Transformations. Modern alchemy. Ancient secrets…

Since the Middle Ages, alchemists have sought to transmute elements, the most famous example being the long quest to turn lead into gold. Transmutation has been realized in modern times, but on a minute scale using a massive particle accelerator.

Researchers have now taken a different approach to that alchemists’ ancient goal by making one material behave like another. Theorists at Princeton University have demonstrated that any two systems can be made to look alike, even if just for the smallest fraction of a second. (work published in published Feb. 24, 2017 in the journal Physical Review Letters)

In this context, for two objects to “look” like each other, they need to reflect light in the same way. The Princeton researchers’ method involves using light to make non-permanent changes to a substance’s molecules so that they mimic the reflective properties of another substance’s molecules. In that way the researchers controlled the light that bounces off a molecule or any substance by controlling the light shone on it, which would allow them to alter how it looks. “It was a big shock for us that such a general statement as ‘any two objects can be made to look alike’ could be made,” said co-author Denys Bondar, an associate research scholar in the laboratory of co-author Herschel Rabitz, Princeton’s Charles Phelps Smyth ’16 *17 Professor of Chemistry. (1)

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We like making things look the same, transforming them into something else. But the key is not the transformation itself, but something deeper lurking inside this seemingly new knowledge.

The light reflected whispers the unholy secret…

The transformation is useless.

All it does is to show that things are already the same.

While looking different…

A world of unity. Under a veil of uniqueness…

Many waves.

And yet one ocean.

Many snowflakes.

And yet they are all water.

Many humans.

And yet…

Listen to that whisper.

Turn your eyes away from the light.

Only then will everything be revealed…

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