One step closer to invisibility…

Scientists have developed an “invisibility cloak” that makes objects invisible to the naked eye.

The cloak, which is actually a lump of crystal, can only hide small objects such as paperclips and pins at the moment but it is the first of its kind to work in the perceivable spectrum of light. The groundbreaking research paves the way for more sophisticated devices in the future.

The cloaking device is made from two calcite prisms joined together to make a pyramid, with the underside of the pyramid coated in gold to make it reflective. The researchers found that calcite, a transparent crystal, has natural light-bending properties which help the device to hide objects. Light rays passing through the pyramid are bent, making the base of the pyramid look flat. “The cloaked region is the space at the bottom of the calcite prism,” Shuang Zhang, the lead researcher at the University of Birmingham said. “Anything you put there won’t be seen from outside.”

The device is not perfect, but it does pave the way for further breakthroughs. At present, the cloak itself is transparent though it is visible – it only hides small objects inside the prism. Under water, however, the cloak is almost completely invisible. Zhang said it may be possible to coat the cloak to make it less visible. It also must be placed on a surface to work.

Possible applications for use inevitably lie in military use, unfortunately. Future developments could be used to hide military hardware from view, although Zhang believes that it could be used for cosmetic purposes, too. “If you had a mole on your face, you could potentially cloak it so it won’t be seen,” Zhang said. “Though you do need a fairly large cloak to hide even a small thing.”

Still, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for cloaking devices. Perhaps Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak is not so far fetched after all…

Beauty sleep is not a myth

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Ground-breaking new research has shown that people deprived of sleep for long periods of time appear less attractive and more unhealthy, a study has concluded. Unbelievable.

A Swedish study has shown that the concept of “beauty sleep” is not a myth – although being a “well known” concept it has lacked scientific support.

Volunteers in the study were photographed after eight hours sleep and again after being kept awake for 31 hours. Remarkably, observers rated the sleep deprived volunteers as being less attractive and less healthy than their well-rested selves – truly some revolutionary findings. Who would have known, unless this study was conducted?

The untrained observers were asked to “rate” the faces of 23 young men and women after a normal night’s sleep and then after a night of sleep-deprivation. The authors concluded in the British Medical Journal:

“Sleep deprived people are perceived as less attractive, less healthy and more tired compared with when they are well rested”

I’m sorry but, excuse me? Sleep deprived people are perceived of as being more tired in comparison to when they are well-rested?

Who is funding research like this? Apologies for the sarcastic tone of this post, but seriously, I am just amazed that this was actually researched. It is concluding that people that have been awake for going on for 31 hours are going to be perceived as being less attractive, less healthy, and more tired? Does science ever apply common sense, or does it have to test everything before it accepts it as “fact”?

I just get irritated at research like this, the fact that time and money goes into researching these sort of “hypotheses”, despite the fact that a seven-year old could probably tell you the answer for free. So what have we learnt from this? Sleeping less makes you look as if you have slept less. If you stay awake for 31 hours, people will think you are ill. And you probably are ill – stop drinking Irn Bru and get some rest, yeah?