SciTech Now Episode 201

In this episode of SciTech Now, scientists determine the viability of plant life in space via an experiment aboard the International Space Station; Rod Breslau on the growing popularity of eSports; John Howell of the Univesity of Rochester on the science behind invisibility; and a New Jersey water treatment plant is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by turning waste into energy.

TRANSCRIPT

COMING UP, PLANTS PROVIDING LIFE IN SPACE.

WE WANT TO FIND OUT WHAT PLANT THINKS IS HAPPENING TO I IN SPACE IF YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE ANY TYPE OF LONG-TERM SPACE TRAVEL, YOU'RE GONNA NEED PLANTS FOR OXYGEN PRODUCTION AND FOR FOOD

THE EXPLOSION OF E-SPORTS

WE'VE HAD THE STAPLES CENTE SOLD OUT THE WORLD CUP STADIUM -- 45,000 PEOPLE -- WERE SOLD OUT

TO WATCH OTHER PEOPLE PLA VIDEO GAMES?

TO WATCH OTHER PEOPLE PLA VIDEO GAMES.

SCIENCE BRINGS THE SUPERPOWER OF INVISIBILITY TO LIFE.

SO, THEY USE SOMETHING CALLED 'TRANSFORMATION OPTICS' THAT ACTUALLY TRANSFORM THE SPACE THAT THEY'RE WORKING WITH SO THAT LIGHT WILL PROPAGATE AROUND AN OBJECT AS IF IT ISN'T THERE

AND FROM WASTE TO ENERGY.

THAT'S METHANE.

THAT'S GOING UP TO THE SKY SO, WE THOUGHT LONG AND HARD HOW WE CAN CAPTURE IT, GIVE IT ANOTHER REUSE, RATHER THAN JUS FLARING IT OFF, BECAUSE METHAN IS A GREENHOUSE GAS.

IT'S ALL AHEAD.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM IS MADE POSSIBLE BY..

HELLO. I'M HARI SREENIVASAN WELCOME TO 'SciTech NOW,' OU WEEKLY PROGRAM BRINGING YOU TH LATEST BREAKTHROUGHS IN SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND INNOVATION LET'S GET STARTED.

TWO OF THE KEY COMPONENTS TO ACHIEVING LONG-TERM SPACE TRAVEL WILL BE A RENEWABLE FOOD SOURC AND A STEADY SUPPLY OF OXYGEN, BOTH OF WHICH CAN BE CREATED B PLANTS SO, THE QUESTION IS, CAN PLANT GROW IN SPACE?

THANKS TO A RECENT EXPERIMEN PERFORMED IN THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION, THERE MAY BE AN ANSWER HERE'S A LOOK.

THIS IS OUR VIEW WHERE WE GOT TO WATCH THE LAUNCH FROM, SO THAT'S THE SpaceX DRAGON AT FULL ZOOM ON MY CAMERA.

6...5...4.. 3...2...1.

ENGINE IGNITED AND WE HAVE LIFTOFF OF SpaceX FALCON 9 ROCKET..

IT WAS SUPERCOOL TO GET SOMETHING ON THE SPACE STATION YEAH. I ACTUALLY BROUGHT M 5-YEAR-OLD OUT WHEN IT WAS U THERE, AND WE WENT OUT TO TH PARK AND, LIKE, WATCHED TH SPACE STATION GO OVER OUR HEAD WITH THE SCIENCE ON THERE, WHICH WAS REALLY COOL.

SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSIT EDWARDSVILLE PROFESSOR DARRON LUESSE IS FASCINATED BY PLANTS -- WHAT STRESSES THEM OUT, WHAT MAKES THEM HAPPY HE'S PARTICULARLY INTERESTED I TWO FORCES THAT IMPACT EARLY PLANT GROWTH -- LIGHT AN GRAVITY.

SO, GRAVITY'S REALL WHEN THEY'RE LITTLE, SO IF YOU THINK IF YOU PUT A SEE UNDERGROUND, IT HAS A LITTLE BIT OF ENERGY IN THE SEED WITH IT, BUT...

SO HE HAS ALL THESE QUESTIONS.

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DO THIS?

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DO THAT?

AND WE GROW THEM STRAIGHT U AND DOWN AND THEN TURN THE PLATE ON ITS SIDE, AND THEN THEY START RESPONDING TO GRAVITY...

HE CAN DO A LOT OF THINGS I THE LABORATORY -- CUT OFF TH FOOD SUPPLY, TURN OFF TH LIGHTS WHAT HE CAN'T DO IS SHUT OFF THE GRAVITY.

