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The Problem With Invisibility

The technology to make things invisible is progressing every day. Developers are having luck with nano materials that bend light around an object, rendering it invisible. It’s feasible that we could wrap such a cloak of material around us to make a person invisible to anyone looking.  

But even if we could use the meta material cloak in a bigger way, there's another problem. You'd be invisible to others, sure, but you couldn't see anything.

Since your vision is based on the light rays that enters your eyes, if all of these rays were diverted around someone under an invisibility cloak, the effect would be like being covered in a thick blanket. Total darkness. As Larouche points out, this is due to a physics principle known as reciprocity.

Yeah, that’s a problem. It’s explained in more detail at Atlas Obscura.


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This "issue" has been dismissed multiple ways in science fiction. If memory serves: The Predetor was invisible to us but saw with infrared, the Potter universe invoked magic and multiple others just ignored it.
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The human eye has great dynamic range, which can be extended by things light night vision goggles. In principle you could design a cloaking system that bends most of the light around you and still see (although possibly a rather distorted view). I think one of the bigger issue with these cloaks, is they tend to be very wavelength specific, and would amount to more of a weird color change than invisibility.
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