According to MSNBC.com's Tech and Science section, Rice University has developed a material that can cloak objects from human vision. Now just how cool is that?
Apparently, the magic is in the dimples. No, not those things that make babies cute. Gold nano-dimples, perfectly aligned in the material, channel light from all directions into a specific, uniform direction. This allows the material to force light to go away from a viewer, thus effectively making the cloaked object invisible to human sight.
Harry Potter fans shouldn't rejoice too soon, however. It seems this stuff only works in slab form thus far, making it pretty difficult to tote around, and pretty uncomfortable outerwear. Tree-huggers, on the other hand, can take heart. The applications for this stuff transcend back yard games of hide-and-go-seek. It seems that the "nanocups" make great directional magnifying glasses, giving engineers the ability to focus light where ever they want to, including onto solar panels. Nanocups could help drastically increase the efficiency of solar cells.
So we can all go to bed tonight knowing that science is bringing us closer to fantasy, and that fantasy might help power the world.