Whether Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak, which perfectly steers light waves around objects to make them invisible, will ever become reality remains to be seen, but perfecting a more crucial cloak is impossible, a new study says. It would have perfectly steered stress waves in the ground, like those emanating from a blast, around objects like buildings to make them “untouchable.”
Can you hide a building from a stress wave, like an earthquake or even some kind of blast or explosion? If that kind of “cloaking” were possible, it could shape how we design critical structures like nuclear power plants. Arash Yavari has started a new four-year, half-million dollar federally funded project to lay the mathematical foundations for that kind of technology and explore if it’s theoretically possible while still respecting the laws of physics.