'Cloak of Invisibility' Makes You Sort of Invisible

While it might not a small enough crystal to fit on a loop of metal to make a ring, University of Birmingham researchers have created an invisibility "cloak"--in this case a lump of calcite, according to The Guardian. Objects viewed through the crystal functionally disappear as the light is bent by natural properties of the crystal. You see only a flat surface through it.

A paperweight-sized crystal can conceal a paperclip or pin, so, uh, it's not the most efficient as of yet. A larger crystal 20 odd feet long and 6 feet thick could hide a large dog, Shuang Zhang, the lead researcher of the project noted. Another problem is that there’s nothing actually making the crystal itself, invisible, though it is translucent.

I guess a third problem is that your invisibility cloak is made of crystal, which isn’t known for being light in the weight department.

Zhang mentioned a practical application of this technology as a revolution to the cosmetics industry. Piling-on-a-ton-of-makeup jokes aside, who’s going to hold a crystal prism to their face all day to hide an unsightly blemish?

It's interesting to note that the University of Birmingham isn't alone in developing this technology. The Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology announced its own invisibility cloak using Calcite and it's been voted number 4 in the Physics World's Top 10 Breakthroughs of 2010. The premise is the same, but a filter is not required according to sources though the object is invisible from only 2 sides and the scale of calcite to object being hidden is also not favorable. Cool, though.

I’ll hold off planning to conceal my villain lair until I can do it without an obvious mountain of translucent rock above it, how about you?

Read The Guardian's story for the full technical details, if you dare.

Jason Kennedy might or might not actually have a villain lair. You can catch up with him and his twisty mustached antics on Twitter .

[The Guardian / Photo: Stibbons on Flickr; used under Creative Commons]

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