The idea of invisibility has been science fiction staple since H.G. Wells penned The Invisible Man over 100 years ago. Recent advances in technology seem to have opened the door to sufficiently proving Clarke’s Third Law: Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
From a physics point of view, invisibility is possible when you can find a way to pass electromagnetic radiation (i.e. light, etc) around objects in a manner that generates NO shadow and NEGATES reflection. This hasn’t been possible until recent advances have allowed for the creation of metamaterials – engineered materials whose properties are determined by their physical make up instead of their chemistry. In concurrent development (apparently for DARPA), scientists at MIT, and the Universities of Florida and Michigan have developed a metamaterial composed of gazillions of what amounts to tiny mirror-like ‘nano-particles’. These particles can be suspended in a liquid and applied to surfaces in a manner that allows for light (from any direction) to be bent around an object. The diagram below illustrates this principle.
Building on this foundation, there are recent articles in Science that describes a proof-of-principle demonstration. The video below shows application of that demonstration with a metamaterial solution that can be sprayed onto objects. If you assume no camera effects, it is a pretty compelling demonstration.
Finally, a prediction from David Schurig, a source close to the DARPA funded project –
“It’s fair to say that this year will see great advances and practical demonstration on the physics of cloaking, not just to radar and microwaves…but to the visible spectrum of light as well.”