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Cloaking Devices: Vanishing Into Thin Space

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The Realization of Star Trek Technologies


Gene Roddenberry once said that heroes don’t hide, so The United Federation of Planets in Star Trek didn’t develop cloaking technologies of their own. While this is a laudable position for the good guys in science fiction, it ignores the non-military applications of potential cloaking devices. Fortunately, scientists have extended the ideas of camouflage and stealth technologies into the realm of true cloaks. They may be somewhat limited at the present time, but yes, cloaking devices do exist. Engineered metamaterials have the ability to bend light around an object, so that what is behind the target is seen by the observer, just as if the object wasn’t there at all. These gradient index cloaks hide a defined space, but other metamaterial cloaks, called mantle cloaks, can be attached to an individual object to be cloaked. These cloaks destroy any light that bounces off the target object, again yielding it invisible over a range of EM frequencies. But science doesn’t stop there, new techniques can slow light down or stop it completely in order to cloaks events in time or change the apparent position of a moving object in space.

I’ve served on a half a dozen ships, and none of them’ve

had cloaking devices except the Defiant. Now that

we’re not using it, I feel naked.

—Miles O’Brien

DS9: Broken Link

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Correspondence to Mark E. Lasbury .

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© 2017 Springer International Publishing Switzerland

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Lasbury, M.E. (2017). Cloaking Devices: Vanishing Into Thin Space. In: The Realization of Star Trek Technologies. Springer, Cham.

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  • Publisher Name: Springer, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-319-40912-2

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-40914-6

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