Researchers at the University of Manchester’s School of Mathematics think the same technology used in light-bending “invisibility cloaks” could be used to protect buildings from earthquakes.
Invisibility cloaks, like the one recently created by University of Texas scientists, scatter waves of light away from an object using metamaterials. The earthquake-stopping technology would use specially-treated rubber to disperse seismic waves in the same way, scattering them away from a building.
The seismic waves would be converted into sound and heat energy, the researchers explained in a paper submitted last week.
“Five or six years ago scientists started with light waves, and in the last few years we have started to consider other wave-types, most importantly perhaps sound and elastic waves,”
said William Parnell in a press release.
“The real problem with the latter is that it is normally impossible to use naturally available materials as cloaks. We showed theoretically that pre-stressing a naturally available material – rubber – leads to a cloaking effect from a specific type of elastic wave.”
The next step for Parnell and his team is to put that theory into practice. The technology could eventually be used to protect sensitive buildings like nuclear power plants from earthquake damage.
That is just fun. Heh.