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Researchers suggest magicians’ mirror tricks could be used as large scale cloaking devices

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Posted June 11, 2013

A cloaking device based on Snell's law. Credit: arXiv:1306.0863 [physics.optics]

A cloaking device based on Snell’s law. Credit: arXiv:1306.0863 [physics.optics]

John Howell, a Professor of Physics at the University of Rochester, and his teenage son, have uploaded a paper to the preprint server arXiv in which they suggest that some common magicians’ tricks could be used to create large cloaking devices. They describe three types of simple cloaking devices: one made of Plexiglass and water, another of inexpensive lenses, and a third constructed using ordinary mirrors.

Cloaking devices have become an item of interest to both the general public and physicists. The Harry Potter movies showed what a cloaking device might look like, while breakthroughs in metamaterials have allowed for the creation of real cloaking materials. Unfortunately, the real materials only work for certain wavelengths of optical frequencies and for very small sample sizes. Another, less high-tech approach is to use mirrors to make objects “disappear” as magicians have been doing for years. That’s what Howell and his son have done.

Cloaking devices all work under the same principles—they bend light in such a way as to cause an object to be hidden from view. A simple example would be a small island in a river. Water is split at one end of the island, moves past on either side, and is then reconnected at the other end. If the water were replaced with light, the island would appear to be invisible from the point of view of an observer (in two dimensions, of course).

Read more at: Phys.org

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