A researcher at the defense company Boeing has filed a patent for a sci-fi-esque cloaking device that would protect soldiers from intense shock waves generated by explosions.
The just-issued patent (No. 8,981,261) to Boeing envisions stopping shock waves using a veil of heated, ionized air. Such a "shield" would damp the force of explosions. It doesn't build an invisible wall of force, but rather makes shock waves bend around objects, just as some high-tech materials bend light and make things invisible.
Brian J. Tillotson, a senior research fellow at Boeing, said the idea occurred to him after noticing the kinds of injuries suffered by soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. "We were doing a much better job of stopping shrapnel," Tillotson told Live Science. "But they were coming home with brain injuries."