SO HE AND A COLLABORATOR A OHIO UNIVERSITY DESIGNED A EXPERIMENT TO SEND THOUSANDS O TINY SEEDS INTO SPACE TO GET THEM TO SPROUT IN TH WEIGHTLESSNESS OF TH INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION.

WHEN WE'RE SENDING THINGS T THE SPACE STATION, THEY GROW O LITTLE PETRI DISHES.

EACH PLATE GETS ABOU 800 SEEDS -- BETWEEN 800 AND 1,000 SEEDS.

YEAH.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO FIND OUT

WE WANT TO FIND OUT WHAT PLANT THINK IS HAPPENING TO IT IN SPACE

WHY DO YOU WANT TO KNOW THAT?

I WANT TO KNOW FOR, I GUESS THREE BASIC REASONS.

ONE IS CURIOSITY.

ONE IS -- ONE IS DEFINITELY CURIOSITY.

NASA DOESN'T HAVE THE TIME OR SPACE ON ITS ROCKETS TO SIMPLY SATISFY THE CURIOSITY OF RANDO SCIENTISTS

ALL RIGHT. COME ON BACK THERE'S MORE TO SHOW YOU

NASA DOES WANT TO KNOW A LO ABOUT HOW PLANTS RESPOND AND GROW IN SPACE WITHOUT GRAVITY.

NASA WANTS TO KNOW WHAT KIN OF STRESS ARE THEY UNDER AND WHAT CAN I DO TO FIX IT.

IS THIS BECAUSE IF YOU'RE GOING TO MARS, YOU'RE GONNA HAVE A GARDEN ON YOUR SPACESHIP

THAT'S EXACTLY RIGHT.

SO, IF YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE AN TYPE OF LONG-TERM SPACE TRAVEL YOU'RE GONNA NEED PLANTS FOR OXYGEN PRODUCTION AND FOR FOOD

FOOD'S HERE

LET'S SAY YOU WANTED THE MARS ASTRONAUTS TO GROW AND EAT BEA SPROUTS.

WELL, EVEN IF THEY LOOKED AN TASTED THE SAME, HOW WOULD W KNOW IF THE ONES GROWING I SPACE WERE AS NUTRITIOUS A THOSE GROWN ON EARTH SO NASA PUTS OUT CALLS FOR EXPERIMENTS THAT CAN BEGIN T HELP ANSWER THOSE KINDS OF QUESTIONS, AND THE ONE PROPOSE BY PROFESSOR LUESSE AN OHIO UNIVERSITY'S SARAH WYAT WAS ACCEPTED SO THEY PACKED UP THEI EXPERIMENT AND, WITH A COUPLE OF GRAD STUDENTS, TRAVELED TO CAPE CANAVERAL IT'S EXCITING STUFF.

IT WAS EXCITING, YEAH WE BROUGHT ALL THE STUFF WIT US THIS IS THE LAB AT NASA.

WE BROUGHT ALL THE STUFF WITH US IN THIS BIG SUITCASE, AND WE WRAPPED -- WE BROUGHT THE MEDI THAT WE'RE GONNA PUT IN TH PETRI DISHES IN THESE BOTTLES.

THIS IS THE MOST STERILE ENVIRONMENT YOU CAN IMAGINE, S THE PERSON..

ALL THE EXPERIMENTS THAT GO THE SPACE STATION HAVE TO MEET EXACTING SIZE AND WEIGHT LIMITS.

SO, THEY HAVE THIS -- THERE'S THIS -- LIKE, EVERYTHING IS SUPER-WELL-WORKED-OUT WIT THE NASA ENGINEERS

AND TO BE CLEAR HERE, THE WEREN'T REALLY PLANNING TO GRO ANYTHING AN ASTRONAUT WOULD WANT TO EAT THEY'RE GROWING STUFF THAT ONL A SCIENTIST COULD LOVE

THIS IS WHERE WE GROW ALL O OUR PLANTS THIS IS WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE.

YOU CAN SEE SOME IN THEI VARIOUS STAGES

THE EXPERIMENT INVOLVES ARABIDOPSIS PLANTS IN OUR WORLD, IT'S A WEED, BUT IT'S ONE OF THE MOST COMMO PLANTS USED IN RESEARCH.

SMALL GENOME, QUICK LIFE CYCLE -- SORT OF THE FRUIT FLY OF PLANT RESEARCH.

BUT PROFESSOR LUESSE DIDN'T NEED TO SEE HOW BIG IT WOULD GROW O THE SPACE STATION.

