The idea of an invisibility cloak is a staple in science fiction, and most people have fantasized about what it would be like to go around completely unnoticed. Though it sounds like magic, scientists are working on turning it into a reality.
There has been a lot of ground covered in recent years in shielding objects from being detected with acoustic waves like those used in sonar.
The real trick is finding a way to hide something from the human eye. Human vision gets signals when visible light bounces off an object and hits the eye, which then gets interpreted by the brain. While this process isn't perfect — most of us fall for optical illusions — it's pretty darn good, so it's not easy to make a large objects disappear in front of us.
Scientists are able to use lenses to bend light in a way that makes things functionally invisible, but it only works when looking through the lens from one particular angle, making it more like a shield than a cloak.
One day, the code will be cracked and scientists will likely figure out a way to make an object invisible when viewed from any angle. This will likely be done using new "metamaterials" with incredible optical properties.
Of course, once scientists figure out how to achieve that large-scale invisibility, it will probably be used for boring practical purposes at first, like hiding military equipment or transporting important people.
Those of us who would like to make a cloak like Harry Potter or hide a Warbird like a Romulan will just have to wait.
So how close are we? Julia Wilde from DNews breaks down where research is on invisibility cloaks here:
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