The General Theory of Relativity by Albert Einstein implies that gravity can cause time to slow down. Scientists have now shown that there is a way to stop time altogether; or maybe more accurately, to give the appearance that time has stopped by bending light around events to create a hole in time.
Recent scientific demonstrations have shown that objects can be made to disappear by bending the waves of visible light. The main idea behind this is that if light moves around an object instead of hitting it, it cannot be perceived. This makes the object in question invisible, at least to observers.
Cornell University scientists have used this concept to burrow a hole in time. This hole has a very short existence window, about 40 trillionths of a second, but imagine if this could be extended. Alex Gaeta, one of the physicists involved, states that slowing light down and speeding it up creates a gap in the light beam in time. This might make it seem as if the event had never occurred.
The time-stopping experiment, as described in their article in the journal Nature, used a laser beam aimed at a probe. The beam passed through a device that they named the time lens, which modifies the light beam’s temporal distribution. It allows them to do funny things with light in the time domain. Moti Fridman created a method which allowed them to change the frequency and wavelength of the beam. This meant that it moved at a different velocity, which in turn created the time gap.
But what of its applications? While Harry Potter and cloaking technology aside, there are more implications for using the time lens to manipulate data due to its temporary and instantaneous nature. This could also be used to develop faster optical chips for data processing and streaming. Many applications rely on the hypothesis that the time hole can be made larger. Also, it needs to be able to affect light in three dimensions, not only from a single light beam, as in the experiment.
[via National Geographic]