Invisibility Cloaks; They exist! (But aren't working well)


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As an avid Harry Potter fan, I've certainly yearned for an invisibility cloak.  Take a second and imagine all you could accomplish without the fear of ever being seen. Now come back to reality and realize that invisibility cloaks exist only in the make believe world of Harry Potter; us mere muggles will never see one in real life.

Or so I used to believe.  As it turns out, electrical engineers at the University of Texas -- Austin, have been studying actual invisibility cloaks.  Could this be THE Christmas item this holiday shopping season?  Sadly, their research has counterintuitively found that items behind an invisibility cloak are actually more visible. How invisibility cloaks work, I learned, is by scattering specific wavelengths. "For example, making an object invisible to red light may also make it bright blue, boosting its overall visibility.  Assuming one looked at all wavelengths of light, one would actually see cloaked object more than the uncloaked object it is trying to hide." Made of "meta-materials", these invisibility cloaks scatter a specific type of wavelength. Unfortunately, their research has shown that by scattering a specific type of wavelength enhances the visibility of other types of wavelengths.

All hope of walking around in secret isn't lost yet though.  Their research show there is potential in making cloaks with dynamic active material that essentially tailor the coat to the different types of wavelengths currently present. The three scientists on the project believe there is potential for these active invisibility cloaks in the future...so I guess truly anything is possible!

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1 Comment

This is such a cool topic! It's truly crazy how much technology has advanced over the years. If you had brought up this topic 10 years ago no one would have taken it seriously, and now it's actually a reality. Hopefully in 50 years from now, people of the future will be able to look at this blog and laugh that invisibility cloaks hadn't been invented yet in 2012. Fingers crossed!

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