What you see may not be what you get
Cloaking technology; fact or fiction?
Welcome intrepid reader! Today we tackle a fascinating question about cloaking technology. We've seen plenty of stories with ships turning invisible, phasing from reality into nothingness only to appear behind their prey; but exactly how realistic is this?
To begin, we should start by reviewing what do we actually mean by cloaking?
There are really two elements to cloaking as we know it, and we'll begin with what the common person probably thinks of. A ship's hull becoming literally invisible to the naked eye, allowing it to fly past objects without noticed. In the holovids the ship shimmers and slowly fades into nothingness with a sound effect of some sort.
This first part is technically fairly easy. There are droids with holographic projectors for diplomatic purposes, but the issue is cost and power when it comes to a starship. Between the mimetic material, the computer processing power, and the sort of power generator required to sheath a vessel in a holographic image; this sort of project is very much a pipe dream.
Consider also that if part of the requirement for a starship is to survive the rigors of space, and quickly that concept of a mimetic hull becomes even more inconceivable.
The second part, and arguably the more important part of a proper 'cloak', is far harder to put into action. As any pilot will tell you, all ships carry with them an electronic presence that enables them to appear on sensors.
Historically, initial attempts at this were done by early smugglers who would flood sensors with a form of static, not unlike the way a burst of chaff might work. Unfortunately, such techniques generally made one's own instrumentation useless; and immediately alerted everyone around you that someone was trying to jam their sensors. Modern military sensors have since been tuned against such electronic attacks, making this methodology even harder to execute.
To fool modern sensors of a ship's radiation, energy emissions, or transponder; without unnecessarily tipping off a passive sensor scan is the true test of a 'cloak'. This is what engineering theorists debate the most, about the impossibility of the sort of electronic countermeasures required to hide a ship.
There were rumors of a corvette that accomplished such a feat during the clone wars, sneaking past blockades having accomplished both a visual and electronic masking; but it's never been confirmed nor has it's technology appeared anywhere else.
Pipe dream or not however, cloaking remains an avid topic of most scientists and will likely continue to be debated for years to come.
For more about our theoretical paper, turn to Page 17…