Scientists Make Progress on Invisibility Device

Cloaking may not be just for Harry Potter. Scientists have made an object invisible. Not to the human eye, just invisible to some kinds of electromagnetic radiation.

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WERTHEIMER: And now for the last word in business. Recently we reported that scientists have figured out how to make objects invisible, not to the human eye, mind you, just invisible to some kinds of electromagnetic radiation. It was theory then. Now they've done it. And while it's not ready for market yet, you can just see the possibilities.

NPR's Christopher Joyce has more.

CHRISTOPHER JOYCE: Yes, it actually works. That's what the team from Duke University now says. It is a small disc-shaped device made of special composite materials embedded with tiny rods and rings, kind of like microchips on a donut. What it does is cloak itself from microwave radiation. The radiation slips by like water around a smooth rock. So let's say you're from another planet and you see using the microwave part of electromagnetic spectrum instead of the visual part we use; this thing would fool you. Well, not completely. If you saw the movie The Predator, you'd remember that when the creature disappeared, it still cast a kind of shimmery shadow. The Duke device still has a shadow problem, but they have declared victory in this week's issue of the journal Science. They say what works for microwaves might work for things like radar, or even someday 12-year-old wizards named Harry sneaking around after his bedtime.

Christopher Joyce, NPR News.

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