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The 'magic' video of a real-life invisibility cloak
Researchers have created a material that disappears on command, Harry Potter–style. Better yet: They've recorded it on video
 
Harry Potter's head can be seen poking out of his invisibility cloak: A video of a real life invisibility cloak prototype may make you believe in magic.
Harry Potter's head can be seen poking out of his invisibility cloak: A video of a real life invisibility cloak prototype may make you believe in magic.
Screen shot

The video: Harry Potter's invisibility cloak was magic, but researchers are coming up with scientifically plausible ways to make objects seem to disappear. But what does a working prototype actually look like? Here's one from the University of Texas at Dallas that uses a trick called the mirage effect. It's something often "seen in the desert or on hot roads during the summers," says Mark Brown at Wired. It's complicated, but essentially it works by using heat to bend light rays around a given object, tricking your brain into seeing something that isn't really there — like water in a desert. Here, that effect was achieved under water, using a familiar material: one-molecule-thick carbon nanotubes, perfect for conducting heat. (Watch a video demonstration below.)

The reaction: This really does "almost seem like magic to me," says Edin Kee at Ubergizmo. Kudos to the wizards in this lab; you definitely need to watch the video to get a grasp of the mirage's "effectiveness," which can be turned on and off like a light-switch. "Not bad!" says Geekologie. "I'm just disappointed they've only got in working in water so far." Sorry, boys, you won't be sneaking into the women's locker room cloaked in carbon nanotubes just yet. Have a look yourself:

 

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