Friday, March 19, 2010

Hiding with Harry

In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, dragon blood is revealed to be an effective oven cleaner (I just cleaned my oven and wished I had some)

I, like countless millions, loved the Harry Potter series and one of my favorite magical objects was his Cloak of Invisibility. The cloak had the power to shield the wearer from sight, and could not be worn out by time or spells. Invisibility cloaks are not a new concept and have appeared in literature since the days of Brothers Grimm. 

When I read about it, I wanted to go out and get one for myself and now it looks like they may be within our grasp! Scientists have taken a small but important new step toward making it into reality. Researchers at Germany's Karlsruhe Institute of Technology were able to cloak a tiny bump in a layer of gold, preventing its detection at nearly visible infrared frequencies. The cloak is a structure of crystals with air spaces in between, sort of like a woodpile, that bends light, hiding the bump in the gold. In this case, the bump was tiny, a mere 0.00004 inch high and 0.0005 inch across, so that a magnifying lens was needed to see it.

In principle, the cloak design is completely scalable; there is no limit to it, a researcher stated. But, he added, developing a cloak to hide something takes a long time, so cloaking larger items with that technology is not really feasible. DARN. But I'll keep hoping.

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