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    • CommentAuthorKosmopolit
    • CommentTimeApr 25th 2008 edited
     (1973.1)
    http://technology.newscientist.com/article/dn13771-simple-superlens-sharpens-focusing-power.html?DCMP=ILC-hmts&nsref=news2_head_dn13771

    Superlenses use exotic nanomaterials to make lenses far more powerful than are possible with normal materials.

    A superlens can focus light, or other electromagnetic radiation, ten times as much as ordinary lenses.

    The technology to make them is apparently relatively simple, the current ones work in the microwave range but researchers expect to be able to build visible light and infrared versions soon.

    Let me think of some of the uses for this:

    1. Telescopes that will be able to directly image extrasolar planets.

    2. Vastly more efficient concentrating solar power systems;

    3. If you can concentrate a laser or maser beam into a tighter area, you probably lose less energy when transmitting the beam through the air. Remember that "flashlight" that could set fire to paper? Imagine focusing the beam from that into an area the size of a pen.

    4. Following on from 3, one of the major hold-ups for orbiting solar power plants has been the huge and massive microwave transmitters required. This technology may make them redundant. Of course, it also makes such satellites potential weapons.

    5. A year or so back someone demonstrated wireless power transmission using evanescent coupling. I won't pretend to understand the details but apparently this technology can make such transmission far more efficient.

    6. Laser fusion. The idea stalled largely because ordinary mirrors and lenses couldn't handle the power levels involved. That problem may have just been solved.

    This is one of those technologies which sounds trivial but which could end up having huge consequences.
  1.  (1973.2)
    I, for one, am horribly afraid of our new orbital death-laser-owning overlords.
    •  
      CommentAuthorobliterati
    • CommentTimeApr 25th 2008 edited
     (1973.3)
    I'm having a time out until I can learn some manners.
    Me and a friend of mine used to weld glass on a sunny day with one of these:

    <img src="http://www.pa.uky.edu/sciworks/physicspettingzoo/Image157.jpg">

    I thought that was cool but it's no nuclear fusion. Wow.