Thursday, July 30, 2009

Scientists create transparent aluminum?!

You remember that scene in the Star Trek movie where Scotty needs to retrofit the Klingon Bird of Prey to be able to carry whales? He teaches 20th century people on how to make transparent aluminum to build the cage with. Well that was the first thing I thought of when I first saw this article sent in by Shaun Saunders from

Its pretty amazing science. Oxford scientists bombarded a sample of aluminum with the world’s most powerful soft X-ray laser. This knocked out sub-atomic particles from each atom, effectively making it transparent.

Now to be fair I have got to make a couple of points.
  1. the sample was diameter less than a twentieth of the width of a human hair.
  2. the sample was only invisible to extreme ultraviolet radiation.
  3. the effect lasted for only an extremely brief period - an estimated 40 femto-seconds (A femtosecond is one quadrillionth, or one billionth of one millionth of a second.)
  4. a FLASH laser was used in this experiment. It produces extremely brief pulses of soft X-ray light, each of which is more powerful than the output of a power plant that provides electricity to a whole city.
Close but no cigar.

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