety of situations, to aid in clear and concise identification of the invisible intruder in question.

The term "invisible red army" would certainly have a similar use on a potential future batlefield. ;)

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TRT
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Re: @NumptyScrub

Agreed! Now, where did I put my copy of Command and Conquer?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @TRT.

Thanks. But "real" and "God" are no more vague than 1 and 2. They are only vague if we let them be. But we do learn maths, I wish more would learn reasoning and definition in their observations too. :)

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TRT
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Re: @TRT.

Really? It took Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead 378 pages of exquisitely painful maths to prove that 1+1=2. At least they got there in the end, though.

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WTF?

Re: @TRT.

> So "real" has as vague a definition as "God".

BULLSHIT.

God can't hit you as well in the eye as a real bullet

There is some difference in quality.

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Good grief

How do you people take a story about an invisibility cloak, or near invisibility cloak as the case may be, and turn it into an opportunity to take a poke at religion?

Honestly, what difference does it make to you if someone else believes in God or invisible pink unicorns or flying spaghetti monsters or honest politicians?

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TRT
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Re: @TRT.

*sigh* I think you, unlike your real bullet, have missed the point.

I did not equate "God" with "real", merely pointed out that both terms are open to interpretation. There is a common, broad understanding of the words which suffice for day to day use, but as with just about anything there are occasions where the commonality of that understanding will break down and exceptions can be found. Is the afterimage produced by looking at a green unicorn real? It doesn't exist, you can't touch it, it can't hit you in the eye, yet I perceive it, so it is real. What is reality, man?

EDIT @ SISK. Sorry, I got sucked in. By the pink unicorn of all things.

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Coat

Re: Good grief

It seems the invisibility cloak works on stories about invisibility cloaks...

Mine's the invisible one.

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Vic
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Re: Good grief

> what difference does it make to you if someone else believes in ... honest politicians?

Some people really do need saving from themselves...

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

Chinese "defence security"?

How dare they! Doesn't the United States have the exclusive right to say who can speak of "defence security", and who must instead refer to the same work as "terrorism technology" (vis *.gov)?

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Anonymous Coward

Pink?

The pure white of American Christian Capitalism mixed with the blood red of Chinese Communism?

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Re: Pink?

Actually, I was going to make some lame pun alluding to invisible pink unicorns and failed to delete 'pink', but your explanation works better. BTW, what do you call a mixture of red and black (as in Communist and Evil, as it were)? I'm not a native English speaker, you see.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pink?

That'd be brown

...somehow seems surprisingly fitting. ;o)

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Coat

Re: Pink?

Dennis the Menace?

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Re: Pink?

A darker shade of red?

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Re: Pink?

Burgundy? Maroon?

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TRT
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Re: Pink?

Fifty shades of gray.

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pics...

Or it didn't happen.

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Facepalm

Re: pics...

The pics were posted: it's just that being invisible pics of invisible objects, they're easy to overlook...

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Thumb Up

@phear 46 Re: "pics.......Or it didn't happen."

Highly entertaining!

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Coat

In aircraft combat how useful is this?

Surely thermal imaging and heat sinking missiles, as fitted to fighters for donkeys, would be totally unafected by this pimp my light bend bendy shizzle?

I'll get my coat, as you're bound to tell e that we don't all have FLIR goggles.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: In aircraft combat how useful is this?

Sir, we have 3 birds on radar... they're flying at mach 2...

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Megaphone

Re: In aircraft combat how useful is this?

They would be the fastest, loudest birds ever witnessed.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: In aircraft combat how useful is this?

Umm, maybe because IR is light too? If you can change one heat signature into two that's not going to make you invisible, but you'd have a problem targeting..

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Joke

Re: "They would be the fastest, loudest birds ever witnessed."

Would we be talking about a "sonic squawk" when they broke the sound-barrier?

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Re: In aircraft combat how useful is this?

The green pigs will be shitting themselves now.

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Happy

Re: In aircraft combat how useful is this?

