How to protect buildings from earthquake damage? Throw an invisibility cloak around them! New research shows that it is possible to develop an “invisibility cloak” to protect buildings from earthquakes. The seismic waves produced by earthquakes include body waves which travel through the earth and surface waves which travel across it. The new technology controls the path of surface waves which are the most damaging and responsible for much of the destruction which follows earthquakes.

The technology involves the use of concentric rings of plastic which could be fitted to the Earth’s surface to divert surface waves. By controlling the stiffness and elasticity of the rings, waves travelling through the “cloak” pass smoothly into the material and are compressed into small fluctuations in pressure and density. Thus major shakes and tremors are transformed into small ones.

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