Wouldn’t it be nice to throw on Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility, or fly around on a magic carpet with Aladdin? Well now you can. Science is working on turning these magical devices into real-life technology.
A recently post by Amanda Yesilbas and Charlie Jane Anders in io9 pulled 12 magical devices and their in-the-wild equivalents. Here are some of the highlights:
“Cloak of Invisibility (The Harry Potter series), The One Ring (Lord of the Rings)
What it does: Grants invisibility to the wearer.
The closest real life equivalent: Science is tackling invisibility in a number of ways. Some recent experiments have created photothermal deflection, otherwise known as the “mirage” effect. Scientists heated carbon nanotubes using electricity, and the generated heat causes the light to bend around them, effectively hiding them from sight. Another way of creating invisibility is through metamaterials. These metamaterials can bend electromagnetic radiation – such as visible light, radar or microwaves. Metamaterials are a long way off from being turned into a wearable cape, but cloaked airplanes and tanks that have a rigid body might not be that far in the future.
Flying Carpets (Aladdin)
What it does: It is a carpet that flies.
The closest real life equivalent: You can’t fly around serenading princesses yet — but a student at Princeton has developed a sheet of conductive plastic that flies by using ripples of electrical currents to drive thin pockets of air along its underside. The researchers compare it more to a hovercraft at this stage, because it needs to stay close to the ground. But in theory, the more the electric current is amplified under the sheet of plastic, the higher and faster it could go. This design is interesting because it contains no moving parts, a bonus for exploration of hostile environments. At this time the design cannot support its own battery, but it might be able to in a lower gravity planet, making it a possible off-world exploration platform.
Flying Ford Anglia (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)
What it does: It is a car that flies.
The closest real life equivalent: The military is actively pursuing the creation of a flying truck known as the Textron transformer. At AUSA 2011 (Association of the United States Army) Textron Systems displayed a model of the “Transformer” which is described by officials as the “Air Hummer”. It looks like a hummer with a helicopter rotor and wings. It is designed for vertical take-off, and then transitions to forward flight around 150 ft, when lift is generated by the wings. This was created under the Darpa program and is in the first of three.”
See the full list here. Know of any other magic-inspired, real-world devices? Let us know in the comments section.