Sir, we have 3 birds on radar... they're flying at mach 2...

Meep!Meep!

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TRT
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Re: In aircraft combat how useful is this?

Hogs of War?

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Go

More R+D in China

So to those who think research and development is going to stay in the West while the East slavishly manufactures our goods cheaply - care to rethink your position?

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Re: More R+D in China

Not sure I know anyone who thinks like that. I just hope the Chinese become the next superpower using economy, rather than war. Presumably this research is for their own protection in case the USA won't go down without a fight.

For the record, I'm a global citizen with interstellar potential, so have no allegiance to any particular form of governance.

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TRT
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Re: More R+D in China

Yeah, the Chinese are really good at this. I remember four and a half years ago when they create the illusion that they could make footprint shaped aerial fireworks over Beijing...

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Black Helicopters

Re: More R+D in China

"Not sure I know anyone who thinks like that. I just hope the Chinese become the next superpower using economy, rather than war. Presumably this research is for their own protection in case the USA won't go down without a fight."

History shows every superpower rise starts with economy which provides the means to build a large military then the muscle flexing begins, which results in wars.

China is no different and they are already muscle flexing on weaker nations in their region. Just look at their territorial disputes going on right now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: More R+D in China

Meanwhile they still succeed in persisting the illusion that they are Communists.

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Re: More R+D in China

>History shows every superpower rise starts with economy which provides the means to build a large military then the muscle flexing begins, which results in wars.

Creating wealth through trade (and and raining taxes for courts so that traders resolve disputes rather than stab each other) makes your fledgling city city state an attractive target for the hordes outside the gates. So the second thing taxes pay for is defence.

But yeah, China isn't daft and is investing in R&D and the mechanisms to support it.

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cloaking flaw

I've always wondered, if you're fully cloaked, so all EM radiation is bent around you, how do you see where you're going?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: cloaking flaw

You use BS (Bruise Sensing). The only problem there is that after a couple of heavy impact either sensitivity changes or speed goes down..

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Would this be a useful defense against energy weapons like lasers? If so flak might make a come back.

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flak not needed

just drone swarms - should be able to make some pretty impressive drone domes with mass produced drones that would detect anything passing through - or take them out if they hit.

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Pint

I can make 2 ghost immages ...

Just give me enough alcohol.

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Re: I can make 2 ghost immages ...

Well, intoxicating your enemy has been considered by various forces. There was that CIA video of soldiers falling around an obstacle course whilst on LSD, and the Afghans giving the occupying Soviet troops cannabis (probably not great for fighting morale if they have seen the remains of their comrades left at the roadside bundled in their own skins)...

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Should be hugely successful for the huge

"These effectively scatter the incoming light to distort the object – making it appear smaller – and create two “ghost images” on either side of it"

Can I be first to patent its use as a fabric for fashionable clothes?

"Does my bum look big in this?"

"Nope. All 6 of your buttocks look remarkably pert, but the 4 outside cheeks look a bit fuzzy"

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Um, yeah, but...

The point about invisibility cloaking is that you can't disappear by hiding behind a picture of nothing, so you need to do some fancy light bending instead. But you can look like a tree just by hiding behind a picture of a tree - or even a real tree.

So how is this any better than a picture of a tree, or conventional camouflage?

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Re: Um, yeah, but...

light bending (in its perfect form) you could hide while standing in front of the tree (or anything else) anyone looking at you would see what is behind you.

if done perfectly you should appear to be 100% transparent and non distorting from any angle, if the tech ever reaches that level I would think that the only way of detecting it would be laser range finders (since bending the light around an object or person would affect the length of the beam as they moved giving a useful doppler shift)

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Re: Um, yeah, but...

>So how is this any better than a picture of a tree, or conventional camouflage?

Because you don't need a tree. The human eye is well trained to pick out the human form... anything that breaks up your shape will help hide you. If a soldier using this kit were stood against a bare skyline (something they are trained not to do, obviously) then it might make them look like three small bushes- each too slim to hide a human, so not a threat.

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