HE JUST WANTED TO SEE WHAT WAS GOING ON DEEP INSIDE THE CELLS OF THE PLANT, AND ALL HE NEEDE FOR THAT WAS TO GET IT TO SPROUT IN SPACE

AT ONE MINUTE

MAKING ITS WAY TOWARDS TH INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION, 150 METERS AWAY NOW.

STATION AND DRAGON..

THE SEEDS WENT INTO SPACE I A DORMANT STATE.

WHEN THEY ARRIVED AT THE SPACE STATION, THEY WERE BROUGHT T LIFE AND ALLOWED TO JUST BEGIN TO SPROUT.

AFTER ONLY 72 HOURS, THE ASTRONAUTS INJECTED A FIXATIVE TO STOP THE GROWING, THEN PACKED THEM UP AND SENT THEM HOME O THE NEXT CARGO SHIP BACK T EARTH.

DRAGON BACK ON ITS OW AFTER A MONTH AT THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION, RETURNING ALMOST 4,000 POUNDS OF CRITICAL SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS, AS WELL AS OTHER EQUIPMENT THAT WILL SPLASH DOWN..

WE'RE GONNA GRIND UP ALL TH PLANTS AND EXTRACT PROTEINS FROM SOME OF THEM AND RNA FRO OTHERS, AND WE'RE GOING TO THE SEQUENCE EVERY PROTEIN, COUN EVERYTHING WE HAVE, AND COMPAR IT TO ALL THE PROTEINS THAT AR THERE AND THEN COMPARE IT TO A SAMPLE THAT WAS IDENTICALL GROWN ON THE GROUND AND SE WHICH GENES A PLANT TURNS ON I SPACE AND THEN CONVERTS INTO PROTEINS

VEGETABLES, CEREALS

IF YOU'VE EVER HAD A GARDEN THAT DIDN'T GO WELL, YOU KNO THAT WHEN THE PLANTS AREN' HAPPY, YOU DON'T GET NEARLY AS MUCH AS YOU WANT FROM THEM, SO KEEPING THEM HAPPY IS PRETTY IMPORTANT FOR NASA WHEN THEY WANT TO GO TO MARS WHICH IS GONNA BE PROBABLY I THE LATE 2020s OR EARLY 2030s, THEY'RE GONNA NEED SOME KIND O PLANTS GROWING TO MAKE THAT TRIP POSSIBLE

THE WORLD OF PROFESSIONAL AND COMPETITIVE E-SPORTS I EXPLODING IN POPULARITY.

JOURNALIST AND COMMENTATOR ROD BRESLAU, ALSO KNOWN IN THE E-SPORTS WORLD AS 'SLASHER,' JOINS US NOW TO BREAK DOWN THI GAMING TREND WHAT ARE E-SPORTS VERSUS WHAT WE CONSIDER VIDEO GAMES

E-SPORTS, IN MOST SIMPL TERMS, IS VIDEO GAMES PLAYED COMPETITIVELY BETWEEN PEOPLE I A PROFESSIONAL MANNER WHER EVERYONE GETS PAID MONEY THERE ARE PROFESSIONAL CIRCUITS.

THERE ARE PROFESSIONAL PLAYERS PROFESSIONAL TEAMS AND THERE'S INDUSTRY AROUND IT WITH MILLIONS OF PEOPLE THAT WATCH, BOTH IN PERSON AN ONLINE

OKAY. SO, IT'S NOT JUST YOU PLAYING AGAINST A COMPUTER ANYMORE.

NO. I MEAN, I THINK TRADITIONALLY, MOST PEOPLE WOULD SEE VIDEO GAMES AS YOU PLAYING AN ARTIFICIAL-INTELLIGENCE COMPUTER, C.P.U., SOMETHING THAT A DEVELOPER CREATED IN A GAM THAT YOU HAVE TO PLAY.

THERE'S A STORY LINE INVOLVED.

YOU PLAY THE STORY THERE ARE MONSTERS OR THINGS THAT YOU HAVE TO OVERCOME WITHIN THE STORY.

YOU HAVE TO BEAT IT, AND YOU BEAT THE GAME, WHERE THERE IS AN ENDING, WHERE THIS IS DIFFERENT.

THIS IS WHERE YOU PLAY ANOTHER PERSON THERE ARE ELEMENTS OF GAMEPLAY CREATED IN THE GAME, OF COURSE THAT THE DEVELOPER HAS MADE -- THE MECHANICS OF THE GAME OF HOW IT WORKS -- BUT YOU ARE ONLY PLAYING OTHER PEOPLE, AND YOUR OPTION IS YOU ONLY BEAT TH OTHER PERSON

SO, HOW BIG ARE E-SPORT TODAY?

