When will we have real X-ray specs?

Wednesday 22nd July 2009
Submitted by Gareth Mitchell
FOCUS

Scientists at Imperial College London have demonstrated a way of adapting certain materials so that instead of blocking light, they amplify it - in other words, they become transparent. The technique relies on firing waves of atoms through specially created crystals a few millionths of a millimetre across. Light shone through the crystals becomes entangled within their unique molecular structure and rather than being absorbed, as in conventional materials, the crystals emit light. Though only previously achieved in gases, this work proves the effect can work in solids. The scientists think that one day it could be possible to help rescuers see through rubble in the aftermath of earthquakes. But I suspect X-ray specs are still a long way off. So far the effect has only been achieved on a tiny scale under tightly controlled lab conditions.

Could we build an armoured suit like the one in Iron Man?
previous qanda Article
Why do drugs have a shelf-life?
next qanda Article
Q&A Tabs

Phlegm is the mucous secretion of the respiratory passages. The cilia cells that line these passages are continually driving the phlegm upward to the throat, where it triggers the swallow reflex...

Trees release oxygen when they use energy from sunlight to make glucose from carbon dioxide and water. Like all plants, trees also use oxygen when they split glucose back down to release energy to...

Astronomer Fred Hoyle was the first to point out that if you could drive a car upwards at 95km/h (60mph), it would only take about an hour to get into space. To get to the Moon would take a little...

Diverse thinkers, from the ancient Greek philosophers through contemporary quantum cosmology and eternal inflation theory, have called time an illusion. For them, the perception of time passing...

Watching them fly off up into the sky, there seems no limit to how high a helium balloon can go. In reality, there are two major constraints: the strength of the balloon material, and Archimedes...

All female mammals have a clitoris, the sole purpose of which is to react to sexual stimulation, and presumably this stimulation has evolved to be pleasurable for most species. But establishing...

To create a sound, we have to set matter - whether it's a gas like air, a liquid or even a solid material - in regular motion, creating a wave of specific frequencies, which we hear as a sound of...

Mirrors don’t reverse left and right either – that’s just our interpretation of what happens. Your reflection in the mirror is actually reversed front to back – if you have...

Discovered by an American student named Gary Flandro in the mid-1960s, the slingshot manoeuvre usually involves spacecraft briefly 'coat-tailing' a planet orbiting the Sun, extracting some of the...

The ice disappears because the wind blows away water molecules that have evaporated or 'sublimed' from the ice, so the ice slowly shrinks in size. The molecules that escape are those with the...