Scientists develop a real-life invisibility cloak! #MoveOverHarryPotter

You read the title correctly. Published in Science, UC Berkeley scientists have developed an ultra-thin invisibility cloak that can basically obscure the object it is around. Looks like Harry Potter’s cloak is no longer just found in fiction books!

A nice summary of the discovery from Mashable:

The so-called “metasurface” of the cloak was designed so that light hitting it “would be the same as that of light reflected from a flat mirror,” according to the team’s research. The study, modestly called “An ultrathin invisibility skin cloak for visible light,” was published in the journal Science on Thursday.

Because the reflected intensity is close to that of a mirror, not only is the object undetectable, but so is the cloak. “As long as the metasurface is designed correctly,” the study says, “both the container and the objects inside the container will become invisible.”

Unlike previous attempts at an invisibility cloak, this design is scalable — able to cover larger objects without increasing the thickness of the cloak, and able to conceal objects that have sharp edges and peaks. “Maybe in the future, people can use this as decoration or a wearable,” Xingjie Ni, an assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University, who conceived the research idea and led the team, told Mashable.

RIP Nobel Laureate and Laser inventer Charles Townes

Charles Hard Townes, a professor emeritus of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, who shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for invention of the laser and subsequently pioneered the use of lasers in astronomy, died early Tuesday, Jan. 27. He was 99 and in failing health, and died on his way to the hospital.  Check out his achievements and contributions.

Clockwise from top: Charles & Frances Townes at the Amazing Light Symposium in 2005; Townes early in his career; discussing physics with Reinhard Genzel; 'The Bench' where he sat as his thoughts on how the laser could work became clear; his 99th birthday on the UC Berkeley campus; at work in mid-career. Collage by Sarah Wittmer, physics department.

Clockwise from top: Charles & Frances Townes at the Amazing Light Symposium in 2005; Townes early in his career; discussing physics with Reinhard Genzel; ‘The Bench’ where he sat as his thoughts on how the laser could work became clear; his 99th birthday on the UC Berkeley campus; at work in mid-career. Collage by Sarah Wittmer, physics department.

DISCO CLAMS party under the sea! Maybe this is the reason why…. and a video!

What is a disco clam? and why do they exist? New work out of UC Berkeley, by Lindsey Dougherty, gives us new insight into these amazing clams!
Disco Clams Light Up the Ocean Floor

Disco clams get their name from the rippling light show on their mirrored lips, visible even in the dim blue depths.

UC Berkeley graduate student, Lindsey Dougherty, has been studying the clams for four years. Using high speed video, transmission electron microscopy, spectrometry, energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy and computer modeling, she has found that the edge of the clam’s mantle lip is highly reflective on one side. When the clam unfurls its lip, the millimeter-wide mirror is revealed and reflects the ambient light, like a disco ball.

She was assisted by colleagues Roy Caldwell, UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology; Sönke Johnsen of Duke University; and N. Justin Marshall of the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Called Ctenoides ales and sometimes referred to as the electric clam, disco clams are found in tropical areas of the Pacific Ocean, living in crevices in reefs and typically in clusters of two or more. In ongoing experiments in Caldwell’s lab, Dougherty is studying the structure of the clam’s 40 eyes.