Sunday, August 10, 2008

Science fiction has a way of becoming science fact. Stealth research is bearing fruit in ways that were thought impossible a few decades ago. Like becoming invisible.

INVISIBILITY devices, long the realm of science fiction and fantasy, have moved closer after scientists engineered a material that can bend visible light around objects.

The breakthrough could lead to systems for rendering anything from people to large objects, such as tanks and ships, invisible to the eye – although this is still years off.

Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, whose work is funded by the American military, have engineered materials that can control light’s direction of travel. The world’s two leading scientific journals, Science and Nature, are expected to report the results this week.

It follows earlier work at Imperial College London that achieved similar results with microwaves. Like light, these are a form of electromagnetic radiation but their longer wave-length makes them far easier to manipulate. Achieving the same effect with visible light is a big advance. Underlying the work is the idea that bending visible light around an object will hide it.

Xiang Zhang, the leader of the researchers, said: “In the case of invisibility cloaks or shields, the material would need to curve light waves completely around the object like a river flowing around a rock.” An observer looking at the cloaked object would then see light from behind it – making it seem to disappear.

Substances capable of achieving such feats are known as “meta-materials” and have the power to “grab” electromagnetic radiation and deflect it smoothly. No such material occurs naturally and it is only in the past few years that nano-scale engineering, manipulating matter at the level of atoms and molecules, has advanced sufficiently to give scientists the chance to create them.

The tiny scale at which such researchers must operate is astonishing in itself. Zhang’s researchers had to construct a material whose elements were engineered to within about 0.00000066 of a metre. The military funding that Zhang has won for his research shows what kind of applications it might be used for, ushering in a new age of stealth technology.

As I was reading the article, I started wondering to myself, how long before this technology gets into the hands of our enemies? I had in mind some examples of the transfer of US technology to nations inimicable to the US.

In the mid 1980's the Toshiba Corporation illegally sold secret propellor manufacturing technology to the Soviet Union, thus enabling the Soviet Navy to produce quieter submarines to elude US sonar. To this day I refuse to buy anything with the name Toshiba on it.

Under the Clinton Administration, the Hughes Corporation provided the Chinese government with sophisicated missle technology that was used to manufacture weapons that can be used against our own country.

U.S. intelligence information obtained during other DF-31 test flights showed the missile can also carry up to three independently targeted warheads. The DF-31 is also a mobile missile, carried by a large multi-wheeled truck that can deploy it to prepared launch sites. Again, ironically, much of what makes the DF-31 so dangerous was provided to Beijing by the Clinton administration. In 1996 President Clinton personally signed an executive order releasing a wide variety of space and missile technology for export to China.

Much of that technology is now serving the Chinese military onboard the DF-31 missile. The 1996 Clinton executive order was supported by the CEOs of Lockheed, Loral, and Hughes, and it allowed China to purchase sophisticated electronics, guidance and control systems for its military missiles.

According to a Hughes document sent in March 1995 to Clinton national security advisor Anthony Lake, space technology "has no military significance."

The Hughes document concluded control over the export of a wide range of advanced U.S. satellite technology should be moved to the Commerce Department. The U.S. technology sent by Clinton to China included the entire list of items sought by Hughes; anti-jamming capability, advanced antennas, crosslinks, baseband processing, encryption devices, radiation hardening, and perigee kick motors.

In fact, the CEOs of Hughes, Loral, and Lockheed co-wrote a letter to Bill Clinton in October 1995, expressing their desire for the president to "transfer all responsibility for commercial satellite export licensing to the Commerce Department."

The 1995 letter, signed by C. Michael Armstrong of Hughes, Bernard Schwartz of Loral and Daniel Tellep of Lockheed, states that "we understand you many soon be issuing an Executive Order intended to make further improvements to the process for reviewing export license applications.

"During a recent meeting involving Vice President Gore and representatives of the satellite industry discussing national/global information infrastructure, this was one of several issues raised. We clearly appreciate your administration's strong commitment to reforming the U.S. export control system, but we respectfully request your personal support for establishing the Commerce Department's jurisdiction over the export of all commercial communications satellites," states the letter from the three CEOs.

Hughes, Loral, and Lockheed all later paid massive fines for illegal exports of advanced missile technology to China. Hughes paid the largest fine after being charged with 123 counts of national security violations. Loral eventually had to declare bankruptcy in part due to the China-gate scandal.

Today, Loral's CEO, Bernard Schwartz, continues to make massive donations to the Democratic Party and its associated 527 liberal advocacy groups. Schwartz has donated nearly $4 million to the DNC and to various presidential hopefuls including Hillary Clinton.

Schwartz has a long donation history with the Clintons. In a September 1994 memo to the President Clinton, Harold Ickes, then White House chief of staff, informed him that Schwartz could be used to raise campaign donations "in order to raise an additional $3,000,000 to permit the Democratic National Committee to produce and air generic TV/radio spots as soon as Congress adjourns."

And who was the Commerce Secretary when this bit of treachery was authorized? Why no other than soon to be dead Ron Brown. Lockheed ended up being fined for $8 million, Loral was fined $14 million and Hughes was fined $20 million.

But to be fair, there are other companies who also have been guilty of the same thing. Some of these companies are: ITT Industries, Raytheon, Boeing, McDonnell Douglas (also sold technology to China), and International Signal and Control Corporation.

Getting back to invisible nanotech, just who is Professor Xiang Zhang? I can't find anything about his life prior to 1996 when he reveived his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. It's like he fell out of the womb with a doctorate. Can't find out if he is American, Chinese or Taiwan.

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