Tuesday, February 26, 2008
If you could turn yourself invisible...
...you would also make yourself blind.
Think about it. If light passes through your body without interference, it's passing through your eyes, too. It's not being focused by your lenses, and it's not stimulating the nerves in your retinas. It's just going right on through. If light were to be intercepted by your retinas, then it would not continue on through, and your eyes would become visible. Instead of being completely invisible, you would be a pair of floating eyeballs.
I guess this didn't occur to H.G. Wells. Or perhaps it did, but he calculated that he could disregard it. It certainly didn't occur to me when I read The Invisible Man as a child.
Don't ask me about the odd and convoluted train of thought that led me to this realization. But I do find poetic justice in the fact that if you want to be unseen by everyone else, then you must also give up the ability to see everyone else.
Life works that way sometimes.
he probably felt ok ignoring that because a) it was such a revolutionary idea at the time that b) no one back then realized the inherent illogic, plus c) we didn't have a culture of technological nitpicking yet. at least i would surmise as such. were i to write such a book now, i would include a technobabble bit about why the person could still see, as i imagine most sf writers would. :-p