July 01, 2011
Event Cloaks To Hide Activities

A couple of physicists at Imperial College London think it is possible to create event cloaks to hide events.

In this month's special issue of Physics World, which examines the science and applications of invisibility, Martin McCall and Paul Kinsler of Imperial College London describe a new type of invisibility cloak that does not just hide objects – but events.

Using the ultimate bank heist as an example, McCall and Kinsler explain how a thief could, in principle, use an "event cloak" to steal money from a safe, without even the CCTV surveillance cameras being aware.

So what event do you most want to hide? Got something you want to do or something you want someone else to do that requires invisibility?

An event cloak could emulate a Star Trek transporter. But it still wouldn't let you beam down from an orbiting space station.

If a high-performance, macroscopic-size, fully functional space–time cloak could be developed, one potential "party trick" could be a Star Trek-type transporter, in which a person could appear to instantly relocate from one point to another.

Although no-one has yet tried to build a space–time cloak in the lab, McCall and Kinsler argue that "there is no obvious reason why such a cloak could not be achieved quite soon, perhaps even within a few years".

What I'd do with an event cloak:

  • Place electronic listening devices in the offices of many top leaders in assorted nations.
  • Maybe kill a couple of especially bad dictators. Imagine that whoever knows they take the reins in, say, North Korea knows they will die unless they hold elections. How long would that government last?
  • Place electronic listening devices on or near organized crime figures.
  • Stroll thru Area 51 looking for alien spacecraft.
Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 July 01 12:47 AM  Surveillance Society


Comments
David A. Young said at July 1, 2011 9:51 AM:

Girls' locker rooms! Heh! Wait...did I just say that out loud??? D'oh!

PacRim Jim said at July 1, 2011 10:39 AM:

Hide earth from the Romulans.

MetaThought said at July 1, 2011 11:16 AM:

Wouldn't that also hide the sun from the earth though ?

Mark said at July 1, 2011 11:44 AM:

"Maybe kill a couple of especially bad dictators. Imagine that whoever knows they take the reins in, say, North Korea knows they will die unless they hold elections. How long would that government last?"

How is North Korea's leadership "especially bad" compared to, say, contemporary US leadership which is waging genocide against the historic American nation? The North Korean leadership isn't waging genocide against its own nation.

Doug said at July 1, 2011 12:55 PM:

This sounds similar in concept to another remarkable British invention with certain problems, the relativity cadenza. For details, refer to the movie "Help!"

Bruce said at July 1, 2011 7:40 PM:

Mark, my guess is that they have executed or starved to death 5 to 10 million in North Korea.

Doesn't that count?

http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/SOD.CHAP10.HTM

http://www.northkoreanow.org/the-crisis/mass-starvations-in-north-korea/

Mark said at July 1, 2011 8:17 PM:

Raphael Lemkin, the man who coined the term "genocide", wrote:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocide#Etymology

"Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups."

As far as genocide is concerned, it's clear that the US leadership has been and is waging genocide against the historic American nation, while the North Korean leadership isn't waging genocide against its own nation.

Randall Parker said at July 2, 2011 7:58 AM:

PacRim Jim,

I would think the Klingons would be far worse as rulers.

MetaThought,

Good point. Hard to make passing sunlight undisturbed by Earth's presence when we need a chunk of that sunlight. Tough problem. How to hide the planet while still having enough energy?

Bruce said at July 2, 2011 11:39 AM:

Mark, whats the body count in the US compared to say ... 10 million dead in NK?

Mark said at July 2, 2011 12:26 PM:

Bruce, do you not understand what the term "genocide" means?

no said at July 2, 2011 2:33 PM:

Bruce, depends if you include the mass 'birth-control' and abortion campaigns.

Brett Bellmore said at July 2, 2011 3:30 PM:

So, you haul this huge device into the bank, set it up around the vault, step into it. Switch it on, everything inside goes dark, the light comes back, and you're standing outside the vault with a bag of money. And somehow the fact that the camera didn't catch you cracking the vault is supposed to help you?

The problem with the event cloak, as I understand it, is that you might not see what happens in the moment cloaked, but you DO see that a moment was cloaked. A curtain might not be as fancy, but it would work as well.

Underachiever said at July 2, 2011 3:39 PM:

Mark,

I don't see how the current government comes even close to committing genocide, even under the extended, softer definition which you put forward. Would you prefer to live in North Korea as it is now instead of the current United States? Would you prefer to live in North Korea if it was all white? I think for the vast majority of white people, perhaps yourself included, the answer to those questions is a clear "no". This shows the hollowness of your rhetorical point about the North Korean government not being "especially bad" compared to the United States.

No,

People choosing to have fewer kids through condom use is equivalent to genocide? Wow.

no said at July 2, 2011 5:03 PM:

Obviously not if its purely freedom of choice.

Mark said at July 2, 2011 7:03 PM:

It's clear by the definition of genocide provided above that the US leadership has been and is waging genocide against the historic American nation.

I don't consider it an "extended, softer definition." It's a perfectly reasonable, normal definition.

And it's not me who's putting it forward - the guy who came up with the term "genocide" in the first place put it forward.

As far as what's "especially bad" or not, well that depends on how you view genocide, and specifically the genocide of the historic American nation, and where you rank it in your mind among various "bads", if you even rank it at all. For all I know, you might not think genocide, and specifically the genocide of the historic American nation, is that bad. Perhaps you even support or benefit from it some way. Who knows.

Phos said at July 5, 2011 3:11 PM:

The –cide ending originates from the Latin word caedere meaning to kill. Let's look at other examples.
Killing oneself suicide
Killing one's father patricide
Killing one's mother matricide

Killing Other People – Murder
Killing a person homicide
Killing an infant infanticide
Killing a fetus feticide
Killing old men senicide
Killing a king regicide

Extermination of an
entire racial,
political,
or cultural group genocide


Any definition that does not include mass death in it's means and/or ends is a nonsense definition. Choose another word. What North Korea is doing is not genocide because its aim is not racial, political, or cultural extinction. Russia and Ukraine is a better example of genocide.

Working for political change even radical political change is not genocide. Or was the Revolutionary war genocide against the historic colonies?

Mark said at July 6, 2011 1:44 AM:

Any definition that does not include mass death in it's means and/or ends is a nonsense definition.

Genocide isn't necessarily "mass death."

Genocide is the killing of a group, in other words the ending of the existence of the group.

Ending the existence of a group doesn't require mass death, or any kind of active physical killing at all. You could end the existence of a group such as the Inuit by, say, forcing them to breed with Australian aborigines.

As Raphael Lemkin, the man who coined the term "genocide", wrote:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocide#Etymology

"Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups."

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