Army Goes Ghost
What the U.S. Army has to do with Sarah Palin, the Terminator and Men in Black.
By Maria Popova
Holograms may be the stuff of CNN laughability these days, but it turns out the U.S. Army is working hard on the real stuff. According to Dr. John Parmentola, Director of Research and Laboratory Management with the Army’s science and technology office, they are “making science fiction into reality” using quantum computing.
Here’s the gist: There’s a special kind of photons that don’t bounce off of objects but off of other photons, which have bounced off of objects themselves. This causes the object to be reflected in the second set of photons, creating a “ghost” image. Hence, the technique name: “Quantum Ghost Imaging.”
The Army hopes to use it in confusing the enemy with objects rendered through smoke and clouds. And we thought ghost soldiers were the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters.
The interesting part is that the military has been dabbling in quantum mechanics, neuroscience and robotics a lot lately, making nice with scientists and major research universities so they can grab revolutionary technologies before the general public.
Remember the Boston Dynamics Big Dog that shot straight to the YouTube top a few months ago? The technology was actually developed years ago and its possible military applications were first discussed by roboticist Rodney Brooks in his TED talk back in 2003. They’ve also dabbled in stem cell research for “growing back” body parts, turned to neuroscience for memory-erasing amnesia beams, and looked into controlling robots with nothing but thought.
Creeped out yet? You should be — it’s scary, Big-Brother-meets-Terminator stuff. But it’s also exciting to observe the mind-blowing scientific and technological progress of our day. That, and we loved the amnesia beam in Men In Black.
Published November 12, 2008