Science fiction may soon see another of its concepts defect to the realm of science now that engineers at Purdue University have an invisibility device in the works. Still just a concept at this point, the plan would be to surround an object with a specially designed cone with metal needles sticking out of it. The needles would change the refractive properties of the cone in such a way that light would bend around it and make any stuff inside disappear.
One problem: the design can only bend one wavelength at a time, so unless the guy inside the cone is covered head to toe in a red bodysuit, you'll still be able to see him. That's still useful, though, since it could possibly shield soldiers from night-vision goggles, which see in only one wavelength of light (infrared). It could also protect objects from "laser designators," used by soldiers to highlight targets for laser-guided weapons.
As for real invisibility, it's theoretically possible with this method, though it would be a huge technical challenge. Baby steps, guys — let's get this infrared shield working before we venture into Harry Potter territory.
Via Seed Magazine
CORRECTION: As an eagle-eyed commenter pointed out, this post orignally misspelled the name of Purdue University. Apparently we eat too much chicken. Sorry about that, guys! Return to the corrected sentence.