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OU on the BBC: Science Shack - Can I make myself invisible?

Updated Monday, 12th June 2006

Adam Hart-Davis asks whether you can make yourself invisible in the BBC/OU's Science Shack series.

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Jelly baby and spaghetti building Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC

Adam Hart-Davis looking puzzled Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC Now you see me, …now you don’t. In this episode, the Science Shack team's challenge is to turn science fiction into science fact and make Adam invisible. However there’ll be none of the camera tricks or special effects that helped Harry Potter or James Bond achieve it in the movies. The team must use nothing but their science and engineering skills to make Adam really invisible.

The Shack is taken deep into the woods of a paintball arena, where being able to disappear would come in quite handy! Adam looks closely at how we see things, studies current camouflage techniques and looks at alternative means of detecting his presence. He also turns to nature for a few helpful tips and learns how the king of camouflage, the cuttlefish, is capable of a truly astonishing disappearing act.

An early prototype design sees Adam disappear in the woods in a cloak of many mirrors, but the real test comes when the team builds an invisible car, just like James Bond’s. Adam challenges the paintballing camouflage experts to try and find him as he attempts to drive his new stealth vehicle undetected right before their eyes.

Have you ever wanted to make something invisible? Well now's your chance - see if you can make something disappear with the Invisibility Challenge.

Web links

Animal Camouflage
A well-written article on the elements of animal camouflage.

Refractive Indices
A clear explanation of refractive index. Includes details on how to make glass truly invisible.

Vision
How seeing really works. Information on perception and the biology of the eye.

The BBC and the Open University are not responsible for the content of external websites.

First broadcast: Friday 2 Nov 2001 on BBC TWO

 

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