Researchers at Harvard University have made a
window that you can see through only when the person on the other side wants
you to. The window consists of a clear Mylar support layer sandwiched between
transparent polyacrylate rubber sheets that are coated with a bunch of silver
nanowires. The nanowires are so small that the window usually looks clear. But
when a voltage is applied across the nanowire webs on each side of the window (bottom
video, 200-μm-wide section), the wires pick up electric charges and attract each
other. This interaction pinches, squeezes, and wrinkles the rubber layer, which
scatters light going through the window and makes it hard to see through.
Trade with kerneldecoy he did this incredible picture and I wrote a lil’ story to go along with it!
________ “Well, I have to say we are incredibly pleased to have you onboard with the project, Dr. Felino. Your work in particle physics is astounding, and I believe that with your help we’ll really be breaking some new ground.”
Francesco bowed his head graciously for a moment before returning a warm smile to the lioness seated across from him. “The pleasure is all mine. To have a chance to work with CERN is a true honour on my part. Although the e-mail was quite vague on exactly what sort of work I’ll be assisting with here…”
Dark lips curled up into a smile that complimented the eager, excited look in her eyes. “Oh my yes. Well you’ll understand our need for discretion, but now that you’re here I’d be happy to share with you what the goals of the project are.” She got up from her chair and held out a long, slender arm that motioned for him to follow.
One of the things that Francesco had noted right away was the lack of staff walking through the whitewashed halls when compared to other sections of the complex. “I take it that not too many people know about these projects, huh?”
“That’s correct!” She smiled at him over her shoulder, wide hips sashaying beneath a long white lab coat as she strode confidently ahead of him, the sound of the sandals that she wore making a loud series of clicks that echoed through the hall. “This place is on a strictly need to know basis. Of course as the projects become more and more viable we bring them to public attention, and accordingly bring on more staff. Though mine has had some… difficulties in retaining what few members we do have onboard.”
“Difficulties?” He quirked his head as they came to a locked door.
Valencia produced a card from her pocket and ran held it against a small pad next to the door for a moment, waiting for the electronic whirr of the locks sliding open. “Yes, you see, um, they’ve all left after a week or so. They say what I’m doing here is so far beyond the ideas of what is possible in this universe that it’s simply a waste of the organization’s time and resources.”
He stepped inside of a medium sized room that had been divided up into two chambers by a heavy, metal wall. The one they were in now held a few desks, several whiteboards, and a strange machine atop a table. The other chamber seemed to only have a simple metal platform from what he could make out through a small observation window. “Really? Seems awfully unprofessional to simply leave after saying something like that.”
“Well, for all I know or care they’re off working for someone else!” She sighed and sat down in a rolling chair, pushing it towards the table with the machine on it. “At least, those are the ones that lodged complaints against me when they left, others simply went without even notifying me.”
“That’s quite inconsiderate of them, I’m very sorry.” Francesco rolled another chair over and sat down next to her, making sure to step gingerly over her well-worn sandals as she tugged them off of her paws and placed them on the floor away from her. “Is it safe to remove your footwear like that?”
“Ah, for the work we’re doing here? Sure!” Valencia grinned broadly as she flexed out her toes. “I find the straps get a bit cramped after a while, and anyway it’s healthy to let them all air out.”
He could only shrug in reply as he turned his attention to the mysterious machine in front of him. It looked almost like an old cannon, like the one that was used on sailing ships back in the day. Only it was far more polished, with two vacuum tubes sticking out of the back and a series of switches and dials on the side facing the two of them. “So… What is all this?”
The view of the machine was suddenly taken up by her broad, excited face as the lioness practically bounced in her chair. “This! This is what will change the world, my friend! End concerns about waste disposal, revolutionize medical science, all that! This is the world’s first shrinking machine!”
“It… really?” He leaned back, slightly intimidated by her sudden enthusiasm as he tried to look at the aforementioned shrink ray again. “Have you actually gotten it to work?”
“Kiiiind of.” She turned back towards the machine, ears drooping slightly. “It’s had a few issues. When testing it on very simple structures, we’ve found that it’s effective at reducing mass without compromising the integrity of the object. However when testing it on biological matter… Well, it kinda disappears!”
“Disappears? Exactly how does it do that?”
“We, um, well I am not too sure. It just seems to make organic molecules vanish from reality. We can never find any trace of them!” She gave a resigned shrug and leaned back in her chair. “Anyway, I’ll go over the full design with you if you want to have a look, just let me plug it in.”
Francesco, already standing up to look more closely at it, froze in his tracks. “Plug it in? Isn’t that unsafe? You know, considering how it makes biological matter disappear.”
