Have you ever been faced with the age-old question of which superpower you would prefer, flight or invisibility? It’s a topic that was once explored very thoroughly in an episode of This American Life, and it’s a question that has been asked again and again. Between our news from earlier today of a water-powered jetpack and now this, word of an “invisibility crystal,” you may soon be able to put your response to the superpower conundrum into practice.
Researcher Shuang Zhang, operating out of the University of Birmingham, developed an invisbility “cloak” using a lump of calcite crystal, The Guardian reports. However, his creation is only large enough right now to conceal objects that are roughly the size of a paperclip. If you’re looking to mask the location of your top-secret microfiche from enemy agents, this will do you just fine. If, on the other hand, you’re hoping to make like Harry Potter and traipse around without anybody seeing you, this isn’t the cloak you’re looking for. Hear Zhang explain his creation in the video below:
This development with calcite crystal can be viewed as a first step toward making larger objects invisible. The military applications are the most obvious. Imagine, for example, a makeshift motor pool that uses a calcite crystal roof instead of camouflage. Zhang also suggests that the breakthrough could be applied to revolutionize the cosmetics industry, with a calcite-based compound potentially being able to completely mask undesirable features.
There are still a few issues to be sorted out. For starters, the crystal itself is visible. Even if you stick your aforementioned microfiche beneath the calcite, prowling spies could simply look beneath it. A larger obstacle is the fact that the invisibility effect only works when viewed through a filter. This is a promising first step all the same, and yet another cool piece of stranger-than-fiction news for your Friday.