THERE'S BEEN SOME UPS AND DOWNS, BUT THE LAST FEW YEARS, IT'S GOTTEN TO BE HUNDREDS O MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WATCHING FROM HOME, HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS O DOLLARS IN REVENUE FROM ALL TH DIFFERENT GAMES INVOLVED WE'VE HAD THE STAPLES CENTER SOLD OUT LAST YEAR KOREA'S SANGAM STADIUM THE WORLD CUP STADIUM -- 45,000 PEOPLE -- WERE SOLD OUT

TO WATCH OTHER PEOPLE PLA VIDEO GAMES?

TO WATCH OTHER PEOPLE PLA VIDEO GAMES -- MADISON SQUARE GARDEN.

SO, TWO TEAMS OF PEOPLE I MADISON SQUARE GARDEN LOOKING AT THEIR OWN COMPUTERS, FIGHTIN AGAINST THE OTHER TEAM ON TH OTHER SIDE, AND THERE'S STADIUM FULL OF PEOPLE WATCHIN BIG SCREENS AND CHEERING FOR THIS

UH, YEAH, AND IT SHOULD B SOLD OUT IN LIKE 10 MINUTES ONCE IT GOES ON SALE.

YOU KNOW, THIS ALSO - MOST PEOPLE DIDN'T NOTICE TH SALE OF THIS GAMING NETWOR CALLED TWITCH, AND THEN YouTub IS DECIDING TO TRY TO GET INTO THIS I MEAN, THE BULK OF THE COUNTR ISN'T GETTING IT, BUT THERE' CLEARLY A MASSIVE AMOUNT O PEOPLE THAT ARE SPENDING HUG SUMS OF MONEY BECAUSE THIS I ENTERTAINMENT FOR THEM

IT'S NO DIFFERENT THA LOOKING AT PEOPLE WATCHING PEOPLE PLAY SPORTS AT TH HIGHEST LEVEL.

PEOPLE THROWING AROUND A BALL, WHETHER IT'S A PIGSKIN OR IT'S IN A HOOP OR SHOOTING AT A NET WITH A HOCKEY PUCK OR A BI BALL -- IT'S ALL THE SAM CONCEPT OF YOU WATCHING OTHE PEOPLE DO THINGS AT THE HIGHES LEVEL BECAUSE IT'S EXCITING, IT'S ENTICING, AND YOU KNOW THAT YOU'LL NEVER BE ABLE TO DO THAT.

THERE'S SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOU THOSE PEOPLE THAT ARE DOING IT AND IT IS JUST LIKE THAT I E-SPORTS AND VIDEO GAMES THOSE PEOPLE ARE AT THE HIGHES LEVEL FOR THEIR GAME

SIMILAR TO PHYSICAL SPORTS.

DO MOST OF THE PEOPLE THAT GO TO MADISON SQUARE GARDEN TO WATCH ONE OF THESE THINGS OR TUNE IN TO ONE OF THESE NETWORKS T WATCH OTHER PEOPLE PLAY -- DO THEY PLAY THEMSELVES?

I WOULD SAY THAT MIGHT BE A LITTLE BIT OF AN ADVANTAGE FOR E-SPORTS AND VIDEO GAMES RIGHT NOW.

A LOT OF THE PEOPLE ARE TH PLAYERS THEMSELVES BECAUSE O HOW ACCESSIBLE IT IS FOR YOU T PLAY THESE GAMES A LOT OF THEM ARE FREE TO PLAY YOU CAN DOWNLOAD THE IMMEDIATELY AND YOU CAN JUMP RIGHT IN WITH NOT TOO MUCH HARDWARE NEEDED FOR A COMPUTER AND THAT HAS ALLOWED MILLIONS OF PEOPLE TO PLAY THESE GAMES WIT ONLY MAYBE A FEW MINUTES' TIME NOT JUST TO WATCH THEIR FAVORITE TEAMS, FAVORITE PLAYERS, PLAY AT THE HIGHEST SKILL OF THAT GAME IN THE WORLD, BUT THEY CAN TRY TO LEARN FROM THEM AND TRY T EMULATE THEM IN HOW THEY PLA EVEN THOUGH THEY WILL NOT BECOME PROS

AND WHAT'S THE SKILL LEVE REQUIRED TO BE AT THE TOP OF YOUR GAME AS A VIDEO GAMER

YOU HAVE TO PRACTICE 8 TO 12 HOURS A DAY I MEAN -

IT'S A JOB.

