Although there’s been talk that Marvel’s Invisible Woman might represent the most plausible example of how invisibility could work, researchers at Duke University have shown the answer lies with Harry Potter — or, perhaps, Dungeons & Dragons.
The Los Angeles Times reports that researchers at Duke University have developed an “invisibility cloak” that hides objects by “bending electromagnetic waves so that they flow around the object like water around a rock.”
Because none of the waves are reflected back at the observer, the object seems invisible.
Their device, reported today in the online version of the journal Science, works only with microwave radiation — not visible light waves — and only in two dimensions. And it does not yet provide complete invisibility; it produces a small shadow that can be detected.
Scientists say the cloak is a rudimentary device they rushed to create to demonstrate their ideas. “We did this work very quickly … and that led to a cloak that is not optimal,” team leader David R. Smith told The Times. “We know how to make a much better one.”
The Duke researchers aren’t the only ones who’ve been tinkering with invisibility devices, but I don’t know what separates their work from, say, the coat developed in 2003 by a professor at Tokyo University. I’m guessing the Duke team’s cloak is entirely see-through, while the coat was more translucent.