An invisibility cloak was once the stuff of magic and science fiction – but scientists have proved modern technology can make pets disappear.
Chinese scientists have released astonishing video footage of a goldfish that disappears when swimming through a cloaking device submerged in a tank of water.
The clip also shows part of a cat vanishing as the pet walks through a cloaking device on a table.
The device is a work in progress, but proves the principles of an invisibility cloak really work.
The team of scientists, headed by Baile Zhang at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, made the devices from thin glass which bends light around objects to render them invisible.
The prototypes are light years away from sophisticated science fiction cloaking devices that can hide entire spaceships.
At the moment, the viewer only loses sight of the object when looking from a certain angle, but the devices do make objects disappear.
The team suggests the device has military, entertainment and surveillance applications.
“We can adjust the device to make the object invisible from any line of sight,” said Zhang.
Sir John Pendry, of Imperial College, London, revealed the technology in 2006, when he apparently made objects disappear on a small scale.
“It’s a real move forward,” he said after viewing the video. “Controlling light is fun, but the science behind the demonstration works.”
The two cloaks shown off by the Chinese work on the same principle but are different designs.
The goldfish device is a hexagon designed to make the fish invisible from six different angles.
The cloak for the cat was made to hide the animal from in front and behind.
Transformation optics bending light may seem impressive, but in a separate research project, scientists have theorised that whole regions of space can be rendered unseen by a nanoshield, or quantum invisibility cloak.
The researchers at the National Tsing-Hua University, Taiwan, foresee applications could include superfast quantum computers with massive storage capabilities in minute spaces.
They point out that the cloaking device was only a mathematical theory a few years ago and their work could become reality in a comparably short time.
Writers and storytellers have played with the concept of invisibility for hundreds of years, with one of the first originating with the ancient Greeks – the Ring of Gyges.
The story was the first Lord of the Rings, as the shepherd that found the ring could make himself invisible when wearing it.