For decades, scientists have used references to popular culture to help people understand breakthroughs in technology. Although the go-to series for the smart folks behind every innovation in your life has been 'Star Trek,' the latest crazy advancement is also applicable to something a little more, well, magical. Yes, someone has gone and built themselves an rudimentary invisibility cloak, like the one seen in the Harry Potter series.

Although it's not quite ready to be actually worn in public or used outside of a controlled environment, the so-called "Rochester Cloak" (which we learned about over at Fast Company) is capable of making objects completely invisible to the human eye. But don't think this is actual magic or even something insanely complicated. No, this device was constructed out of lenses that the folks at the University of Rochester's Physics and Advanced Optics departments had lying around their labs. By aligning four standard lenses in the proper positions, researchers are able to bend light around an object, making it vanish before your very eyes.

Invisibility Cloak
J. Adam Fenster, University of Rochester

Scientists have been using lenses to "cloak" objects for some time, but the Rochester Cloak is the first design that will continue to mask its subject even after the viewer has changed his angle. As long as the object/person/item of high value is behind the lens, it cannot be seen by the human eye. The potential applications for this tech are huge. Imagine: you can hide an entire military installation from view! Or you could sneak around your boarding school hallways so you can borrow a book from the restricted section of the library.

Now all they need to do is make it portable and invent GPS-powered paper that turns off when you say "Mischief managed."

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