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The Invisibility Challenge

Discussion in 'World Building' started by wordwalker, Dec 1, 2013.

  1. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    I'm working on a blog post about invisibility powers, and what it might be like to maneuver when the world can't see you. This is going to be the first of my "Power Plays" series, that's meant to be the definitive writer's and reader's guide to how abilities like this might work.

    And as part of that, I'm looking for input on one thing: invisibility has a bad reputation, with everything from Plato's Ring of Gyges to locker-room jokes... or at best it appeals to tricksters and outsiders. But until December 15th I'm offering a $10 Kindle gift certificate to the best suggested use for invisibility that isn't a form of outwitting people (or animals or the like, sorry).

    Post your answers on www.kenhughesauthor.com. I'll include the answers I get in the blog, and if nobody's able to send a really good suggestion (it's harder than it looks) I'll choose the least silly answer.

    But I do know one different use myself. So, who else who can see things like this?
     
  2. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Not outwitting people? That takes the fun out of it. But how about completely shattering their world.

    Imagine, you're sitting on your couch as a devout skeptic / atheist, watching the idiot box, and then all of a sudden while you're doing not much at all, the knick knacks on the mantle start rearranging themselves. Then the books on your shelves start doing a slow and majestic flight around the room. Perhaps even get opened as if someone was reading them. It'd be quite fun to see just how quickly a skeptic / atheist would start falling to his knees and praying! And then imagine what he'd be saying to his fellow skeptics / atheists the next time they met. It could be enormous fun!

    Alternatively you could really cause chaos in museums / art galleries. I mean ignore the theft side of things. Just assume that they have one of those infra red laser security systems. The invisible man just walks right through them without setting them off, then turns all the paintings and treasures around on their plinths! Can you imagine the security staff trying to explain!

    And then of course there's driving a convertable with the top down around town and watching people stare.

    You could have so much fun.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  3. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Deleted. Duplicate post.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 1, 2013
  4. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    I just think about being able to participate in live performances (say stage plays) and shifting things around, making them float across the stage or what have you on the set so there aren't any pesky strings to potentially interfere with the performers. Another thing would be to make deliveries to people in an office building without actually having to address or talk to people at all... just take the package/letter and set it on their desk and walk away.
     
  5. SensibleRin

    SensibleRin Dreamer

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    Not outwitting people? How about psychological observation. Observation! People, animals, you name it.
    Witnessing people and creatures in their natural state, no need to worry about setting up experiments, or wording a survey just right.
    When you're isolated and alone, sometimes you call that being metaphorically invisible. The person could use their power to snatch private moments even in a crowd.
    I really think the value for this power is in its use for observation. Not in a negative way, but it would have great scientific value in behavioral applications.
     
    Saigonnus likes this.
  6. FatCat

    FatCat Maester

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    I think the appeal of being invisible is telling in itself. To use that power, and to gratify that character with that power, implies a certain level of insecurity. They are now able to do things they could not when feeling observed. With that thought, the 'power' of invisibility is really a representation of the flaws within a character and why they feel like not being seen is beneficial. You can't escape a certain level of voyeurism in the power of invisibility.

    That said, a character being invisible their entire life, not for any personal benefit outside security. Just to be alone, with no one watching.
     
  7. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    If I was invisible or a ghost or something, I'd mess with scientists. Move things in their labs and so on, make them question what they believe. But that's tricking people.

    For a positive use of invisibility, a police officer could far better infiltrate and obsereve criminal gangs while invisible than by pretending to be one of them - with no need to sleep with anyone and violate people's rights (big case recently in the UK where women found out their long term partners, and sometimes the fathers of their children, were undercover cops the whole time who subsequently abandoned them). Invisibility could thus serve law enforcement in a safe manner without the ethical problems of undercover. Similarly, private detectives could investigate without being detected by those they are investigating.

    An invisible investigative journalist could use their ability to unveil human rights violations across the world, especially if any equipment like cameras etc that they carry is also invisible.

    An invisible "anti-corruption officer" within government, who has the right to sit in on any meeting involving members of government provided they only speak out about illegal and corrupt activities (and not lawful activities which must remain confidential, like military decisions) would be a good way of reducing corruption in government in a major way.

    Outside of political and judicial circles, someone capable of becoming invisible at will could make a very useful actor, particularly as the villain in a horror film, as it'd save huge amounts of money in CGI and time in setting up complicated shots.
     
  8. Valentinator

    Valentinator Minstrel

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    Invisibility can be a cooling system since the sunlight can't be absorbed by the body. It could be useful in a desert, for example. It is also a nice protection against laser weapons (or sun based magic). Casting invisiblity on your opponent will turn him blind since the vision is based on absorption of radiation by the receptors of the retina.
     
