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The Military Technology

Stealth Paint From German Inventor Werner Nickel 193

Posted by timothy
from the peek-a-boo-you-can't-see-me dept.
Gerhardius writes "Werner Nickel sounds like a Disney-style wacky inventor. He moved to the UAE to develop his previous invention: he had bred a worm whose excrement made it possible to grow radishes in the dry desert sand. That project failed so he moved on to the next item on his agenda, naturally a radar absorbing paint. While it certainly is not unique, there is some interesting history behind the development, and a proposed civilian use."
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Stealth Paint From German Inventor Werner Nickel

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  • by KDR_11k (778916) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @02:54PM (#23293982)

    he had bred a worm whose excrement made it possible to grow radishes in the dry desert sand.

    But can that excrement allow humans to see the future and travel faster than light?
    • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday May 04, 2008 @03:29PM (#23294186) Homepage

      But can that excrement allow humans to see the future and travel faster than light?

      If you don't get it, the OP is a reference to Frank Herbert's novel Dune [amazon.com] where the chemical produced by the sandwords of the desert planet Arrakis proved the key to faster-than-light travel by giving starship steersmen superhuman powers.

      While I admire Herbert's creation of a science fiction novel based on modern studies of desert ecology, I felt the whole spice deal weakened the hard sci-fi goodness of what otherwise would have been a less fantastical book.

      • The spice expands consciousness! :D
        • The spice expands consciousness! :D
          The geriatric spice extends life, and in large doses, expands consciousness. It is needed for space travel. The spice is the most precious substance in the universe, and it is only found on one planet.

          What I never understood, is how they ever got to Arrakis in the first place, if you can't get there without the use of a substance only found there :-S
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward
            You can still travel through space without the spice, just not faster than light. Well technically you can, just not safely.

            The Spacing Guild has a monopoly on imperial banking and interstellar travel: with the use of melange, Guild Navigators are the only beings capable of piloting the massive Guild Heighliners safely through space. The heightened awareness and prescience the spice grants allows the Navigator to plot a safe course between the stars.

            Heighliner operation requires both a Guild Navigator and a Holtzman generator. The Holtzman generator uses the Holtzman effect to "fold space" and allows virtually instantaneous interstellar travel. The Navigator is responsible for finding a safe path through folded space and guiding the ship. This is accomplished under the influence of melange in the form of orange spice gas. Melange provides the Navigator with the limited form of prescience required.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Sparr0 (451780)
            You can also go there with the use of really smart computers to do the navigating, but those are banned in the Dune universe due to a war with sentient machines ~10000 years before the time of the Dune books.
      • I felt the whole spice deal weakened the hard sci-fi goodness of what otherwise would have been a less fantastical book.
        You need unobtanium to go faster than light.
        And you need to go faster than light to reach another planet while you're still young.
      • the chemical produced by the sandwords of the desert planet Arrakis proved the key to faster-than-light travel by giving starship steersmen superhuman powers.

        To be utterly pedantic, the spice provided the key to faster-than-light navigation rather than travel/speed. The only way to navigate safely at super-light speed involves information that travels faster than light. It's an interesting point that all other Sci-Fi seems to have ignored; assuming we could travel faster than light, navigation would be

      • by gad_zuki! (70830)
        >I felt the whole spice deal weakened the hard sci-fi goodness of what otherwise would have been a less fantastical book.

        Err, the entire premise of the book is about the spice. How it affects culture and religion. Youd also have to toss out the bene gesserit, life extension, expanded consciousness, arakkis, etc. You would then end up with a story about a prince who walked around his castle wishing he had better things to do.

        Stick to the hard sci-fi instead of trying to mold creative authors into your bor
    • he had bred a worm whose excrement made it possible to grow radishes in the dry desert sand.

      But can that excrement allow humans to see the future and travel faster than light?
      First, the sleeper must awaken.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sukotto (122876)
      walk without rhythm and it won't attract the radish?