IT IS DEFINITELY A JOB.

THE BEST PLAYERS IN THE WORLD, FOR MOST OF THE GAMES THAT WE'VE SEEN, HAVE BEEN TH SOUTH KOREANS, BECAUSE THAT' WHERE A LOT OF THIS E-SPORTS HAS BEEN BORN FROM THE LATE '90s THEY'RE ABLE TO HAVE A LOT O INFRASTRUCTURE OVER THERE.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS GOTTE INVOLVED TO HELP THOSE PLAYERS THEY DEDICATE A LOT OF THEIR TIME AND IT IS VERY SIMILAR WHERE YOU DO HAVE TO HAVE THIS CONDITIONING EVERY DAY, IN AND OUT.

SO, TELL ME ABOUT THESE PLAYERS.

I MEAN, ARE THEY WALKING AROUN WITH THE EQUIVALENT OF NASCA UNIFORMS AND SPONSORSHIPS AN LOGOS AND EVERYBODY WANTS PIECE OF THEM?

IT'S GOTTEN A LITTLE BIT LIKE THAT LATELY.

YEAH, DEFINITELY EVEN SPONSORS LIKE GEICO NISSAN, COCA-COLA, RED BULL, MONSTER -- THESE ARE ALL COMPANIES THAT ARE IN VIDE GAMES AND SPONSOR E-SPORT TEAMS, LET ALONE ALL THE ENDEMI SPONSORS WITHIN TECHNOLOGY, LIKE INTEL AND AMD AND SUCH

SO, WHAT DO SOME OF THESE NON-TECH COMPANIES WANT WITH THESE AUDIENCES?

WHAT DOES GEICO INSURANCE -- WHY ARE THEY INTERESTED IN SPONSORING A VIDEO-GAM TOURNAMENT

YOU HAVE HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE, AND IT'S ALL FROM EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD.

EVERY COUNTRY -- 172 COUNTRIES -- WILL TUNE IN TO THESE E-SPORTS TOURNAMENTS, WHERE YOU COULD PROBABLY ONLY GET THAT WITH FEW SPORTS, LIKE SOCCER AN THE WORLD CUP IS ONE OF THE FE THINGS THAT IS THA INTERNATIONAL ON A STAGE, AN THE VIEWERSHIP IS PERFECT FOR LOT OF THESE COMPANIES IT'S 14 TO, YOU KNOW, 32 OR 18 TO 25.

LIKE, EVERY SINGLE PERFECT DEMOGRAPHIC YOU CAN THINK OF I REALLY IN VIDEO GAMES, AND THEY'RE ALL WATCHING FOR MUC LONGER THAN EVEN SPORTS ON TV.

THEY'RE WATCHING LONGER THAN ANY OTHER TRADITIONAL VIDEO MEDIUM IT IS SUCH AN ENTICING MARKE FOR ADVERTISERS TO WANT TO GET INTO NOW

SO, 10 YEARS FROM NOW, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE PREDICTION IS

I MEAN, I'VE SAID LATELY THAT I DON'T EVER SEE THE INDUSTR REALLY FALLING OFF BEFORE WITH LIKE, A BIG CATASTROPH HAPPENING, BUT I ONLY SEE TH INDUSTRY REALLY GROWING BIGGER AND BIGGER WE'VE SEEN SUCH HUGE STRIDES I NORTH AMERICA AND WITH AMERICANS SPECIFICALLY IN THE LAST FEW YEARS OF HOW MUC NORTH AMERICA'S FINALLY GETTIN INTO IT AND FINALLY PUTTING LOT OF EFFORT BEHIND IT, BESIDES ASIA AND CENTRAL EUROPE, AND THAT'S A BIG DEAL.

I THINK THAT WILL ONLY CONTINU TO GROW.

AND IT FEELS LIKE IT IS KIND O LIKE A GOLDEN AGE FOR TH INDUSTRY, AND I ONLY SEE I RISING FURTHER

ALL RIGHT ROD BRESLAU, E-SPORT COMMENTATOR AND JOURNALIST THANKS SO MUCH

THANK YOU

HARRY POTTER AND HI INVISIBILITY CLOAK HAVE THRILLED READERS AND MOVIEGOERS ALIKE BUT DID YOU KNOW THAT THIS ABILITY IS REALLY IN HAR SCIENCE?

TO TELL US ABOUT THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE MAGIC I DR. JOHN HOWELL, PROFESSOR O QUANTUM PHYSICS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER AN DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER FOR COHERENCE AND QUANTUM OPTICS HOW IS INVISIBILIT SCIENTIFICALLY POSSIBLE?

