Scientists see invisibility on the horizon

By Sterling “Chip” Camden
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

The ability to become invisible figures as a theme in the magic and mythology of many cultures over the centuries.  At least since H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, science fiction fans have wondered whether it might be possible to achieve invisibility through the application of science.  It appears (har) that this little bit of science fiction may indeed become science fact.

The BBC reports that UC Berkeley researchers have engineered a material that is able to bend light around an object, so the observer sees the same light they would see if the object were not there at all (hat tip to Futurismic).

The wavelengths on which this currently operates aren’t quite up to the visible spectrum yet, though, and the scale is on the order of nanometers.  The researchers see improvements in telecommunications and microscopes as more practical near-term applications for their technology.  But they’re hopeful that they’ll soon discover materials that act the same way on visible wavelengths — and be able to scale them up to the size needed to produce the ‘Harry Potter’ effect.

How cool would it be to suit up in an invisibility cloak and disappear?  I can think of several practical uses:

  • Odd jobs need doing around the house… hey, where’s Chip?
  • Dress code at work?  Heck, don’t even shave.
  • “I honestly swear that nobody saw me at that bar last night, honey.”
  • Mess with your kids’ heads: “Don’t think I’m not watching you, young lady.”
  • Drive your convertible downtown just to watch heads turn and mouths open.

What would you do if you could be invisible?

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