LONDON (Reuters) - It¹s unlikely to occur by swallowing a pill or
donning a special cloak, but invisibility could be possible in the not too
distant future....Dr. Ulf Leonhardt, a theoretical physicist at St. Andrews
University in Scotland, believes the most plausible example is the Invisible
Woman, one of Marvel Comics superheroes in the "Fantastic Four."
"She guides light around her using a force field...This is what could be
done in practice," Leonhardt told Reuters in an interview.
Leonhardt said scientists are making advances in
metamaterials--artificial materials with unusual properties that could be
used to make invisibility devices.
--News item 7/31/2006
ANNOUNCER: We interrupt tonight's regularly scheduled programming for an
urgent, nationwide address from the White House. Speaking from the Oval
Office, here is President George W. Bush.
PRESIDENT: "Good eve-nin. Wanna thank the networks for givin' me this
chance, to, uh, to talk about some major developments of importance. Got a
situation here that could tip the scales in our favor as we fight dangerous
enemies, people who hate us, hate our way o' life, and must be defeated.
Must be stopped. Stopped, and defeated.
"Every weapon in this fight is crucial, and tonight I¹m askin' Congress
to immediately pass a special, supplemental appropriations bill, for
developin' and puttin' into reality a powerful new weapon, new power.
Power of becomin' -- invisible. You probly heard about this, heard the,
uh, the science people talkin. Lotta chatter goin' around in the past
year or so. I hear the voices. Which leads to--it is within our grasp to
make this real, a real, usable power, executive power, and I believe the
time to do so is happening right now, without delay.
"See, not to belittle the strides already achieved by my administration,
spreadin' freedom, enabling democracy, real important stuff. But-- with the
added capability of invisible-ness, for a president to be, um, not
see-able, is just an enormous step toward final victory. Huge step.
"Now---it's not just me, either. For any future president, yuh have to
think of how this changes the whole range of options, in a global world.
"Not in an overt way, as such. I mean, it's a--you gotta look at this in
terms of behind-the-scenes outcome. The--if you ever read--see, when the
Fantastic Four get out there, you got the Human Torch on fire, the Thing
tossin' cars around, Mr. Fantastic stretchin' out in all directions. Team
effort, which is good.
"And then, Sue Storm--she's just workin' away, you know, outta sight,
sneakin¹ up behind bad guys, or, uh, being the disrupter of evil planning.
Not splashy, see, we¹re talkin' about a level of, um, sophistication.
"Or--look, okay. Here's another case: go back to Star Trek, original
series, third season, episode called The Enterprise Incident. Lotta you may
remember this, see--it starts with Captain Kirk acting kinda off kilter,
doin' strange stuff. Then he orders the ship into the Romulan neutral zone,
and whammo!--they get surrounded, and Kirk gets beamed over to the Romulan
"And, so, this is all a ploy. See, Spock pretends to kill Kirk with some
kinda Vulcan death grip, then he starts romancing the Romulan captain to
distract her from the, um, the bigger picture, you know, as the plot
unfolds. Great lookin' woman, by the way, can't recall who that actress
"But, what happens--Kirk disguises himself as a Romulan and this whole
set-up is to steal the cloaking device the Romulans have invented, and Kirk
takes it back to the Enterprise and Scotty gets it hooked up and--um, huge
victory for the Federation, to have that device. To possess it, but also for
Scotty to know--to have the knowledge required to make adjustments, see, is
"What I¹m sayin' -- this is an example of it -- Scotty taking a piece of
alien equipment, makin' it work, lotta skill involved -- it's how science,
um, blends with technology, and creates -- progress. And you cannot have
progress without a first step, which is where we stand right now. That
first step is here, now.
"Some critics may say, ŒWell, invisible capability, great idea but this
is expensive, this is too high a cost, you know, to pay for developing this
incredible power. We can't afford it. I disagree. Strongly disagree with
that thinking. That's another form of saying 'cut and run.' And--listen--you
know that¹s EXACTLY what happened in another episode, season three, the one
called All Our Yesterdays.
"See, this planet is about to get roasted by a super nova, and Kirk beams
down with Spock and McCoy and finds everybody gone, and, come to find out,
they've all fled back into the past. Mr. Atoz sends everybody through the
atavachron machine. See, they cut and ran, instead of confronting the
problem, and I won't do that. Is not going to happen while I'm president.
"And yes, it sounds good, running into the past, but -- here's the
point-- you end up making it worse. See, the landing party gets sent
through the machine by accident, and Spock ends up with McCoy in this ice
age place, way far back, and starts reverting into prehistoric Vulcanism.
Terrible situation. Anyway, we're goin' forward here. We need to be
collectively future-looking as a society.
"Can't forget, though, the girl who rescued Spock and McCoy and took Œem
to her ice cave. Zarabeth. Wore a big heavy bearskin coat out in the snow
and then, once they got in the cave, she took off the coat and had a furry
bikini outfit underneath. Mariette Hartley. Very memorable. Woman like
that should never become invisible. And so long as I'm the decider, she
"So, tonight I propose to do whatever it takes, allocate the funds,
inspire our scientists, all of us together, a team, call it Fantastic Four
Hundred Million, to cross the line where none has been before. Now you see
me, someday you won't. And when that happens, when I am beyond all
viewpoints, you'll know the homeland is getting safer, and the world is a
Follow Jeffrey Shaffer on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ShafferJeffrey