A very interesting idea, but I have to wonder about that last statement:
and the researchers also are experimenting with methods for diverting shock waves around passengers during automobile accidents.
Has anyone looked into whether the "shock waves" actually cause any damage to the passengers? Intuition would suggest that it is the rapid deceleration (and impact with the windshield if no seatbelt is worn) that causes injuries, not the shock wave of the impact itself which, one could imagine, is largely diverted around the passengers anyway by the frame of the vehicle.
That being said, there is no such conundrum for earthquake protection, I wonder what the cost would be to retrofit existing buildings, particularly high-rises.
I think that the "invisibility cloak" terminology has gone too far. Why don't we simply talk about insulating / isolating buildings from earthquakes? Certainly a lot of this has been done already. Buildings are designed not to resonate at earthquake frequencies. Some buildings are designed with active systems that cancel out / counteract the earthquake movements. Some buildings may also be designed with insulating features that passively decouple the building from the earth's motion. Of course all of these approaches are based upon assumptions of the potential earthquake magnitudes. If the foundation that supports the active response system is torn apart, the system will stop working. Likewise, active systems may require power and sensors which could be damaged by the very extreme earthquakes which pose the greatest threat.
@DRQuine I think that the "invisibility cloak" terminology has gone too far.
I agree. At the time this story was written--four years ago--applications of metamateials were popping up everywhere, and researhers thought a new technology genre was being defined. In retrospect, now it appears that these techniques will just be folded into the application areas to which they apply.