Science Fiction or Fact: Invisibility Cloaks Will One Day Exist
By: Adam Hadhazy, Life's Little Mysteries Contributor
Date: 15 May 2012 Time: 12:30 PM ET
A Predator alien shows just its gleaming eye portals while
wearing a suit of armor outfitted with imperfect but still impressive
CREDIT: 20th Century Fox
In this weekly series, Life's Little Mysteries scores the plausibility of popular science fiction concepts.
In the "Star Trek" universe, cloaking devices on Romulan and Klingon spaceships create all sorts of tactical nightmares for their human foes. Hiding in plain sight is certainly a handy trick for a person, too, as fans of "The Invisible Man" and the "Harry Potter" series know well.
Science has given us glimpses, as it were, of how these anti-detection technologies might be possible. But full-fledged invisibility cloaks like those of science fiction and fantasy remain quite a ways off.
"I won't call it impossible, but it's implausible what you see in 'Harry Potter,'" David Smith, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke University, said. "That's perfect movie invisibility — too perfect."
Nevertheless, research into rendering objects invisible has made leaps and bounds just in the last several years. Partial cloaks that work like sophisticated camouflage — much like the shimmering distortion of the Predator alien in the 1987 movie of the same name — might be more realistically achievable, Smith said.
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