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Scientists Are Getting Closer to an Invisibility Cloak

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Scientists are getting closer to creating a real-life invisibility cloak.

A new study published in the journal Science shows scientists have created what they are calling a "ultrathin invisibility skin cloak for visible light." The cloak has been shown to cover an object and—by manipulating certain wavelengths of light—render it invisible.

Light plays a central role in how we see objects. According to the Los Angeles Times, usually light bounces off of things and becomes distorted, which helps a person see the angles and curves of an object. However, the LA Times writes that the cloak is covered with "nanoantennas made of tiny gold blocks of different sizes that can counteract that distortion, making it seem to an observer like the light is coming from a flat surface."

The cloak is 80 nanometers thick, which is a bonus since the study authors say prior attempts have been too bulky and therefore difficult to scale up. Still, the current cloak only covers a very tiny object, so there's a long way to go before people can make themselves invisible or hard to see.

Other research teams are also looking into the creation of an invisibility cloak. In early July, University of California, San Diego researchers designed their own early version. "Invisibility may seem like magic at first, but its underlying concepts are familiar to everyone. All it requires is a clever manipulation of our perception,” Boubacar Kanté, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering said in a statement about his work. “Full invisibility still seems beyond reach today, but it might become a reality in the near future thanks to recent progress in cloaking devices.”

The Chevy Chaparral 2x Vision concept car on display during the third day of media day at the LA Auto show.
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Anybody can take Chevy's Chaparral 2x Vision concept car for a spin — anybody with Gran Turismo 6 for the Sony PlayStation, anyway, where the car is a playable download.Gene Blevins—LA DailyNews/Corbis
The Chevy Chaparral 2x Vision concept car on display during the third day of media day at the LA Auto show.
Toyota shows their future mobility concept Toyota FV2 during the 2014 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 7, 2014 in Las Vegas.
Preview Day At The Moscow International Auto Salon
A worker cleans the floor beside Volkwagen's new concept car "TRISTAR" at the booth of German carmaker Volkswagen Nutzfahrzeuge ( Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles) at the IAA truck show in Hanover on Sept. 23, 2014.
Nissan shows their BladeGlider concept car on display during day 2 of media day at the LA Auto show on Nov. 19, 2014.
The Toyota C-HR Concept car is displayed on media day at the Paris Mondial de l'Automobile on Oct. 2, 2014.
The Maserati Alfieri concept car is displayed at the group's stand of the Geneva Motor Show, on March 4, 2014.
Mercedes-Benz's new Sport Utility Coupe concept car G-Code is seen at its unveiling event during the opening ceremony of Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz research and development (R&D) centre in Beijing on Nov. 3, 2014.
A president-mobil concept car, designed by Georgy Ostretsov, is given a test run across the Zolotoi Rog (Golden Horn) Bay on Oct. 3, 2014. The car's engine is powered by ethanol biofuel.
Anybody can take Chevy's Chaparral 2x Vision concept car for a spin — anybody with Gran Turismo 6 for the Sony PlayStation, anyway, where the car is a playable download.
Gene Blevins—LA DailyNews/Corbis
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