coast clear for invisibility cloak?

21 08 2009

An illustration of a person wearing an invisibility cloak

For now, the invisibility cloak remains a thing of science fiction

From BBC News, Thursday 20th August 2009

A physicist has said he hopes to make major advances in the field of invisibility in the next two years.

Professor Ulf Leonhardt at St Andrews University is working on a blueprint for a cloaking device that could also be used to shield coast lines.

The researcher, who cites the Invisible Woman and Harry Potter as inspiration, has been working on the concept of invisibility since 2006.

The project will focus on a connection between light and curved space.

Prof Leonhardt, who describes his invisibility work as “geometry, light and a wee bit of magic”, hopes to manipulate modern metamaterials – or “designer atoms” to create an invisibility device using the laws of refraction.

He believes that in bending light, transparent materials like glass or water appear to distort the geometry of space, which is the cause of many optical illusions, including invisibility.

‘Extreme ideas’

Prof Leonhardt said: “The idea of invisibility has fascinated people for millennia, inspiring many myths, novels and films.

“In 2006, I began my involvement in turning invisibility from fiction into science, and, over the next two years, I plan to develop ideas that may turn invisibility from frontier science into applicable technology.”

Although the professor admitted it was difficult to predict possible applications, he suggested invisibility research could be used to improve visibility, leading to the development of the perfect retroreflectors (cats eyes), better microscopes and improved lenses.

He added: “I will most certainly find easier ways of cloaking, but it remains to be seen how practical they are.

“The important thing is to understand the foundations and come up with something new or take an existing idea to extremes; using technology and ideas to make things happen – technology we cannot imagine would ever exist.”

The project is being funded by the Royal Society’s Theo Murphy Blue Skies Award.





school for snipers

13 08 2009

Two recent posts on the Strike-Hold! website resonate with me. The first concerns the International Special Training Centre (ISTC) Sniper Course at Grafenwoehr, Germany. The article itself is a worthwhile read, but most striking is this picture:

U.S. Army Master Sgt. Eric Ludan, an instructor for the International Special Training Centre's (ISTC) Sniper Course provides feedback to two Special Forces Soldiers following a live-fire exercise July 24 at the Grafenwoehr Training Area. The Sniper Course is an intense five-week course that teaches NATO Special Operations Forces (SOF) in basic sniper fundamentals. The students spent the night stalking and observing their targets during the evaluated exercise. The facilities at the Joint Multinational Training Command allow the SOF throughout NATO to train to standard. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Gina Vaile-Nelson, 133rd MPAD)

U.S. Army Master Sgt. Eric Ludan, an instructor for the International Special Training Centre's (ISTC) Sniper Course provides feedback to two Special Forces Soldiers following a live-fire exercise July 24 at the Grafenwoehr Training Area. The Sniper Course is an intense five-week course that teaches NATO Special Operations Forces (SOF) in basic sniper fundamentals. The students spent the night stalking and observing their targets during the evaluated exercise. The facilities at the Joint Multinational Training Command allow the SOF throughout NATO to train to standard. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Gina Vaile-Nelson, 133rd MPAD)

If ever a more succinct illustration were needed of the benefits of selecting your personal concealment with the terrain of your operational area in mind, surely this is it. See how the US Army’s ‘Universal’ Camouflage Pattern (UCP) stands out like a glowing grey ghost against the lightly wooded background, and even the khaki-looking Multicam worn by the spotter in the middle of the picture appears out of place. In a real operation, the spotter would no doubt have customised his garb with dirt, scrim and fresh foliage to render it less visible, or even worn a ghillie like the German sniper in the foreground, but I have reservations about the utility of such techniques when used to attempt to compensate for UCP’s ineffectiveness. A pig wearing lipstick is still a pig.

The other Strike-Hold! story that I found particularly interesting tells of how some British soldiers in Afghanistan’s Helmand province are dyeing their desert camouflaged under-armour combat shirts (UBACS) a curious greeny-blue. You can read it here. UK readers may have seen about this in the Daily Mail or the Sun (where a disengenuous, hysterical spin was put on the issue to make more of the story than meets the eye), but the original source of the pictures, and a hint as to the  explanation why, is found in Michael Yon’s excellent blog, penned from the frontline in Afghanistan.

Into the Green Zone

Into the Green Zone

I can’t help wondering how something like this might work, out in the green zone…

PenCott multi-environment camouflage pattern

PenCott multi-environment camouflage pattern

PenCott multi-environment camouflage pattern

PenCott multi-environment camouflage pattern

Sniper wearing PenCott multi environment camouflage pattern in open farmland

Sniper wearing PenCott multi environment camouflage pattern in open farmland




camo for cameron

1 08 2009

A rumour came to my attention today. The rumour has it that James Cameron, director of classics such as The Terminator and Terminator 2, Aliens and the Abyss, as well as True Lies and Titanic, has been wearing my company’s PenCott digital fractal camouflage on the set of his latest film project: Avatar. The rumour appears to have grown from a photograph in the latest edition of Empire magazine, showing Cameron demonstrating how to man the door-gun of a troop transporter, wearing a pair of trousers in an unusual digital camouflage.

35565

NOT gunning for PenCott. Copyright: Empire magazine

Much as I would love one of my movie idols to be wearing PenCott in association with a futuristic film, sadly he is not. His lower half seems to be clad in a commercial camo (note the bigger, more obvious pixels and the black areas). Should James Cameron like some genuine Hyde Definition trousers in our cutting-edge PenCott pattern, he is welcome to get in touch and I will happily furnish him with a pair or two, plus shirts and hats to boot. Someone pass the message to him, eh?








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