Time cloaks and lasers could be the best way to send secret messages

Right now, if you miss something that happens in front of you, it’s probably because you weren’t paying attention. In the future, though, it could be because a time cloak has concealed it from you. (Yes, this is real life and not Pottermore. I think.)

As New Scientist reports, electrical engineer Joseph Lukens and his colleagues from Purdue University created the device – which disappointingly, isn’t an actual cloak. (Maybe one day.) Instead, by tuning two lasers to different light frequencies, they created two different channels. They sent photons from each laser down the same fibre optic cable, but one laser’s photons’ path had been altered, making tiny gaps where a message could be hidden.

By tuning into the hidden frequency, someone could receive a secret message – one whose presence is undetectable by other people, and which outsiders can’t decode, making it a potential breakthrough for kids who want to pass notes in class/intelligence agencies.

Last year, Lukens and co. built a cloaking device that worked brilliantly but was too well hidden to be detected. They’ve now found the right balance between communication and secrecy. Lukens says, ‘We don’t just limit ourselves to thinking about cloaks as a way of preventing somebody from getting information, but also as a way to enable communication. One guy sees nothing, the other guy sees everything.’

Image via Douglas Muth’s Flickr.

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Diane Shipley