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This Experiment Helps Us See What Invisibility Looks Like

This Experiment Helps Us See What Invisibility Looks Like

Which superpower would you rather have, invisibility or flight? It’s the age-old conversation sparker. Among two of the most common powers in fiction lore, which would you choose?

I’ve always been in the invisibility camp because, if I could fly, I figured the FAA and/or military would either shoot me from the sky or expropriate my talent so they could commercialize and/or weaponize it, District 9 style. But invisibility has its question marks, too. For instance, who am I invisible to? Even if I’m no longer emitting lightwaves within the spectrum of human visibility, surely there are some creatures that could see me. What would my invisibility look like to them? Thanks to an experiment by Brusspup (and to Sploid for finding it), now we can kind of imagine what that might look like.

The Schlieren Effect is a phenomenon that allows us to see differences in air density that we can’t normally perceive, like changes in heat and pressure. To replicate this event, Brusspup placed a razor blade over a camera, creating a shadow effect that would reveal said disparities. With a light source and a concave mirror that sent light back to the camera, Brusspup captured air density changes while doing things like opening a soda can, using a hair dryer, and operating a regular old lighter. It’s quite beautiful, actually, like portraits of the wind.

So, now that we know how cool invisibility looks like to those keen enough to see it, maybe we should introduce a third superpower option: would you opt for flight, invisibility, or the power to see those invisible to others, an expansion of the visible spectrum itself? I like number three. Check out the video above and let us know which you would choose in the comments.

Image: Brusspup

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