Earlier this month, it was reported that Professor Zhang Xiang from the University of California, Berkeley, has been tapped to take on the job as the University of Hong Kong’s vice chancellor.
While opinions are mixed over Zhang’s appointment, one thing that people can agree on is that invisibility cloaks are cool, so Zhang who masterminded the creation of the world’s first “invisibility cloak,” gets points for that (Sorry, Dumbledore).
What he doesn’t get points for, we’re afraid, is this super cool but fake video purporting to be Zhang’s invisibility cloak in action, which has gone viral on the mainland.
The short video shows a random man walking through a park holding up an “invisibility cloak.”
According to Stand News, the clip has been shared with titles such as “Future University of Hong Kong vice chancellor invents invisible clothing.” The website also reported that in Hong Kong, the video has been shared many times over WhatsApp.
However, some netizens managed to see through the video’s claims of authenticity. The same video was also uploaded on other sites claiming to be an invisibility cloak made by professors at the Zhejiang University, Apple Daily reported.
We clearly needed more transparency on this. Mainland broadcaster CCTV said they spoke to film and television production professionals, who said the “invisibility cloak” was likely a piece of green fabric used for green screens.
OK, so it may not be the invisibility cloak we were hoping for — or an invisibility cloak at all — but one thing that is definitely not fake is Zhang’s credentials.
In 2015, Zhang and his team developed a thin cloak that could wrap around 3D objects and create the illusion of invisibility.
This was achieved thanks to a breakthrough in research he made on metamaterials in 2008, a discovery that allows engineered material to manipulate and bend light in unnatural ways. It was named by Time magazine as one of the top 10 scientific discoveries of that year.
However, there is no hiding the fact that you cannot use this cloak to sneak into clubs and bars, the cloak is only able to mask microscopic objects.
As for the Zhejiang University? They also had their breakthroughs on the stealth technology front: in 2013, researchers at the university created a “box of invisibility” that hides animals.