Scientists’ perfect “invisibility cloak”

Harry Potter fans, rejoice! A breakthrough in transformational optics has brought us one step closer to Hogwarts

Topics: Harry Potter, Science, technology, J.K. Rowling, invisibility cloak, ,

Scientists' perfect "invisibility cloak"

First, there was that recipe for butter beer. Then, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans started appearing on the shelves of Muggle (translation: non-magical) candy shops. And now, at a considerably higher price point, the invisibility cloak has become a reality. And while you can thank clever marketing executives for the Hogwarts-inspired confections, the invisibility cloak is no gimmick — it’s a scientific breakthrough.

A team of Duke University scientists have developed a garment that can completely conceal a small object. Using a row-by-row design of fiberglass etched with copper and copper strips, the intricately woven cloak bends light around an object so that it appears invisible to microwaves and the naked eye. “We built the cloak, and it worked. It split light into two waves which traveled around an object in the center and re-emerged as the single wave with minimal loss due to reflections,” explains Nathan Landy, a graduate student who worked on the project. This design is an improvement on a 2006 prototype that, due to a less precise fabrication process, continued to reflect light around the edges of the concealed object, leaving it partially exposed.

You Might Also Like

But don’t plan on prowling the hallways of Hogwarts after hours just yet; the invisibility cloak only works in one direction. The Duke team plans to use their latest findings to work toward a fully three-dimensional illusion. Until then, die-hards will have to console themselves with a hearty mug of butter beer and wait.

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 8
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Sonic

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Sonic's Bacon Double Cheddar Croissant Dog

    Sonic calls this a "gourmet twist" on a classic. I am not so, so fancy, but I know that sprinkling bacon and cheddar cheese onto a tube of pork is not gourmet, even if you have made a bun out of something that is theoretically French.

    Krispy Kreme

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Krispy Kreme's Doughnut Dog

    This stupid thing is a hotdog in a glazed doughnut bun, topped with bacon and raspberry jelly. It is only available at Delaware's Frawley Stadium, thank god.

    KFC

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    KFC's Double Down Dog

    This creation is notable for its fried chicken bun and ability to hastily kill your dreams.

    Pizza Hut

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites Pizza

    Pizza Hut basically just glued pigs-in-blankets to the crust of its normal pizza. This actually sounds good, and I blame America for brainwashing me into feeling that.

    Carl's Jr.

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Carl's Jr. Most American Thick Burger

    This is a burger stuffed with potato chips and hot dogs. Choose a meat, America! How hard is it to just choose a meat?!

    Tokyo Dog

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Tokyo Dog's Juuni Ban

    A food truck in Seattle called Tokyo Dog created this thing, which is notable for its distinction as the Guinness Book of World Records' most expensive hot dog at $169. It is a smoked cheese bratwurst, covered in butter Teriyaki grilled onions, Maitake mushrooms, Wagyu beef, foie gras, black truffles, caviar and Japanese mayo in a brioche bun. Just calm down, Tokyo Dog. Calm down.

    Interscope

    7 ways Americans have defiled the hot dog

    Limp Bizkit's "Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water"

    This album art should be illegal.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>