  9. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Some great ideas here. It's certainly possible to use the power for good (hostage rescue and going on the run when you're persecuted are my favorites), but they still come under deception. Stage work is one thing I've heard suggested once or twice.
     
  10. Valentinator

    Valentinator Minstrel

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    Invisibility can be a cooling system since the sunlight can't be absorbed by the body. It could be useful in a desert, for example. It is also a nice protection against laser weapons (or sun based magic). Casting invisiblity on your opponent will turn him blind since the vision is based on absorption of radiation by the receptors of the retina. Finally it's a nice way to get rid of tall douchebags blocking the view at the cinema. Actually it can be quite aplicable as X-ray vision - turning invisible any obstacles in front of you.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
    wordwalker likes this.
  11. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    YES! Invisible cooling has been my own favorite trick for a while, and the X-ray trick works well too. Well done.
     
  12. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    Was thinking, what say you could control which parts of your body you could make invisible. So go stand in front of a mirror and make the front part of your face invisible and you could see through to the skull and brain. You could diagnose your own skull fractures and brain bleeds. It'd be better than an X-ray!

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  13. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

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    Hmm, interesting. On the topic of medical procedures, a surgeon or dentist could make themselves invisible so the light can come from right behind them - so they don't cast shadows when working or block their line of sight with their own hands.
     
  14. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Brain Surgery, Self-Taught? ;)

    But, a great example of the "X-Ray" uses of it, that work even for users that have the typical limit against projecting the effect on something else. Bet any hero-type would enjoy using that. (Well, not "enjoy," it's not the kind of thing you want to look at when you're already nauseated...)

    There are other uses for selective invisibility even in the usual "deception" modes. Vanish your head and play ghost... or, if you can't cover your whole body, make your sword invisible and let them try to block it just through reflex and the angle of your hand. Pretty well unstoppable.

    (Or, one of the most low-level kinds of invisibility I ever came up with: if you can just make a material that's invisible, forge a knife out of it. Walk right into a guarded place, as long as you don't let the people who are searching you touch your hand, and you're all set to assassinate. For all we know, the CIA already has them.)
     
  15. shangrila

    shangrila Inkling

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    One thing I've always found interesting is that, theoretically, invisibility would leave you blind. Reflecting light away from your body would mean your eyes aren't getting any, which as everyone probably knows is how we see.
     
  16. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    A common theory. Most writers hint the field fine-tunes light motion or dopplers different wavelengths up and down to let them see, but I nnow one character who has to leave his eyes visible. (Or of course, if it's The Shadow's trick of messing with minds instead of light, no problem.)
     
  17. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    It depends how you do your invisibility. If say you erect a field around yourself like a cloak which bends light around you in a perfect sphere then you'll be sitting in perfect darkness. The light approaches you, hits your cloak and then bends around it before finally leaving in exactly the same direction / form it arrive in. If you try to change this so that a little light gets through, yeah you'll be able to see but you'll also be visible as a sort of ghost.

    On the other hand if the tissues of your body become completely transparent, then whatever light would normally hit your retina and be converted to nerve signals will simply pass on through it. You're blind again. But if you could somehow arrange it so that higher frequency nonvisible spectrum light still hits your retina and is absorbed, you might be able to see something. Don't know what though since we can normally only see in the visible spectrum.

    Of course there's a third method which isn't actually invisibility. Perfect chameleon ability where one side of your body shows exactlywhat is seen on the other side. They demonstrated a version of this on Top Gear and it was really cool if not completely effective.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2013
  18. UnknownCause

    UnknownCause Dreamer

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    Ooh, Invisibility! Let's see.. Um. Besides tricking people, I'd maybe use it to... Um.. I got nothing. How about.. No, that's tricking.. Um.. Nah.. *10 Hours Later* Nope, nothing. Oh wait! Maybe Invisibility could be used to fake magi- CRAP THAT'S TRICKING! I have nothing, sorry.
     
  19. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Thanks to everyone for their thoughts. I posted the Challenge in dozens of places, but the best ideas came from Mythicscribes --of course.

    The winner for best idea, maybe a couple times over, was

    SP(FX) sunscreen. X-Ray vision. Oh my my.

    Thanks again to everyone.
     
  20. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

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    Hi Wordwalker. I've just read your blog and found it very useful, having put invisibility cloaks and rings in my WIP. I realised early on when constructing the plot that invisibility could enable a character to be subversive. But there's another form of invisibility that you've forgotten, which is when women of a certain age find they've become invisible. :)
     
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