In October of 2006, a team of scientists at Duke University announced the creation of the first crude real-world “cloak” of invisibility.
When interviewed last week for an update on the project, lead researcher Andrew Wilcox had disappointing news. “Uh, we’ve discontinued that project,” he said. “Stopped it completely. Haven’t done another thing on it!”
It’s easy to see how the researchers may have been distracted. On the day of our interview, the campus of Duke University, located in Durham, North Carolina, was in a bit of an uproar, with a group of women complaining of hearing heavy male breathing in the showers of several of the dorms.
“What are they saying?” Wilcox said. “That this school has ghosts? But I mean, uh, what else could it be?”
LOTR’s Sam and Frodo use invisibility cloaks to hide from the orcs.
Hopes were high for the project when the researchers presented to the world their first attempts at an invisibility cloak two years ago. Local residents hoped the research project would inject some money into the local economy, which has been beset by a series of unsolved bank robberies.
“Bank robberies?” Wilcox said. “I don’t know anything about any bank robberies! What makes you think I know anything about any bank robberies?!”
Such a real-world cloak of invisibility, previously featured only in works of fiction such as The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, would have been a major break-through, creating a new form of camouflage that would have revolutionized both military operations and surveylance campaigns.
“Hogwash!” Wilcox said. “What are the practical uses of something like this, really? It’d be one of those things you buy because you think you’d use it, but you’d never even take it out of the package!”
With the cloak of invisibility project dead, Wilcox has moved onto his next project, creating a pair of real-world x-ray specs.
“Where did you hear that? There’s no truth to that whatsoever!” Wilcox said, glancing up suddenly, fumbling with his glasses, his face reddening.
Editor’s Note: This article is an attempt at humor, but in fact, in January of this year, the Duke scientists did, in fact, announce that they may have a usable version of an “invisibility cloak” available in as soon as six months.