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Scientists Develop a Rudimentary 'Cloaking Device'

In the fall of 2006, researchers from the United States and England achieved what had only been dreamed of in science fiction: they created and tested a cloaking device. And it worked. In their first attempt, the scientists were able to cloak a copper can from microwave radiation. Microwaves operate in a similar manner to visible light and radar, in that the waves bounce off of objects, making them "visible" to specific instruments.

The cloaking device used special materials to divert the microwaves around the copper can, like water flowing around a smooth stone. As a result, what could previously be "seen" by microwave detectors became "unseen." One of the designers, David Schurig, compared the breakthrough to a mirage in the desert, where heat causes the bending of light rays and cloaks the road ahead behind an image of the sky. "We have built an artificial mirage that can hide something from would-be observers in any direction," Schurig said.

So far, Schurig's device does not work with visible light, meaning that it does not affect the way human eyes perceive what is there or not there. But the first step has been taken on a scientific quest that may one day change the way we see the world around us.

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