SO, IT'S A GREAT QUESTION AND IT'S ROOTED IN OUR INTUITION ABOUT HOW THINGS BEHAVE.

WHEN I LOOK AT SOMETHING IN TH DISTANCE, I BELIEVE THAT LIGHT HAS TRAVELED IN A DIRECT O STRAIGHT LINE FROM THAT OBJECT TO ME, AND IF IT'S ACTUALLY BEEN GUIDED AROUND SOMETHING, W WOULDN'T KNOW IT BECAUSE WE HAVE THAT FUNDAMENTAL INTUITION THA IT'S PROPAGATED IN A STRAIGH LINE NOW, INVISIBILITY IS BASICALLY CAN WE TAKE THE LIGHT THAT YOU SEE FROM A BACKGROUND OBJECT AND ROUTE IT AROUND AN OBJECT SO THAT WE THINK WE'RE LOOKING AT THE BACKGROUND BUT, IN REALITY THE LIGHT HAS PASSED RIGHT AROUND SOMETHING THAT SHOULD B WHAT WE WOULD THINK IS IN PLAI SIGHT?

AND SO IF YOU CAN FIND A PHYSICAL WAY OF DOING THAT, THEN YOU CAN CREATE INVISIBILITY.

SO, HOW DO YOU ACTUALLY DO IT IN A LAB SETTING HOW DO YOU FAKE OUR OWN EYES T THE REALITY THAT'S ON TH GROUND

PEOPLE HAVE BEEN PURSUING THIS FOR ALMOST A DECADE NOW AND IT WAS POPULARIZED B METAMATERIALS, AND WHAT THEY WERE DOING IS THEY WERE USIN THESE MAN-MADE OBJECTS AND BASICALLY CREATING A SYSTEM IN WHICH THEY COULD GUIDE LIGHT HOW THEY WANTED IT TO PROPAGATE, AND SO THEY USED SOMETHING CALLE 'TRANSFORMATION OPTICS' THAT ACTUALLY TRANSFORM THE SPACE THAT THEY'RE WORKING WITH SO THAT LIGHT WILL PROPAGATE AROUND AN OBJECT AS IF IT ISN'T THERE AND WE TOOK A LITTLE BIT MORE OF A CLASSICAL OPTICS APPROAC USING MORE STANDARD MATERIALS.

SO, ARE WE TALKING ABOUT TH CREATION OF THE INVISIBILITY CLOAK THAT WE THINK OF IS THERE AN OBJECT OR IS THERE A MATERIAL THAT CAN HELP YOU BEN LIGHT?

SO, LET ME USE HARRY POTTER'S INVISIBILITY CLOAK AS A FRAME OF REFERENCE.

WE WOULD ALL LOVE TO HAV HARRY POTTER'S CLOAK, AND THINK WE'RE A LONG WAY FROM HARRY POTTER CLOAK, BUT LET ME GIVE YOU KIND OF AN IDEA OF SCIENTIST -- HOW A SCIENTIST LOOKS AT HARRY POTTER'S CLOAK.

AND SO WHAT I WOULD REFER TO THAT AS IS BROADBAND OMNIDIRECTIONAL INVISIBILITY 'BROADBAND' MEANS THAT OUR EYE SEE -- WE HAVE RED, GREEN, AND BLUE SENSITIVITY IN OUR EYES AND IF WE CAN CREATE A INVISIBILITY CLOAK, WHAT WE' LIKE TO BE ABLE TO DO IS CREAT A SYSTEM IN WHICH WE CANNOT SE AN OBJECT IN RED, GREEN, AND BLUE SO, THAT'S WHAT WE DEFINE AS 'INVISIBLE.'

'INVISIBILITY' SIMPLY MEANS THAT TO THE COLOR SPECTRUM THAT WE'RE USED TO, WE CAN'T SEE THAT SO, THAT'S BROADBAND OMNIDIRECTIONAL MEANS NO MATTE HOW YOU LOOK AT IT -- IF YOU G TO ONE SIDE OR ANOTHER SIDE OR THE TOP -- YOU WILL NOT BE ABL TO SEE HARRY POTTER.

AND WE'VE TAKEN A DIFFEREN APPROACH, WHICH IS GOING FOR BROADBAND, IN THE VISIBLE, AND TRYING TO ACHIEVE INVISIBILITY NOT OVER OMNIDIRECTIONALITY BU OVER JUST A FEW RANGES O LOOKING OF AT THAT - AT THAT OBJECT

SO, YOUR CLOAK, SO TO SPEAK WORKS BUT IN A NARROW RANGE.

