Tailoring the internal structure of metamaterials to vary optical properties controls how they transform light—leading to applications from optical cloaking to the optical counterparts of black holes.
Jeff Hecht contributing editor
A primer: PHOTONIC FRONTIERS: METAMATERIALS AND TRANSFORMATION OPTICS: Newest metamaterials promise customized optical properties, somewhat related to the paper published on the blog earlier regarding the real possibility of invisibility cloaks in our future. The optical counterpart to black holes sounds dramatic and interesting...
The future when I was a child was so "out there" and far-fetched, it was an escape to imagine it: warp drive, flip phone communicators, teleportation and cloaking devices.
Though I did not work in these areas (semiconductor manufacturing was my previous expertise), someone like me dreamed great dreams and found a technological way to make it reality.
My concern and observation as a teacher, is that spark is not cultivated when you've been trained by society to download the answer rather than seek it from a book; when you Google before you use a Dewey Decimal System in a library; when you reach for a calculator and the question is "how can I do that ON a calculator" versus rising to the challenge of pencil and paper (Einstein essentially created the modern age with such tools in a patent office, feeling kind of sorry for himself at the time).
The optical transformations I'd like to see?
1. Sagging pants go the way of bell bottoms (bell bottoms did FINALLY go out of style). I'm praying its just a matter of time before the proud saggers are being laughed at by their teenage children as archaic.
2. The return of the slide rule in regular and AP math and physics.
I can dream...