In NPR's Morning Edition story "Now You See It, Some Day You Won't: Scientists Get Closer To Invisibility," reporter Barry Gordemer briefly talks with CMIP's David Smith about metamaterials, how to make something invisible, and some of its uses. See below for the full audio and partial transcript of the feature.
GORDEMER: .... Other scientists like David Smith at Duke University are trying to make invisibility work from any angle. He's experimenting with what's known as metamaterials.
DAVID SMITH: With a metamaterial you can do things that are very unusual, like bend light the wrong way.
GORDEMER: Think of metamaterials as a coating or a wrapper that be put around something to make it invisible. Metamaterials have a texture or structure can steer light in odd directions.
SMITH: If you want to make something invisible and you're sitting on the other side of the object, you would normally see a shadow. To avoid the shadow you have to take the light, pull it around the object and restore it as if it had passed through free space.
GORDEMER: The issue with metamaterials is they're not good at hiding colors, which is a problem in a colorful world. Full Harry Potter invisibility is still a ways off, but the military is already experimenting with existing technologies to see how they could be used for camouflage. Doctors are interested in how it might be used help see around obstructions during surgery.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
GORDEMER: This is music from a YouTube video from the carmaker Land Rover. It demonstrates a car hood that becomes transparent so you can see obstacles in the road, which means you may not have to wait too long to experience a little Harry Potter magic of your own. Barry Gordemer, NPR News.