Quirky World: Harry Potter invisibility cloak comes closer to reality

USA: A cloak of invisibility may be common in science fiction but research suggests such a device may be moving closer to reality.

Scientists said they have successfully tested an ultra-thin invisibility cloak made of microscopic rectangular gold blocks that, like skin, conform to the shape of an object and can render it undetectable with visible light.

The researchers said while their experiments involved cloaking a miniscule object they believe the technology could be made to conceal larger objects, with military and other possible applications.

The cloak, 80 nanometres thick, was wrapped around a three-dimensional object shaped with bumps and dents. The cloak’s surface rerouted light waves scattered from the object to make it invisible to optical detection.

It may take five to 10 years to make the technology practical to use, according to Xiang Zhang, director of the Materials Sciences Division of the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, whose research was published in the journal Science.

Bottling discontent

UKRAINE: Prosecutors are preparing charges against the director of a winery in Russia-occupied Crimea —for uncorking a 240-year-old bottle for Vladimir Putin and former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The Russian president and his old friend spent last weekend in Crimea, touring ancient ruins and visiting the peninsula’s prized Massandra winery. Massandra, which has been nationalised after Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year, has many bottles of rare wine dating back more than 200 years in its collection.

Russian television showed Berlusconi examining a bottle from the cellars and asking the winery’s director if he could try it. Ukrainian media quoted prosecutors for Crimea saying they are looking into filing embezzlement charges against the winery’s director who gave the bottle to Berlusconi.

Cutting-edge decor

USA: A Florida woman living in a mobile home that was booby-trapped with more than 3,714 swords, knives, and other bladed weapons was jailed after attacking officers who had come to arrest her.

Nickcole Dykema, 47, was being held on charges including assaulting an officer and resisting arrest, said Hernando County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Denise Moloney.

Authorities discovered a macabre scene when they arrived to arrest Dykema for a probation violation, with blades hanging from the ceiling and walls of her mobile home in Brooksville, said Moloney.

Taking the biscuit

WALES: Three men have been charged with stealing around £20,000 (€27,420) worth of biscuits from the makers of Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels.

Officers were called to Burton’s Foods Ltd in Cwmbran, South Wales, following an early-morning raid on the factory in June.

Detectives later launched an appeal for information, saying an articulated lorry full of cookies and biscuits had been driven away from the scene.

Now more than three months later, Gwent Police have confirmed three men have been charged and will appear before magistrates later this month.

Speedy diagnosis

ENGLAND: Speed bumps are widely regarded as a pain, so it may come as no surprise that they can be used to diagnose acute appendicitis.

Dr Helen Ashdown, from Oxford University, and her team showed that a yelp of pain as a patient was being driven over speed bumps was indicative of acute appendicitis.


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