Robot Suit HAL
Often Hollywood science is wildly inaccurate or implausible, but the gap between technological fact and fiction is narrowing at a disturbing rate. The real predecessors to the super-suits used by Tony Stark or "Aliens"' Ripley are being developed each night as you sleep in Japan.

But it isn't just a few sci-fi staples on their way to inevitably becoming reality, some old standards for you fantasy and D&D geeks are also on their way. Invisibility cloaks? We got 'em, so long as you're only a few microns tall, but still ...

We tracked down five of the most amazing examples of Hollywood science come true.
Real Life Iron Man Suit Somehow Totally Dorky
In "Aliens," Ripley dons a clunky exoskeleton to fight the Queen. The suit gives Ripley super-strength. And then Iron Man took the concept to ludicrous levels. Now, scientists in Japan have created the Hal (Human Assisted Living) exoskeleton, a real, wearable robot providing users with super-strength.

Hal lacks the Hollywood cool of Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man shell, but still allows a wearer to lift objects 10 times heavier than what they could normally handle. More importantly, Hal can help people with physical problems. People with disabilities, such as Parkinson's disease, could use this suit to regain mobility. The 22-pound exoskeleton uses sensors on the skin to read brain waves -- preventing people from jerking around as if they were performing a terrible version of the robot.

Invisibility Cloak Real, Still Too Small to See
Invisibility Cloak
willandbeyond, Flickr
In the Harry Potter franchise, the young wizard saves the world with the help of an invisibility cloak, but refusing to be J.K. Rowling–rolled, scientists have stitched together their own, albeit incredibly tiny, invisibility cloak

Researchers from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany and Imperial College London created a swath of fabric that made a miniscule gold bump disappear. By "miniscule" we mean this: The cloak is 100-by-30 microns; a strand of hair is about 100 microns wide.

The cloak consists of transformation optics, materials known as metamaterials, which manipulate light. The lenses bend light waves, scattering them away from the bump, making it invisible. We used the technology in this paragraph to hide the awful but required joke about "muggles."
Flying Car Almost Here, Still Behind Schedule
Moller International
Since the advent of movies, there have been flying cars. Yet, we still drive on pavement. The Department of Defense's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is funneling money into projects to create flying cars. The government's coolness requirement is that the vehicle must take off like the flying autos of "Blade Runner" rather than the time-traveling DeLorean of "Back to the Future."

While many companies have flying-car prototypes, one company might have a car actually close to taking flight. Moller International has a personal "SkyCar," known as the Volantor, which can fly up to 330 mph. The car seats four and its propellers are encased in ducted fans. So far, tests show that the car takes off and hovers, making it at least as cool as those old "Back to the Future" hoverboards.
Real Repulsor Blasts Made in a Microwave
When Ivan Vanko attacks Tony Stark in "Iron Man 2," Vanko uses lassos while Iron Man tosses repulsor blasts at him. Some day, soldiers might actually lob fireballs at the enemy. Researchers have created ball lightning, which is essentially the same as Iron Man's repulsor blasts.

Using a 600-watt magnetron microwave drill, researchers Eli Jerby and Vladimir Dikhtyar from the University of Tel Aviv created a flaming column, which drills through solid objects such as glass and silicon. When the beam turned away, it pulled the molten material with it and the fiery column morphed into a fireball. The pulsating flame quivered and hovered in the air for about 10 milliseconds before it was snuffed out.

Similar experiments can be done with a microwave, although we don't recommend it, especially if you happen to be the guy in this video who stores his gasoline in the kitchen.
Phasers Do Exist; Army Sets Theirs to 'Temporarily Blind Insurgents'
Captain James T. Kirk wiggled his way out of many sticky situations by pulling out his phaser and blasting his way to freedom. Some researchers noticed the convenience of a phaser and designed weapons made of electromagnetic energy. These directed-energy weapons are appealing because the beam moves at the speed of light, meaning the target cannot avoid being hit. Like Kirk's phaser, these weapons can be set to stun or kill. As long as there is electricity there is ammo for these weapons.

U.S. soldiers are using some simple forms of directed energy weapons in Iraq . At a few checkpoints, guards use handheld lasers, which create temporary blindness, halting suspicious people without causing permanent injury.

Until, of course, the bad guy with a god complex and a score to settle with society gets a hold of it ...