Whether Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, which perfectly steers light waves around objects to make them invisible, will ever become reality remains to be seen, but perfecting a more crucial cloak is impossible, a new study says. It would have perfectly steered stress waves in the ground, like those emanating from a blast, around objects like buildings to make them “untouchable.”
Can you hide a building from a stress wave, like an earthquake or even some kind of blast or explosion? If that kind of “cloaking” were possible, it could shape how we design critical structures like nuclear power plants. Arash Yavari has started a new four-year, half-million dollar federally funded project to lay the mathematical foundations for that kind of technology and explore if it’s theoretically possible while still respecting the laws of physics.
Doctoral degree paid for? Job after graduation? Ph.D. student Genevieve Pezzola can check both of those items off her to-do list this week after learning she has received a fellowship from the U.S. Department of Defense.
Walking toward Lauren Stewart’s office, you immediately smell the odor of glue in the air. A quick glance around reveals model bridges in various states of completion lying about a student work area as harried undergraduates work to finish class assignments. Stewart, an assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering, teaches a beginning structures course, so this is a recurrent theme each semester. Stewart herself, however, is more at home with the smell of explosives and destruction rather than construction.