Bam! Science Inspired by Superheroes

By Eric Roston - 2013-12-17T14:48:54Z

Photograph by 20th Century Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection

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Fantastic Four -- Invisible Woman's Uniform

The cosmic ray burst that turned Reed Richards into bipedal Silly Putty (previous slide) gave Sue Storm invisibility. 

Here science has seen some progress. British researchers made headlines in 2010 with their paper about “flexible metamaterials,” thin films that channel and refocus electromagnetic radiation around an object, rendering it invisible in part of the light spectrum. Experiments focused on the microwave band, a much lower wavelength than high-energy visible light. 

Flexible metamaterials give Sue Storm’s suit a real-world cousin, but invisibility to white light is still fiction. 

Left: Fantastic Four, 2005.