In the spirit of taking a little break from writing about the daily, depressing myriad of violations of law, Constitution and common decency perpetrated in America and around the world, I found this story and I just couldn’t resist.
First, let me just say that I don’t doubt that this technology exists. I’ve heard about ‘invisible cloaks’ in development for troops in recent years, and other equally amazing 21st Century technological developments. Here's a YouTube video of 'optical camouflage'. But, I will admit that this is the first time I’ve ever heard of applying this new 'invisibility' technology to something as large as a military tank; operating in a theater of war no less.
I can’t say this technology makes me comfortable. Perhaps, in another time, in a necessary war, the announcement of this new technology could be heralded as a godsend. But, the times in which we live - the era of neocon wars and whispers of wars - tends to take the fun out of any such futuristic technology.
Ultimately, this is truly an amazing breakthrough and a prime example of what earthly science is capable of in the 21st Century. Then again, it could be an ominous sign of a future engulfed in perpetual war. In other words, the ultimate manifestation of Darth Cheney’s nightly dream-state fantasy.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence has just unveiled a brand new technology that is capable of making a regulation size military tank completely invisible. In secret trials last week, the British Army said it had made a vehicle completely disappear from sight. The MoD also predicted that by 2012, they’d be rolling out service-ready -- fully functioning - ‘invisible tanks’ to the battlefields.
Purportedly, the new technology uses a series of cameras and projectors that beam background images of the surrounding landscape onto the body of the tank, thus obscuring its movement to the human eye. Whoever is looking in the general direction of the tank would see only what is beyond it and not the tank itself.
An unnamed British soldier purportedly witnessed the trials:
"This technology is incredible. If I hadn't been present I wouldn't have believed it. I looked across the fields and just saw grass and trees - but in reality I was staring down the barrel of a tank gun."
Thursday’s U.K’s Daily Mail has the literally fantastic story:
How the technology works in a combat situation is very sensitive, but the MoD is believed to be testing a military jacket that works on the same principles.
It is the type of innovation normally associated with James Bond, and the brains behind the latest technology is the MoD's resident theoretical physicist - their very own "Q" - Professor Sir John Pendry, of Imperial College London.
He said the only drawback was the reliability of the cameras and projectors.
But he added: "The next stage is to make the tank invisible without them - which is intricate and complicated, but possible."
I know the Daily Mail is as close to being a British tabloid news rag without actually being classified as one, as one can get, but Fox News.com is reporting the same story, and it’s also being carried by the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph and the Sun. I also found the story on a couple of blogs here and here.
I must admit that I couldn’t find the story on the British Ministry of Defence website. Now whether the MoD just hasn’t updated its website is unclear. I’ll be checking back in days to come.
Meanwhile... believe it or not.