Invisibility cloak not so magical

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Kristina Wyman's picture
Caitlin Pierson

If you’re anything like me, you spent the better half of your 11th birthday waiting eagerly for your owl to arrive with an invitation to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It was with disappointment that you climbed into bed that night with the sinking impression that you would be stuck in the muggle world forever. But that never stopped the dreams from coming.

Imagine this: a world in which streams of light flash past as spells are cast in your direction; pictures move across your bedroom wall, talking to you and each other; you ride to work on a broomstick, and you can become invisible with a simple cloak.

This is life in the Wizarding World of JK Rowling’s famous Harry Potter book series and subsequent movie series, which has been, until this point in time, nothing but fantasy.

On Friday September 18, scientists in California announced the development of an invisibility cloak not unlike the one used by everyone’s favorite boy wizard, Harry Potter. When I found out, I practically jumped out of my wizard robes.

This is it, I thought to myself, I can finally join ranks with my fellow wizards and witches. Then I read the interviews, and disappointment swallowed my excitement.

While headlines claim that United States scientists have created an invisibility cloak, they fail to mention that this cloak will only work if you happen to be microscopic and if you do not move. I do not fully understand the science behind this new technology, but it currently only works on a microscopic level.

So while it’s really cool that scientists have figured out how to scatter light to render an object invisible, it will likely be a while before the technology is developed on a large enough scale to cover muggles of any size.

Furthermore, the nanoantennas have to be engineered specifically to the object’s surface; any movement can change the texture of the surface, which means the object will not remain invisible. So as long as you’re standing still, you’re all set. Personally, I move around a lot. Scientists are going to need to work a bit harder in order for this to actually be useful.

Ultimately, there are too many kinks to work out before I can accept invisibility cloaks as common attire among muggles. Until then, I will keep waving my wand and muttering incantations under my breath, hoping that someday I will know what it is like to be a witch.

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