    • by rbanffy (584143)
      Wish I could still mod you up...
  • by ccozan (754085) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @02:55PM (#23293984) Homepage

    worm whose excrement made it possible to grow radishes in the dry desert sand..
    .. the radishes are quite ... spicy?
  • by Itninja (937614)
    Hmmm, I could see that being problematic. So a marginally informed Cessna owner wants to give his new plane a paint job. Then it's "Cessa to tower. Requesting clearance to land" - "Tower to Cessna, you are not showing up on radar and do not exist."
    • Re:Civilian use? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Brandybuck (704397) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @02:59PM (#23294008) Homepage Journal
      Except that commercial airports use transponders, not radar, to locate planes.
      • by JustOK (667959) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @03:04PM (#23294056) Journal
        So, paint the transponder.
      • Re:Civilian use? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Deadstick (535032) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @03:22PM (#23294148)
        Oh, jeez...

        The transponders are in the airplanes, not on the airports. They help the airport's radar to see airplanes.

        A transponder is a combination of a receiver and a transmitter that receives the pulses from a radar; generates a train of pulses that encode the identification and altitude of the airplane; and transmits them back to the radar. That way the guy sitting at the radar not only sees the airplane more easily, but knows which airplane it is and how high.

        rj
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by chanrobi (944359)
          He said they were *used* by them, not *on* them. Time to level your reading skills.
        • The transponders are in the airplanes, not on the airports.
          I'm pretty sure they both have one.
          • The transponders are in the airplanes, not on the airports.
            I'm pretty sure they both have one.
            You're full of it. Transponders in airports make no sense. What mode does it operate in, mode U for Useless?
            • by Glonoinha (587375)
              Yea. That whole myth about landing planes IFR because the airports have transponders ... total fiction.
        • by couchslug (175151)
          "That way the guy sitting at the radar not only sees the airplane more easily, but knows which airplane it is and how high."

          They also squawk identification codes for each aircraft, and can be set to 7500 to signal a hijack.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by RoboRay (735839)
          That's really not how transponders work. They do not receive the radar pulses and send them back to the radar with ID information encoded into the pulses.

          They are totally seperate and unrelated systems operating on radically different frequencies. The only things they have in common is that the base station antenna is typically mounted somewhere on the rotating radar antenna so that they are ensured to both be pointing in the same direction, and they generally share a single display, with the information
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Deadstick (535032)
            You're describing the distinction between primary and secondary radar. Yes, they're separate systems, but they're both radars. One operates on reflected pulses ("skin painting"), the other on transponded pulses, but they both get their bearing information from the pointing direction of the antenna and their range information from the out-and-return travel time of the pulses. The only difference is that the secondary radar gets information that is furnished by the airborne installation: identification ("squa
  • so many possibilities, had this been discovered earlier.
  • Drivers can't expect to become invisible to police radar traps anytime soon. "When an object is moving at such close range," he admits, "even the best shield paint doesn't do any good."
    Damn.
  • Uses (Score:5, Insightful)

    by camperslo (704715) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @03:08PM (#23294076)
    All that stressful military/terrorist stuff aside, that paint might just be good for silencing cell phones in movie theatres. It's generally illegal to jam any sort of licensed transmission, but creating an environment that weakens the signal is a good workaround.

    Perhaps adding a layer of the paint to some consumer products, like PCs, might be a viable way of reducing the R.F. noise (and security issues that go with it?) leaking out.
    • by AikonMGB (1013995)

      You don't need this paint to silence cell-phones in a theatre.. conventional construction techniques already exist to block wireless communication.

      Here at the University of Toronto, there are several large lecture halls in the Bahen Institute of Technology building that are shielded, preventing students from using cell-phones, PDAs, wireless internet, etc.

