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This Cloaking Device Is Less Harry Potter, More Predator


Internet, we need to have a talk. Over the past decade or so, scientists have been working on developing cloaking devices that can obscure or completely hide an object from sight, with varying degrees of success. And every time a new advance in the field comes along, you'll read a flurry of headlines about how science is getting closer to creating Harry Potter's invisibility cloak.

It's not.

Hear me out: Yesterday, a group of scientists based at UC Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab published an article about their cloaking device in Science. It's another metamaterial-based design that distorts light waves around an object, making it appear as if the light is bouncing off a flat surface. That sounds pretty invisibility cloak-like, yes. But not Harry-Potter-invisibility-cloak-like. But you know what it does sound like? The cloaking device used by the Yautja—that's the actual name of the predatory aliens in the Predator movies.

Let's examine the evidence. This device, like the ones that preceded it, is built out of metamaterials. All that means is that scientists engineered the material to have properties not found in nature.

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