You ever been wandering through the desert, so dehydrated you've considered drinking your own urine until you actually pee and it looks like motor oil? Me neither. But if we had, one of us may have seen a mirage. A beautiful pond of fresh water, just beckoning you to frolic all butt-ass naked in it. At least until you realize you've wandered into quicksand and the fish you just ate was a scorpion. The mirage based invisibility cloak:
[The mirage effect] happens when a big change in temperature over a small distance bends light rays so they're sent towards the eye rather than bouncing off the surface. So if you see a pool of blue water in the middle of the desert it's just the blue sky being redirected from the warm ground and sent directly into your eye. Your brain, being the clever little computer that it is, swaps this mad image out for something more sensible: a pool of water.
With that in mind, the researchers wanted to find a material that has an exceptional ability to conduct heat and quickly transfer it to surrounding areas to mimic the light-distorting temperature gradients of the desert. That material, they found, was sheets of carbon nanotubes.
Yeah, so that's what you're seeing in the video: carbon nanotubes heating and cooling the surround water quickly and efficiently enough to bend light. Basically magic when you get right down to it. I'm just disappointed they've only got it working in water so far. But do you think that stopped me from buying a nanotube bodysuit with the intention of sneaking into the women's locker room? No -- clearly you underestimate my perversion. Actually, there's no overestimating my perversion. I've got boners coursing through my veins!
Hit the jump for a short but worthwhile video of the mirage in action.
Thanks to Melissa and Jackson, who agree sometimes the best place to hide is in plain sight. Soooooooo...I should make a cardboard locker costume?