      I suspect in the case of movie theatres they have done some studies and decided that for whatever reason it is a better idea not to shield the movie h

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kesuki (321456)
        if by conventional construction techniques you mean buying rolls of aluminum foil backed wallpaper, then yes, it's quite easy to make a cellphone proof building.

        also there are simple devices that can make cellphones useless by interfering with their broadcast frequency (cellphone jammers) but i would think that aluminum foil backed wallpaper would be cheaper long term than a jammer, the advantage of a jammer is that it can be disabled from when the credits roll until the film starts...

        i think the main reaso
        • by Gonoff (88518)

          I work in a hospital. When I am on call, I go to Blockbusters, not the movies.

        • Re:Uses (Score:5, Insightful)

          by v1 (525388) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @04:43PM (#23294732) Homepage Journal
          Regardless of who you are, it is not my responsibility to make sure you are available in case of an emergency. If you need to be available, it is your responsibility to adjust your behavior to increase the odds that you are available, given the provided situations you find yourself in. I don't care if you're a doctor with a patient in the ICU, a parent with a sitter at home, or anyone else for that matter.

          A doctor will also be without cell phone service when taking a tour of the Great Mounds Cave. That doesn't mean we should put up cell towers in there. What it means he should not be there while on call. Same goes for a theatre or any other venue where cell reception is naturally or artificially unavailable. Although any venue where a reasonable person would expect cell service but cannot get it, should have reasonable notice. In this case a note on the ticket or at the door to the theatre.

          I'm so tired of people trying to make me responsible for their bad decisions. That's what your parents are for. While you're under 18. After that, take ownership of yourself.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by swillden (191260)

            Regardless of who you are, it is not my responsibility to make sure you are available in case of an emergency. If you need to be available, it is your responsibility to adjust your behavior to increase the odds that you are available, given the provided situations you find yourself in.

            But it is your responsibility to disable the phones of rude and obnoxious people?

            If you want to take that on yourself, why not take a more direct route -- next time someone starts gabbing on the phone go take it away from them and toss it in the parking lot.

            I always leave my cellphone on in the movie theater, so my kids can call if they need me. It's on vibrate, in an inside pocket where the light won't bother anyone, and I don't answer it. If it rings, I leave the theater (I always sit near the ais

            • by Cochonou (576531)
              I think it really depends on the culture and on the country. In France, many theaters have been installing jammers for a few years (their use in theaters was allowed by the governement around 2004, if I remember correctly).
              At that time, polls had shown that about 85% of the population was favorable to such jammers. I doubt this has changed much.
            • But it is your responsibility to disable the phones of rude and obnoxious people?
              No, I think it's the option of a movie theater to do so in order to provide a more enjoyable movie experience that doesn't require me to hope the other viewers remember to silence their phones.
              • by swillden (191260)

                But it is your responsibility to disable the phones of rude and obnoxious people?

                No, I think it's the option of a movie theater to do so in order to provide a more enjoyable movie experience that doesn't require me to hope the other viewers remember to silence their phones.

                This must be much more of a problem in some areas than it is in mine. My wife and I go to a movie pretty much every Friday night -- I doubt we miss more than four or five weeks per year -- and we have done for at least ten years. Call it 400 movies, to be conservative, some 800 hours sitting in the local theaters. In all that time, I can recall maybe four or five instances where a phone disturbed me, and only once was there a patron that carried on a lengthy conversation.

                After about five minutes, I w

                • I have also not had many problems with cell phone users in movie theaters, and I would certainly agree that the mere fact that cell phones can potentially be annoying is justification for blocking the signal.

                  However, I would assert that the justification for a movie theater being allowed to use methods that prevent cell phones from working properly in the theaters is that the movie theaters themselves are private property, and thus the owner can set the terms and restrictions of their usage. My bet? Yo
      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        It's gonna work out real well for a university that blocks out phone calls like that when someone shoots up the school and nobody knows anything about it.

        You'd think safety would be more important than some freshman getting a text with the quiz answers.

