The Return of the Invisible Man

Claude Rains trying to look presentable

13/01/2009 04:25 PM

We've all seen a version of the Invisible Man.  The most famous is the 1933 thriller staring the amazing Claude Rains or maybe the Memoirs of the Invisible Man feagturing Chevy Chase.

Rains was in some scary films and he was the best Invisible Man.  He was even the Phantom of the Opera at one time.   Do you remember him in Casablanca?  Nobody wore a hot like he did let alone a cloak.

Radio did it best with Lamont Cranston and his sidekick Margo Lane in the shadow.  Cranston learned to 'cloud men's minds' in the Orient.

To be invisible seems to strike a chord in our brains.  Maybe it's our distant history in the oceans and forests of the earth.  We love to hide.  Hide and seek is every child's dream game with their parents.

Well, science is now nearer than ever to creating an invisible cloak.  What?  You mean that Star Wars and the old radio show 'The Shadow' could one day come true?  Yes!

How are the scientists approaching being invisible?  They take the shortest path of course.  They bend light around objects so they disappear. It is said that the British Army is working on an invisible tank.

(next column)


Since life is just an illusion, you will see this happen in the next 10 years.  It's not all that far fetched after all.  Remember as a child on the beaches of Lake Huron?  You would reach for a stone in that cold, clear water and it would not be where you thought it should be.  The light was bent or refracted by the change in medium between air and water. 

Sometimes illusions of this type occur dramatically in the winter when light is bent over the horizon by the moisture and ice in the atmosphere.

We may have big dumpy things like tanks invisible in the next 10 years at least to certain types of beams like radar.  This is not like the stealth technology now in use.

It requires some micro materials that are hard to fabricate.  To do so with visible light is very difficult because the wavelength's are very short making the micro materials very tiny.  That step will have to wait for nanotechnology to develop a bit  more.  We now know it is feasible to bend light around an object and have it proceed  as before without breaking the laws of physics.