Archive for August 7th, 2007|Daily archive page

Up, Up and Away

Anti-gravity is just so cool in a geeky sense.

According to New Scientist (and today’s Telegraph) researchers may have found a way to play some new games with levitation.

In May 2006, two research teams led by Ulf Leonhardt at St Andrew’s University, UK, and John Pendry at Imperial College, London independently proposed that an invisibility cloak could be created from exotic materials with abnormal optical properties. Such a cloaking device – working in the microwave region – was manufactured later that year.

The device was formed from so-called “metamaterials”, exotic materials made from complex arrays of metal units and wires. The metal units are smaller than the wavelength of light and so the materials can be engineered to precisely control how electromagnetic light waves travel around them. “They can transform space, tricking electromagnetic waves into moving along directions they otherwise wouldn’t,” says Leonhardt.

Leonhardt and his colleague Thomas Philbin, also at St Andrew’s University, realised that this property could also be exploited to levitate extremely small objects.

They propose inserting a metamaterial between two so-called Casimir plates. When two such plates are bought very close together, the vacuum between them becomes filled with quantum fluctuations of the electromagnetic field. As two plates are brought closer together, fewer fluctuations can occur within the gap between them, but on the outer sides of the plates, the fluctuations are unconstrained. This causes a pressure difference on either side of the plates, forcing the plates to stick together, in a phenomenon called the Casimir effect.

This probably won’t start making ships fly to the moon. And despite Professor Leonhardt’s rather humor driven Zero Point Energy reference on his web page describing Quantum Levitation, I get the impression his work is more that serious.

This kind of thing would probalby be extremely important for both low “friction” nano-components where the Casimir effect outweighs “roughness.” It might also be a good way to decouple optical components from external effects allowing for all kinds of precision measurements.

And who knows, perhaps one day, we will have Casimir force driven space making cool “whirrrrr” sounds like on the Jetsons. I doubt it. But it would be drop dead cool.

Hello Kitty – um – Bobby

According to the International Herald Tribune, Thailand’s police will be getting a less than honorable addition to their uniforms, at least if they break the rules,

Thai police officers who break police rules will be forced to wear hot pink armbands featuring “Hello Kitty,” the Japanese icon of cute, as a mark of shame, a senior officer said Monday.

Police officers caught littering, parking in a prohibited area, or arriving late — among other misdemeanors — will also be forced to stay in the division office with the deputy chief all day, said Police Col. Pongpat Chayaphan. The striking armband features Sanrio’s Hello Kitty sitting atop two hearts.

“Simple warnings no longer work. This new twist is expected to make them feel guilt and shame and prevent them from repeating the offense, no matter how minor,” said Pongpat, acting chief of the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok.

Hello Kitty. A mark of shame? sigh

Jaw Dropping Quote of the Day

From Captains Quarters, Ed Morrissey manged

Today, the Washington Post joins the New York Times in its passion to write exposés about Jeri Thompson, the wife of presidential candidate Fred Thompson. With two glaring exceptions, the piece actually appears rather balanced and fair, although it appears that Republican wives get a lot more critical attention than Democratic wives in this cycle:…

Um. What!

Let’s see. Absolutely no critical coverage about Democratic wives?

Michelle Obama:

Giving up her job WP and Salon (“It had to be hard for the high-achieving candidate’s wife to give up her career — and I’m in a feminist fury about”)
Reluctant Political Spouse Newsweek?

Elizabeth Edwards:

Cancer with “should he stay in the race punditry” CNN, or Time
need I mention Ann Coulter? ( MSNBC, ABC. FOX) (Repeat the slur a thousand fold while “reporting” it?)

Hillary’s “Wife” – Bill:

USA Today
And the oldie but Goodie, from the last year’s NYT … and the justification

But all that is nothing compared to two articles about Jeri Thompson. And the NYT article he is so grumpy about got widely trashed in liberal blogs who felt it was below the bra strap.

Nothing negative about Democrats? So what if there is the occasional comment that Jeri Thompson is perhaps soon to be First Hottie. (Just a hint Ed: I think she knows she’s good looking. After all she doesn’t dress like Mother Teresa does she?)

And wait! Thompson isn’t even a candidate yet Ed. Why don’t you push for answers on that question? When will he joint the race. Isn’t the question of why national newspapers write articles about the wives of people who aren’t running for president a far more pressing issue?