        • by AikonMGB (1013995)

          Notice I said "lecture hall", not "exam room".. also, there are phones and PAs hardwired in the room, so if a code were issued instructors would be informed via this means, just like any other school. It's pretty naive of you to think that students' cell-phones are the only way for security information to make its way around a school.

          • by Ihmhi (1206036)

            Right, but for a code to be issued someone would have to know about it. You have a phone or a PA system in one place in the classroom or lecture hall with a gunman rampaging about? Whoever goes to make a call is going to be risking their lives.

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      The solution to cell phones in theaters is to get the cell phone manufacturers to agree on a standard "set to vibrate" signal that all cell phones will pick up. Then have short range transmitters at the entrances of the theaters. This would automatically set any phone entering the building to vibrate. There would not be the issue of emergency calls not getting through, and people would not forget to turn off their ringers.

      For the inevitable "But people will still talk on them" argument... Getting peop
      • by Hucko (998827)
        I would prefer the 'deadman switch' type scenario. And forget the ring to tell you your settings have been changed, most theaters have a big screen for displaying information.
        • by Belial6 (794905)
          The 'deadman switch' scenario does remove the problem that would inevitably happen, which is that while places like theaters and libraries would make sure that the 'off' transmission works, they would have little to no incentive to make sure that the 'on' transmission works. I was thinking that the notification ring would be important because if there is simple 'off' transmission that can be broadcast, it would be used in places other than a theater. Libraries, offices, some peoples homes. While you are
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @03:13PM (#23294102) Journal
    Think of a more efficient microwave oven. If it can scatter radar signals, it might just be a better coating for the inside of microwave ovens.

    Then there is beamed power applications???

    Perhaps this might lead to a method of shielding astronauts on their way to Mars? If it can deflect/scatter radar, can it be made to protect the Hubble?

    There are literally thousands of applications where some shielding would be preferred to the current methods, especially in Military applications. I think that if he keeps it up, he might well help us discover how to shield from all manner of things. Shielding in Nuclear power plants is an issue that needs to be tackled better.

    Imagine that if it can deal with radar, perhaps there is a way that this can lead to better coatings for fiber optic cables? 30Gbps not good enough for you? How would 100 Gbps with FTTH sound? It's all in how you deal with shielding.

    Anything that is as thin as paint and does the job can lead to major improvements in many other things. I hope something really good comes of this and not just some Patriot Missle avoidance tactic.
    • I'm sorry, but I thought that radiation in a nuclear power plant was completely different from radio waves. Which is why the whole cellphone use causes cancer thing is silly. And why do microwaves need to scatter waves? I thought the whole point was to create a standing wave inside the microwave? I think your confusing EM radiation with ionizing radiation (which is what the problem in space is).
    • by Deadstick (535032)
      Think of a more efficient microwave oven. If it can scatter radar signals, it might just be a better coating for the inside of microwave ovens.

      Antiradar paint does not scatter RF radiation. It absorbs it. If you coated the inside of a microwave oven with that stuff, it would (a) reduce the energy arriving at the food, and (b) heat up the walls of the oven, making your enchilada taste like burned paint.

      You want the walls of the oven to reflect, not absorb.

      rj

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Dr. Cody (554864)

      Shielding in Nuclear power plants is an issue that needs to be tackled better.
      Actually, no, it isn't. I don't even think it's been an issue that needed to be tackled better within my lifetime. Nor would this help. 20 cm of rolled steel and 1.5 meters of reinforced concrete provides all the radiation protection you need until the pressure vessel ruptures.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo (153816)

        Actually, no, it isn't. I don't even think it's been an issue that needed to be tackled better within my lifetime. Nor would this help. 20 cm of rolled steel and 1.5 meters of reinforced concrete provides all the radiation protection you need until the pressure vessel ruptures.

