Most of us can get our heads around the idea that lightwaves can be bent around an object and make it invisible, much like Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility. Now think about making something invisible to a tsunami, or something similar, and an oil rig, or a sensitive coastline or something similar. We’ll pass by the philosophical constructs of whether an inanimate force can be fooled by an inanimate object but the first practical application of invisibility may be offshore oil rigs or major ports.
Stay with me. In 2006 it was discovered that microwaves could be bent around an object and come out the other side as if the object didn’t exist. The next big thing was whether light-waves could be fooled the same way. Sure enough, in 2008, researchers found they could be. Now a team led by Stefan Enoch at the Fresnel Institute in Marseilles has taken the same principles and built a sort of miniature maze that guides waves around an object and reforms them on the other side as of it didn’t exist.
Scaled-up versions might protect oil rigs or offshore LNG terminals although one suspects that the cost might be prohibitive compared to the risk.