She laughed and shook her head as she rolled her chair over to the wall where an impressive looking plug was spent against the floor. “We have a safety mechanism on it that prevents accidental firing of the device! You’ll be fine, there’s no actual way it could go off.”
Francesco nodded, reasonably pleased with that explanation as he leaned over the front of the machine, wondering exactly what kind of waves it emitted to cause the mass of an object to drop so evenly that it could, in fact, shrink. There was a clunk from across the room and the machine began to hum as it powered on. He noted with amusement the number of green, glowing bits and wondered offhand if Valencia had installed them simply for aesthetic purposes. The hum of the machine seemed to steadily increase as he leaned over it. “It takes a while to warm up, does it not?”
“Oh my god. Francesco, move!” Came a sudden, panicked cry from the opposite end of the room.
The next few seconds passed like time itself had slowed down. He was just barely able to utter the question of “Wha…” as he turned his head to see Valencia holding a sheet of what looked to be lead in her palm, other hand outstretched and a look of horror in her eyes as a strange feeling erupted from his stomach and he watched the entire world start to blend into a series of strange colours and shapes. An extreme sense of vertigo overtook him as he seemed to be tumbling head over heels in some sort of freefall, and it was only a few more seconds before consciousness left him.
The first thing that came back to his senses was a heavy, hot, musty atmosphere that seemed to consume him. He gagged a bit as he sucked in some of the air, groaning and rolling onto his side. His hips seemed to be immersed in some kind of liquid, a pool of stagnant, brackish water in the middle of a harsh, blackened valley. “Where am I…?”
Had he been teleported to some strange otherworldly place? There seemed to be no sign of flora anywhere, just more of the same blackened, featureless ground. Far off in the distance the only landmark seemed to be an immense pillar that rose up into the heavens, eventually blurring away from sheer atmospheric distortion.
Then he heard it. Or rather, he heard her.
A rumbling, immense voice that rolled out across the landscape like the most terrible crash of thunder. “Hey! Are awake down there?”
“What the fuck!?” Francesco could only shout back at the sky, spinning around to try and face the voice, which sounded almost familiar. “V-valencia?”
“Calm down, no need to panic, uh if you are panicking.” There was a sound not unlike that of someone clearing their throat of a vast ocean of fluid. “Not that I’d know if you are. Er, good news! The machine definitely works. The bad news is that I think the effects are too strong on biological beings. You’re supposed to be an inch or two right now, but I can’t even see you against my, um…”
“Your what!? WHERE AM I!” He hollered up, heart beating faster and faster.
“Um okay I’m fairly certain I watched your form drifting towards my sandals, which means you’re probably stuck in one of the toeprints.”
“Now I know this might seem like its bad, but think of it as a unique opportunity to see a world that no one else has ever gotten to. Maybe take some pictures too! I’m kinda interested to see what kind of landscape my toes make, heh!” A mass of yellow slowly formed on the horizon, what Francesco had to assume was Valencia leaning over for a better look.
“So I’m gonna find a way to reverse the process… eventually… In the meantime, enjoy the scenery! And don’t venture off too far, though by my calculations it’ll take you a few days to reach the end of a toeprint, so with that in mind… have fun! I promise when this is all over I can take you out for lunch, my treat!”
The idea of going out for a business lunch with a creature so insanely huge as Valencia was right now was a laughable one for Francesco, but the reality was that he had no choice. And so with a resigned sigh he moved himself out of the puddle of saltwater and up onto the shore to dry off. The residual heat from her paw was still very present, and would act to dry his clothes off quickly.
“Wonder where I should go first…” He mumbled, grabbing a notebook from his pocket as he intended to fully document his experience stuck on his bosses footwear, questions of how he would get food and water and for how long he’d be stuck here crept into his mind, but he tried to sweep them away. At the very least Valencia knew where he was, and despite her apparent disregard for safety standards, he did in fact trust her to get him back to normal height in a timely manner.
She did say to enjoy himself though, and more and more he was becoming okay with the idea of doing just that.
These nanocrystals are made from the exact same chemical but glow different colors under ultraviolet light because they have different nanostructures. Chemists made the nanocrystals by injecting a solution of methylamine and surfactants into a solution of lead bromide. Crystals of CH3NH3PbBr3 formed in seconds, but depending on the amount of surfactants used, the material crystallized into either nanoplatelets or nanowires, which are strings of platelets stacked up on top of each other. UV light excites electrons in both types of crystals, resulting in the glowing colors. The platelet crystals (left) are so thin (about 5 nm) that these electrons are pretty confined, leading to the blue color. The nanowires are thicker than the platelets, so the electrons have more room to move and that makes the crystals glow green
Credit: Maksym V. Kovalenko and Oleh Vybornyi
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