Sunday, July 1, 2007

Invisible Ray

Could science ever produce invisibility cloaks, as in Harry Potter or Wells' Invisible Man? When Ray Romano visited The Simpsons, in the 16th season episode "Don't Fear the Roofer," Ray was invisible to everyone in Springfield but Homer. Could rays be invisible in real life?

Remarkably, Dr. John Pendry of Imperial College, London, has been investigating what are called "metamaterials" that possess the strange property of diverting light. Possessing negative indices of refraction that make light bend opposite to its usual fashion, such metamaterials redirect rays around objects in such a way that these bodies cannot be seen at all. Could it be that invisibility cloaks are just around the corner? Who could have seen that coming?

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