News Stories

Invisibility (Cont.)

Scientists and the military are seriously studying how to make things like soldiers and airplanes invisible, but right now the only thing researchers can render invisible is a person (if he's wearing the right clothes). This would be great gear for a spy. But it turns out the Chinese have already figured out how to overcome this effect!

A team of Chinese scientists has developed a way to unmask the invisibility cloak. If certain materials are worn underneath, this method would allow invisible objects be seen again. An even greater problem for anyone who has aspirations to be concealed in public is that invisibility achieved through transformation media is a two-way street. With no light penetrating a perfect invisibility cloak, there would be no way for an invisible person to see outside. In other words, invisible people would also be blind.

Invisibility as it has been achieved so far is very limited. It works, but only for a narrow band of light wavelengths. Nobody has found a way yet to make an object invisible to the broad range of wavelengths our eyes are attuned to seeing.

Researcher Huanyang Chen has developed a way to partially cancel the invisibility cloak?s cloaking effect. His "anti-cloak" would be a material with optical properties perfectly matched to those of an invisibility cloak. While an invisibility cloak would bend light around an object, any region that came into contact with the anti-cloak would guide some light back so that it became visible. This would allow an invisible observer to see the outside by pressing a layer of anti-cloak material in contact with an invisibility cloak.

Chen says, "With the anti-cloak, [anyone] can see outside if he wants to."

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