Hasn’t every fan wished for an Invisibility Cloak, or a Marauder’s Map? In this informative article from io9, one can learn about the scientific developments that could make these magical objects into real technology.
Cloak of Invisibility (The Harry Potter series), The One Ring (Lord of the Rings)
What it does: Grants invisibility to the wearer.
The closest real life equivalent: Science is tackling invisibility in a number of ways. Some recent experiments have created photothermal deflection, otherwise known as the “mirage” effect. Scientists heated carbon nanotubes using electricity, and the generated heat causes the light to bend around them, effectively hiding them from sight. Another way of creating invisibility is throughmetamaterials. These metamaterials can bend electromagnetic radiation – such as visible light, radar or microwaves. Metamaterials are a long way off from being turned into a wearable cape, but cloaked airplanes and tanks that have a rigid body might not be that far in the future.
Weasley Family Clock (Harry Potter Series)
What it does: The clock has a hand with each family member on it. The hand points to the location of its designated family member from a list of predefined options: home, school, work, travelling, lost, hospital, prison, and mortal peril.
The closest real life equivalent: A team of students at Munich University have gone ahead and made this a reality. They bought a clock, modified the gears and added a microcontroller. The family members are “tracked” via a mobile phone app. The user can enter their location manually or use their GPS for tracking. The students have provided a how-to so you can create your own. (No clue how you track whether someone is in “mortal peril,” though.)
Marauder Map (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban)
What it does: The map shows the location of everyone in Hogwarts in real time.
The closest real life equivalent: Anyone with a cell phone can be tracked. In fact Google is counting on this data to generate its traffic reports. Most cell phone services are now offering a premium service, At&T Family Map and Verison Family Locator, to track your family and display them on a nifty map. It isn’t hard imaging a hack that would allow someone to do this for any cell phone user.
Flying Ford Anglia (Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets)
What it does: It is a car that flies.
The closest real life equivalent: The military is actively pursuing the creation of a flying truck known as the Textron transformer. At AUSA 2011 (Association of the United States Army) Textron Systems displayed a model of the “Transformer” which is described by officials as the “Air Hummer”. It looks like a hummer with a helicopter rotor and wings. It is designed for vertical take-off, and then transitions to forward flight around 150 ft, when lift is generated by the wings. This was created under the Darpa program and is in the first of three stage of development.
Which Harry Potter magical item is your favorite?
Read on in the article to learn about magical items from other fandoms.