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Remember that first marriage? Never happened.

THE LATE, GREAT AMERICAN poet, J.D. Reed, once wrote a poem (in his remarkable first collection, Expressways) about the sadness of waking still-drunk in a room with a mirror, a ring and a giant woman. Mistakes do happen.

But scientists have some good news. That accidental marriage can be folded into a wrinkle in time.

It’s one thing to make an object invisible, like Harry Potter’s mythical cloak. But scientists have made an entire event impossible to see. They have invented a time masker.

Think of it as an art heist that takes place before your eyes and surveillance cameras. You don’t see the thief strolling into the museum, taking the painting down or walking away, but he did. It’s not just that the thief is invisible — his whole activity is.

What scientists at Cornell University did was on a much smaller scale, both in terms of events and time. It happened so quickly that it’s not even a blink of an eye. Their time cloak lasts an incredibly tiny fraction of a fraction of a second. They hid an event for 40 trillionths of a second, according to a study appearing in Thursday’s edition of the journal Nature…

Other newly created invisibility cloaks fashioned by scientists move the light beams away in the traditional three dimensions. The Cornell team alters not where the light flows but how fast it moves, changing in the dimension of time, not space.

They tinkered with the speed of beams of light in a way that would make it appear to surveillance cameras or laser security beams that an event, such as an art heist, isn’t happening.

You may think 40 trillionths of a second isn’t a very long time. But put a few of those time-folds together, and it’s just enough to erase the “I” from “I do.” Or Nick Clegg’s political career from living memory.

– Calamo.

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