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

Lobsters and other shellfish have harmful bacteria naturally present in their flesh. Once the lobster is dead, these bacteria can rapidly multiply and release toxins that may not be destroyed by...

Strictly speaking, the Earth’s gravity will always pull on an object, no matter how distant. Gravity is a force that obeys an ‘inverse square law’. So, for example, put an object...

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...

The powder is actually tiny scales made from modified hairs. Moths, like butterflies, belong to the order Lepidoptera, which means 'scale wing'. The scales are pigmented but they also contribute...

Beard hair is quite different to head hair; it is coarser, curlier and doesn't fall out as we get older. Comparatively little work has been done on the genetics of human hair colour, but it is...

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...