IF I WAS LOOKING AT HARRY POTTER FROM A VERY SPECIFIC ANGLE O POINT OF VIEW, YOU COULD FIGUR OUT HOW TO SHIELD IT

LET ME BACK UP ONE LITTLE BIT FROM THIS.

WE ALL WATCHED BUGS BUNN CARTOONS WHEN WE WERE KIDS, OR AT LEAST I DID

RIGHT

I'M NOT SURE THAT KIDS WATC IT ANYMORE, BUT THE THING THAT YOU NOTICE WITH BUGS BUNNY IS HE WOULD BE WALKING, AND AS BUGS BUNNY WOULD BE WALKING, YOU'D NOTICE THAT THE BACKGROUND BEHAVED VERY DIFFERENTLY THA OUR INTUITION, RIGHT WHICH IS VERY DIFFICULT TO CREATE THIS SORT OF MOVEMENT WHERE YOU WOULD SEE TH MOUNTAINS VERSUS THE FIELD VERSUS THE TREE.

THEY WOULD ALL MOVE AT THE SAM RATE IN A BUGS BUNNY CARTOON WHEN WE WATCH 'TOY STORY' OR SOMETHING ALONG THAT LINE, W SEE SOMETHING IN THE DISTANC MOVE ACCORDING TO HOW WE EXPEC IT SO, WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO IS YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO CAPTURE THA TYPE OF RELATIVE MOTION TO A OBSERVER, SO AN OBSERVER - AS THAT OBSERVER IS MOVING BAC AND FORTH, EVERYTHING HAS TO MOVE ACCORDING TO THEI INTUITION.

SO, WHEN SOMETHING BECOMES INVISIBLE, IF YOU'VE CREATED A DEVICE, YOU HAVE TO HAVE A DEVICE THAT MATCHES THAT DEE INTUITION THAT A PERSON HAS FO RELATIVE MOTION.

OKAY. SO, SAY YOU CREATE THIS DEVICE THAT IS PERFECT IN TH WAY THAT YOU WANT IT TO BE WHAT DO YOU DO WITH THAT HOW DOES THAT FURTHER SCIENCE?

WHAT ARE THE POSSIBILITIES WHAT ARE THE PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS OF IT I THINK THERE'S A LOT OF THING THAT CAN BE DONE WITH IT - EVERYTHING FROM THE POSSIBILIT FOR MEDICAL IMAGING TO OBVIOUSLY, MILITAR RECONNAISSANCE, STUFF ALONG THAT LINE, BUT I THINK THERE' EVEN -- SOME PEOPLE HAVE CONTACTED ME ABOUT THINGS WOULD HAVE NEVER THOUGHT OF.

ONE OF THEM WAS, 'CAN YOU CLOA A WALL SO THAT YOU HAVE TO USE A WINDOW?'

'COULD YOU MAKE A BUILDING DISAPPEAR BECAUSE IT WAS A EYESORE?

'COULD YOU MAKE A CONSTRUCTION SITE DISAPPEAR AND SHOW THAT BUILDING THAT YOU'RE ACTUALL GONNA PUT UP INSTEAD, USIN THESE TECHNIQUES?'

AND THE ANSWER IS 'YES.'

IT'S QUITE A COMPLICATED THING BUT THERE ARE A LOT OF POSSIBILITIES.

ANOTHER PERSON CONTACTED ME AN WANTED TO IMAGE THE CONTEN BELOW BUGS ON A BUNCH OF TRAYS -- YOU KNOW, A MILLION AND A HALF BUGS OR SOMETHING LIK THAT -- AND THEY WANTED TO KNO WHAT WAS BEHIND THE SPECIMEN AND THE PIN INFORMATION BELOW THAT SO THEY JUST WANTED TO CLOAK THAT SPECIMEN TO SEE ALL THE INFORMATION BELOW IT

SO, HOW FAR AWAY ARE WE FRO THIS CLOAKING AS WE THINK OF CLOAKING IN THE SCI-FI CONTEXT -- 10 YEARS, 50 YEARS, A MILLION YEARS?

I CAN IMAGINE SOMETHING RELATIVELY SOON.

I WOULD SAY 10 YEARS IS NO UNREALISTIC.

IS THAT BECAUSE COMPUTERS ARE GONNA GET FASTER AND YOU'R GONNA BE ABLE TO DO SOMETHIN THAT MUCH FASTER IN CREATING THAT ALTERNATE IMAGE

IT CAN BE DONE.

