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Animators Survival Kit

Scientists point the way to Harry Potter's platform

14th August 2009

Scientists say the fictional world of hidden portals and secret passageways invisible to the human eye could become reality following the publication of new research on transformation optics.

By altering the pathway of light waves scientists believe that they could recreate an effect similar to the distortion of light through water to effectively deceive the eye.

The team, which is drawn from Hong Kong University and Fudan University in Shanghai, has published a paper in the New Journal of Physics outlining their theories, suggesting that the illusion could yield some far-fetched applications.

Describing a 'gateway that can block electromagnetic waves but that allows the passage of other entities', the paper suggests that such devices might be 'closer to reality than previously thought'.

'The structure can be implemented by using magnetic photonic crystal structures that are field tunable, resulting in an invisible electromagnetic gateway that can be open or shut using magnetic fields.'

While stressing that any device remains theoretical - and that they are 'still far away from hidden entrances like platform nine and three-quarters in the Harry Potter novels' - the scientists say they hope the findings will prompt further research interest in transformation optics.

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