        Actually, you're 100% wrong, because there is the issue of contamination of the reactor containment vessel. When the plant is decommissioned this material will have to be disposed of somehow. If you can increase SAR of the material to the point where radiation penetrates to a lesser distance, then you don't need as thick a shield (1) which potentially reduces costs through reducing material use and the mass of the total structure (2) and it reduces the mass of the total waste at the time of decommissionin

        • by bendodge (998616)
          Why does a plant need to be decommissioned? The only reason I know if is tree-huggers suing or making it unprofitable to operate. I mean, concrete lasts a really long time, esp if you keep repairing it.
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Why does a plant need to be decommissioned? The only reason I know if is tree-huggers suing or making it unprofitable to operate. I mean, concrete lasts a really long time, esp if you keep repairing it.

            Wow, that's pretty dumb. All things in this world are transient, you know. Or in simpler words, nothing lasts forever.

            Anyway, every nuclear plant we have today (at least in the US) should be decommissioned, because they are all crap. But first we need to build some more modern designs.

            • by Hucko (998827)
              There are substantial numbers of building that have been standing for longer than 50 - 60 years which is the projected lifetime of nuclear plants world wide. Sure, don't expect the buildings to last 1000 years, but 200 would be reasonable...
            • The Pantheon [wikipedia.org] in Rome was built in 125 AD, using concrete, and it is still standing. 1883 years seems good enough to me.
    • by camperslo (704715)
      Think of a more efficient microwave oven. If it can scatter radar signals

      Chances are that if it works for stealth applications it is absorbing signals instead of scattering them. In the presence of very strong signals it would heat up if that is the case.
      That could still have uses in a microwave oven though, more shielding for the door/cabinet, and perhaps coatings for containers where one would rather generate heat at the container level instead of in the food.
      Perhaps this could make it easier to cook egg
    • That's all good and stuff, but as mentioned, a lot of the radiation you're referring to has a very different wavelength/frequency than what it is currently known to block. And, in high-risk applications, toughness of the coating becomes an issue. What do you do when your nuclear power plant, or space ship, gets a scratch and begins leaking radiation?
      • by Hucko (998827)
        One would hope, that such applications would not be solely relying on the paint remaining intact for its entirety to provide protection but add Yet Another Layer of Protection (YALP) to the more robust and active systems available.
  • Will coat a flatscreen with it and mount it on an Escalade.
  • he had bred a worm whose excrement made it possible to grow radishes in the dry desert sand.

    And here I thought you always had to do a worm breeding apprenticeship before learning the radar absorbing paint trade. That's the way my college career councilor outlined it for me.

  • From TFA (Score:5, Funny)

    by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Sunday May 04, 2008 @04:32PM (#23294636)

    Nickel, who is literally bubbling over with ideas...
    Oh, is he? Does he literally carry a pan around to catch them? Do they literally need to mop up behind him when he walks across the room?
  • by tbischel (862773)
    "While it certainly is not unique, there is some interesting history behind the development, and a proposed civilian use."

    Finally, something better looking than tin foil to cover my house (and my hat)!
  • ... available in "helicopter black"?
  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Monday May 05, 2008 @07:17AM (#23299090)
    Radar absorbing paint isn't as exotic as it sounds. Basically it's paint that is "black" at radar frequencies. Nothing more than iron or ferrite filings in a Rustoleum base. Or better yet, go to an airshow for a free sample. The F-16's usually have some good RAP flaking off by the nosegear cover hinges.

    The japanese have been painting RAP on their skyscrapers for decades now to lessen FM and TV ghosting.

  • The F117 was retired early because all of the stealth tech in the world can't protect you from obsolete LOW frequency radar. If you use wavelengths that are significantly longer than the thickness of the paint, it's really not going to do anything to stop the underlying airframe from sending back a nice strong signal.

    If you want to avoid getting your transmitter killed, just use a local FM or TV station and make it a passive radar system [wikipedia.org].

    --Mike--

The use of anthropomorphic terminology when dealing with computing systems is a symptom of professional immaturity. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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