AND AS COMPUTER SPEED GETS FASTER, AS PROJECTION GETS BETTER, AS WHATEVER TH SITUATION, THOSE TECHNOLOGIE WILL MAKE IT EASIER TO DO.

JOHN HOWELL, PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS AND QUANTUM OPTICS A THE UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER.

THANKS SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

OKAY. THANK YOU

IN THE U.S., MORE THAN 40% OF GREENHOUSE-GAS EMISSIONS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH THE DISPOSAL AND TREATMENT OF WASTE HOWEVER, RIDGEWOOD NEW JERSEY'S, DEPARTMENT O PUBLIC WORKS HAS DEVISED A PLA TO TURN WASTE INTO ENERGY THAT WILL HELP SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT AS WELL AS SAVE MONEY FO TAXPAYERS.

TAKE A LOOK.

IT STARTS HERE... AND ENDS UP HERE, BUT ON ITS WAY TO ELIMINATION, SOME FOOD WAST IS BECOMING ENERGY

THAT'S WASTE.

CHRIS RUTISHAUSER HATES WASTE, ESPECIALLY AT THE RIDGEWOOD WATER-TREATMENT PLANT.

THAT'S METHANE.

THAT'S GOING UP TO THE SKY IT'S NOT DOING ANYTHING.

SO, WE THOUGHT LONG AND HARD O HOW WE CAN CAPTURE IT, GIVE IT ANOTHER REUSE, RATHER THAN JUS FLARING IT OFF, BECAUSE METHAN IS A GREENHOUSE GAS.

CHRIS IS RIDGEWOOD' PUBLIC WORKS DIRECTOR.

BOB GILLOW IS THE PLAN SUPERVISOR, AND TOGETHER, THEY DEVISED A PLAN TO MAKE WASTE PROFITABLE

IT'S BASICALLY RESTAURANT GREASE THAT WE ADDED WE WERE ALREADY PUTTIN MUNICIPAL SEWAGE, AND THAT - THE DIGESTER PRODUCES METHAN GAS ALREADY, BUT THE GREAS HELPS PRODUCE MORE

OF COURSE, ONE IS TEMPTED T WONDER, IF THEY'RE PUTTING COOKING OIL INTO WHAT IS NORMALLY A RATHER SMELLY PROCEDURE, DO THINGS SMELL BETTER NOT REALLY

IT'S TERRIBLE [ LAUGHS ]

BUT IT'S QUITE APPEALING TO THE PRIVATE PARTNERS THA RIDGEWOOD HAS ATTRACTED.

THEY FRONTED ALL THE CAPITA MONIES FOR THE ENGINE, THE GAS-CLEANING SYSTEM, FOX STORAGE TANKS, AND ALL THAT.

NOW THEY'RE PRODUCING UP TO 240 KILOWATTS AT A TIME -- ENOUGH TO POWER THE PLANT AT DISCOUNT PRICES.

WE GET IT AT ABOUT 12 CENTS A KILOWATT-HOUR.

AS OPPOSED TO - WHAT IT WOULD COST YOU...?

USUALLY WE RUN AROUND 14, 15, 16 CENTS A K.W

THEY ALSO SELL EXCESS POWER BACK TO THE GRID, WITH GAS GETTING A BOOST FROM THE SUN

THIS LOCATION'S ONE OF FOUR IN THE VILLAGE WHAT WE DID IS WE HAVE SOLAR PANELS BEHIND US -- ALSO A VILLAGE HALL, OUR FIRE HEADQUARTERS, AND E.M.S.

BUILDING

SIMILAR OPERATIONS ARE UNDE WAY AT BIGGER PLANTS AROUND TH STATE, BUT RIDGEWOOD COULD B THE MODEL FOR MANY MUNICIPALITIES

WE DO DO A LOT OF TOURS OUR PARTNERS IN THIS - N.S.U. -- DOES BRING OTHER SEWAGE-PLANT OPERATORS HERE TO SEE HOW WE'VE SET IT UP HERE

AND CHRIS SAYS THIS PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP MEANS THAT RIDGEWOOD TAXPAYERS ARE BURNING UP FEWER DOLLARS WHILE REDUCING GREENHOUSE GASES.

AND THAT WRAPS IT UP FOR THIS TIME FOR MORE ON SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND INNOVATION, VISIT OU WEBSITE, CHECK US OUT ON FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM, AND JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON TWITTER.

YOU CAN ALSO SUBSCRIBE TO OU YouTube CHANNEL.

UNTIL NEXT TIME, I'M HARI SREENIVASAN THANKS FOR WATCHING.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM IS MADE POSSIBLE BY..