Making things invisible is a pretty neat trick. In 2006, a team of Duke University scientists bent rays of light around a copper ring (which was still visible, thanks to pesky visible light). Now researchers say they are getting close to bending visible light, too, but along the way they've uncovered a rather odd real-world application for the technology: protecting against the power of the sea.
The model you see above is a prototype 10 centimeters across, representative of how the technology would work. Developed at the Fresnel Institute in Marseille, France, the pillars placed along the protective ring form a static maze of sorts that water won't fully penetrate. As water enters the concentric circles of pillars, it'll interact in such a way that the force drives the liquid around in a whirlpool-like motion, moving around the interior of the ring faster and faster — rather than through it. Water will be trapped inside and thrown out — mostly to the south — and will pass by whatever is in the center as if it wasn't there.
Depending on the size of the barrier ring employed, a system such as this could protect anything from nature's wrath, such as offshore oil rigs. Larger areas needing protection, such as islands and coastlines, would take a far larger network — maybe even several artificial barrier islands employing the technology.
CORRECTION: The water barrier rings do not actually spin, as previously published. Thanks, RampantGnome.