Cloaking devices make objects invisible by diverting light waves. The same principle may also prevent earthquake damage.
Earthquakes can cause massive loss of life, often because buildings fail and people get trapped inside.
Great advances have already been made in making buildings more earthquake-resistant. But what if buildings could actually become invisible to quakes?
To be sure, engineers already lay rubber shock absorbers under some buildings to protect against earthquakes. But Parnell’s cloak should prevent the structure from feeling Love [dangerous zigzag] waves at all. And, additional calculations indicate the cloak could potentially lessen the impact of other types of seismic waves — such as P waves, which alternately compress and stretch rock as they move through the ground.
The concept is currently being tested by researchers. And while a building-sized rubber cloak may be many years off, early applications may include protecting key structural elements or important electrical infrastructure. You can read more about buildings that are invisible to earthquakes over at the Smithsonian.